Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



School of Medicine


Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology

Committee Chair

Slawomir Lukomski

Committee Co-Chair

Christopher F Cuff

Committee Member

Thomas Elliott

Committee Member

Paul R LaSala

Committee Member

Slawomir Lukomski

Committee Member

Karen H Martin


Background: The collagens comprise a large family of versatile proteins found in all three domains of life. The streptococcal collagen-like protein 1, scl1, of group A Streptococcus (GAS) binds extracellular matrix components (ECM), cellular fibronectin and laminin, via the surface-exposed globular domain. GAS strains express scl1 and form biofilm in vitro, except for M3-type strains that are particularly invasive to humans. Hypothesis: Lack of scl1 adhesin in M3 GAS results in decreased adherence and biofilm formation, and increased virulence. Results and Discussion : First crystal structure of the globular domain revealed a unique six-helical bundle fold, consisting of three pairs of alpha helices connected by variable loops. ECM binding by Scl1 promotes the formation of stable tissue microcolonies, which was demonstrated in vitro during infection of wounded human skin equivalents. A conserved nonsense mutation was identified in the scl1 allele of the M3-type strains (scl1.3) that truncates the coding sequence, presumably resulting in a secreted Scl1 variant. Absence of Scl1 on the surface of M3-type GAS was demonstrated experimentally, as well as diminished expression of the scl1 transcript in M3 strains relative to other M-types. Therefore, M3-type strains have reduced biofilm capacity on ECM coatings relative to other M-types. Constructed full-length recombinant Scl1.3 protein displayed binding capacity to cellular fibronectin and laminin, and M3 strains complemented with functional Scl1.3 adhesin displayed increased biofilm formation. The isoallelic M3 strain, carrying a rare "carrier" allele encoding cell-associated Scl1.3 variant, showed decreased pathology in mice, compared to the invasive M3 strain. Similarly, scl1 inactivation in biofilm-capable M28- and M41-type GAS led to increased lesion size during subcutaneous infection. Conclusions: The studies presented here demonstrate the importance of surface Scl1 in modulating biofilm formation and virulence of GAS, and provide insight into the structure and function of Scl proteins.