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1.  In Vitro Resistance of Staphylococcus aureus to Thrombin-Induced Platelet Microbicidal Protein Is Associated with Alterations in Cytoplasmic Membrane Fluidity 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(6):3548-3553.
Platelet microbicidal proteins (PMPs) are small, cationic peptides which possess potent microbicidal activities against common bloodstream pathogens, such as Staphylococcus aureus. We previously showed that S. aureus strains exhibiting resistance to thrombin-induced PMP (tPMP-1) in vitro have an enhanced capacity to cause human and experimental endocarditis (T. Wu, M. R. Yeaman, and A. S. Bayer, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 38:729–732, 1994; A. S. Bayer et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 42:3169–3172, 1998; V. K. Dhawan et al., Infect. Immun. 65:3293–3299, 1997). However, the mechanisms mediating tPMP-1 resistance in S. aureus are not fully delineated. The S. aureus cell membrane appears to be a principal target for the action of tPMP-1. To gain insight into the basis of tPMP-1 resistance, we compared several parameters of membrane structure and function in three tPMP-1-resistant (tPMP-1r) strains and their genetically related, tPMP-1-susceptible (tPMP-1s) counterpart strains. The tPMP-1r strains were derived by three distinct methods: transposon mutagenesis, serial passage in the presence of tPMP-1 in vitro, or carriage of a naturally occurring multiresistance plasmid (pSK1). All tPMP-1r strains were found to possess elevated levels of longer-chain, unsaturated membrane lipids, in comparison to their tPMP-1s counterparts. This was reflected in corresponding differences in cell membrane fluidity in the strain pairs, with tPMP-1r strains exhibiting significantly higher degrees of fluidity as assessed by fluorescence polarization. These data provide further support for the concept that specific alterations in the cytoplasmic membrane of S. aureus strains are associated with tPMP-1 resistance in vitro.
PMCID: PMC97641  PMID: 10816510
2.  Influence of Platelets and Platelet Microbicidal Protein Susceptibility on the Fate of Staphylococcus aureus in an In Vitro Model of Infective Endocarditis 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(8):4699-4705.
Several lines of evidence indicate that platelets protect against endovascular infections such as infective endocarditis (IE). It is highly likely that a principal mechanism of this platelet host defense role is the release of platelet microbicidal proteins (PMPs) in response to agonists generated at sites of endovascular infection. We studied the ability of platelets to limit the colonization and proliferation of Staphylococcus aureus in an in vitro model of IE. Three isogenic S. aureus strains, differing in their in vitro susceptibility to thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein-1 (tPMP), were used: ISP479C (parental strain; highly susceptible to tPMP [tPMPs]); ISP479R (transposon mutant derived from ISP479; tPMP resistant [tPMPr]); or 757-5 (tPMPr transductant of the ISP479R genotype in the ISP479 parental background). Time-kill assays and in vitro IE models were used to examine the temporal relationship between thrombin-induced platelet activation and S. aureus killing. In time-kill studies, early platelet activation (30 min prior to bacterial exposure) correlated with a significant bactericidal effect against tPMPs ISP479C (r2 > 0.90, P < 0.02) but not against tPMPr strains, ISP479R or 757-5. In the IE model, thrombin activation significantly inhibited proliferation of ISP479C within simulated vegetations compared to strains ISP479R or 757-5 (P < 0.05). The latter differences were observed despite there being no detectable differences among the three S. aureus strains in initial colonization of simulated vegetations. Collectively, these data indicate that platelets limit intravegetation proliferation of tPMPs but not tPMPr S. aureus. These findings underscore the likelihood that platelets play an important antimicrobial host defense role in preventing and/or limiting endovascular infections due to tPMPs pathogens.
PMCID: PMC98414  PMID: 10899875
3.  The cytoplasmic membrane is a primary target for the staphylocidal action of thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein. 
Infection and Immunity  1997;65(11):4795-4800.
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (tPMP-1) is a small, cationic peptide released from rabbit platelets exposed to thrombin in vitro. tPMP-1 is microbicidal against a broad spectrum of bloodstream pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus. Preliminary evidence suggests that tPMP-1 targets and disrupts the staphylococcal cytoplasmic membrane. However, it is not clear if the cytoplasmic membrane is a direct or indirect target of tPMP-1. Therefore, we assessed the in vitro activity of tPMP-1 versus protoplasts prepared from logarithmic-phase (LOG) or stationary-phase (STAT) cells of the genetically related S. aureus strains 19S and 19R (tPMP-1 susceptible and resistant, respectively). Protoplasts exposed to tPMP-1 (2 microg/ml) for 2 h at 37 degrees C were monitored for lysis (decrease in optical density at 420 nm) and ultrastructural alterations (by transmission electron microscopy [TEM]). Exposure to tPMP-1 resulted in substantial lysis of LOG but not STAT protoplasts of 19S, coinciding with protoplast membrane disruption observed by TEM. Thus, it appears that tPMP-1-induced membrane damage is influenced by the bacterial growth phase but is independent of the staphylococcal cell wall. In contrast to 19S, neither LOG nor STAT protoplasts of 19R were lysed by tPMP-1. tPMP-1-induced membrane damage was further characterized with anionic planar lipid bilayers subjected to various trans-negative voltages. tPMP-1 increased conductance across bilayers at -90 mV but not at -30 mV. Once initiated, a reduction in voltage from -90 to -30 mV diminished conductance magnitude but did not eliminate tPMP-1-mediated membrane permeabilization. Therefore, tPMP-1 appears to directly target the staphylococcal cytoplasmic membrane as a primary event in its mechanism of action. Specifically, tPMP-1 likely leads to staphylococcal death, at least in part by permeabilizing the bacterial membrane in a voltage-dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC175688  PMID: 9353067
4.  Reduced Susceptibility to Host-Defense Cationic Peptides and Daptomycin Coemerge in Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus From Daptomycin-Naive Bacteremic Patients 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(8):1160-1167.
