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Inactivation of the Ecs ABC Transporter of Staphylococcus aureus Attenuates Virulence by Altering Composition and Function of Bacterial Wall

Authors
Journal
PLoS ONE
1932-6203
Publisher
Public Library of Science
Publication Date
Volume
5
Issue
12
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014209
Keywords
  • Research Article
  • Microbiology/Cellular Microbiology And Pathogenesis
  • Microbiology/Microbial Physiology And Metabolism
  • Infectious Diseases/Bacterial Infections
Disciplines
  • Biology

Abstract

Background Ecs is an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter present in aerobic and facultative anaerobic Gram-positive Firmicutes. Inactivation of Bacillus subtilis Ecs causes pleiotropic changes in the bacterial phenotype including inhibition of intramembrane proteolysis. The molecule(s) transported by Ecs is (are) still unknown. Methodology/Principal Findings In this study we mutated the ecsAB operon in two Staphylococcus aureus strains, Newman and LS-1. Phenotypic and functional characterization of these Ecs deficient mutants revealed a defect in growth, increased autolysis and lysostaphin sensitivity, altered composition of cell wall proteins including the precursor form of staphylokinase and an altered bacterial surface texture. DNA microarray analysis indicated that the Ecs deficiency changed expression of the virulence factor regulator protein Rot accompanied by differential expression of membrane transport proteins, particularly ABC transporters and phosphate-specific transport systems, protein A, adhesins and capsular polysaccharide biosynthesis proteins. Virulence of the ecs mutants was studied in a mouse model of hematogenous S. aureus infection. Mice inoculated with the ecs mutant strains developed markedly milder infections than those inoculated with the wild-type strains and had consequently lower mortality, less weight loss, milder arthritis and decreased persistence of staphylococci in the kidneys. The ecs mutants had higher susceptibility to ribosomal antibiotics and plant alkaloids chelerythrine and sanguinarine. Conclusions/Significance Our results show that Ecs is essential for staphylococcal virulence and antimicrobial resistance probably since the transport function of Ecs is essential for the normal structure and function of the cell wall. Thus targeting Ecs may be a new approach in combating staphylococcal infection.

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