Staphylococcus aureus sortase A contributes to the Trojan horse mechanism of immune defense evasion with its intrinsic resistance to Cys184 oxidation.
Staphylococcus aureus is a Gram-positive bacterial pathogen that causes serious infections which have become increasingly difficult to treat due to antimicrobial resistance and natural virulence strategies. Bacterial sortase enzymes are important virulence factors and good targets for future antibiotic development. It has recently been shown that sortase enzymes are integral to bacterial survival of phagocytosis, an underappreciated, but vital, step in S. aureus pathogenesis. Of note, the reaction mechanism of sortases relies on a solvent-accessible cysteine for transpeptidation. Because of the common strategy of oxidative damage employed by professional phagocytes to kill pathogens, it is possible that this cysteine may be oxidized inside the phagosome, thereby inhibiting the enzyme. This study addresses this apparent paradox by assessing the ability of physiological reactive oxygen species, hydrogen peroxide and hypochlorite, to inhibit sortase A (SrtA) from S. aureus. Surprisingly, we found that SrtA is highly resistant to oxidative inhibition, both in vitro and in vivo. The mechanism of resistance to oxidative damage is likely mediated by maintaining a high reduction potential of the catalytic cysteine residue, Cys184. This is due to the unusual active site utilized by S. aureus SrtA, which employs a reverse protonation mechanism for transpeptidation, resulting in a high pK(a) as well as reduction potential for Cys184. The results of this study suggest that S. aureus SrtA is able to withstand the extreme conditions encountered in the phagosome and maintain function, contributing to survival of phagocytotic killing.
Melvin, JA; Murphy, CF; Dubois, LG; Thompson, JW; Moseley, MA; McCafferty, DG
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