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Chemical tools capable of classifying multidrug-resistant bacteria (superbugs) can facilitate early-stage disease diagnosis and help guide precision therapy. Here, we report a sensor array that permits the facile phenotyping of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a clinically common superbug. The array consists of a panel of eight separate ratiometric fluorescent probes that provide characteristic vibration-induced emission (VIE) profiles. These probes bear a pair of quaternary ammonium salts in different substitution positions around a known VIEgen core. The differences in the substituents result in varying interactions with the negatively charged cell walls of bacteria. This, in turn, dictates the molecular conformation of the probes and affects their blue-to-red fluorescence intensity ratios (ratiometric changes). Within the sensor array, the differences in the ratiometric changes for the probes result in "fingerprints" for MRSA of different genotypes. This allows them to be identified using principal component analysis (PCA) without the need for cell lysis and nucleic acid isolation. The results obtained with the present sensor array agree well with those obtained using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis.


Xi-Le Hu, Hui-Qi Gan, Zhao-Yang Qin, Qian Liu, Min Li, Daijie Chen, Jonathan L Sessler, He Tian, Xiao-Peng He. Phenotyping of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Using a Ratiometric Sensor Array. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2023 Apr 26;145(16):8917-8926

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PMID: 37040584

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