Background. We hypothesized that, for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), in vitro daptomycin susceptibility could be influenced by exposures to endogenous host defense peptides (HDPs) prior to clinical exposure to daptomycin.
Methods. Two endovascular HDPs were used: thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (tPMP) and human neutrophil defensin-1 (hNP-1) from neutrophils. Forty-seven unique MRSA isolates obtained from bacteremic patients in multicenter prospective clinical trials were studied. Clinical characteristics, microbiologic parameters, prior vancomycin therapy, and susceptibilities to tPMP, hNP-1, and daptomycin were compared using univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results. All strains were daptomycin susceptible. Daptomycin minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) were inversely related to in vitro tPMP (but not hNP-1) killing. Strains with a daptomycin MIC of 1 mg/L exhibited significantly less killing by tPMP, compared with strains with an MIC of ≤ 0.5 mg/L. Prior vancomycin therapy did not influence this relationship. Regression tree modeling confirmed that reduced tPMP-induced killing in vitro was the strongest predictor of higher daptomycin MICs within the daptomycin-susceptible range.
Conclusions. Among daptomycin-susceptible MRSA isolates from patients who had never received daptomycin, higher daptomycin MICs tracked with increased resistance to killing by platelet-derived but not neutrophil-derived HDPs. These findings support the notion that endogenous exposure of MRSA to specific HDPs may play a role in selecting strains with an intrinsically higher daptomycin MIC phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3448966  PMID: 22904338
5.  Partial characterization and staphylocidal activity of thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein. 
Infection and Immunity  1992;60(3):1202-1209.
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (PMP) is considered to play an important role in preventing an important role in preventing streptococcal endocarditis. However, the structural features and functions of PMPs have not been well characterized, and their antibacterial spectra against other common endocarditis pathogens, such as the staphylococci, are not known. Thrombin stimulation of washed rabbit platelets (10(8)/ml) yielded a PMP-rich preparation with a specific activity of approximately 25 U/mg of protein as determined by Bacillus subtilis bioassay. Twenty-eight clinical and laboratory Staphylococcus aureus isolates, exposed to a standardized PMP preparation (100 U/ml for 2 h at 37 degrees C), exhibited a Poisson-distributed heterogeneity to the bactericidal action of PMP, with approximately one-third designated as PMP resistant. Gel filtration chromatography (Sephadex G-50) identified the bioactive moiety within PMP preparations to be in the major protein elution peak; sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) presumptively identified PMP as a low-molecular-weight (MW) (8,500) protein present only in such bioactive protein peaks. Both the bioactivity of PMP preparations and the low-MW protein band were removable by specific anionic membranes (e.g., cellulose-acetate/nitrate), as well as by a variety of anionic resins, further corroborating the suspected cationic charge of PMP. In addition, both PMP bioactivity and the low-MW protein band were recoverable by 1.5 M NaCl elution of the anionic membrane filters post-PMP adsorptive removal. Adsorption of bioactive PMP preparations by highly PMP-susceptible B. subtilis (10(8) CFU/ml, 30 min) resulted in a near-complete loss of residual bioactivity; in contrast, adsorption of bioactive PMP preparations with less PMP-susceptible S. aureus strains failed to reduce bioactivity. Significant lysozyme contamination of PMP-rich preparations was ruled out by determination of differences between bioactive PMP preparations and exogenous lysozyme as regards (i) relative heat stabilities; (ii) differential bactericidal activity versus B. subtilis and Micrococcus luteus; and (iii) SDS-PAGE protein profiles. These data show that the bioactive PMP protein moiety is of low MW, is heat stable, is probably cationic (similar to leukocyte-derived defensins), and possesses potent bactericidal activity against a significant percentage of S. aureus isolates.
PMCID: PMC257613  PMID: 1541535
6.  Plasmid-Mediated Resistance to Thrombin-Induced Platelet Microbicidal Protein in Staphylococci: Role of the qacA Locus 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  1999;43(10):2395-2399.
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein 1 (tPMP-1) is a small, cationic peptide released from rabbit platelets following thrombin stimulation. In vitro resistance to this peptide among strains of Staphylococcus aureus correlates with the survival advantage of such strains at sites of endothelial damage in humans as well as in experimental endovascular infections. The mechanisms involved in the phenotypic resistance of S. aureus to tPMP-1 are not fully delineated. The plasmid-encoded staphylococcal gene qacA mediates multidrug resistance to multiple organic cations via a proton motive force-dependent efflux pump. We studied whether the qacA gene might also confer resistance to cationic tPMP-1. Staphylococcal plasmids encoding qacA were found to confer resistance to tPMP-1 in an otherwise susceptible parental strain. Deletions which removed the region containing the qacA gene in the S. aureus multiresistance plasmid pSK1 abolished tPMP-1 resistance. Resistance to tPMP-1 in the qacA-bearing strains was inoculum independent but peptide concentration dependent, with the level of resistance decreasing at higher peptide concentrations for a given inoculum. There was no apparent cross-resistance in qacA-bearing strains to other endogenous cationic antimicrobial peptides which are structurally distinct from tPMP-1, including human neutrophil defensin 1, protamine, or the staphylococcal lantibiotics pep5 and nisin. These data demonstrate that the staphylococcal multidrug resistance gene qacA also mediates in vitro resistance to cationic tPMP-1.
PMCID: PMC89489  PMID: 10508013
7.  Resistance to platelet microbicidal protein results in increased severity of experimental Candida albicans endocarditis. 
