Acquisition of new capsular genes among clinical isolates of antibiotic-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae

Microb Drug Resist. Winter 1999;5(4):241-6. doi: 10.1089/mdr.1999.5.241.


Antibiotic-resistant clones of Streptococcus pneumoniae are recognizable through a combination of unique molecular, microbiological, and serological properties. In the course of surveillance of epidemic clones of S. pneumoniae, several isolates were identified that shared the clone-specific pulsed-field gel electrophoretic (PFGE) pattern and antibiotype but expressed serotypes atypical for the particular clone. A selected group of isolates belonging to the Spanish/USA clone but expressing serotypes 19, 14, or 3, instead of the expected serotype 23F, were tested using DNA probes for each of the 18 open reading frames (ORFs) of the 23F capsular locus. In no case were there any 23F-specific genes retained, with the possible exception of genes already known to be common to the capsular loci involved. Analysis of the sequence of the capsular locus of a penicillin-resistant serotype 23F isolate from Mexico showed that part of the cpsA gene of this strain, as well as genes cpsQ and cpsR, had high degrees of identity to the sequence of the homologous genes in isolates expressing serotype 19F. The capsular locus of this Mexican strain may have originated from an in vivo capsular switch event in which the original 19F locus was replaced by 23F-specific capsular genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics*
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / drug effects*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / genetics


  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Bacterial