Staphylococcus aureus Quorum Sensing: A Look Into Ultra-Sensitivity Switches in Gram Positive Bacteria
One of the most pressing matters facing the medical community is the growing dilemma of bacterial resistance to our most viable form of treatment, antibiotics. The first antibiotics originated around 1935 and while they have been a useful tool to cure diseases they have ultimately become a crutch we use for common illnesses. Due to overuse of this crutch we have created biotics that are resistant to our treatments. Most concerningly, there are cases of bacteria that have become resistant to multiple antibiotics, so called “superbugs”, which pose an enormous risk to human health in the coming decades. Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one such superbug that is commonly found on the epidermis, infecting via lesions when it has access to the cardiovascular system. This study is focused on utilizing the quorum sensing proteins of S. aureus to build an ultra sensitivity switch, dependent on the concentration of the autoinducing peptide (AIP) that S. aureus uses to detect it’s population density. In a Staph system, once a threshold population density is reached the bacteria become virulent and begin to break away from the biofilm. Our system will detect AIP at a level lower than the virulence transcription and trigger production of a phage that will then target and deliver a kill mechanism into S. aureus. Phage are highly specific to certain species of bacteria and in this case will be specific to S. aureus. With this system we will be able to safely treat cultures of S. aureus and avoid perpetuating the problem of creating new resistant species. The phage will be used as a delivery mechanism in the future for a genetic based system for desensitizing S. aureus to some of the most common antibiotics.