Staphylococcus aureus: Why it just gets up your nose

A collaboration between researchers at the School of Biochemistry and Immunology and the Department of Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin has identified a mechanism by which the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) colonizes our nasal passages. The study, published today in the Open Access journal PLOS Pathogens, shows for the first time that a protein located on the bacterial surface called clumping factor B (ClfB) has high affinity for the skin protein loricrin.

S. aureus is a major , with the potential to cause severe invasive diseases. It is a major cause for concern in hospitals and healthcare facilities, where many infections are caused by strains resistant to commonly used antibiotics [MRSA]. Interestingly, S. aureus persistently colonizes about 20% of the human population by binding to skin-like cells within the . Being colonized predisposes an individual towards becoming infected so it is vital that we understand the mechanisms involved.

ClfB was previously shown to promote S. aureus colonization in a human nasal colonization volunteer study. This paper now identifies the mechanism by which ClfB facilitates S. aureus nasal colonization. Purified ClfB bound loricrin with high affinity and this interaction was shown to be crucial for successful colonization of the nose in a mouse model. A lacking loricrin in its skin cells allowed fewer to colonize its nasal passages than a normal mouse. When S. aureus strains that lacked ClfB were used nasal colonization could not be achieved at all. Finally it was shown that soluble loricrin could reduce binding of S. aureus to human nasal skin cells and that nasal administration of loricrin reduced S. aureus colonization of mice.

Rachel McLoughlin, the study's corresponding author and Lecturer at the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin concludes, "Loricrin is a major determinant of S. aureus nasal colonization." This discovery therefore opens new avenues for developing therapeutic strategies to reduce the burden of nasal carriage and consequently infections with this bacterium. This is particularly important given the difficulties associated with treating MRSA infections.

More information: Mulcahy ME, Geoghegan JA, Monk IR, O'Keeffe KM, Walsh EJ, et al. (2012) Nasal Colonisation by Staphylococcus aureus Depends upon Clumping Factor B Binding to the Squamous Epithelial Cell Envelope Protein Loricrin. PLOS Pathog 8(12): e1003092. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003092

Related Stories

MRSA skin infections up, linked to furunculosis

Jul 27, 2012

(HealthDay) -- The incidence of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) in the United States is increasing and is associated with follicular infection, most commonly follic ...

Coffee and tea consumption reduce MRSA risk

Jul 15, 2011

While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, new research published in the Annals of Family Medicine say that hot tea or coffee may keep the methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus, or MRSA, bug away, or at least out of ...

Recommended for you

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

20 hours ago

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

Dec 19, 2014

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

Dec 19, 2014

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.