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Staphylococcus aureus Preferentially Liberates Inorganic Phosphate from Organophosphates in Environments where This Nutrient Is Limiting. J Bacteriol 2020 Oct 22;202(22)



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2-s2.0-85094220480 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   4 Citations


Phosphate is an essential nutrient that Staphylococcus aureus and other pathogens must acquire from the host during infection. While inorganic monophosphate (Pi) is the preferred source of this nutrient, bacteria can also obtain it from phosphate-containing organic molecules. The Pi-responsive regulator PhoPR is necessary for S. aureus to cause infection, suggesting that Pi is not freely available during infection and that this nutrient must be obtained from other sources. However, the organophosphates from which S. aureus can obtain phosphate are unknown. We evaluated the ability of 58 phosphorus-containing molecules to serve as phosphate sources for S. aureus Forty-six of these compounds, including phosphorylated amino acids, sugars, and nucleotides, supported growth. Among the organophosphate sources was glycerol-3-phosphate (G3P), which is commonly found in the mammalian host. Differing from the model organism Escherichia coli, S. aureus does not import G3P intact to obtain Pi Instead, S. aureus relies on the phosphatase PhoB to release Pi from G3P, which is subsequently imported by Pi transporters. To determine if this strategy is used by S. aureus to extract phosphate from other phosphate sources, we assessed the ability of PhoB- and Pi transporter-deficient strains to grow on the same library of phosphorus-containing molecules. Sixty percent of the substrates (28/46) relied on the PhoB/Pi transporter pathway, and an additional 10/46 (22%) were PhoB independent but still required Pi transport through the Pi transporters. Cumulatively, these results suggest that in Pi-limited environments, S. aureus preferentially generates Pi from organophosphates and then relies on Pi transporters to import this nutrient.IMPORTANCE For bacteria, the preferred form of the essential nutrient phosphate is inorganic monophosphate (Pi), but phosphate can also be extracted from a variety of phosphocompounds. Pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus, experience Pi limitation within the host, suggesting that the use of alternative phosphate sources is important during infection. However, the alternative phosphate sources that can be used by S. aureus and others remain largely unexplored. We screened a library of phosphorus-containing compounds for the ability to support growth as a phosphate source. S. aureus could use a variety of phosphocompounds, including nucleotides, phosphosugars, and phosphoamino acids. Subsequent genetic analysis determined that a majority of these alternative phosphate sources are first processed extracellularly to liberate Pi, which is then imported through Pi transporters.

Author List

Kelliher JL, Leder Macek AJ, Grudzinski KM, Radin JN, Kehl-Fie TE


Jessica L. Kelliher PhD Assistant Professor in the Microbiology and Immunology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Bacterial Proteins
Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
Membrane Transport Proteins
Staphylococcus aureus