In Gram-positive bacteria, tyrosine kinases are split into two proteins, the cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase and a transmembrane adaptor protein. In Streptococcus pneumoniae this transmembrane adaptor is CpsC, with the C-terminus of CpsC critical for interaction and subsequent tyrosine kinase activity of CpsD. Topology predictions suggest CpsC has two transmembrane domains, with the N and C-termini present in the cytoplasm. In order to investigate CpsC topology, we used a chromosomal HA-tagged Cps2C protein in D39. Incubation of both protoplasts and membranes with the CP-B resulted in complete degradation of HA-Cps2C in all cases, indicating that the C-terminus of Cps2C was likely extra-cytoplasmic, and hence the protein's topology was not as predicted. Similar results were seen with membranes from TIGR4, indicating Cps4C also showed similar topology. A chromosomally encoded fusion of HA-Cps2C and Cps2D was not degraded by CP-B, suggesting that the fusion fixed the C-terminus within the cytoplasm. However, capsule synthesis was unaltered by this fusion. Detection of the CpsC C-terminus by flow cytometry indicated that it was extra-cytoplasmic in approximately 30% of cells. Interestingly, a mutant in the protein tyrosine phosphatase CpsB had a significantly greater proportion of positive cells, although this affect was independent of its phosphatase activity. Our data indicate that CpsC possesses a varied topology, with the C-terminus flipping across the cytoplasmic membrane where it interacts with CpsD in order to regulate tyrosine kinase activity.
For a long time tyrosine phosphorylation has been recognized as a crucial post translational regulatory mechanism in eukaryotes. However, only in the past decade has recognition been given to the crucial importance of bacterial tyrosine phosphorylation as an important regulatory feature of pathogenesis. This study describes the effect of tyrosine phosphorylation on the activity of a major virulence factor of the pneumococcus, the autolysin LytA, and a possible connection to the Streptococcus pneumoniae capsule synthesis regulatory proteins (CpsB, CpsC & CpsD). We show that in vitro pneumococcal tyrosine kinase, CpsD, and the protein tyrosine phosphatase, CpsB, act to phosphorylate and dephosphorylate LytA. Furthermore, this modulates LytA function in vitro with phosphorylated LytA binding more strongly to the choline analogue DEAE. A phospho-mimetic (Y264E) mutation of the LytA phosphorylation site displayed similar phenotypes as well as an enhanced dimerization capacity. Similarly, tyrosine phosphorylation increased LytA amidase activity, as evidenced by a turbidometric amidase activity assay. Similarly, when the phospho-mimetic mutation was introduced in the chromosomal lytA of S. pneumoniae, autolysis occurred earlier and at an enhanced rate. This study thus describes to our knowledge the first functional regulatory effect of tyrosine phosphorylation on a non-capsule related protein in the pneumococcus, and suggests a link between the regulation of LytA-dependent autolysis of the cell, and the biosynthesis of capsular polysaccharide.
Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is a major human pathogen and a leading cause of inflammatory infections such as pneumonia and otitis media. An important mechanism for host defense against S. pneumoniae is opsonophagocytic killing by neutrophils. To persist in the human host, the pneumococcus has developed strategies to evade opsonization and subsequent neutrophil-mediated killing. Utilizing a genomic approach, we identified NanA, the major pneumococcal neuraminidase, as a factor important for resistance to opsonophagocytic killing in ex vivo killing assays using human neutrophils. The effect of NanA was shown using both type 4 (TIGR4) and type 6A clinical isolates. NanA promotes this resistance by acting in conjunction with two other surface-associated exoglycosidases, BgaA, a beta-galactosidase, and StrH, an N-acetylglucosaminidase. Experiments using human serum showed that these exoglycosidases reduced deposition of complement component C3 on the pneumococcal surface, providing a mechanism for this resistance. Additionally, we have shown that antibodies in human serum do not contribute to this phenotype. These results demonstrate that deglycosylation of a human serum glycoconjugate(s) by the combined effects of NanA, BgaA, and StrH, is important for resistance to complement deposition and subsequent phagocytic killing of S. pneumoniae.
Neutrophils, or polymorphonuclear leukocytes, comprise a crucial component of innate immunity, controlling bacterial and fungal infection through a combination of both oxidative and nonoxidative mechanisms. Indeed, neutrophils are believed to play an important role in controlling infection caused by the major human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae. However, the method by which neutrophils kill the pneumococcus as well as other Gram-positive bacteria, is not fully understood. We investigated human neutrophil killing of the pneumococcus in a complement-dependent opsonophagocytic assay. In contrast to other Gram-positive organisms, inhibition of the NADPH oxidase did not affect killing of S. pneumoniae. Supernatant from degranulated neutrophils killed the pneumococcus, suggesting a role for granular products. When neutrophil granule proteases were inhibited with either a protease mixture, or specific serine protease inhibitors 4-(2-Aminoethyl)benzenesulfonylfluoride and diisopropylfluorophosphate, killing by neutrophils was inhibited in a manner that correlated with increased intracellular survival. All three compounds inhibited intracellular activity of the three major neutrophil serine proteases: elastase, cathepsin G, and proteinase 3. Additionally, purified elastase and cathepsin G were sufficient to kill S. pneumoniae in a serine protease dependent-manner in in vitro assays. Inhibition studies using specific inhibitors of these serine proteases suggested that while each serine protease is sufficient to kill the pneumococcus, none is essential. Our findings show that Gram-positive pathogens are killed by human neutrophils via different mechanisms involving serine proteases.
