Characterization of a putative pathogenicity island from bovine Staphylococcus aureus encoding multiple superantigens

Ross Fitzgerald, Steven R. Monday, Timothy J Foster, Gregory A Bohach, P. J. Hartigan, W. J. Meaney, C. J. Smyth

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Previous studies have demonstrated that a proportion of Staphylococcus aureus isolates from bovine mastitis coproduce toxic shock syndrome toxin (TSST) and staphylococcal enterotoxin C (SEC). In this study, molecular genetic analysis of one such strain, RF122, revealed the presence of a 15,891-bp putative pathogenicity island (SaPIbov) encoding the genes for TSST (tst), the SEC bovine variant (sec-bovine), and a gene (sel) which encodes an enterotoxin-like protein. The island contains 21 open reading frames specifying hypothetical proteins longer than 60 amino acids including an integrase-like gene. The element is bordered by 74-bp direct repeats at the left and right junctions, and the integration site lies adjacent to the 3' end of the GMP synthase gene (gmps) in the S. aureus chromosome. SaPIbov contains a central region of sequence identity with the previously characterized tst pathogenicity island SaPI1 (J. A. Lindsay et al., Mol. Microbiol. 29:527-543, 1998). A closely related strain, RF120, of the same multilocus enzyme electrophoretic type, random amplified polymorphic DNA type, and ribotype, does not contain the island, implying that the element is mobile and that a recent insertion/deletion event has taken place. TSST and TSST/SEC-deficient mutants of S. aureus strain RF122 were constructed by allele replacement. In vitro bovine Vbeta-specific lymphocyte expansion analysis by culture supernatants of wild-type strains and of tst and sec-bovine allele replacement mutants revealed that TSST stimulates BTB13-specific T cells whereas SEC-bovine stimulates BTB93-specific T cells. This suggests that the presence of SaPIbov may contribute to modulation of the bovine immune response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-70
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001


  • animals
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • base sequence
  • Blotting, Southern
  • cattle
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific
  • enterotoxins/genetics
  • enterotoxins/immunlogy
  • enterotoxins/metabolism
  • Mastitis, Bovine
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Staphylococcal Infections/microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections/veterinary
  • Staphylococcus aureus/genetics
  • Staphylococcus aureus/immunology
  • Staphylococcus aureus/pathogenicity
  • Superantigens/genetics
  • superantigens/immunology
  • T-lymphocyte/immunology
  • Virulence/genetics


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