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1.  Differential Localization of the Streptococcal Accessory Sec Components and Implications for Substrate Export 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(4):682-695.
The accessory Sec system of Streptococcus gordonii is comprised of SecY2, SecA2, and five proteins (Asp1 through -5) that are required for the export of a serine-rich glycoprotein, GspB. We have previously shown that a number of the Asps interact with GspB, SecA2, or each other. To further define the roles of these Asps in export, we examined their subcellular localization in S. gordonii and in Escherichia coli expressing the streptococcal accessory Sec system. In particular, we assessed how the locations of these accessory Sec proteins were altered by the presence of other components. Using fluorescence microscopy, we found in E. coli that SecA2 localized within multiple foci at the cell membrane, regardless of whether other accessory Sec proteins were expressed. Asp2 alone localized to the cell poles but formed a similar punctate pattern at the membrane when SecA2 was present. Asp1 and Asp3 localized diffusely in the cytosol when expressed alone or with SecA2. However, these proteins redistributed to the membrane in a punctate arrangement when all of the accessory Sec components were present. Cell fractionation studies with S. gordonii further corroborated these microscopy results. Collectively, these findings indicate that Asp1 to -3 are not integral membrane proteins that form structural parts of the translocation channel. Instead, SecA2 serves as a docking site for Asp2, which in turn attracts a complex of Asp1 and Asp3 to the membrane. These protein interactions may be important for the trafficking of GspB to the cell membrane and its subsequent translocation.
PMCID: PMC3562102  PMID: 23204472
2.  Characterization of Fibrinogen Binding by Glycoproteins Srr1 and Srr2 of Streptococcus agalactiae* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(50):35982-35996.
Background: The serine-rich repeat glycoproteins Srr1 and Srr2 are surface adhesins of Streptococcus agalactiae important for pathogenicity.
Results: Both Srrs bind tandem repeats of the fibrinogen Aα chain, but Srr2 has greater affinity explained by structure-function analysis of the Srrs.
Conclusion: A dock, lock, and latch mechanism describes the Srr-fibrinogen interaction.
Significance: The higher affinity of Srr2 may contribute to the hypervirulence of Srr2-expressing strains.
The serine-rich repeat glycoproteins of Gram-positive bacteria comprise a large family of cell wall proteins. Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus, GBS) expresses either Srr1 or Srr2 on its surface, depending on the strain. Srr1 has recently been shown to bind fibrinogen, and this interaction contributes to the pathogenesis of GBS meningitis. Although strains expressing Srr2 appear to be hypervirulent, no ligand for this adhesin has been described. We now demonstrate that Srr2 also binds human fibrinogen and that this interaction promotes GBS attachment to endothelial cells. Recombinant Srr1 and Srr2 bound fibrinogen in vitro, with affinities of KD = 2.1 × 10−5 and 3.7 × 10−6 m, respectively, as measured by surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy. The binding site for Srr1 and Srr2 was localized to tandem repeats 6–8 of the fibrinogen Aα chain. The structures of both the Srr1 and Srr2 binding regions were determined and, in combination with mutagenesis studies, suggest that both Srr1 and Srr2 interact with a segment of these repeats via a “dock, lock, and latch” mechanism. Moreover, properties of the latch region may account for the increased affinity between Srr2 and fibrinogen. Together, these studies identify how greater affinity of Srr2 for fibrinogen may contribute to the increased virulence associated with Srr2-expressing strains.
PMCID: PMC3861647  PMID: 24165132
Bacterial Adhesion; Bacterial Pathogenesis; Fibrinogen; Protein Crystallization; Streptococcus; Streptococcus agalactiae; Prot
3.  The Accessory Sec Protein Asp2 Modulates GlcNAc Deposition onto the Serine-Rich Repeat Glycoprotein GspB 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(20):5564-5575.
The accessory Sec system is a specialized transport system that exports serine-rich repeat (SRR) glycoproteins of Gram-positive bacteria. This system contains two homologues of the general secretory (Sec) pathway (SecA2 and SecY2) and several other essential proteins (Asp1 to Asp5) that share no homology to proteins of known function. In Streptococcus gordonii, Asp2 is required for the transport of the SRR adhesin GspB, but its role in export is unknown. Tertiary structure predictions suggest that the carboxyl terminus of Asp2 resembles the catalytic region of numerous enzymes that function through a Ser-Asp-His catalytic triad. Sequence alignment of all Asp2 homologues identified a highly conserved pentapeptide motif (Gly-X-Ser362-X-Gly) typical of most Ser-Asp-His catalytic triads, where Ser forms the reactive residue. Site-directed mutagenesis of residues comprising the predicted catalytic triad of Asp2 of S. gordonii had no effect upon GspB transport but did result in a marked change in the electrophoretic mobility of the protein. Lectin-binding studies and monosaccharide content analysis of this altered glycoform revealed an increase in glucosamine deposition. Random mutagenesis of the Asp2 region containing this catalytic domain also disrupted GspB transport. Collectively, our findings suggest that Asp2 is a bifunctional protein that is essential for both GspB transport and correct glycosylation. The catalytic domain may be responsible for controlling the glycosylation of GspB, while other surrounding regions are functionally required for glycoprotein transport.
