Activation of Bacteroides fragilis toxin by a novel bacterial protease contributes to anaerobic sepsis in mice

Vivian M Choi, Julien Herrou, Aaron L Hecht, Wei Ping Teoh, Jerrold R Turner, Sean Crosson, Juliane Bubeck Wardenburg
2016 Nature Medicine  
Bacteroides fragilis is the leading cause of anaerobic bacteremia and sepsis 1 . Enterotoxigenic strains producing B. fragilis toxin (BFT, fragilysin) contribute to colitis 2 and intestinal malignancy 3 , yet are also isolated in bloodstream infection 4 , 5 . It is not known whether these strains harbor unique genetic determinants that confer virulence in extra-intestinal disease. We demonstrate that BFT contributes to sepsis and identify a B. fragilis protease, fragipain (Fpn), which is
more » ... d for endogenous activation of BFT through removal of its auto-inhibitory prodomain. Structural analysis of Fpn reveals a His-Cys catalytic dyad characteristic of C11 family cysteine proteases that are conserved in multiple pathogenic Bacteroides spp and Clostridium spp. Fpn-deficient enterotoxigenic B. fragilis is attenuated in its ability to induce sepsis, however Fpn is dispensable in B. fragilis colitis wherein host proteases mediate BFT activation. Our findings define a role for B. fragilis enterotoxin and its activating protease in the pathogenesis of bloodstream infection, indicating a greater complexity of cellular targeting and action of BFT than previously appreciated. The expression of fpn by both toxigenic and nontoxigenic strains suggests this protease may contribute to anaerobic sepsis beyond its role in toxin activation, potentially serving as a target for disease modification.
doi:10.1038/nm.4077 pmid:27089515 pmcid:PMC4860040 fatcat:z32zejfymvgnhemuboqc56ukoa