Quorum sensing in Staphylococcus infections

J Clin Invest. 2003 Dec;112(11):1620-5. doi: 10.1172/JCI20442.


Quorum sensing via the accessory gene regulator (agr) system has been assigned a central role in the pathogenesis of staphylococci, particularly Staphylococcus aureus. While the control of virulence gene expression in vitro by agr has been relatively straightforward to describe, regulation of both the quorum response itself and virulence genes in vivo is considerably more complex. The quorum response is highly dependent upon the environment in which the organism is grown and is strongly influenced by additional regulators that respond to signals other than cell density. There is increasing evidence that the agr phenotype may influence the behavior and pathogenesis of biofilm-associated S. aureus and S. epidermidis and may contribute to the chronic nature of some biofilm-associated infections.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology
  • Biofilms
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Signal Transduction
  • Staphylococcal Infections / etiology*
  • Staphylococcus / genetics
  • Staphylococcus / pathogenicity*
  • Trans-Activators / physiology
  • Virulence / genetics


  • Agr protein, Staphylococcus aureus
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Trans-Activators