Local epidermal growth factor receptor signaling mediates the systemic pathogenic effects of staphylococcus aureus toxic shock syndrome

Laura M. Breshears, Aaron N. Gillman, Christopher S. Stach, Patrick M. Schlievert, Marnie L. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Secreted factors of Staphylococcus aureus can activate host signaling from the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). The superantigen toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 (TSST-1) contributes to mucosal cytokine production through a disintegrin and metalloproteinase (ADAM)-mediated shedding of EGFR ligands and subsequent EGFR activation. The secreted hemolysin, α-toxin, can also induce EGFR signaling and directly interacts with ADAM10, a sheddase of EGFR ligands. The current work explores the role of EGFR signaling in menstrual toxic shock syndrome (mTSS), a disease mediated by TSST-1. The data presented show that TSST-1 and α-toxin induce ADAM- and EGFR-dependent cytokine production from human vaginal epithelial cells. TSST-1 and α-toxin also induce cytokine production from an ex vivo porcine vaginal mucosa (PVM) model. EGFR signaling is responsible for the majority of IL-8 production from PVM in response to secreted toxins and live S. aureus. Finally, data are presented demonstrating that inhibition of EGFR signaling with the EGFR-specific tyrosine kinase inhibitor AG1478 significantly increases survival in a rabbit model of mTSS. These data indicate that EGFR signaling is critical for progression of an S. aureus exotoxin-mediated disease and may represent an attractive host target for therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0158969
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers R01AI073366-03 (MP) and R01AI074283 (PS). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Breshears et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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