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J Infect Dis. 2003 Sep 1;188(5):706-18. Epub 2003 Aug 11.

Quorum-sensing control of biofilm factors in Staphylococcus epidermidis.

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  • 1Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, Montana 59840, USA.

Abstract

Staphylococcus epidermidis is the most frequent cause of nosocomial sepsis and catheter-related infections, in which biofilm formation is considered to be the main virulence mechanism. Quorum-sensing systems have been recognized as important regulators of virulence and biofilm formation in many bacteria. There is a single quorum-sensing system in S. epidermidis encoded by the agr operon. To investigate quorum-sensing control of biofilm formation, we constructed an agr deletion mutant, assayed for the different stages of biofilm formation, and determined agr-dependent regulation of biofilm factors. The agr mutant showed increased biofilm formation, primary attachment, and expression of the autolysin AtlE, but lacked delta-toxin production. However, the level of polysaccharide intercellular adhesin expression was equivalent to the isogenic wild-type strain. In contrast to AtlE, which is known to influence primary attachment, delta-toxin appeared to exert its effect on attachment to polystyrene during later stages of biofilm formation. Importantly, addition of cross-inhibiting pheromones mimicked an agr mutation and significantly enhanced biofilm formation, which suggests that care should be used when treating S. epidermidis infections with cross-inhibiting peptides. Our data demonstrate the importance of quorum sensing in the establishment of a biofilm in this critical human pathogen.

PMID:
12934187
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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