Superantigens subvert the neutrophil response to promote abscess formation and enhance Staphylococcus aureus survival in vivo.
ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus is a versatile bacterial pathogen that produces T cell-activating toxins known as superantigens (SAgs). Although excessive immune activation by SAgs can induce a dysregulated cytokine storm as a component of what is known as toxic shock syndrome (TSS), the contribution of SAgs to the staphylococcal infection process is not well defined. Here, we evaluated the role of the bacterial superantigen staphylococcal enterotoxin A (SEA) in a bacteremia model using humanized transgenic mice expressing SAg-responsive HLA-DR4 molecules. Infection with S. aureus Newman induced SEA-dependent V? skewing of T cells and enhanced bacterial survival in the liver compared with infection by sea knockout strain. SEA-induced gamma interferon, interleukin-12, and chemokine responses resulted in increased infiltration of CD11b(+) Ly6G(+) neutrophils into the liver, promoting the formation of abscesses that contained large numbers of viable staphylococci. Hepatic abscesses occurred significantly more frequently in S. aureus Newman-infected livers than in livers infected with the Newman sea knockout strain, promoting the survival of S. aureus in vivo. This represents a novel mechanism during infection whereby S. aureus utilizes SAgs to form a specialized niche and manipulate the immune system.
Project description:Bacterial brain abscesses (BAs) are difficult to treat with conventional antibiotics. Thus, the development of alternative therapeutic strategies for BAs is of high priority. Identifying the virulence determinants that contribute to BA formation induced by Staphylococcus aureus would improve the effectiveness of interventions for this disease. In this study, RT-qPCR was performed to compare the expression levels of 42 putative virulence determinants of S. aureus strains Newman and XQ during murine BA formation, ear colonization, and bacteremia. The alterations in the expression levels of 23 genes were further confirmed through specific TaqMan RT-qPCR. Eleven S. aureus genes that persistently upregulated expression levels during BA infection were identified, and their functions in BA formation were confirmed through isogenic mutant experiments. Bacterial loads and BA volumes in mice infected with isdA, isdC, lgt, hla, or spa deletion mutants and the hla/spa double mutant strain were lower than those in mice infected with the wild-type Newman strain. The therapeutic application of monoclonal antibodies against Hla and SpA decreased bacterial loads and BA volume in mice infected with Newman. This study provides insights into the virulence determinants that contribute to staphylococcal BA formation and a paradigm for antivirulence factor therapy against S. aureus infections.
Project description:Superantigens (SAgs) play a major role in the pathogenesis of Staphylococcus aureus and are associated with several diseases, including food poisoning, bacterial arthritis, and toxic shock syndrome. Monoclonal antibodies to these SAgs, primarily TSST-1, SEB and SEA have been shown to provide protection in animal studies and to reduce clinical severity in bacteremic patients. Here we quantify the pre-existing antibodies against SAgs in many human plasma and IVIG samples and demonstrate that in a major portion of the population these antibody titers are suboptimal and IVIG therapy only incrementally elevates the anti-SAg titers. Our in vitro neutralization studies show that a combination of antibodies against SEA, SEB,and TSST-1 can provide broad neutralization of staphylococcal SAgs. We report a single fusion protein (TBA225) consisting of the toxoid versions of TSST-1, SEB and SEA and demonstrate its immunogenicity and protective efficacy in a mouse model of toxic shock. Antibodies raised against this fusion vaccine provide broad neutralization of purified SAgs and culture supernatants of multiple clinically relevant S. aureus strains. Our data strongly supports the use of this fusion protein as a component of an anti-virulence based multivalent toxoid vaccine against S. aureus disease.
Project description:Staphylococcal superantigens (SAgs) are a family of secreted toxins that stimulate T cell activation and are associated with an array of diseases in humans and livestock. Most SAgs produced by Staphylococcus aureus are encoded by mobile genetic elements, such as pathogenicity islands, bacteriophages, and plasmids, in a strain-dependent manner. Here, we carried out a population genomic analysis of >800 staphylococcal isolates representing the breadth of S. aureus diversity to investigate the distribution of all 26 identified SAg genes. Up to 14 SAg genes were identified per isolate with the most common gene selw (encoding a putative SAg, SElW) identified in 97% of isolates. Most isolates (62.5%) have a full-length open reading frame of selw with an alternative TTG start codon that may have precluded functional characterization of SElW to date. Here, we demonstrate that S. aureus uses the TTG start codon to translate a potent SAg SElW that induces V?-specific T cell proliferation, a defining feature of classical SAgs. SElW is the only SAg predicted to be expressed by isolates of the CC398 lineage, an important human and livestock epidemic clone. Deletion of selw in a representative CC398 clinical isolate, S. aureus NM001, resulted in complete loss of T cell mitogenicity in vitro, and in vivo expression of SElW by S. aureus increased the bacterial load in the liver during bloodstream infection of SAg-sensitive HLA-DR4 transgenic mice. Overall, we report the characterization of a novel, highly prevalent, and potent SAg that contributes to the pathogenesis of S. aureus infection.IMPORTANCE Staphylococcus aureus is an important human and animal pathogen associated with an array of diseases, including life-threatening necrotizing pneumonia and infective endocarditis. The success of S. aureus as a pathogen has been linked in part to its ability to manipulate the host immune response through the secretion of toxins and immune evasion molecules. The staphylococcal superantigens (SAgs) have been studied for decades, but their role in S. aureus pathogenesis is not well understood, and an appreciation for how SAgs manipulate the host immune response to promote infection may be crucial for the development of novel intervention strategies. Here, we characterized a widely prevalent, previously cryptic, staphylococcal SAg, SElW, that contributes to the severity of S. aureus infections caused by an important epidemic clone of S. aureus CC398. Our findings add to the understanding of staphylococcal SAg diversity and function and provide new insights into the capacity of S. aureus to cause disease.
