Profiling the surfacome of Staphylococcus aureus

Proteomics. 2010 Sep;10(17):3082-96. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201000062.


Staphylococcus aureus is a widespread opportunistic pathogen that can cause a wide variety of life-threatening diseases. Especially for the colonization of human tissues and the development of invasiveness, surface-exposed proteins are of major importance. In the present studies, we optimized a proteolytic shaving approach to identify those surface-exposed protein domains - the surfacome - of S. aureus that are accessible to extracellular bio-macromolecules, for example in the host milieu. Subsequently, this approach was applied to define the surfacomes of four strains with different genetic backgrounds. This resulted in the identification of 96 different proteins. Surprisingly, the overlap between the surfacomes of the four different strains was below 10% and each strain displayed its own characteristic set of surface-exposed proteins. The data were also evaluated at the peptide level and here we observed a similar phenomenon. From 190 unique peptides only five were commonly found in the four strains. Besides well known cell wall proteins, we also identified some essential proteins, several yet uncharacterized exported proteins and predicted intracellular proteins. These results show for the first time that the cell surface of different S. aureus strains is not only highly variable, but also that the displayed proteins are very heterogeneous.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacteriological Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Wall / chemistry*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Phosphates / chemistry
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / chemistry*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / cytology
  • Sucrose / chemistry


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Peptides
  • Phosphates
  • Sucrose
  • sodium phosphate