Indexed on: 09 Jul '14Published on: 09 Jul '14Published in: PNAS
Extracellular fatty acid incorporation into the phospholipids of Staphylococcus aureus occurs via fatty acid phosphorylation. We show that fatty acid kinase (Fak) is composed of two dissociable protein subunits encoded by separate genes. FakA provides the ATP binding domain and interacts with two distinct FakB proteins to produce acyl-phosphate. The FakBs are fatty acid binding proteins that exchange bound fatty acid/acyl-phosphate with fatty acid/acyl-phosphate presented in detergent micelles or liposomes. The ΔfakA and ΔfakB1 ΔfakB2 strains were unable to incorporate extracellular fatty acids into phospholipid. FakB1 selectively bound saturated fatty acids whereas FakB2 preferred unsaturated fatty acids. Affymetrix array showed a global perturbation in the expression of virulence genes in the ΔfakA strain. The severe deficiency in α-hemolysin protein secretion in ΔfakA and ΔfakB1 ΔfakB2 mutants coupled with quantitative mRNA measurements showed that fatty acid kinase activity was required to support virulence factor transcription. These data reveal the function of two conserved gene families, their essential role in the incorporation of host fatty acids by Gram-positive pathogens, and connects fatty acid kinase to the regulation of virulence factor transcription in S. aureus.