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J Infect Dis. 2007 Jan 15;195(2):202-11. Epub 2006 Dec 18.

Impact of antibiotics on expression of virulence-associated exotoxin genes in methicillin-sensitive and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

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  • 1Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Boise, ID 83702, USA.


Extracellular protein toxins contribute to the pathogenesis of a wide variety of Staphylococcus aureus infections. The present study investigated the effects that cell-wall active antibiotics and protein-synthesis inhibitors have on transcription and translation of genes for Panton-Valentine leukocidin, alpha-hemolysin, and toxic-shock syndrome toxin 1, in both methicillin-sensitive and methicillin-resistant S. aureus. Subinhibitory concentrations of nafcillin induced and prolonged mRNA for Panton-Valentine leukocidin, alpha-toxin, and toxic-shock syndrome toxin 1 and increased toxin production. In contrast, clindamycin and linezolid markedly suppressed translation, but not transcription, of toxin genes. These results suggest (1) that protein-synthesis inhibition is an important consideration in the selection of antimicrobial agents to treat serious infections caused by toxin-producing gram-positive pathogens and (2) that, by inducing and enhancing toxin production, inadvertent use of beta-lactam antibiotics to treat methicillin-resistant S. aureus infections may contribute to worse outcomes.

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