Project description:Abscesses are a hallmark of invasive staphylococcal infections and the site of a dynamic struggle between pathogen and host. However, the precise host and bacterial factors that contribute to abscess formation and maintenance have not been completely described. In this work, we define the Staphylococcus aureus abscess proteome from both wild-type and neutropenic mice to elucidate the host response to staphylococcal infection and uncover novel S. aureus virulence factors. Among the proteins identified, the mouse protein histone H4 was enriched in the abscesses of wild-type compared with neutropenic animals. Histone H4 inhibits staphylococcal growth in vitro demonstrating a role for this protein in the innate immune response to staphylococcal infection. These analyses also identified staphylococcal proteins within the abscess, including known virulence factors and proteins with previously unrecognized roles in pathogenesis. Within the latter group was the universal stress protein Usp2, which was enriched in kidney lesions from neutropenic mice and required for the S. aureus response to stringent stress. Taken together, these data describe the S. aureus abscess proteome and lay the foundation for the identification of contributors to innate immunity and bacterial pathogenesis.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Treatment of Staphylococcus aureus infections has become increasingly difficult because of the emergence of multidrug-resistant isolates. Development of a vaccine to prevent staphylococcal infections remains a priority. To determine whether clumping factor A (ClfA) is a good target protein for inclusion in a multivalent vaccine, we evaluated its efficacy in a variety of relevant staphylococcal infection models, challenging with different S. aureus strains. ClfA adsorbed to Alhydrogel and mixed with Sigma Adjuvant System was more immunogenic and stimulated a more robust Th17 response than ClfA administered with alum alone. ClfA immunization induced the production of functional antibodies in rabbits and mice that blocked S. aureus binding to fibrinogen and were opsonic for S. aureus strains that produced little or no capsular polysaccharide. Mice immunized with ClfA showed a modest reduction in the bacterial burden recovered from subcutaneous abscesses provoked by S. aureus USA300 strain LAC. In addition, the ClfA vaccine reduced lethality in a sepsis model following challenge with strain Newman, but not ST80. Vaccination with ClfA did not protect against surgical wound infection, renal abscess formation, or bacteremia. Passive immunization with antibodies to ClfA did not protect against staphylococcal bacteremia in mice or catheter-induced endocarditis in rats. Some enhancement of bacteremia was observed by ClfA immunization or passive administration of ClfA antibodies when mice were challenged by the intraperitoneal route. Although rodent models of staphylococcal infection have their limitations, our data do not support the inclusion of ClfA in an S. aureus multivalent vaccine. IMPORTANCE:Antibiotics are often ineffective in eradicating Staphylococcus aureus infections, and thus, a preventative vaccine is sorely needed. Two single-component vaccines and two immunoglobulin preparations failed to meet their designated endpoints in phase III clinical trials. Importantly, recipients of an S. aureus surface protein (iron surface determinant B) vaccine who developed a staphylococcal infection experienced a higher rate of multiorgan failure and mortality than placebo controls, raising safety concerns. Multicomponent S. aureus vaccines have now been generated, and several include surface protein clumping factor A (ClfA). We immunized mice with ClfA and generated a robust T cell response and serum antibodies that were functional in vitro. Nonetheless, ClfA was not protective in a number of relevant animal models of S. aureus infection, and high levels of ClfA antibodies enhanced bacteremia when mice were challenged with community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus strains. Evidence supporting ClfA as a vaccine component is lacking.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus is a common etiologic agent of brain abscesses and possesses numerous virulence factors that manipulate host immunity. One example is superantigens (SAG) that clonally expand T cell subsets bearing specific V? receptors. Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) is one receptor implicated in S. aureus recognition. However, the interplay between TLR2, SAG, and adaptive immunity during brain abscess formation has not yet been investigated and could reveal novel insights into host-pathogen interactions for regulating protective immunity. A comprehensive analysis of abscess-associated T cell populations in TLR2 KO and WT mice was performed following infection with a S. aureus clinical isolate. Both natural killer T (NKT) and ?? T cell infiltrates were increased in brain abscesses of TLR2 KO mice and produced more IL-17 and IFN-? compared to WT populations, which could have resulted from elevated bacterial burdens observed in these animals. Analysis of SAG-reactive T cells revealed a predominant V?(8.1,8.2) infiltrate reactive with staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), whereas SEA-reactive V?(11) T cells were less numerous. Brain abscesses of TLR2 KO mice had fewer V?(8.1,8.2) and V?(11) T cells and produced less TNF-? and IFN-? compared to WT animals. Treatment of primary microglia with purified SEB augmented TNF-? production in response to the TLR2 ligand Pam3Cys, which may serve to amplify proinflammatory cascades during CNS S. aureus infection. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that TLR2 impacts adaptive immunity to S. aureus infection and modulates SAG responses.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus superantigens (SAgs) are among the most potent T cell mitogens known. They stimulate large fractions of T cells by cross-linking their T cell receptor with major histocompatibility complex class-II molecules on antigen presenting cells, resulting in T cell proliferation and massive cytokine release. To date, 26 different SAgs have been described in the species S. aureus; they comprise the toxic shock syndrome toxin (TSST-1), as well as 25 staphylococcal enterotoxins (SEs) or enterotoxin-like proteins (SEls). SAgs can cause staphylococcal food poisoning and toxic shock syndrome and contribute to the clinical symptoms of staphylococcal infection. In addition, there is growing evidence that SAgs are involved in allergic diseases. This review provides an overview on recent epidemiological data on the involvement of S. aureus SAgs and anti-SAg-IgE in allergy, demonstrating that being sensitized to SEs-in contrast to inhalant allergens-is associated with a severe disease course in patients with chronic airway inflammation. The mechanisms by which SAgs trigger or amplify allergic immune responses, however, are not yet fully understood. Here, we discuss known and hypothetical pathways by which SAgs can drive an atopic disease.