Infection and Immunity  1996;64(4):1379-1384.
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (tPMP) exerts potent in vitro microbicidal activity against pathogens commonly found in the bloodstream, including Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Candida albicans. Localized platelet release of tPMP may be important in defense against infections involving the vascular endothelium caused by tPMP-susceptible organisms. In contrast, pathogens capable of surviving in the presence of tPMP could then exploit the platelet as an adhesive surface for attachment to damaged endothelium. To examine these hypotheses, we derived a tPMP-resistant (tPMP(r)) C. albicans strain from its tPMP-sensitive (tPMP(s)) parental strains were equivalent in vitro as assessed by genotyping (electrophoretic karyotype and restriction endonuclease analysis of genomic DNA), biotyping, germination, platelet aggregation, adherence to vascular endothelial cells, and growth characteristics. In addition, the tPMP(r) phenotype was stable following multiple in vitro and in vivo passages. We then investigated the in vivo relevance of tPMP susceptibility on endovascular infection using a rabbit model of endocarditis and hematogenous dissemination. Rabbits with transaortic catheters (n = 15 in each group) were challenged with either the tPMP(s) or tPMP(r) C. albicans strain. All rabbits developed C. albicans-induced endocarditis, as determined by the presence of infected vegetations. In rabbits challenged with tPMP(s) strain (P < 0.001). These results were seen in the absence of differences in either initial adherence of strains to cardiac valves or vegetation weights. Furthermore, although these C. albicans strains induced equivalent rates and extent of hematogenous renal infection, only the tPMP(r) strain disseminated hematogenously to the spleen (15 of 15 rabbits) versus 0 of 15 [tpmp(s) strain]; P < 0.0001). Thus, tPMP(r) C. albicans caused more-severe endocarditis and produced greater metastatic sequelae than the tPMP(s) counterpart.
PMCID: PMC173929  PMID: 8606104
8.  In vitro resistance to platelet microbicidal protein correlates with endocarditis source among bacteremic staphylococcal and streptococcal isolates. 
Traditionally, platelets have been thought to contribute to the induction and propagation of infective endocarditis (IE). However, recent studies suggest that platelets may potentially mitigate IE via secretion of alpha-granule-derived platelet microbicidal protein (PMP). In this study, we compared the PMP susceptibility of bacteremic isolates from patients with and without IE. Isolates of Staphylococcus aureus (n = 17), coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS; n = 28), viridans streptococci (VS; n = 54), and Enterococcus faecalis (n = 20), each at a final inoculum of 2 x 10(3) CFU/ml, were exposed to PMP [100 U/ml, (5 micrograms/ml)] for 2 h, and the percent survival was determined. For S. aureus, CNS, and VS isolates, there was a significant correlation between an IE source and increased percent survival post-PMP exposure; the mean percent survivals of S. aureus, CNS, and VS were significantly greater for IE versus non-IE isolates (P < 0.005 for each organism). No significant correlation was observed between the source of bacteremic E. faecalis isolates and PMP susceptibility. These data suggest that staphylococcal and VS (but not enterococcal) resistance to PMP may facilitate either the induction or progression of IE.
PMCID: PMC284533  PMID: 8031037
9.  Phenotypic resistance to thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein in vitro is correlated with enhanced virulence in experimental endocarditis due to Staphylococcus aureus. 
Infection and Immunity  1997;65(8):3293-3299.
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (tPMP) is secreted by rabbit platelets following thrombin stimulation, and it kills common endovascular pathogens in vitro, including Staphylococcus aureus. Therefore, pathogens which exhibit tPMP resistance in vitro possess a potential survival advantage in vivo at sites of endovascular damage. We generated an isogenic S. aureus strain pair, differing in tPMP susceptibility, by transposon (Tn551) mutagenesis of a tPMP-susceptible (tPMPs) parental strain (ISP479) to derive a stably tPMP-resistant (tPMPr) strain, ISP479R. ISP479 and ISP479R were equivalent in vitro in the following phenotypes: biotyping, antiobiograms, platelet adherence and aggregation, growth kinetics, cell wall-associated protein A expression, and fibrinogen binding. Genotypic comparisons of chromosomal DNA of strains ISP479 and ISP479R following restriction endonuclease digestion revealed indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoretic patterns. The genotype exhibited by strain ISP479R was linked to the tPMP-resistant phenotype, as it was transducible into the initially tPMP-susceptible parental strain, ISP479. Southern hybridization verified the presence of a single copy of Tn551 in the same chromosomal restriction site of both ISP479R and tPMPr transductants of ISP479. The correlation of in vitro tPMP susceptibility phenotypes with the ability to induce experimental endocarditis (a prototypical endovascular infection) was evaluated. Despite equivalent rates of endocarditis induction, animals infected with strain ISP479R achieved significantly higher vegetation bacterial densities over a 7-day post-challenge period than did animals infected with strain ISP479. These data suggest that tPMPr microbial strains have a selective advantage in experimental staphylococcal endocarditis. Furthermore, the major impact of tPMP resistance upon endocarditis pathogenesis appears to involve a postvalvular adherence event(s), most probably by facilitating bacterial proliferation within vegetations.
PMCID: PMC175466  PMID: 9234789
10.  Platelet microbicidal protein alone and in combination with antibiotics reduces Staphylococcus aureus adherence to platelets in vitro. 
Infection and Immunity  1994;62(8):3416-3423.
