22 Aug 2019

Cross-disciplinary research links golden staph to autoimmune disease

Prof. Peleg with his lab group.
Professor Anton Peleg, Director of Infectious Diseases, recently collaborated on a paper published in Nature Communications.

The study found that the body may be fooled by a plasmid-derived protein from some types of Staph aureus (golden staph), resulting in the development of severe autoimmune disease. Plasmids have been associated with antibiotic resistance but this study now links them to autoimmune disease, specifically ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV), a severe autoimmune disease caused by autoimmunity to myeloperoxidase (MPO).

The Peleg Lab, including 2nd author Jhih-Hang Jiang, contributed all the bacterial (S. aureus) work, more specifically, generation of mutants, plasmid characterisation, cloning, and transfer to other bacterial strains to confirm the gene/peptide of interest causes the autoimmune disease. This confirmed that the autoimmunity could be induced by the specific gene and was plasmid mediated. We also performed the bioinformatics to assess the prevalence of the peptide of interest in all published Staph genomes.

Led by Professor Richard Kitching and Professor Stephen Holdsworth’s research team at the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases, "This study was a fantastic demonstration of cross-disciplinary research at Monash University between Infection and Immunity", Peleg says.

"This work adds to the repertoire of bacterial plasmids that are usually responsible for transmission of antimicrobial resistance genes and virulence genes, to now include autoimmunity!"

Ooi JD,...Peleg AY, Kitching AR. A plasmid-encoded peptide from Staphylococcus aureus induces anti-myeloperoxidase nephritogenic autoimmunity. Nat Commun. 2019 Jul 29;10(1):3392. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11255-0. 

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