Characteristics of new Staphylococcus aureus-RBC adhesion mechanism independent of fibrinogen and IgG under hydrodynamic shear conditions

Pyong Kyun Shin, Parag Pawar, Konstantinos Konstantopoulos, Julia M. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus infection begins when bacterial cells circulating in blood adhere to components of the extracellular matrix or endothelial cells of the host and initiate colonization. S. aureus is known to exhibit extensive interactions with platelets. S. aureus is also known to bind to red blood cells (RBCs) in the presence of plasma proteins, such as fibrinogen and IgG. Herein we report a new binding mechanism of S. aureus to RBC independent of those plasma proteins. To characterize the new adhesion mechanism, we experimentally examine the binding kinetics and molecular constituents mediating the new adhesive interactions between S. aureus and RBCs under defined shear conditions. The results demonstrate that the receptors for fibrinogen (clumping factor A) and IgG (protein A) of S. aureus are not involved in the adhesion. S. aureus binds to RBCs with maximal adhesion at the shear rate 100 s-1 and decreasing adhesion with increasing shear. The heteroaggregates formed after shear are stable when subjected to the shear rate 2,000 s-1, indicating that intercellular contact time rather than shear forces controls the adhesion at high shear. S. aureus binding to RBC requires plasma, and 10% plasma is sufficient for maximal adhesion. Plasma proteins involved in the cell-cell adhesion, such as fibrinogen, fibronectin, von Willebrand factor, IgG, thrombospondin, laminin, and vitronectin are not involved in the observed adhesion. The extent of heteroaggregation is dramatically reduced on RBC treatment with trypsin, chymotrypsin, or neuraminidase, suggesting that the receptor(s) mediating the heteroaggregation process is a sialylated glycoprotein on RBC surface. Adhesion is divalent cation dependent and also blocked by heparin. This work demonstrates a new mechanism of S. aureus-RBC binding under hydrodynamic shear conditions via unknown RBC sialoglycoprotein(s). The binding requires plasma protein(s) other than fibrinogen or IgG and does not involve the S. aureus adhesins clumping factor A or protein A.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C727-C734
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number3 58-3
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Adhesion
  • Red blood cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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