Linking the nutritional status of Streptococcus pyogenes to alteration of transcriptional gene expression: the action of CodY and RelA

Int J Med Microbiol. 2006 Aug;296(4-5):259-75. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmm.2005.11.008. Epub 2006 Mar 13.


In this investigation, we identify the CodY protein from Streptococcus pyogenes as a pleiotropic transcription regulator with global features. The notion that acquisition of nutrients by this polyauxotrophic organism is the primary event occurring during the establishment of infection and that virulence expression is a result of this quest, led us to study the action of codY and relA genes on transcriptional gene expression under different nutritional conditions using complex and chemically defined media. Real-time reverse transcription PCR was used to determine the extent to which inactivation of codY and relA affects the mRNA levels of selected transcription factors, virulence genes, transporters, and genes encoding metabolic enzymes. The results show that CodY and RelA did not affect the expression of each other but that both exhibited strong negative autoregulatory properties. Genes negatively controlled by the relA-directed stringent response to amino acid starvation included, besides relA itself, transporters, metabolic enzymes, and at least two virulence genes (graB and speH). The expression of many genes of all four groups studied proved to be subject to direct or indirect control by CodY, often in a nutritional status-dependent fashion. One of the most important results implicates CodY in growth phase-dependent positive transcriptional regulation of pel/sagA and mga, loci that themselves positively affect the expression of numerous virulence factors. Increasing the cellular activity of nicotinamidase in both a codY mutant and wild-type background induced extensive transcriptional reprogramming, altering, among others, the growth phase-dependent transcription pattern of the genes for cysteine protease (speB) and several transporters. Inasmuch as CodY influenced the expression of other regulators (pel/sagA, mga, covRS, ropB, pyrR), its action is amplified and expands the complex regulatory network that governs gene expression in S. pyogenes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Carrier Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Enzymes / biosynthesis
  • Enzymes / genetics
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Ligases / genetics
  • Ligases / physiology*
  • RNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / genetics*
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / metabolism
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Virulence Factors / biosynthesis
  • Virulence Factors / genetics


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Enzymes
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Virulence Factors
  • Ligases
  • guanosine 3',5'-polyphosphate synthetases