Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2004

Publication Title

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Abstract

Quorum sensing triggers virulence factor expression in medically important bacterial pathogens in response to a density-dependent increase in one or more autoinducing pheromones. Here, we show that phagocyte-derived oxidants target these autoinducers for inactivation as an innate defense mechanism of the host. In a skin infection model, expression of phagocyte NADPH oxidase, myeloperoxidase, or inducible nitric oxide synthase was critical for defense against a quorum-sensing pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus, but not for defense against a quorum sensing-deficient mutant. A virulence-inducing peptide of S. aureus was inactivated in vitro and in vivo by reactive oxygen and nitrogen intermediates, including HOCl and ONOO(-). Inactivation of the autoinducer prevented both the up-regulation of virulence gene expression and the downstream sequelae. MS analysis of the inactivated peptide demonstrated that oxidation of the C-terminal methionine was primarily responsible for loss of activity. Treatment of WT but not NADPH oxidase-deficient mice with N-acetyl methionine to scavenge the inhibitory oxidants increased in vivo quorum sensing independently of the bacterial burden at the site of infection. Thus, oxidant-mediated inactivation of an autoinducing peptide from S. aureus is a critical innate defense mechanism against infection with this pathogen.

DOI

10.1073/pnas.0402996101

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