Acapsular Staphylococcus aureus with a non-functional agr regains capsule expression after passage through the bloodstream in a bacteremia mouse model

Carlos M Suligoy, Rocío E Díaz, Ana-Katharina Gehrke, Natalie Ring, Gonzalo Yebra, Joana Alves, Marisa I Gómez, Sindy Wendler, J Ross Fitzgerald, Lorena Tuchscherr, Bettina Löffler, Daniel O Sordelli, Mariángeles Noto Llana, Fernanda R Buzzola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Selection pressures exerted on Staphylococcus aureus by host factors during infection may lead to the emergence of regulatory phenotypes better adapted to the infection site. Traits convenient for persistence may be fixed by mutation thus turning these mutants into microevolution endpoints. The feasibility that stable, non-encapsulated S. aureus mutants can regain expression of key virulence factors for survival in the bloodstream was investigated. S. aureus agr mutant HU-14 (IS256 insertion in agrC) from a patient with chronic osteomyelitis was passed through the bloodstream using a bacteriemia mouse model and derivative P3.1 was obtained. Although IS256 remained inserted in agrC, P3.1 regained production of capsular polysaccharide type 5 (CP5) and staphyloxanthin. Furthermore, P3.1 expressed higher levels of asp23/SigB when compared with parental strain HU-14. Strain P3.1 displayed decreased osteoclastogenesis capacity, thus indicating decreased adaptability to bone compared with strain HU-14 and exhibited a trend to be more virulent than parental strain HU-14. Strain P3.1 exhibited the loss of one IS256 copy, which was originally located in the HU-14 noncoding region between dnaG (DNA primase) and rpoD (sigA). This loss may be associated with the observed phenotype change but the mechanism remains unknown. In conclusion, S. aureus organisms that escape the infected bone may recover the expression of key virulence factors through a rapid microevolution pathway involving SigB regulation of key virulence factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14108
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2020

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