CodY-Mediated Regulation of the Staphylococcus aureus Agr System Integrates Nutritional and Population Density Signals

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Nadja B. Cech, Patricia A. Sullivan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: The Staphylococcus aureus Agr system regulates virulence gene expression by responding to cell population density (quorum sensing). When an extracellular peptide signal (AIP-III in strain UAMS-1, used for these experiments) reaches a concentration threshold, the AgrC-AgrA two-component regulatory system is activated through a cascade of phosphorylation events, leading to induction of the divergently transcribed agrBDCA operon and the RNAIII gene. RNAIII is a posttranscriptional regulator of numerous metabolic and pathogenesis genes. CodY, a global regulatory protein, is known to repress agrBDCA and RNAIII transcription during exponential growth in rich medium, but the mechanism of this regulation has remained elusive. Here we report that phosphorylation of AgrA by the AgrC protein kinase is required for the overexpression of the agrBDCAoperon and the RNAIII gene in a codY mutant during the exponential-growth phase, suggesting that the quorum-sensing system, which normally controls AgrC activation, is active even in exponential-phase cells in the absence of CodY. In part, such premature expression of RNAIII was attributable to higher-than-normal accumulation of AIP-III in a codY mutant strain, as determined using ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Although CodY is a strong repressor of the agr locus, CodY bound only weakly to the agrBDCA-RNAIII promoter region, suggesting that direct regulation by CodY is unlikely to be the principal mechanism by which CodY regulates agr and RNAIII expression. Taken together, these results strongly suggest that cell population density signals inducing virulence gene expression can be overridden by nutrient availability, a condition monitored by CodY.

Additional Information

Journal of Bacteriology, 196(6), 1184-1196
Language: English
Date: 2014
CodY, Staphylococcus aureus, DNA, RNA

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