PMCID: PMC3458669  PMID: 22885294
4.  Role of the Serine-Rich Surface Glycoprotein Srr1 of Streptococcus agalactiae in the Pathogenesis of Infective Endocarditis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64204.
The binding of bacteria to fibrinogen and platelets are important events in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. Srr1 is a serine-rich repeat glycoprotein of Streptococcus agalactiae that binds directly to the Aα chain of human fibrinogen. To assess the impact of Srr1 on the pathogenesis of endocarditis due to S. agalactiae, we first examined the binding of this organism to immobilized human platelets. Strains expressing Srr1 had significantly higher levels of binding to human platelets in vitro, as compared with isogenic Δsrr1 mutants. In addition, platelet binding was inhibited by pretreatment with anti-fibrinogen IgG or purified Srr1 binding region. To assess the contribution of Srr1 to pathogenicity, we compared the relative virulence of S. agalactiae NCTC 10/84 strain and its Δsrr1 mutant in a rat model of endocarditis, where animals were co-infected with the WT and the mutant strains at a 1∶1 ratio. At 72 h post-infection, bacterial densities (CFU/g) of the WT strain within vegetations, kidneys, and spleens were significantly higher, as compared with the Δsrr1 mutant. These results indicate that Srr1 contributes to the pathogenesis of endocarditis due to S. agalactiae, at least in part through its role in fibrinogen-mediated platelet binding.
PMCID: PMC3662765  PMID: 23717569
6.  Abacavir increases platelet reactivity via competitive inhibition of soluble guanylyl cyclase 
AIDS (London, England)  2011;25(18):2243-2248.
To provide a molecular mechanism that explains the association of the antiretroviral guanosine analogue, abacavir, with an increased risk of myocardial infarction.
Drug effects were studied with biochemical and cellular assays.
Human platelets were incubated with nucleoside analogue drugs ex vivo. Platelet activation stimulated by ADP was studied by measuring surface P-selectin with flow cytometry. Inhibition of purified soluble guanylyl cyclase was quantified using an ELISA to measure cGMP production.
Pre-incubation of platelets in abacavir significantly increased activation in response to ADP in a time and dose-dependent manner. The active anabolite of abacavir, carbovir triphosphate, competitively inhibited soluble guanylyl cyclase activity with a Ki of 55 μmol/l.
Abacavir competitively inhibits guanylyl cyclase, leading to platelet hyper-reactivity. This may explain the observed increased risk of myocardial infarction in HIV patients taking abacavir.
PMCID: PMC3272328  PMID: 21941165
abacavir; blood platelets; guanylate cyclase; myocardial infarction; P-selectin
7.  Binding of Glycoprotein Srr1 of Streptococcus agalactiae to Fibrinogen Promotes Attachment to Brain Endothelium and the Development of Meningitis 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(10):e1002947.
The serine-rich repeat glycoprotein Srr1 of Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS) is thought to be an important adhesin for the pathogenesis of meningitis. Although expression of Srr1 is associated with increased binding to human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hBMEC), the molecular basis for this interaction is not well defined. We now demonstrate that Srr1 contributes to GBS attachment to hBMEC via the direct interaction of its binding region (BR) with human fibrinogen. When assessed by Far Western blotting, Srr1 was the only protein in GBS extracts that bound fibrinogen. Studies using recombinant Srr1-BR and purified fibrinogen in vitro confirmed a direct protein-protein interaction. Srr1-BR binding was localized to amino acids 283–410 of the fibrinogen Aα chain. Structural predictions indicated that the conformation of Srr1-BR is likely to resemble that of SdrG and other related staphylococcal proteins that bind to fibrinogen through a “dock, lock, and latch” mechanism (DLL). Deletion of the predicted latch domain of Srr1-BR abolished the interaction of the BR with fibrinogen. In addition, a mutant GBS strain lacking the latch domain exhibited reduced binding to hBMEC, and was significantly attenuated in an in vivo model of meningitis. These results indicate that Srr1 can bind fibrinogen directly likely through a DLL mechanism, which has not been described for other streptococcal adhesins. This interaction was important for the pathogenesis of GBS central nervous system invasion and subsequent disease progression.
Author Summary
Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B streptococcus, GBS) is a leading cause of meningitis in newborns and infants. This life-threatening infection of the brain and surrounding tissues continues to result in a high incidence of morbidity and mortality, despite antibiotic therapy. A key factor in disease production is the ability of this organism to invade the central nervous system, via the bloodstream. We now report that a GBS surface protein called Srr1 binds fibrinogen, a major protein in human blood. This interaction enhances the attachment of GBS to brain vascular endothelial cells, and contributes to the development of meningitis. A mutation in Srr1 that specifically disrupted binding to fibrinogen significantly reduced GBS attachment to brain endothelium, and markedly reduced virulence in an in vivo model of GBS disease. These studies have identified a new mechanism by which Srr1 contributes to GBS invasion of the central nervous system and may provide a basis for novel therapies targeting Srr1 binding.
