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Infect Immun. 2010 Jun;78(6):2754-67. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01370-09. Epub 2010 Apr 12.

Virulence gene regulation by CvfA, a putative RNase: the CvfA-enolase complex in Streptococcus pyogenes links nutritional stress, growth-phase control, and virulence gene expression.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, Illinois 62901-6508, USA.


Streptococcus pyogenes, a multiple-auxotrophic human pathogen, regulates virulence gene expression according to nutritional availability during various stages in the infection process or in different infection sites. We discovered that CvfA influenced the expression of virulence genes according to growth phase and nutritional status. The influence of CvfA in C medium, rich in peptides and poor in carbohydrates, was most pronounced at the stationary phase. Under these conditions, up to 30% of the transcriptome exhibited altered expression; the levels of expression of multiple virulence genes were altered, including the genes encoding streptokinase, CAMP factor, streptolysin O, M protein (more abundant in the CvfA(-) mutant), SpeB, mitogenic factor, and streptolysin S (less abundant). The increase of carbohydrates or peptides in media restored the levels of expression of the virulence genes in the CvfA(-) mutant to wild-type levels (emm, ska, and cfa by carbohydrates; speB by peptides). Even though the regulation of gene expression dependent on nutritional stress is commonly linked to the stringent response, the levels of ppGpp were not altered by deletion of cvfA. Instead, CvfA interacted with enolase, implying that CvfA, a putative RNase, controls the transcript decay rates of virulence factors or their regulators according to nutritional status. The virulence of CvfA(-) mutants was highly attenuated in murine models, indicating that CvfA-mediated gene regulation is necessary for the pathogenesis of S. pyogenes. Taken together, the CvfA-enolase complex in S. pyogenes is involved in the regulation of virulence gene expression by controlling RNA degradation according to nutritional stress.

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