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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2017 Apr;16(4 suppl 1):S15-S28. doi: 10.1074/mcp.O116.065581. Epub 2017 Feb 14.

Using Quantitative Spectrometry to Understand the Influence of Genetics and Nutritional Perturbations On the Virulence Potential of Staphylococcus aureus.

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From the ‡Proteomics Laboratory.
§Department of Microbiology.
¶Biomedical Hosting LLC.
‖Department of Medicine.
§Department of Microbiology,
From the ‡Proteomics Laboratory,
**Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York 10016.


Staphylococcus aureus (Sa) is the leading cause of a variety of bacterial infections ranging from superficial skin infections to invasive and life threatening diseases such as septic bacteremia, necrotizing pneumonia, and endocarditis. The success of Sa as a human pathogen is contributed to its ability to adapt to different environments by changing expression, production, or secretion of virulence factors. Although Sa immune evasion is well-studied, the regulation of virulence factors under different nutrient and growth conditions is still not well understood. Here, we used label-free quantitative mass spectrometry to quantify and compare the Sa exoproteins (i.e. exoproteomes) of master regulator mutants or established reference strains. Different environmental conditions were addressed by growing the bacteria in rich or minimal media at different phases of growth. We observed clear differences in the composition of the exoproteomes depending on the genetic background or growth conditions. The relative abundance of cytotoxins determined in our study correlated well with differences in cytotoxicity measured by lysis of human neutrophils. Our findings demonstrate that label-free quantitative mass spectrometry is a versatile tool for predicting the virulence of bacterial strains and highlights the importance of the experimental design for in vitro studies. Furthermore, the results indicate that label-free proteomics can be used to cluster isolates into groups with similar virulence properties, highlighting the power of label-free quantitative mass spectrometry to distinguish Sa strains.

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