Transcytosis of staphylococcal superantigen toxins

Abdel Rahim A. Hamad, Philippa Marrack, John W. Kappler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus produces a set of proteins (e.g., staphylococcal enterotoxin A [SEA], SEB, toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 [TSST-1]) which act both as superantigens (SAgs) and toxins. Although their mode of action as SAgs is well understood, little is known about how they enter the body via the intestine and cause food poisoning. To examine this problem we used an in vitro culture system to study the capacity of class II MHC-negative human intestinal epithelial cells (Caco-2) to transcytose several staphylococcal toxins. We found that Caco-2 cells are capable of dose-dependent, facilitated transcytosis of SEB and TSST-1, but not SEA. We extended these studies in vivo in mice by showing that ingested SEB appears in the blood more efficiently than SEA. Our data suggest that these toxins can cross the epithelium in an immunologically intact form. These results may have important implications for the pathogenesis of food poisoning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1447-1454
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 21 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Transcytosis of staphylococcal superantigen toxins'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this