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Infect Immun. 1996 Feb;64(2):503-10.

C5a peptidase alters clearance and trafficking of group A streptococci by infected mice.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis 55455, USA.


Group A streptococcal C5a peptidase (SCPA) specifically cleaves the human serum chemotaxin C5a at the polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMNL) binding site. This study tested the proposal that SCPA contributes to virulence by retarding the influx of inflammatory cells and clearance of streptococci during the first few hours after infection. To investigate the specific contribution of SCPA to the virulence of group A streptococci, scpA insertion and deletion mutants were created by directed plasmid insertion into scpA and gene replacement. The precise locations of insertion and deletion mutations were confirmed by PCR and DNA sequence analysis. The impact of mutation on virulence was investigated with a mouse air sac model of inflammation. Experiments evaluated clearance of streptococci from the air sac within 4 h after infection. SCPA- streptococci were cleared more efficiently than wild-type bacteria. Localization of streptococci in lymph nodes and spleens of infected mice revealed a significant difference between mutant and wild-type streptococci. PMNLs and other granulocytes that infiltrated the air sac were quantitated by single-color flow cytometry. The total cellular infiltrate was greater and PMNLs dominated the granulocytic infiltrates of air sacs inoculated with SCPA- mutant bacteria. The data obtained are consistent with the possibility that SCPA- streptococci are initially cleared from the site of infection primarily by PMNLs. Moreover, mutant and wild-type streptococci followed different paths of dissemination. SCPA- bacteria were transported to lymph nodes, whereas wild-type streptococci avoided transport to the lymph nodes and rapidly spread to the spleen.

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