The pathogenic Gram-positive bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) is the causative agent of numerous suppurative diseases of human skin. The M protein of S. pyogenes mediates the adherence of the bacterium to keratinocytes, the most numerous cell type in the epidermis. In this study, we have constructed and analyzed a series of mutant M proteins and have shown that the C repeat domain of the M molecule is responsible for cell recognition. The binding of factor H, a serum regulator of complement activation, to the C repeat region of M protein blocked bacterial adherence. Factor H is a member of a large family of complement regulatory proteins that share a homologous structural motif termed the short consensus repeat. Membrane cofactor protein (MCP), or CD46, is a short consensus repeat- containing protein found on the surface of keratinocytes, and purified MCP could competitively inhibit the adherence of S. pyogenes to these cells. Furthermore, the M protein was found to bind directly to MCP, whereas mutant M proteins that lacked the C repeat domain did not bind MCP, suggesting that recognition of MCP plays an important role in the ability of the streptococcus to adhere to keratinocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2489-2493
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 28 1995


  • bacterial adherence
  • host-microbial interactions
  • streptococcal infection
  • virulence


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