Inactivation of the Ecs ABC Transporter of Staphylococcus aureus Attenuates Virulence by Altering Composition and Function of Bacterial Wall

Jonsson, I-M., Juuti, J. T., Francois, P., AlMajidi, R., Pietiainen, M., Girard, M., Lindholm, C., Saller, M. J., Driessen, A. J. M., Kuusela, P., Bokarewa, M., Schrenzel, J. & Kontinen, V. P., 2-Dec-2010, In : PLoS ONE. 5, 12, 13 p., 14209.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • Ing-Marie Jonsson
  • Jarmo T. Juuti
  • Patrice Francois
  • Rana AlMajidi
  • Milla Pietiainen
  • Myriam Girard
  • Catharina Lindholm
  • Manfred J. Saller
  • Arnold J. M. Driessen
  • Pentti Kuusela
  • Maria Bokarewa
  • Jacques Schrenzel
  • Vesa P. Kontinen

Background: Ecs is an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter present in aerobic and facultative anaerobic Gram-positive Firmicutes. Inactivation of Bacillus subtilis Ecs causes pleiotropic changes in the bacterial phenotype including inhibition of intramembrane proteolysis. The molecule(s) transported by Ecs is (are) still unknown.

Methodology/Principal Findings: In this study we mutated the ecsAB operon in two Staphylococcus aureus strains, Newman and LS-1. Phenotypic and functional characterization of these Ecs deficient mutants revealed a defect in growth, increased autolysis and lysostaphin sensitivity, altered composition of cell wall proteins including the precursor form of staphylokinase and an altered bacterial surface texture. DNA microarray analysis indicated that the Ecs deficiency changed expression of the virulence factor regulator protein Rot accompanied by differential expression of membrane transport proteins, particularly ABC transporters and phosphate-specific transport systems, protein A, adhesins and capsular polysaccharide biosynthesis proteins. Virulence of the ecs mutants was studied in a mouse model of hematogenous S. aureus infection. Mice inoculated with the ecs mutant strains developed markedly milder infections than those inoculated with the wild-type strains and had consequently lower mortality, less weight loss, milder arthritis and decreased persistence of staphylococci in the kidneys. The ecs mutants had higher susceptibility to ribosomal antibiotics and plant alkaloids chelerythrine and sanguinarine.

Conclusions/Significance: Our results show that Ecs is essential for staphylococcal virulence and antimicrobial resistance probably since the transport function of Ecs is essential for the normal structure and function of the cell wall. Thus targeting Ecs may be a new approach in combating staphylococcal infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14209
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2-Dec-2010



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