[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a leading cause of morbidity and death. Phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs) are recently-discovered toxins with a key impact on the development of Staphylococcus aureus infections. Allelic variants of PSMs and their potential impact on pathogen success during infection have not yet been described. Here we show that the clonal complex (CC) 30 lineage, a major cause of hospital-associated sepsis and hematogenous complications, expresses an allelic variant of the PSMα3 peptide. We found that this variant, PSMα3N22Y, is characteristic of CC30 strains and has significantly reduced cytolytic and pro-inflammatory potential. Notably, CC30 strains showed reduced cytolytic and chemotactic potential toward human neutrophils, and increased hematogenous seeding in a bacteremia model, compared to strains in which the genome was altered to express non-CC30 PSMα3. Our findings describe a molecular mechanism contributing to attenuated pro-inflammatory potential in a main MRSA lineage. They suggest that reduced pathogen recognition via PSMs allows the bacteria to evade elimination by innate host defenses during bloodstream infections. Furthermore, they underscore the role of point mutations in key S. aureus toxin genes in that adaptation and the pivotal importance PSMs have in defining key S. aureus immune evasion and virulence mechanisms.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rapid diagnostics is essential for the management of Staphylococcus aureus infections. A host recognition protein from S. aureus bacteriophage phiSLT was recombinantly produced and coated on streptavidin latex beads to develop a latex agglutination test (LAT). The diagnostic accuracy of this bacteriophage-based test was compared to a conventional LAT, Pastorex™ Staph-Plus investigating a clinical collection of 86 S. aureus and 128 coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) isolates from deep tissue infections. All clinical S. aureus isolates were correctly identified by the bacteriophage-based test. While most of CoNS were correctly identified as non-S. aureus isolates, 7.9% of CoNS caused agglutination. Thus, sensitivity of the bacteriophage-based LAT for identification of S. aureus among clinical isolates was 100%, specificity 92.1%, positive predictive value (PPV) 89.6%, negative predictive value (NPV) 100%. Sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV of Pastorex LAT for identification of S. aureus were 100%, 99.2%, 98.9% and 100%, respectively. Among additionally tested 35 S. aureus and 91 non-S. aureus staphylococcal reference and type strains, one isolate was tested false-negative by each system; 13 isolates and 8 isolates were false-positive by the bacteriophage-based and Pastorex LATs, respectively. The capacity of the phiSLT protein to detect S. aureus was dependent on the presence of wall teichoic acid (WTA) and corresponded to the production of ribitolphosphate WTA, which is found in most S. aureus clones, but only a small minority of CoNS. Bacteriophage-based LAT identification is a promising strategy for rapid pathogen identification. Finding more specific bacteriophage proteins would increase specificity of this novel diagnostic approach.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The thick peptidoglycan layers of Gram-positive bacteria are connected to polyanionic
glycopolymers called wall teichoic acids (WTA). Pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria
monocytogenes, or Enterococcus faecalis produce WTA with diverse, usually strain-specific structure.
Extensive studies on S. aureus WTA mutants revealed important functions of WTA in cell division,
growth, morphogenesis, resistance to antimicrobials, and interaction with host or phages. While most
of the S. aureus WTA-biosynthetic genes have been identified it remained unclear for long how and
why S. aureus glycosylates WTA with α- or β-linked N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc). Only recently the
discovery of two WTA glycosyltransferases, TarM and TarS, yielded fundamental insights into the roles
of S. aureus WTA glycosylation. Mutants lacking WTA GlcNAc are resistant towards most of the S.
aureus phages and, surprisingly, TarS-mediated WTA β-O-GlcNAc modification is essential for β-lactam
resistance in methicillin-resistant S. aureus. WTA glycosylation with a variety of sugars and
corresponding glycosyltransferases were also identified in other Gram-positive bacteria, which paves
the way for detailed investigations on the diverse roles of WTA modification with sugar residues.
