Only one of four oligopeptide transport systems mediates nitrogen nutrition in Staphylococcus aureus

J Bacteriol. 2007 Jul;189(14):5119-29. doi: 10.1128/JB.00274-07. Epub 2007 May 11.


Oligopeptides internalized by oligopeptide permease (Opp) transporters play key roles in bacterial nutrition, signaling, and virulence. To date, two opp operons, opp-1 and opp-2, have been identified in Staphylococcus aureus. Systematic in silico analysis of 11 different S. aureus genomes revealed the existence of two new opp operons, opp-3 and opp-4, plus an opp-5A gene encoding a putative peptide-binding protein. With the exception of opp-4, the opp operons were present in all S. aureus strains. Within a single strain, the different opp operons displayed little sequence similarity and distinct genetic organization. Transcriptional studies showed that opp-1, opp-2, opp-3, and opp-4 operons were polycistronic and that opp-5A is monocistronic. We designed a minimal chemically defined medium for S. aureus RN6390 and showed that all opp genes were expressed but at different levels. Where tested, OppA protein production paralleled transcriptional profiles. opp-3, which encodes proteins most similar to known peptide transport proteins, displayed the highest expression level and was the only transporter to be regulated by specific amino acids, tyrosine and phenylalanine. Defined deletion mutants in one or several peptide permeases were constructed and tested for their capacity to grow in peptide-containing medium. Among the four putative Opp systems, Opp-3 was the only system able to provide oligopeptides for growth, ranging in length from 3 to 8 amino acids. Dipeptides were imported exclusively by DtpT, a proton-driven di- and tripeptide permease. These data provide a first complete inventory of the peptide transport systems opp and dtpT of S. aureus. Among them, the newly identified Opp-3 appears to be the main Opp system supplying the cell with peptides as nutritional sources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / physiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Nitrogen / metabolism*
  • Oligopeptides / metabolism
  • Oligopeptides / pharmacology
  • Operon / genetics
  • Phenylalanine / pharmacology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics
  • Staphylococcus aureus / metabolism*
  • Tyrosine / pharmacology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Oligopeptides
  • oligopeptide permease, Bacteria
  • Tyrosine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Nitrogen