A Staphylococcus aureus pore-forming toxin subverts the activity of ADAM10 to cause lethal infection in mice

Ichiro Inoshima, Naoko Inoshima, Georgia A. Wilke, Michael E. Powers, Karen M. Frank, Yang Wang, Juliane Bubeck Wardenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

325 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus is a major cause of human disease, responsible for half a million infections and approximately 20,000 deaths per year in the United States alone. This pathogen secretes α-hemolysin, a pore-forming cytotoxin that contributes to the pathogenesis of pneumonia. α-hemolysin injures epithelial cells in vitro by interacting with its receptor, the zinc-dependent metalloprotease ADAM10 (ref. 6). We show here that mice harboring a conditional disruption of the Adam10 gene in lung epithelium are resistant to lethal pneumonia. Investigation of the molecular mechanism of toxin-receptor function revealed that α-hemolysin upregulates ADAM10 metalloprotease activity in alveolar epithelial cells, resulting in cleavage of the adherens junction protein E-cadherin. Cleavage is associated with disruption of epithelial barrier function, contributing to the pathogenesis of lethal acute lung injury. A metalloprotease inhibitor of ADAM10 prevents E-cadherin cleavage in response to Hla; similarly, toxin-dependent E-cadherin proteolysis and barrier disruption is attenuated in ADAM10-knockout mice. Together, these data attest to the function of ADAM10 as the cellular receptor for α-hemolysin. The observation that α-hemolysin can usurp the metalloprotease activity of its receptor reveals a previously unknown mechanism of pore-forming cytotoxin action in which pathologic insults are not solely the result of irreversible membrane injury and defines ADAM10 inhibition as a strategy to attenuate α-hemolysin-induced disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1310-1314
Number of pages5
JournalNature medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011


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