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Int J Med Microbiol. 2005 Jun;295(3):161-77.

Analysis of the growth phase-associated transcriptome of Streptococcus pyogenes.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Hospital Hygiene, University Hospital Rostock, Schillingallee 70, D-18057 Rostock, Germany.


Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococci, GAS) is a human pathogen which probably varies its multiplication rate and thus, growth phases in association with the type of infection caused in its host. To create a basis for future determinations of such associations, the genome-wide growth phase-related GAS transcriptome was assessed in the present study. Therefore, the published serotype M1 S. pyogenes genome sequence as well as the partially sequenced serotype M18 and M49 GAS genomes were used to produce DNA microarrays that carried 2256 oligonucleotide probes matching 3662 open reading frames (ORFs). With these microarrays, the transcriptome of the serotype M49 GAS strain 591 grown to the exponential, transition, and early stationary growth phases was assessed in seven independent experiments. The gained data were compared to real-time RT-PCR assays. Data analysis was refined by a novel approach, i.e. grouping of expressed genes to four classes according to relative transcript abundance and gene functions. At the different growth phases, 86.7%, 79.5% and 55.7% of the at least 1883 ORFs contained in the serotype M49 genome were expressed above the defined detection level. Contrary to the general trend, transcript amounts of genes in the functional groups of transport and membrane proteins as well as stress response factors peaked at the transition phase. The most prominent changes in the transcript abundances were predominantly observed for sugar compound transport and turnover-related ORFs. The majority of known virulence genes had their maximum expression during the transition phase, consistent with the proposed associated change in virulence behavior of the bacteria. With these results, it will now be feasible to assess the in situ growth phase of a given GAS strain during any type of infection by measuring the expression of selected marker genes.

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