Research in microbiology

A C-terminal truncated mutation of licC attenuates the virulence of Streptococcus pneumoniae.

PMID 25283725


LicC has been identified as a virulence factor of Streptococcus pneumoniae. However, its role in virulence is still not fully understood because deletion of licC is lethal for the bacterium. In this study, a mutant with 78-bp truncation at the C-terminus of licC was obtained from a signature-tagged mutagenesis (STM) library. The mutant was viable with a large reduction in enzymatic activity as CTP:phosphocholine cytidylyltransferase detected inxa0vitro using a firefly luciferase assay. The mutation attenuated the adhesion and invasion of S. pneumoniae ST556 (serotype 19F) to epithelial cells by 72% and 80%, respectively, and increased the phagocytosis by macrophages for 16.5%, compared to the parental strain. When the mutation was introduced into the encapsulated D39 strain (serotype 2), it led to attenuated virulence in mouse models either by intranasal colonization or by intraperitoneal infection. In addition, the phosphocholine (PCho) on cell surface was decreased, and the choline binding proteins (CBPs) were impaired, which may explain the attenuated virulence of the mutant. These observations indicate that C-terminus of licC is accounted for the main activity of LicC in PCho metabolism and is essential for the virulence of S. pneumoniae, which provides a novel target for drug design against pneumococcal infection.