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Virulence factor alpha-Hemolysin from Staphylococcus aureus

α-Hemolysin is a pore-forming toxin of Staphylococcus aureus. It targets in particular cells of the human immune system, but also human epithelial and endothelial cells. Thus, it not only damages the immune system but also permeates cell barriers, and its activity enables S. aureus to invade deeper tissues and enter the blood stream so that the pathogen is disseminated in the body. In cooperation with the Lead Discovery Center (LDC), Dortmund we screened for inhibitors of the function of this protein. We now establish cellular host – pathogen systems, which are based on representative host cells (human epithelial cells and human macrophages) and different S. aureus strains and analyse the response of the host to the pathogen and to α-hemolysin. In addition, we study the parameters favoring the production of α-hemolysin beyond high bacterial cell densities (quorum sensing), as this virulence factor is of varying relevance considering different infection sites.

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