The Staphylococcus aureus lrgAB operon modulates murein hydrolase activity and penicillin tolerance

Kajetan H. Groicher, Brian A. Firek, David F. Fujimoto, Kenneth W. Bayles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


Previous studies in our laboratory have shown that the Staphylococcus aureus LytSR two-component regulatory system affects murein hydrolase activity and autolysis. A LytSR-regulated dicistronic operon has also been identified and shown to encode two potential membrane-associated proteins, designated LrgA and LrgB, hypothesized to be involved in the control of murein hydrolase activity. In the present study, a lrgAB mutant strain was generated and analyzed to test this hypothesis. Zymographic and quantitative analysis of murein hydrolase activity revealed that the lrgAB mutant produced increased extracellular murein hydrolase activity compared to that of the wild-type strain. Complementation of the lrgAB defect by providing the lrgAB genes in trans restored the wild-type phenotype, indicating that these genes confer negative control on extracellular murein hydrolase activity. In addition to these effects, the influence of the lrgAB mutation on penicillin- induced lysis and killing was examined. These studies demonstrated that the lrgAB mutation enhanced penicillin-induced killing of cells approaching the stationary phase of growth, the time at which the lrgAB operon was shown to be maximally expressed. This effect of the lrgAB mutation on penicillin- induced killing was shown to be independent of cell lysis. In contrast, the lrgAB mutation did not affect penicillin-induced killing of cells growing in early-exponential phase, a time in which lrgAB expression was shown to be minimal. However, expression of the lrgAB operon in early-exponential-phase cells inhibited penicillin-induced killing, again independent of cell lysis. The data generated by this study suggest that penicillin-induced killing of S. aureus involves a novel regulator of murein hydrolase activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1794-1801
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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