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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 1999 Oct;26(1):25-35.

Epithelial invasion and cell lysis by virulent strains of Streptococcus suis is enhanced by the presence of suilysin.

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Institute for Animal Health, Compton, Newbury, UK.


Streptococcus suis is an important pathogen of pigs causing arthritis, pneumonia and meningitis and is an occupational disease of farmers and those in the meat industry. As with other streptococci, both virulent and avirulent strains of S. suis are frequently carried asymptomatically in the tonsillar crypts and nasal cavities. Little is known about the process by which virulent strains cross the mucosal epithelia to generate systemic disease and whether this process requires expression of specific bacterial virulence factors. Although putative virulence factors have been postulated, no specific role in the disease process has yet been demonstrated for these factors. This study is the first demonstration that virulent strains of S. suis both invade and lyse HEp-2 cells, a continuous laryngeal epithelial cell line, and that at least one bacterial virulence factor, suilysin, is involved in this process.

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