The production of Streptococcus pyogenes exoproteins, many of which contribute to virulence, is regulated in response to nutrient availability. CodY is a transcriptional regulator that controls gene expression in response to amino acid availability. The purpose of this study was to identify differences in the expression of streptococcal exoproteins associated with deletion of the codY gene.
We compared the secreted proteins produced by wild-type S. pyogenes to a codY mutant in the post-exponential phase of growth. We used both one and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to separate exoproteins. Proteins that were significantly different in abundance upon repeated analysis were identified with tandem mass spectrometry. The production of the secreted cysteine protease SpeB, a secreted chromosomally encoded nuclease (SdaB), and a putative adhesion factor (Spy49_0549) were more abundant in supernatant fluids obtained from the codY mutant. In addition, hyaluronidase (HylA), CAMP factor (Cfa), a prophage encoded nuclease (Spd-3), and an uncharacterized extracellular protein (Spy49_0015) were less abundant in supernatant fluids obtained from the codY mutant strain. Enzymatic assays showed greater DNase activity in culture supernatants isolated in the post-exponential phase of growth from the codY mutant strain compared to the wild-type strain. Because extracellular nucleases and proteases can influence biofilm formation, we also measured the ability of the strains to form biofilms during growth with both rich medium (Todd Hewitt yeast extract; THY) and chemically defined media (CDM). No difference was observed with rich media but with CDM the biofilms formed by the codY mutant strain had less biomass compared to the wild-type strain.
Overall, the results indicate that CodY alters the abundance of a select group of S. pyogenes exoproteins, including DNases, a protease, and hylauronidase, which together may alleviate starvation by promoting dissemination of the pathogen to nutrient rich environments and by hydrolysis of host macromolecules.