Expression of Streptococcus pneumoniae Virulence-Related Genes in the Nasopharynx of Healthy Children.

Sakai F, Talekar SJ, Lanata CF, Grijalva CG, Klugman KP, Vidal JE, RESPIRA PERU Group, Investigators Group
PLoS One. 2013 8 (6): e67147

PMID: 23825636 · PMCID: PMC3688971 · DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0067147

Colonization and persistence in the human nasopharynx are prerequisites for Streptococcus pneumoniae disease and carriage acquisition, which normally occurs during early childhood. Animal models and in vitro studies (i.e. cell adhesion and cell cytotoxicity assays) have revealed a number of colonization and virulence factors, as well as regulators, implicated in nasopharyngeal colonization and pathogenesis. Expression of genes encoding these factors has never been studied in the human nasopharynx. Therefore, this study analyzed expression of S. pneumoniae virulence-related genes in human nasopharyngeal samples. Our experiments first demonstrate that a density of ≥10(4) CFU/ml of S. pneumoniae cells in the nasopharynx provides enough DNA and RNA to amplify the lytA gene by conventional PCR and to detect the lytA message, respectively. A panel of 21 primers that amplified S. pneumoniae sequences was designed, and their specificity for S. pneumoniae sequences was analyzed in silico and validated against 20 related strains inhabitants of the human upper respiratory tract. These primers were utilized in molecular reactions to find out that all samples contained the genes ply, pavA, lytC, lytA, comD, codY, and mgrA, whereas nanA, nanB, pspA, and rrgB were present in ∼91-98% of the samples. Gene expression studies of these 11 targets revealed that lytC, lytA, pavA and comD were the most highly expressed pneumococcal genes in the nasopharynx whereas the rest showed a moderate to low level of expression. This is the first study to evaluate expression of virulence- and, colonization-related genes in the nasopharynx of healthy children and establishes the foundation for future gene expression studies during human pneumococcal disease.

MeSH Terms (7)

Child Genes, Bacterial Humans Nasopharynx Polymerase Chain Reaction Streptococcus pneumoniae Virulence

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