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J Clin Microbiol. 2011 May;49(5):1758-64. doi: 10.1128/JCM.02628-10. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

Comparison of capsular genes of Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 6A, 6B, 6C, and 6D isolates.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Suwon 440-746, South Korea.


Recently, Streptococcus pneumoniae serotypes 6C and 6D have been identified. It is thought that they emerged by the replacement of wciN(β) in the capsular loci of serotypes 6A and 6B, respectively. However, their evolution has not been unveiled yet. To investigate the evolution of four serotypes of S. pneumoniae serogroup 6, four genes of the capsular polysaccharide synthesis (cps) locus, wchA, wciN, wciO, and wciP, of isolates of S. pneumoniae serotypes 6A, 6B, 6C, and 6D were sequenced. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) was performed to investigate their genetic backgrounds. The wchA gene of serotype 6C and 6D isolates was distinct from that of serotype 6A and 6B isolates, which may suggest cotransfer of wchA with wciN(β). Otherwise, serotypes 6C and 6D displayed different genetic backgrounds from serotypes 6A and 6B, which was suggested by MLST analysis. In addition, serotype 6C isolates showed distinct wciP polymorphisms from other serotypes, which also indicated that serotype 6C had not recently originated from serotype 6A. Although serotype 6D shared the same amino acid polymorphisms of wciO with serotype 6B, wciP of serotype 6D differed from that of serotype 6B. The data indicate the implausibility of the scenario of a recent emergence of the cps locus of serotype 6D by genetic recombination between serotypes 6B and 6C. In addition, five serotype 6A and 6B isolates (6X group) displayed cps loci distinct from those of other isolates. The cps locus homogeneity and similar sequence types in MLST analysis suggest that most of the 6X group of isolates originated from the same ancestor and that the entire cps locus might have recently been transferred from an unknown origin. Serotype 6B isolates showed two or more cps locus subtypes, indicating a recombination-mediated mosaic structure of the cps locus of serotype 6B. The collective data favor the emergence of cps loci of serotypes 6A, 6B, 6C, and 6D by complicated recombination.

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