Bacterial adherence to platelets on the cardiac valve surface is believed to be critical in the induction of infective endocarditis. Recent studies have confirmed that thrombin-activated platelets secrete platelet microbicidal protein (PMP), which can both kill and exert nonlethal antiadherence effects against endovascular pathogens. In the present study, we quantified the influence of antibiotic and/or PMP exposures on in vitro platelet adherence of two Staphylococcus aureus strains, identical by DNA restriction and cell wall protein profiles, that differed in their susceptibility to PMP-induced killing (PMPs or PMPr, respectively). Adherence assays were performed by flow cytometry in the presence of sublethal PMP concentrations (1 to 2.5 micrograms/ml) alone or in combination with ampicillin (AMP) alone, sulbactam (SUL) alone, or AMP plus SUL (AMP-SUL), at levels achievable in serum. Exposure of the PMPs and PMPr S. aureus strains to antibiotics (for 2 h at 37 degrees C) prior to flow cytometry resulted in no substantive changes in the percent adherence to platelets compared with that for S. aureus cells not exposed to antibiotics, except for modestly increased adherence of both PMPs and PMPr cells exposed to AMP-SUL (18.5 and 15.8% increases, respectively). Addition of PMP to antibiotic-S. aureus mixtures (final 30 min) caused a significant decrease in S. aureus adherence to platelets, for both the PMPs and PMPr S. aureus strains, compared with antibiotic exposure alone (e.g., reduction in platelet adherence from 57.9 +/- 8.2% to 12.2 +/- 3.6% for PMPs cells exposed to AMP-SUL and PMP [P = 0.01]). Moreover, addition of PMP following exposure of the PMPs and PMPr strains to AMP-SUL reversed the enhanced bacterium-platelet adherence observed with such antibiotic exposures alone (P < or = 0.005). These data demonstrate that PMP exerts a potent antiplatelet adherence effect which is independent of its microbicidal capacity, rendering S. aureus cells less adherent to platelets in the presence or absence of antibiotics. Reduction of microbial adherence to platelets by PMP alone or with antibiotics provides further insight into the mechanism(s) that may be involved in host defense and antibiotic prophylaxis of infective endocarditis and other endovascular infections.
PMCID: PMC302973  PMID: 8039912
11.  Beneficial Influence of Platelets on Antibiotic Efficacy in an In Vitro Model of Staphylococcus aureus-Induced Endocarditis 
Platelets contribute to antimicrobial host defense against infective endocarditis (IE) by releasing platelet microbicidal proteins (PMPs). We investigated the influence of thrombin-stimulated human platelets on the evolution of simulated IE in the presence and absence of vancomycin or nafcillin. Staphylococcus aureus strains differing in intrinsic susceptibility to PMPs or antibiotics were studied: ISP479C (thrombin-induced PMP-1 [tPMP-1] susceptible; nafcillin and vancomycin susceptible), ISP479R (tPMP-1 resistant; nafcillin and vancomycin susceptible), and GISA-NJ (tPMP-1 intermediate-susceptible; vancomycin intermediate-susceptible). Platelets were introduced and thrombin activated within the in vitro IE model 30 min prior to inoculation with S. aureus. At 0 to 24 h postinoculation, bacterial densities in chamber fluid and simulated endocardial vegetations (SEVs) were quantified and compared among groups. Activated platelets alone, or in combination with antibiotics, inhibited the proliferation of ISP479C in chamber fluid or SEVs over the initial 4-h period (P < 0.05 versus controls). Moreover, nafcillin-containing regimens exerted inhibitory effects beyond 4 h against ISP479C in both model phases. By comparison, activated platelets inhibited GISA-NJ proliferation in SEVs but not in chamber fluid. The combination of platelets plus nafcillin or vancomycin significantly inhibited proliferation of the GISA-NJ strain in SEVs compared to the effect of platelets or antibiotics alone (P < 0.05). In contrast, platelets did not significantly alter the antistaphylococcal efficacies of nafcillin or vancomycin against ISP479R. These data support our hypothesis that a beneficial antimicrobial effect may result from the interaction among platelets, PMPs, and anti-infective agents against antibiotic-susceptible or -resistant staphylococci that exhibit a tPMP-1-susceptible or -intermediate-susceptible phenotype.
PMCID: PMC434186  PMID: 15215108
12.  Staphylocidal action of thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein is influenced by microenvironment and target cell growth phase. 
Infection and Immunity  1996;64(9):3758-3764.
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (tPMP) is a small, cationic peptide released from rabbit platelets following exposure to thrombin in vitro. This peptide exerts potent in vitro microbicidal activity against a broad spectrum of bloodstream pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus. It is known that the microbicidal actions of other cationic antimicrobial peptides (e.g., neutrophil defensins) are influenced by environmental factors and target cell growth phase. However, whether these parameters affect tPMP microbicidal activity has not been studied. Thus, we assessed the in vitro bactericidal activity of tPMP against two tPMP-susceptible strains, Bacillus subtilis ATCC 6633 and S. aureus 502A, in various target cell growth phases or under various microenvironmental conditions. The conditions studied included differing bacterial growth phase (logarithmic versus stationary), temperature (range, 4 to 42 degrees C), pH (range, 4.5 to 8.5), cationicity (range, 0.1 mM to 2 M), anionicity (range, 0.08 to 5 microM), and neutral carbohydrates ranging in molecular weight (MW) from 180 to 37,700 (range, 50 to 500 mM) as well as rabbit platelet-free plasma and serum. tPMP staphylocidal activity was greater against logarithmic- than stationary-phase cells. tPMP bactericidal activity against both B. subtilis and S. aureus was directly correlated with temperature and pH, with microbicidal activity exhibited near the physiological range (37 to 42 degrees C and pH 7.2 to 8.5, respectively). The presence of cations (Na+, K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+) decreased tPMP bactericidal activity in a time- and concentration-dependent manner, with complete inhibition at monovalent or divalent cation concentrations of > or = 250 or > or = 10 mM, respectively. Staphylocidal activity of tPMP was also inhibited by the polyanions polyanetholsulfonic acid and polyaspartic acid, at 0.1 and 0.4 microM, respectively. Coincident exposure with low-MW carbohydrates (glucose, sucrose, and melezitose) did not affect tPMP staphylocidal activity. However, higher-MW carbohydrates (raffinose and dextrans) decreased tPMP activity in a manner directly proportional to their concentration and MW. Solute-mediated inhibition of tPMP bactericidal activity was independent of solute osmolality but directly related to the duration of tPMP-solute coexposure. tPMP enhanced the staphylocidal activities of platelet-free plasma and heat-inactivated serum, while the activity of normal serum was not affected. These collective observations suggest that tPMP retains antimicrobial activities under physiological conditions which are likely to be relevant to host defense in vivo.
