Photolysis of Staphyloxanthin in Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Potentiates Killing by Reactive Oxygen Species

Adv Sci (Weinh). 2019 Mar 30;6(11):1900030. doi: 10.1002/advs.201900030. eCollection 2019 Jun 5.


Confronted with the severe situation that the pace of resistance acquisition is faster than the clinical introduction of new antibiotics, health organizations are calling for effective approaches to combat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. Here, an approach to treat MRSA through photolysis of staphyloxanthin, an antioxidant residing in the microdomain of S. aureus membrane, is reported. This photochemistry process is uncovered through transient absorption imaging and quantitated by absorption spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry. Photolysis of staphyloxanthin transiently elevates the membrane permeability and renders MRSA highly susceptible to hydrogen peroxide attack. Consequently, staphyloxanthin photolysis by low-level 460 nm light eradicates MRSA synergistically with hydrogen peroxide and other reactive oxygen species. The effectiveness of this synergistic therapy is well validated in MRSA planktonic culture, MRSA-infected macrophage cells, stationary-phase MRSA, persisters, S. aureus biofilms, and two mice wound infection models. Collectively, the work demonstrates that staphyloxanthin photolysis is a new therapeutic platform to treat MRSA infections.

Keywords: methicillin‐resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA); phototherapy; staphyloxanthin photobleaching; transient absorption microscopy.