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Infect Immun. 2014 Mar;82(3):1017-29. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01419-13. Epub 2013 Dec 16.

Biofilm matrix exoproteins induce a protective immune response against Staphylococcus aureus biofilm infection.

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  • 1Laboratory of Microbial Biofilms, Instituto de Agrobiotecnología, Universidad Pública de Navarra-CSIC-Gobierno de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.


The Staphylococcus aureus biofilm mode of growth is associated with several chronic infections that are very difficult to treat due to the recalcitrant nature of biofilms to clearance by antimicrobials. Accordingly, there is an increasing interest in preventing the formation of S. aureus biofilms and developing efficient antibiofilm vaccines. Given the fact that during a biofilm-associated infection, the first primary interface between the host and the bacteria is the self-produced extracellular matrix, in this study we analyzed the potential of extracellular proteins found in the biofilm matrix to induce a protective immune response against S. aureus infections. By using proteomic approaches, we characterized the exoproteomes of exopolysaccharide-based and protein-based biofilm matrices produced by two clinical S. aureus strains. Remarkably, results showed that independently of the nature of the biofilm matrix, a common core of secreted proteins is contained in both types of exoproteomes. Intradermal administration of an exoproteome extract of an exopolysaccharide-dependent biofilm induced a humoral immune response and elicited the production of interleukin 10 (IL-10) and IL-17 in mice. Antibodies against such an extract promoted opsonophagocytosis and killing of S. aureus. Immunization with the biofilm matrix exoproteome significantly reduced the number of bacterial cells inside a biofilm and on the surrounding tissue, using an in vivo model of mesh-associated biofilm infection. Furthermore, immunized mice also showed limited organ colonization by bacteria released from the matrix at the dispersive stage of the biofilm cycle. Altogether, these data illustrate the potential of biofilm matrix exoproteins as a promising candidate multivalent vaccine against S. aureus biofilm-associated infections.

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