Exotoxins, including the hemolysins known as the alpha (α) and beta (β) toxins, play an important role in the pathogenesis of Staphylococcus aureus infections. A random transposon library was screened for S. aureus mutants exhibiting altered hemolysin expression compared to wild type. Transposon insertions in 72 genes resulting in increased or decreased hemolysin expression were identified. Mutations inactivating a putative cyclic di-GMP synthetase and a serine/threonine phosphatase (Stp1) were found to reduce hemolysin expression, and mutations in genes encoding a two component regulator PhoR, LysR family transcriptional regulator, purine biosynthetic enzymes and a serine/threonine kinase (Stk1) increased expression. Transcription of the hla gene encoding α toxin was decreased in a Δstp1 mutant strain and increased in a Δstk1 strain. Microarray analysis of a Δstk1 mutant revealed increased transcription of additional exotoxins. A Δstp1 strain is severely attenuated for virulence in mice and elicits less inflammation and IL-6 production than the Δstk1 strain. In vivophosphopeptide enrichment and mass spectrometric analysis revealed that threonine phosphorylated peptides corresponding to Stk1, DNA binding histone like protein (HU), serine-aspartate rich fibrinogen/bone sialoprotein binding protein (SdrE) and a hypothetical protein (NWMN_1123) were present in the wild type and not in the Δstk1 mutant. Collectively, these studies suggest that Stk1 mediated phosphorylation of HU, SrdE and NWMN_1123 affects S. aureus gene expression and virulence.
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Burnside, Kellie; Lembo, Annalisa; de los Reyes, Melissa; Iliuk, Anton; BinhTran, Nguyen-Thao; Connelly, James E.; Lin, Wan-Jung; Schmidt, Byron Z.; Richardson, Anthony R.; Fang, Ferric C.; Tao, Weiguo Andy; and Rajagopal, Lakshmi, "Regulation of Hemolysin Expression and Virulence of Staphylococcus Aureus By a Serine/Threonine Kinase and Phosphatase." (2010). Department of Biochemistry Faculty Publications. Paper 5.