[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Severe sepsis and septic shock are leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Infection-associated inflammation promotes the development and progression of adverse outcomes in sepsis. The effects of heterodimeric IL-27 (p28/EBI3) have been implicated in the natural course of sepsis, whereas the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of gene expression and release of IL-27 in sepsis are poorly understood. We studied the events regulating the p28 subunit of IL-27 in endotoxic shock and polymicrobial sepsis following cecal ligation and puncture. Neutralizing Abs to IL-27(p28) improved survival rates, restricted cytokine release, and reduced bacterial burden in C57BL/6 mice during sepsis. Genetic disruption of IL-27 signaling enhanced the respiratory burst of macrophages. Experiments using splenectomized mice or treatment with clodronate liposomes suggested that macrophages in the spleen may be a significant source of IL-27(p28) during sepsis. In cultures of TLR4-activated macrophages, the frequency of F4/80(+)CD11b(+)IL-27(p28)(+) cells was reduced by the addition of IL-10. IL-10 antagonized both MyD88-dependent and TRIF-dependent release of IL-27(p28). Genetic deletion of STAT3 in Tie2-Cre/STAT3flox macrophages completely interrupted the inhibition of IL-27(p28) by IL-10 after TLR4 activation. In contrast, IL-10 remained fully active to suppress IL-27(p28) with deletion of SOCS3 in Tie2-Cre/SOCS3flox macrophages. Blockade of IL-10R by Ab or genetic deficiency of IL-10 resulted in 3-5-fold higher concentrations of IL-27(p28) in endotoxic shock and polymicrobial sepsis. Our studies identify IL-10 as a critical suppressing factor for IL-27(p28) production during infection-associated inflammation. These findings may be helpful for a beneficial manipulation of adverse IL-27(p28) release during sepsis.
Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 10/2014;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pathobionts play a critical role in disease development, but the immune mechanisms against pathobionts remain poorly understood. Here, we report a critical role for interleukin-22 (IL-22) in systemic protection against bacterial pathobionts that translocate into the circulation after infection with the pathogen Clostridium difficile. Infection with C. difficile induced IL-22, and infected Il22(-/-) mice harbored high numbers of pathobionts in extraintestinal organs despite comparable pathogen load and intestinal damage in mutant and wild-type mice. Pathobionts exhibited increased resistant against complement-mediated phagocytosis, and their intravenous administration resulted in high animal mortality. Selective removal of translocated commensals rescued Il22(-/-) mice, and IL-22 administration enhanced the elimination of pathobionts. Mechanistically, IL-22 augmented bacterial phagocytosis by increasing the expression and bacterial binding of complement C3. Our study demonstrates an unexpected role for IL-22 in controlling the elimination of pathobionts that enter the systemic circulation through the regulation of the complement system.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The transmembrane activator and calcium-modulating cyclophilin ligand interactor (TACI) controls differentiation of long-lived plasma cells, and almost 10% of individuals with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) express either the C104R or A181E variants of TACI. These variants impair TACI function, and TACI-deficient mice exhibit a CVID-like disease. However, 1%-2% of normal individuals harbor the C140R or A181E TACI variants and have no outward signs of CVID, and it is not clear why TACI deficiency in this group does not cause disease. Here, we determined that TACI-deficient mice have low baseline levels of Ig in the blood but retain the ability to mutate Ig-associated genes that encode antigen-specific antibodies. The antigen-specific antibodies in TACI-deficient mice were produced in bursts and had higher avidity than those of WT animals. Moreover, mice lacking TACI were able to clear Citrobacter rodentium, a model pathogen for severe human enteritis, more rapidly than did WT mice. These findings suggest that the high prevalence of TACI deficiency in humans might reflect enhanced host defense against enteritis, which is more severe in those with acquired or inherited immunodeficiencies.
