Identification of srv, a PrfA-like regulator of group A streptococcus that influences virulence.
ABSTRACT: We have identified a Crp/Fnr-like transcriptional regulator of Streptococcus pyogenes that when inactivated attenuates virulence. The gene, named srv for streptococcal regulator of virulence, encodes a 240-amino-acid protein with 53% amino acid similarity to PrfA, a transcriptional activator of virulence in Listeria monocytogenes.
Project description:Group A Streptococcus is characterized by the ability to cause a diverse number of human infections including pharyngitis, necrotizing fasciitis, toxic shock syndrome, and acute rheumatic fever, yet the regulation of streptococcal genes involved in disease processes and survival in the host is not completely understood. Genome scale analysis has revealed a complex regulatory network including 13 two-component regulatory systems and more than 100 additional putative regulators, the majority of which remain uncharacterized. Among these is the streptococcal regulator of virulence, Srv, the first Group A Streptococcus member of the Crp/Fnr family of transcriptional regulators. Previous work demonstrated that the loss of srv resulted in a significant decrease in Group A Streptococcus virulence. To begin to define the gene products influenced by Srv, we combined microarray and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis analysis. Loss of srv results in a chromosome wide reduction of gene transcription and changes in the production of the extracellular virulence factors Sic (streptococcal inhibitor of complement) and SpeB (cysteine proteinase). Sic levels are reduced in the srv mutant, whereas the extracellular concentration and activity of SpeB is increased. These data link Srv to the increasingly complex GAS regulatory network.
Project description:The transcriptional activator PrfA, a member of the Crp/Fnr family, controls the expression of some key virulence factors necessary for infection by the human bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Phenotypic screening identified ring-fused 2-pyridone molecules that at low micromolar concentrations attenuate L. monocytogenes cellular uptake by reducing the expression of virulence genes. These inhibitors bind the transcriptional regulator PrfA and decrease its affinity for the consensus DNA-binding site. Structural characterization of this interaction revealed that one of the ring-fused 2-pyridones, compound 1, binds at two separate sites on the protein: one within a hydrophobic pocket or tunnel, located between the C- and N-terminal domains of PrfA, and the second in the vicinity of the DNA-binding helix-turn-helix motif. At both sites the compound interacts with residues important for PrfA activation and helix-turn-helix formation. Ring-fused 2-pyridones represent a new class of chemical probes for studying virulence in L. monocytogenes.
Project description:Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive pathogen able to cause severe human infections. Its major virulence regulator is the transcriptional activator PrfA, a member of the Crp/Fnr family of transcriptional regulators. To establish a successful L. monocytogenes infection, the PrfA protein needs to be in an active conformation, either by binding the cognate inducer glutathione (GSH) or by possessing amino acid substitutions rendering the protein constitutively active (PrfA*). By a yet unknown mechanism, phosphotransferase system (PTS) sugars repress the activity of PrfA. We therefore took a transposon-based approach to identify the mechanism by which PTS sugars repress PrfA activity. For this, we screened a transposon mutant bank to identify clones able to grow in the presence of glucose-6-phosphate as the sole carbon source. Surprisingly, most of the isolated transposon mutants also carried amino acid substitutions in PrfA. In transposon-free strains, the PrfA amino acid substitution mutants displayed growth, virulence factor expression, infectivity, and DNA binding, agreeing with previously identified PrfA* mutants. Hence, the initial growth phenotype observed in the isolated clone was due to the amino acid substitution in PrfA and unrelated to the loci inactivated by the transposon mutant. Finally, we provide structural evidence for the existence of an intermediately activated PrfA state, which gives new insights into PrfA protein activation.IMPORTANCE The Gram-positive bacterium Listeria monocytogenes is a human pathogen affecting mainly the elderly, immunocompromised people, and pregnant women. It can lead to meningoencephalitis, septicemia, and abortion. The major virulence regulator in L. monocytogenes is the PrfA protein, a transcriptional activator. Using a growth-based selection strategy, we identified mutations in the PrfA protein leading to constitutively active virulence factor expression. We provide structural evidence for the existence of an intermediately activated PrfA state, which gives new insights into PrfA protein activation.
