Staphylokinase promotes the establishment of Staphylococcus aureus skin infections while decreasing disease severity.
Journal article, 2013
Skin infections are frequently caused by Staphylococcus aureus and can lead to a fatal sepsis. The microbial mechanisms controlling the initiation and progression from a mild skin infection to a severe disseminated form 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 in patients, increased staphylokinase production was also associated with non-invasive S. aureus infections. Our results point out the dual roles of staphylokinase in S. aureus skin infections as promoting the establishment of infections while decreasing disease severity.