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Indian J Med Res. 2004 May;119 Suppl:191-6.

Diversity of surface protein expression in group B streptococcal colonizing & invasive isolates.

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  • 1University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN, USA. ferri002@umn.edu



The classification of group B streptococcal (GBS) isolates is based on the capsular polysaccharides (Ia-VIII), and antigenic characterization of clinical isolates is augmented by the detection of various surface-localized protein antigens. In our laboratory, all GBS isolates are routinely analysed for the alpha trypsin-resistant and the beta trypsin-sensitive c protein antigens, as well as other trypsin-resistant proteins R1, R3, and R4, as well as BPS. The purpose of this work was to study diversity of protein expression in colonizing isolates (vaginal and rectal sites) from nonpregnant women and from invasive isolates (blood or CSF) from mothers and their less than seven day old newborn infants.


A total of 289 invasive isolates and 2660 colonizing isolates were collected between 1993-2002. All isolates were tested for polysaccharide serotype and cell surface-expressed protein profile by double immunoprecipation in agarose using monospecific antisera.


Among the 289 invasive isolates, 89.6 per cent expressed one or more trypsin-resistant proteins; 93 per cent of the colonizing isolates expressed one or more of these proteins. Overall, the most common surface protein expression profile by GBS serotype was: alpha in type Ia; alpha plus beta in type Ib; alpha and R4 in type II; R4 in type III; and co-expression of R1 plus R4 in isolates of type V. BPS was found in five (1.7%) invasive isolates, alone in two isolates and with other proteins in three isolates. Among 2660 colonizing isolates, BPS was found alone in 15 (0.6%) and in 57 additional isolates with other proteins. Among the total isolates, BPS was found predominantly in serotype Ia isolates, also expressing R1. Uncommon protein profiles of known serotypes included 11 type III isolates expressing alpha plus beta. Among 72 nontypable colonizing isolates, expression of R1 plus R4 was the commonest (33.3%) profile.


The GBS surface proteins and the common serotypes were distributed comparably in colonizing and invasive isolates. Trypsin-resistant, alpha and alpha-like proteins, R1 and R4 were the most prevalent. The phenotypic diversity of the surface-localized protein antigens of GBS is intriguing, and genotypic analysis will permit consensus in nomenclature from laboratory to laboratory.

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