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J Infect Dis. 2009 May 15;199(10):1479-87. doi: 10.1086/598217.

The group B streptococcal serine-rich repeat 1 glycoprotein mediates penetration of the blood-brain barrier.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics and 2Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92182, USA.



Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in newborn infants. Because GBS is able to invade, survive, and cross the blood-brain barrier, we sought to identify surface-expressed virulence factors that contribute to blood-brain barrier penetration and the pathogenesis of meningitis.


Targeted deletion and insertional mutants were generated in different GBS clinical isolates. Wild-type and mutant bacteria were analyzed for their capacity to adhere to and invade human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hBMECs) and to penetrate the blood-brain barrier using our model of hematogenous meningitis.


Analysis of a GBS (serotype V) clinical isolate revealed the presence of a surface-anchored serine-rich protein, previously designated serine-rich repeat 1 (Srr-1). GBS Srr-1 is a glycosylated protein with high molecular weight. Deletion of srr1 in NCTC 10/84 resulted in a significant decrease in adherence to and invasion of hBMECs. Additional mutants in other GBS serotypes commonly associated with meningitis showed a similar decrease in hBMEC invasion, compared with parental strains. Finally, in mice, wild-type GBS penetrated the blood-brain barrier and established meningitis more frequently than did the Deltasrr1 mutant strain.


Our data suggest that GBS Srr glycoproteins play an important role in crossing the blood-brain barrier and in the development of streptococcal meningitis.

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