International Journal of Medical Microbiology 05/2014; 304(3-4):215-2221. · 4.54 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Colonization of the human nose by Staphylococcus aureus in one-third of the population represents a major risk factor for invasive infections. The basis for adaptation of S. aureus to this specific habitat and reasons for the human predisposition to become colonized have remained largely unknown. Human nasal secretions were analyzed by metabolomics and found to contain potential nutrients in rather low amounts. No significant differences were found between S. aureus carriers and non-carriers, indicating that carriage is not associated with individual differences in nutrient supply. A synthetic nasal medium (SNM3) was composed based on the metabolomics data that permits consistent growth of S. aureus isolates. Key genes were expressed in SNM3 in a similar way as in the human nose, indicating that SNM3 represents a suitable surrogate environment for in vitro simulation studies. While the majority of S. aureus strains grew well in SNM3, most of the tested coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) had major problems to multiply in SNM3 supporting the notion that CoNS are less well adapted to the nose and colonize preferentially the human skin. Global gene expression analysis revealed that, during growth in SNM3, S. aureus depends heavily on de novo synthesis of methionine. Accordingly, the methionine-biosynthesis enzyme cysteine-γ-synthase (MetI) was indispensable for growth in SNM3, and the MetI inhibitor DL-propargylglycine inhibited S. aureus growth in SNM3 but not in the presence of methionine. Of note, metI was strongly up-regulated by S. aureus in human noses, and metI mutants were strongly abrogated in their capacity to colonize the noses of cotton rats. These findings indicate that the methionine biosynthetic pathway may include promising antimicrobial targets that have previously remained unrecognized. Hence, exploring the environmental conditions facultative pathogens are exposed to during colonization can be useful for understanding niche adaptation and identifying targets for new antimicrobial strategies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT The major clonal lineages of the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus produce cell wall-anchored anionic poly-ribitol-phosphate (RboP) wall teichoic acids (WTA) substituted with d-Alanine and N-acetyl-d-glucosamine. The phylogenetically isolated S. aureus ST395 lineage has recently been found to produce a unique poly-glycerol-phosphate (GroP) WTA glycosylated with N-acetyl-d-galactosamine (GalNAc). ST395 clones bear putative WTA biosynthesis genes on a novel genetic element probably acquired from coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS). We elucidated the ST395 WTA biosynthesis pathway and identified three novel WTA biosynthetic genes, including those encoding an α-O-GalNAc transferase TagN, a nucleotide sugar epimerase TagV probably required for generation of the activated sugar donor substrate for TagN, and an unusually short GroP WTA polymerase TagF. By using a panel of mutants derived from ST395, the GalNAc residues carried by GroP WTA were found to be required for infection by the ST395-specific bacteriophage Φ187 and to play a crucial role in horizontal gene transfer of S. aureus pathogenicity islands (SaPIs). Notably, ectopic expression of ST395 WTA biosynthesis genes rendered normal S. aureus susceptible to Φ187 and enabled Φ187-mediated SaPI transfer from ST395 to regular S. aureus. We provide evidence that exchange of WTA genes and their combination in variable, mosaic-like gene clusters have shaped the evolution of staphylococci and their capacities to undergo horizontal gene transfer events. IMPORTANCE The structural highly diverse wall teichoic acids (WTA) are cell wall-anchored glycopolymers produced by most Gram-positive bacteria. While most of the dominant Staphylococcus aureus lineages produce poly-ribitol-phosphate WTA, the recently described ST395 lineage produces a distinct poly-glycerol-phosphate WTA type resembling the WTA backbone of coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS). Here, we analyzed the ST395 WTA biosynthesis pathway and found new types of WTA biosynthesis genes along with an evolutionary link between ST395 and CoNS, from which the ST395 WTA genes probably originate. The elucidation of ST395 WTA biosynthesis will help to understand how Gram-positive bacteria produce highly variable WTA types and elucidate functional consequences of WTA variation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Serum antibodies and mannose-binding lectin (MBL) are important host-defense factors for host adaptive and innate immunity, respectively. Antibodies and MBL also initiate the classical and lectin complement pathways, respectively, leading to opsonophagocytosis. We have previously shown that Staphylococcus aureus wall teichoic acid (WTA), a cell wall glycopolymer consisting of ribitol phosphate substituted with α- or β-O-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) and D-alanine, is recognized by MBL and serum anti-WTA IgG. However, the exact antigenic determinants to which anti-WTA antibodies or MBL bind have not been determined. To answer this