Funding body: Horizon 2020. Infect-ERA
Pseudonym: StaphIN
Title: Intracellular Staphylococcus aureus: deciphering bacterial and cellular factors involved in host cell invasion.

Staphylococcus aureus is an opportunistic bacterial pathogen that causes acute and/or chronic infections, including skin and soft tissue infections, pneumonia, sepsis, osteomyelitis and endocarditis. Infections caused by S. aureus are highly prevalent, with a special impact on clinical settings. The success of S. aureus resides on its ability to resist most of the conventional antimicrobial therapies using diverse mechanisms, including the capacity of this pathogen to modify its genome to acquire antibiotic resistance. Beyond the resistance to antimicrobial therapies, S. aureus have developed other ways to circumvent and avoid antibiotic activity such as biofilm formation. Biofilm-associated infections of S. aureus are common in patients with implants, often leading to chronic infections after surgery. Moreover, although S. aureus was initially described as an extracellular pathogen, accumulating evidence indicates that S. aureus can be internalized and can replicate in non-phagocytic cells, which could result in a main reservoir responsible for chronic and recurrent infections. Notwithstanding emerging data demonstrating that S. aureus can invade, replicate and persist inside host cells, we aim to determine the relevance for pathogenesis of S. aureus replication and persistence inside host cells and to characterize the bacterial and cellular factors that are involved in this process. This is a collaborative project that involves partner laboratories in Germany, Portugal, France and Spain. The laboratory of Daniel Lopez coordinates this consortium.