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Microbiology. 2004 Jul;150(Pt 7):2347-55.

Drosophila melanogaster as a model host for Staphylococcus aureus infection.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.


Staphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen of humans, causing a range of superficial and potentially life-threatening diseases. Infection of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster with S. aureus results in systemic infection followed by death. Screening of defined S. aureus mutants for components important in pathogenesis identified perR and pheP, with fly death up to threefold slower after infection with the respective mutants compared to the wild-type. Infection of D. melanogaster with reporter gene fusion strains demonstrated the in vivo expression levels of the accessory gene regulator, agr, alpha-toxin, hla, and a manganese transporter, mntA. The use of the green fluorescent protein as a reporter under the control of the agr promoter (P3) showed S. aureus microcolony formation in vivo. The disease model also allowed the effect of antibiotic treatment on the flies to be determined. D. melanogaster is a genetically tractable model host for high-throughput analysis of S. aureus virulence determinants.

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