A type VII secretion system in Group B Streptococcus mediates cytotoxicity and virulence

Academic Article


  • Type VII secretion systems (T7SS) have been identified in Actinobacteria and Firmicutes and have been shown to secrete effector proteins with functions in virulence, host toxicity, and/or interbacterial killing in a few genera. Bioinformatic analysis indicates that isolates of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) encode at least four distinct subtypes of T7SS machinery, three of which encode adjacent putative T7SS effectors with WXG and LXG motifs. However, the function of T7SS in GBS pathogenesis is unknown. Here we assessed the role of the most abundant GBS T7SS subtype during GBS pathogenesis. In a murine model of hematogenous meningitis, mice infected with GBS lacking a functional T7SS or lacking the secreted WXG100 effector EsxA exhibited less mortality, lower bacterial burdens in tissues, and decreased inflammation in the brain compared to mice infected with the parental GBS strain. We further showed that this T7SS induces cytotoxicity in brain endothelium and that EsxA contributes to these cytotoxicity phenotypes in a WXG motif-dependent manner. Finally, we determined that EsxA is a pore-forming protein, thus demonstrating the first role for a non-mycobacterial EsxA homolog in pore formation. This work reveals the importance of a T7SS in host–GBS interactions and has implications for T7SS effector function in other Gram-positive bacteria.
  • Published In

  • PLoS Pathogens  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Spencer BL; Tak U; Mendonça JC; Nagao PE; Niederweis M; Doran KS
  • Volume

  • 17
  • Issue

  • 12