A recent analysis of group A Streptococcus (GAS) invasive infections in Australia has shown a predominance of M4 GAS, a serotype recently reported to lack the antiphagocytic hyaluronic acid (HA) capsule. Here, we use molecular genetics and bioinformatics techniques to characterize 17 clinical M4 isolates associated with invasive disease in children during this recent epidemiology. All M4 isolates lacked HA capsule, and whole genome sequence analysis of two isolates revealed the complete absence of the hasABC capsule biosynthesis operon. Conversely, M4 isolates possess a functional HA-degrading hyaluronate lyase (HylA) enzyme that is rendered nonfunctional in other GAS through a point mutation. Transformation with a plasmid expressing hasABC restored partial encapsulation in wild-type (WT) M4 GAS, and full encapsulation in an isogenic M4 mutant lacking HylA. However, partial encapsulation reduced binding to human complement regulatory protein C4BP, did not enhance survival in whole human blood, and did not increase virulence of WT M4 GAS in a mouse model of systemic infection. Bioinformatics analysis found no hasABC homologs in closely related species, suggesting that this operon was a recent acquisition. These data showcase a mutually exclusive interaction of HA capsule and active HylA among strains of this leading human pathogen.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a leading human pathogen producing a diverse array of infections from simple pharyngitis (strep throat) to invasive conditions including necrotizing fasciitis and toxic shock syndrome. The surface-anchored GAS M1 protein is a classical virulence factor that promotes phagocyte resistance and exaggerated inflammation by binding host fibrinogen (Fg) to form supramolecular networks. In this study we used a virulent WT M1T1 GAS strain and its isogenic M1-deficient mutant to examine the role of M1 Fg binding on a proximal step in GAS infection - interaction with pharyngeal epithelium. Expression of M1 protein reduced GAS adherence to human pharyngeal keratinocytes by two-fold, and this difference was increased to four-fold in the presence of Fg. In stationary phase, surface M1 protein cleavage by the GAS cysteine protease SpeB eliminated Fg binding and relieved its inhibitory effect on GAS pharyngeal adherence. In a mouse model of GAS colonization of nasal-associated lymphoid tissue, M1 protein expression was associated with an average 6-fold decreased GAS recovery in isogenic strain competition assays. Thus, GAS M1 protein Fg binding reduces GAS pharyngeal cell adherence and colonization in a fashion that is counterbalanced by SpeB. Inactivation of SpeB during the shift to GAS invasive disease allows M1 Fg binding, increasing pathogen phagocyte resistance and proinflammatory activities.
The type III secretion (T3S) system is essential to the virulence of a large number of Gram-negative bacterial pathogens, including Yersinia. YscO is required for T3S in Yersinia and is known to interact with several other T3S proteins, including the chaperone SycD and the needle length regulator YscP. To define which interactions of YscO are required for T3S, we pursued model-guided mutagenesis: three conserved and surface-exposed regions of modeled YscO were targeted for multiple alanine substitutions. Most of the mutations abrogated T3S and did so in a recessive manner, consistent with a loss of function. Both functional and nonfunctional YscO mutant proteins interacted with SycD, indicating that the mutations had not affected protein stability. Likewise, both functional and nonfunctional versions of YscO were exclusively intrabacterial. Functional and nonfunctional versions of YscO were, however, distinguishable with respect to interaction with YscP. This interaction was observed only for wild-type YscO and a T3S-proficient mutant of YscO but not for the several T3S-deficient mutants of YscO. Evidence is presented that the YscO-YscP interaction is direct and that the type III secretion substrate specificity switch (T3S4) domain of YscP is sufficient for this interaction. These results provide evidence that the interaction of YscO with YscP, and in particular the T3S4 domain of YscP, is essential to type III secretion.
