The keratinocyte as a target for staphylococcal bacterial toxins

Jeffrey B. Travers, David A. Norris, Donald Y.M. Leung

40 Scopus citations


Skin infections with Staphylococcus aureus are not only an important cause of morbidity and even mortality, but are thought to serve as initiation and/or persistance factors for numerous inflammatory skin diseases, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. One mechanism by which S. aureus can modulate the immune system is through the production of proteins such as superantigenic toxins, Protein A, as well through the cytolytic α-toxin. This review serves to discuss the biology of these three types of proteins, with emphasis on their ability to stimulate the production of powerful pro-inflammatory lipid-and protein-derived cytokines in keratinocytes. Characterization of interactions between these proteins and the keratinocyte can provide a better understanding of how bacterial infection modulates inflammatory skin diseases, as well as provide the basis for improved therapies involving antibacterial agents.



  • α-toxin
  • Keratinocytes
  • Platelet-activating factor
  • Protein a
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Superantigens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology

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