Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Nov 25;94(24):13251-6.

Inactivation of the alpha C protein antigen gene, bca, by a novel shuttle/suicide vector results in attenuation of virulence and immunity in group B Streptococcus.

Author information

The Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The alpha C protein of group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a major surface-associated antigen. Although its role in the biology and virulence of GBS has not been defined, it is opsonic and capable of eliciting protective immunity. The alpha C protein is widely distributed among clinical isolates and is a potential protein carrier and antigen in conjugate vaccines to prevent GBS infections. The structural gene for the alpha C protein, bca, has been cloned and sequenced. The protein encoded by bca is related to a class of surface-associated proteins of gram-positive cocci involved in virulence and immunity. To investigate the potential roles of the alpha C protein, bca null mutants were generated in which the bca gene was replaced with a kanamycin resistance cassette via homologous recombination using a novel shuttle/suicide vector. Studies of lethality in neonatal mice showed that the virulence of the bca null mutants was attenuated 5- to 7-fold when compared with the isogenic wild-type strain A909. Significant differences in mortality occurred in the first 24 h, suggesting that the role of the alpha antigen is important in the initial stages of the infection. In contrast to A909, bca mutants were no longer killed by polymorphonuclear leukocytes in the presence of alpha-specific antibodies in an in vitro opsonophagocytic assay. In contrast to previous studies, alpha antigen expression does not appear to play a role in resistance to opsonophagocytosis in the absence of alpha-specific antibodies. In addition, antibodies to the alpha C protein did not passively protect neonatal mice from lethal challenge with bca mutants, suggesting that these epitopes are uniquely present within the alpha antigen as expressed from the bca gene. Therefore, the alpha C protein is important in the pathogenesis of GBS infection and is a target for protective immunity in the development of GBS vaccines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center