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Cell Host Microbe. 2017 Jan 11;21(1):73-83. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2016.12.005.

Host-to-Host Transmission of Streptococcus pneumoniae Is Driven by Its Inflammatory Toxin, Pneumolysin.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology, New York University, New York, NY 10016, USA.
2
School of Medicine, Tsinghua University, 100084 Beijing, China; Department of Microbiology, New York University, New York, NY 10016, USA.
3
Department of Microbiology, New York University, New York, NY 10016, USA. Electronic address: jeffrey.weiser@nyumc.org.

Abstract

Host-to-host transmission is a critical step for infection. Here we studied transmission of the opportunistic pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae in an infant mouse model. Transmission from nasally colonized pups required high levels of bacterial shedding in nasal secretions and was temporally correlated with, and dependent upon, the acute inflammatory response. Pneumolysin, a pore-forming cytotoxin and major virulence determinant, was both necessary and sufficient to promote inflammation, which increased shedding and allowed for intralitter transmission. Direct contact between pups was not required for transmission indicating the importance of an environmental reservoir. An additional in vivo effect of pneumolysin was to enhance bacterial survival outside of the host. Our findings provide experimental evidence of a microbial strategy for transit to new hosts and explain why an organism expresses a toxin that damages the host upon which it depends.

KEYWORDS:

bacteria; colonization; infection; pneumococcus; pneumolysin; shedding; toxin; transmission

PMID:
28081446
PMCID:
PMC5267320
DOI:
10.1016/j.chom.2016.12.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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