Human urine contains a relatively high concentration of d-serine, which is toxic to several nonuropathogenic bacteria, but can be utilized or detoxified by uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC). The sequenced genome of uropathogenic Staphylococcus saprophyticus contains a gene with homology to the d-serine deaminase gene (dsdA) of UPEC. We found the gene in several clinical isolates of S. saprophyticus; however, the gene was absent in Staphylococcus xylosus and Staphylococcus cohnii, phylogenetically close relatives of S. saprophyticus, and could also not be detected in isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and 13 other staphylococcal species. In addition, the genomes of other sequenced staphylococci do not harbor homologues of this operon. Interestingly, S. saprophyticus could grow in media supplemented with relatively high concentrations of d-serine, whereas S. aureus, S. epidermidis and other staphylococcal species could not. The association of the dsdA gene with growth in media including d-serine was proved by introducing the gene into S. aureus Newman. Given the fact that UPEC and S. saprophyticus tolerate this compound, d-serine utilization and detoxification may be a general property of uropathogenic bacteria.
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