Clumping factor B is an important virulence factor during Staphylococcus aureus skin infection and a promising vaccine target
Staphylococcus aureus expresses a number of cell wall-anchored proteins that mediate adhesion and invasion of host cells and tissues and promote immune evasion, consequently contributing to the virulence of this organism. The cell wall-anchored protein clumping factor B (ClfB) has previously been shown to facilitate S. aureus nasal colonization through high affinity interactions with the cornified envelope in the anterior nares. However, the role of ClfB during skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI) has never been investigated. This study reveals a novel role for ClfB during SSTIs. ClfB is crucial in determining the abscess structure and bacterial burden early in infection and this is dependent upon a specific interaction with the ligand loricrin which is expressed within the abscess tissue. Targeting ClfB using a model vaccine that induced both protective humoral and cellular responses, leads to protection during S. aureus skin infection. This study therefore identifies ClfB as an important antigen for future SSTI vaccines.