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EMBO J. 2007 Feb 7;26(3):701-9. Epub 2007 Jan 25.

Staphylococcus aureus protein A activates TACE through EGFR-dependent signaling.

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Department of Pediatrics and Pharmacology, College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Among the many adhesins and toxins expressed by Staphylococcus aureus, protein A is an exceptionally complex virulence factor, known to interact with multiple eukaryotic targets, particularly those with immunological functions. Protein A acts as a ligand that can mimic TNF-alpha to activate TNFR1 and subsequent proinflammatory signaling. It also stimulates the cleavage of TNFR1 from the surface of epithelial cells and macrophages, which serves to limit TNF-alpha signaling. We characterized the signaling pathway responsible for TNFR1 shedding and identified protein A mutants which could activate TNFR1-dependent signaling, but were unable to activate TACE, the TNFR1 sheddase. Activation of TACE was dependent upon a discrete interaction between the previously defined IgG-binding domain of protein A and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which in turn induced TACE phosphorylation through a c-Src-erk1/2-mediated cascade. This novel interaction was independent of the autocrine activation of EGFR and protein A-induced TGF-alpha was neither required nor sufficient to activate TNFR1 shedding. Thus, staphylococci exploit the ubiquitous and multifunctional EGFR to regulate the availability of TNFR1 on mucosal and immune cells.

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