Indexed on: 10 Jun '09Published on: 10 Jun '09Published in: Infection and immunity
Streptococcus agalactiae is a major pathogen in humans and animals. Virulence factors are often associated with mobile genetic elements, and their expression can be modulated by host factors. S. agalactiae harbors the genes for C5a peptidase (scpB) and Lmb on a composite transposon structure which is absent in many bovine isolates. To investigate whether these genes participate in the adaptation to human hosts, we determined the influence of human and bovine serum on the promoter activity of scpB and lmb by using fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis. Culture in the presence of 1 to 50% human serum resulted in a dose-dependent induction of reporter gene activity for scpB but not lmb. Reporter gene activity was, however, unchanged following growth in fetal calf serum. Interestingly, a bovine strain did not display any induction of scpB by either bovine or human serum. Reverse transcription-PCR analysis was used to confirm differential induction of scpB in S. agalactiae and showed a similar induction of the Streptococcus pyogenes C5a peptidase gene scpA by human but not bovine serum. The specific induction of the streptococcal C5a peptidase by human serum corresponds to the absence of scpB in many bovine S. agalactiae isolates and underlines the importance of this virulence factor for human infections.