Staphylococcus aureus LukAB cytotoxin kills human neutrophils by targeting the CD11b subunit of the integrin Mac-1
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Staphylococcus aureus causes diseases ranging from superficial wound infections to more invasive manifestations like osteomyelitis and endocarditis. The evasion of host phagocytes recruited to the site of infection is essential to the success of S. aureus as a pathogen. A single S. aureus strain can produce up to five different bicomponent pore-forming leukotoxins that lyse immune cells by forming pores in the cellular plasma membrane. Although these leukotoxins have been considered redundant due to their cytotoxic activity toward human neutrophils, each toxin displays varied species and cell-type specificities. This suggests that cellular factors may influence which cells each toxin targets. Here we describe the identification of CD11b, the a subunit of the aM/߲ integrin (CD11b/CD18), macrophage-1 antigen, or complement receptor 3, as a cellular receptor for leukocidin A/B (LukAB), an important toxin that contributes to S. aureus killing of human neutrophils. We demonstrate that CD11b renders human neutrophils susceptible to LukAB-mediated killing by purified LukAB as well as during S. aureus infection ex vivo. LukAB directly interacts with human CD11b by binding to the I domain, a property that determines the species specificity exhibited by this toxin. Identification of a LukAB cellular target has broad implications for the use of animal models to study the role of LukAB in S. aureus pathogenesis, explains the toxin's tropism toward human neutrophils and other phagocytes, and provides a cellular therapeutic target to block the effect of LukAB toward human neutrophils.
National Academy of Sciences. Proceedings (PNAS)