question, several S. aureus mutants, such as α-GlcNAc glycosyl- transferase-deficient S. aureus ΔtarM, β-GlcNAc glycosyltransferase-deficient ΔtarS, and ΔtarMS double mutant cells, were prepared from a laboratory and a community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus strain. Here, we describe the unexpected finding that β-GlcNAc WTA-deficient ΔtarS mutant cells (which have intact α-GlcNAc) escape from anti-WTA antibody-mediated opsonophagocytosis, while α-GlcNAc WTA-deficient ΔtarM mutant cells (which have intact β-GlcNAc) are efficiently engulfed by human leukocytes via anti-WTA IgG. Likewise, MBL binding in S. aureus cells was lost in the ΔtarMS double mutant but not in either single mutant. When we determined the serum concentrations of the anti-α- or anti-β-GlcNAc-specific WTA IgGs, anti-β-GlcNAc WTA-IgG was dominant in pooled human IgG fractions and in the intact sera of healthy adults and infants. These data demonstrate the importance of the WTA sugar conformation for human innate and adaptive immunity against S. aureus infection.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2013; · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Serum antibodies and mannose-binding lectin (MBL) are important host-defense factors for host adaptive and innate immunity, respectively. Antibodies and MBL also initiate the classical and lectin complement pathways, respectively, leading to opsonophagocytosis. We have previously shown that Staphylococcus aureus wall teichoic acid (WTA), a cell wall glycopolymer consisting of ribitol phosphate substituted with α- or β-O-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) and D-alanine, is recognized by MBL and serum anti-WTA IgG. However, the exact antigenic determinants to which anti-WTA antibodies or MBL bind have not been determined. To answer this question, several S. aureus mutants, such as α-GlcNAc glycosyl- transferase-deficient S. aureus ΔtarM, β-GlcNAc glycosyltransferase-deficient ΔtarS, and ΔtarMS double mutant cells, were prepared from a laboratory and a community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus strain. Here, we describe the unexpected finding that β-GlcNAc WTA-deficient ΔtarS mutant cells (which have intact α-GlcNAc) escape from anti-WTA antibody-mediated opsonophagocytosis, while α-GlcNAc WTA-deficient ΔtarM mutant cells (which have intact β-GlcNAc) are efficiently engulfed by human leukocytes via anti-WTA IgG. Likewise, MBL binding in S. aureus cells was lost in the ΔtarMS double mutant but not in either single mutant. When we determined the serum concentrations of the anti-α- or anti-β-GlcNAc-specific WTA IgGs, anti-β-GlcNAc WTA-IgG was dominant in pooled human IgG fractions and in the intact sera of healthy adults and infants. These data demonstrate the importance of the WTA sugar conformation for human innate and adaptive immunity against S. aureus infection
Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2013; · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus is an important human pathogen and a leading cause of death worldwide. Phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs) have recently emerged as a novel toxin family defining the virulence potential of highly aggressive S. aureus isolates. PSMs have multiple roles in staphylococcal pathogenesis, causing lysis of red and white blood cells, stimulating inflammatory responses and contributing to biofilm development and the dissemination of biofilm-associated infections. Moreover, the pronounced capacity of PSMs to kill human neutrophils after phagocytosis might explain failures in the development of anti-staphylococcal vaccines. Here, we discuss recent progress made in our understanding of the biochemical and genetic properties of PSMs and their role in S. aureus pathogenesis, and suggest potential avenues to target PSMs for the development of anti-staphylococcal drugs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs) are a family of peptides with multiple functions in staphylococcal pathogenesis. To gain insight into the structural features affecting PSM functions, we analyzed an alanine substitution library of PSMα3, a strongly cytolytic and proinflammatory PSM of Staphylococcus aureus with a significant contribution to S. aureus virulence. Lysine residues were essential for both receptor-dependent proinflammatory and receptor-independent cytolytic activities. Both phenotypes also required additional structural features, with the C terminus being crucial for receptor activation. Biofilm formation was affected mostly by hydrophobic amino acid positions, suggesting that the capacity to disrupt hydrophobic interactions is responsible for the effect of PSMs on biofilm structure. Antimicrobial activity, absent from natural PSMα3, could be created by the exchange of large hydrophobic side chains, indicating that PSMα3 has evolved to exhibit cytolytic rather than antimicrobial activity. In addition to gaining insight into the structure-function relationship in PSMs, our study identifies nontoxic PSMα3 derivatives for active vaccination strategies and lays the foundation for future efforts aimed to understand the biological role of PSM recognition by innate host defense.-Cheung, G. Y., Kretschmer, D., Queck, S. Y., Joo, H.-S., Wang, R., Duong, A. C., Nguyen, T. H., Bach, T.