• Role of glucose and CcpA in capsule expression and virulence of Streptococcus suis.

      Willenborg, J; Fulde, M; de Greeff, A; Rohde, Manfred; Smith, H E; Valentin-Weigand, P; Goethe, R; Institute for Microbiology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany. (2011-06)
      Streptococcus suis is one of the most important pathogens in pigs and is also an emerging zoonotic agent. After crossing the epithelial barrier, S. suis causes bacteraemia, resulting in meningitis, endocarditis and bronchopneumonia. Since the host environment seems to be an important regulatory component for virulence, we related expression of virulence determinants of S. suis to glucose availability during growth and to the sugar metabolism regulator catabolite control protein A (CcpA). We found that expression of the virulence-associated genes arcB, representing arcABC operon expression, cps2A, representing capsular locus expression, as well as sly, ofs, sao and epf, differed significantly between exponential and early stationary growth of a highly virulent serotype 2 strain. Deletion of ccpA altered the expression of the surface-associated virulence factors arcB, sao and eno, as well as the two currently proven virulence factors in pigs, ofs and cps2A, in early exponential growth. Global expression analysis using a cDNA expression array revealed 259 differentially expressed genes in early exponential growth, of which 141 were more highly expressed in the CcpA mutant strain 10ΔccpA and 118 were expressed to a lower extent. Interestingly, among the latter genes, 18 could be related to capsule and cell wall synthesis. Correspondingly, electron microscopy characterization of strain 10ΔccpA revealed a markedly reduced thickness of the capsule. This phenotype correlated with enhanced binding to porcine plasma proteins and a reduced resistance to killing by porcine neutrophils. Taken together, our data demonstrate that CcpA has a significant effect on the capsule synthesis and virulence properties of S. suis.