Characterisation of coagulase-negative staphylococci associated with endocarditis

  • Susan Lang

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Coagulase-negative staphylococci are major aetiological agents of prosthetic valve
endocarditis and an occasional cause of native valve disease. It is currently unclear how this group of usually avirulent microorganisms produces an infection associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality.
The aim of this thesis was to investigate whether there are specific genotypes and/or phenotypes of coagulase-negative staphylococci with a propensity to cause infective endocarditis and to investigate any identified virulence factors as markers of infection.
In this study, strains of endocarditis-related coagulase-negative staphylococci were genotyped by determining their macrorestriction genomic profile using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The strains were also investigated for phenotypic characteristics that predisposed the microorganisms to infect heart valves. By comparing coagulase-negative staphylococcal strains recovered from endocarditis patients with isolates from other significant infections (prosthetic device-related osteomyelitis and catheter-associated sepsis), no specific genotype or phenotype with a predilection to cause endocarditis was identified. However, the majority of the endocarditis-associated and other infection strains expressed the potential virulence factors lipase and esterase. Another approach to the investigation of virulence determinants used patient's serum to screen a Staphylococcus epidermidis NCTC 11047 genomic DNA library for cellular and secreted staphylococcal products that were expressed in vivo. The characterisation of two clones, which reacted with serum collected from a S. epidermidis-related endocarditis patient identified a staphylococcal pyruvate dehydrogenase complex E2 subunit and a novel secreted protein with homology to a Staphylococcus aureus staphyloxanthin biosynthesis protein and a secreted protein of unknown function described in Staphylococcus carnosus. Investigation of the secreted protein previously undetected in S. epidermidis, termed staphylococcal secretory antigen (SsaA), identified a potential marker of S. epidermidis-related endocarditis.
Date of AwardSept 2000
Original languageEnglish


  • virulence factors
  • pulsed-field gel electrophoresis
  • molecular cloning
  • SsaA
  • immune response

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