[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many pathogens express a surface protein that binds the human complement regulator factor H (FH), as first described for Streptococcus pyogenes and the antiphagocytic M6 protein. It is commonly assumed that FH recruited to an M protein enhances virulence by protecting the bacteria against complement deposition and phagocytosis, but the role of FH-binding in S. pyogenes pathogenesis has remained unclear and controversial. Here, we studied seven purified M proteins for ability to bind FH and found that FH binds to the M5, M6 and M18 proteins but not the M1, M3, M4 and M22 proteins. Extensive immunochemical analysis indicated that FH binds solely to the hypervariable region (HVR) of an M protein, suggesting that selection has favored the ability of certain HVRs to bind FH. These FH-binding HVRs could be studied as isolated polypeptides that retain ability to bind FH, implying that an FH-binding HVR represents a distinct ligand-binding domain. The isolated HVRs specifically interacted with FH among all human serum proteins, interacted with the same region in FH and showed species specificity, but exhibited little or no antigenic cross-reactivity. Although these findings suggested that FH recruited to an M protein promotes virulence, studies in transgenic mice did not demonstrate a role for bound FH during acute infection. Moreover, phagocytosis tests indicated that ability to bind FH is neither sufficient nor necessary for S. pyogenes to resist killing in whole human blood. While these data shed new light on the HVR of M proteins, they suggest that FH-binding may affect S. pyogenes virulence by mechanisms not assessed in currently used model systems.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies indicate that defective activity of complement factor H (FH) is associated with several human diseases, suggesting that pure FH may be used for therapy. Here, we describe a simple method to isolate human FH, based on the specific interaction between FH and the hypervariable region (HVR) of certain Streptococcus pyogenes M proteins. Special interest was focused on the FH polymorphism Y402H, which is associated with the common eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and has also been implicated in the binding to M protein. Using a fusion protein containing two copies of the M5-HVR, we found that the Y402 and H402 variants of FH could be efficiently purified by single-step affinity chromatography from human serum containing the corresponding protein. Different M proteins vary in their binding properties, and the M6 and M5 proteins, but not the M18 protein, showed selective binding of the FH Y402 variant. Accordingly, chromatography on a fusion protein derived from the M6-HVR allowed enrichment of the Y402 protein from serum containing both variants. Thus, the exquisite binding specificity of a bacterial protein can be exploited to develop a simple and robust procedure to purify FH and to enrich for the FH variant that protects against AMD.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(11):e81303. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A common site in the constant region (Fc) of immunoglobulins is recognized by host receptors and is a frequent target of proteins expressed by pathogens. This site is located at the junction of two constant domains in the antibody heavy chains and produces a large shallow cavity formed by loops of the CH2 and CH3 domains in IgG and IgA (CH3 and CH4 domains in IgM). Crystal structures have been determined for complexes of IgG-Fc and IgA-Fc with a structurally diverse set of host, pathogen and in vitro selected ligands. While pathogen proteins may directly block interactions with the immunoglobulins thereby evading host immunity, it is likely that the same pathogen molecules also interact with other host factors to carry out their primary biological function. Herein we review the structural and functional aspects of host and pathogen molecular recognition of the common site on the Fc of immunoglobulins. We also propose that some pathogen proteins may promote virulence by affecting the bridging between innate and adaptive immunity.
Advances in experimental medicine and biology 01/2012; 946:87-112. · 1.83 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sequence variation of antigenic proteins allows pathogens to evade antibody attack. The variable protein commonly includes a hypervariable region (HVR), which represents a key target for antibodies and is therefore predicted to be immunodominant. To understand the mechanism(s) of antibody evasion, we analyzed the clinically important HVR-containing M proteins of the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes. Antibodies elicited by M proteins were directed almost exclusively against the C-terminal part and not against the N-terminal HVR. Similar results were obtained for mice and humans with invasive S. pyogenes infection. Nevertheless, only anti-HVR antibodies protected efficiently against infection, as shown by passive immunizations. The HVR fused to an unrelated protein elicited no antibodies, implying that it is inherently weakly immunogenic. These data indicate that the M protein HVR evades antibody attack not only through antigenic variation but also by weak immunogenicity, a paradoxical observation that may apply to other HVR-containing proteins.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IgA nephropathy (IgAN), the most common glomerulonephritis worldwide, is characterized by mesangial deposits containing predominantly IgA. IgAN commonly occurs or exacerbates after upper respiratory tract infections such as streptococcal pharyngitis. Certain group A streptococci express M proteins with IgA-binding regions (IgA-BRs). We have previously shown that these IgA-BRs co-localize with mesangial IgA in IgAN.
