Mechanism of Staphylococcus aureus exotoxin A inhibition of Ig production by human B cells

A. B. Moseley, D. P. Huston

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23 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus enterotoxins and toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 are members of a family of exoproteins that are produced by staphylococci and bind specifically to MHC class II molecules. Upon binding to MHC class II molecules, these exoproteins are potent stimulators of T cell proliferation via interaction with specific TCR V-β segments of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. These exoproteins also directly stimulate monocytes to secrete IL-1 and TNF-α. Furthermore, these exoproteins have a profound inhibitory effect on Ig production by PBMC. We examined the effects of Staphylococcus enterotoxin A (SEA) on proliferation and Ig production of highly purified human B cells. Our results demonstrated that the binding of SEA to MHC class II molecules on B cells does not alter their ability to proliferate in response to Staphylococcus aureus Cowan strain I (SAC) or to produce Ig in response to SAC plus rIL-2. In contrast, the anti-DR mAb L243 inhibited both B cell proliferation and Ig production. Unable to determine a direct effect of SEA on B cell function, we investigated whether the capacity of SEA to inhibit SAC-induced Ig production by PBMC was T cell-dependent. Our results demonstrated that in the presence of T cells, under appropriate conditions, SEA can either function as a nominal Ag for stimulation of B cell proliferation and Ig production or induce T cell-mediated suppression of Ig production. SEA-induced Ig production required T cell help, which was dependent on pretreatment of the T cells with irradiation or mitomycin C; Ig production was not induced by SEA in the absence of T cells or in the presence of untreated T cells. Furthermore, SEA inhibited Ig production in SAC-stimulated cultures of autologous B cells and untreated T cells; pretreatment of the T cells with irradiation or mitomycin C abrogated SEA-induced inhibition of Ig production. Thus, T cell suppression of SAC-induced Ig production was dependent on T cell proliferation. Similar results were observed with both SEA and toxic shock syndrome toxin 1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)826-832
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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