Adhesion, invasion and evasion: the many functions of the surface proteins of Staphylococcus aureus

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2014 Jan;12(1):49-62. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3161.


Staphylococcus aureus is an important opportunistic pathogen and persistently colonizes about 20% of the human population. Its surface is 'decorated' with proteins that are covalently anchored to the cell wall peptidoglycan. Structural and functional analysis has identified four distinct classes of surface proteins, of which microbial surface component recognizing adhesive matrix molecules (MSCRAMMs) are the largest class. These surface proteins have numerous functions, including adhesion to and invasion of host cells and tissues, evasion of immune responses and biofilm formation. Thus, cell wall-anchored proteins are essential virulence factors for the survival of S. aureus in the commensal state and during invasive infections, and targeting them with vaccines could combat S. aureus infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Peptidoglycan / chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology*
  • Virulence Factors / physiology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Peptidoglycan
  • Virulence Factors