The group A Streptococcus (GAS; Streptococcus pyogenes) causes more than 700 million human infections each year. The success of this pathogen can be traced in part to the extensive arsenal of virulence factors that are available for expression in temporally and spatially specific manners. To modify the expression of these virulence factors, GAS use both protein- and RNA-based regulators, with the best-characterized RNA-based regulator being the small regulatory RNA (sRNA) FasX. FasX is a 205-nucleotide sRNA that contributes to GAS virulence by enhancing the expression of the thrombolytic secreted virulence factor streptokinase and by repressing the expression of the collagen-binding cell surface pili. Here, we have expanded the FasX regulon, showing that this sRNA also negatively regulates the expression of the adhesion- and internalization-promoting, fibronectin-binding proteins PrtF1 and PrtF2. FasX posttranscriptionally regulates the expression of PrtF1/2 through a mechanism that involves base pairing to the prtF1 and prtF2 mRNAs within their 5' untranslated regions, overlapping the mRNA ribosome-binding sites. Thus, duplex formation between FasX and the prtF1 and prtF2 mRNAs blocks ribosome access, leading to an inhibition of mRNA translation. Given that FasX positively regulates the expression of the spreading factor streptokinase and negatively regulates the expression of the collagen-binding pili and of the fibronectin-binding PrtF1/2, our data are consistent with FasX functioning as a molecular switch that governs the transition of GAS between the colonization and dissemination stages of infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology