Infection and immunity

Role for streptococcal collagen-like protein 1 in M1T1 group A Streptococcus resistance to neutrophil extracellular traps.

PMID 25024366


Streptococcal collagen-like protein 1 (Scl-1) is one of the most highly expressed proteins in the invasive M1T1 serotype group A Streptococcus (GAS), a globally disseminated clone associated with higher risk of severe invasive infections. Previous studies using recombinant Scl-1 protein suggested a role in cell attachment and binding and inhibition of serum proteins. Here, we studied the contribution of Scl-1 to the virulence of the M1T1 clone in the physiological context of the live bacterium by generating an isogenic strain lacking the scl-1 gene. Upon subcutaneous infection in mice, wild-type bacteria induced larger lesions than the Δscl mutant. However, loss of Scl-1 did not alter bacterial adherence to or invasion of skin keratinocytes. We found instead that Scl-1 plays a critical role in GAS resistance to human and murine phagocytic cells, allowing the bacteria to persist at the site of infection. Phenotypic analyses demonstrated that Scl-1 mediates bacterial survival in neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and protects GAS from antimicrobial peptides found within the NETs. Additionally, Scl-1 interferes with myeloperoxidase (MPO) release, a prerequisite for NET production, thereby suppressing NET formation. We conclude that Scl-1 is a virulence determinant in the M1T1 GAS clone, allowing GAS to subvert innate immune functions that are critical in clearing bacterial infections.