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J Med Microbiol. 2010 Jul;59(Pt 7):808-14. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.018663-0. Epub 2010 Mar 25.

Identification of novel pneumolysin alleles from paediatric carriage isolates of Streptococcus pneumoniae.

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  • 1Molecular Microbiology & Infection, Division of Infection, Inflammation and Immunity, University of Southampton School of Medicine, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK.


Pneumolysin (Ply) is a major virulence factor of Streptococcus pneumoniae and is produced by all known clinical isolates of pneumococci. Pneumolysin toxoids are being considered as vaccine candidates. We investigated the diversity of pneumolysin among 194 nasopharyngeal pneumococci characterized by serotyping and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Eight Ply protein alleles were identified, four of which were novel. The 4 novel alleles varied at 10 different amino acid positions, from a total of 147, 3 of these substitutions have been previously reported in different combinations. The protein allele correlated closely with MLST. It is critical that the presence of pneumolysin variants is considered with regards to the potential use of Ply in future vaccine formulations, as variation in Ply amino acid sequence may influence the immunogenicity of vaccines based on the presence of an individual Ply allele.

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