Signaling by a conserved quorum sensing pathway contributes to growth ex vivo and oropharyngeal colonization of human pathogen group A streptococcus

Nishanth Makthal, Hackwon Do, Arica R. VanderWal, Randall J. Olsen, James M. Musser, Muthiah Kumaraswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Bacterial virulence factor production is a highly coordinated process. The temporal pattern of bacterial gene expression varies in different host anatomic sites to overcome niche-specific challenges. The human pathogen group A streptococcus (GAS) produces a potent secreted protease, SpeB, that is crucial for pathogenesis. Recently, we discovered that a quorum sensing pathway comprised of a leaderless short peptide, SpeB-inducing peptide (SIP), and a cytosolic global regulator, RopB, controls speB expression in concert with bacterial population density. The SIP signaling pathway is active in vivo and contributes significantly to GAS invasive infections. In the current study, we investigated the role of the SIP signaling pathway in GAS-host interactions during oropharyngeal colonization. The SIP signaling pathway is functional during growth ex vivo in human saliva. SIP-mediated speB expression plays a crucial role in GAS colonization of the mouse oropharynx. GAS employs a distinct pattern of SpeB production during growth ex vivo in saliva that includes a transient burst of speB expression during early stages of growth coupled with sustained levels of secreted SpeB protein. SpeB production aids GAS survival by degrading LL37, an abundant human antimicrobial peptide. We found that SIP signaling occurs during growth in human blood ex vivo. Moreover, the SIP signaling pathway is critical for GAS survival in blood. SIP-dependent speB regulation is functional in strains of diverse emm types, indicating that SIP signaling is a conserved virulence regulatory mechanism. Our discoveries have implications for future translational studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00169-18
JournalInfection and Immunity
Volume86
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2018

Keywords

  • Colonization
  • Group A streptococcus
  • Pathogenesis
  • Quorum sensing
  • Virulence regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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