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A quorum-sensing system that regulates Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilm formation and surface polysaccharide production

Junges, R; Salvadori, G; Shekhar, S; Åmdal, HA; Periselneris, JN; Chen, T; Brown, JS; (2017) A quorum-sensing system that regulates Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilm formation and surface polysaccharide production. mSphere , 2 (5) , Article e00324-17. 10.1128/mSphere.00324-17. Green open access

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Abstract

Despite vaccines, Streptococcus pneumoniae kills more than a million people yearly. Thus, understanding how pneumococci transition from commensals to pathogens is particularly relevant. Quorum sensing regulates collective behaviors and thus represents a potential driver of commensal-to-pathogen transitions. Rgg/small hydrophobic peptide (SHP) quorum-sensing systems are widespread in streptococci, yet they remain largely uncharacterized in S. pneumoniae. Using directional transcriptome sequencing, we show that the S. pneumoniae D39 Rgg0939/SHP system induces the transcription of a single gene cluster including shp and capsule gene homologs. Capsule size measurements determined by fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran exclusion allowed assignment of the system to the regulation of surface polysaccharide expression. We found that the SHP pheromone induced exopolysaccharide expression in R36A, an unencapsulated derivative of D39. In the encapsulated parent strain, overexpression of the Rgg system resulted in a mutant with increased capsule size. In line with previous studies showing that capsule expression is inversely associated with biofilm formation, we found that biofilm formed on lung epithelial cells was decreased in the overexpression strain and increased in an rgg deletion mutant. Although no significant differences were observed between D39 and the rgg deletion mutant in a mouse model of lung infection, in competitive assays, overexpression reduced fitness. This is the first study to reveal a quorum-sensing system in streptococci that regulates exopolysaccharide synthesis from a site distinct from the original capsule locus.

Type: Article
Title: A quorum-sensing system that regulates Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilm formation and surface polysaccharide production
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00324-17
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00324-17
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine > Respiratory Medicine
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10044302
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