Host airway proteins interact with Staphylococcus aureus during early pneumonia

Infect Immun. 2008 Mar;76(3):888-98. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01301-07. Epub 2008 Jan 14.


Staphylococcus aureus is a major cause of hospital-acquired pneumonia and is emerging as an important etiological agent of community-acquired pneumonia. Little is known about the specific host-pathogen interactions that occur when S. aureus first enters the airway. A shotgun proteomics approach was utilized to identify the airway proteins associated with S. aureus during the first 6 h of infection. Host proteins eluted from bacteria recovered from the airways of mice 30 min or 6 h following intranasal inoculation under anesthesia were subjected to liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry. A total of 513 host proteins were associated with S. aureus 30 min and/or 6 h postinoculation. A majority of the identified proteins were host cytosolic proteins, suggesting that S. aureus was rapidly internalized by phagocytes in the airway and that significant host cell lysis occurred during early infection. In addition, extracellular matrix and secreted proteins, including fibronectin, antimicrobial peptides, and complement components, were associated with S. aureus at both time points. The interaction of 12 host proteins shown to bind to S. aureus in vitro was demonstrated in vivo for the first time. The association of hemoglobin, which is thought to be the primary staphylococcal iron source during infection, with S. aureus in the airway was validated by immunoblotting. Thus, we used our recently developed S. aureus pneumonia model and shotgun proteomics to validate previous in vitro findings and to identify nearly 500 other proteins that interact with S. aureus in vivo. The data presented here provide novel insights into the host-pathogen interactions that occur when S. aureus enters the airway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / microbiology
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Female
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pneumonia / microbiology*
  • Protein Binding
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteins / isolation & purification*
  • Proteome / analysis
  • Proteome / isolation & purification
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / chemistry*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Proteins
  • Proteome