Streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin B (SpeB), a conserved cysteine protease expressed by virtually all Streptococcus pyogenes strains, has recently been shown to be an important virulence factor (S. Lukomski, S. Sreevatsan, C. Amberg, W. Reichardt, M. Woischnik, A. Podbielski, and J. M. Musser, J. Clin. Invest. 99:2574-2580, 1997). Genetic inactivation of SpeB significantly decreased the lethality of a serotype M49 strain for mice and abolished the lethality of a serotype M3 strain after intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection. In the present study, a wild-type M3 isolate and an M3 speB mutant derivative were used to investigate the mechanism responsible for altered virulence. Following i.p. injection, the mutant and wild-type strains induced virtually identical cellular inflammatory responses, characterized largely by an influx of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs). In addition, the mutant and wild- type strains rapidly entered the blood and were recovered from all organs examined. However, significantly fewer (P < 0.05) CFUs of the isogenic mutant derivative than of the wild-type parent strain were recovered from blood and organs. PMNs effectively cleared the M3 speB mutant from the peritoneum by 22 h, thereby sparing the host. In contrast, the wild-type M3 strain continued to replicate intraperitoneally and had the ability to kill phagocytes. This process allowed the wild-type strain to continuously disseminate, resulting in host death. Our results indicate that genetic inactivation of the cysteine protease decreased the resistance of the mutant to phagocytosis and impaired its subsequent dissemination to organs. These results provide insight into the detrimental effect of SpeB inactivation on virulence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases