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.
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.
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.
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.
abacavir; blood platelets; guanylate cyclase; myocardial infarction; P-selectin
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
GspB; glycoproteins; Streptococcus gordonii; sialic acid; adhesins; endocarditis; lectins
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.
GspB; glycoprotein; Streptococcus gordonii; sialic acid; adhesin; endocarditis; lectin
Staphylococcus aureus infection is a frequent cause of sepsis in humans, a disease associated with high mortality and without specific intervention. When suspended in human or animal plasma, staphylococci are known to agglutinate, however the bacterial factors responsible for agglutination and their possible contribution to disease pathogenesis have not yet been revealed. Using a mouse model for S. aureus sepsis, we report here that staphylococcal agglutination in blood was associated with a lethal outcome of this disease. Three secreted products of staphylococci - coagulase (Coa), von Willebrand factor binding protein (vWbp) and clumping factor (ClfA) – were required for agglutination. Coa and vWbp activate prothrombin to cleave fibrinogen, whereas ClfA allowed staphylococci to associate with the resulting fibrin cables. All three virulence genes promoted the formation of thromboembolic lesions in heart tissues. S. aureus agglutination could be disrupted and the lethal outcome of sepsis could be prevented by combining dabigatran-etexilate treatment, which blocked Coa and vWbp activity, with antibodies specific for ClfA. Together these results suggest that the combined administration of direct thrombin inhibitors and ClfA-antibodies that block S. aureus agglutination with fibrin may be useful for the prevention of staphylococcal sepsis in humans.
Staphylococcus aureus secretes factors that perturb blood coagulation in infected hosts. We report here that three bacterial products – coagulase (Coa), von Willebrand factor binding protein (vWbp) and clumping factor (ClfA) - act together and promote agglutination, the association of staphylococci with polymerized fibrin cables. Staphylococcal agglutination was associated with thromboembolic lesions in heart tissues and a lethal outcome of S. aureus sepsis in mice. Inhibition of Coa and vWbp with direct thrombin inhibitors, drugs already approved for the prevention of stroke, as well as passive transfer of antibodies specific for Coa, vWbp and ClfA could prevent the pathogenesis of S. aureus sepsis. These results suggest new preventive and/or therapeutic strategies that may improve the outcome of S. aureus sepsis in humans, a disease that is otherwise associated with high mortality.
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.
accessory Sec; secretion; glycoprotein; Streptococcus gordonii; Asp
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recruitment of the serine protease plasmin is central to the pathogenesis of many bacterial species, including Group A streptococcus (GAS), a leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally. A key process in invasive GAS disease is the ability to accumulate plasmin at the cell surface, however the role of host activators of plasminogen in this process is poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that the urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) contributes to plasmin recruitment and subsequent invasive disease initiation in vivo. In the absence of a source of host plasminogen activators, streptokinase (Ska) was required to facilitate cell surface plasmin acquisition by GAS. However, in the absence of Ska, host activators were sufficient to promote cell surface plasmin acquisition by GAS strain 5448 during incubation with plasminogen or human plasma. Furthermore, GAS were able mediate a significant increase in the activation of zymogen pro-uPA in human plasma. In order to assess the contribution of uPA to invasive GAS disease, a previously undescribed transgenic mouse model of infection was employed. Both C57/black 6J, and AlbPLG1 mice expressing the human plasminogen transgene, were significantly more susceptible to invasive GAS disease than uPA−/− mice. The observed decrease in virulence in uPA−/−mice was found to correlate directly with a decrease in bacterial dissemination and reduced cell surface plasmin accumulation by GAS. These findings have significant implications for our understanding of GAS pathogenesis, and research aimed at therapeutic targeting of plasminogen activation in invasive bacterial infections.
Subversion of the host fibrinolytic system by bacterial pathogens is recognised as a key process in severe disease initiation. Co-opting of plasmin by bacteria contributes to tissue destruction and bacterial dissemination, both hallmarks of invasive Group A streptococcal disease, and research aimed at therapeutic targeting of the nexus between group A streptococcus and the fibrinolytic system is increasing. The host plasminogen activator uPA is found at the surface of cells that contribute to epithelial and innate immune defense against bacterial infection, and may contribute to bacterial recruitment of plasmin, however, the role of uPA in group A streptococcal infection is not well characterised. Here, we describe for the first time the key role played by uPA in invasive group A streptococcal disease. The ability of this pathogen to cause severe infection, even in the absence of the bacterial plasminogen activator streptokinase, has significant implications for the development of therapeutics to control invasive bacterial infection.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Endocarditis; Platelets; Streptococci; Virulence; Adhesins; Bacterial
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.
Group B Streptococcus; blood; brain barrier; meningitis; invasion; glycoprotein
Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) meningitis is a common bacterial infection of the brain. The cholesterol-dependent cytolysin pneumolysin represents a key factor, determining the neuropathogenic potential of the pneumococci. Here, we demonstrate selective synaptic loss within the superficial layers of the frontal neocortex of post-mortem brain samples from individuals with pneumococcal meningitis. A similar effect was observed in mice with pneumococcal meningitis only when the bacteria expressed the pore-forming cholesterol-dependent cytolysin pneumolysin. Exposure of acute mouse brain slices to only pore-competent pneumolysin at disease-relevant, non-lytic concentrations caused permanent dendritic swelling, dendritic spine elimination and synaptic loss. The NMDA glutamate receptor antagonists MK801 and D-AP5 reduced this pathology. Pneumolysin increased glutamate levels within the mouse brain slices. In mouse astrocytes, pneumolysin initiated the release of glutamate in a calcium-dependent manner. We propose that pneumolysin plays a significant synapto- and dendritotoxic role in pneumococcal meningitis by initiating glutamate release from astrocytes, leading to subsequent glutamate-dependent synaptic damage. We outline for the first time the occurrence of synaptic pathology in pneumococcal meningitis and demonstrate that a bacterial cytolysin can dysregulate the control of glutamate in the brain, inducing excitotoxic damage.
Bacterial meningitis is one of the most devastating brain diseases. Among the bacteria that cause meningitis, Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common. Meningitis predominantly affects children, especially in the Third World, and most of them do not survive. Those that do survive often suffer permanent brain damage and hearing problems. The exact morphological substrates of brain damage in Streptococcus pneumoniae meningitis remain largely unknown. In our experiments, we found that the brain cortex of patients with meningitis demonstrated a loss of synapses (the contact points among neurons, responsible for the processes of learning and memory), and we identified the major pneumococcal neurotoxin pneumolysin as a sufficient cause of this loss. The effect was not direct but was mediated by the brain neurotransmitter glutamate, which was released upon toxin binding by one of the non-neuronal cell types of the brain – the astrocytes. Pneumolysin initiated calcium influx in astrocytes and subsequent glutamate release. Glutamate damaged the synapses via NMDA-receptors – a mechanism similar to the damage occurring in brain ischemia. Thus, we show that synaptic loss is present in pneumococcal meningitis, and we identify the toxic bacterial protein pneumolysin as the major factor in this process. These findings alter our understanding of bacterial meningitis and establish new therapeutic strategies for this fatal disease.
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.
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.