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Infect Immun. 2011 Jan;79(1):342-52. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00736-10. Epub 2010 Oct 11.

Characterization of a Staphylococcus aureus surface virulence factor that promotes resistance to oxidative killing and infectious endocarditis.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Molecular Biology, and Biochemistry, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83844, USA.


Staphylococcus aureus is a prominent human pathogen and a leading cause of community- and hospital-acquired bacterial infections worldwide. Herein, we describe the identification and characterization of the S. aureus 67.6-kDa hypothetical protein, named for the surface factor promoting resistance to oxidative killing (SOK) in this study. Sequence analysis showed that the SOK gene is conserved in all sequenced S. aureus strains and homologous to the myosin cross-reactive antigen of Streptococcus pyogenes. Immunoblotting and immunofluorescence analysis showed that SOK was copurified with membrane fractions and was exposed on the surface of S. aureus Newman and RN4220. Comparative analysis of wild-type S. aureus and an isogenic deletion strain indicated that SOK contributes to both resistance to killing by human neutrophils and to oxidative stress. In addition, the S. aureus sok deletion strain showed dramatically reduced aortic valve vegetation and bacterial cell number in a rabbit endocarditis model. These results, plus the suspected role of the streptococcal homologue in certain diseases such as acute rheumatic fever, suggest that SOK plays an important role in cardiovascular and other staphylococcal infections.

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