Blood samples from patients with IgAN (n = 21) and age-matched controls (n = 83) were assayed by ELISA to detect an IgG antibody response to the IgA-BRs of the M4, M22 and M60 proteins. Antibodies were assayed for each IgA-BR separately and the results were combined.
Antibody levels to the IgA-BRs were significantly higher in IgAN patients than controls (P = 0.016), particularly in patients with recent streptococcal infection (P = 0.008). Conclusions. The results suggest that children with IgAN had a previous infection with a streptococcal strain expressing an IgA-binding M protein.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IgA nephropathy (IgAN) and Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP) are diseases characterized by IgA deposits in the kidney and/or skin. Both may arise after upper respiratory tract infections, but the pathogenic mechanisms governing these diseases remain unclear. Patients with IgAN (n = 16) and HSP (n = 17) were included in this study aimed at examining whether IgA-binding M proteins of group A streptococci could be involved. As M proteins vary in sequence, the study focused on the IgA-binding-region (IgA-BR) of three different M proteins: M4, M22, and M60. Renal tissue from IgAN and HSP patients and skin from HSP patients were examined for deposits of streptococcal IgA-BR by immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy using specific antibodies, and a skin sample from a HSP patient was examined by mass spectrometry. IgA-BR deposits were detected in 10/16 IgAN kidneys and 7/13 HSP kidneys. Electron microscopy demonstrated deposits of IgA-BRs in the mesangial matrix and glomerular basement membrane, which colocalized with IgA. Skin samples exhibited IgA-BR deposits in 4/5 biopsies, a result confirmed by mass spectrometry in one patient. IgA-BR deposits were not detected in normal kidney and skin samples. Taken together, these results demonstrate IgA-BR from streptococcal M proteins in patient tissues. IgA-BR, would on gaining access to the circulation, encounter circulatory IgA and form a complex with IgA-Fc that could deposit in tissues and contribute to the pathogenesis of IgAN and HSP.
American Journal Of Pathology 02/2010; 176(2):608-18. · 4.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a leading cause of invasive bacterial infections in human newborns. A key GBS virulence factor is its capsular polysaccharide (CPS), displaying terminal sialic acid (Sia) residues which block deposition and activation of complement on the bacterial surface. We recently demonstrated that GBS Sia can bind human CD33-related Sia-recognizing immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily lectins (hCD33rSiglecs), a family of inhibitory receptors expressed on the surface of leukocytes. We report the unexpected discovery that certain GBS strains may bind one such receptor, hSiglec-5, in a Sia-independent manner, via the cell wall-anchored beta protein, resulting in recruitment of SHP protein tyrosine phosphatases. Using a panel of WT and mutant GBS strains together with Siglec-expressing cells and soluble Siglec-Fc chimeras, we show that GBS beta protein binding to Siglec-5 functions to impair human leukocyte phagocytosis, oxidative burst, and extracellular trap production, promoting bacterial survival. We conclude that protein-mediated functional engagement of an inhibitory host lectin receptor promotes bacterial innate immune evasion.
Journal of Experimental Medicine 09/2009; 206(8):1691-9. · 13.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Here we unravel the structural features of human IgM and IgA that govern their interaction with the human Fcα/μ receptor (hFcα/μR). Ligand polymerization status was crucial for the interaction, because hFcα/μR binding did not occur with monomeric Ab of either class. hFcα/μR bound IgM with an affinity in the nanomolar range, whereas the affinity for dimeric IgA (dIgA) was tenfold lower. Panels of mutant IgM and dIgA were used to identify regions critical for hFcα/μR binding. IgM binding required contributions from both Cμ3 and Cμ4 Fc domains, whereas for dIgA, an exposed loop in the Cα3 domain was crucial. This loop, comprising residues Pro440–Phe443, lies at the Fc domain interface and has been implicated in the binding of host receptors FcαRI and polymeric Ig receptor (pIgR), as well as IgA-binding proteins produced by certain pathogenic bacteria. Substitutions within the Pro440–Phe443 loop resulted in loss of hFcα/μR binding. Furthermore, secretory component (SC, the extracellular portion of pIgR) and bacterial IgA-binding proteins were shown to inhibit the dIgA–hFcα/μR interaction. Therefore, we have identified a motif in the IgA–Fc inter-domain region critical for hFcα/μR interaction, and highlighted the multi-functional nature of a key site for protein–protein interaction at the IgA Fc domain interface.
