Clumping factor B promotes adherence of Staphylococcus aureus to corneocytes in atopic dermatitis

Orla M Fleury, Maeve A McAleer, Cécile Feuillie, Cécile Formosa-Dague, Emily Sansevere, Désirée E Bennett, Aisling M Towell, W H Irwin McLean, Sanja Kezic, D Ashley Robinson, Padraic G Fallon, Timothy J Foster, Yves F Dufrêne, Alan D Irvine, Joan A Geoghegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Staphylococcus aureus skin infection is a frequent and recurrent problem in children with the common inflammatory skin disease atopic dermatitis (AD). S. aureus colonizes the skin of the majority of children with AD and exacerbates the disease. The first step during colonization and infection is bacterial adhesion to the cornified envelope of corneocytes in the outer layer, the stratum corneum. Corneocytes from AD skin are structurally different from corneocytes from normal healthy skin. The objective of this study was to identify bacterial proteins that promote the adherence of S. aureus to AD corneocytes. S. aureus strains from clonal complexes 1 and 8 were more frequently isolated from infected AD skin than from the nasal cavity of healthy children. AD strains had increased ClfB ligand binding activity compared to normal nasal carriage strains. Adherence of single S. aureus bacteria to corneocytes from AD patients ex vivo was studied using atomic force microscopy. Bacteria expressing ClfB recognized ligands distributed over the entire corneocyte surface. The ability of an isogenic ClfB-deficient mutant to adhere to AD corneocytes compared to that of its parent clonal complex 1 clinical strain was greatly reduced. ClfB from clonal complex 1 strains had a slightly higher binding affinity for its ligand than ClfB from strains from other clonal complexes. Our results provide new insights into the first step in the establishment of S. aureus colonization in AD patients. ClfB is a key adhesion molecule for the interaction of S. aureus with AD corneocytes and represents a target for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00994-16
Number of pages12
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number6
Early online date3 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


  • Adhesins, Bacterial/genetics
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis, Atopic/microbiology
  • Epithelial Cells/microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nasal Cavity/microbiology
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Skin/cytology
  • Staphylococcal Skin Infections/microbiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus/genetics


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