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PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e19844. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019844. Epub 2011 May 18.

Extracellular matrix formation enhances the ability of Streptococcus pneumoniae to cause invasive disease.

Author information

1
Research Centre for Infectious Diseases, School of Molecular and Biomedical Science, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

Abstract

During infection, pneumococci exist mainly in sessile biofilms rather than in planktonic form, except during sepsis. However, relatively little is known about how biofilms contribute to pneumococcal pathogenesis. Here, we carried out a biofilm assay on opaque and transparent variants of a clinical serotype 19F strain WCH159. After 4 days incubation, scanning electron microscopy revealed that opaque biofilm bacteria produced an extracellular matrix, whereas the transparent variant did not. The opaque biofilm-derived bacteria translocated from the nasopharynx to the lungs and brain of mice, and showed 100-fold greater in vitro adherence to A549 cells than transparent bacteria. Microarray analysis of planktonic and sessile bacteria from transparent and opaque variants showed differential gene expression in two operons: the lic operon, which is involved in choline uptake, and in the two-component system, ciaRH. Mutants of these genes did not form an extracellular matrix, could not translocate from the nasopharynx to the lungs or the brain, and adhered poorly to A549 cells. We conclude that only the opaque phenotype is able to form extracellular matrix, and that the lic operon and ciaRH contribute to this process. We propose that during infection, extracellular matrix formation enhances the ability of pneumococci to cause invasive disease.

PMID:
21611130
PMCID:
PMC3097209
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0019844
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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