Diversity-generating retroelements (DGRs) are a unique family of retroelements that confer selective advantages to their hosts by facilitating localized DNA sequence evolution through a specialized error-prone reverse transcription process. We characterized a DGR in Legionella pneumophila, an opportunistic human pathogen that causes Legionnaires disease. The L. pneumophila DGR is found within a horizontally acquired genomic island, and it can theoretically generate 10(26) unique nucleotide sequences in its target gene, legionella determinent target A (ldtA), creating a repertoire of 10(19) distinct proteins. Expression of the L. pneumophila DGR resulted in transfer of DNA sequence information from a template repeat to a variable repeat (VR) accompanied by adenine-specific mutagenesis of progeny VRs at the 3end of ldtA. ldtA encodes a twin-arginine translocated lipoprotein that is anchored in the outer leaflet of the outer membrane, with its C-terminal variable region surface exposed. Related DGRs were identified in L. pneumophila clinical isolates that encode unique target proteins with homologous VRs, demonstrating the adaptability of DGR components. This work characterizes a DGR that diversifies a bacterial protein and confirms the hypothesis that DGR-mediated mutagenic homing occurs through a conserved mechanism. Comparative bioinformatics predicts that surface display of massively variable proteins is a defining feature of a subset of bacterial DGRs.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a human pathogen causing a wide range of mild to severe and life-threatening diseases. The GAS M1 protein is a major virulence factor promoting GAS invasiveness and resistance to host innate immune clearance. M1 displays an irregular coiled-coil structure, including the B-repeats that bind fibrinogen. Previously, we found that B-repeat stabilisation generates an idealised version of M1 (M1) characterised by decreased fibrinogen binding in vitro. To extend these findings based on a soluble truncated version of M1, we now studied the importance of the B-repeat coiled-coil irregularities in full length M1 and M1 expressed in live GAS and tested whether the modulation of M1-fibrinogen interactions would open up novel therapeutic approaches. We found that altering either the M1 structure on the GAS cell surface or removing its target host protein fibrinogen blunted GAS virulence. GAS expressing M1 showed an impaired ability to adhere to and to invade human endothelial cells, was more readily killed by whole blood or neutrophils and most importantly was less virulent in a murine necrotising fasciitis model. M1-mediated virulence of wild-type GAS was strictly dependent on the presence and concentration of fibrinogen complementing our finding that M1-fibrinogen interactions are crucial for GAS virulence. Consistently blocking M1-fibrinogen interactions by fragment D reduced GAS virulence in vitro and in vivo. This supports our conclusion that M1-fibrinogen interactions are crucial for GAS virulence and that interference may open up novel complementary treatment options for GAS infections caused by the leading invasive GAS strain M1.
Anticipatory ligand binding through massive protein sequence variation is rare in biological systems, having been observed only in the vertebrate adaptive immune response and in a phage diversity-generating retroelement (DGR). Earlier work has demonstrated that the prototypical DGR variable protein, major tropism determinant (Mtd), meets the demands of anticipatory ligand binding by novel means through the C-type lectin (CLec) fold. However, because of the low sequence identity among DGR variable proteins, it has remained unclear whether the CLec fold is a general solution for DGRs. We have addressed this problem by determining the structure of a second DGR variable protein, TvpA, from the pathogenic oral spirochete Treponema denticola. Despite its weak sequence identity to Mtd (?16%), TvpA was found to also have a CLec fold, with predicted variable residues exposed in a ligand-binding site. However, this site in TvpA was markedly more variable than the one in Mtd, reflecting the unprecedented approximate 10(20) potential variability of TvpA. In addition, similarity between TvpA and Mtd with formylglycine-generating enzymes was detected. These results provide strong evidence for the conservation of the formylglycine-generating enzyme-type CLec fold among DGRs as a means of accommodating massive sequence variation.
The M protein is a major virulence factor of Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Streptococcus, GAS). This gram-positive bacterial pathogen is responsible for mild infections, such as pharyngitis, and severe invasive disease, like streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. M protein contributes to GAS virulence in multifarious ways, including blocking deposition of antibodies and complement, helping formation of microcolonies, neutralizing antimicrobial peptides, and triggering a proinflammatory and procoagulatory state. These functions are specified by interactions between M protein and many host components, especially C4BP and fibrinogen. The former interaction is conserved among many antigenically variant M protein types but occurs in a strikingly sequence-independent manner, and the latter is associated in the M1 protein type with severe invasive disease. Remarkably for a protein of such diverse interactions, the M protein has a relatively simple but nonideal ?-helical coiled coil sequence. This sequence nonideality is a crucial feature of M protein. Nonideal residues give rise to specific irregularities in its coiled-coil structure, which are essential for interactions with fibrinogen and establishment of a proinflammatory state. In addition, these structural irregularities are reminiscent of those in myosin and tropomyosin, which are targets for crossreactive antibodies in patients suffering from autoimmune sequelae of GAS infection.
