Contribution of a response regulator to the virulence of Streptococcus pneumoniae is strain dependent

Clare E Blue, Tim J Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial two-component signal transduction systems (TCS) enable bacteria to respond to environmental changes and regulate a range of genes accordingly. They have a crucial role in regulating many cellular responses and have excellent potential as antibacterial-drug targets. We have constructed mutations in a TCS response regulator gene for two different strains of the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae. These mutants have been analyzed in our murine model of infection. Data suggest that in a D39 background the response regulator gene is essential for virulence; an isogenic mutant is avirulent via intraperitoneal, intranasal, and intravenous routes of infection. This mutant, which does not show impaired growth in vitro, is unable to grow in the lung tissue or in blood. Mutation of the response regulator in a 0100993 background results in a strain that is fully virulent intraperitoneally and intravenously but shows decreased levels of bacteremia and increased murine survival following intranasal infection. The ability to grow in the lung tissue is not impaired in this mutant, suggesting that it has an impaired ability to disseminate from the lungs to the systemic circulation. Our data highlight the importance of assessing the contribution of putative virulence factors to the infection process at different sites of infection and provide evidence that virulence determinants can behave very differently based on the genetic background of the bacterial strain. These important findings may be relevant to other bacterial pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4405-13
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2003


  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Animals
  • Bacteremia
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Lung
  • Mice
  • Mutagenesis
  • Pneumococcal Infections
  • Serotyping
  • Signal Transduction
  • Species Specificity
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Transformation, Genetic
  • Virulence


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