Genome-wide protective response used by group A Streptococcus to evade destruction by human polymorphonuclear leukocytes.
ABSTRACT: Group A Streptococcus (GAS) evades polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) phagocytosis and killing to cause human disease, including pharyngitis and necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating syndrome). We show that GAS genes differentially regulated during phagocytic interaction with human PMNs comprise a global pathogen-protective response to innate immunity. GAS prophage genes and genes involved in virulence, oxidative stress, cell wall biosynthesis, and gene regulation were up-regulated during PMN phagocytosis. Genes encoding novel secreted proteins were up-regulated, and the proteins were produced during human GAS infections. We discovered an essential role for the Ihk-Irr two-component regulatory system in evading PMN-mediated killing and promoting host-cell lysis, processes that would facilitate GAS pathogenesis. Importantly, the irr gene was highly expressed during human GAS pharyngitis. We conclude that a complex pathogen genetic program circumvents human innate immunity to promote disease. The gene regulatory program revealed by our studies identifies previously undescribed potential vaccine antigens and targets for therapeutic interventions designed to control GAS infections.
Project description:Streptococcus pyogenes is an important human pathogen, which has recently gained recognition as an intracellular microorganism during the course of severe invasive infections such as necrotizing fasciitis. Although the surface anchored M protein has been identified as a pivotal factor affecting phagosomal maturation and S. pyogenes survival within macrophages, the overall transcriptional profile required for the pathogen to adapt and persist intracellularly is as of yet unknown. To address this, the gene expression profile of S. pyogenes within human macrophages was determined and compared to that of extracellular bacteria using customized microarrays and real-time qRT-PCR. In order to model the early phase of infection involving adaptation to the intracellular compartment, samples were collected 2h post-infection. Microarray analysis revealed that the expression of 145 streptococcal genes was significantly altered in the intracellular environment. The majority of differentially regulated genes were associated with metabolic and energy-dependent processes. Key up-regulated genes in early phase intracellular bacteria were ihk and irr, encoding a two-component gene regulatory system (TCS). Comparison of gene expression of selected genes at 2h and 6h post-infection revealed a dramatic shift in response regulators over time with a down-regulation of ihk/irr genes concurring with an up-regulation of the covR/S TCS. In re-infection assays, intracellular bacteria from the 6h time point exhibited significantly greater survival within macrophages than did bacteria collected at the 2h time point. An isogenic S. pyogenes mutant deficient in ihk/irr displayed significantly reduced bacterial counts when compared to wild-type bacteria following infection of macrophages. The findings illustrate how gene expression of S. pyogenes during the intracellular life cycle is fine-tuned by temporal expression of specific two-component systems.
Project description:Group A Streptococcus (GAS, Streptococcus pyogenes) is an ongoing threat to human health as the agent of streptococcal pharyngitis, skin and soft tissue infections, and life-threatening conditions such as necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. In animal models of infection, macrophages have been shown to contribute to host defense against GAS infection. However, as GAS can resist killing by macrophages in vitro and induce macrophage cell death, it has been suggested that GAS intracellular survival in macrophages may enable persistent infection. Using isogenic mutants, we now show that the GAS pore-forming toxin streptolysin O (SLO) and its cotoxin NAD-glycohydrolase (NADase) mediate GAS intracellular survival and cytotoxicity for macrophages. Unexpectedly, the two toxins did not inhibit fusion of GAS-containing phagosomes with lysosomes but rather prevented phagolysosome acidification. SLO served two essential functions, poration of the phagolysosomal membrane and translocation of NADase into the macrophage cytosol, both of which were necessary for maximal GAS intracellular survival. Whereas NADase delivery to epithelial cells is mediated by SLO secreted from GAS bound to the cell surface, in macrophages, the source of SLO and NADase is GAS contained within phagolysosomes. We found that transfer of NADase from the phagolysosome to the macrophage cytosol occurs not by simple diffusion through SLO pores but rather by a specific translocation mechanism that requires the N-terminal translocation domain of NADase. These results illuminate the mechanisms through which SLO and NADase enable GAS to defeat macrophage-mediated killing and provide new insight into the virulence of a major human pathogen.Macrophages constitute an important element of the innate immune response to mucosal pathogens. They ingest and kill microbes by phagocytosis and secrete inflammatory cytokines to recruit and activate other effector cells. Group A Streptococcus (GAS, Streptococcus pyogenes), an important cause of pharyngitis and invasive infections, has been shown to resist killing by macrophages. We find that GAS resistance to macrophage killing depends on the GAS pore-forming toxin streptolysin O (SLO) and its cotoxin NAD-glycohydrolase (NADase). GAS bacteria are internalized by macrophage phagocytosis but resist killing by secreting SLO, which damages the phagolysosome membrane, prevents phagolysosome acidification, and translocates NADase from the phagolysosome into the macrophage cytosol. NADase augments SLO-mediated cytotoxicity by depleting cellular energy stores. These findings may explain the nearly universal production of SLO by GAS clinical isolates and the association of NADase with the global spread of a GAS clone implicated in invasive infections.
