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Microbes Infect. 2001 Jul;3(8):633-7.

Staphylococcus aureus accessory regulators: expression within biofilms and effect on adhesion.

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Department of Microbiology, Eastman Dental Institute for Oral Health Care Sciences, University College London, University of London, 256 Gray's Inn Road, WC1X 8LD, London, UK.


Many of the genes encoding the virulence factors for Staphylococcus aureus are controlled by the accessory gene regulator (agr) and staphylococcal accessory regulator (sar). This regulation may be affected by the environment in which the organisms are grown. In the majority of ecosystems, bacteria grow attached to surfaces and form biofilms. We used S. aureus strains containing mutations inactivating agr and sar to determine whether the presence of these genes influences the attachment of the bacterium to a surface. We also used strains harbouring reporter constructs of the agr and sar operons to determine their expression in biofilms. The attachment study results showed that the sarA mutant strain adhered better to glass than did the agrA mutant or the wild type. There was an increased adherence to fibronectin-coated glass for all three strains compared to glass. Thus, these adhesion studies demonstrate that agr and sar have pleiotrophic effects on the surface expression of molecules responsible for binding to different substrata. In the biofilms higher numbers of bacteria and the greatest expression were observed at the base, but there were no observable differences between the reporter constructs. Expression of the agr and sar reporter fusions was significantly higher in the deepest layers of the biofilms where the greatest numbers of bacteria were also observed, perhaps as one might expect for genes that are regulated in a cell density dependent fashion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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