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The effect of skin fatty acids on Staphylococcus aureus

Neumann, Yvonne, Ohlsen, Knut, Donat, Stefanie, Engelmann, Susanne, Kusch, Harald, Albrecht, Dirk, Cartron, Michael, Hurd, Alexander, Foster, Simon J.
Archives of microbiology 2015 v.197 no.2 pp. 245-267
Staphylococcus aureus, fatty acids, humans, mutants, nose, physiology, pleiotropy, proteome, regulon, toxins, transcriptome, transcriptomics, virulence
Staphylococcus aureus is a commensal of the human nose and skin. Human skin fatty acids, in particular cis-6-hexadecenoic acid (C-6-H), have high antistaphylococcal activity and can inhibit virulence determinant production. Here, we show that sub-MIC levels of C-6-H result in induction of increased resistance. The mechanism(s) of C-6-H activity was investigated by combined transcriptome and proteome analyses. Proteome analysis demonstrated a pleiotropic effect of C-6-H on virulence determinant production. In response to C-6-H, transcriptomics revealed altered expression of over 500 genes, involved in many aspects of virulence and cellular physiology. The expression of toxins (hla, hlb, hlgBC) was reduced, whereas that of host defence evasion components (cap, sspAB, katA) was increased. In particular, members of the SaeRS regulon had highly reduced expression, and the use of specific mutants revealed that the effect on toxin production is likely mediated via SaeRS.