Streptococcal heme binding protein (Shp) promotes virulence and contributes to the pathogenesis of group AStreptococcusinfection
Streptococcal heme binding protein (Shp) is involved in the process of heme acquisition in group A Streptococcus (GAS). However, no research thus far has examined the contribution of Shp to the virulence of GAS. To this end, we generated an isogenic strain lacking the shp gene (Δshp) and its complemented strain (Δshp-c) using the parent strain MGAS5005 (WT). Deletion of shp increased survival rates and neutrophil recruitment and reduced skin lesion sizes and GAS loads in the blood and the liver, lung, kidney and spleen in subcutaneous infections of mice. These results indicate that Shp significantly contributes to the skin and systemic invasion of GAS. The growth of the Δshp mutant was significantly slower than MGAS5005 and Δshp-c than in non-immune human blood and in incubation with isolated rat neutrophils. Microarray transcriptional analyses found no alteration in expression of virulence genes, indicating that the phenotype of the Δshp mutant was directly linked to the lack of Shp. The findings indicate that Shp significantly contributes to GAS skin invasion, systemic infection and virulence and that these contributions of Shp are mediated by the effects of Shp on systemic GAS growth and neutrophil responses.