PMCID: PMC3464228  PMID: 23055927
8.  Characterization of the Fibrinogen Binding Domain of Bacteriophage Lysin from Streptococcus mitis ▿  
Infection and Immunity  2011;79(9):3518-3526.
The binding of bacteria to human platelets is a likely central mechanism in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. Platelet binding by Streptococcus mitis SF100 is mediated in part by a lysin encoded by the lysogenic bacteriophage SM1. In addition to its role in the phage life cycle, lysin mediates the binding of S. mitis to human platelets via its interaction with fibrinogen on the platelet surface. To better define the region of lysin mediating fibrinogen binding, we tested a series of purified lysin truncation variants for their abilities to bind this protein. These studies revealed that the fibrinogen binding domain of lysin is contained within the region spanned by amino acid residues 102 to 198 (lysin102–198). This region has no sequence homology to other known fibrinogen binding proteins. Lysin102–198 bound fibrinogen comparably to full-length lysin and with the same selectivity for the fibrinogen Aα and Bβ chains. Lysin102–198 also inhibited the binding in vitro of S. mitis to human fibrinogen and platelets. When assessed by platelet aggregometry, the disruption of the lysin gene in SF100 resulted in a significantly longer time to the onset of aggregation of human platelets than that of the parent strain. The preincubation of platelets with purified lysin102–198 also delayed the onset of aggregation by SF100. These results indicate that the binding of lysin to fibrinogen is mediated by a specific domain of the phage protein and that this interaction is important for both platelet binding and aggregation by S. mitis.
PMCID: PMC3165489  PMID: 21690235
9.  Asp2 and Asp3 Interact Directly with GspB, the Export Substrate of the Streptococcus gordonii Accessory Sec System▿† 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(13):3165-3174.
GspB is a serine-rich glycoprotein adhesin of Streptococcus gordonii that is exported to the bacterial surface by the accessory Sec system. This dedicated export pathway is comprised of seven components (SecA2, SecY2, and five accessory Sec proteins [Asp1 to Asp5]). The latter proteins have no known homologs beyond the Asps of other species. Asp1 to Asp3 are absolutely required for export of the substrate GspB, but their roles in this process are unknown. Using copurification analysis and far-Western blotting, we found that Asp2 and Asp3 could individually bind the serine-rich repeat (SRR) domains of GspB. Deletion of both SRR regions of GspB led to a decrease in its export, suggesting that binding of the Asps to the SRR regions is important for GspB transport by the accessory Sec system. The Asps also bound a heterologous substrate for the accessory Sec system containing a slow-folding MalE variant, but they did not bind wild-type MalE. The combined results indicate that the Asps may recognize the export substrate through preferential interactions with its unstructured or unfolded regions. Glycosylation of the SRR domains on GspB prevented Asp binding, suggesting that binding of the Asps to the preprotein occurs prior to its full glycosylation. Together, these findings suggest that Asp2 and Asp3 are likely to function in part as chaperones in the early phase of GspB transport.
PMCID: PMC3133275  PMID: 21531800
10.  Conservation of Ebp-Type Pilus Genes among Enterococci and Demonstration of Their Role in Adherence of Enterococcus faecalis to Human Platelets ▿ † 
Infection and Immunity  2011;79(7):2911-2920.
Ebp are endocarditis- and biofilm-associated pili of Enterococcus faecalis that are also important in experimental urinary tract infections (UTIs). Our analyses, using available genomes, found that the ebp locus is unique to enterococci. In E. faecalis, the ebp locus is very highly conserved and only 1/473 E. faecalis isolates tested lacked ebpABC, while only 1.2% had the bee pilus locus. No other pilus-encoding operon was identified in 55 available genomes, indicating that the vast majority of E. faecalis strains (unlike Enterococcus faecium and streptococci) have a single pilus locus. Surface expression studies showed that Ebp pili were produced in vitro by 91/91 brain heart infusion (BHI) plus serum-grown E. faecalis isolates and that strain OG1RF expressed pili at even higher levels in rat endocarditis vegetations. However, Ebp expression was restricted to 30 to 72% of E. faecalis cells, consistent with a bistability mode of expression. We also evaluated E. faecalis interactions with human platelets and found that growth of E. faecalis in BHI plus serum significantly enhanced adherence to human platelets and that sortase deletion mutants (the ΔsrtA, Δbps, and ΔbpsΔsrtA mutants) were markedly defective. Further studies identified that Ebp pili, but not the microbial surface components recognizing adhesive matrix molecules (MSCRAMMs) Ace and Fss2, mediate adherence of E. faecalis to platelets. Taken together, our data show that the immunogenic (in human endocarditis patients) and commonly expressed Ebp pili, which are known to be important for experimental endocarditis, are highly conserved and mediate adherence to platelets, suggesting that Ebp pili may be a reasonable immunotherapeutic target for prevention or possibly treatment of endocarditis caused by this species.
