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Free Content The Mga virulence regulon: infection where the grass is greener

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Summary

Co-ordinate regulation of virulence gene expression in response to different host environments is central to the success of the group A streptococcus (GAS, Streptococcus pyogenes) as an important human pathogen. Mga represents a ubiquitous stand-alone virulence regulator that controls genes (Mga regulon) whose products are necessary for adherence, internalization and host immune evasion. Mga highly activates a core set of virulence genes, including its own gene, by directly binding to their promoters. Yet, Mga also influences expression of over 10% of the GAS genome, primarily genes and operons involved in metabolism and sugar utilization. Expression of the Mga regulon is influenced by conditions that signify favourable growth conditions, presumably allowing GAS to take advantage of promising new niches in the host. The ability of Mga to respond to growth signals clearly involves regulation of mga expression via global regulatory networks such as RALPs, Rgg/RopB and the catabolite control protein CcpA. However, the presence of predicted PTS regulatory domains (PRDs) within Mga suggests an intriguing model whereby phosphorylation of Mga by the PTS phosphorelay might link growth and sugar utilization with virulence in GAS. As Mga homologues have been found in several important Gram-positive pathogens, the Mga regulon could provide a valuable paradigm for increasing our understanding of global virulence networks in bacteria.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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