Genome sequence of a serotype M3 strain of group A Streptococcus: phage-encoded toxins, the high-virulence phenotype, and clone emergence.
ABSTRACT: Genome sequences are available for many bacterial strains, but there has been little progress in using these data to understand the molecular basis of pathogen emergence and differences in strain virulence. Serotype M3 strains of group A Streptococcus (GAS) are a common cause of severe invasive infections with unusually high rates of morbidity and mortality. To gain insight into the molecular basis of this high-virulence phenotype, we sequenced the genome of strain MGAS315, an organism isolated from a patient with streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. The genome is composed of 1,900,521 bp, and it shares approximately 1.7 Mb of related genetic material with genomes of serotype M1 and M18 strains. Phage-like elements account for the great majority of variation in gene content relative to the sequenced M1 and M18 strains. Recombination produces chimeric phages and strains with previously uncharacterized arrays of virulence factor genes. Strain MGAS315 has phage genes that encode proteins likely to contribute to pathogenesis, such as streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin A (SpeA) and SpeK, streptococcal superantigen (SSA), and a previously uncharacterized phospholipase A(2) (designated Sla). Infected humans had anti-SpeK, -SSA, and -Sla antibodies, indicating that these GAS proteins are made in vivo. SpeK and SSA were pyrogenic and toxic for rabbits. Serotype M3 strains with the phage-encoded speK and sla genes increased dramatically in frequency late in the 20th century, commensurate with the rise in invasive disease caused by M3 organisms. Taken together, the results show that phage-mediated recombination has played a critical role in the emergence of a new, unusually virulent clone of serotype M3 GAS.
Project description:Group Astreptococcus (GAS) is a gram-positive bacterial pathogen that causes various suppurative infections and nonsuppurative sequelae. Since the late 1980s, streptococcal toxic-shock like syndrome (STSS) and severe invasive GAS infections have been reported globally. Here we sequenced the genome of serotype M3 strain SSI-1, isolated from an STSS patient in Japan, and compared it with those of other GAS strains. The SSI-1 genome is composed of 1,884,275 bp, and 1.7 Mb of the sequence is highly conserved relative to strain SF370 (serotype M1) and MGAS8232 (serotype M18), and almost completely conserved relative to strain MGAS315 (serotype M3). However, a large genomic rearrangement has been shown to occur across the replication axis between the homologous rrn-comX1 regions and between two prophage-coding regions across the replication axis. Atotal of 1 Mb of chromosomal DNA is inverted across the replication axis. Interestingly, the recombinations between the prophage regions are within the phage genes, and the genes encoding superantigens and mitogenic factors are interchanged between two prophages. This genomic rearrangement occurs in 65% of clinical isolates (64/94) collected after 1990, whereas it is found in only 25% of clinical isolates (7/28) collected before 1985. These observations indicate that streptococcal phages represent important plasticity regions in the GAS chromosome where recombination between homologous phage genes can occur and result not only in new phage derivatives, but also in large chromosomal rearrangements.
Project description:A striking increase in the frequency and severity of invasive infections caused by Streptococcus pyogenes has occurred in recent years. Among these diseases is streptococcal toxic-shock-like syndrome (TSLS), a condition characterized by fulminant soft-tissue destruction and multiorgan failure. Streptococcal superantigen (SSA), a superantigen isolated from a TSLS-inducing, serotype M3 S. pyogenes strain, has recently been identified. We here describe the cloning, sequencing, and phylogenetic distribution of the SSA structural gene. The 783-bp open reading frame encodes a predicted 260-amino-acid protein that is similar in size to several other bacterial superantigens. The deduced sequence of the mature protein is 60.2% identical to that of staphylococcal enterotoxin B but only 49% identical to that of streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin A. Southern blot and PCR analysis of 138 group A streptococcal strains representing 65 M protein serotypes and 15 nontypeable isolates identified ssa in 68 strains from 10 distinct clonal lineages. All ssa-positive clones expressed SSA. Of the two clones associated with TSLS, the ET 2-M3 lineage, but not the ET 1-M1 lineage, carried the SSA gene. Further analysis of the ET 2-M3 lineage found evidence for temporal variation in ssa association. Contemporary ET 2-M3 disease isolates had ssa, but two older isolates of this clone recovered in 1910 and 1920 lacked the gene. The clonal and temporal distribution patterns of ssa suggest a relatively recent acquisition of this superantigen-encoding gene by the ET 2-M3 lineage, perhaps by horizontal transfer and recombination.
