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J Infect Dis. 2008 Oct 15;198(8):1171-4. doi: 10.1086/592051.

Prevalence of agr dysfunction among colonizing Staphylococcus aureus strains.

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Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.


Mutations in the staphylococcal virulence regulator gene agr frequently occur during Staphylococcus aureus infection. Whether agr-defective strains are fit for colonization, an important prerequisite for infection, is unknown. Screening by means of assays to detect delta-hemolysin activity and agr autoinducing peptide production indicated that 15 ( approximately 9%) of 160 healthy human subjects were colonized with an agr-defective strain or a mixture of agr-positive and -defective S. aureus strains. The presence of identical agr-defective strains in family members suggests that these strains are transmissible. Additionally, carriage of an agr-defective strain was associated with hospitalization, raising the possibility that such strains may be selected in a nosocomial setting.

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