Infection of neonatal mice with some reovirus strains produces a disease similar to infantile biliary atresia, but previous attempts to correlate reovirus infection with this disease have yielded conflicting results. We used isogenic reovirus strains T3SA– and T3SA+, which differ solely in the capacity to bind sialic acid as a coreceptor, to define the role of sialic acid in reovirus encephalitis and biliary tract infection in mice. Growth in the intestine was equivalent for both strains following peroral inoculation. However, T3SA+ spread more rapidly from the intestine to distant sites and replicated to higher titers in spleen, liver, and brain. Strikingly, mice infected with T3SA+ but not T3SA– developed steatorrhea and bilirubinemia. Liver tissue from mice infected with T3SA+ demonstrated intense inflammation focused at intrahepatic bile ducts, pathology analogous to that found in biliary atresia in humans, and high levels of T3SA+ antigen in bile duct epithelial cells. T3SA+ bound 100-fold more efficiently than T3SA– to human cholangiocarcinoma cells. These observations suggest that the carbohydrate-binding specificity of a virus can dramatically alter disease in the host and highlight the need for epidemiologic studies focusing on infection by sialic acid–binding reovirus strains as a possible contributor to the pathogenesis of neonatal biliary atresia.
Erik S. Barton, Bryan E. Youree, Daniel H. Ebert, J. Craig Forrest, Jodi L. Connolly, Tibor Valyi-Nagy, Kay Washington, J. Denise Wetzel, Terence S. Dermody
Group B streptococcus (GBS) is an important human pathogen. In this study, we sought to identify mechanisms that may protect GBS from host defenses in addition to its capsular polysaccharide. A gene encoding a cell-surface–associated protein (cspA) was characterized from a highly virulent type III GBS isolate, COH1. Its sequence indicated that it is a subtilisin-like extracellular serine protease homologous to streptococcal C5a peptidases and caseinases of lactic acid bacteria. The wild-type strain cleaved the α chain of human fibrinogen, whereas a cspA mutant, TOH121, was unable to cleave fibrinogen. We observed aggregated material when COH1 was incubated with fibrinogen but not when the mutant strain was treated similarly. This suggested that the product(s) of fibrinogen cleavage have strong adhesive properties and may be similar to fibrin. The cspA gene was present among representative clinical isolates from all nine capsular serotypes, as revealed by Southern blotting. A cspA– mutant was ten times less virulent in a neonatal rat sepsis model of GBS infections, as measured by LD50 analysis. In addition, the cspA– mutant was significantly more sensitive than the wild-type strain to opsonophagocytic killing by human neutrophils in vitro. Taken together, the results suggest that cleavage of fibrinogen by CspA may increase the lethality of GBS infection, potentially by protecting the bacterium from opsonophagocytic killing.
Theresa O. Harris, Daniel W. Shelver, John F. Bohnsack, Craig E. Rubens
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