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Infect Immun. 2010 May;78(5):2108-16. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01125-09. Epub 2010 Feb 16.

Three surface exoglycosidases from Streptococcus pneumoniae, NanA, BgaA, and StrH, promote resistance to opsonophagocytic killing by human neutrophils.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is a major human pathogen and a leading cause of inflammatory infections such as pneumonia and otitis media. An important mechanism for host defense against S. pneumoniae is opsonophagocytic killing by neutrophils. To persist in the human host, the pneumococcus has developed strategies to evade opsonization and subsequent neutrophil-mediated killing. Utilizing a genomic approach, we identified NanA, the major pneumococcal neuraminidase, as a factor important for resistance to opsonophagocytic killing in ex vivo killing assays using human neutrophils. The effect of NanA was shown using both type 4 (TIGR4) and type 6A clinical isolates. NanA promotes this resistance by acting in conjunction with two other surface-associated exoglycosidases, BgaA, a beta-galactosidase, and StrH, an N-acetylglucosaminidase. Experiments using human serum showed that these exoglycosidases reduced deposition of complement component C3 on the pneumococcal surface, providing a mechanism for this resistance. Additionally, we have shown that antibodies in human serum do not contribute to this phenotype. These results demonstrate that deglycosylation of a human serum glycoconjugate(s) by the combined effects of NanA, BgaA, and StrH, is important for resistance to complement deposition and subsequent phagocytic killing of S. pneumoniae.

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