RocA has serotype-specific gene regulatory and pathogenesis activities in serotype M28 Group A streptococcus

Paul E. Bernard, Priyanka Kachroo, Luchang Zhu, Stephen B. Beres, Jesus M. Eraso, Zaid Kajani, S. Wesley Long, James M. Musser, Randall J. Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Serotype M28 group A streptococcus (GAS) is a common cause of infections such as pharyngitis (“strep throat”) and necrotizing fasciitis (“flesh-eating” disease). Relatively little is known about the molecular mechanisms underpinning M28 GAS pathogenesis. Whole-genome sequencing studies of M28 GAS strains recovered from patients with invasive infections found an unexpectedly high number of missense (amino acid-changing) and nonsense (protein-truncating) polymorphisms in rocA (regulator of Cov), leading us to hypothesize that altered RocA activity contributes to M28 GAS molecular pathogenesis. To test this hypothesis, an isogenic rocA deletion mutant strain was created. Transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis revealed that RocA inactivation significantly alters the level of transcripts for 427 and 323 genes at mid-exponential and early stationary growth phases, respectively, including genes for 41 transcription regulators and 21 virulence factors. In contrast, RocA transcriptomes from other GAS M protein serotypes are much smaller and include fewer transcription regulators. The rocA mutant strain had significantly increased secreted activity of multiple virulence factors and grew to significantly higher colony counts under acid stress in vitro. RocA inactivation also significantly increased GAS virulence in a mouse model of necrotizing myositis. Our results demonstrate that RocA is an important regulator of transcription regulators and virulence factors in M28 GAS and raise the possibility that naturally occurring polymorphisms in rocA in some fashion contribute to human invasive infections caused by M28 GAS strains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00467-18
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Group A streptococcus
  • Molecular pathogenesis
  • RocA
  • Virulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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