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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Feb 28;92(5):1619-23.

Autocrine regulation of toxin synthesis by Staphylococcus aureus.

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  • 1Skirball Institute, New York University Medical Center, NY 10016.


Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen causing diseases which range from minor skin infection to endocarditis and toxic shock syndrome. The pathogenesis of S. aureus is due primarily to the production of toxic exoproteins, whose synthesis is controlled by a global regulatory system, agr. We show here that agr is autoinduced by a proteinaceous factor produced and secreted by the bacteria and that it is inhibited by a peptide produced by an exoprotein-deficient S. aureus mutant strain. The inhibitor, RIP, competes with the activator, RAP, and may be a mutational derivative. Our results suggest two possible approaches, independent of antibiotics, to the control of S. aureus infections. RIP may prove useful as a direct inhibitor of virulence and RAP as a vaccine against the expression of agr-induced virulence factors; either could interfere with the ability of the bacteria to establish and maintain an infection.

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