Project description:Acute rheumatic fever (ARF), a sequelae of group A Streptococcus (GAS) infection, is the most common cause of preventable childhood heart disease worldwide. The molecular basis of ARF and the subsequent rheumatic heart disease are poorly understood. Serotype M18 GAS strains have been associated for decades with ARF outbreaks in the U.S. As a first step toward gaining new insight into ARF pathogenesis, we sequenced the genome of strain MGAS8232, a serotype M18 organism isolated from a patient with ARF. The genome is a circular chromosome of 1,895,017 bp, and it shares 1.7 Mb of closely related genetic material with strain SF370 (a sequenced serotype M1 strain). Strain MGAS8232 has 178 ORFs absent in SF370. Phages, phage-like elements, and insertion sequences are the major sources of variation between the genomes. The genomes of strain MGAS8232 and SF370 encode many of the same proven or putative virulence factors. Importantly, strain MGAS8232 has genes encoding many additional secreted proteins involved in human-GAS interactions, including streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin A (scarlet fever toxin) and two uncharacterized pyrogenic exotoxin homologues, all phage-associated. DNA microarray analysis of 36 serotype M18 strains from diverse localities showed that most regions of variation were phages or phage-like elements. Two epidemics of ARF occurring 12 years apart in Salt Lake City, UT, were caused by serotype M18 strains that were genetically identical, or nearly so. Our analysis provides a critical foundation for accelerated research into ARF pathogenesis and a molecular framework to study the plasticity of GAS genomes.
Project description:Epidemiologic typing of Streptococcus pyogenes (GAS) is frequently based on the genotype of the emm gene, which encodes M/Emm protein. In this study, the complete genome sequence of GAS emm3 strain M3-b, isolated from a patient with streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), was determined. This strain exhibited 99% identity with other complete genome sequences of emm3 strains MGAS315, SSI-1, and STAB902. The complete genomes of five additional strains isolated from Japanese patients with and without STSS were also sequences. Maximum-likelihood phylogenetic analysis showed that strains M3-b, M3-e, and SSI-1, all which were isolated from STSS patients, were relatively close.
Project description:Streptococcus pyogenes, one of the major human pathogens, is a unique species since it has acquired diverse strain-specific virulence properties mainly through the acquisition of streptococcal prophages. In addition, S. pyogenes possesses clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas systems that can restrict horizontal gene transfer (HGT) including phage insertion. Therefore, it was of interest to examine the relationship between CRISPR and acquisition of prophages in S. pyogenes. Although two distinct CRISPR loci were found in S. pyogenes, some strains lacked CRISPR and these strains possess significantly more prophages than CRISPR harboring strains. We also found that the number of spacers of S. pyogenes CRISPR was less than for other streptococci. The demonstrated spacer contents, however, suggested that the CRISPR appear to limit phage insertions. In addition, we found a significant inverse correlation between the number of spacers and prophages in S. pyogenes. It was therefore suggested that S. pyogenes CRISPR have permitted phage insertion by lacking its own spacers. Interestingly, in two closely related S. pyogenes strains (SSI-1 and MGAS315), CRISPR activity appeared to be impaired following the insertion of phage genomes into the repeat sequences. Detailed analysis of this prophage insertion site suggested that MGAS315 is the ancestral strain of SSI-1. As a result of analysis of 35 additional streptococcal genomes, it was suggested that the influences of the CRISPR on the phage insertion vary among species even within the same genus. Our results suggested that limitations in CRISPR content could explain the characteristic acquisition of prophages and might contribute to strain-specific pathogenesis in S. pyogenes.
