• Microbiology;
  • Regulation;
  • Staphylococcus aureus;
  • Toxins;
  • Virulence determinants


Staphylococcus aureus is a leading human pathogen of both hospital and community-associated diseases worldwide. This organism causes a wealth of infections within the human host as a result of the vast arsenal of toxins encoded within its genome. Previous transcriptomic studies have shown that toxin production in S. aureus can be strongly impacted by the negative regulator CodY. CodY acts by directly, and indirectly (via Agr), repressing toxin production during times of plentiful nutrition. In this study, we use iTRAQ-based proteomics for the first time to study virulence determinant production in S. aureus, so as to correlate transcriptional observations with actual changes in protein synthesis. Using a codY mutant in the epidemic CA-MRSA clone USA300 we demonstrate that deletion of this transcription factor results in a major upregulation of toxin synthesis in both post-exponential and stationary growth. Specifically, we observe hyper-production of secreted proteases, leukocidins and hemolysins in both growth phases in the USA300 codY mutant. Our findings demonstrate the power of mass spectrometry-based quantitative proteomics for studying toxin production in S. aureus, and the importance of CodY to this central process in disease causation and infection.