Functional genomic characterisation of molecular determinants for staphylococcal fitness, virulence and drug resistance (StaphDynamics)
04 / 2006 - 04 / 2010
Staphylococcus aureus is a dangerous community- and hospital-acquired pathogen. The spread, survival and prevalence of antibiotic resistant clones of S. aureus is an immensely important problem for human health. The selective pressure for antibiotic resistance is a driving force due to the massive use of such drugs throughout the world. However, the overall fitness and virulence of the bacteria is determined by their underlying genetic makeup. The traits, which determine the ability of a clone to become widespread, are largely unknown. These are likely to be multifactorial, as S. aureus is widespread in the environment due to its ability to survive outside the host and to be carried as a commensal in the human nose. It is therefore crucial to determine the key parameters required for virulence, nasal colonisation and survival in the environment in order to elucidate how these combine to produce epidemic strains. This requires a detailed knowledge of the bacterial components necessary for the above processes. The StaphDynamics partnership will define these bacterial components, which in themselves may form novel targets for prevention/control. Specifically, we will investigate the fitness and epidemiology of resistant clones, characterise the most important clones phenotypically, and identify molecular determinants for fitness, virulence and resistance. To reach these goals, the full potential of bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics approaches will be exploited. The StaphDynamics partnership has a proven track record in the application of these cutting-edge technologies and includes several of Europe s leading groups in the field of staphylococcal research. StaphDynamics will establish strong interactive links with the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (EARSS) which, together with the full participation of three SME companies, will guarantee a rapid translation of fundamental research data into practical clinical applications.