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Cross-talk between individual phenol- soluble modulins in staphylococcus aureus biofilm enables rapid and efficient amyloid formation

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The infective ability of the opportunistic pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, recognized as the most frequent cause of biofilm-associated infections, is associated with biofilm-mediated resistance to host immune response. Phenol-soluble modulins (PSM) comprise the structural scaffold of S. aureus biofilms through self-assembly into functional amyloids, but the role of individual PSMs during biofilm formation remains poorly understood and the molecular pathways of PSM self-assembly are yet to be identified. Here we demonstrate high degree of cooperation between individual PSMs during functional amyloid formation. PSMa3 initiates the aggregation, forming unstable aggregates capable of seeding other PSMs resulting in stable amyloid structures. Using chemical kinetics we dissect the molecular mechanism of aggregation of individual PSMs showing that PSMa1, PSMa3 and PSMP1 display secondary nucleation whereas PSMP2 aggregates through primary nucleation and elongation. Our findings suggest that various PSMs have evolved to ensure fast and efficient biofilm formation through cooperation between individual peptides.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere59776
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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