• Towards the characterization of the hidden world of small proteins in Staphylococcus aureus, a proteogenomics approach.

      Fuchs, Stephan; Kucklick, Martin; Lehmann, Erik; Beckmann, Alexander; Wilkens, Maya; Kolte, Baban; Mustafayeva, Ayten; Ludwig, Tobias; Diwo, Maurice; Wissing, Josef; et al. (PLOS, 2021-06-01)
      Small proteins play essential roles in bacterial physiology and virulence, however, automated algorithms for genome annotation are often not yet able to accurately predict the corresponding genes. The accuracy and reliability of genome annotations, particularly for small open reading frames (sORFs), can be significantly improved by integrating protein evidence from experimental approaches. Here we present a highly optimized and flexible bioinformatics workflow for bacterial proteogenomics covering all steps from (i) generation of protein databases, (ii) database searches and (iii) peptide-to-genome mapping to (iv) visualization of results. We used the workflow to identify high quality peptide spectrum matches (PSMs) for small proteins (≤ 100 aa, SP100) in Staphylococcus aureus Newman. Protein extracts from S. aureus were subjected to different experimental workflows for protein digestion and prefractionation and measured with highly sensitive mass spectrometers. In total, 175 proteins with up to 100 aa (SP100) were identified. Out of these 24 (ranging from 9 to 99 aa) were novel and not contained in the used genome annotation.144 SP100 are highly conserved and were found in at least 50% of the publicly available S. aureus genomes, while 127 are additionally conserved in other staphylococci. Almost half of the identified SP100 were basic, suggesting a role in binding to more acidic molecules such as nucleic acids or phospholipids.
    • Within-Host Adaptation of in a Bovine Mastitis Infection Is Associated with Increased Cytotoxicity.

      Mayer, Katharina; Kucklick, Martin; Marbach, Helene; Ehling-Schulz, Monika; Engelmann, Susanne; Grunert, Tom; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-08-17)
      Within-host adaptation is a typical feature of chronic, persistent Staphylococcus aureus infections. Research projects addressing adaptive changes due to bacterial in-host evolution increase our understanding of the pathogen's strategies to survive and persist for a long time in various hosts such as human and bovine. In this study, we investigated the adaptive processes of S. aureus during chronic, persistent bovine mastitis using a previously isolated isogenic strain pair from a dairy cow with chronic, subclinical mastitis, in which the last variant (host-adapted, Sigma factor SigB-deficient) quickly replaced the initial, dominant variant. The strain pair was cultivated under specific in vitro infection-relevant growth-limiting conditions (iron-depleted RPMI under oxygen limitation). We used a combinatory approach of surfaceomics, molecular spectroscopic fingerprinting and in vitro phenotypic assays. Cellular cytotoxicity assays using red blood cells and bovine mammary epithelial cells (MAC-T) revealed changes towards a more cytotoxic phenotype in the host-adapted isolate with an increased alpha-hemolysin (α-toxin) secretion, suggesting an improved capacity to penetrate and disseminate the udder tissue. Our results foster the hypothesis that within-host evolved SigB-deficiency favours extracellular persistence in S. aureus infections. Here, we provide new insights into one possible adaptive strategy employed by S. aureus during chronic, bovine mastitis, and we emphasise the need to analyse genotype-phenotype associations under different infection-relevant growth conditions.