A Novel Bacterial Resistance Mechanism against Human Group IIA-Secreted Phospholipase A2: Role of Streptococcus pyogenes Sortase A.

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Human group IIA-secreted phospholipase A(2) (sPLA(2)-IIA) is a bactericidal molecule important for the innate immune defense against Gram-positive bacteria. In this study, we analyzed its role in the host defense against Streptococcus pyogenes, a major human pathogen, and demonstrated that this bacterium has evolved a previously unidentified mechanism to resist killing by sPLA(2)-IIA. Analysis of a set of clinical isolates demonstrated that an ∼500-fold higher concentration of sPLA(2)-IIA was required to kill S. pyogenes compared with strains of the group B Streptococcus, which previously were shown to be sensitive to sPLA(2)-IIA, indicating that S. pyogenes exhibits a high degree of resistance to sPLA(2)-IIA. We found that an S. pyogenes mutant lacking sortase A, a transpeptidase responsible for anchoring LPXTG proteins to the cell wall in Gram-positive bacteria, was significantly more sensitive (∼30-fold) to sPLA(2)-IIA compared with the parental strain, indicating that one or more LPXTG surface proteins protect S. pyogenes against sPLA(2)-IIA. Importantly, using transgenic mice expressing human sPLA(2)-IIA, we showed that the sortase A-mediated sPLA(2)-IIA resistance mechanism in S. pyogenes also occurs in vivo. Moreover, in this mouse model, we also showed that human sPLA(2)-IIA is important for the defense against lethal S. pyogenes infection. Thus, we demonstrated a novel mechanism by which a pathogenic bacterium can evade the bactericidal action of sPLA(2)-IIA and we showed that sPLA(2)-IIA contributes to the host defense against S. pyogenes infection.


  • Elin Movert
  • Yongzheng Wu
  • Gérard Lambeau
  • Lhousseine Touqui
  • Thomas Areschoug
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Immunology in the medical area
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6437-6446
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch