Nasal commensal Staphylococcus epidermidis counteracts influenza virus

Hui Wen Chen, Pei Feng Liu, Yu Tsueng Liu, Sherwin Kuo, Xing Quan Zhang, Robert T. Schooley, Holger Rohde, Richard L. Gallo, Chun Ming Huang

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47 Scopus citations


Several microbes, including Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis), a Gram-positive bacterium, live inside the human nasal cavity as commensals. The role of these nasal commensals in host innate immunity is largely unknown, although bacterial interference in the nasal microbiome may promote ecological competition between commensal bacteria and pathogenic species. We demonstrate here that S. epidermidis culture supernatants significantly suppressed the infectivity of various influenza viruses. Using high-performance liquid chromatography together with mass spectrometry, we identified a giant extracellular matrix-binding protein (Embp) as the major component involved in the anti-influenza effect of S. epidermidis. This anti-influenza activity was abrogated when Embp was mutated, confirming that Embp is essential for S. epidermidis activity against viral infection. We also showed that both S. epidermidis bacterial particles and Embp can directly bind to influenza virus. Furthermore, the injection of a recombinant Embp fragment containing a fibronectin-binding domain into embryonated eggs increased the survival rate of virus-infected chicken embryos. For an in vivo challenge study, prior Embp intranasal inoculation in chickens suppressed the viral titres and induced the expression of antiviral cytokines in the nasal tissues. These results suggest that S. epidermidis in the nasal cavity may serve as a defence mechanism against influenza virus infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27870
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 16 Jun 2016


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