Cell wall composition and associated properties of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains.

B. J. Wilkinson, K. J. Dorian, L. D. Sabath

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Methicillin-resistant (MR) Staphylococcus aureus strains have previously been reported to be deficient in surface negative charge; this has been correlated with methicillin resistance and ascribed to a deficiency of teichoic acid at the cell surface (A. W. Hill and A. M. James, Microbios 6:157-167, 1972). Teichoic acid was present in walls of MR organisms as revealed by appreciable phosphate levels and detection of ribitol residues. Phosphate levels in walls from five MR strains (0.54 to 0.77 mumol/mg of wall) were lower than in three unrelated methicillin-sensitive (MS) strains (0.86 to 1.0 mumol/mg of wall). However, two MS strains derived from two of the MR strains had wall phosphate levels very similar to those of the MR strains. No evidence for unusual wall polymers was found. Simple deficiency of wall teichoic acid does not result in methicillin resistance since an independently isolated teichoic acid-deficient strain (0.1 mumol of phosphate per mg of wall) was not methicillin resistant. In studies of biological properties possibly related to wall teichoic acid, it was discovered that walls isolated from MR organisms grown in the presence of methicillin autolyzed more rapidly than those isolated from organisms grown in the absence of the drug. Since methicillin resistance is enhanced by NaCl and suppressed by ethylenediaminetetraacetate, the effects of these compounds on autolysis of isolated walls were studied. NaCl (1.0 M) and ethylenediaminetetraacetate (1.0 mM) inhibited the autolysis of walls isolated from MR and MS strains. An MR strain bound phage 47, 52A, and 3A only slightly less well than their respective propagating strains.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)976-982
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1978


  • Amino Acids/an [Analysis]
  • Bacteriolysis/de [Drug Effects]
  • Cell Wall/an [Analysis]
  • Edetic Acid/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Methicillin/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Penicillin Resistance
  • Sodium Chloride/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Staphylococcus Phages/me [Metabolism]
  • Staphylococcus aureus/an [Analysis]
  • Staphylococcus aureus/de [Drug Effects]
  • Staphylococcus aureus/ul [Ultrastructure]
  • Teichoic Acids/an [Analysis]

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