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Functional Analysis of luxS in Staphylococcus aureus Reveals a Role in Metabolism but Not Quorum Sensing.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Neil Doherty
  • Matthew T. G. Holden,
  • Saara N. Qazi
  • Paul Williams
  • Klaus Winzer
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2006
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Bacteriology
Issue number8
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)2885-2897
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The function of AI-2 in many bacteria and the physiological role of LuxS, the enzyme responsible for its production, remain matters of debate. Here, we show that in Staphylococcus aureus the luxS gene forms a monocistronic transcriptional unit under the control of a 70-dependent promoter. The gene was transcribed throughout growth under a variety of conditions, including intracellular growth in MAC-T cells. AI-2 was produced in rich media under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, peaking during the transition to stationary phase, but was hardly detectable in a sulfur-limited defined medium. In the presence of glucose or under anaerobic conditions, cultures retained considerable AI-2 activity after entry into stationary phase. Inactivation of luxS in various S. aureus strains did not affect virulence-associated traits, such as production of hemolysins and extracellular proteases, biofilm formation, and the agr signaling system. Conversely, AI-2 production remained unchanged in an agr mutant. However, luxS mutants grown in a sulfur-limited defined medium exhibited a growth defect. When grown together with the wild type in mixed culture, luxS mutants of various S. aureus strains showed reduced ability to compete for growth under these conditions. In contrast, a complemented luxS mutant grew as well as the parent strain, suggesting that the observed growth defect was of an intracellular nature and had not been caused by either second-site mutations or the lack of a diffusible factor. However, the LuxS/AI-2 system does not appear to contribute to the overall fitness of S. aureus RN6390B during intracellular growth in epithelial cells: the wild type and a luxS mutant showed very similar growth patterns after their internalization by MAC-T cells.