-H., Porter, A. R., DeLeo, F. R., Peschel, A., Otto, M. Insight into structure-function relationship in phenol-soluble modulins using an alanine screen of the phenol-soluble modulin (PSM) α3 peptide.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) encoding virulence and resistance genes are widespread in bacterial pathogens, but it has remained unclear how they occasionally jump to new host species. Staphylococcus aureus clones exchange MGEs such as S. aureus pathogenicity islands (SaPIs) with high frequency via helper phages. Here we report that the S. aureus ST395 lineage is refractory to horizontal gene transfer (HGT) with typical S. aureus but exchanges SaPIs with other species and genera including Staphylococcus epidermidis and Listeria monocytogenes. ST395 produces an unusual wall teichoic acid (WTA) resembling that of its HGT partner species. Notably, distantly related bacterial species and genera undergo efficient HGT with typical S. aureus upon ectopic expression of S. aureus WTA. Combined with genomic analyses, these results indicate that a 'glycocode' of WTA structures and WTA-binding helper phages permits HGT even across long phylogenetic distances thereby shaping the evolution of Gram-positive pathogens.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1 is the key transcription factor involved in adaptation of mammals to hypoxia and plays, e.g., a crucial role in cancer angiogenesis. Recent evidence suggests a leading role of HIF-1 in various inflammatory and infectious diseases. Here, we describe the role of HIF-1 in S. aureus infections by investigating the HIF-1 dependent host cell response. For this purpose, transcriptional profiling of HIF-1α-deficient HepG2 and control cells both infected with Staphylococcus aureus was performed. Four hours upon infection, expression of 190 genes was influenced of which 24 were regulated via HIF-1. Lysyl oxidase (LOX) was one of the upregulated genes with a potential impact on the course of a S. aureus infection. LOX is an amine oxidase required for biosynthetic cross-linking of extracellular matrix components. LOX was upregulated in vitro in different cell cultures infected with S. aureus and also in vivo in kidney abscesses of intravenously S. aureus-infected mice, and in clinical skin samples from patients suffering from S. aureus-infections. Inhibition of LOX by beta-aminopropionitrile (BAPN) did not affect the bacterial load in kidneys or blood but influenced significantly abscess morphology and collagenization. Our data provide evidence for a crucial role of HIF-1 regulated LOX in abscess formation.
Infection and immunity 05/2013; · 4.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus is a frequent skin colonizer that often causes severe skin infections. It has been reported that neutralizing the negatively charged bacterial surface through the incorporation of d-alanine in its teichoic acids confers reduced susceptibility of S. aureus towards cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Using a S. aureus strain deficient in d-alanylated teichoic acids (dltA mutant), we demonstrate that d-alanylation of its surface reduces the susceptibility of S. aureus to skin-derived AMPs such as RNase 7 and human beta-defensins. This is accompanied by a higher killing activity of skin extracts towards the S. aureus dltA mutant as well as towards clinical isolates expressing lower levels of dltA. We conclude that modulation of cell envelope d-alanylation may help S. aureus to persist on human skin through evasion of cutaneous innate defense provided by cationic skin-derived AMPs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The major human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus has very efficient strategies to subvert the human immune system. Virulence of the emerging community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus depends on phenol-soluble modulin (PSM) peptide toxins, which are known to attract and lyse neutrophils. However, their influences on other immune cells remain elusive. In this study, we analyzed the impact of PSMs on dendritic cells (DCs) playing an essential role in linking innate and adaptive immunity. In human neutrophils, PSMs exert their function by binding to the formyl peptide receptor (FPR) 2. We show that mouse DCs express the FPR2 homolog mFPR2 as well as its paralog mFPR1 and that PSMs are chemoattractants for DCs at noncytotoxic concentrations. PSMs reduced clathrin-mediated endocytosis and inhibited TLR2 ligand-induced secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines TNF, IL-12, and IL-6, while inducing IL-10 secretion by DCs. As a consequence, treatment with PSMs impaired the capacity of DCs to induce activation and proliferation of CD4+ T cells, characterized by reduced Th1 but increased frequency of FOXP3+ regulatory T cells. These regulatory T cells secreted high amounts of IL-10, and their suppression capacity was dependent on IL-10 and TGF-β. Interestingly, the induction of tolerogenic DCs by PSMs appeared to be independent of mFPRs, as shown by experiments with mice lacking mFPR2 (mFPR2-/-) and the cognate G protein (p110γ-/-). Thus, PSMs from highly virulent pathogens affect DC functions, thereby modulating the adaptive immune response and probably increasing the tolerance toward the pathogen.
