Host glycan degradation by Streptococcus pneumoniae




Cid, Melissa

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Streptococcus pneumoniae is a commensal inhabitant of the human nasopharynx that can sometimes become pathogenic and cause diseases such as pneumonia, otitis media and meningitis. Carbohydrate metabolism is a critical component of S. pneumoniae virulence. Among the myriad of carbohydrate-specific pathways involved in the host-pneumococcus interaction, the N-glycan foraging pathway stands out because of its direct implication in numerous aspects of virulence such as fitness, adhesion/invasion and impairment of the host immune response. Much of the literature has been focussed on the importance of step-wise depolymerisation of N-glycans by the enzymes NanA, BgaA and StrH. However, the importance of the liberation of N-glycans from host glycoconjuguates and their intake by the bacterium has yet to be examined. We have identified a Carbohydrate Processing Locus (CPL) that is highly conserved throughout a large number of Firmicutes and whose individual components appear widespread in bacteria that we hypothesize is active on host N-glycans. This locus encodes for two putative α-mannosidases GH92 and GH38, a characterised α-mannosidase GH125, a putative β-hexosaminidase GH20C, a putative α-fucosidase GH29 and a ROK (Repressor, Open reading frame, Kinase) protein. The genomic context of CPL orthologues suggests that an endo-β-N-acetylglucosaminidase (EndoD) and an ABC transporter (ABCN-glycan) are functionally associated with this locus. Based on our bioinformatic analyses and known functions of these proteins we hypothesize that the CPL encodes a concerted pathway responsible for the liberation, transport, and processing of N-glycans. The objective of this research is to characterize the putative components of this pathway and assess their implication in virulence. Specific focus on ABCN-glycan demonstrated its specificity for a range of N-glycans liberated by EndoD, shedding light on a novel import system for branched N-glycans. Furthermore, we provided evidence that GH92 is an α-1,2-mannosidase that likely removes the terminal mannose residues found on high-mannose N-glycans. EndoD and GH92 are shown to participate in virulence in mice; however, their role in virulence has yet to be determined. This work will significantly advance the construction and validation of a model of N-glycan processing by S. pneumoniae. As the components of this model pathway are conserved amongst a wide variety of bacteria, this work is of fundamental relevance to understanding how microbes from various environments degrade and metabolize N-glycans.



Streptococcus pneumoniae, Glycoside hydrolase, host glycan, N-glycan, Carbohydrate, virulence