Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2021 Mar 1:AAC.02621-20. doi: 10.1128/AAC.02621-20. Online ahead of print.
Certain methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains exhibit β-lactam-susceptibility in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo in the presence of NaHCO3 (NaHCO3-responsive MRSA). Herein, we investigate the impact of NaHCO3 on factors required for PBP2a functionality. Prototype NaHCO3-responsive and -nonresponsive MRSA strains (as defined in vitro) were assessed for the impact of NaHCO3 on: expression of genes involved in PBP2a production-maturation pathways (mecA, blaZ, pbp4, vraSR, prsA, sigB, and floA); membrane PBP2a and PrsA protein content; and membrane carotenoid content. Following NaHCO3 exposure in NaHCO3-responsive (vs - nonresponsive) MRSA, there was significantly reduced expression of: i) mecA and blaZ; ii) the vraSR-prsA gene axis; and iii) pbp4 Carotenoid production was reduced, while floA expression was increased by NaHCO3 exposure in all MRSA strains. This work underscores the distinct regulatory impact of NaHCO3 on a cadre of genes encoding factors required for maintenance of the MRSA phenotype through PBP2a functionality and maturation.