Journal of Clinical Investigation 10/2014; · 13.77 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The inflammasomes are multiprotein complexes that activate caspase-1 in response to infections and stress, resulting in the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Here we report that IκB kinase α (IKKα) is a critical negative regulator of apoptosis-associated specklike protein containing a C-terminal caspase-activation-andrecruitment (CARD) domain (ASC)-dependent inflammasomes. IKKα controls the inflammasome at the level of the adaptor ASC, which interacts with IKKα in the nucleus of resting macrophages in an IKKα kinase-dependent manner. Loss of IKKα kinase activity results in inflammasome hyperactivation. Mechanistically, the downstream nuclear effector IKK-related kinase (IKKi) facilitates translocation of ASC from the nucleus to the perinuclear area during inflammasome activation. ASC remains under the control of IKKα in the perinuclear area following translocation of the ASC/IKKα complex. Signal 2 of NLRP3 activation leads to inhibition of IKKα kinase activity through the recruitment of PP2A, allowing ASC to participate in NLRP3 inflammasome assembly. Taken together, these findings reveal a IKKi-IKKα-ASC axis that serves as a common regulatory mechanism for ASC-dependent inflammasomes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: When nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptors (NLRs) sense cytosolic-invading bacteria, they induce the formation of inflammasomes and initiate an innate immune response. In quiescent cells, inflammasome activity is tightly regulated to prevent excess inflammation and cell death. Many bacterial pathogens provoke inflammasome activity and induce inflammatory responses, including cell death, by delivering type III secreted effectors, the rod component flagellin, and toxins. Recent studies indicated that Shigella deploy multiple mechanisms to stimulate NLR inflammasomes through type III secretion during infection. Here, we show that Shigella induces rapid macrophage cell death by delivering the invasion plasmid antigen H7.8 (IpaH7.8) enzyme 3 (E3) ubiquitin ligase effector via the type III secretion system, thereby activating the NLR family pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) and NLR family CARD domain-containing 4 (NLRC4) inflammasomes and caspase-1 and leading to macrophage cell death in an IpaH7.8 E3 ligase-dependent manner. Mice infected with Shigella possessing IpaH7.8, but not with Shigella possessing an IpaH7.8 E3 ligase-null mutant, exhibited enhanced bacterial multiplication. We defined glomulin/flagellar-associated protein 68 (GLMN) as an IpaH7.8 target involved in IpaH7.8 E3 ligase-dependent inflammasome activation. This protein originally was identified through its association with glomuvenous malformations and more recently was described as a member of a Cullin ring ligase inhibitor. Modifying GLMN levels through overexpression or knockdown led to reduced or augmented inflammasome activation, respectively. Macrophages stimulated with lipopolysaccharide/ATP induced GLMN puncta that localized with the active form of caspase-1. Macrophages from GLMN(+/-) mice were more responsive to inflammasome activation than those from GLMN(+/+) mice. Together, these results highlight a unique bacterial adaptation that hijacks inflammasome activation via interactions between IpaH7.8 and GLMN.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cells exposed to extreme physicochemical or mechanical stimuli die in an uncontrollable manner, as a result of their immediate structural breakdown. Such an unavoidable variant of cellular demise is generally referred to as /`accidental cell death/' (ACD). In most settings, however, cell death is initiated by a genetically encoded apparatus, correlating with the fact that its course can be altered by pharmacologic or genetic interventions. /`Regulated cell death/' (RCD) can occur as part of physiologic programs or can be activated once adaptive responses to perturbations of the extracellular or intracellular microenvironment fail. The biochemical phenomena that accompany RCD may be harnessed to classify it into a few subtypes, which often (but not always) exhibit stereotyped morphologic features. Nonetheless, efficiently inhibiting the processes that are commonly thought to cause RCD, such as the activation of executioner caspases in the course of apoptosis, does not exert true cytoprotective effects i
Cell death and differentiation 09/2014; · 8.24 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor pyrin domain-containing 3 (Nlrp3) inflammasome plays an important role in inflammation by controlling the maturation and secretion of the cytokines IL-1β and IL-18 in response to multiple stimuli including pore-forming toxins, particulate matter, and ATP. Although the pathways activated by the latter stimuli lead to a decrease in intracellular K(+) concentration, which is required for inflammasome activation, the mechanism by which microbial RNA activates Nlrp3, remains poorly understood. In this study, we found that cytosolic poly(I:C), but not total RNA from healthy macrophages, macrophages undergoing pyroptosis, or mitochondrial RNA, induces caspase-1 activation and IL-1β release through the Nlrp3 inflammasome. Experiments with macrophages deficient in Tlr3, Myd88, or Trif, indicate that poly(I:C) induces Nlrp3 activation independently of TLR signaling. Further analyses revealed that the cytosolic sensors Rig-I and melanoma differentiation-associated gene 5 act redundantly via the common adaptor mitochondrial antiviral signaling (Mavs) to induce Nlrp3 activation in response to poly(I:C), but not ATP or nigericin. Mechanistically, Mavs triggered membrane permeabilization and K(+) efflux independently of the inflammasome which were required for poly(I:C)-induced Nlrp3 activation. We conclude that poly (I:C) activates the inflammasome through an Mavs-dependent surveillance pathway that converges into a common K(+) lowering step in the cytosol that is essential for the induction of Nlrp3 activation.
Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 09/2014;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: NOD2 encodes an intracellular multi-domain pattern recognition receptor that is the strongest known genetic risk factor in the pathogenesis of Crohns disease (CD), a chronic relapsing inflammatory disorder of the intestinal tract. NOD2 functions as a sensor for bacterial cell wall components and activates pro-inflammatory and anti-microbial signaling pathways. Here, using a genome-wide small interfering RNA (siRNA) screen we identify numerous genes that regulate secretion of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8 in response to NOD2 activation. Moreover, many of the identified IL-8 regulators are linked by protein-protein interactions, revealing sub-networks of highly connected IL-8 regulators implicated in processes such as vesicle formation, mRNA stability, protein ubiquitination and trafficking. A TNFα counter-screen to induce IL-8 secretion in a NOD2 independent manner reveals that the majority of the identified regulators affect IL-8 secretion irrespective of the initiating stimuli. Using immortalized macrophages, we validate the Ubiquitin protease, USP8, and the endosomal sorting protein, VPS28, as negative regulators of NOD2 induced cytokine secretion. Interestingly, several genes that affect NOD2 induced IL-8 secretion are present in loci associated with CD risk by GWAS, supporting a role for the NOD2/IL-8 pathway, and not just NOD2, in the pathogenesis of CD. Overall, this screen provides a valuable resource in the advancement of our understanding of the genes that regulate the secretion of IL-8.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2014; · 4.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aberrant immune response and changes in the gut microflora are the main causes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Peptidoglycan recognition proteins (Pglyrp1, Pglyrp2, Pglyrp3, and Pglyrp4) are bactericidal innate immunity proteins that maintain normal gut microbiome, protect against experimental colitis, and are associated with IBD in humans. Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain 2 (Nod2) is an intracellular bacterial sensor and may be required for maintaining normal gut microbiome. Mutations in Nod2 are strongly associated with Crohn's disease, but the causative mechanism is not understood, and the role of Nod2 in ulcerative colitis is not known. Because IBD is likely caused by variable multiple mutations in different individuals, in this study, we examined the combined role of Pglyrp3 and Nod2 in the development of experimental colitis in mice. We demonstrate that a combined deficiency of Pglyrp3 and Nod2 results in higher sensitivity to dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitis compared with a single deficiency. Pglyrp3(-/-)Nod2(-/-) mice had decreased survival and higher loss of body weight, increased intestinal bleeding, higher apoptosis of colonic mucosa, elevated expression of cytokines and chemokines, altered gut microbiome, and increased levels of ATP in the colon. Increased sensitivity to dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitis in Pglyrp3(-/-)Nod2(-/-) mice depended on increased apoptosis of intestinal epithelium, changed gut microflora, and elevated ATP. Pglyrp3 deficiency contributed colitis-predisposing intestinal microflora and increased intestinal ATP, whereas Nod2 deficiency contributed higher apoptosis and responsiveness to increased level of ATP. In summary, Pglyrp3 and Nod2 are both required for maintaining gut homeostasis and protection against colitis, but their protective mechanisms differ.