PMCID: PMC3191956  PMID: 21502588
11.  Purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of the carbohydrate-binding region of the Streptococcus gordonii adhesin GspB 
The carbohydrate-binding region of GspB from S. gordonii strain M99 was crystallized in space group P212121 and data were collected to 1.3 Å resolution.
The carbohydrate-binding region of the bacterial adhesin GspB from Strepto­coccus gordonii strain M99 (GspBBR) was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified using affinity and size-exclusion chromatography. Separate sparse-matrix screening of GspBBR buffered in either 20 mM Tris pH 7.4 or 20 mM HEPES pH 7.5 resulted in different crystallographic behavior such that different precipitants, salts and additives supported crystallization of GspBBR in each buffer. While both sets of conditions supported crystal growth in space group P212121, the crystals had distinct unit-cell parameters of a = 33.3, b = 86.7, c = 117.9 Å for crystal form 1 and a = 34.6, b = 98.3, c = 99.0 Å for crystal form 2. Additive screening improved the crystals grown in both conditions such that diffraction extended to beyond 2 Å resolution. A complete data set has been collected to 1.3 Å resolution with an overall R merge value of 0.04 and an R merge value of 0.33 in the highest resolution shell.
PMCID: PMC3001660  PMID: 21045307
GspB; glycoproteins; Streptococcus gordonii; sialic acid; adhesins; endocarditis; lectins
12.  Purification, crystallization, and preliminary x-ray diffraction analysis of the carbohydrate-binding region from the Streptococcus gordonii adhesin GspB 
The carbohydrate binding region of the bacterial adhesin GspB from Streptococcus gordonii strain M99 (GspBBR) was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified using affinity and size exclusion chromatography. Separate sparse-matrix screening of GspBBR buffered in either 20 mM Tris pH 7.4 or 20 mM HEPES pH 7.5 resulted in different crystallographic behavior such that different precipitants, salts, and additives supported crystallization of GspBBR in each buffer. While both sets of conditions supported crystal growth in space group P212121, these had distinct unit cell dimensions of a=33.3 Å, b=86.6 Å, c=117.9 Å for crystal form one and a=34.6 Å, b=98.3 Å, c=99.0 Å for crystal form two. Additive screening improved the crystals grown in both conditions such that diffraction extended beyond 2 Å resolution. A complete data set has been collected to 1.3 Å resolution with an overall Rsym value of 0.04 and an Rsym value of 0.33 in the highest resolution shell.
PMCID: PMC3001660  PMID: 21045307
GspB; glycoprotein; Streptococcus gordonii; sialic acid; adhesin; endocarditis; lectin
13.  Asp3 mediates multiple protein-protein interactions within the accessory Sec system of Streptococcus gordonii 
Molecular microbiology  2010;78(2):490-505.
Bacterial binding to human platelets is an important step in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. Streptococcus gordonii can mediate its platelet attachment through a cell wall glycoprotein termed GspB (“gordonii surface protein B”). GspB export is mediated by a seven component accessory Sec system, containing two homologues of the general secretory pathway (SecA2 & SecY2) and five accessory Sec proteins (Asps 1 – 5). Here we show that the Asps are required for optimal export of GspB independent of the glycosylation process. Furthermore, yeast two-hybrid screening of the accessory Sec system revealed interactions occurring between Asp3 and the other components of the system. Asp3 was shown to bind SecA2, Asp1, Asp2 and itself. Mutagenesis of Asp3 identified N and C-terminal regions that are essential for GspB transport, and conserved residues within the C-terminal domain mediated Asp3 binding to other accessory Sec components. The loss of binding by Asp3 also resulted in an impaired ability of S. gordonii to secrete GspB. These studies indicate that Asp3 is a central element mediating multiple interactions among accessory Sec components that are essential for GspB transport to the cell surface.
PMCID: PMC2959127  PMID: 20807195
accessory Sec; secretion; glycoprotein; Streptococcus gordonii; Asp
14.  A Structural Model for Binding of the Serine-Rich Repeat Adhesin GspB to Host Carbohydrate Receptors 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(7):e1002112.
GspB is a serine-rich repeat (SRR) adhesin of Streptococcus gordonii that mediates binding of this organism to human platelets via its interaction with sialyl-T antigen on the receptor GPIbα. This interaction appears to be a major virulence determinant in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. To address the mechanism by which GspB recognizes its carbohydrate ligand, we determined the high-resolution x-ray crystal structure of the GspB binding region (GspBBR), both alone and in complex with a disaccharide precursor to sialyl-T antigen. Analysis of the GspBBR structure revealed that it is comprised of three independently folded subdomains or modules: 1) an Ig-fold resembling a CnaA domain from prokaryotic pathogens; 2) a second Ig-fold resembling the binding region of mammalian Siglecs; 3) a subdomain of unique fold. The disaccharide was found to bind in a pocket within the Siglec subdomain, but at a site distinct from that observed in mammalian Siglecs. Confirming the biological relevance of this binding pocket, we produced three isogenic variants of S. gordonii, each containing a single point mutation of a residue lining this binding pocket. These variants have reduced binding to carbohydrates of GPIbα. Further examination of purified GspBBR-R484E showed reduced binding to sialyl-T antigen while S. gordonii harboring this mutation did not efficiently bind platelets and showed a significant reduction in virulence, as measured by an animal model of endocarditis. Analysis of other SRR proteins revealed that the predicted binding regions of these adhesins also had a modular organization, with those known to bind carbohydrate receptors having modules homologous to the Siglec and Unique subdomains of GspBBR. This suggests that the binding specificity of the SRR family of adhesins is determined by the type and organization of discrete modules within the binding domains, which may affect the tropism of organisms for different tissues.
