RNA thermosensors facilitate Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae immune evasion
Reference: PLoS Pathogens (2021)17: e1009513.

Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae are bacteria that reside in the upper respiratory tract. This harmless colonisation can progress to severe and often lethal septicaemia and meningitis. However, the molecular mechanisms governing the transition from carriage to disease remain largely unknown. Our work here shows that both S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae evade defensive mechanisms of the innate immune system by sensing body temperature. We identified four novel RNA thermosensors that influence production of the protective capsules, as well as immune modulatory Factor H binding proteins. These RNA thermosensors are located in the beginning of the protein-coding mRNAs and modulate the production of these virulence factors depending on temperature. The body core temperature is slightly higher than on the surface of the upper respiratory tract. Here we describe RNA thermosensors that are able to sense these changes and activate stronger protection against the immune system. Capsule and Factor H binding protein are important vaccine components and temperature regulation might impact their efficiency. Identification of such regulatory RNAs enables clinicians, microbiologists and public health practitioners to adjust their diagnostic techniques, and treatments to best fit the condition of the patients.

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Published By
Eichner H., Karlsson J., Spelmink L., Pathak A., Sham L.-T., Henriques-Normark B., Loh E.