Project description:Listeria monocytogenes is a food-borne facultative intracellular pathogen. It is widespread in the environment and has several distinct life-styles. The key transcriptional activator PrfA positively regulates L. monocytogenes virulence genes to mediate the transition from extracellular, flagellum-propelled cell to intracellular pathogen. Here we report the first evidence that PrfA also has a significant positive impact on extracellular biofilm formation. Mutants lacking prfA were defective in surface-adhered biofilm formation. The DeltaprfA mutant exhibited wild-type flagellar motility, and its biofilm defect occurred after initial surface adhesion. We also observed that mutations that led to the constitutive expression of PrfA-dependent virulence genes had a minimal impact on biofilm formation. Furthermore, biofilm development was enhanced in a mutant encoding a PrfA protein variant unable to fully transition from the extracellular form to the virulent, intracellular activity conformation. These results indicate that PrfA positively regulates biofilm formation and suggest that PrfA has a global role in modulating the life-style of L. monocytogenes. The requirement of PrfA for optimal biofilm formation may provide selective pressure to maintain this critical virulence regulator when L. monocytogenes is outside host cells in the environment.
Project description:While Listeria seeligeri and L. monocytogenes contain the main Listeria virulence gene cluster, only L. monocytogenes is considered an intracellular pathogen. Initial evolutionary analyses showed that the virulence genes prfA, hly, and plcA are conserved in L. seeligeri, with specific Hly and PrfA amino acid residues showing evidence for positive selection in L. seeligeri. Our data also show that temperature-dependent transcript patterns for prfA, which encodes a transcriptional regulator of virulence genes, differed between L. monocytogenes and L. seeligeri. To further investigate the divergence of virulence gene function and regulation, L. seeligeri prfA (prfA(LS)), hly (hly(LS)), and plcA (plcA(LS)), as well as prfA(LS) constructs with different prfA promoter regions, were introduced into appropriate L. monocytogenes null mutants. Only when prfA(LS) was under the control of the L. monocytogenes prfA promoters (P1- and P2prfA) (P1P2(LM) prfA(LS)) was prfA(LS) able to fully complement the Delta prfA(LM) deletion. hly(LS) introduced into an L. monocytogenes background under its native promoter showed transcript levels similar to those of hly(LM) and was able to partially restore L. monocytogenes wild-type-level hemolysis and intracellular growth, even though Hly(LM) and Hly(LS) showed distinct patterns of cell- and supernatant-associated hemolytic activities. Our data indicate that (i) regulation of prfA expression differs between L. monocytogenes and L. seeligeri, although hly transcription is temperature dependent in both species, and (ii) PrfA and Hly functions are largely, but not fully, conserved between L. seeligeri and L. monocytogenes. Virulence gene homologues and their expression thus appear to have adapted to distinct but possibly related functions in these two species.
Project description:Listeria monocytogenes sigma(B) and positive regulatory factor A (PrfA) are pleiotropic transcriptional regulators that coregulate a subset of virulence genes. A positive regulatory role for sigma(B) in prfA transcription has been well established; therefore, observations of increased virulence gene expression and hemolytic activity in a DeltasigB strain initially appeared paradoxical. To test the hypothesis that L. monocytogenes sigma(B) contributes to a regulatory network critical for appropriate repression as well as induction of virulence gene expression, genome-wide transcript profiling and follow-up quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR), reporter fusion, and phenotypic experiments were conducted using L. monocytogenes prfA*, prfA* DeltasigB, DeltaprfA, and DeltaprfA DeltasigB strains. Genome-wide transcript profiling and qRT-PCR showed that in the presence of active PrfA (PrfA*), sigma(B) is responsible for reduced expression of the PrfA regulon. sigma(B)-dependent modulation of PrfA regulon expression reduced the cytotoxic effects of a PrfA* strain in HepG2 cells, highlighting the functional importance of regulatory interactions between PrfA and sigma(B). The emerging model of the role of sigma(B) in regulating overall PrfA activity includes a switch from transcriptional activation at the P2(prfA) promoter (e.g., in extracellular bacteria when PrfA activity is low) to posttranscriptional downregulation of PrfA regulon expression (e.g., in intracellular bacteria when PrfA activity is high).
