Repression of Rgg But Not Upregulation of LacD.1 in emm1-type covS Mutant Mediates the SpeB Repression in Group A Streptococcus.
ABSTRACT: CovR/CovS is an important two-component regulatory system in human pathogen group A Streptococcus (GAS). Epidemiological studies have shown that inactivation of the sensor kinase CovS is correlated with invasive clinical manifestations. The phosphorylation level of response regulator CovR decreases dramatically in the absence of CovS, resulting in the derepression of virulence factor expression and an increase in bacterial invasiveness. Streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin B (SpeB) is a cysteine protease and is negatively regulated by CovR; however, the expression of SpeB is almost completely repressed in the covS mutant. The present study found that in the emm1-type A20 strain, non-phosphorylated CovR acts as a transcriptional repressor for SpeB-positive regulator Rgg. In addition, the expression of Rgg-negative regulator LacD.1 is upregulated in the covS mutant. These results suggest that inactivation of Rgg in the covS mutant would directly mediate speB repression. The current study showed that overexpression of rgg but not inactivation of lacD.1 in the covS mutant partially restores speB expression, indicating that only rgg repression, but not lacD.1 upregulation, contributes to the speB repression in the covS mutant.
Project description:CovR/CovS is a two-component regulatory system in group A Streptococcus and primarily acts as a transcriptional repressor. The D53 residue of CovR (CovRD53) is phosphorylated by the sensor kinase CovS, and the phosphorylated CovRD53 protein binds to the intergenic region of rgg-speB to inhibit speB transcription. Nonetheless, the transcription of rgg and speB is suppressed in covS mutants. The T65 residue of CovR is phosphorylated in a CovS-independent manner, and phosphorylation at the D53 and T65 residues of CovR is mutually exclusive. Therefore, how phosphorylation at the D53 and T65 residues of CovR contributes to the regulation of rgg and speB expression was elucidated. The transcription of rgg and speB was suppressed in the strain that cannot phosphorylate the D53 residue of CovR (CovRD53A mutant) but restored to levels similar to those of the wild-type strain in the CovRT65A mutant. Nonetheless, inactivation of the T65 residue phosphorylation in the CovRD53A mutant cannot derepress the rgg and speB transcription, indicating that phosphorylation at the T65 residue of CovR is not required for repressing rgg and speB transcription. Furthermore, trans complementation of the CovRD53A protein in the strain that expresses the phosphorylated CovRD53 resulted in the repression of rgg and speB transcription. Unlike the direct binding of the phosphorylated CovRD53 protein and its inhibition of speB transcription demonstrated previously, the present study showed that inactivation of phosphorylation at the D53 residue of CovR contributes dominantly in suppressing rgg and speB transcription.IMPORTANCE CovR/CovS is a two-component regulatory system in group A Streptococcus (GAS). The D53 residue of CovR is phosphorylated by CovS, and the phosphorylated CovRD53 binds to the rgg-speB intergenic region and acts as the transcriptional repressor. Nonetheless, the transcription of rgg and Rgg-controlled speB is upregulated in the covR mutant but inhibited in the covS mutant. The present study showed that nonphosphorylated CovRD53 protein inhibits rgg and speB transcription in the presence of the phosphorylated CovRD53 in vivo, indicating that nonphosphorylated CovRD53 has a dominant role in suppressing rgg transcription. These results reveal the roles of nonphosphorylated CovRD53 in regulating rgg transcription, which could contribute significantly to invasive phenotypes of covS mutants.
Project description:To colonize and cause disease at distinct anatomical sites, bacterial pathogens must tailor gene expression in a microenvironment-specific manner. The molecular mechanisms that control the ability of the human bacterial pathogen group A Streptococcus (GAS) to transition between infection sites have yet to be fully elucidated. A key regulator of GAS virulence gene expression is the CovR-CovS two-component regulatory system (also known as CsrR-CsrS). covR and covS mutant strains arise spontaneously during invasive infections and, in in vivo models of infection, rapidly become dominant. Here, we compared wild-type GAS with covR, covS, and covRS isogenic mutant strains to investigate the heterogeneity in the types of natural mutations that occur in covR and covS and the phenotypic consequences of covR or covS mutation. We found that the response regulator CovR retains some regulatory function in the absence of CovS and that CovS modulates CovR to significantly enhance repression of one group of genes (e.g., the speA, hasA, and ska genes) while it reduces repression of a second group of genes (e.g., the speB, grab, and spd3 genes). We also found that different in vivo-induced covR mutations can lead to strikingly different transcriptomes. While covS mutant strains show increased virulence in several invasive models of infection, we determined that these mutants are significantly outcompeted by wild-type GAS during growth in human saliva, an ex vivo model of upper respiratory tract infection. We propose that CovS-mediated regulation of CovR activity plays an important role in the ability of GAS to cycle between pharyngeal and invasive infections.