The Journal of Immunology 03/2013; · 5.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Experimental mouse models of bacterial skin infections that have been described show that pathogenic microorganisms can readily invade the epidermis and dermis to produce localized infections. We used an epicutaneous mouse skin infection model to determine how the level of barrier disruption by tape-stripping correlates with persistence of Staphylococcus aureus skin colonization, concomitant induction of cutaneous inflammation and infection. Furthermore, we investigated how murine skin responds to S. aureus colonization in a physiologic setting by analysing proinflammatory cytokines and antimicrobial peptides in mouse skin. We show that previous cutaneous damage allows skin inflammation to develop and favours S. aureus persistence leading to cutaneous colonization, suggesting an interdependence of cutaneous bacteria and skin. Our study suggests that skin barrier defects favour S. aureus skin colonization, which is associated with profound cutaneous inflammation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Bacterial protein biosynthesis usually depends on a formylated methionyl start tRNA but Staphylococcus aureus is viable in the absence of Fmt, the tRNAMet formyl transferase. fmt mutants exhibit reduced growth rates indicating that the function of certain proteins depends on formylated N-termini but it has remained unclear, which cellular processes are abrogated by the lack of formylation. RESULTS: In order to elucidate how global metabolic processes are affected by the absence of formylated proteins the exometabolome of an S. aureus fmt mutant was compared with that of the parental strain and the transcription of corresponding enzymes was analyzed to identify possible regulatory changes. The mutant consumed glucose and other carbon sources slower than the wild type. While the turnover of several metabolites remained unaltered fmt inactivation led to increases pyruvate release and, concomitantly, reduced pyruvate dehydrogenase activity. In parallel, the release of the pyruvate-derived metabolites lactate, acetoin, and alanine was reduced. The anaerobic degradation of arginine was also reduced in the fmt mutant compared to the wild-type strain. Moreover, the lack of formylated proteins caused increased susceptibility to the antibiotics trimethoprim and sulamethoxazole suggesting that folic acid-dependant pathways were perturbed in the mutant. CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that formylated proteins are crucial for specific bacterial metabolic processes and they may help to understand why it has remained important during bacterial evolution to initiate protein biosynthesis with a formylated tRNAMet.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies of both clinically-derived and in vitro passage-derived daptomycin-resistant (DAP-R) Staphylococcus aureus strains demonstrated the coincident emergence of increased DAP MICs and resistance to host defense cationic peptides (HDP-R).
In the present investigation, we studied a parental DAP-susceptible (DAP-S) methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strain and three isogenic variants with increased DAP MICs which were isolated from both DAP-treated and DAP-untreated rabbits with prosthetic joint infections. These strains were compared for: in vitro susceptibility to distinct HDPs differing in size, structure, and origin; i.e.; thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins [tPMPs] and human neutrophil peptide-1 [hNP-1]; cell membrane (CM) phospholipid and fatty acid content; CM order; envelope surface charge; cell wall thickness; and mprF single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and expression profiles.
In comparison with the parental strain, both DAP-exposed and DAP-naive strains exhibited: (i) significantly reduced susceptibility to each HDP (P<0.05); (ii) thicker cell walls (P<0.05); (iii) increased synthesis of CM lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol (L-PG); (iv) reduced content of CM phosphatidylglycerol (PG); and (v) SNPs within the mprF locus No significant differences were observed between parental or variant strains in outer CM content of L-PG, CM fluidity, CM fatty acid contents, surface charge, mprF expression profiles or MprF protein content. An isolate which underwent identical in vivo passage, but without evolving increased DAP MICs, retained parental phenotypes and genotype.