Project description:Virulence traits are essential for pathogen fitness, but whether they affect microbial performance in the environment, where they are not needed, remains experimentally unconfirmed. We investigated this question with the facultative pathogen Listeria monocytogenes and its PrfA virulence regulon. PrfA-regulated genes are activated intracellularly (PrfA 'ON') but shut down outside the host (PrfA 'OFF'). Using a mutant PrfA regulator locked ON (PrfA*) and thus causing PrfA-controlled genes to be constitutively activated, we show that virulence gene expression significantly impairs the listerial growth rate (?) and maximum growth (A) in rich medium. Deletion analysis of the PrfA regulon and complementation of a L. monocytogenes mutant lacking all PrfA-regulated genes with PrfA* indicated that the growth reduction was specifically due to the unneeded virulence determinants and not to pleiotropic regulatory effects of PrfA ON. No PrfA*-associated fitness disadvantage was observed in infected eukaryotic cells, where PrfA-regulated virulence gene expression is critical for survival. Microcosm experiments demonstrated that the constitutively virulent state strongly impaired L.?monocytogenes performance in soil, the natural habitat of these bacteria. Our findings provide empirical proof that virulence carries a significant cost to the pathogen. They also experimentally substantiate the assumed, although not proven, key role of virulence gene regulation systems in suppressing the cost of bacterial virulence outside the host.
Project description:Infection by the human bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes is mainly controlled by the positive regulatory factor A (PrfA), a member of the Crp/Fnr family of transcriptional activators. Published data suggest that PrfA requires the binding of a cofactor for full activity, and it was recently proposed that glutathione (GSH) could fulfill this function. Here we report the crystal structures of PrfA in complex with GSH and in complex with GSH and its cognate DNA, the hly operator PrfA box motif. These structures reveal the structural basis for a GSH-mediated allosteric mode of activation of PrfA in the cytosol of the host cell. The crystal structure of PrfAWT in complex only with DNA confirms that PrfAWT can adopt a DNA binding-compatible structure without binding the GSH activator molecule. By binding to PrfA in the cytosol of the host cell, GSH induces the correct fold of the HTH motifs, thus priming the PrfA protein for DNA interaction.
Project description:Mounting evidence suggests that sigma(B) and PrfA coregulate transcription of multiple genes in Listeria monocytogenes, therefore, the relative contributions of sigma(B) and PrfA to transcript levels of genes identified previously as differentially regulated by PrfA were measured. Group I genes are recognized virulence genes that are positively regulated by PrfA; group II genes were reported previously as negatively regulated by PrfA; and multiple group III genes were proposed to be coregulated by sigma(B) and PrfA. Transcript levels for selected genes were measured by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in L. monocytogenes 10403S as well as in otherwise isogenic DeltasigB, DeltaprfA, and DeltasigBDeltaprfA strains grown under conditions demonstrated to induce either PrfA activity (0.2% activated charcoal) or both PrfA and sigma(B) activity (stationary phase). Although the Group I gene plcA was positively regulated by PrfA, transcript levels for the group II genes lmo0278 and lmo0178 were not affected by the prfA deletion. While the sigB deletion significantly affected transcript levels for the selected group III genes (i.e., lmo0596, lmo0654, bsh, and opuCA), with lower transcript levels in the DeltasigB strains under all conditions tested, transcript levels for these genes were not significantly affected by the prfA deletion. Our results suggest that the regulatory interactions between PrfA and sigma(B) contribute to PrfA's predominant role as a direct regulator of virulence genes critical for invasion and intracellular survival in L. monocytogenes 10403S, while sigma(B) regulates a wider range of virulence and stress response genes.
Project description:The transcriptional regulator PrfA controls key virulence determinants of the facultative intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. PrfA-dependent gene expression is strongly induced within host cells. While the basis of this activation is unknown, the structural homology of PrfA with the cAMP receptor protein (Crp) and the finding of constitutively activated PrfA* mutants suggests it may involve ligand-induced allostery. Here, we report the identification of a solvent-accessible cavity within the PrfA N-terminal domain that may accommodate an activating ligand. The pocket occupies a similar position to the cAMP binding site in Crp but lacks the cyclic nucleotide-anchoring motif and has its entrance on the opposite side of the ?-barrel. Site-directed mutations in this pocket impaired intracellular PrfA-dependent gene activation without causing extensive structural/functional alterations to PrfA. Two substitutions, L48F and Y63W, almost completely abolished intracellular virulence gene induction and thus displayed the expected phenotype for allosteric activation-deficient PrfA mutations. Neither PrfA(allo) substitution affected vacuole escape and initial intracellular growth of L. monocytogenes in epithelial cells and macrophages but caused defective cell-to-cell spread and strong attenuation in mice. Our data support the hypothesis that PrfA is allosterically activated during intracellular infection and identify the probable binding site for the effector ligand. They also indicate that PrfA allosteric activation is not required for early intracellular survival but is essential for full Listeria virulence and colonization of host tissues.