M1 protein, a major virulence factor of the leading invasive strain of group A Streptococcus, is sufficient to induce toxic-shock-like vascular leakage and tissue injury. These events are triggered by the formation of a complex between M1 and fibrinogen that, unlike M1 or fibrinogen alone, leads to neutrophil activation. Here we provide a structural explanation for the pathological properties of the complex formed between streptococcal M1 and human fibrinogen. A conformationally dynamic coiled-coil dimer of M1 was found to organize four fibrinogen molecules into a specific cross-like pattern. This pattern supported the construction of a supramolecular network that was required for neutrophil activation but was distinct from a fibrin clot. Disruption of this network into other supramolecular assemblies was not tolerated. These results have bearing on the pathophysiology of streptococcal toxic shock.
Here we present the first global functional analysis of cellular responses to pore-forming toxins (PFTs). PFTs are uniquely important bacterial virulence factors, comprising the single largest class of bacterial protein toxins and being important for the pathogenesis in humans of many Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. Their mode of action is deceptively simple, poking holes in the plasma membrane of cells. The scattered studies to date of PFT-host cell interactions indicate a handful of genes are involved in cellular defenses to PFTs. How many genes are involved in cellular defenses against PFTs and how cellular defenses are coordinated are unknown. To address these questions, we performed the first genome-wide RNA interference (RNAi) screen for genes that, when knocked down, result in hypersensitivity to a PFT. This screen identifies 106 genes (?0.5% of genome) in seven functional groups that protect Caenorhabditis elegans from PFT attack. Interactome analyses of these 106 genes suggest that two previously identified mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways, one (p38) studied in detail and the other (JNK) not, form a core PFT defense network. Additional microarray, real-time PCR, and functional studies reveal that the JNK MAPK pathway, but not the p38 MAPK pathway, is a key central regulator of PFT-induced transcriptional and functional responses. We find C. elegans activator protein 1 (AP-1; c-jun, c-fos) is a downstream target of the JNK-mediated PFT protection pathway, protects C. elegans against both small-pore and large-pore PFTs and protects human cells against a large-pore PFT. This in vivo RNAi genomic study of PFT responses proves that cellular commitment to PFT defenses is enormous, demonstrates the JNK MAPK pathway as a key regulator of transcriptionally-induced PFT defenses, and identifies AP-1 as the first cellular component broadly important for defense against large- and small-pore PFTs.
Establishing a quantitative understanding of the determinants of affinity in protein-protein interactions remains challenging. For example, TEM-1/?-lactamase inhibitor protein (BLIP) and SHV-1/BLIP are homologous ?-lactamase/?-lactamase inhibitor protein complexes with disparate K(d) values (3 nM and 2 ?M, respectively), and a single substitution, D104E in SHV-1, results in a 1000-fold enhancement in binding affinity. In TEM-1, E104 participates in a salt bridge with BLIP K74, whereas the corresponding SHV-1 D104 does not in the wild type SHV-1/BLIP co-structure. Here, we present a 1.6 Å crystal structure of the SHV-1 D104E/BLIP complex that demonstrates that this point mutation restores this salt bridge. Additionally, mutation of a neighboring residue, BLIP E73M, results in salt bridge formation between SHV-1 D104 and BLIP K74 and a 400-fold increase in binding affinity. To understand how this salt bridge contributes to complex affinity, the cooperativity between the E/K or D/K salt bridge pair and a neighboring hot spot residue (BLIP F142) was investigated using double mutant cycle analyses in the background of the E73M mutation. We find that BLIP F142 cooperatively stabilizes both interactions, illustrating how a single mutation at a hot spot position can drive large perturbations in interface stability and specificity through a cooperative interaction network.
Most effector proteins of bacterial type III secretion (T3S) systems require chaperone proteins for translocation into host cells. Such effectors are bound by chaperones in a conserved and characteristic manner, with the chaperone-binding (Cb) region of the effector wound around the chaperone in a highly extended conformation. This conformation has been suggested to serve as a translocation signal in promoting the association between the chaperone-effector complex and a bacterial component required for translocation. We sought to test a prediction of this model by identifying a potential association site for the Yersinia pseudotuberculosis chaperone-effector pair SycE-YopE. We identified a set of residues in the YopE Cb region that are required for translocation but are dispensable for expression, SycE binding, secretion into the extrabacterial milieu, and stability in mammalian cells. These residues form a solvent-exposed patch on the surface of the chaperone-bound Cb region, and thus their effect on translocation is consistent with the structure of the chaperone-bound Cb region serving as a signal for translocation.
Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) uses InlA to invade the tips of the intestinal villi, a location at which cell extrusion generates a transient defect in epithelial polarity that exposes the receptor for InlA, E-cadherin, on the cell surface. As the dying cell is removed from the epithelium, the surrounding cells reorganize to form a multicellular junction (MCJ) that Lm exploits to find its basolateral receptor and invade. By examining individual infected villi using 3D-confocal imaging, we uncovered a novel role for the second major invasin, InlB, during invasion of the intestine. We infected mice intragastrically with isogenic strains of Lm that express or lack InlB and that have a modified InlA capable of binding murine E-cadherin and found that Lm lacking InlB invade the same number of villi but have decreased numbers of bacteria within each infected villus tip. We studied the mechanism of InlB action at the MCJs of polarized MDCK monolayers and find that InlB does not act as an adhesin, but instead accelerates bacterial internalization after attachment. InlB locally activates its receptor, c-Met, and increases endocytosis of junctional components, including E-cadherin. We show that MCJs are naturally more endocytic than other sites of the apical membrane, that endocytosis and Lm invasion of MCJs depends on functional dynamin, and that c-Met activation by soluble InlB or hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) increases MCJ endocytosis. Also, in vivo, InlB applied through the intestinal lumen increases endocytosis at the villus tips. Our findings demonstrate a two-step mechanism of synergy between Lms invasins: InlA provides the specificity of Lm adhesion to MCJs at the villus tips and InlB locally activates c-Met to accelerate junctional endocytosis and bacterial invasion of the intestine.
The down-regulation of the major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) from the surface of infected cells by the Nef proteins of primate immunodeficiency viruses likely contributes to pathogenesis by providing evasion of cell-mediated immunity. HIV-1 Nef-induced down-regulation involves endosomal trafficking and a cooperative interaction between the cytoplasmic domain (CD) of MHC-I, Nef, and the clathrin adaptor protein complex-1 (AP-1). The CD of MHC-I contains a key tyrosine within the sequence YSQA that is required for down-regulation by Nef, but this sequence does not conform to the canonical AP-binding tyrosine-based motif Yxxphi, which mediates binding to the medium (micro) subunits of AP complexes. We previously proposed that Nef allows the MHC-I CD to bind the mu subunit of AP-1 (micro1) as if it contained a Yxxphimotif.
M1 protein contributes to Group A Streptococcus (GAS) systemic virulence by interfering with phagocytosis and through proinflammatory activities when released from the cell surface. Here we identify a novel role of M1 protein in the stimulation of neutrophil and mast cell extracellular trap formation, yet also subsequent survival of the pathogen within these DNA-based innate defense structures. Targeted mutagenesis and heterologous expression studies demonstrate M1 protein promotes resistance to the human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide LL-37, an important effector of bacterial killing within such phagocyte extracellular traps. Studies with purified recombinant protein fragments mapped the inhibition of cathelicidin killing to the M1 hypervariable N-terminal domain. A survey of GAS clinical isolates found that strains from patients with necrotizing fasciitis or toxic shock syndrome were significantly more likely to be resistant to cathelicidin than GAS M types not associated with invasive disease; M1 isolates were uniformly resistant. We conclude increased resistance to host cathelicidin and killing within phagocyte extracellular traps contribute to the propensity of M1 GAS strains to produce invasive infections.
Diversity-generating retroelements (DGRs) are the only known source of massive protein sequence variation in prokaryotes. These elements transfer coding information from a template region (TR) through an RNA intermediate to a protein-encoding variable region. This retrohoming process is accompanied by unique adenine-specific mutagenesis and, in the prototypical BPP-1 DGR, requires a reverse transcriptase (bRT) and an accessory variability determinant (bAvd) protein. To understand the role of bAvd, we determined its 2.69 Å resolution structure, which revealed a highly positively charged pentameric barrel. In accordance with its charge, bAvd bound both DNA and RNA, albeit without a discernable sequence preference. We found that the coding sequence of bAvd functioned as part of TR but identified means to mutate bAvd without affecting TR. This mutational analysis revealed a strict correspondence between retrohoming and interaction of bAvd with bRT, suggesting that the bRT-bAvd complex is important for DGR retrohoming.
