Adherence and fibronectin binding are environmentally regulated in the group A streptococci

Tambryn VanHeyningen, George Fogg, Debra Yates, Emanuel Hanski, Michael Caparon

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The ability of the pathogenic Gram‐positive bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) to bind fibronectin and adhere to respiratory epithelial cells is dependent on a surface protein called protein F. In this study, we have examined the regulation of expression of protein F and have shown that it is environmentally regulated in response to alterations in atmosphere. In six recent clinical isolates, expression of protein F was repressed during growth under reduced concentrations of O2. Expression in an anaerobic environment was induced by both superoxide‐generating and redox‐altering reagents. However, regulation did not involve mry, a gene that controls expression of several streptococcal surface proteins. Protein F was constitutively expressed in one of two laboratory‐passaged strains analysed, and in a complementation analysis using an allele of the gene that encodes protein F (prtF) cloned from a regulated strain and expressed in a constitutive strain, the constitutive phenotype was shown to be dominant in trans. Regulation, as monitored by fusion of prtF to a promoterless chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene, involved transcriptional control. Environmentally induced alterations in protein F expression affected the ability of the bacterium to adhere to epithelial cells, which suggests that the ability to regulate expression of protein F may be important during infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1213-1222
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1993


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