The virulence of Staphylococcus aureus is controlled by the accessory gene regulator (agr) system, including an extracellular inducer encoded by agrD. Variable agr PCR restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) patterns of unique S. aureus strains (n = 192) were determined for a region comprising agrD and parts of the neighboring agrC and agrB genes. Twelve unique RFLP patterns were identified among S. aureus strains in general; these patterns were further specified by sequencing. All sequences could be catalogued in the three current agr groups. A major proportion of the S. aureus strains belong to agr group 1, whereas only 6% of the methicillin-susceptible S. aureus strains and 5% of the methicillin-resistant S. aureus strains belong to agr groups 2 and 3, respectively. The homology between groups varied from 75 to 80%, and within groups it varied from 96 to 100%. Different levels of sequence variability were observed in the different agr genes. agr-related bacterial interference among colonizing S. aureus strains in the noses of persistent and intermittent human carriers was studied. S. aureus strains belonging to different agr groups were encountered in the same individual. This may suggest that the activity of the agrD gene product does not define colonization dynamics, which is further substantiated by the rarity of agr group 2 and 3 strains.

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Journal of Bacteriology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Nieuwenhuizen, W., Gijzen, C., van Belkum, A., Verbrugh, H., & van Leeuwen, W. (2000). Population studies of methicillin-resistant and -sensitive Staphylococcus aureus strains reveal a lack of variability in the agrD gene, encoding a staphylococcal autoinducer peptide. Journal of Bacteriology. Retrieved from