Impact of the β-Lactam Resistance Modifier (−)-Epicatechin Gallate on the Non-Random Distribution of Phospholipids across the Cytoplasmic Membrane of Staphylococcus aureus
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins (e.g. tPMP-1) are small cationic peptides released from mammalian platelets. As the cytoplasmic membrane (CM) is a primary target of tPMPs, distinct CM characteristics are likely to affect the cells' susceptibility profiles. In Staphylococcus aureus, CM surface charge and hydrophobicity are principally determined by the content and distribution of its three major phospholipid (PL) constituents: negatively charged phosphatidylglycerol (PG) and cardiolipin (CL) and positively charged lysyl-PG (LPG). PL composition profiles, and inner vs outer CM leaflet PL distributions, were compared in an isogenic tPMP-susceptible (tPMP(S)) and -resistant (tPMP(R)) S. aureus strain pair (ISP479C vs ISP479R respectively). All PLs were asymmetrically distributed between the outer and inner CM leaflets in both strains. However, in ISP479R, the outer CM leaflet content of LPG was significantly increased vs ISP479C (27.3+/-11.0 % vs 18.6+/-7.0 % respectively; P=0.05). This observation correlated with reduced binding of the cationic proteins cytochrome c, poly-L-lysine, tPMP-1 and the tPMP-1-mimetic peptide, RP1, to tPMP-1(R) whole cells and to model liposomal CMs with LPG content and distribution similar to that of tPMP-1(R) strains. Collectively, selected CM parameters correlated with reduced staphylocidal capacities of tPMP-1 against certain S. aureus strains, including relative increases in outer CM leaflet positive charge and reduced surface binding of cationic molecules. These findings offer new insights into mechanisms of antimicrobial peptide susceptibility and resistance in S. aureus.