PMCID: PMC174290  PMID: 8751926
13.  In Vitro Resistance to Thrombin-Induced Platelet Microbicidal Protein Is Associated with Enhanced Progression and Hematogenous Dissemination in Experimental Staphylococcus aureus Infective Endocarditis 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(7):3476-3479.
We examined the influence of thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein 1 (tPMP-1) on the progression and hematogenous dissemination of experimental endocarditis caused by isogenic Staphylococcus aureus strains differing in tPMP susceptibility (tPMPs) or resistance (tPMPr) in vitro. Following simultaneous challenge of animals with both strains, significantly higher tPMPr bacterial densities were present in vegetations (P < 0.0001), kidneys (P < 0.0001), and spleens (P < 0.0001) compared with those for the tPMPs strain. These data indicate that tPMP-1 limits the intravegetation proliferation and hematogenous dissemination of a tPMPs strain in experimental endocarditis, while the tPMPr phenotype confers a selective advantage associated with the enhanced progression of this infection.
PMCID: PMC108375  PMID: 9632628
14.  Platelet microbicidal protein enhances antibiotic-induced killing of and postantibiotic effect in Staphylococcus aureus. 
The interaction of bacteria with platelets at the cardiac valve surface represents a critical event in the induction of infective endocarditis. Platelets are thought to modulate induction or propagation of endocarditis via secretion of alpha-granule-derived platelet microbicidal protein (PMP) (a low-molecular-mass, cationic, heat-stable protein distinct from lysozyme). We studied representative PMP-susceptible and PMP-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates to determine their in vitro bacteriostatic and bactericidal susceptibilities to combinations of PMP plus antistaphylococcal antibiotics. PMP plus oxacillin exerted a synergistic bactericidal effect, in contrast to either agent alone, regardless of the intrinsic PMP susceptibility of the isolate tested. Exposure of S. aureus to PMP alone resulted in residual postexposure growth-inhibitory effects lasting from 0.9 to 1.8 h. Sequential exposure of S. aureus isolates to PMP for 30 min followed by exposure to either oxacillin or vancomycin (each at 10x the MIC for 120 min) resulted in a significant extension of the postantibiotic-effect duration compared with antibiotic exposure alone (P less than or equal to 0.05). Collectively, these findings indicate that PMP both enhances antibiotic-induced killing of S. aureus and increases the postantibiotic-effect duration in S. aureus.
PMCID: PMC192027  PMID: 1416849
15.  Susceptibility to Thrombin-Induced Platelet Microbicidal Protein Is Associated with Increased Fluconazole Efficacy against Experimental Endocarditis Due to Candida albicans 
Platelet microbicidal proteins (PMPs) are believed to be integral to host defense against endovascular infection. We previously demonstrated that susceptibility to thrombin-induced PMP 1 (tPMP-1) in vitro negatively influences Candida albicans virulence in the rabbit model of infective endocarditis (IE). This study evaluated the relationship between in vitro tPMP-1 susceptibility (tPMP-1s) or resistance (tPMP-1r) and efficacy of fluconazole (FLU) therapy of IE due to C. albicans. Candida IE was established in rabbits with either tPMP-1s or tPMP-1r strains. Treatment groups received FLU (100 mg/kg/day) intraperitoneally for 7 or 14 days; control animals received no therapy. At these time points, cardiac vegetations, kidneys, and spleens were quantitatively cultured to assess fungal burden. At both 7 and 14 days and in all target tissues, the extent of candidal clearance by FLU was greater in animals infected with the tPMP-1s strain than in those infected with the tPMP-1r strain. These differences were statistically significant in the spleen and kidney. Corroborating these in vivo data, FLU (a candidastatic agent), in combination with tPMP-1, exerted an enhanced fungicidal effect in vitro against tPMP-1s and tPMP-1r C. albicans, with the extent of this effect greatest against the tPMP-1s strain. Collectively, these results support the concept that tPMP-1 susceptibility contributes to the net efficacy of FLU against C. albicans IE in vivo, particularly in tissues in which platelets and tPMP-1 likely play significant roles in host defense.
PMCID: PMC478484  PMID: 15273120
16.  Thrombin-induced rabbit platelet microbicidal protein is fungicidal in vitro. 
Platelet microbicidal protein (PMP) is released from platelets in response to thrombin stimulation. PMP is known to possess in vitro bactericidal activity against Staphylococcus aureus and viridans group streptococci. To determine whether PMP is active against other intravascular pathogens, we evaluated its potential fungicidal activity against strains of Candida species and Cryptococcus neoformans. Anionic resin adsorption and gel electrophoresis confirmed that the fungicidal activity of PMP resided in a small (approximately 8.5-kDa), cationic protein, identical to previous studies of PMP-induced bacterial killing (M.R. Yeaman, S.M. Puentes, D.C. Norman, and A.S. Bayer, Infect. Immun. 60:1202-1209, 1992). When assayed over a 180-min period in vitro, the susceptibilities of these fungi to PMP varied considerably. Generally, Candida albicans strains (mean survival, 33.5% +/- 6.9% [n = 6]) as well as isolates of Candida glabrata (mean survival, 50.8% +/- 2.9% [n = 2]) were the most susceptible to killing by PMP, while Candida guillermondii and Candida parapsilosis were relatively resistant to PMP-induced killing. Compared with C. albicans, C. neoformans was relatively resistant to the fungicidal activity of PMP, with a mean survival among the isolates studied of 77.4% +/- 12.4% (n = 6). Against C. albicans, PMP-induced fungicidal activity was time dependent (range, 0 to 180 min), PMP concentration dependent (range, 10 to 150 U/ml), and inversely related to the fungal inoculum (range, 5 x 10(3) to 1 x 10(5) CFU/ml). Scanning electron microscopy of PMP-exposed C. albicans and C. neoformans cells revealed extensive surface damage and collapse, suggesting that the site of PMP fungicidal action may directly or indirectly involve the fungal cell envelope.
PMCID: PMC187705  PMID: 8460923
17.  Staphylococcus aureus susceptibility to thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein is independent of platelet adherence and aggregation in vitro. 
Infection and Immunity  1992;60(6):2368-2374.
Bacterium-platelet interactions at the cardiac valve surface represent an important initial step in the induction of infective endocarditis (IE). This cell-cell interaction may play either a protagonistic role in the induction of IE via bacterial adherence to and aggregation of platelets or an antagonistic role via secretion of platelet-derived microbicidal molecules. We examined the spectrum and interrelationship of three aspects of the interaction of 20 clinical Staphylococcus aureus isolates with rabbit platelets in vitro: (i) S. aureus adherence to platelets; (ii) S. aureus-induced platelet aggregation; and (iii) S. aureus resistance to the action of thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (PMP; low-molecular-weight cationic peptides contained in alpha granules). Among the 20 S. aureus isolates (11 bacteremia, 9 endocarditis), there was a heterogeneous distribution profile for each of the bacterium-platelet interaction parameters studied. For S. aureus-platelet adherence and S. aureus-induced platelet aggregation, 3 of 20 and 7 of 20 isolates tested were considered highly active for each respective parameter; 5 of 20 staphylococcal strains were deemed resistant to the bactericidal action of PMP. In addition, more endocarditis isolates (45%) were PMP resistant than strains from patients without endocarditis (19%). When analyzed concomitantly, there was a significant, positive correlation between S. aureus-platelet adherence and S. aureus-induced platelet aggregation among isolates (P = 0.003; r = 0.78). In contrast, there were no statistically significant relationships between either platelet adherence or aggregation and PMP resistance among these 20 S. aureus isolates. These data suggest that platelet adherence and aggregation are related abilities of S. aureus, while resistance to thrombin-induced PMP is an independent phenotypic characteristic and potential virulence factor.
PMCID: PMC257167  PMID: 1587603
18.  DltABCD- and MprF-Mediated Cell Envelope Modifications of Staphylococcus aureus Confer Resistance to Platelet Microbicidal Proteins and Contribute to Virulence in a Rabbit Endocarditis Model  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(12):8033-8038.
The DltABCD and MprF proteins contribute a net positive charge to the Staphylococcus aureus surface envelope by alanylating and lysinylating teichoic acids and membrane phosphatidylglycerol, respectively. These surface charge modifications are associated with increased in vitro resistance profiles of S. aureus to a number of endogenous cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAPs), such as α-defensins. The current study investigated the effects of dltA and mprF mutations on the following host factors relevant to endovascular infections: (i) in vitro susceptibility to the CAP thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein 1 (tPMP-1), (ii) in vitro adherence to endothelial cells (EC) and matrix proteins, and (iii) in vivo virulence in an endovascular infection model (rabbit endocarditis) in which tPMP-1 is felt to play a role in limiting S. aureus pathogenesis. Both mutations resulted in substantial increases in the in vitro susceptibility to tPMP-1 compared to that of the parental strain. The dltA (but not the mprF) mutation resulted in a significantly reduced capacity to bind to EC in vitro, while neither mutation adversely impacted in vitro binding to fibronectin, fibrinogen, or platelets. In vivo, both mutations significantly attenuated virulence in terms of early colonization of sterile vegetations and subsequent proliferation at this site (versus the parental strain). However, only the dltA mutation significantly reduced metastatic infections in kidneys and spleens compared to those in animals infected with the parental strain. These data underscore the importance of resistance to distinct CAPs and of teichoic acid-dependent EC interactions in the context of endovascular infection pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC1307050  PMID: 16299297
19.  Low-Level Resistance of Staphylococcus aureus to Thrombin-Induced Platelet Microbicidal Protein 1 In Vitro Associated with qacA Gene Carriage Is Independent of Multidrug Efflux Pump Activity 
Thrombin-induced platelet microbial protein 1 (tPMP-1), a cationic antimicrobial polypeptide released from thrombin-stimulated rabbit platelets, targets the Staphylococcus aureus cytoplasmic membrane to initiate its microbicidal effects. In vitro resistance to tPMP-1 correlates with survival advantages in vivo. In S. aureus, the plasmid-carried qacA gene encodes a multidrug transporter, conferring resistance to organic cations (e.g., ethidium [Et]) via proton motive force (PMF)-energized export. We previously showed that qacA also confers a tPMP-1-resistant (tPMP-1r) phenotype in vitro. The current study evaluated whether (i) transporters encoded by the qacB and qacC multidrug resistance genes also confer tPMP-1r and (ii) tPMP-1r mediated by qacA is dependent on efflux pump activity. In contrast to tPMP-1r qacA-bearing strains, the parental strain and its isogenic qacB- and qacC-containing strains were tPMP-1 susceptible (tPMP-1s). Efflux pump inhibition by cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone abrogated Etr, but not tPMP-1r, in the qacA-bearing strain. In synergy assays, exposure of the qacA-bearing strain to tPMP-1 did not affect the susceptibility of Et (ruling out Et-tPMP-1 cotransport). The following cytoplasmic membrane parameters did not differ significantly between the qacA-bearing and parental strains: contents of the major phospholipids; asymmetric distributions of the positively charged species, lysyl-phosphotidylglycerol; fatty acid composition; and relative surface charge. Of note, the qacA-bearing strain exhibited greater membrane fluidity than that of the parental, qacB-, or qacC-bearing strain. In conclusion, among these families of efflux pumps, only the multidrug transporter encoded by qacA conferred a tPMP-1r phenotype. These data suggest that qacA-encoded tPMP-1r results from the impact of a specific transporter upon membrane structure or function unrelated to PMF-dependent peptide efflux.
