Staphylococcus aureus biofilm metabolism and the influence of arginine on polysaccharide intercellular adhesin synthesis, biofilm formation, and pathogenesis

Yefei Zhu, Elizabeth C. Weiss, Michael Otto, Paul D. Fey, Mark S. Smeltzer, Greg A. Somerville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

82 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis are the leading causes of nosocomial infections in the United States and often are associated with biofilms attached to indwelling medical devices. Despite the importance of biofilms, there is very little consensus about the metabolic requirements of S. aureus during biofilm growth. To assess the metabolic requirements of S. aureus growing in a biofilm, we grew USA200 and USA300 clonal types in biofilm flow cells and measured the extraction and accumulation of metabolites. In spite of the genetic differences, both clonal types extracted glucose and accumulated lactate, acetate, formate, and acetoin, suggesting that glucose was catabolized to pyruvate that was then catabolized via the lactate dehydrogenase, pyruvate formate-lyase, and butanediol pathways. Additionally, both clonal types selectively extracted the same six amino acids (serine, proline, arginine, glutamine, glycine, and threonine) from the culture medium. These data and recent speculation about the importance of arginine in biofilm growth and the function of arginine deiminase in USA300 clones led us to genetically inactivate the sole copy of the arginine deiminase operon by deleting the arginine/ornithine antiporter gene (arcD) in the USA200 clonal type and to assess the effect on biofilm development and pathogenesis. Although inactivation of arcD did completely inhibit arginine transport and did reduce polysaccharide intercellular adhesin accumulation, arcD mutants formed biofilms and achieved cell densities in catheter infection studies that were equivalent to those for isogenic wild-type strains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4219-4226
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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