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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2013 Feb;16(1):63-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2013.01.012.

The effects of Staphylococcus aureus leukotoxins on the host: cell lysis and beyond.

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Department of Microbiology, New York University School of Medicine, United States.


The success of Staphylococcus aureus as a leading cause of deadly hospital-acquired and community-acquired infections is attributed to its high-level resistance to most antibiotics, and the multitude of virulence factors it elaborates. Most clinical isolates produce up to four bi-component pore-forming toxins capable of lysing cells of the immune system. Subtle differences in activity and target range of each leukotoxin suggest that these toxins are not redundant, but instead may have specialized functions in attacking and/or evading host defenses. In turn, the host has developed countermeasures recognizing sublytic levels of leukotoxins as signals to activate protective immune defenses. The opposing cytotoxic and immune-activating effects of leukotoxins on host cells make for a complex dynamic between S. aureus and the host.

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