An experiment-informed signal transduction model for the role of the Staphylococcus aureus MecR1 protein in β-lactam resistance

Bruno S. Belluzo, Luciano A. Abriata, Estefania Giannini, Damila Mihovilcevic, Matteo Dal Peraro, Leticia I. Llarrull*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


The treatment of hospital- and community-associated infections by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a perpetual challenge. This Gram-positive bacterium is resistant specifically to β-lactam antibiotics, and generally to many other antibacterial agents. Its resistance mechanisms to β-lactam antibiotics are activated only when the bacterium encounters a β-lactam. This activation is regulated by the transmembrane sensor/signal transducer proteins BlaR1 and MecR1. Neither the transmembrane/metalloprotease domain, nor the complete MecR1 and BlaR1 proteins, are isolatable for mechanistic study. Here we propose a model for full-length MecR1 based on homology modeling, residue coevolution data, a new extensive experimental mapping of transmembrane topology, partial structures, molecular simulations, and available NMR data. Our model defines the metalloprotease domain as a hydrophilic transmembrane chamber effectively sealed by the apo-sensor domain. It proposes that the amphipathic helices inserted into the gluzincin domain constitute the route for transmission of the β-lactam-binding event in the extracellular sensor domain, to the intracellular and membrane-embedded zinc-containing active site. From here, we discuss possible routes for subsequent activation of proteolytic action. This study provides the first coherent model of the structure of MecR1, opening routes for future functional investigations on how β-lactam binding culminates in the proteolytic degradation of MecI.
Original languageEnglish
Article number19558
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


Dive into the research topics of 'An experiment-informed signal transduction model for the role of the Staphylococcus aureus MecR1 protein in β-lactam resistance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this