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International Journal of Microbiology
Volume 2009, Article ID 614371, 8 pages
Research Article

Genotypic and Phenotypic Assessment of Hyaluronidase among Type Strains of a Select Group of Staphylococcal Species

1Division of Microbiology, National Center for Toxicological Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Jefferson, AR 72079, USA
2Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA
3Department of Biology, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, AR 71998, USA

Received 13 August 2009; Accepted 15 October 2009

Academic Editor: William M. Shafer

Copyright © 2009 Mark E. Hart et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Hyaluronidases degrade hyaluronic acid, a major polysaccharide of the extracellular matrix of tissues, and are considered important for virulence in a number of Gram-positive and -negative bacteria. The purpose of the present study was to determine the prevalence of hyaluronidase among clinical strains of Staphylococcus aureus and among other Staphylococcus species. Spent media and chromosomal DNA were assessed for hyaluronidase activity and the absence or presence of a hyaluronidase gene (hysA) by Southern analysis, respectively. All S. aureus strains examined exhibited at least one hybridizing band (half of the strains exhibited two or more hybridizing bands) when probed for hysA and all but three of these strains produced hyaluronidase. In contrast, none of the type strains of 19 other species exhibited either hyaluronidase activity or hybridizing bands when probed for hysA. These data support the hypothesis that among members of the Staphylococcus genus only strains of S. aureus possess the enzyme hyaluronidase. This would suggest that hyaluronidase represents yet another potential virulence factor employed by S. aureus to cause disease and may represent a diagnostically important characteristic for distinguishing S. aureus from other members of this genus.