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Peptides. 2001 Oct;22(10):1603-8.

Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis peptide pheromones produced by the accessory gene regulator agr system.

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  • 1Rocky Mountain Laboratory, Laboratory of Human Bacterial Pathogenesis, NIAID, NIH, 903 South 4th Street, Hamilton, MT 59840, USA.


The accessory gene regulator (agr) system of staphylococci regulates the expression of virulence factors in response to cell density. The extracellular signaling molecule encoded by this system is a thiolactone-containing pheromone peptide whose primary sequence varies among staphylococcal strains. A post-translational modification of the peptide is believed to be carried out by an enzyme with a novel function, AgrB. Staphylococcal pheromones show cross-inhibiting properties: Pheromones of self and pheromones of non-self induce and suppress the agr response, respectively, and have therefore been proposed as novel anti-staphylococcal drugs. As inhibition of agr leads to diminished expression of toxins, but to increased expression of colonization factors and biofilm formation, their therapeutic potential remains yet to be evaluated in depth.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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