MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry as a tool for differentiation of invasive and noninvasive Streptococcus pyogenes isolates

FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2008 Aug;53(3):333-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-695X.2008.00428.x. Epub 2008 Jun 5.


A novel mass spectral fingerprinting and proteomics approach using MALDI-TOF MS was applied to detect and identify protein biomarkers of group A Streptococcus (GAS) strains. Streptococcus pyogenes ATCC 700294 genome strain was compared with eight GAS clinical isolates to explore the ability of MALDI-TOF MS to differentiate isolates. Reference strains of other bacterial species were also analyzed and compared with the GAS isolates. MALDI preparations were optimized by varying solvents, matrices, plating techniques, and mass ranges for S. pyogenes ATCC 700294. Spectral variability was tested. A subset of common, characteristic, and reproducible biomarkers in the range of 2000-14 000 Da were detected, and they appeared to be independent of the culture media. Statistical analysis confirmed method reproducibility. Random Forest analysis of all selected GAS isolates revealed differences among most of them, and summed spectra were used for hierarchical cluster analysis. Specific biomarkers were found for each strain, and invasive GAS isolates could be differentiated. GAS isolates from cases of necrotizing fasciitis were clustered together and were distinct from isolates associated with noninvasive infections, despite their sharing the same emm type. Almost 30% of the biomarkers detected were tentatively identified as ribosomal proteins.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / analysis
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques / methods*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Humans
  • Proteome / analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ribosomal Proteins / analysis
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / chemistry*
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / classification*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Proteome
  • Ribosomal Proteins