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Role of the Stringent Stress Response in the Antibiotic Resistance Phenotype of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Role of the Stringent Stress Response in the Antibiotic Resistance Phenotype of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Antimicrobial Agents and ChemoTherapy 60(4): 2311-2317

Resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics in methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus(MRSA) requires the presence of an acquired genetic determinant,mecAormecC, which encode penicillin-binding protein PBP2A or PBP2A', respectively. Although all MRSA strains share a mechanism of resistance, the phenotypic expression of beta-lactam resistance shows considerable strain-to-strain variation. The stringent stress response, a stress response that results from nutrient limitation, was shown to play a key role in determining the resistance level of an MRSA strain. In the present study, we validated the impact of the stringent stress response on transcription and translation ofmecAin the MRSA clinical isolate strain N315, which also carries known regulatory genes (mecI/mecR1/mecR2andblaI/blaR1) formecAtranscription. We showed that the impact of the stringent stress response on the resistance level may be restricted to beta-lactam resistance based on a "foreign" determinant such asmecA, as opposed to resistance based on mutations in the nativeS. aureusdeterminantpbpB(encoding PBP2). Our observations demonstrate that high-level resistance mediated by the stringent stress response follows the current model of beta-lactam resistance in which the native PBP2 protein is also essential for expression of the resistance phenotype. We also show that theStaphylococcus sciuri pbpDgene (also calledmecAI), the putative evolutionary precursor ofmecA, confers oxacillin resistance in anS. aureusstrain, generating a heterogeneous phenotype that can be converted to high and homogenous resistance by induction of the stringent stress response in the bacteria.

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Accession: 058791200

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PMID: 26833147

DOI: 10.1128/AAC.02697-15

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