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The role of innate immunity in promoting SaeR/S-mediated virulence in Staphylococcus aureus.
ABSTRACT: The ability of Staphylococcus aureus to infect tissues is dependent on precise control of virulence through gene-regulatory systems. While the SaeR/S two-component system has been shown to be a major regulator of S. aureus virulence, the influence of the host environment on SaeR/S-regulated genes (saeR/S targets) remains incompletely defined. Using QuantiGene 2.0 transcriptional assays, we examined expression of genes with the SaeR binding site in USA300 exposed to human and mouse neutrophils and host-derived peptides and during subcutaneous skin infection. We found that only some of the saeR/S targets, as opposed to the entire SaeR/S virulon, were activated within 5 and 10 min of interacting with human neutrophils as well as ?-defensin. Furthermore, mouse neutrophils promoted transcription of saeR/S targets despite lacking ?-defensin, and the murine skin environment elicited a distinctive expression profile of saeR/S targets. These findings indicate that saeR/S-mediated transcription is unique to and dependent on specific host stimuli. By using isogenic USA300?saeR/S and USA300?agr knockout strains, we also determined that SaeR/S is the major regulator of virulence factors, while Agr, a quorum-sensing two-component system, has moderate influence on transcription of the saeR/S targets under the tested physiological conditions.
Project description:Background:The ability of Staphylococcus aureus to evade killing by human neutrophils significantly contributes to disease progression. In this study, we characterize an influential role for the S. aureus SaeR/S 2-component gene regulatory system in suppressing monocyte production of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-?) to subsequently influence human neutrophil priming. Methods:Using flow cytometry and TNF-? specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays we identify the primary cellular source of TNF-? in human blood and in purified peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) during interaction with USA300 and an isogenic saeR/S deletion mutant (USA300?saeR/S). Assays with conditioned media from USA300 and USA300?saeR/S exposed PBMCs were used to investigate priming on neutrophil bactericidal activity. Results:TNF-? production from monocytes was significantly reduced following challenge with USA300 compared to USA300?saeR/S. We observed that priming of neutrophils using conditioned medium from peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated with USA300?saeR/S significantly increased neutrophil bactericidal activity against USA300 relative to unprimed neutrophils and neutrophils primed with USA300 conditioned medium. The increased neutrophil bactericidal activity was associated with enhanced reactive oxygen species production that was significantly influenced by elevated TNF-? concentrations. Conclusions:Our findings identify an immune evasion strategy used by S. aureus to impede neutrophil priming and subsequent bactericidal activity.
Project description:This investigation examines the role of the SaeR/S 2-component system in USA300, a prominent circulating clone of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Using a saeR/S isogenic deletion mutant of USA300 (USA300DeltasaeR/S) in murine models of sepsis and soft-tissue infection revealed that this sensory system is critical to pathogenesis of USA300 during both superficial and invasive infection. Oligonucleotide microarray and real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction identified numerous extracellular virulence genes that are down-regulated in USA300DeltasaeR/S. Unexpectedly, an up-regulation of mecA and mecR1 corresponded to increased methicillin resistance in USA300DeltasaeR/S. 5'-RACE analysis defined transcript start sites for sbi, efb, mecA, lukS-PV, hlb, SAUSA300_1975, and hla, to underscore a conserved consensus sequence within promoter regions of genes under strong SaeR/S transcriptional regulation. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay experiments illustrated direct binding of SaeR(His) to promoter regions containing the conserved consensus sequence. Collectively, the findings of this investigation demonstrate that SaeR/S directly interacts with virulence gene promoters to significantly influence USA300 pathogenesis.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus is a predominant cause of fatal pneumonia following influenza A virus (IAV) infection. Herein we investigate the influence of antecedent IAV infection on S. aureus virulence gene expression. Using a murine model, comparing the USA300 and USA300ΔsaeR/S strains, we demonstrate that S. aureus pathogenesis following IAV infection is SaeR/S dependent. Furthermore, we show that IAV modulates the lung environment to rapidly up-regulate S. aureus virulence factors containing the SaeR-binding domain. Data demonstrate that the pathogen response to IAV infection impacts host outcome and provides evidence that the ability of S. aureus to sense and respond to the lung environment determines severity of pneumonia.
