Transcriptomic analysis of streptococcus pyogenes colonizing the vaginal mucosa identifies hupy, an MtsR-regulated adhesin involved in heme utilization

Laura C.C. Cook, Nilanjana Chatterjee, Yan Li, Jorge Andrade, Michael J. Federle, Zehava Eichenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus [GAS]) is a serious human pathogen with the ability to colonize mucosal surfaces such as the nasophar-ynx and vaginal tract, often leading to infections such as pharyngitis and vulvovaginitis. We present genome-wide transcriptome sequencing (RNASeq) data showing the transcriptomic changes GAS undergoes during vaginal colonization. These data reveal that the regulon controlled by MtsR, a master metal regulator, is activated during vaginal colonization. This regulon includes two genes highly expressed during vaginal colonization, hupYZ. Here we show that HupY binds heme in vitro, affects intracellular concentrations of iron, and is essential for proper growth of GAS using hemoglobin or serum as the sole iron source. HupY is also important for murine vaginal colonization of both GAS and the related vaginal colonizer and pathogen Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus [GBS]). These data provide essential information on the link between metal regulation and mucosal colonization in both GAS and GBS. IMPORTANCE Colonization of the host requires the ability to adapt to an environment that is often low in essential nutrients such as iron. Here we present data showing that the transcriptome of the important human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes shows extensive remodeling during in vivo growth, resulting in, among many other differentially expressed genes and pathways, a significant increase in genes involved in acquiring iron from host heme. Data show that HupY, previously characterized as an adhesin in both S. pyogenes and the related pathogen Streptococcus agalactiae, binds heme and affects intracellular iron concentrations. HupY, a protein with no known heme binding domains, represents a novel heme binding protein playing an important role in bacterial iron homeostasis as well as vaginal colonization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00848-19
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Adherence
  • Colonization
  • Heme
  • Iron uptake
  • Streptococcus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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