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Ann Med. 2002;34(2):77-87.

Molecular mechanisms of adhesion, colonization, and invasion of group A streptococci.

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Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Department of Medicine, Memphis, TN, USA.


The initial step in establishing a bacterial infection is adhesion of the organism to the epithelium of the host. Group A streptococci use multiple adhesins to attach to host cells and the types of adhesins expressed by a particular strain will determine its tissue specificity. Expression of adhesins is regulated in response to changing environmental and growth conditions. Thus, the array of adhesins expressed by a group A streptococcus will depend on the complement of its adhesin genes and on the environment. Expression of some adhesins may trigger internalization of the streptococci by host cells, which may enable the streptococci to evade antibiotics and to facilitate the penetration of deeper tissues. In this review, we present the different molecular mechanisms of adhesion utilized by group A streptococci and how these interactions lead to colonization and invasion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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