Increasing antibiotic resistance is making the identification of novel antimicrobial targets critical. Recently, we discovered an inhibitor of protein tyrosine phosphatase CpsB, fascioquinol E (FQE), which unexpectedly inhibited the growth of Gram-positive pathogens. CpsB is a member of the polymerase and histidinol phosphate phosphatase (PHP) domain family. Another member of this family found in a variety of Gram-positive pathogens is DNA polymerase PolC. We purified the PHP domain from PolC (PolC(PHP)), and showed that this competes away FQE inhibition of CpsB phosphatase activity. Furthermore, we showed that this domain hydrolyses the 5-p-nitrophenyl ester of thymidine-5-monophosphate (pNP-TMP), which has been used as a measure of exonuclease activity. Finally, we showed that FQE not only inhibits the phosphatase activity of CpsB, but also ability of PolC(PHP) to catalyse the hydrolysis of pNP-TMP. This suggests that PolC may be the essential target of FQE, and that the PHP domain may represent an as yet untapped target for the development of novel antibiotics.
The bacterial capsule is a recognized virulence factor in pathogenic bacteria. It likely works as an antiphagocytic barrier by minimizing complement deposition on the bacterial surface. With the continual rise of bacterial pathogens resistant to multiple antibiotics, there is an increasing need for novel drugs. In the Wzy-dependent pathway, the biosynthesis of capsular polysaccharide (CPS) is regulated by a phosphoregulatory system, whose main components consist of bacterial-tyrosine kinases (BY-kinases) and their cognate phosphatases. The ability to regulate capsule biosynthesis has been shown to be vital for pathogenicity, because different stages of infection require a shift in capsule thickness, making the phosphoregulatory proteins suitable as drug targets. Here, we review the role of regulatory proteins focusing on Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli and discuss their suitability as targets in structure-based drug design.
Capsule polysaccharide is a major virulence factor for a wide range of bacterial pathogens, including Streptococcus pneumoniae. The biosynthesis of Wzy-dependent capsules in both gram-negative and -positive bacteria is regulated by a system involving a protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) and a protein tyrosine kinase. However, how the system functions is still controversial. In Streptococcus pneumoniae, a major human pathogen, the system is present in all but 2 of the 93 serotypes found to date. In order to study this regulation further, we performed a screen to find inhibitors of the phosphatase, CpsB. This led to the observation that a recently discovered marine sponge metabolite, fascioquinol E, inhibited CpsB phosphatase activity both in vitro and in vivo at concentrations that did not affect the growth of the bacteria. This inhibition resulted in decreased capsule synthesis in D39 and Type 1 S. pneumoniae. Furthermore, concentrations of Fascioquinol E that inhibited capsule also lead to increased attachment of pneumococci to a macrophage cell line, suggesting that this compound would inhibit the virulence of the pathogen. Interestingly, this compound also inhibited the phosphatase activity of the structurally unrelated gram-negative PTP, Wzb, which belongs to separate family of protein tyrosine phosphatases. Furthermore, incubation with Klebsiella pneumoniae, which contains a homologous phosphatase, resulted in decreased capsule synthesis. Taken together, these data provide evidence that PTPs are critical for Wzy-dependent capsule production across a spectrum of bacteria, and as such represents a valuable new molecular target for the development of anti-virulence antibacterials.
Significance. Tyrosine phosphorylation and associated protein tyrosine phosphatases are gaining prominence as critical mechanisms in the regulation of fundamental processes in a wide variety of bacteria. In particular, these phosphatases have been associated with the control of the biosynthesis of capsular polysaccharides and extracellular polysaccharides, critically important virulence factors for bacteria. Recent Advances. Deletion and over-expression of the phosphatases result in altered polysaccharide biosynthesis in a range of bacteria. The recent structures of associated auto-phosphorylating tyrosine kinases has suggested that the phosphatases may be critical for the cycling of the kinases between monomers and higher order oligomers. Critical Issues. Additional substrates of the phosphatases apart from cognate kinases are currently being identified. These are likely to be critical to our understanding of the mechanism by which polysaccharide biosynthesis is regulated. Future Directions. Ultimately, these protein tyrosine phosphatases are an attractive target for the development of novel anti-microbials. This is particularly the case for the polymerase and histidinol phosphatase family, which are predominantly found in bacteria. Furthermore, the determination of bacterial tyrosine phosphoproteomes will likely help to uncover the fundamental roles, mechanism and critical importance of these phosphatases in a wide range of bacteria.
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