Staphylococcus aureus isolates from patients with Kawasaki disease express high levels of protein A

Elisabeth R. Wann, Amy P. Fehringer, Yuri V. Ezepchuk, Patrick M. Schlievert, Paul Bina, Raoul F. Reiser, Magnus M. Höök, Donald Y.M. Leung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute vasculitis of young children that can be complicated by coronary artery abnormalities. Recent findings suggest that a superantigen(s) may play an important role in stimulating the immune activation associated with the disease, although the origin of this superantigen(s) is unclear. Staphylococcus aureus, isolated from the rectum or pharynx of patients with KD, secretes toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST- 1). The KD isolates express low levels of other exoproteins compared to isolates from patients with toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Thus, it was previously suggested that the KD isolates may be defective in the global regulatory locus agr (for accessory gene regulator), which positively regulates these factors (D. Y. M. Leung et al., Lancet 342:1385-1388, 1993). Here we describe another characteristic of KD isolates. When considered collectively, the KD isolates were found to express higher levels of staphylococcal protein A than the TSS isolates, another characteristic of an agr-defective phenotype. This correlated with a higher level of spa mRNA in these isolates. In contrast, the KD and TSS isolates expressed comparable levels of TSST-1, consistent with previous findings (D. Y. M. Leung et al., Lancet 342:1385-1388, 1993). Analysis of RNAIII transcript levels and nucleotide sequence analysis of the RNAIII-coding region suggested that the KD isolates are not defective in RNAIII, the effector molecule of the agr regulatory system. However, induction of RNAIII transcription in the KD isolates did not result in a dramatic decrease in the amount of spa mRNA, as has been reported for other strains (F. Vandenesch, J. Kornblum, and R. P. Novick, J. Bacteriol. 173:6313-6320, 1991).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4737-4743
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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