Authors: Spaan Avan Strijp JA, Torres VJ

Staphylococcus aureus is a major bacterial pathogen that causes disease worldwide. The emergence of strains that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics and the failure of vaccine development have resulted in a renewed interest in the pathophysiology of this bacterium. Staphylococcal leukocidins are a family of bi-component pore-forming toxins that are important virulence factors. During the past five years, cellular receptors have been identified for all of the bi-component leukocidins. The identification of the leukocidin receptors explains the cellular tropism and species specificity that is exhibited by these toxins, which has important biological consequences. In this Review, we summarize the recent discoveries that have reignited interest in these toxins and provide an outlook for future research.