Bacteriophage-resistant Staphylococcus aureus mutant confers broad immunity against staphylococcal infection in mice

PLoS One. 2010 Jul 22;5(7):e11720. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011720.


In the presence of a bacteriophage (a bacteria-attacking virus) resistance is clearly beneficial to the bacteria. As expected in such conditions, resistant bacteria emerge rapidly. However, in the absence of the phage, resistant bacteria often display reduced fitness, compared to their sensitive counterparts. The present study explored the fitness cost associated with phage-resistance as an opportunity to isolate an attenuated strain of S. aureus. The phage-resistant strain A172 was isolated from the phage-sensitive strain A170 in the presence of the M(Sa) phage. Acquisition of phage-resistance altered several properties of A172, causing reduced growth rate, under-expression of numerous genes and production of capsular polysaccharide. In vivo, A172 modulated the transcription of the TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma and Il-1beta genes and, given intramuscularly, protected mice from a lethal dose of A170 (18/20). The heat-killed vaccine also afforded protection from heterologous methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) (8/10 mice) or vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (VISA) (9/10 mice). The same vaccine was also effective when administered as an aerosol. Anti-A172 mouse antibodies, in the dose of 10 microl/mouse, protected the animals (10/10, in two independent experiments) from a lethal dose of A170. Consisting predominantly of the sugars glucose and galactose, the capsular polysaccharide of A172, given in the dose of 25 microg/mouse, also protected the mice (20/20) from a lethal dose of A170. The above results demonstrate that selection for phage-resistance can facilitate bacterial vaccine preparation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / immunology
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology
  • Bacteriophages / growth & development
  • Bacteriophages / physiology*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Female
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / immunology
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Staphylococcal Infections / immunology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity
  • Staphylococcus aureus / virology*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Acetylglucosamine