Subterfuge and sabotage: evasion of host innate defenses by invasive gram-positive bacterial pathogens

Okumura CY, Nizet V. Annu Rev Microbiol. 2014;68:439-58. doi: 10.1146/annurev-micro-092412-155711. Review. PMID: 25002085

The development of a severe invasive bacterial infection in an otherwise healthy individual is one of the most striking and fascinating aspects of human medicine. A small cadre of gram-positive pathogens of the genera Streptococcus and Staphylococcus stand out for their unique invasive disease potential and sophisticated ability to counteract the multifaceted components of human innate defense. This review illustrates how these leading human disease agents evade host complement deposition and activation, impede phagocyte recruitment and activation, resist the microbicidal activities of host antimicrobial peptides and reactive oxygen species, escape neutrophil extracellular traps, and promote and accelerate phagocyte cell death through the action of pore-forming cytolysins. Understanding the molecular basis of bacterial innate immune resistance can open new avenues for therapeutic intervention geared to disabling specific virulence factors and resensitizing the pathogen to host innate immune clearance.