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PLoS One. 2010 Apr 6;5(4):e10040. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010040.

Regulatory adaptation of Staphylococcus aureus during nasal colonization of humans.

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Interfakultäres Institut für Mikrobiologie und Infektionsmedizin, Universität Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.


The nasopharynx is the main ecological niche of the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. Although colonization of the nares is asymptomatic, nasal carriage is a known risk factor for endogenous staphylococcal infection. We quantified S. aureus mRNA levels in nose swabs of persistent carriers to gain insight into the regulatory adaptation of the bacterium to the nasal environment. We could elucidate a general response of the pathogen to the surrounding milieu independent of the strain background or the human host. Colonizing bacteria preferentially express molecules necessary for tissue adherence or immune-evasion whereas toxins are down regulated. From the analysis of regulatory loci we found evidence for a predominate role of the essential two-component system WalKR of S. aureus. The results suggest that during persistent colonization the bacteria are metabolically active with a high cell surface turnover. The increased understanding of bacterial factors that maintain the colonization state can open new therapeutic options to control nasal carriage and subsequent infections.

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