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Infect Immun. 2012 Nov;80(11):3975-84. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00699-12. Epub 2012 Sep 4.

CsrRS and environmental pH regulate group B streptococcus adherence to human epithelial cells and extracellular matrix.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Boston Children's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus or GBS) is a common colonizer of the gastrointestinal and genital tracts and an important cause of invasive infections in newborn infants and in adults with predisposing chronic conditions or advanced age. Attachment to epithelial surfaces at mucosal sites is a critical step in the successful colonization of a human host, and regulation of this process is likely to play an important role in both commensalism and dissemination to cause invasive disease. We found that inactivation of the CsrRS (or CovRS) two-component system increased GBS adherence to epithelial cells derived from human vaginal, cervical, and respiratory epithelium, as well as increasing adherence to extracellular matrix proteins and increasing biofilm formation on polystyrene. Neutral (as opposed to acidic) pH enhanced GBS binding to vaginal epithelial cells and to fibrinogen and fibronectin, effects that were partially dependent on CsrRS. The regulatory effects of CsrRS and environmental pH on bacterial adherence correlated with their effects on the expression of multiple surface adhesins, as assessed by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR. We conclude that GBS adherence to epithelial and abiotic surfaces is regulated by the CsrRS two-component system and by environmental pH through their regulatory effects on the expression of bacterial surface adhesins. Dynamic regulation of GBS adherence enhances the organism's adaptability to survival in multiple niches in the human host.

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