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J Infect Dis. 2013 Sep;208(6):990-9. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit288. Epub 2013 Jun 24.

Staphylokinase promotes the establishment of Staphylococcus aureus skin infections while decreasing disease severity.

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Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, Institute of Medicine, University of Gothenburg. Sweden.


Skin infections are frequently caused by Staphylococcus aureus and can lead to a fatal sepsis. The microbial mechanisms controlling the initiation and progression from mild skin infection to a severe disseminated infection remain poorly understood. Using a combination of clinical data and in vitro and ex vivo assays, we show that staphylokinase, secreted by S. aureus, promoted the establishment of skin infections in humans and increased bacterial penetration through skin barriers by activating plasminogen. However, when infection was established, the interaction between staphylokinase and plasminogen did not promote systemic dissemination but induced the opening and draining of abscesses and decreased disease severity in neutropenic mice. Also, increased staphylokinase production was associated with noninvasive S. aureus infections in patients. Our results point out the dual roles of staphylokinase in S. aureus skin infections as promoting the establishment of infections while decreasing disease severity.


mouse model; pathogen–host relation; plasminogen; skin infection; staphylococcus; staphylokinase

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