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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1996 Dec;40(12):2714-20.

Differential behaviors of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli type II DNA topoisomerases.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, Rhône-Poulenc Rorer S.A., Vitry-sur-Seine, France.


Staphylococcus aureus gyrA and gyrB genes encoding DNA gyrase subunits were cloned and coexpressed in Escherichia coli under the control of the T7 promoter-T7 RNA polymerase system, leading to soluble gyrase which was purified to homogeneity. Purified gyrase was catalytically indistinguishable from the gyrase purified from S. aureus and did not contain detectable amounts of topoisomerases from the E. coli host. Topoisomerase IV subunits GrlA and GrlB from S. aureus were also expressed in E. coli and were separately purified to apparent homogeneity. Topoisomerase IV, which was reconstituted by mixing equimolar amounts of GrlA and GrlB, had both ATP-dependent decatenation and DNA relaxation activities in vitro. This enzyme was more sensitive than gyrase to inhibition by typical fluoroquinolone antimicrobial agents such as ciprofloxacin or sparfloxacin, adding strong support to genetic studies which indicate that topoisomerase IV is the primary target of fluoroquinolones in S. aureus. The results obtained with ofloxacin suggest that this fluoroquinolone could also primarily target gyrase. No cleavable complex could be detected with S. aureus gyrase upon incubation with ciprofloxacin or sparfloxacin at concentrations which fully inhibit DNA supercoiling. This suggests that these drugs do not stabilize the open DNA-gyrase complex, at least under standard in vitro incubation conditions, but are more likely to interfere primarily with the DNA breakage step, contrary to what has been reported with E. coli gyrase. Both S. aureus gyrase-catalyzed DNA supercoiling and S. aureus topoisomerase IV-catalyzed decatenation were dramatically stimulated by potassium glutamate or aspartate (500- and 50-fold by 700 and 350 mM glutamate, respectively), whereas topoisomerase IV-dependent DNA relaxation was inhibited 3-fold by 350 mM glutamate. The relevance of the effect of dicarboxylic amino acids on the activities of type II topoisomerases is discussed with regard to the intracellular osmolite composition of S. aureus.

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