Crystal (Cry) proteins are globally used in agriculture as proteinaceous insecticides. They have also been recently recognized to have great potential as anthelmintic agents in targeting parasitic roundworms (e.g., hookworms). The most extensively characterized of the anthelmintic Cry proteins is Cry5B. We report here the 2.3 Å resolution structure of the proteolytically activated form of Cry5B. This structure, which is the first for a nematicidal Cry protein, shows the familiar three-domain arrangement seen in insecticidal Cry proteins. However, domain II is unusual in that it more closely resembles a banana lectin than it does other Cry proteins. This result is consistent with the fact that the receptor for Cry5B consists of a set of invertebrate-specific glycans (attached to lipids) and also suggests that domain II is important for receptor binding. We found that not only galactose but also N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) is an efficient competitor for binding between Cry5B and glycolipids. GalNAc is one of the core arthroseries tetrasaccharides of the Cry5B receptor and galactose an antennary sugar that emanates from this core. These and prior data suggest that the minimal binding determinant for Cry5B consists of a core GalNAc and two antennary galactoses. Lastly, the protoxin form of Cry5B was found to bind nematode glycolipids with a specificity equal to that of activated Cry5B, but with lower affinity. This suggests that the initial binding of Cry5B protoxin to glycolipids can be stabilized at the nematode cell surface by proteolysis. These results lay the groundwork for the design of effective Cry5B-based anthelmintics.
The virulence of a large number of Gram-negative bacterial pathogens depends on the type III secretion (T3S) system, which transports select bacterial proteins into host cells. An essential component of the Yersinia T3S system is YscD, a single-pass inner membrane protein. We report here the 2.52-Å resolution structure of the cytoplasmic domain of YscD, called YscDc. The structure confirms that YscDc consists of a forkhead-associated (FHA) fold, which in many but not all cases specifies binding to phosphothreonine. YscDc, however, lacks the structural properties associated with phosphothreonine binding and thus most likely interacts with partners in a phosphorylation-independent manner. Structural comparison highlighted two loop regions, L3 and L4, as potential sites of interactions. Alanine substitutions at L3 and L4 had no deleterious effects on protein structure or stability but abrogated T3S in a dominant negative manner. To gain insight into the function of L3 and L4, we identified proteins associated with YscD by affinity purification coupled to mass spectrometry. The lipoprotein YscJ was found associated with wild-type YscD, as was the effector YopH. Notably, the L3 and L4 substitution mutants interacted with more YopH than did wild-type YscD. These substitution mutants also interacted with SycH (the specific chaperone for YopH), the putative C-ring component YscQ, and the ruler component YscP, whereas wild-type YscD did not. These results suggest that substitutions in the L3 and L4 loops of YscD disrupted the dissociation of SycH from YopH, leading to the accumulation of a large protein complex that stalled the T3S apparatus.
The bacterial flagellar C-ring is composed of two essential proteins, FliM and FliN. The smaller protein, FliN, is similar to the C-terminus of the larger protein, FliM, both being composed of SpoA domains. While bacterial type III secretion (T3S) systems encode many proteins in common with the flagellum, they mostly have a single protein in place of FliM and FliN. This protein resembles FliM at its N-terminus and is as large as FliM but is more like FliN at its C-terminal SpoA domain. We have discovered that a FliN-sized cognate indeed exists in the Yersinia T3S system to accompany the FliM-sized cognate. The FliN-sized cognate, YscQ-C, is the product of an internal translation initiation site within the locus encoding the FliM-sized cognate YscQ. Both intact YscQ and YscQ-C were found to be required for T3S, indicating that the internal translation initiation site, which is conserved in some but not all YscQ orthologs, is crucial for function. The crystal structure of YscQ-C revealed a SpoA domain that forms a highly intertwined, domain-swapped homodimer, similar to those observed in FliN and the YscQ ortholog HrcQ(B). A single YscQ-C homodimer associated reversibly with a single molecule of intact YscQ, indicating conformational differences between the SpoA domains of intact YscQ and YscQ-C. A "snap-back" mechanism suggested by the structure can account for this. The 1:2 YscQ-YscQ-C complex is a close mimic of the 1:4 FliM-FliN complex and the likely building block of the putative Yersinia T3S system C-ring.
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