Author Summary
The binding of bacteria to human platelets is thought to be important for development of infective endocarditis, a life-threatening infection of the cardiovascular system. Streptococcus gordonii is a leading cause of endocarditis. This pathogen uses a protein called GspB to attach to carbohydrates on human platelets. While this binding interaction appears to be mediated by a specific, contiguous domain within GspB, little is known about the molecular details of the interaction between GspB and the carbohydrate receptors on its human host. We therefore determined the crystal structure of the region of GspB that binds to platelet carbohydrates, both alone and in complex with a synthetic carbohydrate receptor. Using this structure as a guide, we were able to produce three strains of S. gordonii that lacked the ability to bind to platelet carbohydrates. One of these isogenic variants was studied more in-depth and lacked the ability to bind to human platelets in vitro and was reduced in virulence when tested in vivo. These studies provide the first structural information detailing the molecular interactions between any serine-rich repeat adhesin and its host receptor, and identify how different, related adhesins may have evolved different specificities for host receptors.
PMCID: PMC3131266  PMID: 21765814
15.  Transport of Preproteins by the Accessory Sec System Requires a Specific Domain Adjacent to the Signal Peptide▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(16):4223-4232.
The accessory Sec (SecA2/Y2) systems of streptococci and staphylococci are dedicated to the transport of large serine-rich repeat (SRR) glycoproteins to the bacterial cell surface. The means by which the glycosylated preproteins are selectively recognized by the accessory Sec system have not been fully characterized. In Streptococcus gordonii, the SRR glycoprotein GspB has a 90-residue amino-terminal signal sequence that is essential for transport by SecA2/Y2 but is not sufficient to mediate the transport of heterologous proteins by this specialized transporter. We now report that a preprotein must remain at least partially unfolded prior to transport by the accessory Sec system. In addition, a region of approximately 20 residues from the amino-terminal end of mature GspB (the accessory Sec transport or AST domain) is essential for SecA2/Y2-dependent transport. The replacement of several AST domain residues with glycine strongly interferes with export, which suggests that a helical conformation may be important. Analysis of GspB variants with alterations in the AST domain, in combination with the results with a SecY2 variant, indicates that the AST domain is essential both for targeting to the SecA2/Y2 translocase and for initiating translocation through the SecY2 channel. The combined results suggest a unique mechanism that ensures the transport of a single substrate by the SecA2/Y2 system.
PMCID: PMC2916413  PMID: 20562303
16.  The Pneumococcal Serine-Rich Repeat Protein Is an Intra-Species Bacterial Adhesin That Promotes Bacterial Aggregation In Vivo and in Biofilms 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(8):e1001044.
The Pneumococcal serine-rich repeat protein (PsrP) is a pathogenicity island encoded adhesin that has been positively correlated with the ability of Streptococcus pneumoniae to cause invasive disease. Previous studies have shown that PsrP mediates bacterial attachment to Keratin 10 (K10) on the surface of lung cells through amino acids 273–341 located in the Basic Region (BR) domain. In this study we determined that the BR domain of PsrP also mediates an intra-species interaction that promotes the formation of large bacterial aggregates in the nasopharynx and lungs of infected mice as well as in continuous flow-through models of mature biofilms. Using numerous methods, including complementation of mutants with BR domain deficient constructs, fluorescent microscopy with Cy3-labeled recombinant (r)BR, Far Western blotting of bacterial lysates, co-immunoprecipitation with rBR, and growth of biofilms in the presence of antibodies and competitive peptides, we determined that the BR domain, in particular amino acids 122–166 of PsrP, promoted bacterial aggregation and that antibodies against the BR domain were neutralizing. Using similar methodologies, we also determined that SraP and GspB, the Serine-rich repeat proteins (SRRPs) of Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus gordonii, respectively, also promoted bacterial aggregation and that their Non-repeat domains bound to their respective SRRPs. This is the first report to show the presence of biofilm-like structures in the lungs of animals infected with S. pneumoniae and show that SRRPs have dual roles as host and bacterial adhesins. These studies suggest that recombinant Non-repeat domains of SRRPs (i.e. BR for S. pneumoniae) may be useful as vaccine antigens to protect against Gram-positive bacteria that cause infection.
