Recent trends on the molecular biology of pneumococcal capsules, lytic enzymes, and bacteriophage

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2004 Nov;28(5):553-80. doi: 10.1016/j.femsre.2004.05.002.


Streptococcus pneumoniae has re-emerged as a major cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world and its continuous increase in antimicrobial resistance is rapidly becoming a leading cause of concern for public health. This review is focussed on the analysis of recent insights on the study of capsular polysaccharide biosynthesis, and cell wall (murein) hydrolases, two fundamental pneumococcal virulence factors. Besides, we have also re-evaluated the molecular biology of the pneumococcal phage, their possible role in pathogenicity and in the shaping of natural populations of S. pneumoniae. Precise knowledge of the topics reviewed here should facilitate the rationale to move towards the design of alternative ways to combat pneumococcal disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Capsules* / biosynthesis
  • Bacterial Capsules* / chemistry
  • Bacterial Capsules* / genetics
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Biology / trends
  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase* / chemistry
  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase* / genetics
  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase* / metabolism
  • Pneumococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Streptococcus Phages* / genetics
  • Streptococcus Phages* / physiology
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / genetics
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / metabolism
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / pathogenicity*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / virology


  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase