• SCM, the M Protein of Streptococcus canis Binds Immunoglobulin G.

      Bergmann, Simone; Eichhorn, Inga; Kohler, Thomas P; Hammerschmidt, Sven; Goldmann, Oliver; Rohde, M; Fulde, Marcus; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      The M protein of Streptococcus canis (SCM) is a virulence factor and serves as a surface-associated receptor with a particular affinity for mini-plasminogen, a cleavage product of the broad-spectrum serine protease plasmin. Here, we report that SCM has an additional high-affinity immunoglobulin G (IgG) binding activity. The ability of a particular S. canis isolate to bind to IgG significantly correlates with a scm-positive phenotype, suggesting a dominant role of SCM as an IgG receptor. Subsequent heterologous expression of SCM in non-IgG binding S. gordonii and Western Blot analysis with purified recombinant SCM proteins confirmed its IgG receptor function. As expected for a zoonotic agent, the SCM-IgG interaction is species-unspecific, with a particular affinity of SCM for IgGs derived from human, cats, dogs, horses, mice, and rabbits, but not from cows and goats. Similar to other streptococcal IgG-binding proteins, the interaction between SCM and IgG occurs via the conserved Fc domain and is, therefore, non-opsonic. Interestingly, the interaction between SCM and IgG-Fc on the bacterial surface specifically prevents opsonization by C1q, which might constitute another anti-phagocytic mechanism of SCM. Extensive binding analyses with a variety of different truncated SCM fragments defined a region of 52 amino acids located in the central part of the mature SCM protein which is important for IgG binding. This binding region is highly conserved among SCM proteins derived from different S. canis isolates but differs significantly from IgG-Fc receptors of S. pyogenes and S. dysgalactiae sub. equisimilis, respectively. In summary, we present an additional role of SCM in the pathogen-host interaction of S. canis. The detailed analysis of the SCM-IgG interaction should contribute to a better understanding of the complex roles of M proteins in streptococcal pathogenesis.
    • Staphylococcus aureus phenotype switching: an effective bacterial strategy to escape host immune response and establish a chronic infection.

      Tuchscherr, Lorena; Medina, Eva; Hussain, Muzaffar; Völker, Wolfgang; Heitmann, Vanessa; Niemann, Silke; Holzinger, Dirk; Roth, Johannes; Proctor, Richard A; Becker, Karsten; et al. (2011-03)
      Staphylococcus aureus is a frequent cause for serious, chronic and therapy-refractive infections in spite of susceptibility to antibiotics in vitro. In chronic infections, altered bacterial phenotypes, such as small colony variants (SCVs), have been found. Yet, it is largely unclear whether the ability to interconvert from the wild-type to the SCV phenotype is only a rare clinical and/or just laboratory phenomenon or is essential to sustain an infection. Here, we performed different long-term in vitro and in vivo infection models with S. aureus and we show that viable bacteria can persist within host cells and/or tissues for several weeks. Persistence induced bacterial phenotypic diversity, including SCV phenotypes, accompanied by changes in virulence factor expression and auxotrophism. However, the recovered SCV phenotypes were highly dynamic and rapidly reverted to the fully virulent wild-type form when leaving the intracellular location and infecting new cells. Our findings demonstrate that bacterial phenotype switching is an integral part of the infection process that enables the bacteria to hide inside host cells, which can be a reservoir for chronic and therapy-refractive infections.