September 22, 2019  |  

A sub-population of group A Streptococcus elicits a population-wide production of bacteriocins to establish dominance in the host.

Authors: Hertzog, Baruch B and Kaufman, Yael and Biswas, Debabrata and Ravins, Miriam and Ambalavanan, Poornima and Wiener, Reuven and Angeli, Veronique and Chen, Swaine L and Hanski, Emanuel

Bacteria use quorum sensing (QS) to regulate gene expression. We identified a group A Streptococcus (GAS) strain possessing the QS system sil, which produces functional bacteriocins, through a sequential signaling pathway integrating host and bacterial signals. Host cells infected by GAS release asparagine (ASN), which is sensed by the bacteria to alter its gene expression and rate of proliferation. We show that upon ASN sensing, GAS upregulates expression of the QS autoinducer peptide SilCR. Initial SilCR expression activates the autoinduction cycle for further SilCR production. The autoinduction process propagates throughout the GAS population, resulting in bacteriocin production. Subcutaneous co-injection of mice with a bacteriocin-producing strain and the globally disseminated M1T1 GAS clone results in M1T1 killing within soft tissue. Thus, by sensing host signals, a fraction of a bacterial population can trigger an autoinduction mechanism mediated by QS, which acts on the entire bacterial community to outcompete other bacteria within the infection. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Journal: Cell host & microbe
DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2018.02.002
Year: 2018

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