Project description:Neutrophils are the first line of defense after a pathogen has breached the epithelial barriers, and unimpaired neutrophil functions are essential to clear infections. Staphylococcus aureus is a prevalent human pathogen that is able to withstand neutrophil killing, yet the mechanisms used by S. aureus to inhibit neutrophil clearance remain incompletely defined. The production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is a vital neutrophil antimicrobial mechanism. Herein, we test the hypothesis that S. aureus uses the SaeR/S two-component gene regulatory system to produce virulence factors that reduce neutrophil ROS production. With the use of ROS probes, the temporal and overall production of neutrophil ROS was assessed during exposure to the clinically relevant S. aureus USA300 (strain LAC) and its isogenic mutant LAC?saeR/S Our results demonstrated that SaeR/S-regulated factors do not inhibit neutrophil superoxide (O2-) production. However, subsequent neutrophil ROS production was significantly reduced during exposure to LAC compared with LAC?saeR/S In addition, neutrophil H2O2 production was reduced significantly by SaeR/S-regulated factors by a mechanism independent of catalase. Consequently, the reduction in neutrophil H2O2 resulted in decreased production of the highly antimicrobial agent hypochlorous acid/hypochlorite anion (HOCl/-OCl). These findings suggest a new evasion strategy used by S. aureus to diminish a vital neutrophil antimicrobial mechanism.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) causes a range of diseases ranging from superficial skin and soft-tissue infections to invasive and life-threatening conditions (Klevens et al., 2007; Kobayashi et al., 2015). S. aureus utilizes the Sae sensory system to adapt to neutrophil challenge. Although the roles of the SaeR response regulator and its cognate sensor kinase SaeS have been demonstrated to be critical for surviving neutrophil interaction and for causing infection, the roles for the accessory proteins SaeP and SaeQ remain incompletely defined. To characterize the functional role of these proteins during innate immune interaction, we generated isogenic deletion mutants lacking these accessory genes in USA300 (USA300?saeP and USA300?saeQ). S. aureus survival was increased following phagocytosis of USA300?saeP compared to USA300 by neutrophils. Additionally, secreted extracellular proteins produced by USA300?saeP cells caused significantly more plasma membrane damage to human neutrophils than extracellular proteins produced by USA300 cells. Deletion of saeQ resulted in a similar phenotype, but effects did not reach significance during neutrophil interaction. The enhanced cytotoxicity of USA300?saeP cells toward human neutrophils correlated with an increased expression of bi-component leukocidins known to target these immune cells. A saeP and saeQ double mutant (USA300?saePQ) showed a significant increase in survival following neutrophil phagocytosis that was comparable to the USA300?saeP single mutant and increased the virulence of USA300 during murine bacteremia. These data provide evidence that SaeP modulates the Sae-mediated response of S. aureus against human neutrophils and suggest that saeP and saeQ together impact pathogenesis in vivo.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus is a common Gram-positive bacteria that is a major cause of human morbidity and mortality. The SaeR/S two-component sensory system of S. aureus is important for virulence gene transcription and pathogenesis. However, the influence of SaeR phosphorylation on virulence gene transcription is not clear. To determine the importance of potential SaeR phosphorylation sites for S. aureus virulence, we generated genomic alanine substitutions at conserved aspartic acid residues in the receiver domain of the SaeR response regulator in clinically significant S. aureus pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) type USA300. Transcriptional analysis demonstrated a dramatic reduction in the transcript abundance of various toxins, adhesins, and immunomodulatory proteins for SaeR with an aspartic acid to alanine substitution at residue 51. These findings corresponded to a significant decrease in cytotoxicity against human erythrocytes and polymorphonuclear leukocytes, the ability to block human myeloperoxidase activity, and pathogenesis during murine soft-tissue infection. Analysis of SaeR sequences from over 8,000 draft S. aureus genomes revealed that aspartic acid residue 51 is 100% conserved. Collectively, these results demonstrate that aspartic acid residue 51 of SaeR is essential for S. aureus virulence and underscore a conserved target for novel antimicrobial strategies that treat infection caused by this pathogen.
