Streptococcus agalactiae glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) elicits multiple cytokines from human cells and has a minor effect on bacterial persistence in the murine female reproductive tract

Matthew J. Sullivan, Kelvin G. K. Goh, Ruby Thapa, Debasish Chattopadhyay, Deepak S. Ipe, Benjamin L. Duell, Lahiru Katupitiya, Dean Gosling, Dhruba Acharya, Glen C. Ulett

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Streptococcus agalactiae glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), encoded by gapC, is a glycolytic enzyme that is associated with virulence and immune-mediated protection. However, the role of GAPDH in cellular cytokine responses to S. agalactiae, bacterial phagocytosis and colonization of the female reproductive tract, a central host niche, is unknown. We expressed and studied purified recombinant GAPDH (rGAPDH) of S. agalactiae in cytokine elicitation assays with human monocyte-derived macrophage, epithelial cell, and polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) co-culture infection models. We also generated a S. agalactiae mutant that over-expresses GAPDH (oeGAPDH) from gapC using a constitutively active promoter, and analyzed the mutant in murine macrophage antibiotic protection assays and in virulence assays in vivo, using a colonization model that is based on experimental infection of the reproductive tract in female mice. Human cell co-cultures produced interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and IL-10 within 24 h of exposure to rGAPDH. PMNs were required for several of these cytokine responses. However, over-expression of GAPDH in S. agalactiae did not significantly affect measures of phagocytic uptake compared to an empty vector control. In contrast, oeGAPDH-S. agalactiae showed a small but statistically significant attenuation for persistence in the reproductive tract of female mice during the chronic phase of infection (10–28 days post-inoculation), relative to the vector control. We conclude that S. agalactiae GAPDH elicits production of multiple cytokines from human cells, and over-expression of GAPDH renders the bacterium more susceptible to host clearance in the female reproductive tract. One-sentence summary: This study shows Streptococcus agalactiae glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, an enzyme that functions in glycolysis, gluconeogenesis and virulence, modifies phagocytosis outcomes, including cytokine synthesis, and affects bacterial persistence in the female reproductive tract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3015-3027
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Early online date11 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • cytokine
  • glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase
  • host-microbe interaction
  • innate immune response
  • pathogenesis
  • Streptococcus agalactiae

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