Streptolysins are the primary inflammasome activators in macrophages during Streptococcus pyogenes infection

Johanna Richter, Mercedes M. Monteleone, Amanda J. Cork, Timothy C. Barnett, Victor Nizet, Stephan Brouwer, Kate Schroder, Mark J. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a Gram-positive bacterial pathogen that causes an array of infectious diseases in humans. Accumulating clinical evidence suggests that proinflammatory interleukin (IL)-1β signaling plays an important role in GAS disease progression. The host regulates the production and secretion of IL-1β via the cytosolic inflammasome pathway. Activation of the NLR family pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome complex requires two signals: a priming signal that stimulates increased transcription of genes encoding the components of the inflammasome pathway, and an activating signal that induces assembly of the inflammasome complex. Here we show that GAS-derived lipoteichoic acid can provide a priming signal for NLRP3 inflammasome activation. As only few GAS-derived proteins have been associated with inflammasome-dependent IL-1β signaling, we investigated novel candidates that might play a role in activating the inflammasome pathway by infecting mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages and human THP-1 macrophage-like cells with a panel of isogenic GAS mutant strains. We found that the cytolysins streptolysin O (SLO) and streptolysin S are the main drivers of IL-1β release in proliferating logarithmic phase GAS. Using a mutant form of recombinant SLO, we confirmed that bacterial pore formation on host cell membranes is a key mechanism required for inflammasome activation. Our results suggest that streptolysins are major determinants of GAS-induced inflammation and present an attractive target for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1040-1052
Number of pages13
JournalImmunology and Cell Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


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