The Journal of Immunology 08/2014; · 5.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adult hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are maintained in specialized niches within the bone marrow under steady-state conditions and mobilize for extramedullary hematopoiesis during periods of stress such as bacterial infections. However, the underlying mechanisms are unclear. We show that systemic infection of mice with Escherichia coli, commonly associated with bacteremia in humans, mobilizes functional HSCs to the spleen. Accumulation of splenic HSCs (CD150+CD48-Lin(-/low)Sca1+cKit+) was diminished in TLR4-deficient and RIPK2-deficient mice, implicating TLRs and cytosolic NOD1/NOD2 signaling in the process. Accordingly, dual stimulation of NOD1 and TLR4 in radio-resistant cells alone was sufficient to mobilize HSCs, while TLR4 expression on HSCs was dispensable. Mechanistically, TLR4 and NOD1 synergistically induced granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), which was required for extramedullary HSC accumulation. Mobilized HSCs and progenitor cells gave rise to neutrophils and monocytes and contributed to limiting secondary infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Crohn's disease (CD) is a multifactorial pathology associated with the presence of adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) and NLRP3 polymorphic variants. The presence of intracellular E. coli in other intestinal pathologies (OIP) and the role of NLRP3-inflammasome in the immune response activated by these bacteria have not been investigated. In this study, we sought to characterize intracellular strains isolated from patients with CD, ulcerative colitis (UC) and OIP, and analyze NLRP3-inflammasome role in the immune response and bactericidal activity induced in macrophages exposed to invasive bacteria. For this, intracellular E. coli isolation from ileal biopsies, using gentamicin-protection assay, revealed a prevalence and CFU/biopsy of E. coli higher in biopsies from CD, UC and OIP patients than in controls. To characterization of bacterial isolates, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns, virulence genes, serogroup and phylogenetic group were analyzed. We found out that bacteria isolated from a given patient were closely related and shared virulence factors; however, strains from different patients were genetically heterogeneous. AIEC characteristics in isolated strains, such as invasive and replicative properties, were assessed in epithelial cells and macrophages, respectively. Some strains from CD and UC demonstrated AIEC properties, but not strains from OIP. Furthermore, the role of NLRP3 in pro-inflammatory cytokines production and bacterial elimination was determined in macrophages. E. coli strains induced IL-1β through NLRP3-dependent mechanism; however, their elimination by macrophages was independent of NLRP3. Invasiveness of intracellular E. coli strains into the intestinal mucosa and IL-1β production may contribute to CD and UC pathogenesis.
International journal of medical microbiology: IJMM 05/2014; · 4.54 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The microbiota is an important factor in the development of the immune response. The interaction between the gastrointestinal tract and resident microbiota is well-balanced in healthy individuals, but its breakdown can lead to intestinal and extra-intestinal disease. We review current knowledge about the mechanisms that regulate the interaction between the immune system and the microbiota, focusing on the role of resident intestinal bacteria in the development of immune responses. We also discuss mechanisms that prevent immune responses against resident bacteria, and how the indigenous bacteria stimulate the immune system to protect against commensal pathobionts and exogenous pathogens. Unraveling the complex interactions between resident intestinal bacteria and the immune system could improve our understanding of disease pathogenesis and lead to new therapeutic approaches.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nod-like receptors (NLRs) are a family of innate immune receptors that link cytosolic sensing of microbial and danger stimuli to the activation of immune responses. Two NLR family members, Nod1 and Nod2, recognize bacterial peptidoglycan and activate immune responses via NF-κB and MAPK. The function of Nod1 and Nod2 has been largely studied in macrophages, but the role of these receptors in other innate immune cells remains unclear. In this study, we examined the function of Nod1 and Nod2 in innate immune responses of neutrophils. Mice were injected i.p with thioglycollate, and then peritoneal neutrophils were isolated 4 h after injection. Tri-DAP and muramyl-dipeptide (MDP) were used as Nod1 and Nod2 agonist, respectively. The level of cytokines (IL-6 and TNF-α) and chemokines (CXCL1 and CCL2) was increased by MDP, but not Tri-DAP in WT neutrophils. Such production of cytokines and chemokines by MDP was abolished in Nod2- and Rip2-deficient neutrophils. MDP also induced the activation of NF-κB and MAPK in WT neutrophils, but not Nod2- and Rip2-deficient cells. Flow cytometry analysis showed that L-selectin shedding was induced by MDP in WT neutrophils, but not in Nod2- and Rip2-deficient cells. MDP and TLR agonists (Pam3 CSK4 and LPS) exerted synergistic effect on the production of IL-6 and CXCL1 in neutrophils. Moreover, Nod2 and TLR4 cooperated to produce IL-6, TNF-α, CXCL1, and CCL2 in neutrophils in response to gram-negative bacteria. Our findings suggest that Nod2-Rip2 axis may contribute to innate immune response of neutrophils against bacterial infection. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus is responsible for a large and diverse burden of human disease associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The dynamic challenge of this pathogen is exemplified by the emergence of highly virulent community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus strain USA300, which threatens both healthy and vulnerable individuals and constitutes a public health imperative in the United States. Though S. aureus employs many virulence factors that enable infectivity and evasion of host defenses, evidence suggests that the increased production of alpha hemolysin may be a critical contributor to the increased virulence of USA300. To enable and inform immunological targeting of alpha hemolysin, we sought to precisely map a neutralizing epitope that we hypothesized existed in the N-terminal domain. Using an in vivo mapping strategy employing peptide immunogens and an optimized in vitro toxin neutralization assay, we identified a linear neutralizing determinant in the N-terminal 19 amino acids of alpha hemolysin. Affinity purified rabbit antibody against this neutralizing epitope was shown to be highly effective at mitigating dermonecrosis in inbred and outbred mice challenged with USA300. To our knowledge, this is the first description of a linear neutralizing epitope in alpha hemolysin, and the delineation of this determinant should inform and facilitate the rational design and development of an efficacious, epitope-focused or multivalent vaccine against S. aureus.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recognition of intracellular pathogenic bacteria by members of the nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat containing (NLR) family triggers immune responses against bacterial infection. A major response induced by several Gram-negative bacteria is the activation of caspase-1 via the Nlrc4 inflammasome. Upon activation, caspase-1 regulates the processing of proIL-1β and proIL-18 leading to the release of mature IL-1β and IL-18, and induction of pyroptosis. The activation of the Nlrc4 inflammasome requires the presence of an intact type III or IV secretion system that mediates the translocation of small amounts of flagellin or PrgJ-like rod proteins into the host cytosol to induce Nlrc4 activation. Using the Salmonella system, it was shown that Naip2 and Naip5 link flagellin and the rod protein PrgJ, respectively, to Nlrc4. Furthermore, phosphorylation of Nlrc4 at Ser533 by Pkcδ was found to be critical for the activation of the Nlrc4 inflammasome. Here, we show that Naip2 recognizes the Shigella T3SS inner rod protein MxiI and induces Nlrc4 inflammasome activation. The expression of MxiI in primary macrophages was sufficient to induce pyroptosis and IL-1β release, which were prevented in macrophages deficient in Nlrc4. In the presence of MxiI or Shigella infection, MxiI associated with Naip2, and Naip2 interacted with Nlrc4. siRNA-mediated knockdown of Naip2, but not Naip5, inhibited Shigella-induced caspase-1 activation, IL-1β maturation and Asc pyroptosome formation. Notably, the Pkcδ kinase was dispensable for caspase-1 activation and secretion of IL-1β induced by Shigella or Salmonella infection. These results indicate that activation of caspase-1 by Shigella is triggered by the rod protein MxiI that interacts with Naip2 to induce activation of the Nlrc4 inflammasome independently of the Pkcδ kinase.