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Mol Microbiol. 1999 Feb;31(3):859-70.

High-frequency intracellular invasion of epithelial cells by serotype M1 group A streptococci: M1 protein-mediated invasion and cytoskeletal rearrangements.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Minnesota 55455, USA.


A clonal variant of serotype M1 group A streptococcus (designated M1inv+) has been linked to severe and invasive infections, including sepsis, necrotizing fasciitis and toxic shock. High frequency internalization of cultured epithelial cells by the M1inv+ strain 90-226 is dependent upon the M1 protein. Invasion of HeLa cells was blocked by an anti-M1 antibody, invasion by an M1- strain (90-226 emm1::km) was greatly reduced, and latex beads bound to M1 protein were readily internalized by HeLa cells. Beads coated with a truncated M1 protein were internalized far less frequently. Scanning electron microscopy indicated that streptococci invade by a zipper-like mechanism, that may be mediated by interactions with host cell microvilli. Initially, internalized streptococci and streptococci undergoing endocytosis are associated with polymerized actin. Later in the internalization process, streptococcal-containing vacuoles are associated with the lysosomal membrane glycoprotein, LAMP-1.

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