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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2010 Jan;29(1):31-43. doi: 10.1007/s10096-009-0814-5. Epub 2009 Oct 6.

Molecular characteristics of pharyngeal and invasive emm3 Streptococcus pyogenes strains from Norway, 1988-2003.

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Division of Infectious Disease Control, Department of Bacteriology and Immunology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway.


A major virulence factor of group A streptococci (GAS) is the M protein. Strains with the M3 type are more often associated with necrotizing fasciitis (NF) and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, and have a higher case fatality rate than strains of other M types. To better understand the epidemiology of M3 GAS strains in Norway, we analyzed 59 invasive and 69 pharyngeal isolates with respect to prophage content, allelic variation in emm3, mtsR encoding the metal transporter of Streptococcus repressor (mtsR), and sclB coding for streptococcal collagen-like protein B. The Norwegian emm3 strains were very homogeneous, mainly harboring the emm allele 3.1 and prophage profile PhiG3.01. Other prophage profiles were transient. The mutation in mtsR known to truncate the protein and result in decreased capacity to cause NF was not found in our isolates. The sclB gene usually harbored five or eight contiguous repeats of a CAAAA pentanucleotide sequence and a highly modular and variable collagen structural motif (CSM) region with 9 and 12 amino acid M3-specific conserved motif repeats distributed across the entire CSM region. Strains with 5 CAAAA repeats emerged in 1993 and these strains were associated with the increase in invasive M3 cases in the period 1993-2003.

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