LukMF′ is the major secreted leukocidin of bovine Staphylococcus aureus and is produced in vivo during bovine mastitis

Manouk Vrieling*, Eveline M. Boerhout, Glenn F. Van Wigcheren, Kirsten J. Koymans, Tanja G. Mols-Vorstermans, Carla J.C. de Haas, Piet C. Aerts, Ineke J.J.M. Daemen, Kok P.M. Van Kessel, Ad P. Koets, Victor P.M.G. Rutten, Piet J.M. Nuijten, Jos A.G. van Strijp, Lindert Benedictus

*Corresponding author for this work

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Staphylococcus aureus is a major human and animal pathogen and a common cause of mastitis in cattle. S. aureus secretes several leukocidins that target bovine neutrophils, crucial effector cells in the defence against bacterial pathogens. In this study, we investigated the role of staphylococcal leukocidins in the pathogenesis of bovine S. aureus disease. We show that LukAB, in contrast to the γ-hemolysins, LukED, and LukMF′, was unable to kill bovine neutrophils, and identified CXCR2 as a bovine receptor for HlgAB and LukED. Furthermore, we assessed functional leukocidin secretion by bovine mastitis isolates and observed that, although leukocidin production was strain dependent, LukMF′ was most abundantly secreted and the major toxin killing bovine neutrophils. To determine the role of LukMF′ in bovine mastitis, cattle were challenged with high (S1444) or intermediate (S1449, S1463) LukMF′-producing isolates. Only animals infected with S1444 developed severe clinical symptoms. Importantly, LukM was produced in vivo during the course of infection and levels in milk were associated with the severity of mastitis. Altogether, these findings underline the importance of LukMF′ as a virulence factor and support the development of therapeutic approaches targeting LukMF′ to control S. aureus mastitis in cattle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37759
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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