Genetic islands of Streptococcus agalactiae strains NEM316 and 2603VR and their presence in other Group B Streptococcal strains

Herbert, Mark A, Beveridge, Catriona J E, McCormick, David, Aten, Emmelien, Jones, Nicola, Snyder, Lori A S and Saunders, Nigel J (2005) Genetic islands of Streptococcus agalactiae strains NEM316 and 2603VR and their presence in other Group B Streptococcal strains. BMC Microbiology, 5(31), pp. 1-11. ISSN (online) 1471-2180


BACKGROUND: Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Streptococcus; GBS) is a major contributor to obstetric and neonatal bacterial sepsis. Serotype III strains cause the majority of late-onset sepsis and meningitis in babies, and thus appear to have an enhanced invasive capacity compared with the other serotypes that cause disease predominantly in immunocompromised pregnant women. We compared the serotype III and V whole genome sequences, strains NEM316 and 2603VR respectively, in an attempt to identify genetic attributes of strain NEM316 that might explain the propensity of strain NEM316 to cause late-onset disease in babies. Fourteen putative pathogenicity islands were described in the strain NEM316 whole genome sequence. Using PCR- and targeted microarray- strategies, the presence of these islands were assessed in a diverse strain collection including 18 colonizing isolates from healthy pregnant women, and 13 and 8 invasive isolates from infants with early- and late-onset sepsis, respectively. RESULTS: Side-by-side comparison of the strain NEM316 and strain 2603VR genomes revealed that they are extremely similar, with the only major difference being the capsulation loci and mobile genetic elements. PCR and Comparative Genome Hybridization (CGH) were used to define the presence of each island in 39 GBS isolates. Only islands I, VI, XII, and possibly X, met criteria of a true pathogenicity island, but no significant correlation was found between the presence of any of the fourteen islands and whether the strains were invasive or colonizing. Possible associations were seen between the presence of island VI and late-onset sepsis, and island X and early-onset sepsis, which warrant further investigation. CONCLUSION: The NEM316 and 2603VR strains are remarkable in that their whole genome sequences are so similar, suggesting that the capsulation loci or other genetic differences, such as pathogenicity islands, are the main determinants of the propensity of serotype III strains to cause late-onset disease. This study supports the notion that GBS strain NEM316 has four putative pathogenicity islands, but none is absolutely necessary for disease causation, whether early- or late-onset sepsis. Mobile genetic elements are a common feature of GBS isolates, with each strain having its own peculiar burden of transposons, phages, integrases and integrated plasmids. The majority of these are unlikely to influence the disease capacity of an isolate. Serotype associated disease phenotypes may thus be solely related to differences in the capsulation loci.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page