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Streptococcus pneumoniae is a genetically diverse human-adapted pathogen commonly carried asymptomatically in the nasopharynx. We have recently shown that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the raffinose pathway regulatory gene rafR accounts for a difference in the capacity of clonally-related strains to cause localised versus systemic infection. Using dual RNA-seq, we show that this SNP affects expression of bacterial genes encoding multiple sugar transporters, and fine-tunes carbohydrate metabolism, along with extensive rewiring of host transcriptional responses to infection, particularly expression of genes encoding cytokine and chemokine ligands and receptors. The data predict a crucial role for differential neutrophil recruitment (confirmed by in vivo neutrophil depletion and IL-17 neutralization) indicating that early detection of bacteria by the host in the lung environment is crucial for effective clearance. Thus, dual RNA-seq provides a powerful tool for understanding complex host-pathogen interactions and reveals how a single bacterial SNP can drive differential disease outcomes.
Minhas, V., Aprianto, R., McAllister, L. J., Wang, H., David, S. C., McLean, K. T., … Trappetti, C. (2020). In vivo dual RNA-seq reveals that neutrophil recruitment underlies differential tissue tropism of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Communications Biology, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-1018-x