Manganese homeostasis in group A Streptococcus is critical for resistance to oxidative stress and virulence

mBio. 2015 Mar 24;6(2):e00278-15. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00278-15.


Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Streptococcus [GAS]) is an obligate human pathogen responsible for a spectrum of human disease states. Metallobiology of human pathogens is revealing the fundamental role of metals in both nutritional immunity leading to pathogen starvation and metal poisoning of pathogens by innate immune cells. Spy0980 (MntE) is a paralog of the GAS zinc efflux pump CzcD. Through use of an isogenic mntE deletion mutant in the GAS serotype M1T1 strain 5448, we have elucidated that MntE is a manganese-specific efflux pump required for GAS virulence. The 5448ΔmntE mutant had significantly lower survival following infection of human neutrophils than did the 5448 wild type and the complemented mutant (5448ΔmntE::mntE). Manganese homeostasis may provide protection against oxidative stress, explaining the observed ex vivo reduction in virulence. In the presence of manganese and hydrogen peroxide, 5448ΔmntE mutant exhibits significantly lower survival than wild-type 5448 and the complemented mutant. We hypothesize that MntE, by maintaining homeostatic control of cytoplasmic manganese, ensures that the peroxide response repressor PerR is optimally poised to respond to hydrogen peroxide stress. Creation of a 5448ΔmntE-ΔperR double mutant rescued the oxidative stress resistance of the double mutant to wild-type levels in the presence of manganese and hydrogen peroxide. This work elucidates the mechanism for manganese toxicity within GAS and the crucial role of manganese homeostasis in maintaining GAS virulence.

Importance: Manganese is traditionally viewed as a beneficial metal ion to bacteria, and it is also established that most bacteria can tolerate high concentrations of this transition metal. In this work, we show that in group A Streptococcus, mutation of the mntE locus, which encodes a transport protein of the cation diffusion facilitator (CDF) family, results in accumulation of manganese and sensitivity to this transition metal ion. The toxicity of manganese is indirect and is the result of a failure of the PerR regulator to respond to oxidative stress in the presence of high intracellular manganese concentrations. These results highlight the importance of MntE in manganese homeostasis and maintenance of an optimal manganese/iron ratio in GAS and the impact of manganese on resistance to oxidative stress and virulence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / toxicity
  • Manganese / metabolism*
  • Manganese / toxicity
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microbial Viability
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / microbiology
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Streptococcal Infections / immunology
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / drug effects
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / metabolism
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / physiology*
  • Virulence


  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Manganese
  • Hydrogen Peroxide