Proposed virulence-associated genes of Streptococcus suis isolates from the United States serve as predictors of pathogenicity

April A. Estrada, Marcelo Gottschalk, Aaron Rendahl, Stephanie Rossow, Lacey Marshall-Lund, Douglas G. Marthaler, Connie J. Gebhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: There is limited information on the distribution of virulence-associated genes (VAGs) in U.S. Streptococcus suis isolates, resulting in little understanding of the pathogenic potential of these isolates. This lack also reduces our understanding of the epidemiology associated with S. suis in the United States and thus affects the efficiency of control and prevention strategies. In this study we applied whole genome sequencing (WGS)-based approaches for the characterization of S. suis and identification of VAGs. Results: Of 208 S. suis isolates classified as pathogenic, possibly opportunistic, and commensal pathotypes, the genotype based on the classical VAGs (epf, mrp, and sly encoding the extracellular protein factor, muramidase-release protein, and suilysin, respectively) was identified in 9% (epf+/mrp+/sly+) of the pathogenic pathotype. Using the chi-square test and LASSO regression model, the VAGs ofs (encoding the serum opacity factor) and srtF (encoding sortase F) were selected out of 71 published VAGs as having a significant association with pathotype, and both genes were found in 95% of the pathogenic pathotype. The ofs+/srtF+ genotype was also present in 74% of ‘pathogenic’ isolates from a separate validation set of isolates. Pan-genome clustering resulted in the differentiation of a group of isolates from five swine production companies into clusters corresponding to clonal complex (CC) and virulence-associated (VA) genotypes. The same CC-VA genotype patterns were identified in multiple production companies, suggesting a lack of association between production company, CC, or VA genotype. Conclusions: The proposed ofs and srtF genes were stronger predictors for differentiating pathogenic and commensal S. suis isolates compared to the classical VAGs in two sets of U.S. isolates. Pan-genome analysis in combination with metadata (serotype, ST/CC, VA genotype) was illustrated to be a valuable subtyping tool to describe the genetic diversity of S. suis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number22
JournalPorcine Health Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the bacteriology section at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Lab for their technical assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Genetic diversity
  • Pan-genome
  • Pathotype
  • Streptococcus suis
  • Virulence-associated genes (VAGs)


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