Project description:Strains of Staphylococcus aureus, an important human pathogen, display up to 20% variability in their genome sequence, and most sequence information is available for human clinical isolates that have not been subjected to genetic analysis of virulence attributes. S. aureus strain Newman, which was also isolated from a human infection, displays robust virulence properties in animal models of disease and has already been extensively analyzed for its molecular traits of staphylococcal pathogenesis. We report here the complete genome sequence of S. aureus Newman, which carries four integrated prophages, as well as two large pathogenicity islands. In agreement with the view that S. aureus Newman prophages contribute important properties to pathogenesis, fewer virulence factors are found outside of the prophages than for the highly virulent strain MW2. The absence of drug resistance genes reflects the general antibiotic-susceptible phenotype of S. aureus Newman. Phylogenetic analyses reveal clonal relationships between the staphylococcal strains Newman, COL, NCTC8325, and USA300 and a greater evolutionary distance to strains MRSA252, MW2, MSSA476, N315, Mu50, JH1, JH9, and RF122. However, polymorphism analysis of two large pathogenicity islands distributed among these strains shows that the two islands were acquired independently from the evolutionary pathway of the chromosomal backbones of staphylococcal genomes. Prophages and pathogenicity islands play central roles in S. aureus virulence and evolution.
Project description:Permanent joint dysfunction is a devastating complication in patients with septic arthritis. Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) lipoproteins (Lpp), the predominant ligands for TLR2, are known to be arthritogenic and induce bone destruction when introduced directly into the joint. Here, we aim to investigate the importance of S. aureus Lpp and TLR2 in a hematogenous septic arthritis model, which is the most common route of infection in humans. C57BL/6 wild-type and TLR2 deficient mice were intravenously inoculated with S. aureus Newman parental strain or its lipoprotein-deficient ?lgt mutant strain. The clinical course of septic arthritis, radiological changes, and serum levels of cytokines and chemokines, were assessed. Newman strain induced more severe and frequent clinical septic polyarthritis compared to its ?lgt mutant in TLR2 deficient mice, but not in wild-type controls. Bone destruction, however, did not differ between groups. Lpp expression was associated with higher mortality, weight loss as well as impaired bacterial clearance in mouse kidneys independent of TLR2. Furthermore, Lpp expression induced increased systemic pro-inflammatory cytokine and neutrophil chemokine release. Staphylococcal Lpp are potent virulence factors in S. aureus systemic infection independent of host TLR2 signalling. However, they have a limited impact on bone erosion in hematogenous staphylococcal septic arthritis.
Project description:Staphylococcal superantigens (SAgs) constitute a family of potent exotoxins secreted by Staphylococcus aureus and other select staphylococcal species. SAgs function to cross-link major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules with T cell receptors (TCRs) to stimulate the uncontrolled activation of T lymphocytes, potentially leading to severe human illnesses such as toxic shock syndrome. The ubiquity of SAgs in clinical S. aureus isolates suggests that they likely make an important contribution to the evolutionary fitness of S. aureus. Although the apparent redundancy of SAgs in S. aureus has not been explained, the high level of sequence diversity within this toxin family may allow for SAgs to recognize an assorted range of TCR and MHC class II molecules, as well as aid in the avoidance of humoral immunity. Herein, we outline the major diseases associated with the staphylococcal SAgs and how a dysregulated immune system may contribute to pathology. We then highlight recent research that considers the importance of SAgs in the pathogenesis of S. aureus infections, demonstrating that SAgs are more than simply an immunological diversion. We suggest that SAgs can act as targeted modulators that drive the immune response away from an effective response, and thus aid in S. aureus persistence.