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.
- glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase
- host-microbe interaction
- innate immune response
- Streptococcus agalactiae