PMCID: PMC1489806  PMID: 16801425
20.  A Synthetic Congener Modeled on a Microbicidal Domain of Thrombin- Induced Platelet Microbicidal Protein 1 Recapitulates Staphylocidal Mechanisms of the Native Molecule▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2006;50(11):3786-3792.
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein 1 (tPMP-1) is a staphylocidal peptide released by activated platelets. This peptide initiates its microbicidal activity by membrane permeabilization, with ensuing inhibition of intracellular macromolecular synthesis. RP-1 is a synthetic congener modeled on the C-terminal microbicidal α-helix of tPMP-1. This study compared the staphylocidal mechanisms of RP-1 with those of tPMP-1, focusing on isogenic tPMP-1-susceptible (ISP479C) and -resistant (ISP479R) Staphylococcus aureus strains for the following quantitative evaluations: staphylocidal efficacy; comparative MIC; membrane permeabilization (MP) and depolarization; and DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis. Although the proteins had similar MICs, RP-1 caused significant killing of ISP479C (<50% survival), correlating with extensive MP (>95%) and inhibition of DNA and RNA synthesis (>90%), versus substantially reduced killing of ISP479R (>80% survival), with less MP (55%) and less inhibition of DNA or RNA synthesis (70 to 80%). Interestingly, RP-1-induced protein synthesis inhibition was equivalent in both strains. RP-1 did not depolarize the cell membrane and caused a relatively short postexposure growth inhibition. These data closely parallel those previously reported for tPMP-1 against this strain set and exemplify how synthetic molecules can be engineered to reflect structure-activity relationships of functional domains in native host defense effector molecules.
PMCID: PMC1635186  PMID: 16954324
21.  Reduced Susceptibility of Staphylococcus aureus to Vancomycin and Platelet Microbicidal Protein Correlates with Defective Autolysis and Loss of Accessory Gene Regulator (agr) Function 
Loss of agr function, vancomycin exposure, and abnormal autolysis have been linked with both development of the GISA phenotype and low-level resistance in vitro to thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins (tPMPs). We examined the potential in vitro interrelationships among these parameters in well-characterized, isogenic laboratory-derived and clinical Staphylococcus aureus isolates. The laboratory-derived S. aureus strains included RN6607 (agrII-positive parent) and RN6607V (vancomycin-passaged variant; hetero-GISA), RN9120 (RN6607 agr::tetM; agr II knockout parent), RN9120V (vancomycin-passaged variant), and RN9120-GISA (vancomycin passaged, GISA). Two serial isolates from a vancomycin-treated patient with recalcitrant, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) endocarditis were also studied: A5937 (agrII-positive initial isolate) and A5940 (agrII-defective/hetero-GISA isolate obtained after prolonged vancomycin administration). In vitro tPMP susceptibility phenotypes were assessed after exposure of strains to either 1 or 2 μg/ml. Triton X-100- and vancomycin-induced lysis profiles were determined spectrophotometrically. For agrII-intact strain RN6607, vancomycin exposure in vitro was associated with modest increases in vancomycin MICs and reduced killing by tPMP, but no change in lysis profiles. In contrast, vancomycin exposure of agrII-negative RN9120 yielded a hetero-GISA phenotype and was associated with defects in lysis and reduced in vitro killing by tPMP. In the clinical isolates, loss of agrII function during prolonged vancomycin therapy was accompanied by emergence of the hetero-GISA phenotype and reduced tPMP killing, with no significant change in lysis profiles. An association was identified between loss of agrII function and the emergence of hetero-GISA phenotype during either in vitro or in vivo vancomycin exposure. In vitro, these events were associated with defective lysis and reduced susceptibility to tPMP. The precise mechanism(s) underlying these findings is the subject of current investigations.
PMCID: PMC1168700  PMID: 15980337
22.  Factors Influencing Time to Vancomycin-Induced Clearance of Nonendocarditis Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia: Role of Platelet Microbicidal Protein Killing and agr Genotypes 
Vancomycin susceptibility, the accessory gene global regulator (agr) genotype and function, staphylococcal cassette chromosome (SCC) mec type, and susceptibility to cationic thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein 1 (tPMP-1) have been individually predictive of duration of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia. This investigation evaluated the interrelationship of these factors with time to clearance of MRSA bacteremia during vancomycin therapy in patients without endocarditis.
Vancomycin minimum inhibitory concentration and in vitro killing, agr function (δ-hemolysin activity), agr group, SCCmec type, and survival in tPMP-1 killing assays were determined for 29 MRSA bacteremia isolates.
