Phenol-soluble modulin

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Phenol-soluble modulins (PSM) are a family of protein toxins that are soluble in phenols, that are produced by CA-MRSA, and which are thought to be a possible cause of severe infections.[1]

Non-methicillin resistant bacteria were not found to produce these toxins. Although PSM toxins are produced in all methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains, the more virulent CA-MRSA strains are typically associated with higher production. Genetic analysis demonstrated that the PSM-alpha protein, product of the psm-alpha gene cluster, was associated with enhanced virulence and enhanced destruction of white blood cells, presumably the key to the higher infectivity. However, expression of the psm-alpha genes appeared to vary, dependent upon unknown factors specific to each particular infection.[2]


  1. ^ Graves, S. F.; Kobayashi, S. D.; Deleo, F. R. (2010). "Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus immune evasion and virulence". Journal of Molecular Medicine. 88 (2): 109–114. doi:10.1007/s00109-009-0573-x. PMC 2852573free to read. PMID 20049412. 
  2. ^ Wang, R.; Braughton, K. R.; Kretschmer, D.; Bach, T. H. L.; Queck, S. Y.; Li, M.; Kennedy, A. D.; Dorward, D. W.; Klebanoff, S. J.; Peschel, A.; Deleo, F. R.; Otto, M. (2007). "Identification of novel cytolytic peptides as key virulence determinants for community-associated MRSA". Nature Medicine. 13 (12): 1510–1514. doi:10.1038/nm1656. PMID 17994102.