CcpA Regulates Arginine Biosynthesis in Staphylococcus aureus through Repression of Proline Catabolism

Austin S. Nuxoll, Steven M. Halouska, Marat R. Sadykov, Mark L. Hanke, Kenneth W. Bayles, Tammy Kielian, Robert Powers, Paul D. Fey

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73 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus is a leading cause of community-associated and nosocomial infections. Imperative to the success of S. aureus is the ability to adapt and utilize nutrients that are readily available. Genomic sequencing suggests that S. aureus has the genes required for synthesis of all twenty amino acids. However, in vitro experimentation demonstrates that staphylococci have multiple amino acid auxotrophies, including arginine. Although S. aureus possesses the highly conserved anabolic pathway that synthesizes arginine via glutamate, we demonstrate here that inactivation of ccpA facilitates the synthesis of arginine via the urea cycle utilizing proline as a substrate. Mutations within putA, rocD, arcB1, argG and argH abolished the ability of S. aureus JE2 ccpA::tetL to grow in the absence of arginine, whereas an interruption in argJBCF, arcB2, or proC had no effect. Furthermore, nuclear magnetic resonance demonstrated that JE2 ccpA::ermB produced 13C5 labeled arginine when grown with 13C5 proline. Taken together, these data support the conclusion that S. aureus synthesizes arginine from proline during growth on secondary carbon sources. Furthermore, although highly conserved in all sequenced S. aureus genomes, the arginine anabolic pathway (ArgJBCDFGH) is not functional under in vitro growth conditions. Finally, a mutation in argH attenuated virulence in a mouse kidney abscess model in comparison to wild type JE2 demonstrating the importance of arginine biosynthesis in vivo via the urea cycle. However, mutations in argB, argF, and putA did not attenuate virulence suggesting both the glutamate and proline pathways are active and they, or their pathway intermediates, can complement each other in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1003033
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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