Insight into structure-function relationship in phenol-soluble modulins using an alanine screen of the phenol-soluble modulin (PSM) ?3 peptide.
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 PSM?3, 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 PSM?3, could be created by the exchange of large hydrophobic side chains, indicating that PSM?3 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 PSM?3 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) ?3 peptide.