Fibronectin-binding proteins of Staphylococcus aureus mediate activation of human platelets via fibrinogen and fibronectin bridges to integrin GPIIb/IIIa and IgG binding to the FcγRIIa receptor

J. Ross Fitzgerald, Anthony Loughman, Fiona Keane, Marian Brennan, Morris Knobel, Judy Higgins, Livia Visai, Pietro Speziale, Dermot Cox, Timothy J. Foster

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Staphylococcus aureus is a leading cause of infective endocarditis (IE). Platelet activation promoted by S. aureus resulting in aggregation and thrombus formation is an important step in the pathogenesis of IE. Here, we report that the fibrinogen/fibronectin-binding proteins FnBPA and FnBPB are major platelet-activating factors on the surface of S. aureus from the exponential phase of growth. Truncated derivatives of FnBPA, presenting either the fibrinogen-binding A domain or the fibronectin-binding BCD region, each promoted platelet activation when expressed on the surface of S. aureus or Lactococcus lactis, indicating two distinct mechanisms of activation. FnBPA-promoted platelet activation is mediated by fibrinogen and fibronectin bridges between the A domain and the BCD domains, respectively, to the low affinity form of the integrin GPIIb/IIIa on resting platelets. Antibodies recognizing the FnBPA A domain or the complex between the FnBPA BCD domains and fibronectin were essential for activation promoted by bacteria expressing the A domain or the BCD domain respectively. Activation was inhibited by a monoclonal antibody (IV-3) specific for the FcγRIIa IgG receptor on platelets. We propose that the activation of quiescent platelets by bacteria expressing FnBPs involves the formation of a bridge between the bacterial cell and the platelet surface by (i) fibronectin and fibrinogen interacting with the low affinity form of GPIIb/IIIa and (ii) by antibodies specific to FnBPs that engage the platelet Fc receptor FcγRIIa. Platelet activation by S. aureus clinical IE isolates from both the exponential and stationary phases of growth was completely inhibited by monoclonal antibody IV-3 suggesting that the IgG-FcγRIIa interaction is of fundamental importance for platelet activation mediated by this organism. This suggests new avenues for development of therapeutics against vascular infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-230
Number of pages19
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology

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