Project description:Streptococcus pyogenes Rgg is a transcriptional regulator that interacts with the cofactor LacD.1 to control growth phase-dependent expression of genes, including speB, which encodes a secreted cysteine protease. LacD.1 is thought to interact with Rgg when glycolytic intermediates are abundant in a manner that prevents Rgg-mediated activation of speB expression via binding to the promoter region. When the intermediates diminish, LacD.1 dissociates from Rgg and binds to the speB promoter to activate expression. The purpose of this study was to determine if Rgg bound to chromatin during the exponential phase of growth and, if so, to identify the binding sites. Rgg bound to 62 chromosomal sites, as determined by chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with DNA microarrays. Thirty-eight were within noncoding DNA, including sites upstream of the genes encoding the M protein (M49), serum opacity factor (SOF), fibronectin-binding protein (SfbX49), and a prophage-encoded superantigen, SpeH. Each of these sites contained a promoter that was regulated by Rgg, as determined with transcriptional fusion assays. Purified Rgg also bound to the promoter regions of emm49, sof, and sfbX49 in vitro. Results obtained with a lacD.1 mutant showed that both LacD.1 and Rgg were necessary for the repression of emm49, sof, sfbX49, and speH expression. Overall, the results indicated that the DNA binding specificity of Rgg is responsive to environmental changes in a LacD.1-dependent manner and that Rgg and LacD.1 directly control virulence gene expression in the exponential phase of growth.
Project description:A skin-tropic invasive group A Streptococcus pyogenes (GAS) strain, AP53, contains a natural inactivating mutation in the covS gene (covS(M)) of the two-component responder (CovR)/sensor (CovS) gene regulatory system. The effects of this mutation on specific GAS virulence determinants have been assessed, with emphasis on expression of the extracellular protease, streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin B (SpeB), capsular hyaluronic acid, and proteins that allow host plasmin assembly on the bacterial surface, viz. a high affinity plasminogen (Pg)/plasmin receptor, Pg-binding group A streptococcal M protein (PAM), and the human Pg activator streptokinase. To further illuminate mechanisms of the functioning of CovRS in the virulence of AP53, two AP53 isogenic strains were generated, one in which the natural covS(M) gene was mutated to WT-covS (AP53/covS(WT)) and a strain that contained an inactivated covR gene (AP53/?covR). Two additional strains that do not contain PAM, viz. WT-NS931 and NS931/covS(M), were also employed. SpeB was not measurably expressed in strains containing covR(WT)/covS(M), whereas in strains with natural or engineered covR(WT)/covS(WT), SpeB expression was highly up-regulated. Alternatively, capsule synthesis via the hasABC operon was enhanced in strain AP53/covS(M), whereas streptokinase expression was only slightly affected by the covS inactivation. PAM expression was not substantially influenced by the covS mutation, suggesting that covRS had minimal effects on the mga regulon that controls PAM expression. These results demonstrate that a covS inactivation results in virulence gene alterations and also suggest that the CovR phosphorylation needed for gene up- or down-regulation can occur by alternative pathways to CovS kinase.
Project description:The group A Streptococcus (GAS) causes diseases that range from mild (e.g. pharyngitis) to severely invasive (e.g. necrotizing fasciitis). Strain- and serotype-specific differences influence the ability of isolates to cause individual diseases. At the center of this variability is the CovR/S two-component system and the accessory protein RocA. Through incompletely defined mechanisms, CovR/S and RocA repress the expression of more than a dozen immunomodulatory virulence factors. Alleviation of this repression is selected for during invasive infections, leading to the recovery of covR, covS or rocA mutant strains. Here, we investigated how RocA promotes CovR/S activity, identifying that RocA is a pseudokinase that interacts with CovS. Disruption of CovS kinase or phosphatase activities abolishes RocA function, consistent with RocA acting through the modulation of CovS activity. We also identified, in conflict with a previous study, that the RocA regulon includes the secreted protease-encoding gene speB. Finally, we discovered an inverse correlation between the virulence of wild-type, rocA mutant, covS mutant and covR mutant strains during invasive infection and their fitness in an ex vivo upper respiratory tract model. Our data inform on mechanisms that control GAS disease potential and provide an explanation for observed strain- and serotype-specific variability in RocA function.
