A clinical isolate of Staphylococcus aureus was found to be tolerant (MBC much greater than MIC) to a number of beta-lactam antibiotics, including oxacillin. Biophotometric analysis showed that a number of concentrations of oxacillin were capable of stimulating rapid cellular lysis in this organism, but the extent of lysis was antibiotic concentration dependent and limited. Cell cultures treated with an antibiotic concentration yielding the maximum rate and extent of lysis were analyzed for protein and RNA synthesis by pulse-labeling techniques. RNA synthesis was initially stimulated and then severely inhibited. Protein synthesis was not inhibited initially; however, the increase in the rate of synthesis expected as the result of logarithmic growth was not observed. Instead, the antibiotic-treated culture maintained for approximately 50 min the rate of protein synthesis ongoing at the time of antibiotic addition. The rate of protein synthesis declined thereafter. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of protein samples taken 1 and 3 h after antibiotic addition showed that the shutdown of protein synthesis was not coordinate but rather was suggestive of the operation of a stress regulon perhaps similar to those responsible for heat shock, SOS, and oxidation stress
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