Microbial pathogens must evade the human immune system to survive, disseminate and cause disease. By proteome analysis of the bacterium Group A Streptococcus (GAS), we identified a secreted protein with homology to the α-subunit of Mac-1, a leukocyte β2 integrin required for innate immunity to invading microbes. The GAS Mac-l-like protein (Mac) was secreted by most pathogenic strains, produced in log-phase and controlled by the covR-covS two-component gene regulatory system, which also regulates transcription of other GAS virulence factors. Patients with GAS infection had titers of antibody specific to Mac that correlated with the course of disease, demonstrating that Mac was produced in vivo. Mac bound to CD16 (FcγRIIIB) on the surface of human polymorphonuclear leukocytes and inhibited opsonophagocytosis and production of reactive oxygen species, which resulted in significantly decreased pathogen killing. Thus, by mimicking a host-cell receptor required for an innate immune response, the GAS Mac protein inhibits professional phagocyte function by a novel strategy that enhances pathogen survival, establishment of infection and dissemination.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)