Department of Chemistry


Date of this Version



Halsey CR, Lei S, Wax JK, Lehman MK, Nuxoll AS, Steinke L, Sadykov M, Powers R, Fey PD. 2017. Amino acid catabolism in Staphylococcus aureus and the function of carbon catabolite repression. mBio 8:e01434- 16.


© 2017 Halsey et al. This is an openaccess article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.


Staphylococcus aureus must rapidly adapt to a variety of carbon and nitrogen sources during invasion of a host. Within a staphylococcal abscess, preferred carbon sources such as glucose are limiting, suggesting that S. aureus survives through the catabolism of secondary carbon sources. S. aureus encodes pathways to catabolize multiple amino acids, including those that generate pyruvate, 2-oxoglutarate, and oxaloacetate. To assess amino acid catabolism, S. aureus JE2 and mutants were grown in complete defined medium containing 18 amino acids but lacking glucose (CDM). A mutation in the gudB gene, coding for glutamate dehydrogenase, which generates 2-oxoglutarate from glutamate, significantly reduced growth in CDM, suggesting that glutamate and those amino acids generating glutamate, particularly proline, serve as the major carbon source in this medium. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies confirmed this supposition. Furthermore, a mutation in the ackA gene, coding for acetate kinase, also abrogated growth of JE2 in CDM, suggesting that ATP production from pyruvate-producing amino acids is also critical for growth. In addition, although a functional respiratory chain was absolutely required for growth, the oxygen consumption rate and intracellular ATP concentration were significantly lower during growth in CDM than during growth in glucose-containing media. Finally, transcriptional analyses demonstrated that expression levels of genes coding for the enzymes that synthesize glutamate from proline, arginine, and histidine are repressed by CcpA and carbon catabolite repression. These data show that pathways important for glutamate catabolism or ATP generation via Pta/AckA are important for growth in niches where glucose is not abundant, such as abscesses within skin and soft tissue infections.