Variation in the presence of neuraminidase genes among Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates with identical sequence types

Melinda M. Pettigrew, Kristopher P. Fennie, Matthew P. York, Janeen Daniels, Faryal Ghaffar

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106 Scopus citations


Streptococcus pneumoniae frequently colonizes the upper respiratory tract of young children and is an important cause of otitis media and invasive disease. Carriage is more common than disease, yet the genetic factors that predispose a given clone for disease are not known. The relationship between capsule type, genetic background, and virulence is complex, and important questions remain regarding how pneumococcal clones differ in their ability to cause disease. Pneumococcal neuraminidase cleaves sialic acid-containing substrates and is thought to be important for pneumococcal virulence. We describe the distribution of multilocus sequence types (ST), capsule type, and neuraminidase genes among 342 carriage, middle ear, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pneumococcal strains from young children. We found 149 STs among our S. pneumoniae isolates. nanA was present in all strains, while nanB and nanC were present in 96% and 51% of isolates, respectively. The distribution of nanC varied among the strain collections from different tissue sources (P = 0.03). The prevalence of nanC was 1.41 (95% confidence interval, 1.11, 1.79) times higher among CSF isolates than among carriage isolates. We identified isolates of the same ST that differed in the presence of nanB and nanC. These studies demonstrate that virulence determinants, other than capsule loci, vary among strains of identical ST. Our studies suggest that the presence of nanC may be important for tissue-specific virulence. Studies that both incorporate MLST and take into account additional virulence determinants will provide a greater understanding of the pneumococcal virulence potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3360-3365
Number of pages6
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


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