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Low-shear modelled microgravity alters expression of virulence determinants of Staphylococcus aureus

Rosado, H; Doyle, M; Hinds, J; Taylor, PW; (2010) Low-shear modelled microgravity alters expression of virulence determinants of Staphylococcus aureus. Acta Astronautica , 66 (3-4) pp. 408-413. 10.1016/j.actaastro.2009.06.007.

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Abstract

Microbiological monitoring of air and surfaces within the ISS indicate that bacteria of the genus Staphylococcus are found with high frequency. Staphylococcus aureus, an opportunistic pathogen with the capacity to cause severe debilitating infection, constitutes a significant proportion of these isolates. Experiments conducted during short-term flight suggest that growth in microgravity leads to increases in bacterial antibiotic resistance and to cell wall changes. Growth under low-shear modelled microgravity (LSMMG) indicated that a reduced gravitational field acts as an environmental signal for expression of enhanced bacterial virulence in gram-negative pathogens. We therefore examined the effect of simulated microgravity on parameters of antibiotic susceptibility and virulence in methicillin-susceptible S. aureus isolates RF1, RF6 and RF11; these strains were grown in a high aspect ratio vessel under LSMMG and compared with cells grown under normal gravity (NG). There were no significant differences in antibiotic susceptibility of staphylococci grown under LSMMG compared to NG. LSMMG-induced reductions in synthesis of the pigment staphyloxanthin and the major virulence determinant α-toxin were noted. Significant changes in global gene expression were identified by DNA microarray analysis; with isolate RF6, the expression of hla and genes of the regulatory system saeR/saeS were reduced approximately two-fold. These data provide strong evidence that growth of S. aureus under modelled microgravity leads to a reduction in expression of virulence determinants. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Type: Article
Title: Low-shear modelled microgravity alters expression of virulence determinants of Staphylococcus aureus
DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2009.06.007
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1350905
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