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J Innate Immun. 2012;4(2):141-8. doi: 10.1159/000333447. Epub 2012 Jan 3.

Staphylococcus aureus secretes coagulase and von Willebrand factor binding protein to modify the coagulation cascade and establish host infections.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill. 60637, USA.


Clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus secrete coagulases, polypeptides that bind to and activate prothrombin, thereby converting fibrinogen to fibrin and promoting the clotting of plasma or blood. Two staphylococcal products, the canonical coagulase (Coa) as well as the recently identified von Willebrand factor binding protein (vWbp), promote similar modifications of the coagulation cascade during host infection. Staphylococcal binding to fibrinogen or fibrin is an important attribute of disease pathogenesis, which leads to the formation of abscesses and bacterial persistence in host tissues and also enables the pathogen to cause lethal sepsis. Circumstantial evidence suggests that the product of coagulase activity, staphylococci captured within a fibrin meshwork, enable this pathogen to disseminate as thromboembolic lesions and to resist opsonophagocytic clearance by host immune cells. In addition, the coagulation products of staphylococci appear to display discrete differences when compared to those of thrombin-mediated coagulation, the latter representing a key innate defense mechanism against many invading pathogens. Preclinical evidence suggests that inactivation or neutralization of coagulases may prevent the pathogenesis of staphylococcal infections, a strategy that could be used to combat the current epidemic of hospital-acquired infections with drug-resistant S. aureus isolates.

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