Characterization of Group A Streptococci (Streptococcus Pyogenes): Correlation of M-protein and Emm-Gene Type With T-protein Agglutination Pattern and Serum Opacity Factor

J Med Microbiol. 2006 Feb;55(Pt 2):157-164. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.46224-0.


Strain characterization of group A streptococci (GAS) has traditionally been based on serological identification of M protein. Additional tests to determine T-protein serotype and production of streptococcal serum opacity factor (SOF) provide important information both to aid in and to supplement M-protein serotyping. Advances in DNA-sequencing technology in the late twentieth century resulted in the development of a method for determining the M type of GAS from the sequence of the gene encoding M protein, the emm gene. Although emm-sequence typing has largely replaced M typing in many laboratories, information provided by T typing and SOF determination continues to provide valuable supplementary information for strain characterization. A comprehensive summary of the correlation of T pattern and SOF production with M type was last published in 1993, several years before emm typing became widely available. Since then, the ease of M-type identification afforded by emm typing has resulted in an increase in the number of confirmed M/emm types of more than 50 %. However, comprehensive information about T-protein serotype and the correlation of SOF production with these new M/emm types is not widely available. This report presents a comprehensive summary of this information, not only for newly described types, but also updated information for previously described types. This information was extracted from combined records from streptococcal reference laboratories at the University of Minnesota and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Data from more than 40,000 strains (representing uncomplicated GAS infections, systemic invasive infections and strains associated with non-suppurative sequelae, collected from the US and diverse locations worldwide) were analysed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Agglutination
  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Antigens, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques / methods
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Peptide Hydrolases / genetics
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Species Specificity
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / classification*
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / metabolism


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • opacity factor
  • streptococcal M protein
  • Peptide Hydrolases