Project description:The pathogenesis of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) is poorly understood. We identified two contiguous bacteriophage genes, designated speL and speM, encoding novel inferred superantigens in the genome sequence of an ARF strain of serotype M18 group A streptococcus (GAS). speL and speM were located at the same genomic site in 33 serotype M18 isolates, and no nucleotide sequence diversity was observed in the 33 strains analyzed. Furthermore, the genes were absent in 13 non-M18 strains tested. These data indicate a recent acquisition event by a distinct clone of serotype M18 GAS. speL and speM were transcribed in vitro and upregulated in the exponential phase of growth. Purified SpeL and SpeM were pyrogenic and mitogenic for rabbit splenocytes and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in picogram amounts. SpeL preferentially expanded human T cells expressing T-cell receptors Vbeta1, Vbeta5.1, and Vbeta23, and SpeM had specificity for Vbeta1 and Vbeta23 subsets, indicating that both proteins had superantigen activity. SpeL was lethal in two animal models of streptococcal toxic shock, and SpeM was lethal in one model. Serologic studies indicated that ARF patients were exposed to serotype M18 GAS, SpeL, and SpeM. The data demonstrate that SpeL and SpeM are pyrogenic toxin superantigens and suggest that they may participate in the host-pathogen interactions in some ARF patients.
Project description:Lytic bacteriophage A25, which infects Streptococcus pyogenes and several related species, has been used to better understand phage-microbe interactions due to its ability to mediate high-efficiency transduction. Most of these studies, however, are decades old and were conducted prior to the advent of next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics. The aim of our study was to gain a better understanding of the mechanism of high-efficiency transduction through analysis of the A25 genome. We show here that phage A25 is related to a family of genome prophages and became a lytic phage following escape from lysogeny. A lambdoid-like residual lysogeny module consisting of an operator site with two promoters and a cro-like antirepressor gene was identified, but the genes for the cI-like repressor and integrase are missing. Additionally, the genetic organization of the A25 genome was found to be modular in nature and similar to that of many prophages of S. pyogenes as well as from other streptococcal species. A study of A25 homology to all annotated prophages within S. pyogenes revealed near identity within the remnant lysogeny module of the A25 phage genome to the corresponding regions in resident prophages of genome strains MGAS10270 (M2), MGAS315 (M3), MGAS10570 (M4), and STAB902 (M4). Host range studies of MGAS10270, MGAS315, and MGAS10750 demonstrated that these strains were resistant to A25 infection. The resistance mechanism of superinfection immunity was confirmed experimentally through complementation of the operator region and cI-like repressor from prophage MGAS10270.2 into susceptible strains SF370, CEM1?4 (SF370?SpyCIM1), and ATCC 12204, which rendered all three strains resistant to A25 infection. In silico prediction of packaging through homology analysis of the terminase large subunit from bacteriophages within the known packaging mechanism of Gram-positive bacteria as well as the evidence of terminally redundant and/or circularly permuted sequences suggested that A25 grouped with phages employing the less stringent pac-type packaging mechanisms, which likely explains the characteristic A25 high-efficiency transduction capabilities. Only a few examples of lytic phages appearing following loss of part or all of the lysogeny module have been reported previously, and the genetic mosaicism of A25 suggests that this event may not have been a recent one. However, the discovery that this lytic bacteriophage shares some of the genetic pool of S. pyogenes prophages emphasizes the importance of genetic and biological characterization of bacteriophages when selecting phages for therapeutics or disinfectants, as phage-phage and phage-microbe interactions can be complex, requiring more than just assessment of host range and carriage of toxoid or virulence genes.IMPORTANCE Bacteriophages (bacterial viruses) play an important role in the shaping of bacterial populations as well as the dissemination of bacterial genetic material to new strains, resulting in the spread of virulence factors and antibiotic resistance genes. This study identified the genetic origins of Streptococcus pyogenes phage A25 and uncovered the molecular mechanism employed to promote horizontal transfer of DNA by transduction to new strains of this bacterium as well as identified the basis for its host range.