Project description:The control of the virulence response regulator and sensor (CovR-CovS) two-component regulatory system in group A Streptococcus (GAS) strains regulates more than 15% of gene expression and has critical roles in invasive GAS infection. The membrane-embedded CovS has kinase and phosphatase activities, and both are required for modulating the phosphorylation level of CovR. Regulator of Cov (RocA) is a positive regulator of covR and also been shown to be a pseudokinase that interacts with CovS to enhance the phosphorylation level of CovR; however, how RocA modulates the activity of CovS has not been determined conclusively. Although the phosphorylation level of CovR was decreased in the rocA mutant in the exponential phase, the present study shows that phosphorylated CovR in the rocA mutant increased to levels similar to those in the wild-type strain in the stationary phase of growth. In addition, acidic stress, which is generally present in the stationary phase, enhanced the phosphorylation level of CovR in the rocA mutant. The phosphorylation levels of CovR in the CovS phosphatase-inactivated mutant and its rocA mutant were similar under acidic stress and Mg2+ (the signal that inhibits CovS phosphatase activity) treatments, suggesting that the phosphatase activity, but not the kinase activity, of CovS is required for RocA to modulate CovR phosphorylation. The phosphorylation level of CovR is crucial for GAS strains to regulate virulence factor expression; therefore, the growth phase- and pH-dependent RocA activity would contribute significantly to GAS pathogenesis.IMPORTANCE The emergence of invasive group A streptococcal infections has been reported worldwide. Clinical isolates that have spontaneous mutations or a truncated allele of the rocA gene (e.g., emm3-type isolates) are considered to be more virulent than isolates with the intact rocA gene (e.g., emm1-type isolates). RocA is a positive regulator of covR and has been shown to enhance the phosphorylation level of intracellular CovR regulator through the functional CovS protein. CovS is the membrane-embedded sensor and modulates the phosphorylation level of CovR by its kinase and phosphatase activities. The present study shows that the enhancement of CovR phosphorylation is mediated via the repression of CovS's phosphatase activity by RocA. In addition, we found that RocA acts dominantly on modulating CovR phosphorylation under neutral pH conditions and in the exponential phase of growth. The phosphorylation level of CovR is crucial for group A Streptococcus species to regulate virulence factor expression and is highly related to bacterial invasiveness; therefore, growth phase- and pH-dependent RocA activity and the sequence polymorphisms of rocA gene would contribute significantly to bacterial phenotype variations and pathogenesis.
Project description:Two-component gene regulatory systems (TCSs) are a major mechanism by which bacteria respond to environmental stimuli and thus are critical to infectivity. For example, the control of virulence regulator/sensor kinase (CovRS) TCS is central to the virulence of the major human pathogen group A Streptococcus (GAS). Here, we used a combination of quantitative in vivo phosphorylation assays, isoallelic strains that varied by only a single amino acid in CovS, and transcriptome analyses to characterize the impact of CovS on CovR phosphorylation and GAS global gene expression. We discovered that CovS primarily serves to phosphorylate CovR, thereby resulting in the repression of virulence factor-encoding genes. However, a GAS strain selectively deficient in CovS phosphatase activity had a distinct transcriptome relative to that of its parental strain, indicating that both CovS kinase and phosphatase activities influence the CovR phosphorylation status. Surprisingly, compared to a serotype M3 strain, serotype M1 GAS strains had high levels of phosphorylated CovR, low transcript levels of CovR-repressed genes, and strikingly different responses to environmental cues. Moreover, the inactivation of CovS in the serotype M1 background resulted in a greater decrease in phosphorylated CovR levels and a greater increase in the transcript levels of CovR-repressed genes than did CovS inactivation in a serotype M3 strain. These data clarify the influence of CovS on the CovR phosphorylation status and provide insight into why serotype M1 GAS strains have high rates of spontaneous mutations in covS during invasive GAS infection, thus providing a link between TCS molecular function and the epidemiology of deadly bacterial infections.