European Journal of Immunology 03/2009; 39(4):1147 - 1156. · 4.97 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to evaluate a new approach to inhibit complement activation triggered by biomaterial surfaces in contact with blood. In order to inhibit complement activation initiated by the classical pathway (CP), we used streptococcal M protein-derived peptides that specifically bind human C4BP, an inhibitor of the CP. The peptides were used to coat polystyrene microtiter wells which served as a model biomaterial. The ability of coated peptides to bind C4BP and to attenuate complement activation via the CP (monitored as generation of fluid-phase C3a and binding of fragments of C3 and C4 to the surface) was investigated using diluted normal human serum, where complement activation by the AP is minimal, as well as serum from a patient lacking alternative pathway activation. Complement activation (all parameters) was significantly decreased in serum incubated in well surfaces coated with peptides. Total inhibition of complement activation was obtained at peptide coating concentrations as low as 1-5 microg/mL. Successful use of Streptococcus-derived peptides shows that it is feasible to control complement activation at a model biomaterial surface by capturing autologous complement regulatory molecules from plasma.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The surface-localized M protein of Streptococcus pyogenes is a major virulence factor that inhibits phagocytosis, as determined ex vivo. Because little is known about the role of M protein in vivo we analyzed the contribution of different M protein regions to virulence, using the fibrinogen (Fg)-binding M5 protein and a mouse model of acute invasive infection. This model was suitable, because M5 is required for mouse virulence and binds mouse and human Fg equally well, as shown here. Mixed infection experiments with wild type bacteria demonstrated that mutants lacking the N-terminal hypervariable region (HVR) or the Fg-binding B-repeat region were strongly attenuated, while a mutant lacking the conserved C-repeats was only slightly attenuated. Because the HVR of M5 is not required for phagocytosis resistance, our data imply that this HVR plays a major but unknown role during acute infection. The B-repeat region is required for phagocytosis resistance and specifically binds Fg, suggesting that it promotes virulence by binding Fg. However, B-repeat mutants were attenuated even in Fg-deficient mice, implying that the B-repeats may have a second function, in addition to Fg-binding. These data demonstrate that two distinct M5 regions, including the HVR, are essential to virulence during the early stages of an infection. In particular, our data provide the first in vivo evidence that the HVR of an M protein plays a major role in virulence, focusing interest on the molecular role of this region.
PLoS ONE 01/2009; 4(10):e7279. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The amino-terminal hypervariable region (HVR) of streptococcal M protein is required for the ability of this virulence factor to confer phagocytosis resistance. The function of the HVR has remained unknown, but the finding that many HVRs with extremely divergent sequences bind the human complement regulator C4b-binding protein (C4BP) has suggested that this ligand may play a role in phagocytosis resistance. We used the M22 system to study the function of bound C4BP and provide several lines of evidence that C4BP indeed contributes to phagocytosis resistance. First, the ability of anti-HVR antibodies to cause opsonization correlated with their ability to inhibit binding of C4BP. Secondly, a short deletion in the HVR eliminated C4BP binding and also reduced the ability of M22 to confer phagocytosis resistance. Thirdly, the addition of an excess of pure C4BP to a phagocytosis system almost completely blocked the effect of opsonizing anti-HVR antibodies. Together, our data indicate that binding of C4BP to the HVR of M22 plays an important role in phagocytosis resistance, but other properties of M22 also contribute. This study provides the first molecular insight into the mechanisms by which the HVR of an M protein confers phagocytosis resistance.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Identification of antigens that elicit protective immunity is essential for effective vaccine development. We investigated the related surface proteins of group B Streptococcus, Rib and alpha, as potential vaccine candidates. Paradoxically, nonimmunodominant regions proved to be of particular interest as vaccine components. Mouse antibodies elicited by Rib and alpha were directed almost exclusively against the C-terminal repeats and not against the N-terminal regions. However, a fusion protein derived from the nonimmunodominant N-terminal regions of Rib and alpha was much more immunogenic than one derived from the repeats and was immunogenic even without adjuvant. Moreover, antibodies to the N-terminal fusion protein protected against infection and inhibited bacterial invasion of epithelial cells. Similarly, the N-terminal region of Streptococcus pyogenes M22 protein, which is targeted by opsonic antibodies, is nonimmunodominant. These data indicate that nonimmunodominant regions of bacterial antigens could be valuable for vaccine development.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glycosylation defects occur in several human diseases. In IgA nephropathy, IgA1 contains O-glycans that are galactose-deficient and consist mostly of core 1 α2,6 sialylated N-acetylgalactosamine, a configuration suspected to prevent β1,3 galactosylation. We confirmed the same aberrancy in IgA1 secreted by the human DAKIKI B cell line. Biochemical assays indicated CMP-NeuAc:GalNAc-IgA1 α2,6-sialyltransferase activity in this cell line. However, a candidate enzyme, ST6-GalNAcI, was not transcribed in DAKIKI cells, B cells isolated from blood, or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-immortalized IgA1-producing cells from the blood of IgAN patients and healthy controls. Instead, ST6-GalNAcII transcription was detected at a high level. Expression of the ST6-GalNAcII gene and activity of the CMP-NeuAc:GalNAc-IgA1 α2,6-sialyltransferase were higher in IgA1-producing cell lines from IgAN patients than in such cells from healthy controls. These data are the first evidence that human cells that lack ST6-GalNAcI can sialylate core 1 GalNAc-Ser/Thr.
Journal of Molecular Biology 06/2007; · 3.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infection with group B streptococci (GBS) is a serious neonatal disease. The GBS cell surface proteins alpha and Rib elicit protective immunity in animal models and have been suggested as potential antigens in a vaccine against human GBS disease.
To test the hypothesis that transplacentally transferred maternal antibodies to GBS proteins contribute to the protection of the neonate from GBS infection.
Thirty neonates with invasive infection were included in a case-control study. IgG antibody concentrations were measured in sera from these neonates, their mothers, and from 60 non-infected controls, neonates as well as mothers.
A clear association was found between concentrations of antibody to proteins alpha and Rib in neonatal and maternal sera, indicating that transplacental transfer had occurred. Moreover, low concentrations of antibodies to alpha and Rib in neonatal sera were associated with invasive GBS infection caused by strains expressing the Rib protein. The odds ratio was 0.0007 (95% confidence interval 0.000 to 0.54) for antibodies to alpha and 0.002 (95% confidence interval 0.000 to 0.57) for antibodies to Rib.
These findings support the notion that antibodies to GBS surface proteins contribute to the protection against neonatal infection.
Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition 12/2006; 91(6):F403-8. · 3.45 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: All living cells require specific mechanisms that target proteins to the cell surface. In eukaryotes, the first part of this process involves recognition in the endoplasmic reticulum of amino-terminal signal sequences and translocation through Sec translocons, whereas subsequent targeting to different surface locations is promoted by internal sorting signals. In bacteria, N-terminal signal sequences promote translocation across the cytoplasmic membrane, which surrounds the entire cell, but some proteins are nevertheless secreted in one part of the cell by poorly understood mechanisms. Here we analyse localized secretion in the Gram-positive pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, and show that the signal sequences of two surface proteins, M protein and protein F (PrtF), direct secretion to different subcellular regions. The signal sequence of M protein promotes secretion at the division septum, whereas that of PrtF preferentially promotes secretion at the old pole. Our work therefore shows that a signal sequence may contain information that directs the secretion of a protein to one subcellular region, in addition to its classical role in promoting secretion. This finding identifies a new level of complexity in protein translocation and emphasizes the potential of bacterial systems for the analysis of fundamental cell-biological problems.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many pathogenic microorganisms evade host immunity through extensive sequence variability in a protein region targeted by protective antibodies. In spite of the sequence variability, a variable region commonly retains an important ligand-binding function, reflected in the presence of a highly conserved sequence motif. Here, we analyze the limits of sequence divergence in a ligand-binding region by characterizing the hypervariable region (HVR) of Streptococcus pyogenes M protein. Our studies were focused on HVRs that bind the human complement regulator C4b-binding protein (C4BP), a ligand that confers phagocytosis resistance. A previous comparison of C4BP-binding HVRs identified residue identities that could be part of a binding motif, but the extended analysis reported here shows that no residue identities remain when additional C4BP-binding HVRs are included. Characterization of the HVR in the M22 protein indicated that two relatively conserved Leu residues are essential for C4BP binding, but these residues are probably core residues in a coiled-coil, implying that they do not directly contribute to binding. In contrast, substitution of either of two relatively conserved Glu residues, predicted to be solvent-exposed, had no effect on C4BP binding, although each of these changes had a major effect on the antigenic properties of the HVR. Together, these findings show that HVRs of M proteins have an extraordinary capacity for sequence divergence and antigenic variability while retaining a specific ligand-binding function.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Streptococcus pyogenes is a Gram-positive bacterium that causes several diseases, including acute tonsillitis and toxic shock syndrome. The surface-localized M protein, which is the most extensively studied virulence factor of S. pyogenes, has an approximately 50-residue N-terminal hypervariable region (HVR) that plays a key role in the escape of the host immunity. Despite the extensive sequence variability in this region, many HVRs specifically bind human C4b-binding protein (C4BP), a plasma protein that inhibits complement activation. Although the more conserved parts of M protein are known to have dimeric coiled-coil structure, it is unclear whether the HVR also is a coiled coil. Here, we use nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to study the conformational properties of HVRs from M4 and M22 proteins in isolation and in complex with the M protein binding portion of C4BP. We conclude that the HVRs of M4 and M22 are folded as coiled coils and that the folded nucleus of the M4 HVR has a length of approximately 27 residues. Moreover, we demonstrate that the C4BP binding surface of M4-N is found within a region of four heptad repeats. Using molecular modeling, we propose a model for the structure of the M4 HVR that is consistent with our experimental information from NMR spectroscopy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human C4b-binding protein (C4BP) protects host tissue, and those pathogens able to hijack this plasma glycoprotein, from complement-mediated destruction. We now show that the first two complement control protein (CCP) modules of the C4BP alpha-chain, plus the four residues connecting them, are necessary and sufficient for binding a bacterial virulence factor, the Streptococcus pyogenes M4 (Arp4) protein. Structure determination by NMR reveals two tightly coupled CCP modules in an elongated arrangement within this region of C4BP. Chemical shift perturbation studies demonstrate that the N-terminal, hypervariable region of M4 binds to a site including strand 1 of CCP module 2. This interaction is accompanied by an intermodular reorientation within C4BP. We thus provide a detailed picture of an interaction whereby a pathogen evades complement.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 03/2006; 281(6):3690-7. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Antibodies directed against a pathogenic microorganism may recognize either protective or non-protective epitopes. Because antibodies elicited by a vaccine must be directed against protective epitopes, it is essential to understand the molecular properties that distinguish the two types of epitope. Here we analyse this problem for the antiphagocytic M protein of Streptococcus pyogenes, using the opsonizing capacity of antibodies to estimate their ability to confer protection in vivo. Our studies were focused on the M5 protein, which has three surface-exposed regions: the amino-terminal hypervariable region (HVR) and the B- and C-repeat regions. We first analysed the role of different M5 regions in phagocytosis resistance under non-immune conditions, employing chromosomal mutants expressing M5 proteins with internal deletions, and demonstrate that only the B-repeat region is essential for phagocytosis resistance. However, only antibodies to the HVR were opsonic. This apparent paradox could be explained by the ability of fibrinogen and albumin to specifically bind to the B- and C-repeats, respectively, causing inhibition of antibody binding under physiological conditions, while antibodies to the HVR could bind and promote deposition of complement. These data indicate that binding of human plasma proteins plays an important role in determining the location of opsonic and non-opsonic epitopes in streptococcal M protein.