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Group B Streptococcus pili mediate adherence to salivary glycoproteins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobes and Infection
DatePublished - 7 Jan 2015


Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a leading cause of neonatal sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis, and is responsible for a rising number of severe invasive infections in adults. For all disease manifestations, colonisation is a critical first step. GBS has frequently been isolated from the oropharynx of neonates and adults. However, little is understood about the mechanisms of GBS colonisation at this site. In this study it is shown that three GBS strains (COH1, NEM316, 515) have capacity to adhere to human salivary pellicle. Heterologous expression of GBS pilus island (PI) genes in Lactococcus lactis to form surface-expressed pili demonstrated that GBS PI-2a and PI-1 pili bound glycoprotein-340 (gp340), a component of salivary pellicle. By contrast, PI-2b pili did not interact with gp340. The variation was attributable to differences in capacities for backbone and ancillary protein subunits of each pilus to bind gp340. Furthermore, while GBS strains were aggregated by fluid-phase gp340, this mechanism was not mediated by pili, which displayed specificity for immobilised gp340. Thus pili may enable GBS to colonise the soft and hard tissues of the oropharynx, while evading an innate mucosal defence, with implications for risk of progression to severe diseases such as meningitis and sepsis.

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Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.


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