Superantigens (SAgs) are a class of immunostimulatory exotoxins that activate large numbers of T cells, leading to overproduction of cytokines and subsequent inflammatory reactions and systemic toxicity. Staphylococcal enterotoxin C (SEC), a SAg secreted by Staphylococcus aureus, has been implicated in various illnesses including non-menstrual toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and necrotizing pneumonia. SEC has been shown to cause TSS illness in rabbits and the toxin contributes to lethality associated with methicillin-resistant S.aureus (MRSA) in a rabbit model of pneumonia. With the goal of reducing morbidity and mortality associated with SEC, a high-affinity variant of the extracellular variable domain of the T-cell receptor beta-chain for SEC (∼14 kDa) was generated by directed evolution using yeast display. This protein was characterized biochemically and shown to cross-react with the homologous (65% identical) SAg staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). The soluble, high-affinity T-cell receptor protein neutralized SEC and SEB in vitro and also significantly reduced the bacterial burden of an SEC-positive strain of MRSA (USA400 MW2) in an infective endocarditis model. The neutralizing agent also prevented lethality due to MW2 in a necrotizing pneumonia rabbit model. These studies characterize a soluble high-affinity neutralizing agent against SEC, which is cross-reactive with SEB, and that has potential to be used intravenously with antibiotics to manage staphylococcal diseases that involve these SAgs.
- directed evolution
- staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB)
- staphylococcal enterotoxin C (SEC)
- yeast display
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology