This study provided an insight into yet another antimicrobial mechanism of allicin. - GreenMedInfo Summary
Allicin causes fragmentation of the peptidoglycan coat in Staphylococcus aureus by effecting synthesis and aiding hydrolysis: a determination by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry on whole cells.
J Med Microbiol. 2019 Apr ;68(4):667-677. Epub 2019 Mar 19. PMID: 30888314
G T M Getti
PURPOSE: To determine the effect of allicin on Staphylococcus aureus cell wall peptidoglycans by the application of MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry on whole cells and to relate this to current knowledge of wall-processing enzymes.
METHODOLOGY: Two different S. aureus strains were grown for 48 h after which period each culture was split into two, one part was then treated with sub-inhibitory levels of allicin while the other part left untreated as a control. After a further 24 h whole cells were recovered and analysed by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry.
RESULTS: Changes in the mass spectra between the treated and untreated cells revealed fragmented peptidoglycans identified by mass calculation only in the treated cells. These peptidoglycan fragments where identified as the products of specific peptidoglycan hydrolases.
CONCLUSIONS: Allicin is known to target cysteine thiol groups. These are absent in peptidoglycan hydrolases and we might have expected identical results in both of the treated and untreated cells. Peptidoglycan synthesis enzymes such as the Fem family of enzymes do contain cysteines. Fem enzymes A, B and X all have a conserved conformation of 99 % for over 100 S. aureus strains and are therefore potential targets for allicin. Examination of FemA structure showed that cysteine102 is accessible from the surface. We propose that allicin has an inhibitory mechanism alongside others of targeting FemA and possibly other Fem enzymes by curtailing glycine bridging and leading to fragmentation. This study provided an insight into yet another antimicrobial mechanism of allicin.