Project description:The peroxide response transcriptional regulator, PerR, is thought to contribute to virulence of group A Streptococcus (GAS); however, the specific mechanism through which it enhances adaptation for survival in the human host remains unknown. Here, we identify a critical role of PerR-regulated gene expression in GAS phagocytosis resistance and in virulence during pharyngeal infection. Deletion of perR in M-type 3 strain 003Sm was associated with reduced resistance to phagocytic killing in human blood and by murine macrophages in vitro. The increased phagocytic killing of the perR mutant was abrogated in the presence of the general oxidative burst inhibitor diphenyleneiodonium chloride (DPI), a result that suggests PerR-dependent gene expression counteracts the phagocyte oxidative burst. Moreover, an isogenic perR mutant was severely attenuated in a baboon model of GAS pharyngitis. In competitive infection experiments, the perR mutant was cleared from two animals at 24 h and from four of five animals by day 14, in sharp contrast to wild-type bacteria that persisted in the same five animals for 28 to 42 d. GAS genomic microarrays were used to compare wild-type and perR mutant transcriptomes in order to characterize the PerR regulon of GAS. These studies identified 42 PerR-dependent loci, the majority of which had not been previously recognized. Surprisingly, a large proportion of these loci are involved in sugar utilization and transport, in addition to oxidative stress adaptive responses and virulence. This finding suggests a novel role for PerR in mediating sugar uptake and utilization that, together with phagocytic killing resistance, may contribute to GAS fitness in the infected host. We conclude that PerR controls expression of a diverse regulon that enhances GAS resistance to phagocytic killing and allows adaptation for survival in the pharynx.
Project description:Group A streptococcus (GAS) causes variety of diseases ranging from common pharyngitis to life-threatening severe invasive diseases, including necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock-like syndrome. The characteristic of invasive GAS infections has been thought to attribute to genetic changes in bacteria, however, no clear evidence has shown due to lack of an intriguingly study using serotype-matched isolates from clinical severe invasive GAS infections. In addition, rare outbreaks of invasive infections and their distinctive pathology in which infectious foci without neutrophil infiltration hypothesized us invasive GAS could evade host defense, especially neutrophil functions. Herein we report that a panel of serotype-matched GAS, which were clinically isolated from severe invasive but not from non-invaive infections, could abrogate functions of human polymorphnuclear neutrophils (PMN) in at least two independent ways; due to inducing necrosis to PMN by enhanced production of a pore-forming toxin streptolysin O (SLO) and due to impairment of PMN migration via digesting interleukin-8, a PMN attracting chemokine, by increased production of a serine protease ScpC. Expression of genes was upregulated by a loss of repressive function with the mutation of csrS gene in the all emm49 severe invasive GAS isolates. The csrS mutants from clinical severe invasive GAS isolates exhibited high mortality and disseminated infection with paucity of neutrophils, a characteristic pathology seen in human invasive GAS infection, in a mouse model. However, GAS which lack either SLO or ScpC exhibit much less mortality than the csrS-mutated parent invasive GAS isolate to the infected mice. These results suggest that the abilities of GAS to abrogate PMN functions can determine the onset and severity of invasive GAS infection.
