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Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2002 Jun;19(6):570-5.

Detection of the icaADBC gene cluster and biofilm formation in Staphylococcus epidermidis isolates from catheter-related urinary tract infections.

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Institut für Molekulare Infektionsbiologie, Röntgenring 11, D-97070 Würzburg, Germany.


Biofilm production in Staphylococcus epidermidis is an important virulence factor that is mediated by the expression of the icaADBC operon. In this study 41 S. epidermidis isolates obtained from catheter-related urinary tract infections were analyzed for the presence of the icaADBC operon and biofilm formation. Eighteen of 41 isolates (44%) were shown to carry ica-specific DNA, but only 11 isolates (27%) produced biofilms spontaneously under normal growth conditions. Upon induction by external stress or antibiotics, biofilm formation could be stimulated in five of seven ica-positive, biofilm-negative isolates, indicating that the icaADBC expression was down-regulated in these strains. Genetic analyses of the ica gene clusters of the remaining two ica-positive, biofilm-negative strains revealed a spontaneous ICAC::IS256 insertion in one strain. Insertion of the element caused a target site duplication of seven base pairs and a biofilm-negative phenotype. After repeated passages the insertion mutant was able to revert to a biofilm-forming phenotype which was due to the precise excision of IS256 from the icaC gene. The data show that icaC::IS256 integrations occur during S. epidermidis polymer-related infections and the results highlight the biological relevance of the IS256-mediated phase variation of biofilm production in S. epidermidis during an infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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