Increased resistance to tPMP-1 killing was observed with agr group III MRSA (P =.025) and MRSA with reduced or absent agr function (P =.023). The median time to clearance of MRSA bacteremia was earlier for agr group III (3 days) versus group I (10.5 days) or II (15 days) (P =.001). In multivariate analysis, agr group II, reduced tPMP-1 killing in vitro, and prior vancomycin exposure were significant independent predictors of longer MRSA bacteremia duration.
Specific genotypic, phenotypic, and clinical parameters appear to correlate with persistent MRSA bacteremia. The interrelationship of these and other factors probably contributes to vancomycin-mediated clearance of MRSA bacteremia.
PMCID: PMC2819315  PMID: 20001853
23.  Combinatorial Phenotypic Signatures Distinguish Persistent from Resolving Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia Isolates ▿  
Persistent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia (PB) (positive blood cultures after ≥7 days of therapy) represents a clinically challenging subset of invasive MRSA infections. In this investigation, we examined the potential correlation of specific virulence signatures with PB versus resolving MRSA bacteremia (RB) (negative blood cultures within 2 to 4 days of therapy) strains. Thirty-six MRSA isolates from patients enrolled in a recent multinational clinical trial were studied for (i) susceptibility to host defense cationic peptides (HDPs) (i.e., thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins [tPMPs] and human neutrophil peptide 1 [hNP-1]); (ii) adherence to host endovascular ligands (fibronectin) and cells (endothelial cells); and (iii) biofilm formation. We found that PB isolates exhibited significantly reduced susceptibilities to tPMPs and hNP-1 (P < 0.001 and P = 0.023, respectively). There was no significant association between the PB outcome and fibronectin binding, endothelial cell binding, or biofilm formation (P = 0.25, 0.97, and 0.064 versus RB strains, respectively). However, multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that the PB outcome was significantly associated with the combination of reduced susceptibilities to HDPs and extent of biofilm formation (P < 0.0001). Similar results were obtained in a second analysis using days of bacteremia as a continuous outcome, showing that reduced HDP susceptibilities and increased biofilm formation cocontributed to predict the duration of bacteremia. Our data indicate that PB isolates have specific pathogenic signatures independent of conventional antimicrobial susceptibility. These combinatorial mosaics can be defined and used to prospectively distinguish PB from RB strains in advance and potentially to predict ultimate clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3028773  PMID: 21098242
24.  Platelet microbicidal proteins and neutrophil defensin disrupt the Staphylococcus aureus cytoplasmic membrane by distinct mechanisms of action. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1998;101(1):178-187.
Platelet microbicidal proteins (PMPs) are hypothesized to exert microbicidal effects via cytoplasmic membrane disruption. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrated a temporal association between PMP exposure, damage of the Staphylococcus aureus cytoplasmic membrane ultrastructure, and subsequent cell death. To investigate the mechanisms of action of PMPs leading to membrane damage, we used flow cytometry to compare the effects of two distinct PMPs (thrombin-induced PMP-1 [tPMP-1] or PMP-2) with human neutrophil defensin-1 (hNP-1) on transmembrane potential (Deltapsi), membrane permeabilization, and killing of S. aureus. Related strains 6850 (Deltapsi -150 mV) and JB-1 (Deltapsi -100 mV; a respiration-deficient menadione auxotroph of 6850) were used to assess the influence of Deltapsi on peptide microbicidal effects. Propidium iodide (PI) uptake was used to detect membrane permeabilization, retention of 3,3'-dipentyloxacarbocyanine (DiOC5) was used to monitor membrane depolarization (Deltapsi), and quantitative culture or acridine orange accumulation was used to measure viability. PMP-2 rapidly depolarized and permeabilized strain 6850, with the extent of permeabilization inversely related to pH. tPMP-1 failed to depolarize strain 6850, but did permeabilize this strain in a manner directly related to pH. Depolarization, permeabilization, and killing of strain JB-1 due to PMPs were significantly less than in strain 6850. Growth in menadione reconstituted Deltapsi of JB-1 to a level equivalent to 6850, and was associated with greater depolarization due to PMP-2, but not tPMP-1. Reconstitution of Deltapsi also enhanced permeabilization and killing of JB-1 due to tPMP-1 or PMP-2. Both PMP-2 and tPMP-1 caused significant reductions in viability of strain 6850. In contrast to tPMP-1 or PMP-2, defensin hNP-1 depolarized, permeabilized, and killed both strains 6850 and JB-1 equally, and in a manner directly related to pH. Collectively, these data indicate that membrane dysfunction and cell death due to tPMP-1, PMP-2, or hNP-1 likely involve different mechanisms. These findings may also reveal new insights into the microbicidal activities versus mammalian cell toxicities of antimicrobial peptides.
PMCID: PMC508554  PMID: 9421480
25.  Staphylocidal action of thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein is not solely dependent on transmembrane potential. 
Infection and Immunity  1996;64(3):1070-1074.
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (tPMP) is a small, cationic, antimicrobial peptide released from rabbit platelets when stimulated with thrombin. We studied the relationship between staphylococcal transmembrane potential (delta psi) and tPMP staphylocidal activity. A genetically related pair of Staphylococcus aureus strains, 6850 and JB1, which differ in delta psi generation (-143 and -97 mV, respectively) were used. Mutant JB-1 was substantially less susceptible to tPMP than the parental strain, 6850. Menadione supplementation, which normalized the delta psi of strain JB-1, did not restore JB-1 tPMP susceptibility. These findings suggest that the staphylocidal activities of tPMP require factors other than or in addition to an intact delta psi.
PMCID: PMC173884  PMID: 8641763

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