Membrane binding of pore-forming γ-hemolysin components studied at different lipid compositions

T. Tarenzi, G. Lattanzi. R. Potestio, Membrane binding of pore-forming γ-hemolysin components studied at different lipid compositions, BBA Biomembranes (2022)

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is among those pathogens currently posing the highest threat to public health. Its host immune evasion strategy is mediated by pore-forming toxins (PFTs), among which the bi-component γ-hemolysin is one of the most common. The complexity of the porogenesis mechanism by γ-hemolysin poses difficulties in the development of antivirulence therapies targeting PFTs from S. aureus, and sparse and apparently contrasting experimental data have been produced. Here, through a large set of molecular dynamics simulations at different levels of resolution, we investigate the first step of pore formation, and in particular the effect of membrane composition on the ability of γ-hemolysin components, LukF and Hlg2, to steadily adhere to the lipid bilayer in the absence of proteinaceous receptors. Our simulations are in agreement with experimental data of γ-hemolysin pore formation on model membranes, which are here explained on the basis of the bilayer properties. Our computational investigation suggests a possible rationale to explain experimental data on phospholipid binding to the LukF component, and to hypothesise a mechanism by which, on purely lipidic bilayers, the stable anchoring of LukF to the cell surface facilitates Hlg2 binding, through the exposure of its N-terminal region. We expect that further insights on the mechanism of transition between soluble and membrane bound-forms and on the role played by the lipid molecules will contribute to the design of antivirulence agents with enhanced efficacy against methicillin-resistant S. aureus infections.