THESE RESULTS SUGGEST: i) DAP MIC increases may occur in the absence of DAP exposures in vivo and may be triggered by organism exposure to endogenous HDPs: and ii) gain-in-function SNPs in mprF may contribute to such HDP-DAP cross-resistance phenotypes, although the mechanism of this relationship remains to be defined.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(8):e71151. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus peptidoglycan (PG) is densely functionalized with anionic polymers called wall teichoic acids (WTAs). These polymers contain three tailoring modifications: d-alanylation, α-O-GlcNAcylation, and β-O-GlcNAcylation. Here we describe the discovery and biochemical characterization of a unique glycosyltransferase, TarS, that attaches β-O-GlcNAc (β-O-N-acetyl-d-glucosamine) residues to S. aureus WTAs. We report that methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) is sensitized to β-lactams upon tarS deletion. Unlike strains completely lacking WTAs, which are also sensitive to β-lactams, ΔtarS strains have no growth or cell division defects. Because neither α-O-GlcNAc nor β-O-Glucose modifications can confer resistance, the resistance phenotype requires a highly specific chemical modification of the WTA backbone, β-O-GlcNAc residues. These data suggest β-O-GlcNAcylated WTAs scaffold factors required for MRSA resistance. The β-O-GlcNAc transferase identified here, TarS, is a unique target for antimicrobials that sensitize MRSA to β-lactams.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2012; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The lysinylation of negatively charged phosphatidylglycerol by MprF proteins reduces the affinity of cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) for bacterial cytoplasmic membranes and reduces the susceptibility of several Gram-positive bacterial pathogens to CAMPs. MprF of Staphylococcus aureus encompasses a lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol (Lys-PG) synthase and a Lys-PG flippase domain. In contrast, Clostridium perfringens encodes two MprF homologs which specifically synthesize alanyl-phosphatidylglycerol (Ala-PG) or Lys-PG, while only the Lys-PG synthase is fused to a putative flippase domain. It remains unknown whether cationic Lys-PG and zwitterionic Ala-PG differ in their capacities to be translocated by MprF flippases and if both can reduce CAMP susceptibility in Gram-positive bacteria. By expressing the MprF proteins of C. perfringens in an S. aureus mprF deletion mutant, we found that both lipids can be efficiently produced in S. aureus. Simultaneous expression of the Lys-PG and Ala-PG synthases led to the production of both lipids and slightly increased the overall amounts of aminoacyl phospholipids. Ala-PG production by the corresponding C. perfringens enzyme did not affect susceptibility to CAMPs such as nisin and gallidermin or to the CAMP-like antibiotic daptomycin. However, coexpression of the Ala-PG synthase with flippase domains of Lys-PG synthesizing MprF proteins led to a wild-type level of daptomycin susceptibility, indicating that Ala-PG can also protect bacterial membranes against daptomycin and suggesting that Lys-PG flippases can also translocate the related lipid Ala-PG. Thus, bacterial aminoacyl phospholipid flippases exhibit more relaxed substrate specificity and Ala-PG and Lys-PG are more similar in their capacities to modulate membrane functions than anticipated.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 04/2012; 56(7):3492-7. · 4.57 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wall teichoic acid (WTA) or related polyanionic cell wall glycopolymers are produced by most Gram-positive bacterial species and have been implicated in various cellular functions. WTA and the proton gradient across bacterial membranes are known to control the activity of autolysins but the molecular details of these interactions are poorly understood. We demonstrate that WTA contributes substantially to the proton-binding capacity of Staphylococcus aureus cell walls and controls autolysis largely via the major autolysin AtlA whose activity is known to decline at acidic pH values. Compounds that increase or decrease the activity of the respiratory chain, a main source of protons in the cell wall, modulated autolysis rates in WTA-producing cells but did not affect the augmented autolytic activity observed in a WTA-deficient mutant. We propose that WTA represents a cation-exchanger like mesh in the Gram-positive cell envelopes that is required for creating a locally acidified milieu to govern the pH-dependent activity of autolysins.