The expression of a putative exotoxin and an ABC transporter during bovine intramammary infection contributes to the virulence of Staphylococcus aureus.

Allard, M., Ster, C., Jacob, C.L., Scholl, D.T., Diarra, M.S., and Lacasse, P. (2013). "The expression of a putative exotoxin and an ABC transporter during bovine intramammary infection contributes to the virulence of Staphylococcus aureus.", Veterinary Microbiology, 162(2-4), pp. 761-770. doi : 10.1016/j.vetmic.2012.09.029  Access to full text

Abstract

Staphylococcus aureus is a leading cause of intramammary infections (IMI) and bovine mastitis is an important disease for the dairy industry. As this bacterium probably expresses specific genes for establishment of IMI, we studied the transcriptional profile of four S. aureus strains recovered from experimentally infected cows. Microbial RNA was extracted from bacteria isolated from milk, reverse-transcribed and labeled for hybridization to sub-genomic microarrays to detect candidate genes for further investigations. Several S. aureus genes were expressed during IMI; some were detected in samples from more than one strain, more than one cow and at more than one time point during infection. A selection of four genes showing strong expression and with putative functions in pathogenesis was further studied by qPCR. By comparing the expression in different media in vitro, we found that gene SACOL2171 was induced by iron restriction whereas the expression of the transcriptional regulator SACOL2325 and the ABC transporter SACOL0718-720 (vraFG) were induced by milk. In addition, the putative exotoxin SACOL0442 seemed to require the intramammary environment for expression. Gene-disrupted mutants for SACOL0720 and SACOL0442 showed no growth defect in vitro but were attenuated during bovine IMI, causing infections with significant reductions in bacterial and somatic cell counts. The milk from the mammary quarters infected with these mutants also showed better appearance and composition than milk from quarters infected with the wild type. In conclusion, we have identified genes that are most likely important for S. aureus IMI. These represent novel candidates to include in a vaccine.

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