Characterization of Staphylococcus aureus adhesins important for respiratory tract infection

Elena Magdalena Barbu, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Staphylococcus aureus is a leading cause of lower respiratory tract infections in both adult and pediatric populations. In the past two decades, reports have described emergent incidence of severe necrotizing pneumonia in previously healthy individuals, frequently caused by antibiotic resistant strains. Additionally, S. aureus remains the most common cause of ventilator-associated pneumonia, contributing morbidity and mortality in intensive care units. As treatment of infection is made more difficult by the resistance to multiple antibiotics including vancomycin, there is a pressing need for novel strategies to prevent and treat S. aureus infections. Targeting essential mechanisms that promote infection such as adhesion, colonization, invasion, evasion of immune system and signaling may lead to inhibition of pathogenic surge. Staphylococcal adhesins of the MSCRAMM family (microbial surface components recognizing adherent matrix molecules) represent viable targets for such investigations. Understanding the molecular mechanism of binding is the first step toward the development of such therapies. Analysis of bacterial strains isolated from patients with staphylococcal pneumonia show increased expression of protein A, SdrD, SdrC and ClfB, cell surface proteins members of the MSCRAMM family. In this study the interaction of these MSCRAMMs with candidate ligands has been examined. We found that SdrD mediates S. aureus adherence to the lung epithelial cell line A549. Consistently, bacteria expressing SdrD have increased persistence in the lungs of infected mice after bronchoalveolar lavage in comparison with bacteria lacking this protein. Inhibition studies revealed that bacterial attachment can be abolished using neutralizing antibodies against SdrD. Using phage display, neurexin β isoforms were identified as SdrC binding partners. Previous reports postulated that MSCRAMMS bind their ligands by a 'dock, lock and latch' mechanism of interaction. Our data suggested that ClfB, an MSCRAMM responsible for nasal colonization, binds cytokeratin 10 by a 'dock and lock' variant of this model, in which the 'latching' event is not necessary. In summary, we have characterized aspects of molecular interaction between several MSCRAMMS and host components. We hope that continued delineation of these interactions will lead to identification of novel therapeutic targets or preventive strategies against S. aureus infections.

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Recommended Citation

Barbu, Elena Magdalena, "Characterization of Staphylococcus aureus adhesins important for respiratory tract infection" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3305159.