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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2004 Nov;28(5):553-80.

Recent trends on the molecular biology of pneumococcal capsules, lytic enzymes, and bacteriophage.

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Departamento de Microbiología Molecular, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, CSIC, Ramiro de Maeztu, 9, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Streptococcus pneumoniae has re-emerged as a major cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world and its continuous increase in antimicrobial resistance is rapidly becoming a leading cause of concern for public health. This review is focussed on the analysis of recent insights on the study of capsular polysaccharide biosynthesis, and cell wall (murein) hydrolases, two fundamental pneumococcal virulence factors. Besides, we have also re-evaluated the molecular biology of the pneumococcal phage, their possible role in pathogenicity and in the shaping of natural populations of S. pneumoniae. Precise knowledge of the topics reviewed here should facilitate the rationale to move towards the design of alternative ways to combat pneumococcal disease.

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