University of Chicago scientists have recently discovered one of the keys to the immense success of S. aureus—the ability to hijack a primary human immune defense mechanism and use it to destroy white blood cells. The study was published Nov 15 in Science.
"These bacteria have endowed themselves with weapons to not only anticipate every immune defense, but turn these immune defenses against the host as well," said Olaf Schneewind, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Chicago and senior author of the paper.
One of the first lines of defense in the human immune response are neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that ensnares invaders in neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), a web-like structure of DNA and proteins. Captured bacteria are then destroyed by amoeba-like white blood cells known as macrophages. However, S. aureus infection sites are often marked by an absence of macrophages, indicating the bacteria somehow defend themselves against the immune system.
To reveal how these bacteria circumvent the human immune response, Schneewind and his team screened a series of S. aureus possessing mutations that shut down genes thought to play a role in infection. They looked to see how these mutated bacteria behaved in live tissue, and identified two strains that were unable to avoid macrophage attack. When these mutations—to the staphylococcal nuclease (nuc) and adenosine synthase A (adsA) genes respectively—were reversed, infection sites were free of macrophages again.
Looking for a mechanism of action, the researchers grew S. aureus in a laboratory dish alongside neutrophils and macrophages. The white blood cells were healthy in this environment and could clear bacteria. But the addition of a chemical to stimulate NET formation triggered macrophage death. Realizing that a toxic product was being generated by S. aureus in response to NETs, the team used high performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques to isolate the molecule.
They discovered that S. aureus were converting NETs into 2'-deoxyadenosine (dAdo), a molecule which is toxic to macrophages. This effectively turned NETs into a weapon against the immune system.
"Sooner or later almost every human gets some form of S. aureus infection. Our work describes for the first time the mechanism that these bacteria use to exclude macrophages from infected sites," Schneewind said. "Coupled with previously known mechanisms that suppress the adaptive immune response, the success of these organisms is almost guaranteed."
S. aureus bacteria are found on the skin or in the respiratory tracts of colonized humans and commonly cause skin infections in the form of abscesses or boils. Normally not dangerous, severe issues arise when the bacteria enter the bloodstream, where they can cause diseases such as sepsis and meningitis. Antibiotic-resistant strains, such as methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), are difficult to treat and have plagued healthcare systems around the world.
Schneewind and his team hope to leverage their findings toward therapies against S. aureus infections. But both genes and the dAdo molecule are closely related to important human physiological mechanisms, and Schneewind believes targeting these in bacteria, without harming human function, could be difficult.
"In theory you could build inhibitors of these bacterial enzymes or remove them," Schneewind said. "But these are untested waters and the pursuit of such goal requires a lot more study."
The study, "Staphylococcus aureus Degrades Neutrophil Extracellular Traps to Promote Immune Cell Death," was supported the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the American Heart Association. Additional authors include Vilasack Thammavongsa and Dominique M. Missiakas
Kevin Jiang | EurekAlert!
Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research