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although imbalances in gut microbiota composition, or "dysbiosis," are associated with many diseases, the effects of gut dysbiosis on host systemic physiology are less well characterized. We report that gut dysbiosis induced by antibiotic (Abx) treatment promotes allergic airway inflammation by shifting macrophage polarization in the lung toward the alternatively activated M2 phenotype. Adoptive transfer of alveolar macrophages derived from Abx-treated mice was sufficient to increase allergic airway inflammation. Abx treatment resulted in the overgrowth of a commensal fungal Candida species in the gut and increased plasma concentrations of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which induced M2 macrophage polarization in the lung. Suppression of PGE2 synthesis by the cyclooxygenase inhibitors aspirin and celecoxib suppressed M2 macrophage polarization and decreased allergic airway inflammatory cell infiltration in Abx-treated mice. Thus, Abx treatment can cause overgrowth of particular fungal species in the gut and promote M2 macrophage activation at distant sites to influence systemic responses including allergic inflammation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The NLRP3 inflammasome is a critical component of the innate immune system. NLRP3 activation is induced by diverse stimuli associated with bacterial infection or tissue damage, but its inappropriate activation is involved in the pathogenesis of inherited and acquired inflammatory diseases. However, the mechanism by which NLRP3 is activated remains poorly understood. In this study, we explored the role of kinases in NLRP3 inflammasome activation by screening a kinase inhibitor library and identified 3,4-Methylenedioxy-β-nitrostyrene (MNS) as an inhibitor for NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Notably, MNS did not affect the activation of the NLRC4 or AIM2 inflammasome. Mechanistically, MNS specifically prevented NLRP3-mediated ASC speckle formation and oligomerization without blocking potassium efflux induced by NLRP3 agonists. Surprisingly, Syk kinase, the reported target of MNS, did not mediate the inhibitory activity of MNS on NLRP3 inflammasome activation. We also found that the nitrovinyl group of MNS is essential for the inhibitory activity of MNS. Immunoprecipitation, mass spectrometry and mutation studies suggest that both the NOD domain and the LRR domain of NLRP3 were the intracellular targets of MNS. Administration of MNS also inhibited NLRP3 ATPase activity in vitro, suggesting that MNS blocks the NLRP3 inflammasome by directly targeting NLRP3 or NLRP3-associated complexes. These studies identified a novel chemical probe for studying the molecular mechanism of NLRP3 inflammasome activation which may advance the development of novel strategies to treat diseases associated with abnormal activation of NLRP3 inflammasome.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 11/2013; · 4.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that affects 15-30% of children and approximately 5% of adults in industrialized countries. Although the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis is not fully understood, the disease is mediated by an abnormal immunoglobulin-E immune response in the setting of skin barrier dysfunction. Mast cells contribute to immunoglobulin-E-mediated allergic disorders including atopic dermatitis. Upon activation, mast cells release their membrane-bound cytosolic granules leading to the release of several molecules that are important in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis and host defence. More than 90% of patients with atopic dermatitis are colonized with Staphylococcus aureus in the lesional skin whereas most healthy individuals do not harbour the pathogen. Several staphylococcal exotoxins can act as superantigens and/or antigens in models of atopic dermatitis. However, the role of these staphylococcal exotoxins in disease pathogenesis remains unclear. Here we report that culture supernatants of S. aureus contain potent mast-cell degranulation activity. Biochemical analysis identified δ-toxin as the mast cell degranulation-inducing factor produced by S. aureus. Mast cell degranulation induced by δ-toxin depended on phosphoinositide 3-kinase and calcium (Ca(2+)) influx; however, unlike that mediated by immunoglobulin-E crosslinking, it did not require the spleen tyrosine kinase. In addition, immunoglobulin-E enhanced δ-toxin-induced mast cell degranulation in the absence of antigen. Furthermore, S. aureus isolates recovered from patients with atopic dermatitis produced large amounts of δ-toxin. Skin colonization with S. aureus, but not a mutant deficient in δ-toxin, promoted immunoglobulin-E and interleukin-4 production, as well as inflammatory skin disease. Furthermore, enhancement of immunoglobulin-E production and dermatitis by δ-toxin was abrogated in Kit(W-sh/W-sh) mast-cell-deficient mice and restored by mast cell reconstitution. These studies identify δ-toxin as a potent inducer of mast cell degranulation and suggest a mechanistic link between S. aureus colonization and allergic skin disease.