Park SS, Gonzalez-Juarbe N, Riegler AN, Im H, Hale Y, Platt MP, Croney C, Briles DE, Orihuela CJ

Streptococcus pneumoniae binds to host GAPDH on dying lung epithelial cells worsening secondary infection following influenza.

Cell reports. 2021-06-15; 35.11: 109267.

Streptococcus pneumoniae (Spn) alone and during co-infection with influenza A virus (IAV) can result in severe pneumonia with mortality. Pneumococcal surface protein A (PspA) is an established virulence factor required for Spn evasion of lactoferricin and C-reactive protein-activated complement-mediated killing. Herein, we show that PspA functions as an adhesin to dying host cells. We demonstrate that PspA binds to host-derived glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) bound to outward-flipped phosphatidylserine residues on dying host cells. PspA-mediated adhesion was to apoptotic, pyroptotic, and necroptotic cells, but not healthy lung cells. Using isogenic mutants of Spn, we show that PspA-GAPDH-mediated binding to lung cells increases pneumococcal localization in the lower airway, and this is enhanced as a result of pneumolysin exposure or co-infection with IAV. PspA-mediated binding to GAPDH requires amino acids 230-281 in its α-helical domain with intratracheal inoculation of this PspA fragment alongside the bacteria reducing disease severity in an IAV/Spn pneumonia model.

PMID: 34133917