Group A streptococcus (GAS) is a gram-positive human bacterial pathogen that causes diseases ranging from relatively mild epithelial cell surface infections to life-threatening invasive episodes. Much is known about the extracellular molecules that contribute to host-pathogen interactions, but in contrast, far less information is available about regulatory genes that control the expression of individual or multiple GAS virulence factors. The eight GAS genomes that have been sequenced have 12 conserved two-component gene regulatory systems (TCSs), but only 3 of these 12 have been studied in detail. Using an allelic replacement strategy with a nonpolar cassette, we inactivated the response regulator of four TCSs that have only weak homology with TCS genes of known or inferred function in other bacteria. The mutant strains were analyzed by expression microarray analysis at four time points and tested in two mouse infection models. Each TCS influenced expression (directly or indirectly) of 12 to 41% of all chromosomal genes, as assessed by growth in Todd-Hewitt broth and a custom Affymetrix GeneChip. None of the isogenic mutant strains was significantly altered for mouse virulence based on intraperitoneal inoculation. Similarly, compared to the wild-type strain, there was no significant difference in skin lesion size for three of the four mutants. In contrast, the ΔM5005_Spy_0680 mutant strain produced significantly larger abscesses after subcutaneous inoculation into mice, consistent with a hypervirulence phenotype. The mutant strain had significantly higher in vitro expression of several proven and putative virulence genes, including scpA, encoding a peptidase that inactivates complement protein C5a. Together, the data provide new information about previously uncharacterized GAS TCSs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases