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Staphylococcus aureus

A review of Staphylococcus aureus.

Staphylococcus aureus

Foodborne Pathogens
Edited by: Pina M. Fratamico, Arun K. Bhunia, and James L. Smith

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Adapted from George C. Stewart in Foodborne Pathogens: Microbiology and Molecular Biology
Staphylococcus aureus: Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of confirmed bacterial foodborne disease worldwide. Food poisoning episodes are characterized by symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea that occur shortly after ingestion of Staphylococcus aureus-contaminated food. The symptoms arise from ingestion of preformed enterotoxin, which accounts for the short incubation time. Staphylococcal enterotoxins are a family of sequence similar, but serologically distinct proteins. These proteins have the additional property of being superantigens and, as such, have adverse effects on the immune system. The enterotoxin genes are accessory genetic elements in Staphylococcus aureus, meaning that not all strains of this organism are enterotoxin-producing. The enterotoxin genes are found on prophage, plasmids, and pathogenicity islands in different strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Expression of the enterotoxin genes is often under the control of global virulence gene regulatory systems. Although much progress has been made recently in defining enterotoxin structure and superantigenicity properties, much remains to be learned regarding the binding of enterotoxins to receptors in the gastrointestinal tract and how toxin production leads to the symptoms associated with staphylococcal food poisoning.

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