Impact of the pentose phosphate pathway on metabolism and pathogenesis of Staphylococcus aureus

Jisun Kim, Gyu Lee Kim, Javiera Norambuena, Jeffrey M. Boyd, Dane Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Staphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen that leads to significant disease through multiple routes of infection. We recently published a transposon sequencing (Tn-seq) screen in a mouse acute pneumonia model and identified a hypothetical gene (SAUSA300_1902, pgl) with similarity to a lactonase of Escherichia coli involved in the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) that was conditionally essential. Limited studies have investigated the role of the PPP in physiology and pathogenesis of S. aureus. We show here that mutation of pgl significantly impacts ATP levels and respiration. RNA-seq analysis of the pgl mutant and parent strains identified compensatory changes in gene expression for glucose and gluconate as well as reductions in the pyrimidine biosynthesis locus. These differences were also evident through unbiased metabolomics studies and 13C labeling experiments that showed mutation of pgl led to reductions in pyrimidine metabolism including decreases in ribose-5P, UMP and GMP. These nucleotide reductions impacted the amount of extracellular DNA in biofilms and reduced biofilm formation. Mutation also limited the capacity of the strain to resist oxidant damage induced by hydrogen peroxide and paraquat and subsequent intracellular survival inside macrophages. Changes in wall teichoic acid impacted susceptibility to hydrogen peroxide. We demonstrated the importance of these changes on virulence in three different models of infection, covering respiratory, skin and septicemia, demonstrating the need for proper PPP function in all models. This work demonstrates the multifaceted role metabolism can play in multiple aspects of S. aureus pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1011531
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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