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

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

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

PMID: 34133917


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.