Project description:Polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) cell death strongly influences the resolution of inflammatory episodes, and may exacerbate adverse pathologies in response to infection. We investigated PMN cell death mechanisms following infection by virulent group A Streptococcus (GAS). Human PMNs were infected in vitro with a clinical, virulent GAS isolate and an avirulent derivative strain, and compared for phagocytosis, the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), mitochondrial membrane depolarization and apoptotic markers. C57BL/6J mice were then infected, in order to observe the effects on murine PMNs in vivo. Human PMNs phagocytosed virulent GAS less efficiently, produced less ROS and underwent reduced mitochondrial membrane depolarization compared with phagocytosis of avirulent GAS. Morphological and biochemical analyses revealed that PMNs infected with avirulent GAS exhibited nuclear fragmentation and caspase-3 activation consistent with an anti-inflammatory apoptotic phenotype. Conversely, virulent GAS induced PMN vacuolization and plasma membrane permeabilization, leading to a necrotic form of cell death. Infection of the mice with virulent GAS engendered significantly higher systemic pro-inflammatory cytokine release and localized infiltration of murine PMNs, with cells associated with virulent GAS infection exhibiting reduced apoptotic potential. Avirulent GAS infection was associated with lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines and tissue PMN apoptosis. We propose that the differences in PMN cell death mechanisms influence the inflammatory responses to infection by GAS.
Project description:Human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs or neutrophils) are essential to the innate immune response against bacterial pathogens. Recent evidence suggests that PMN apoptosis facilitates resolution of inflammation during bacterial infection. Although progress has been made toward understanding apoptosis in neutrophils, very little is known about transcriptional regulation of this process during bacterial infection. To gain insight into the molecular processes that facilitate resolution of infection, we measured global changes in PMN gene expression during phagocytosis of a diverse group of bacterial pathogens. Genes encoding key effectors of apoptosis were up-regulated, and receptors critical to innate immune function were down-regulated during apoptosis induced by phagocytosis of Burkholderia cepacia, Borrelia hermsii, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes. Importantly, we identified genes that comprise a common apoptosis differentiation program in human PMNs after phagocytosis of pathogenic bacteria. Unexpectedly, phagocytosis of Str. pyogenes induced changes in neutrophil gene expression not observed with other pathogens tested, including down-regulation of 21 genes involved in responses to IFN. Compared with other bacteria, PMN apoptosis was significantly accelerated by Str. pyogenes and was followed by necrosis. Thus, we hypothesize that there are two fundamental outcomes for the interaction of bacterial pathogens with neutrophils: (i) phagocytosis of bacteria induces an apoptosis differentiation program in human PMNs that contributes to resolution of bacterial infection, or (ii) phagocytosis of microorganisms such as Str. pyogenes alters the apoptosis differentiation program in neutrophils, resulting in pathogen survival and disease.
Project description:Group A streptococci (GAS) are highly prevalent human pathogens whose primary ecological niche is the superficial epithelial layers of the throat and/or skin. Many GAS strains with a strong tendency to cause pharyngitis are distinct from strains that tend to cause impetigo; thus, genetic differences between them may confer host tissue-specific virulence. In this study, the FbaA surface protein gene was found to be present in most skin specialist strains but largely absent from a genetically related subset of pharyngitis isolates. In an ?fbaA mutant constructed in the impetigo strain Alab49, loss of FbaA resulted in a slight but significant decrease in GAS fitness in a humanized mouse model of impetigo; the ?fbaA mutant also exhibited decreased survival in whole human blood due to phagocytosis. In assays with highly sensitive outcome measures, Alab49?fbaA was compared to other isogenic mutants lacking virulence genes known to be disproportionately associated with classical skin strains. FbaA and PAM (i.e., the M53 protein) had additive effects in promoting GAS survival in whole blood. The pilus adhesin tip protein Cpa promoted Alab49 survival in whole blood and appears to fully account for the antiphagocytic effect attributable to pili. The finding that numerous skin strain-associated virulence factors make slight but significant contributions to virulence underscores the incremental contributions to fitness of individual surface protein genes and the multifactorial nature of GAS-host interactions.
