Large-Scale Identification of Virulence Genes fromStreptococcus pneumoniae

Alessandra Polissi, Andrea Pontiggia, Georg Feger, Mario Altieri, Harald Mottl, Livia Ferrari, Daniel Simon, V. A. Fischetti
1998 Infection and Immunity  
Streptococcus pneumoniae is the major cause of bacterial pneumonia, and it is also responsible for otitis media and meningitis in children. Apart from the capsule, the virulence factors of this pathogen are not completely understood. Recent technical advances in the field of bacterial pathogenesis (in vivo expression technology and signature-tagged mutagenesis [STM]) have allowed a large-scale identification of virulence genes. We have adapted to S. pneumoniae the STM technique, originally used
more » ... for the discovery of Salmonella genes involved in pathogenicity. A library of pneumococcal chromosomal fragments (400 to 600 bp) was constructed in a suicide plasmid vector carrying unique DNA sequence tags and a chloramphenicol resistance marker. The recent clinical isolate G54 was transformed with this library. Chloramphenicol-resistant mutants were obtained by homologous recombination, resulting in genes inactivated by insertion of the suicide vector carrying a unique tag. In a mouse pneumonia model, 1.250 candidate clones were screened; 200 of these were not recovered from the lungs were therefore considered virulence-attenuated mutants. The regions flanking the chloramphenicol gene of the attenuated mutants were amplified by inverse PCR and sequenced. The sequence analysis showed that the 200 mutants had insertions in 126 different genes that could be grouped in six classes: (i) known pneumococcal virulence genes; (ii) genes involved in metabolic pathways; (iii) genes encoding proteases; (iv) genes coding for ATP binding cassette transporters; (v) genes encoding proteins involved in DNA recombination/repair; and (vi) DNA sequences that showed similarity to hypothetical genes with unknown function. To evaluate the virulence attenuation for each mutant, all 126 clones were individually analyzed in a mouse septicemia model. Not all mutants selected in the pneumonia model were confirmed in septicemia, thus indicating the existence of virulence factors specific for pneumonia.
doi:10.1128/iai.66.12.5620-5629.1998 fatcat:fc4gske24fcordj6pyelek3ovi