• Contribution of plasminogen activation towards the pathogenic potential of oral streptococci.

      Itzek, Andreas; Gillen, Christine M; Fulde, Marcus; Friedrichs, Claudia; Rodloff, Arne C; Chhatwal, Gursharan S; Nitsche-Schmitz, Daniel Patric; Department of Medical Microbiology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2010)
      Oral streptococci are a heterogeneous group of human commensals, with a potential to cause serious infections. Activation of plasminogen has been shown to increase the virulence of typical human pathogenic streptococci such as S. pneumoniae. One important factor for plasminogen activation is the streptococcal α-enolase. Here we report that plasminogen activation is also common in oral streptococci species involved in clinical infection and that it depends on the action of human plasminogen activators. The ability to activate plasminogen did not require full conservation of the internal plasminogen binding sequence motif FYDKERKVY of α-enolase that was previously described as crucial for increased plasminogen binding, activation and virulence. Instead, experiments with recombinant α-enolase variants indicate that the naturally occurring variations do not impair plasminogen binding. In spite of these variations in the internal plasminogen binding motif oral streptococci showed similar activation of plasminogen. We conclude that the pathomechanism of plasminogen activation is conserved in oral streptococci that cause infections in human. This may contribute to their opportunistic pathogenic character that is unfurled in certain niches.
    • Identification of a streptococcal octapeptide motif involved in acute rheumatic fever.

      Dinkla, Katrin; Nitsche-Schmitz, D Patric; Barroso, Vanessa; Reissmann, Silvana; Johansson, Helena M; Frick, Inga-Maria; Rohde, Manfred; Chhatwal, Gursharan S; Department of Microbial Pathogenesis, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2007-06-29)
      Acute rheumatic fever is a serious autoimmune sequela of pharyngitis caused by certain group A streptococci. One mechanism applied by streptococcal strains capable of causing acute rheumatic fever is formation of an autoantigenic complex with human collagen IV. In some geographic regions with a high incidence of acute rheumatic fever pharyngeal carriage of group C and group G streptococci prevails. Examination of such strains revealed the presence of M-like surface proteins that bind human collagen. Using a peptide array and recombinant proteins with targeted amino acid substitutions, we could demonstrate that formation of collagen complexes during streptococcal infections depends on an octapeptide motif, which is present in collagen binding M and M-like proteins of different beta-hemolytic streptococcal species. Mice immunized with streptococcal proteins that contain the collagen binding octapeptide motif developed high serum titers of anti-collagen antibodies. In sera of rheumatic fever patients such a collagen autoimmune response was accompanied by specific reactivity against the collagen-binding proteins, linking the observed effect to clinical cases. Taken together, the data demonstrate that the identified octapeptide motif through its action on collagen plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of rheumatic fever. Eradication of streptococci that express proteins with the collagen binding motif appears advisable for controlling rheumatic fever.
    • Region specific and worldwide distribution of collagen-binding M proteins with PARF motifs among human pathogenic streptococcal isolates.

      Reissmann, Silvana; Gillen, Christine M; Fulde, Marcus; Bergmann, René; Nerlich, Andreas; Rajkumari, Reena; Brahmadathan, Kootallur N; Chhatwal, Gursharan S; Nitsche-Schmitz, D Patric; Department of Microbial Pathogenesis, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2012)
      Some of the variety of Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus dysgalactiae ssp. equisimilis (SDSE) M proteins act as collagen-binding adhesins that facilitate acute infection. Moreover, their potential to trigger collagen autoimmunity has been implicated in the pathogenesis of acute rheumatic fever and attributed to a collagen-binding motif called PARF (peptide associated with rheumatic fever). For the first time we determine the rate of clinical isolates with collagen-binding M proteins that use a PARF motif (A/T/E)XYLXX(L/F)N in a defined geographic region, Vellore in South India. In this region both, incidence of streptococcal infections and prevalence of acute rheumatic fever are high. M proteins with PARF motif conferred collagen-binding activity to 3.9% of 153 S. pyogenes and 10.6% of 255 SDSE clinical isolates from Vellore. The PARF motif occurred in three S. pyogenes and 22 SDSE M protein types. In one of the S. pyogenes and five of the SDSE M proteins that contained the motif, collagen-binding was impaired, due to influences of other parts of the M protein molecule. The accumulated data on the collagen binding activity of certain M protein types allowed a reanalysis of published worldwide emm-typing data with the aim to estimate the rates of isolates that bind collagen via PARF. The results indicate that M proteins, which bind collagen via a PARF motif, are epidemiologically relevant in human infections, not only in Vellore. It is imperative to include the most relevant collagen-binding M types in vaccines. But when designing M protein based vaccines it should be considered that collagen binding motifs within the vaccine antigen remain potential risk factors.