Project description:T. vaginalis, a human-infective parasite, causes the most common nonviral sexually transmitted infection (STI) worldwide and contributes to adverse inflammatory disorders. The immune response to T. vaginalis is poorly understood. Neutrophils (polymorphonuclear cells [PMNs]) are the major immune cell present at the T. vaginalis-host interface and are thought to clear T. vaginalis. However, the mechanism of PMN clearance of T. vaginalis has not been characterized. We demonstrate that human PMNs rapidly kill T. vaginalis in a dose-dependent, contact-dependent, and neutrophil extracellular trap (NET)-independent manner. In contrast to phagocytosis, we observed that PMN killing of T. vaginalis involves taking "bites" of T. vaginalis prior to parasite death, using trogocytosis to achieve pathogen killing. Both trogocytosis and parasite killing are dependent on the presence of PMN serine proteases and human serum factors. Our analyses provide the first demonstration, to our knowledge, of a mammalian phagocyte using trogocytosis for pathogen clearance and reveal a novel mechanism used by PMNs to kill a large, highly motile target.
Project description:Mechanisms underlying the enhanced virulence phenotype of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) are incompletely defined, but presumably include evasion of killing by human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs or neutrophils). To better understand this phenomenon, we investigated the basis of rapid PMN lysis after phagocytosis of USA300, a prominent CA-MRSA strain. Survival of USA300 clinical isolates after phagocytosis ultimately resulted in neutrophil lysis. PMNs containing ingested USA300 underwent morphological changes consistent with apoptosis, but lysed rapidly thereafter (within 6 h), whereas cells undergoing FAS-mediated apoptosis or phagocytosis-induced cell death remained intact. Phagosome membranes remained intact until the point of PMN destruction, suggesting lysis was not caused by escape of S. aureus from phagosomes or the cytolytic action of pore-forming toxins. Microarray analysis of the PMN transcriptome after phagocytosis of representative community-associated S. aureus and healthcare-associated MRSA strains revealed changes unique to community-associated S. aureus strains, such as upregulation of transcripts involved in regulation of calcium homeostasis. Collectively, the data suggest that neutrophil destruction after phagocytosis of USA300 is in part a form of programmed necrosis rather than direct lysis by S. aureus pore-forming toxins. We propose that the ability of CA-MRSA strains to induce programmed necrosis of neutrophils is a component of enhanced virulence.
Project description:Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus; GAS) causes 600 million cases of pharyngitis annually worldwide. There is no licensed human GAS vaccine despite a century of research. Although the human oropharynx is the primary site of GAS infection, the pathogenic genes and molecular processes used to colonize, cause disease, and persist in the upper respiratory tract are poorly understood. Using dense transposon mutant libraries made with serotype M1 and M28 GAS strains and transposon-directed insertion sequencing, we performed genome-wide screens in the nonhuman primate (NHP) oropharynx. We identified many potentially novel GAS fitness genes, including a common set of 115 genes that contribute to fitness in both genetically distinct GAS strains during experimental NHP pharyngitis. Targeted deletion of 4 identified fitness genes/operons confirmed that our newly identified targets are critical for GAS virulence during experimental pharyngitis. Our screens discovered many surface-exposed or secreted proteins - substrates for vaccine research - that potentially contribute to GAS pharyngitis, including lipoprotein HitA. Pooled human immune globulin reacted with purified HitA, suggesting that humans produce antibodies against this lipoprotein. Our findings provide new information about GAS fitness in the upper respiratory tract that may assist in translational research, including developing novel vaccines.