Project description:The human pathogen group A Streptococcus (GAS) produces many secreted proteins that play important roles in GAS pathogenesis, including hydrolases that degrade proteins and nucleic acids. This study targets another kind of hydrolase, carboxylic esterase, with the objectives of identifying GAS esterase and determining whether it is a protective antigen. The putative esterase gene SPy1718 was cloned, and the recombinant protein (Sse) was prepared. Sse was detected in GAS culture supernatant, and patients with streptococcal pharyngitis seroconverted to Sse, indicating that Sse was produced in vivo and in vitro. Sse hydrolyzes p-nitrophenyl butyrate, and the residue (178)Ser is critical for this esterase activity. There are two Sse variant complexes according to the available genome databases, consistent with the previous finding of two antigenic Sse variants. Complex I includes serotypes M1, M2, M3, M5, M6, M12, and M18, whereas M4, M28, and M49 belong to complex II. Sse variants share >98% identity in amino acid sequence within each complex but have about 37% variation between the two groups. Active immunization with M1 Sse significantly protects mice against lethal subcutaneous infection with virulent M1 and M3 strains and inhibits GAS invasion of mouse skin tissue. Passive immunization with anti-Sse antiserum also significantly protects mice against subcutaneous GAS infection, indicating that the protection is mediated by Sse-specific antibodies. The results suggest that Sse plays an important role in tissue invasion and is an antigen protective in subcutaneous infection against GAS strains of more than one serotype.
Project description:Group A streptococcal isolates of serotype M18 are historically associated with epidemic waves of pharyngitis and the non-suppurative immune sequela rheumatic fever. The serotype is defined by a unique, highly encapsulated phenotype, yet the molecular basis for this unusual colony morphology is unknown. Here we identify a truncation in the regulatory protein RocA, unique to and conserved within our serotype M18 GAS collection, and demonstrate that it underlies the characteristic M18 capsule phenotype. Reciprocal allelic exchange mutagenesis of rocA between M18 GAS and M89 GAS demonstrated that truncation of RocA was both necessary and sufficient for hyper-encapsulation via up-regulation of both precursors required for hyaluronic acid synthesis. Although RocA was shown to positively enhance covR transcription, quantitative proteomics revealed RocA to be a metabolic regulator with activity beyond the CovR/S regulon. M18 GAS demonstrated a uniquely protuberant chain formation following culture on agar that was dependent on excess capsule and the RocA mutation. Correction of the M18 rocA mutation reduced GAS survival in human blood, and in vivo naso-pharyngeal carriage longevity in a murine model, with an associated drop in bacterial airborne transmission during infection. In summary, a naturally occurring truncation in a regulator explains the encapsulation phenotype, carriage longevity and transmissibility of M18 GAS, highlighting the close interrelation of metabolism, capsule and virulence.
Project description:In recent years we have studied the relationship between strain genotypes and patient phenotypes in group A Streptococcus (GAS), a model human bacterial pathogen that causes extensive morbidity and mortality worldwide. We have concentrated our efforts on serotype M3 organisms because these strains are common causes of pharyngeal and invasive infections, produce unusually severe invasive infections, and can exhibit epidemic behavior. Our studies have been hindered by the lack of genome-scale phylogenies of multiple GAS strains and whole-genome sequences of multiple serotype M3 strains recovered from individuals with defined clinical phenotypes. To remove some of these impediments, we sequenced to closure the genome of four additional GAS strains and conducted comparative genomic resequencing of 12 contemporary serotype M3 strains representing distinct genotypes and phenotypes. Serotype M3 strains are a single phylogenetic lineage. Strains from asymptomatic throat carriers were significantly less virulent for mice than sterile-site isolates and evolved to a less virulent phenotype by multiple genetic pathways. Strain persistence or extinction between epidemics was strongly associated with presence or absence, respectively, of the prophage encoding streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin A. A serotype M3 clone significantly underrepresented among necrotizing fasciitis cases has a unique frameshift mutation that truncates MtsR, a transcriptional regulator controlling expression of genes encoding iron-acquisition proteins. Expression microarray analysis of this clone confirmed significant alteration in expression of genes encoding iron metabolism proteins. Our analysis provided unprecedented detail about the molecular anatomy of bacterial strain genotype-patient phenotype relationships.