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Infect Immun. 1987 Jan;55(1):104-10.

Mechanism of leukotriene generation in polymorphonuclear leukocytes by staphylococcal alpha-toxin.


The effects of staphylococcal alpha-toxin on arachidonic acid metabolism in rabbit polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) were investigated and compared with those of the ionophore A23187 and the chemotactic tripeptide formylmethionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP). Sublytic amounts of alpha-toxin stimulated the release of leukotriene B4 (LTB4) in PMNs in a dose-dependent manner. The toxin was several times more potent than fMLP but was not as effective as the ionophore. Preincubation of the toxin with neutralizing antibodies abolished the effect. Extracellular calcium was strictly required for eliciting LTB4 generation. Verapamil, a calcium channel blocker, inhibited fMLP-mediated LTB4 generation but had no effect on alpha-toxin- or A23187-exposed PMNs. Agents such as trifluoperazine and N-6(aminohexyl)-5-chloro-1-naphthalene sulfonamid that interfered with calmodulin activity, however, inhibited LTB4 generation in all cases. One minute after the addition of alpha-toxin, PMNs exhibited a severalfold enhancement in passive permeability to 45Ca2+. In addition, these cells became permeable to sucrose but not to inulin or dextran. The influx pattern was consistent with the previous observation that alpha-toxin creates discrete transmembrane channels in erythrocytes with an effective internal diameter of 2 to 3 nm. The results suggest that alpha-toxin triggers the arachidonic acid pathway in PMNs by facilitating calcium influx into the cells, possibly via transmembrane toxin pores that serve as calcium gates. Generation of arachidonic acid metabolites in PMNs by sublytic amounts of alpha-toxin may represent an important cellular reaction that generally occurs during infections with Staphylococcus aureus.

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