Streptococcus (S.) suis is one of the most important pathogens in pigs causing meningitis, arthritis, endocarditis and serositis. Furthermore, it is also an emerging zoonotic agent. In our previous work we identified a highly specific IgM protease in S. suis, designated IdeSsuis. The objective of this study was to characterize the function of IdeSsuis in the host-pathogen interaction. Edman-sequencing revealed that Ide(Ssuis) cleaves the heavy chain of the IgM molecule between constant domain 2 and 3. As the C1q binding motif is located in the C3 domain, we hypothesized that IdeSsuis is involved in complement evasion. Complement-mediated hemolysis induced by porcine hyperimmune sera containing erythrocyte-specific IgM was abrogated by treatment of these sera with recombinant IdeSsuis. Furthermore, expression of IdeSsuis reduced IgM-triggered complement deposition on the bacterial surface. An infection experiment of prime-vaccinated growing piglets suggested attenuation in the virulence of the mutant 10 Delta IdeSsuis. Bactericidal assays confirmed a positive effect of IdeSsuis expression on bacterial survival in porcine blood in the presence of high titers of specific IgM. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that IdeSsuis is a novel complement evasion factor, which is important for bacterial survival in porcine blood during the early adaptive (IgM-dominated) immune response.
2015. Vol. 46, 45