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Infect Immun. 1987 Dec;55(12):3103-10.

Virulence of protein A-deficient and alpha-toxin-deficient mutants of Staphylococcus aureus isolated by allele replacement.

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Microbiology Department, Moyne Institute, Dublin, Ireland.


The gene coding for protein A (spa) of Staphylococcus aureus 8325-4 has been inactivated by substituting part of the spa coding sequence for a DNA fragment specifying resistance to ethidium bromide. The in vitro-constructed spa::EtBrr substitution mutation was introduced into the S. aureus chromosome by recombinational allele replacement. Southern blot hybridization showed that the in vitro-constructed mutation was present in the chromosomal spa locus. We have previously reported the inactivation of the alpha-toxin gene (hly) by allele replacement with an in vitro-constructed hly::Emr (erythromycin resistance) mutation (M. O'Reilly, J.C.S. de Azavedo, S. Kennedy, and T.J. Foster, Microb. Pathogen. 1:125-138, 1986). A double Spa- Hly- mutant was constructed by transduction. The virulence of Spa- and Hly- mutants was tested by experimental infection of mice. When subcutaneous injections were given, Hly- mutants formed a flat, darkened lesion, whereas Hly+ strains caused a raised, cream lesion. Alpha-toxin was shown to be a major factor in forming subcutaneous lesions and in causing the death of mice injected intraperitoneally. Spa- mutants were slightly less virulent than their Spa+ counterparts, which suggests that protein A is also a virulence factor of S. aureus.

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