Author Summary
Serine-rich repeat proteins (SRRPs) are a family of surface-expressed proteins found in numerous Gram-positive pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Group B streptococci, and the oral streptococci that cause infective endocarditis. For all of these bacteria, SRRPs have been demonstrated to play pivotal roles in adhesion to tissues and the development of invasive disease. It is now known that biofilm formation is an important step for bacterial pathogenesis. Bacteria in biofilms have been shown to have differences in metabolism, gene expression, and protein production that contribute to enhanced surface adhesion and the persistence of an infection. Herein we describe a novel role for PsrP, the S. pneumoniae SRRP, as an intra-species bacterial adhesin that promotes bacterial aggregation in the lungs of infected mice during pneumonia. In vitro we show that the Basic Region domain of PsrP promotes self-interactions that result in denser biofilms, greater biofilm biomass, and altered architectures of surface grown cultures; these interactions could be neutralized by antibodies to PsrP that are protective against pneumococcal infection. We also demonstrate that the SRRPs of S. aureus and Streptococcus gordonii also function as intra-species bacterial adhesins. Therefore we conclude that SRRPs have dual roles as host-cell and intra-species bacterial adhesins.
PMCID: PMC2920850  PMID: 20714350
17.  Bacteriophage Lysin Mediates the Binding of Streptococcus mitis to Human Platelets through Interaction with Fibrinogen 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(8):e1001047.
The binding of bacteria to human platelets is a likely central mechanism in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. We have previously found that platelet binding by Streptococcus mitis SF100 is mediated by surface components encoded by a lysogenic bacteriophage, SM1. We now demonstrate that SM1-encoded lysin contributes to platelet binding via its direct interaction with fibrinogen. Far Western blotting of platelets revealed that fibrinogen was the major membrane-associated protein bound by lysin. Analysis of lysin binding with purified fibrinogen in vitro confirmed that these proteins could bind directly, and that this interaction was both saturable and inhibitable. Lysin bound both the Aα and Bβ chains of fibrinogen, but not the γ subunit. Binding of lysin to the Bβ chain was further localized to a region within the fibrinogen D fragment. Disruption of the SF100 lysin gene resulted in an 83±3.1% reduction (mean ± SD) in binding to immobilized fibrinogen by this mutant strain (PS1006). Preincubation of this isogenic mutant with purified lysin restored fibrinogen binding to wild type levels. When tested in a co-infection model of endocarditis, loss of lysin expression resulted in a significant reduction in virulence, as measured by achievable bacterial densities (CFU/g) within vegetations, kidneys, and spleens. These results indicate that bacteriophage-encoded lysin is a multifunctional protein, representing a new class of fibrinogen-binding proteins. Lysin appears to be cell wall-associated through its interaction with choline. Once on the bacterial surface, lysin can bind fibrinogen directly, which appears to be an important interaction for the pathogenesis of endocarditis.
Author Summary
The binding of bacteria to human platelets is thought to be a central event in the development of endocarditis (a life-threatening cardiovascular infection). We have previously found that platelet binding by Streptococcus mitis is mediated by surface components encoded by a bacteriophage contained within the host bacterium. We now show that lysin (an enzyme of bacteriophage origin) contributes to platelet binding via its direct interaction with fibrinogen on the platelet surface. Lysin bound to purified fibrinogen in vitro, and this interaction specifically involved the Aα and Bβ chains of fibrinogen. Binding of lysin to the Bβ chain was further localized to a region within the fibrinogen D fragment. Disruption of the gene encoding lysin gene resulted in a significant reduction in binding to fibrinogen by S. mitis, as well as a major reduction in virulence, as measured by a rat model of endocarditis. These results indicate that lysin is a multifunctional protein, representing a new class of fibrinogen-binding molecules. Lysin is localized to the bacterial surface via its interaction with cell wall choline, where it then can bind fibrinogen directly. Cell surface lysin apparently also contributes to the development of endovascular infections via its previously unrecognized fibrinogen binding activity.
PMCID: PMC2920869  PMID: 20714354
18.  Streptococcus mitis Phage-Encoded Adhesins Mediate Attachment to α2-8-Linked Sialic Acid Residues on Platelet Membrane Gangliosides▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;77(8):3485-3490.
The direct binding of bacteria to human platelets contributes to the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. Platelet binding by Streptococcus mitis strain SF100 is mediated in part by two bacteriophage-encoded proteins, PblA and PblB. However, the platelet membrane receptor for these adhesins has been unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that these proteins mediate attachment of bacterial cells to sialylated gangliosides on the platelet cell surface. Desialylation of human platelet monolayers reduced adherence of SF100, whereas treatment of the platelets with N- or O-glycanases did not affect platelet binding. Treatment of platelets with sialidases having different linkage specificities showed that removal of α2-8-linked sialic acids resulted in a marked reduction in bacterial binding. Preincubation of SF100 with ganglioside GD3, a glycolipid containing α2-8-linked sialic acids that is present on platelet membranes, blocked subsequent binding of this strain to these cells. In contrast, GD3 had no effect on the residual binding of platelets by strain PS344, an isogenic ΔpblA ΔpblB mutant. Preincubating platelets with specific monoclonal antibodies to ganglioside GD3 also inhibited binding of SF100 to platelets, but again, they had no effect on binding by PS344. When the direct binding of S. mitis strains SF100 and PS344 to immobilized gangliosides was tested, binding of PS344 to GD3 was reduced by 70% compared to the parent strain. These results indicated that platelet binding by SF100 is mediated by the interaction of PblA and PblB with α2-8-linked sialic acids on ganglioside GD3.
