Small proline-rich proteins (SPRRs) are epidermally produced antimicrobial proteins that defend the cutaneous barrier by direct bacterial membrane disruption

  1. Chenlu Zhang
  2. Zehan Hu
  3. Abdul G Lone
  4. Methinee Artami
  5. Marshall Edwards
  6. Christos C Zouboulis
  7. Maggie Stein
  8. Tamia A Harris-Tryon  Is a corresponding author
  1. ShanghaiTech University, China
  2. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, United States
  3. Brandenburg Medical School Theodore Fontane, Germany

Abstract

Human skin functions as a physical barrier, preventing the entry of foreign pathogens while also accommodating a myriad of commensal microorganisms. A key contributor to the skin landscape is the sebaceous gland. Mice devoid of sebocytes are prone to skin infection, yet our understanding of how sebocytes function in host defense is incomplete. Here we show that the small proline-rich proteins, SPRR1 and SPRR2 are bactericidal in skin. SPRR1B and SPPR2A were induced in human sebocytes by exposure to the bacterial cell wall component lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Colonization of germ-free mice was insufficient to trigger increased SPRR expression in mouse skin, but LPS injected into mouse skin triggered the expression of the mouse SPRR orthologous genes, Sprr1a and Sprr2a, through stimulation of MYD88. Both mouse and human SPRR proteins displayed potent bactericidal activity against MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and skin commensals. Thus, Sprr1a-/-;Sprr2a-/- mice are more susceptible to MRSA and Pseudomonas aeruginosa skin infection. Lastly, mechanistic studies demonstrate that SPRR proteins exert their bactericidal activity through binding and disruption of the bacterial membrane. Taken together, these findings provide insight into the regulation and antimicrobial function of SPRR proteins in skin and how the skin defends the host against systemic infection.

Data availability

RNA-seq data (Figures 1B,1C) has been submitted to the Gene Expression Omnibus with an accession number: GSE182756

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Chenlu Zhang

    School of Life Science and Technology, ShanghaiTech University, Shanghai, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-9462-9237
  2. Zehan Hu

    Department of Immunology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Abdul G Lone

    Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Methinee Artami

    Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Marshall Edwards

    Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-8560-1854
  6. Christos C Zouboulis

    Department of Dermatology, Brandenburg Medical School Theodore Fontane, Dessau, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1646-2608
  7. Maggie Stein

    Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Tamia A Harris-Tryon

    Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States
    For correspondence
    tamia.harris-tryon@utsouthwestern.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-4170-7083

Funding

National Institutes of Health (AR076459-01)

  • Tamia A Harris-Tryon

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Amos)

  • Tamia A Harris-Tryon

Burroughs Wellcome Fund (CAMS)

  • Tamia A Harris-Tryon

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocols of the University of Texas Southwestern, protocol number 2015-101064. All surgery was performed under isoflurane anesthesia, and every effort was made to minimize suffering.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Brian S Kim MD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, United States

Publication history

  1. Preprint posted: September 1, 2021 (view preprint)
  2. Received: December 31, 2021
  3. Accepted: January 11, 2022
  4. Accepted Manuscript published: March 2, 2022 (version 1)
  5. Accepted Manuscript updated: March 4, 2022 (version 2)
  6. Version of Record published: March 10, 2022 (version 3)
  7. Version of Record updated: April 26, 2022 (version 4)

Copyright

© 2022, Zhang et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Chenlu Zhang
  2. Zehan Hu
  3. Abdul G Lone
  4. Methinee Artami
  5. Marshall Edwards
  6. Christos C Zouboulis
  7. Maggie Stein
  8. Tamia A Harris-Tryon
(2022)
Small proline-rich proteins (SPRRs) are epidermally produced antimicrobial proteins that defend the cutaneous barrier by direct bacterial membrane disruption
eLife 11:e76729.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.76729
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