Staphylococcus aureus virulence affected by an alternative nisin a resistance mechanism

Miki Kawada-Matsuo, Atsuko Watanabe, Kaoru Arii, Yuichi Oogai, Kazuyuki Noguchi, Shouichi Miyawaki, Tetsuya Hayashi, Hitoshi Komatsuzawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Nisin A is a bacteriocin produced by Lactococcus lactis and is widely used as a food preservative. Staphylococcus aureus has the BraRS-VraDE system that provides resistance against low concentrations of nisin A. BraRS is a two-component system that induces the expression of the ABC transporter VraDE. Previously, we isolated a highly nisin A-resistant strain with increased VraDE expression due to a mutation in braRS. In this study, we isolated S. aureus MW2 mutants with BraRS-VraDEindependent nisin A resistance. These mutants, designated SAN2 (S. aureus nisin resistant) and SAN469, had a mutation in pmtR, which encodes a transcriptional regulator responsible for the expression of the pmtABCD operon. As a result, these mutants exhibited increased expression of PmtABCD, a transporter responsible for the export of phenol-soluble modulin (PSM). Characterization of the mutants revealed that they have decreased susceptibility to human β-defensin-3 (hBD3) and LL37, which are innate immune factors. Additionally, these mutants showed higher hemolytic activity than the original MW2 strain. Furthermore, in a mouse bacteremia model, the SAN2 strain exhibited a lower survival rate than the original MW2 strain. These results indicate that the increased expression of pmtABCD due to a pmtR mutation is an alternative nisin A resistance mechanism that also affects virulence in S. aureus. IMPORTANCE Recently, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has resulted in serious problems for chemotherapy. In addition, many antibacterial agents, such as disinfectants and food additives, are widely used. Therefore, there is a possibility that bacteria are becoming resistant to some antibacterial agents. In this study, we investigated whether Staphylococcus aureus can become resistant to nisin A, one of the bacteriocins applied as a food additive. We isolated a highly nisin A-resistant strain designated SAN2 that displayed increased expression of Pmt proteins, which are involved in the secretion of virulence factors called phenolsoluble modulins (PSMs). This strain also showed decreased susceptibility to human antimicrobial peptides and increased hemolytic activity. In addition, SAN2 showed increased lethal activity in a mouse bacteremia model. Our study provides new insights into the possibility that the acquisition of resistance against food preservatives may modulate virulence in S. aureus, suggesting that we need to pay more attention to the use of food preservatives together with antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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