Published Research - Department of Chemistry


Date of this Version



JOURNAL OF BACTERIOLOGY, Dec. 2008, p. 7621–7632


© 2008, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


Staphylococcus epidermidis is a major nosocomial pathogen primarily infecting immunocompromised individuals or those with implanted biomaterials (e.g., catheters). Biomaterial-associated infections often involve the formation of a biofilm on the surface of the medical device. In S. epidermidis, polysaccharide intercellular adhesin (PIA) is an important mediator of biofilm formation and pathogenesis. Synthesis of PIA is regulated by at least three DNA binding proteins (IcaR, SarA, and σB) and several environmental and nutritional conditions. Previously, we observed the environmental conditions that increased PIA synthesis decreased tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle activity. In this study, S. epidermidis TCA cycle mutants were constructed, and the function of central metabolism in PIA biosynthesis was examined. TCA cycle inactivation altered the metabolic status of S. epidermidis, resulting in a massive derepression of PIA biosynthetic genes and a redirection of carbon from growth into PIA biosynthesis. These data demonstrate that the bacterial metabolic status is a critical regulatory determinant of PIA synthesis. In addition, these data lead us to propose that the TCA cycle acts as a signal transduction pathway to translate external environmental cues into intracellular metabolic signals that modulate the activity of transcriptional regulators.