Group a streptococcus AdcR regulon participates in bacterial defense against host-mediated zinc sequestration and contributes to virulence

Nishanth Makthal, Hackwon Do, Brian M. Wendel, Randall J. Olsen, John D. Helmann, James M. Musser, Muthiah Kumaraswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Colonization by pathogenic bacteria depends on their ability to overcome host nutritional defenses and acquire nutrients. The human pathogen group A streptococcus (GAS) encounters the host defense factor calprotectin (CP) during infection. CP inhibits GAS growth in vitro by imposing zinc (Zn) limitation. However, GAS counterstrategies to combat CP-mediated Zn limitation and the in vivo relevance of CP-GAS interactions to bacterial pathogenesis remain unknown. Here, we report that GAS upregulates the AdcR regulon in response to CP-mediated Zn limitation. The AdcR regulon includes genes encoding Zn import (adcABC), Zn sparing (rpsN.2), and Zn scavenging systems (adcAII, phtD, and phtY). Each gene in the AdcR regulon contributes to GAS Zn acquisition and CP resistance. The ΔadcC and ΔrpsN.2 mutant strains were the most susceptible to CP, whereas the ΔadcA, ΔadcAII, and ΔphtD mutant strains displayed less CP sensitivity during growth in vitro. However, the ΔphtY mutant strain did not display an increased CP sensitivity. The varied sensitivity of the mutant strains to CP-mediated Zn limitation suggests distinct roles for individual AdcR regulon genes in GAS Zn acquisition. GAS upregulates the AdcR regulon during necrotizing fasciitis infection in WT mice but not in S100a9/ mice lacking CP. This suggests that CP induces Zn deficiency in the host. Finally, consistent with the in vitro results, several of the AdcR regulon genes are critical for GAS virulence in WT mice, whereas they are dispensable for virulence in S100a9/ mice, indicating the direct competition for Zn between CP and proteins encoded by the GAS AdcR regulon during infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00097-20
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • bacterial pathogenesis
  • gene regulation
  • host nutritional immunity
  • streptococcus
  • Zn acquisition
  • Bacterial pathogenesis
  • Streptococcus
  • Gene regulation
  • Host nutritional immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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