The response of nor and nos contributes to Staphylococcus aureus virulence and metabolism

Lacey J. Favazzo, Ann Lindley Gill, Christopher W. Farnsworth, Robert A. Mooney, Steven R. Gill

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5 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus causes a wide spectrum of disease, with the site and severity of infection dependent on virulence traits encoded within genetically distinct clonal complexes (CCs) and bacterial responses to host innate immunity. The production of nitric oxide (NO) by activated phagocytes is a major host response to which S. aureus metabolically adapts through multiple strategies that are conserved in all CCs, including an S. aureus nitric oxide synthase (Nos). Previous genome analysis of CC30, a lineage associated with chronic endocardial and osteoarticular infections, revealed a putative NO reductase (Nor) not found in other CCs that potentially contributes to NO resistance and clinical outcome. Here, we demonstrate that Nor has true nitric oxide reductase activity, with nor expression enhanced by NO stress and anaerobic growth. Furthermore, we demonstrate that nor is regulated by MgrA and SrrAB, which modulate S. aureus virulence and hypoxic response. Transcriptome analysis of the S. aureus UAMS-1, UAMS-1 Δnor, and UAMS-1 Δnos strains under NO stress and anaerobic growth demonstrates that Nor contributes to nucleotide metabolism and Nos to glycolysis. We demonstrate that Nor and Nos contribute to enhanced survival in the presence of human human polymorphonuclear cells and have organ-specific seeding in a tail vein infection model. Nor contributes to abscess formation in an osteological implant model. We also demonstrate that Nor has a role in S. aureus metabolism and virulence. The regulation overlap between Nor and Nos points to an intriguing link between regulation of intracellular NO, metabolic adaptation, and persistence in the CC30 lineage. IMPORTANCE Staphylococcus aureus can cause disease at most body sites, and illness spans asymptomatic infection to death. The variety of clinical presentations is due to the diversity of strains, which are grouped into distinct clonal complexes (CCs) based on genetic differences. The ability of S. aureus CC30 to cause chronic infections relies on its ability to evade the oxidative/nitrosative defenses of the immune system and survive under different environmental conditions, including differences in oxygen and nitric oxide concentrations. The significance of this work is the exploration of unique genes involved in resisting NO stress and anoxia. A better understanding of the functions that control the response of S. aureus CC30 to NO and oxygen will guide the treatment of severe disease presentations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00107-19
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Metabolism
  • Nitric oxide reductase
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Virulence


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