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J Leukoc Biol. 2012 Aug;92(2):361-74. doi: 10.1189/jlb.1111575. Epub 2012 May 11.

Sublytic concentrations of Staphylococcus aureus Panton-Valentine leukocidin alter human PMN gene expression and enhance bactericidal capacity.

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  • 1Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, Montana, USA.


CA-MRSA infections are often caused by strains encoding PVL, which can cause lysis of PMNs and other myeloid cells in vitro, a function considered widely as the primary means by which PVL might contribute to disease. However, at sublytic concentrations, PVL can function as a PMN agonist. To better understand this phenomenon, we investigated the ability of PVL to alter human PMN function. PMNs exposed to PVL had enhanced capacity to produce O(2)(-) in response to fMLF, but unlike priming by LPS, this response did not require TLR signal transduction. On the other hand, there was subcellular redistribution of NADPH oxidase components in PMNs following exposure of these cells to PVL--a finding consistent with priming. Importantly, PMNs primed with PVL had an enhanced ability to bind/ingest and kill Staphylococcus aureus. Priming of PMNs with other agonists, such as IL-8 or GM-CSF, altered the ability of PVL to cause formation of pores in the plasma membranes of these cells. Microarray analysis revealed significant changes in the human PMN transcriptome following exposure to PVL, including up-regulation of molecules that regulate the inflammatory response. Consistent with the microarray data, mediators of the inflammatory response were released from PMNs after stimulation with PVL. We conclude that exposure of human PMNs to sublytic concentrations of PVL elicits a proinflammatory response that is regulated in part at the level of gene expression. We propose that PVL-mediated priming of PMNs enhances the host innate immune response.

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