Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2000 Mar;14(2):117-22.

Staphylococcus aureus small colony variants, electron transport and persistent infections.

Author information

Microbiology/Immunology and Medicine, 407 SMI, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Staphylococcus aureus can mutate to form a sub-population of bacteria known as small colony variants (SCVs). These bacteria have a characteristic phenotype defined by slow growth, the lack of pigment, an altered pattern of carbohydrate utilization, and a reduction in toxin production. This complex phenotype can be explained by deficiencies in electron transport. In clinical isolates, the most common mutations that affect electron transport are in the operons encoding menaquinone or heme biosynthesis. These isolates are responsible for persistent antibiotic resistant infections. The clinical presentation of these infections is readily explained by a reduction electron transport. SCVs survive within host cells, increasing the instances of recurrent infections and have a novel mechanism of resistance based upon their altered trans-membrane potential. Additionally, SCVs provide a connection between energy metabolism and toxin production. This link may operate through the bacteria responding to altered levels of NADH and ATP. A more complete understanding of these signaling pathways may provide new targets for the development of drugs to ameliorate staphylococcal virulence and disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center