PMCID: PMC2715653  PMID: 19506011
19.  Characterization of Streptococcus gordonii SecA2 as a Paralogue of SecA▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(11):3482-3491.
The accessory Sec system of Streptococcus gordonii is essential for transport of the glycoprotein GspB to the bacterial cell surface. A key component of this dedicated transport system is SecA2. The SecA2 proteins of streptococci and staphylococci are paralogues of SecA and are presumed to have an analogous role in protein transport, but they may be specifically adapted for the transport of large, serine-rich glycoproteins. We used a combination of genetic and biochemical methods to assess whether the S. gordonii SecA2 functions similarly to SecA. Although mutational analyses demonstrated that conserved amino acids are essential for the function of SecA2, replacing such residues in one of two nucleotide binding folds had only minor effects on SecA2 function. SecA2-mediated transport is highly sensitive to azide, as is SecA-mediated transport. Comparison of the S. gordonii SecA and SecA2 proteins in vitro revealed that SecA2 can hydrolyze ATP at a rate similar to that of SecA and is comparably sensitive to azide but that the biochemical properties of these enzymes are subtly different. That is, SecA2 has a lower solubility in aqueous solutions and requires higher Mg2+ concentrations for maximal activity. In spite of the high degree of similarity between the S. gordonii paralogues, analysis of SecA-SecA2 chimeras indicates that the domains are not readily interchangeable. This suggests that specific, unique contacts between SecA2 and other components of the accessory Sec system may preclude cross-functioning with the canonical Sec system.
PMCID: PMC2681895  PMID: 19363114
20.  Genetic Diversity of Arginine Catabolic Mobile Element in Staphylococcus epidermidis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7722.
The methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus clone USA300 contains a novel mobile genetic element, arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME), that contributes to its enhanced capacity to grow and survive within the host. Although ACME appears to have been transferred into USA300 from S. epidermidis, the genetic diversity of ACME in the latter species remains poorly characterized.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To assess the prevalence and genetic diversity of ACME, 127 geographically diverse S. epidermidis isolates representing 86 different multilocus sequence types (STs) were characterized. ACME was found in 51% (65/127) of S. epidermidis isolates. The vast majority (57/65) of ACME-containing isolates belonged to the predominant S. epidermidis clonal complex CC2. ACME was often found in association with different allotypes of staphylococcal chromosome cassette mec (SCCmec) which also encodes the recombinase function that facilities mobilization ACME from the S. epidermidis chromosome. Restriction fragment length polymorphism, PCR scanning and DNA sequencing allowed for identification of 39 distinct ACME genetic variants that differ from one another in gene content, thereby revealing a hitherto uncharacterized genetic diversity within ACME. All but one ACME variants were represented by a single S. epidermidis isolate; the singular variant, termed ACME-I.02, was found in 27 isolates, all of which belonged to the CC2 lineage. An evolutionary model constructed based on the eBURST algorithm revealed that ACME-I.02 was acquired at least on 15 different occasions by strains belonging to the CC2 lineage.
ACME-I.02 in diverse S. epidermidis isolates were nearly identical in sequence to the prototypical ACME found in USA300 MRSA clone, providing further evidence for the interspecies transfer of ACME from S. epidermidis into USA300.
PMCID: PMC2768820  PMID: 19893740
21.  Role of the serine-rich surface glycoprotein GspB of Streptococcus gordonii in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis 
Microbial pathogenesis  2008;45(4):297-301.
The direct binding of bacteria to platelets is a central interaction in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. GspB is a serine-rich, cell wall glycoprotein of Streptococcus gordonii that mediates the binding of this organism to human platelets in vitro. To assess the contribution of this adhesin to the pathogenesis of endocarditis, we compared the virulence of S. gordonii M99 (which expresses GspB) with an isogenic, gspB mutant (PS846) in two rat models of endovascular infection. In the first group of experiments, animals were infected intravenously with M99 or PS846, and sacrificed 72 h later, to assess levels of bacteria within cardiac vegetations, kidneys, and spleens. When inoculated with 105 CFU, rats infected with PS846 had significantly lower densities of organisms within vegetations (mean: 3.84 log10 CFU/g) as compared with M99-infected rats (6.67 log10 CFU/g; P < 0.001). Marked differences were also seen in rats co-infected with M99 and PS846, at a 1:1 ratio. While M99 was found at high levels within vegetations, kidneys and spleens (mean log10 CFU/g: 6.62, 5.07 and 4.18, respectively) PS846 was not detected within these tissues. Thus, platelet binding by GspB appears to be a major interaction in the pathogenesis of endocarditis due to S. gordonii.
