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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1998 Sep 1;166(1):103-7.

Conditions that induce Staphylococcus aureus heat shock proteins also inhibit autolysis.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, Normal 61790-4120, USA.


When Staphylococcus aureus strain 8325 was grown at 30 degrees C and heat shocked at 40 degrees C the rate of cell autolysis in buffer with or without Triton X-100 was reduced. Treatment of growing cells with other agents (CdCl2, ethanol, NaCl) known to induce heat shock proteins also resulted in cells that showed a decreased rate of autolysis. Heat shocked cells showed lower rates of freeze-thaw autolysin activity on purified cell walls, and isolated crude cell walls from heat shocked cells had lower rates of autolytic activity compared to controls. No differences in the peptidoglycan hydrolase activity profiles of control and heat shocked cells were detected by renaturing sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. It is proposed that autolysins are damaged by heat shock and their targeting to the cell wall is impaired, possibly by complexing with heat shock proteins, which may also inhibit autolysin activity. Heat shock also inhibited the autolytic activity of methicillin-resistant and related-susceptible strains, and the possible relationship of this to the expression of methicillin resistance is discussed.

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