Characterization of a Two-Component System Transcriptional Regulator, LtdR, That Impacts Group B Streptococcal Colonization and Disease

Infect Immun. 2018 Jun 21;86(7):e00822-17. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00822-17. Print 2018 Jul.


Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus [GBS]) is often a commensal bacterium that colonizes healthy adults asymptomatically and is a frequent inhabitant of the vaginal tract in women. However, in immunocompromised individuals, particularly the newborn, GBS may transition to an invasive pathogen and cause serious disease. Despite the use of the currently recommended intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis for GBS-positive mothers, GBS remains a leading cause of neonatal septicemia and meningitis. To adapt to the various host environments encountered during its disease cycle, GBS possesses multiple two-component regulatory systems (TCSs). Here we investigated the contribution of a transcriptional regulator containing a LytTR domain, LtdR, to GBS pathogenesis. Disruption of the ltdR gene in the GBS chromosome resulted in a significant increase in bacterial invasion into human cerebral microvascular endothelial cells (hCMEC) in vitro as well as the greater penetration of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the development of meningitis in vivo Correspondingly, infection of hCMEC with the ΔltdR mutant resulted in increased secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-8 (IL-8), CXCL-1, and IL-6. Further, using a mouse model of GBS vaginal colonization, we observed that the ΔltdR mutant was cleared more readily from the vaginal tract and also that infection with the ΔltdR mutant resulted in increased cytokine production from human vaginal epithelial cells. RNA sequencing revealed global transcriptional differences between the ΔltdR mutant and the parental wild-type GBS strain. These results suggest that LtdR regulates many bacterial processes that can influence GBS-host interactions to promote both bacterial persistence and disease progression.

Keywords: RNA sequencing; blood-brain barrier; cytokines; group B Streptococcus; meningitis; two-component regulatory systems; vaginal colonization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Streptococcal Infections / genetics*
  • Streptococcal Infections / physiopathology*
  • Transcriptional Activation / genetics*
  • Transcriptional Activation / physiology*
  • Virulence / genetics*
  • Virulence / physiology*