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Decreased Amounts of Cell Wall-Associated Protein A and Fibronectin-Binding Proteins in Staphylococcus aureus sarA Mutants due to Up-Regulation of Extracellular Proteases

American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
  • Molecular Pathogenesis
  • Biology


Data have been presented indicating that Staphylococcus aureus cell surface protein can be degraded by extracellular proteases produced by the same bacterium. We have found that in sarA mutant cells, which produce high amounts of four major extracellular proteases (staphylococcal serine protease [V8 protease] [SspA], cysteine protease [SspB], aureolysin [metalloprotease] [Aur], and staphopain [Scp]), the levels of cell-bound fibronectin-binding proteins (FnBPs) and protein A were very low compared to those of wild-type cells, in spite of unaltered or increased transcription of the corresponding genes. Cultivation of sarA mutant cells in the presence of the global protease inhibitor α2-macroglobulin resulted in a 16-fold increase in cell-bound FnBPs, indicating that extracellular proteases were responsible for the decreased amounts of FnBPs in sarA mutant cells. The protease inhibitor E64 had no effect on the level of FnBPs, indicating that cysteine proteases were not involved. Inactivation of either ssp or aur in the prototype S. aureus strain 8325-4 resulted in a threefold increase in the amount of cell-bound FnBPs. Inactivation of the same protease genes in a sarA mutant of 8325-4 resulted in a 10- to 20-fold increase in cell-bound protein A. As the serine protease requires aureolysin to be activated, it can thus be concluded that the serine protease is the most important protease in the release of cell-bound FnBPs and protein A.

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