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PLoS One. 2010 Sep 29;5(9). pii: e13069. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013069.

Hfq is a global regulator that controls the pathogenicity of Staphylococcus aureus.

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Beijing Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Beijing, People's Republic of China.


The Hfq protein is reported to be an RNA chaperone, which is involved in the stress response and the virulence of several pathogens. In E. coli, Hfq can mediate the interaction between some sRNAs and their target mRNAs. But it is controversial whether Hfq plays an important role in S. aureus. In this study, we found that the deletion of hfq gene in S. aureus 8325-4 can increase the surface carotenoid pigments. The hfq mutant was more resistant to oxidative stress but the pathogenicity of the mutant was reduced. We reveal that the Hfq protein can be detected only in some S. aureus strains. Using microarray and qRT-PCR, we identified 116 genes in the hfq mutant which had differential expression from the wild type, most of which are related to the phenotype and virulence of S. aureus. Among the 116 genes, 49 mRNAs can specifically bind Hfq protein, which indicates that Hfq also acts as an RNA binding protein in S. aureus. Our data suggest that Hfq protein of S. aureus is a multifunctional regulator involved in stress and virulence.

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