A pinboard by
Anuj Pathak

Postdoctoral associate, Karolinska Institutet


Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) is the major cause of respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and invasive diseases like meningitis and bacteria. According to the WHO report it caused 900,000 deaths in 2013, especially children. Novel approaches to design a more effective vaccine again pneumococcus is therefore of urgent requirement. We study the mechanism used by bacteria to resist the immune attack by human body and how surface protein of bacteria play an important role in this process. we hope that our research outcome will help the scientific community in designing the novel therapeutic targets against pneumococcal infection.


Nonencapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae: Emergence and Pathogenesis.

Abstract: While significant protection from pneumococcal disease has been achieved by the use of polysaccharide and polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccines, capsule-independent protection has been limited by serotype replacement along with disease caused by nonencapsulatedStreptococcus pneumoniae(NESp). NESp strains compose approximately 3% to 19% of asymptomatic carriage isolates and harbor multiple antibiotic resistance genes. Surface proteins unique to NESp enhance colonization and virulence despite the lack of a capsule even though the capsule has been thought to be required for pneumococcal pathogenesis. Genes for pneumococcal surface proteins replace the capsular polysaccharide (cps) locus in some NESp isolates, and these proteins aid in pneumococcal colonization and otitis media (OM). NESp strains have been isolated from patients with invasive and noninvasive pneumococcal disease, but noninvasive diseases, specifically, conjunctivitis (85%) and OM (8%), are of higher prevalence. Conjunctival strains are commonly of the so-called classical NESp lineages defined by multilocus sequence types (STs) ST344 and ST448, while sporadic NESp lineages such as ST1106 are more commonly isolated from patients with other diseases. Interestingly, sporadic lineages have significantly higher rates of recombination than classical lineages. Higher rates of recombination can lead to increased acquisition of antibiotic resistance and virulence factors, increasing the risk of disease and hindering treatment. NESp strains are a significant proportion of the pneumococcal population, can cause disease, and may be increasing in prevalence in the population due to effects on the pneumococcal niche caused by pneumococcal vaccines. Current vaccines are ineffective against NESp, and further research is necessary to develop vaccines effective against both encapsulated and nonencapsulated pneumococci.

Pub.: 24 Mar '16, Pinned: 14 Sep '17

Surface Proteins and Pneumolysin of Encapsulated and Nonencapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae Mediate Virulence in a Chinchilla Model of Otitis Media.

Abstract: Streptococcus pneumoniae infections result in a range of human diseases and are responsible for almost one million deaths annually. Pneumococcal disease is mediated in part through surface structures and an anti-phagocytic capsule. Recent studies have shown that nonencapsulated S. pneumoniae (NESp) make up a significant portion of the pneumococcal population and are able to cause disease. NESp lack some common surface proteins expressed by encapsulated pneumococci, but express surface proteins unique to NESp. A chinchilla model of otitis media (OM) was used to determine the effect various pneumococcal mutations have on pathogenesis in both NESp and encapsulated pneumococci. Epithelial cell adhesion and invasion assays were used to examine the effects in relation to deletion of intrinsic genes or expression of novel genes. A mouse model of colonization was also utilized for comparison of various pneumococcal mutants. It was determined that pneumococcal surface protein K (PspK) and pneumolysin (Ply) affect NESp middle ear pathogenesis, but only PspK affected epithelial cell adhesion. Experiments in an OM model were done with encapsulated strains testing the importance of native virulence factors and treatment of OM. First, a triple deletion of the common virulence factors PspA, PspC, and Ply, (ΔPAC), from an encapsulated background abolished virulence in an OM model while a PspC mutant had detectable, but reduced amounts of recoverable bacteria compared to wildtype. Next, treatment of OM was effective when starting antibiotic treatment within 24 h with resolution by 48 h post-treatment. Expression of NESp-specific virulence factor PspK in an encapsulated strain has not been previously studied, and we showed significantly increased adhesion and invasion of human epithelial cells by pneumococci. Murine colonization was not significantly increased when an encapsulated strain expressed PspK, but colonization was increased when a capsule mutant expressed PspK. The ability of PspK expression to increase colonization in a capsule mutant despite no increase in adhesion can be attributed to other functions of PspK, such as sIgA binding or immune modulation. OM is a substantial economic burden, thus a better understanding of both encapsulated pneumococcal pathogenesis and the emerging pathogen NESp is necessary for effective prevention and treatment.

Pub.: 01 Jun '16, Pinned: 14 Sep '17