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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2014 May;13(5):1262-72. doi: 10.1074/mcp.M113.031336. Epub 2014 Feb 24.

Phenol soluble modulin (PSM) variants of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) captured using mass spectrometry-based molecular networking.

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Department of Pediatrics.


Molecular genetic analysis indicates that the problematic human bacterial pathogen methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus possesses more than 2000 open reading frames in its genome. This number of potential gene products, coupled with intrinsic mechanisms of posttranslational modification, endows methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with a highly complex biochemical repertoire. Recent proteomic and metabolomic advances have provided methodologies to better understand and characterize the biosynthetic factors released by microbial organisms. Here, the emerging tool of mass spectrometry-based molecular networking was used to visualize and map the repertoire of biosynthetic factors produced by a community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strain representative of the epidemic USA300 clone. In particular, the study focused on elucidating the complexity of the recently discovered phenol soluble modulin family of peptides when placed under various antibiotic treatment stresses. Novel PSM truncated variant peptides were captured, and the type of variants that were clustered by the molecular networks platform changed in response to the different antibiotic treatment conditions. After discovery, a group of the peptides were selected for functional analysis in vitro. The peptides displayed bioactive properties including the ability to induce proinflammatory responses in human THP-1 monocytes. Additionally, the tested peptides did not display antimicrobial activity as previously reported for other phenol soluble modulin truncated variants. Our findings reveal that the PSM family of peptides are quite structurally diverse, and suggest a single phenol soluble modulin parent peptide can functionally spawn differential bioactivities in response to various external stimuli.

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