Identification of CiaR Regulated Genes That Promote Group B Streptococcal Virulence and Interaction with Brain Endothelial Cells

PLoS One. 2016 Apr 21;11(4):e0153891. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153891. eCollection 2016.


Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a major causative agent of neonatal meningitis due to its ability to efficiently cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and enter the central nervous system (CNS). It has been demonstrated that GBS can invade human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hBMEC), a primary component of the BBB; however, the mechanism of intracellular survival and trafficking is unclear. We previously identified a two component regulatory system, CiaR/H, which promotes GBS intracellular survival in hBMEC. Here we show that a GBS strain deficient in the response regulator, CiaR, localized more frequently with Rab5, Rab7 and LAMP1 positive vesicles. Further, lysosomes isolated from hBMEC contained fewer viable bacteria following initial infection with the ΔciaR mutant compared to the WT strain. To characterize the contribution of CiaR-regulated genes, we constructed isogenic mutant strains lacking the two most down-regulated genes in the CiaR-deficient mutant, SAN_2180 and SAN_0039. These genes contributed to bacterial uptake and intracellular survival. Furthermore, competition experiments in mice showed that WT GBS had a significant survival advantage over the Δ2180 and Δ0039 mutants in the bloodstream and brain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion / immunology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / microbiology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cell Movement
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / microbiology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / genetics
  • Genes, Regulator
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Streptococcal Infections / genetics
  • Streptococcal Infections / immunology
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / pathogenicity*
  • Virulence / genetics
  • Virulence / immunology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Protein Kinases
  • CiaR protein, Streptococcus pneumoniae