Cellular invasion by Staphylococcus aureus involves a fibronectin bridge between the bacterial fibronectic-binding MSCRAMMs and host cell β1 integrins

Trent Fowler, Elisabeth R. Wann, Danny Joh, Staffan Johansson, Timothy J. Foster, Magnus Höök

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

206 Scopus citations


Although Staphylococcus aureus is primarily considered an extracellular pathogen, recent evidence suggests that this bacterium can invade a variety of nonprofessional phagocytic cells. Here we investigate the early stages of cellular invasion by S. aureus and determine the bacterial and host components that are required for this process. S. aureus expresses two cell surface-associated fibronectin (FN)-binding proteins (FnbpA and FnbpB) that mediate the interaction of the bacteria with both soluble and solid-phase FN in vitro. Using a mutant of S. aureus that lacks the expression of both Fnbps, we show that the expression of either protein is necessary for efficient uptake by the mouse fibroblast line GD25β1A. Invasion could be inhibited by soluble recombinant proteins encompassing either the FN-binding D repeat region or the A region (and B repeats) of FnbpA, suggesting that the activities of both regions are important in this process. We demonstrate that FN is also required for invasion of this cell line. In the presence of FN-depleted fetal bovine serum, the invasion level was reduced by ~40% compared to in the presence of whole fetal bovine serum. Invasion could be further reduced by the addition of anti-mouse FN antibodies to the assay. Finally, we utilize a mutant mouse fibroblast line, which lacks β1 integrin expression, to demonstrate that host cell β1 integrins are necessary for efficient cellular invasion. The level of invasion of the mutant cell line GD25 was reduced by ~97% compared to the β1-expressing complemented cell line GD25β1A. In addition, invasion of the GD25β1A cell line could be inhibited by an RGD-containing peptide, further implicating a role for integrins in this process. Based on these observations, we put forward a model of S. aureus invasion in which host FN forms a bridge between the bacterial Fnbps and host cell β1 integrins, leading to bacterial uptake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-679
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Cell Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2000


  • Cellular invasion
  • Fibronectin
  • Fibronectin-binding proteins
  • Integrins
  • Staphylococcus aureus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Cell Biology


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