The biology of pneumolysin

Tim J Mitchell, Catherine E Dalziel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Cholesterol dependent cytolysins are important in the ability of some bacteria to cause disease in man and animals. Pneumolysin (PLY) plays a key role in the diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus). This chapter describes the role of PLY in some of the key process in disease. These include induction of cell death by pore formation and toxin-induced apoptosis as well as more subtle effects on gene expression of host cells including epigenetic effects of the toxin. The use of bacterial mutants that either do not express the toxin or express altered versions in biological systems is described. Use of isolated tissue and whole animal systems to dissect the structure/function relationships of the toxin as well as the role played by different activities in the pathogenesis of infection are described. The role of PLY in meningitis and the associated deafness is discussed as well as the role of the toxin in promoting increased lung permeability and inflammation during pneumococcal pneumonia. Different clinical strains of the pneumococcus produce different forms of PLY and the impact of this on disease caused by these strains is discussed. Finally, the impact of this knowledge on the development of treatment and prevention strategies for pneumococcal disease is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-60
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Cell Death
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Inflammation
  • Pneumonia, Pneumococcal
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Streptolysins


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