Species of pathogenic microbes are composed of an array of evolutionarily distinct chromosomal genotypes characterized by diversity in gene content and sequence (allelic variation). The occurrence of substantial genetic diversity has hindered progress in developing a comprehensive understanding of the molecular basis of virulence and new therapeutics such as vaccines. To provide new information that bears on these issues, 11 genes encoding extracellular proteins in the human bacterial pathogen group A Streptococcus identified by analysis of four genomes were studied. Eight of the 11 genes encode proteins with a LPXTG(L) motif that covalently links Gram-positive virulence factors to the bacterial cell surface. Sequence analysis of the 11 genes in 37 geographically and phylogenetically diverse group A Streptococcus strains cultured from patients with different infection types found that recent horizontal gene transfer has contributed substantially to chromosomal diversity. Regions of the inferred proteins likely to interact with the host were identified by molecular population genetic analysis, and Western immunoblot analysis with sera from infected patients confirmed that they were antigenic. Real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR (TaqMan) assays found that transcription of six of the 11 genes was substantially up-regulated in the stationary phase. In addition, transcription of many genes was influenced by the covR and raga trans-acting gene regulatory loci. Multilocus investigation of putative virulence genes by the integrated approach described herein provides an important strategy to aid microbial pathogenesis research and rapidly identify new targets for therapeutics research.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jun 19 2001|
ASJC Scopus subject areas