Heparan sulfate proteoglycans mediate Staphylococcus aureus interactions with intestinal epithelium

Donavon J. Hess, Michelle J. Henry-Stanley, Stanley L. Erlandsen, Carol L. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus can be internalized by non-professional phagocytes, and may colonize the intestine in normal and antibiotic-treated individuals. Intestinal colonization may depend on the interactions of S. aureus with the intestinal epithelium. The best described mechanism of S. aureus binding to eukaryotic cells involves S. aureus fibronectin binding proteins (FnBPs), using fibronectin as a bridging molecule to β1 integrins on the eukaryotic cell surface. Because S. aureus can be internalized by enterocytes, and because S. aureus is known to bind heparan sulfate (HS), we hypothesized that heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) widely expressed on epithelia may mediate S. aureus interactions with intestinal epithelial cells. Internalization of S. aureus RN6390 by cultured intestinal epithelial cells was inhibited in a dose-dependent fashion by the HS mimic heparin, and by HS itself. Internalization of S. aureus DU5883, which lacks expression of staphylococcal FnBPs, was also inhibited by heparin. S. aureus adherence to ARH-77 cells, transfected to express the HSPG syndecan-1, was greatly increased when compared to adherence to plasmid control ARH-77 cells which have little detergent extractable HS. In addition, compared to wild-type HS-expressing Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, internalization of S. aureus was decreased using mutant CHO cells with decreased HS expression. These findings are consistent with a model wherein S. aureus internalization by intestinal epithelial cells (and perhaps other epithelia) is mediated by S. aureus binding to the HS moiety of cell-surface HSPGs, and this interaction appears independent of fibronectin binding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Microbiology and Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported by U.S. Public Health Service grants AI 49686 (DH) and GM 066751 (CW) from the National Institutes of Health.


  • Enterocyte
  • Fibronectin
  • Heparan sulfate
  • Staphylococcus aureus


Dive into the research topics of 'Heparan sulfate proteoglycans mediate Staphylococcus aureus interactions with intestinal epithelium'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this