Project description:The gram-positive human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus [GAS]) causes diseases ranging from mild and often self-limiting infections of the skin or throat to invasive and life-threatening illnesses. To cause such diverse types of disease, the GAS must be able to sense adverse environments and regulate its gene expression accordingly. The CovR/S two-component signal transduction regulatory system in GAS represses about 15% of the GAS genome, including many genes involved in virulence, in response to the environment. We report that CovR is still able to repress transcription from several promoters in the absence of the putative histidine kinase sensor for this system, CovS. We also show that a phosphorylation site mutant (D53A) of CovR is unable to repress gene expression. In addition, we report that a strain with a nonpolar mutation in CovS does not grow at a low pH, elevated temperature, or high osmolarity. The stress-related phenotypes of the CovS mutant were complemented by expression of covS from a plasmid. Selection for growth of a CovS mutant under stress conditions resulted in isolation of second-site mutations that inactivated covR, indicating that CovR and CovS act in the same pathway. Also, at 40 degrees C in the wild-type strain, CovR appeared to be less active on the promoter tested, which is consistent with the hypothesis that it was partially inactivated by CovS. We suggest that under mild stress conditions, CovS inactivates CovR, either directly or indirectly, and that this inactivation relieves repression of many GAS genes, including the genes needed for growth of GAS under stress conditions and some genes that are necessary for virulence. Growth of many gram-positive bacteria under multiple-stress conditions requires alteration of promoter recognition produced by RNA polymerase association with the general stress response sigma factor, sigma(B). We provide evidence that for GAS, which lacks a sigB ortholog, growth under stress conditions requires the CovR/S two-component regulatory system instead. This two-component system in GAS thus appears to perform a function for which other gram-positive bacteria utilize an alternative sigma factor.
Project description:Streptococcal cysteine protease (SpeB), the major secreted protease produced by group A streptococcus (GAS), cleaves both host and bacterial proteins and contributes importantly to the pathogenesis of invasive GAS infections. Modulation of SpeB expression and/or its activity during invasive GAS infections has been shown to affect bacterial virulence and infection severity. Expression of SpeB is regulated by the GAS CovR-CovS two-component regulatory system, and we demonstrated that bacteria with mutations in the CovR-CovS two-component regulatory system are selected for during localized GAS infections and that these bacteria lack SpeB expression and exhibit a hypervirulent phenotype. Additionally, in a separate study, we showed that expression of SpeB can also be modulated by human transferrin- and/or lactoferrin-mediated iron chelation. Accordingly, the goal of this study was to investigate the possible roles of iron and other metals in modulating SpeB expression and/or activity in a manner that would potentiate bacterial virulence. Here, we report that the divalent metals zinc and copper inhibit SpeB activity at the posttranslational level. Utilizing online metal-binding site prediction servers, we identified two putative metal-binding sites in SpeB, one of which involves the catalytic-dyad residues (47)Cys and (195)His. Based on our findings, we propose that zinc and/or copper availability in the bacterial microenvironment can modulate the proteolytic activity of SpeB in a manner that preserves the integrity of several other virulence factors essential for bacterial survival and dissemination within the host and thereby may exacerbate the severity of invasive GAS infections.
Project description:The two-component control of virulence (Cov) regulator (R)-sensor (S) (CovRS) regulates the virulence of Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Streptococcus [GAS]). Inactivation of CovS during infection switches the pathogenicity of GAS to a more invasive form by regulating transcription of diverse virulence genes via CovR. However, the manner in which CovRS controls virulence through expression of extended gene families has not been fully determined. In the current study, the CovS-regulated gene expression profiles of a hypervirulent emm23 GAS strain (M23ND/CovS negative [M23ND/CovS(-)]) and a noninvasive isogenic strain (M23ND/CovS(+)), under different growth conditions, were investigated. RNA sequencing identified altered expression of ∼ 349 genes (18% of the chromosome). The data demonstrated that M23ND/CovS(-) achieved hypervirulence by allowing enhanced expression of genes responsible for antiphagocytosis (e.g., hasABC), by abrogating expression of toxin genes (e.g., speB), and by compromising gene products with dispensable functions (e.g., sfb1). Among these genes, several (e.g., parE and parC) were not previously reported to be regulated by CovRS. Furthermore, the study revealed that CovS also modulated the expression of a broad spectrum of metabolic genes that maximized nutrient utilization and energy metabolism during growth and dissemination, where the bacteria encounter large variations in available nutrients, thus restructuring metabolism of GAS for adaption to diverse growth environments. From constructing a genome-scale metabolic model, we identified 16 nonredundant metabolic gene modules that constitute unique nutrient sources. These genes were proposed to be essential for pathogen growth and are likely associated with GAS virulence. The genome-wide prediction of genes associated with virulence identifies new candidate genes that potentially contribute to GAS virulence.The CovRS system modulates transcription of ∼ 18% of the genes in the Streptococcus pyogenes genome. Mutations that inactivate CovR or CovS enhance the virulence of this bacterium. We determined complete transcriptomes of a naturally CovS-inactivated invasive deep tissue isolate of an emm23 strain of S. pyogenes (M23ND) and its complemented avirulent variant (CovS(+)). We identified diverse virulence genes whose altered expression revealed a genetic switching of a nonvirulent form of M23ND to a highly virulent strain. Furthermore, we also systematically uncovered for the first time the comparative levels of expression of a broad spectrum of metabolic genes, which reflected different metabolic needs of the bacterium as it invaded deeper tissue of the human host.