The stress-induced protease ClpP is required for virulence of the facultative intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. We previously found that in the absence of ClpP, the virulence of this pathogen was strongly reduced, mainly due to the decreased production of functional listeriolysin O (LLO), a major immunodominant virulence factor promoting intracellular growth. In this work, a clpP deletion mutant of L. monocytogenes was used to study the generation of anti-Listeria protective immunity. We found that ClpP is required for the intracellular growth of L. monocytogenes in resident macrophages in vivo. Mice infected with doses as high as 106 clpP mutant bacteria were not protected against a lethal challenge of wild-type bacteria and did not develop any detectable LLO-specific cytolytic T cells or antibodies, suggesting that the amount of LLO produced in infected mice under these conditions was too low to induce a specific immune response. However, in contrast to the results obtained with a mutant with a disrupted hly gene, this lack of protection was overcome by inoculation of very high infecting doses of clpP mutant bacteria (5 × 108), thus producing sufficient amounts of LLO to stimulate anti-Listeria immunity. The role of ClpP was confirmed by showing that anti-Listeria immunity was restored in mice infected with a clpP-complemented mutant. These results indicate that the stress-induced serine protease ClpP is a potential target for modulating the presentation of protective antigens such as LLO and thereby the immune response against L. monocytogenes
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.