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Presence of nonhemolytic pneumolysin in serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae associated with disease outbreaks

Jefferies, Johanna M C and Johnston, Calum H G and Kirkham, Lea-Ann S and Cowan, Graeme J M and Ross, Kirsty S and Smith, Andrew and Clarke, Stuart C and Brueggemann, Angela B and George, Robert C and Pichon, Bruno and Pluschke, Gerd and Pfluger, Valentin and Mitchell, Tim J (2007) Presence of nonhemolytic pneumolysin in serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae associated with disease outbreaks. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 196 (6). pp. 936-944.

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Pneumolysin is an important virulence factor of the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae. Sequence analysis of the ply gene from 121 clinical isolates of S. pneumoniae uncovered a number of alleles. Twenty-two strains were chosen for further analysis, and 14 protein alleles were discovered. Five of these had been reported previously, and the remaining 9 were novel. Cell lysates were used to determine the specific hemolytic activities of the pneumolysin proteins. Six strains showed no hemolytic activity, and the remaining 16 were hemolytic, to varying degrees. We report that the nonhemolytic allele reported previously in serotype 1, sequence type (ST) 306 isolates is also present in a number of pneumococcal isolates of serotype 8 that belong to the ST53 lineage. Serotype 1 and 8 pneumococci are known to be associated with outbreaks of invasive disease. The nonhemolytic pneumolysin allele is therefore associated with the dominant clones of outbreak-associated serotypes of S. pneumoniae.