Group A Streptococcus (GAS) secretes deoxyribonucleases and evades neutrophil extracellular killing by degrading neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). However, limited information is currently available on the interaction between GAS and NETs in the pathogenicity of GAS pharyngitis. In this study, we modified a mouse model of GAS pharyngitis and revealed an essential role for DNase in this model. After intranasal infection, the nasal mucosa was markedly damaged near the nasal cavity, at which GAS was surrounded by neutrophils. When neutrophils were depleted from mice, GAS colonization and damage to the nasal mucosa were significantly decreased. Furthermore, mice infected with deoxyribonuclease knockout GAS mutants (∆spd, ∆endA, and ∆sdaD2) survived significantly better than those infected with wild-type GAS. In addition, the supernatants of digested NETs enhanced GAS-induced cell death in vitro. Collectively, these results indicate that NET degradation products may contribute to the establishment of pharyngeal infection caused by GAS.
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