Constitutive expression of fibronectin binding in Streptococcus pyogenes as a result of anaerobic activation of rofA

George C. Fogg, Michael G. Caparon

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Protein F is a fibronectin-binding surface protein of Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) that mediates adherence to host cells. A gene product encoded by rofA activates transcription of the gene that encodes protein F (prtF) and was identified in a strain of S. pyogenes that expressed high levels of protein F under all conditions tested. Insertional inactivation of rofA in this strain results in a phenotype similar to that of other strains where high-level transcription of prtF occurs only in response to increased oxygen tension. In this study, we have compared the regulation of prtF and rofA in O2-regulated and constitutive strains in order to gain further insight into the function of rofA. Comparison of the prtF and rofA transcripts by S1 nuclease and primer extension assays indicated that the same promoters for each transcript are used in both O2-regulated and constitutive strains. However, analyses of rofA-lacZ reporter alleles revealed that a key difference between strains involves regulation of rofA itself. In O2-regulated strains, expression of rofA was elevated following culture under conditions of reduced O2 tension. However, a much more robust activation of tufa expression was observed when constitutive strains were grown under similar conditions. Exchange of reporter and rofA alleles between strains demonstrated that host genetic background, and not the sequence of the respective rofA allele or regulatory region, dictates the expression phenotype. Activation of rofA required RofA, and RofA was shown to bind specifically to DNA containing the promoters for tufa and prtF. Finally, overexpression of either allele of rofA caused constitutive expression of prtF regardless of host background. These data suggest a model where anaerobic expression of prtF in constitutive hosts is controlled at the level of transcription of rofA and implicate additional factors in this regulatory pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6172-6180
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1997


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