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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2000 Jul 15;188(2):153-63.

Purification and biochemical characterization of a basic superantigen (SPEX/SMEZ3) from Streptococcus pyogenes.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Semmelweisstr, Jena, Germany.


A potent basic superantigen (designated streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin X, SPEX/SMEZ3) was purified to homogeneity from culture supernatants of a Streptococcus pyogenes scarlatina strain of type 12 (genotype speA(-), speC(-)) and characterized. Sequence alignments revealed SPEX to be an allele of the streptococcal mitogens type Z (SMEZ). The N-terminal amino acid sequence of SPEX was found with LEVDNNSLLR to be identical to the recently described acidic superantigen SMEZ. Although SPEX/SMEZ genes were present in all of the streptococcal strains tested, a toxin production could only be detected in a small number of strains. The produced toxin concentration in the culture supernatants of positive strains differed between 0 and 20 ng ml(-1). The purified SPEX stimulated human T-lymphocytes with Vbeta8 specificity at extremely low concentrations (lower than 100 pg ml(-1)).

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