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Microbiology. 2010 Oct;156(Pt 10):3085-95. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.042614-0. Epub 2010 Jul 15.

An insert in the covS gene distinguishes a pharyngeal and a blood isolate of Streptococcus pyogenes found in the same individual.

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University of Hawai'i, John A. Burns School of Medicine, Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology, Honolulu, HI, USA.


Expression of the extensive arsenal of virulence factors by Streptococcus pyogenes is controlled by many regulators, of which CovRS is one of the best characterized and can influence ∼15 % of the genome. Animal models have established that mutants of covRS arise spontaneously in vivo resulting in highly invasive organisms. We analysed a pharyngeal and a blood isolate of S. pyogenes recovered from the same individual 13 days apart. The two isolates varied in many phenotypic properties including SpeB production, which were reflected in transcriptomic analyses. PFGE, multilocus sequence typing and partial sequencing of some key genes failed to show any differences except for an 11 bp insert in the covS gene in the blood isolate which caused a premature termination of transcription. Complementation of a fully functional covS gene into the blood isolate resulted in high expression of CovS and expression of speB. These results, showing a pharyngeal and a blood isolate from a single individual differing by a simple insertion, provide evidence for the model that regulatory gene mutations allow S. pyogenes to invade different niches in the body.

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