An oxygen-induced but protein F-independent fibronectin-binding pathway in Streptococcus pyogenes

J. U.Young Lee, Michael Caparon

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Protein F is an important fibronectin-binding adhesin of Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus). However, all previous analyses of protein F have been conducted in a mutant strain which expresses protein F under anaerobic conditions nonpermissive for expression in other strains. In this study, we have examined the fibronectin-binding properties of several protein F-deficient mutants cultured under aerobic conditions and have identified a second pathway for binding fibronectin. Unlike the case with protein F, exposure to an aerobic environment does not induce transcription of a new gene product. Rather, O2 is apparently required for the modification of a protease-resistant cell surface component into a binding-competent form. Modification occurred preferentially at a pH of 6.0 or less, and the binding of the modified component to fibronectin required Zn2+. The oxidizing agent Fe(CN)6 could be substituted for O2 and stimulated expression of binding activity under O2-limiting conditions. Streptococcal fibronectin binding mediated by this pathway but not by protein F could be inhibited by laminin and by streptococcal lipoteichoic acid, a molecule previously implicated as the streptococcal adhesin for fibronectin. The non-protein F-binding activity could also substantially enhance the binding of the organism to basement membrane. By using differential inhibition, analyses of binding to non- protein F mutant strains demonstrated that the total level of fibronectin bound under aerobic conditions reflects contributions from both pathways. Because of its dependence on Zn2+, an oxidant, and pH, this binding activity has been designated the ZOP binding pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-421
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


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