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J Clin Microbiol. 2004 Feb;42(2):639-44.

Genetic diversity of cell-invasive erythromycin-resistant and -susceptible group A streptococci determined by analysis of the RD2 region of the prtF1 gene.

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Department of Microbiology and Biomedical Sciences, University of Ancona Medical School, 60131 Ancona, Italy.


The RD2 region of the internalization-associated gene prtF1, which encodes the fibronectin-binding repeat domain type 2 of protein F1, plays a crucial role in the entry of group A streptococci (GAS) into epithelial cells. A molecular study of the variability of the RD2 region was carried out with 77 independent Italian GAS, 66 erythromycin resistant (ER) and 11 erythromycin susceptible (ES), which had previously been investigated for the association between erythromycin resistance and ability to enter human respiratory cells. The amplicons obtained from PCR analysis of the RD2 region were consistent with a number of RD2 repeats ranging from one to five, more frequently four (n = 30), three (n = 27), and one (n = 18). A new method to type cell-invasive GAS (RD2 typing) was developed by combining PCR analysis of the RD2 region and restriction analysis of PCR products with endonucleases HaeIII, DdeI, and HinfI. Overall, 10 RD2 types (a to j) were distinguished (all detected among the 66 ER isolates, four detected among the 11 ES isolates). Comparison and correlation of RD2 typing data with the genotype and phenotype of macrolide resistance and with data from PCR M typing and SmaI macrorestriction analysis allowed us to identify 41 different clones (31 among the 66 ER isolates and 10 among the 11 ES isolates). Three major clones accounted for 40% of the isolates (47% of ER strains). Some ES isolates appeared to be related to ER isolates with identical combinations of RD2 type and emm type. While simultaneous use of different typing methods is essential for a thorough investigation of GAS epidemiology, RD2 typing may be especially helpful in typing cell-invasive GAS.

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