Epidemiological and functional characterization of Streptococcus pneumoniae pili

Moschioni, Monica (2011) Epidemiological and functional characterization of Streptococcus pneumoniae pili , [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biologia cellulare, molecolare e industriale/cellular, molecular and industrial biology: progetto n. 2 Biologia funzionale dei sistemi cellulari e molecolari, 23 Ciclo.
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Streptococcus pneumoniae is an important life threatening human pathogen causing agent of invasive diseases such as otitis media, pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis, but is also a common inhabitant of the respiratory tract of children and healthy adults. Likewise most streptococci, S. pneumoniae decorates its surface with adhesive pili, composed of covalently linked subunits and involved in the attachment to epithelial cells and virulence. The pneumococcal pili are encoded by two genomic regions, pilus islet 1 (PI-1), and pilus islet-2 (PI-2), which are present in about 30% and 16% of the pneumococcal strains, respectively. PI-1 exists in three clonally related variants, whereas PI-2 is highly conserved. The presence of the islets does not correlate with the serotype of the strains, but with the genotype (as determined by Multi Locus Sequence Typing). The prevalence of PI-1 and PI-2 positive strains is similar in isolates from invasive disease and carriage. To better dissect a possible association between PIs presence and disease we evaluated the distribution of the two PIs in a panel of 113 acute otitis media (AOM) clinical isolates from Israel. PI-1 was present in 30.1% (N=34) of the isolates tested, and PI-2 in 7% (N=8). We found that 50% of the PI-1 positive isolates belonged to the international clones Spain9V-3 (ST156) and Taiwan19F-14 (ST236), and that PI-2 was not present in the absence of Pl-1. In conclusion, there was no correlation between PIs presence and AOM, and, in general, the observed differences in PIs prevalence are strictly dependent upon regional differences in the distribution of the clones. Finally, in the AOM collection the prevalence of PI-1 was higher among antibiotic resistant isolates, confirming previous indications obtained by the in silico analysis of the MLST database collection. Since the pilus-1 subunits were shown to confer protection in mouse models of infection both in active and passive immunization studies, and were regarded as potential candidates for a new generation of protein-based vaccines, the functional characterization was mainly focused on S. pneumoniae pilus -1 components. The pneumococcal pilus-1 is composed of three subunits, RrgA, RrgB and RrgC, each stabilized by intra-molecular isopeptide bonds and covalently polymerized by means of inter-molecular isopeptide bonds to form an extended fibre. The pilus shaft is a multimeric structure mainly composed by the RrgB backbone subunit. The minor ancillary proteins are located at the tip and at the base of the pilus, where they have been proposed to act as the major adhesin (RrgA) and as the pilus anchor (RrgC), respectively. RrgA is protective in in vivo mouse models, and exists in two variants (clades I and II). Mapping of the sequence variability onto the RrgA structure predicted from X-ray data showed that the diversity was restricted to the “head” of the protein, which contains the putative binding domains, whereas the elongated “stalk” was mostly conserved. To investigate whether this variability could influence the adhesive capacity of RrgA and to map the regions important for binding, two full-length protein variants and three recombinant RrgA portions were tested for adhesion to lung epithelial cells and to purified extracellular matrix (ECM) components. The two RrgA variants displayed similar binding abilities, whereas none of the recombinant fragments adhered at levels comparable to those of the full-length protein, suggesting that proper folding and structural arrangement are crucial to retain protein functionality. Furthermore, the two RrgA variants were shown to be cross-reactive in vitro and cross-protective in vivo in a murine model of passive immunization. Taken together, these data indicate that the region implicated in adhesion and the functional epitopes responsible for the protective ability of RrgA may be conserved and that the considerable level of variation found within the “head” domain of RrgA may have been generated by immunologic pressure without impairing the functional integrity of the pilus.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Moschioni, Monica
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze biologiche, biomediche e biotecnologiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Streptococcua pneumoniae pilus islet-1 pilus islet-2 RrgA
Data di discussione
15 Aprile 2011

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