Genetic basis underlying the hyperhemolytic phenotype of streptococcus agalactiae strain CNCTC10/84

Luchang Zhu, Stephen B. Beres, Prasanti Yerramilli, Layne Pruitt, Concepcion C. Cantu, Randall J. Olsen, James M. Musser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus [GBS]) is a major cause of infections in newborns, pregnant women, and immunocompromised patients. GBS strain CNCTC10/84 is a clinical isolate that has high virulence in animal models of infection and has been used extensively to study GBS pathogenesis. Two unusual features of this strain are hyperhemolytic activity and hypo-CAMP factor activity. These two phenotypes are typical of GBS strains that are functionally deficient in the CovR-CovS two-component regulatory system. A previous whole-genome sequencing study found that strain CNCTC10/84 has intact covR and covS regulatory genes. We investigated CovR-CovS regulation in CNCTC10/84 and discovered that a single-nucleotide insertion in a homopolymeric tract in the covR promoter region underlies the strong hemolytic activity and weak CAMP activity of this strain. Using isogenic mutant strains, we demonstrate that this single-nucleotide insertion confers significantly decreased expression of covR and covS and altered expression of CovR-CovS-regulated genes, including that of genes encoding β-hemolysin and CAMP factor. This single-nucleotide insertion also confers significantly increased GBS survival in human whole blood ex vivo IMPORTANCE Group B streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of neonatal sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis. GBS strain CNCTC10/84 is a highly virulent blood isolate that has been used extensively to study GBS pathogenesis for over 20 years. Strain CNCTC10/84 has an unusually strong hemolytic activity, but the genetic basis is unknown. In this study, we discovered that a single-nucleotide insertion in an intergenic homopolymeric tract is responsible for the elevated hemolytic activity of CNCTC10/84.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00504-20
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Volume202
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • CNCTC10/84
  • CovR-CovS two-component regulatory system
  • Homopolymeric tract
  • Hyperhemolytic phenotype
  • Singlenucleotide insertion
  • Streptococcus agalactiae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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