The Essential WalK Histidine Kinase and WalR Regulator Differentially Mediate Autolysis of Staphylococcus aureus RN4220

Li Zheng, Meiying Yan, Frank Fan, Yinduo Ji

Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota. 1971 Commonwealth Ave. St. Paul. MN 55108, USA. Promega Corporation, Madison, WI 53711, USA


The two-component regulatory system, WalR/WalK is necessary for growth of different gram-positive bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. In present study, we confirmed the essentiality of both the histidine kinase protein WalK and the response regulator WalR for growth using S. aureus RN4220 strain and demonstrated that the histidine kinase protein WalK and the response regulator WalR function differently in regulation of staphylococcal autolysis. The down-regulation of walR expression effectively inhibited Triton X-100-induced lysis and had a weak impact on bacterial tolerance to penicillin induced cell lysis. In contrast, the down-regulation of walK expression had no influence on either Triton X-100- or penicillin-caused autolysis.  Moreover, we determined the effect of WalR and WalK on bacterial hydrolase activity using a zymogram analysis.  The results showed that the cell lysate of down-regulated walR expression mutant displayed several bands of decreased cell wall hydrolytic activities; however, the down-regulation of WalK had no dramatic impact on the hydrolytic activities.  Furthermore, we examined the impact of WalR on the transcription of cidA associated with staphylococcal autolysis, and the results showed that the down-regulation of WalR led to decreased transcription of cidA in the log phase of growth. Taken together, the above results suggest that the essential WalR response regulator and the essential WalK histidine kinase might differently control bacterial lysis in RN4220 strain. Journal of Nature and Science, 1(6):e111, 2015

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