Front Immunol. 2021 Jul 2;12:676534. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.676534. eCollection 2021.
Antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens have become a serious threat worldwide. One of these pathogens is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a major cause of skin and soft tissue infections. In this study we identified a strain of Staphylococcus equorum producing a substance with high antimicrobial activity against many Gram-positive bacteria, including MRSA. By mass spectrometry and whole genome sequencing the antimicrobial substance was identified as the thiopeptide bacteriocin micrococcin P1 (MP1). Based on its properties we developed a one-step purification protocol resulting in high yield (15 mg/L) and high purity (98%) of MP1. For shorter incubation times (5-7 h) MP1 was very potent against MRSA but the inhibitory effect was overshadowed by resistance development during longer incubation time (24h or more). To overcome this problem a synergy study was performed with a number of commercially available antibiotics. Among the antibiotics tested, the combination of MP1 and rifampicin gave the best synergistic effect, with MIC values 25 and 60 times lower than for the individual drugs, respectively. To assess the therapeutic potential of the MP1-rifampicin combination, we used a murine skin infection model based on the use of the multidrug-resistant luciferase-tagged MRSA strain Xen31. As expected, neither of the single antimicrobials (MP1 or rifampicin) could eradicate Xen31 from the wounds. By contrary, the MP1-rifampicin combination was efficient not only to eradicate but also to prevent the recurrence of Xen31 infection. Furthermore, compared to fucidin cream, which is commonly used in skin infection treatments, MP1-rifampicin combination was superior in terms of preventing resistance development. Our results show that combining MP1, and probably other thiopeptides, with antibiotics can be a promising strategy to treat SSTIs caused by MRSA and likely many other Gram-positive bacteria.