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Mol Microbiol. 2005 Sep;57(6):1545-56.

Patterns of virulence gene expression differ between biofilm and tissue communities of Streptococcus pyogenes.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, Box 8230, St Louis, MO 63110-1093, USA.


The ability of Streptococcus pyogenes to form biofilm-like bacterial communities during infection of soft tissue has suggested that the capacity to produce biofilm may be important for pathogenesis. To examine this relationship, a panel of mutants was evaluated for their ability to form biofilm on abiotic surfaces in several assays. Several established virulence factors were crucial for biofilm formation, including the M protein, required for initial cell-surface interactions, and the hyaluronic acid capsule, required for subsequent maturation into a three-dimensional structure. Mutants lacking the transcription regulators Mga and CovR (CsrR) also failed to form biofilm. Comparison of transcriptional profiles revealed differential regulation of approximately 25% of the genome upon adaptation to biofilm. During infection of zebrafish, several virulence factors (notably cysteine protease and streptokinase) were regulated in a biofilm-like manner. However, the overall profile of virulence factor expression indicated that tissue communities have a pattern of gene expression different from biofilm. Taken together, these data show that while biofilm and tissue communities have many characteristics in common, that biofilm reproduces only a subset of the myriad cues used by tissue communities for regulation of virulence.

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