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PLoS Pathog


Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococci) is a leading cause of severe bacterial meningitis in many countries worldwide. To characterize the repertoire of fitness and virulence factors predominantly expressed during meningitis we performed niche-specific analysis of the in vivo proteome in a mouse meningitis model, in which bacteria are directly inoculated into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cisterna magna. We generated a comprehensive mass spectrometry (MS) spectra library enabling bacterial proteome analysis even in the presence of eukaryotic proteins. We recovered 200,000 pneumococci from CSF obtained from meningitis mice and by MS we identified 685 pneumococci proteins in samples from in vitro filter controls and 249 in CSF isolates. Strikingly, the regulatory two-component system ComDE and substrate-binding protein AliB of the oligopeptide transporter system were exclusively detected in pneumococci recovered from the CSF. In the mouse meningitis model, AliB-, ComDE-, or AliB-ComDE-deficiency resulted in attenuated meningeal inflammation and disease severity when compared to wild-type pneumococci indicating the crucial role of ComDE and AliB in pneumococcal meningitis. In conclusion, we show here mechanisms of pneumococcal adaptation to a defined host compartment by a proteome-based approach. Further, this study provides the basis of a promising strategy for the identification of protein antigens critical for invasive disease caused by pneumococci and other meningeal pathogens.


Institute for Systems Biology