The agr locus encodes the central regulatory system for staphylococcal pathogenesis and other stress-related functions. It is a quorum-sensing system that contains a two-component signal transduction module, encoded by agrA and C, and a peptide autoinducer, encoded by agrD, that is the activating ligand. Natural variants exist that cross inhibit agr autoinduction in heterologous combinations, thus blocking pathogenesis. This is the continuation of a long-term program whose overall goal is to understand the mechanism of agr autoinduction, the role of the agr autoinduction circuit in the pathogenesis of staphylococcal disease, and the biological significance of agr variants and their biotypes.
Specific Aims for this period are: 1. To determine the mechanism of autoinducing peptide biosynthesis and the mechanism by which the mature secreted peptide interacts with its receptor, including both activation by cognate peptides and inhibition by heterologous ones. 2. To determine the role of the agr system in the pathogenesis of staphylococcal disease by following the expression of specific genes in vivo, the consequences of certain mutations, and the effects of the inducing or inhibiting peptides on the course of an experimental infection. 3. To characterize the agr specificity groups for traits or genes that are shared within a group and divergent between groups, with respect to pathogenic adaptations of the organism. Design and Methods: A direct ligand-binding assay using radioactive peptide will be developed to analyze receptor-ligand interactions. Variant peptides will be synthesized to delineate the structural and sequence requirements for receptor activation and inhibition. Other variants will be synthesized to enhance stability and activity in vivo to maximize the therapeutic efficacy of inhibiting virulence. Certain bacterial genes will be fused to a luciferase reporter, which will permit the monitoring of their expression as well as of the fate and persistence of infecting organisms in a murine infection model, by means of a luciferase-detecting imaging camera. This camera will monitor the effects of in vivo agr inhibition on the infecting organisms and on gene expression in vivo. Agr group-specific biotypes will be delineated to identify group-specific traits that may be correlated with pathogenic behavior - site and type of lesion, level of virulence, antibiotic resistance, etc.. ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BM-1 (01))
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Peters, Kent
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New York University
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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