PMCID: PMC2574613  PMID: 18656529
Endocarditis; Platelets; Streptococci; Virulence; Adhesins; Bacterial
22.  The Group B Streptococcal Srr-1 glycoprotein mediates penetration of the blood-brain barrier 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;199(10):1479-1487.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in newborn infants. As GBS is able to invade, survive and cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), we sought to identify surface-expressed virulence factors that contribute to BBB penetration and the pathogenesis of meningitis.
Targeted deletion and insertional mutants were generated in different GBS clinical isolates. Wild type and mutant bacteria were analyzed for their capacity to adhere and invade human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hBMEC) and penetrate the BBB using our model of hematogeneous meningitis.
Analysis of a GBS (serotype V) clinical isolate revealed the presence of a surface anchored serine-rich protein previously designated serine-rich repeat-1 (Srr-1). GBS Srr-1 is a high molecular weight glycosylated protein. Deletion of srr1 in NCTC 10/84 resulted in a significant decrease in adherence and invasion of hBMEC. Additional mutants in other GBS serotypes commonly associated with meningitis showed a similar decrease in hBMEC invasion compared to parental strains. Finally, wild type GBS penetrated the BBB and established meningitis more frequently than mice challenged with the Δsrr1 mutant strain.
Our data suggest that GBS Srr glycoproteins play an important role in crossing the BBB and the development of streptococcal meningitis.
PMCID: PMC2674616  PMID: 19392623
Group B Streptococcus; blood; brain barrier; meningitis; invasion; glycoprotein
23.  Characterization of the Accessory Sec System of Staphylococcus aureus▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(18):6188-6196.
The SraP adhesin of Staphylococcus aureus is a member of a highly conserved family of serine-rich surface glycoproteins of gram-positive bacteria. For streptococci, export of the SraP homologs requires a specialized transport pathway (the accessory Sec system). Compared to streptococci, however, SraP is predicted to differ in its signal peptide and glycosylation, which may affect its dependence on a specialized system for transport. In addition, two genes (asp4 and asp5) essential for export in Streptococcus gordonii are missing in S. aureus. Thus, the selectivity of the accessory Sec system in S. aureus may also differ compared to streptococci. To address these issues, the five genes encoding the putative accessory Sec system (secY2, secA2, and asp1-3) were disrupted individually in S. aureus ISP479C, and the resultant mutants were examined for SraP export. Disruption of secA2 resulted in the near complete loss of SraP surface expression. Similar results were seen with disruption of secY2 and asp1, asp2, or asp3. To assess whether the accessory Sec system transported other substrates, we compared secreted proteomes of ISP479C and a secA2 isogenic mutant, by two-dimensional fluorescence difference gel electrophoresis. Although two consistent differences in proteome content were noted between the strains, neither protein appeared to be a likely substrate for accessory Sec export. Thus, the accessory Sec system of S. aureus is required for the export of SraP, and it appears to be dedicated to the transport of this substrate exclusively.
PMCID: PMC2546797  PMID: 18621893
24.  Glycine Residues in the Hydrophobic Core of the GspB Signal Sequence Route Export toward the Accessory Sec Pathway▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(10):3846-3854.
The Streptococcus gordonii cell surface glycoprotein GspB mediates high-affinity binding to distinct sialylated carbohydrate structures on human platelets and salivary proteins. GspB is glycosylated in the cytoplasm of S. gordonii and is then transported to the cell surface via a dedicated transport system that includes the accessory Sec components SecA2 and SecY2. The means by which the GspB preprotein is selectively recognized by the accessory Sec system have not been characterized fully. GspB has a 90-residue amino-terminal signal sequence that displays a traditional tripartite structure, with an atypically long amino-terminal (N) region followed by hydrophobic (H) and cleavage regions. In this report, we investigate the relative importance of the N and H regions of the GspB signal peptide for trafficking of the preprotein. The results show that the extended N region does not prevent export by the canonical Sec system. Instead, three glycine residues in the H region not only are necessary for export via the accessory Sec pathway but also interfere with export via the canonical Sec route. Replacement of the H-region glycine residues with helix-promoting residues led to a decrease in the efficiency of SecA2-dependent transport of the preprotein and a simultaneous increase in SecA2-independent translocation. Thus, the hydrophobic core of the GspB signal sequence is responsible primarily for routing towards the accessory Sec system.
PMCID: PMC1913339  PMID: 17369296
25.  Binding of the Streptococcal Surface Glycoproteins GspB and Hsa to Human Salivary Proteins  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(3):1933-1940.
GspB and Hsa are homologous surface glycoproteins of Streptococcus gordonii that bind sialic acid moieties on platelet membrane glycoprotein Ibα. Since this species is an important member of the oral flora, we examined the direct binding of these adhesins to human salivary proteins. Both GspB and Hsa bound low-molecular-weight salivary mucin MG2 and salivary agglutinin. Hsa also bound several other salivary proteins, including secretory immunoglobulin A. Screening of six oral streptococcal isolates revealed that at least two of the strains expressed GspB homologues. These results indicate that GspB-like adhesins may be important for oral bacterial colonization.
PMCID: PMC1418684  PMID: 16495569

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