Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis peptide pheromones produced by the accessory gene regulator agr system

Peptides. 2001 Oct;22(10):1603-8. doi: 10.1016/s0196-9781(01)00495-8.


The accessory gene regulator (agr) system of staphylococci regulates the expression of virulence factors in response to cell density. The extracellular signaling molecule encoded by this system is a thiolactone-containing pheromone peptide whose primary sequence varies among staphylococcal strains. A post-translational modification of the peptide is believed to be carried out by an enzyme with a novel function, AgrB. Staphylococcal pheromones show cross-inhibiting properties: Pheromones of self and pheromones of non-self induce and suppress the agr response, respectively, and have therefore been proposed as novel anti-staphylococcal drugs. As inhibition of agr leads to diminished expression of toxins, but to increased expression of colonization factors and biofilm formation, their therapeutic potential remains yet to be evaluated in depth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / biosynthesis
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / physiology
  • Genes, Regulator / genetics
  • Genes, Regulator / physiology
  • Oligopeptides / biosynthesis*
  • Pheromones / biosynthesis
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / metabolism
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / genetics*
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / metabolism
  • Trans-Activators*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Agr protein, Staphylococcus aureus
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Oligopeptides
  • Pheromones
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors