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Trends Microbiol. 2013 Apr;21(4):187-95. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2013.01.004. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Streptococcus pneumoniae and reactive oxygen species: an unusual approach to living with radicals.

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University of Leicester, Department of Infection, Immunity, and Inflammation, Maurice Shock Building, University Road, P.O. Box 138, Leicester, LE1 9HN, UK.


Streptococcus pneumoniae, an aerotolerant anaerobe, is an important human pathogen that regularly encounters toxic oxygen radicals from the atmosphere and from the host metabolism and immune system. Additionally, S. pneumoniae produces large amounts of H2O2 as a byproduct of its metabolism, which contributes to its virulence but also has adverse effects on its biology. Understanding how S. pneumoniae defends against oxidative stress is far from complete, but it is apparent that it does not follow the current paradigm of having canonical enzymes to detoxify oxygen radicals or homologues of typical oxidative stress responsive global regulators. We will give an overview of how S. pneumoniae copes with oxygen radicals. Furthermore, we draw parallels with other pathogenic streptococcal species and provide future research perspectives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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