Project description:The emergence of serious infections due to community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) has fueled interest in the contributions of specific staphylococcal virulence factors to clinical disease. To assess the contributions of agr-dependent factors to the fate of organisms in polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN), we examined the consequences for organism and host cells of feeding PMN with wild-type CA-MRSA (LAC) or CA-MRSA (LAC agr KO) at different multiplicities of infection (MOIs). Phagocytosed organisms rapidly increased the transcription of RNAIII in a time- and MOI-dependent fashion; extracellular USA300 (LAC) did not increase RNAIII expression despite having the capacity to respond to autoinducing peptide-enriched culture medium. HOCl-mediated damage and intracellular survival were the same in the wild-type and USA300 (LAC agr KO). PMN lysis by ingested USA300 (LAC) was time- and MOI-dependent and, at MOIs >1, required ?-hemolysin (hla) as USA300 (LAC agr KO) and USA300 (LAC hla KO) promoted PMN lysis only at high MOIs. Taken together, these data demonstrate activation of the agr operon in human PMN with the subsequent production of ?-hemolysin and PMN lysis. The extent to which these events in the phagosomes of human PMN contribute to the increased morbidity and mortality of infections with USA300 (LAC) merits further study.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus subverts innate defenses during infection in part by killing host immune cells to exacerbate disease. This human pathogen intercepts host cues and activates a transcriptional response via the S. aureus exoprotein expression (SaeR/SaeS [SaeR/S]) two-component system to secrete virulence factors critical for pathogenesis. We recently showed that the transcriptional repressor CodY adjusts nuclease (nuc) gene expression via SaeR/S, but the mechanism remained unknown. Here, we identified two CodY binding motifs upstream of the sae P1 promoter, which suggested direct regulation by this global regulator. We show that CodY shares a binding site with the positive activator SaeR and that alleviating direct CodY repression at this site is sufficient to abrogate stochastic expression, suggesting that CodY represses sae expression by blocking SaeR binding. Epistasis experiments support a model that CodY also controls sae indirectly through Agr and Rot-mediated repression of the sae P1 promoter. We also demonstrate that CodY repression of sae restrains production of secreted cytotoxins that kill human neutrophils. We conclude that CodY plays a previously unrecognized role in controlling virulence gene expression via SaeR/S and suggest a mechanism by which CodY acts as a master regulator of pathogenesis by tying nutrient availability to virulence gene expression.IMPORTANCE Bacterial mechanisms that mediate the switch from a commensal to pathogenic lifestyle are among the biggest unanswered questions in infectious disease research. Since the expression of most virulence genes is often correlated with nutrient depletion, this implies that virulence is a response to the lack of nourishment in host tissues and that pathogens like S. aureus produce virulence factors in order to gain access to nutrients in the host. Here, we show that specific nutrient depletion signals appear to be funneled to the SaeR/S system through the global regulator CodY. Our findings reveal a strategy by which S. aureus delays the production of immune evasion and immune-cell-killing proteins until key nutrients are depleted.
Project description:Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) causes invasive, drug-resistant skin and soft tissue infections. Reports that S. aureus bacteria survive inside macrophages suggest that the intramacrophage environment may be a niche for persistent infection; however, mechanisms by which the bacteria might evade macrophage phagosomal defenses are unclear. We examined the fate of the S. aureus-containing phagosome in THP-1 macrophages by evaluating bacterial intracellular survival and phagosomal acidification and maturation and by testing the impact of phagosomal conditions on bacterial viability. Multiple strains of S. aureus survived inside macrophages, and in studies using the MRSA USA300 clone, the USA300-containing phagosome acidified rapidly and acquired the late endosome and lysosome protein LAMP1. However, fewer phagosomes containing live USA300 bacteria than those containing dead bacteria associated with the lysosomal hydrolases cathepsin D and β-glucuronidase. Inhibiting lysosomal hydrolase activity had no impact on intracellular survival of USA300 or other S. aureus strains, suggesting that S. aureus perturbs acquisition of lysosomal enzymes. We examined the impact of acidification on S. aureus intramacrophage viability and found that inhibitors of phagosomal acidification significantly impaired USA300 intracellular survival. Inhibition of macrophage phagosomal acidification resulted in a 30-fold reduction in USA300 expression of the staphylococcal virulence regulator agr but had little effect on expression of sarA, saeR, or sigB. Bacterial exposure to acidic pH in vitro increased agr expression. Together, these results suggest that S. aureus survives inside macrophages by perturbing normal phagolysosome formation and that USA300 may sense phagosomal conditions and upregulate expression of a key virulence regulator that enables its intracellular survival.
Project description:Community-associated (CA) infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are on a global rise. However, analysis of virulence characteristics has been limited almost exclusively to the US endemic strain USA300. CA-MRSA strains that do not produce Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) have not been investigated on a molecular level. Therefore, we analyzed virulence determinants in a PVL-negative CA-MRSA strain, ST72, from Korea. Genome-wide analysis identified 3 loci that are unique to that strain, but did not affect virulence. In contrast, phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs) and the global virulence regulator Agr strongly affected lysis of neutrophils and erythrocytes, while ?-toxin and Agr had a major impact on in vivo virulence. Our findings substantiate the general key roles these factors play in CA-MRSA virulence. However, our analyses also showed noticeable differences to strain USA300, inasmuch as ?-toxin emerged as a much more important factor than PSMs in experimental skin infection caused by ST72.