Binding of complement regulators factor H and C4b binding protein to group A streptococcal strains isolated from tonsillar tissue and blood

Microbes Infect. 2008 Jun;10(7):757-63. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2008.04.004. Epub 2008 Apr 16.


Group A streptococcus (GAS) is the most common pathogen causing bacterial pharyngitis. We isolated streptococcal strains from tonsils removed from patients with tonsillar disease (n=202) and studied their ability to bind the complement regulators factor H (FH) and C4b binding protein (C4BP) using 125 I-labeled proteins. Blood isolates of GAS (n=10) were obtained from patients with bacteraemia. Streptococci were isolated from 21% of the tonsillitis patients. The emm and T types of the GAS strains were determined. Of the 26 GAS strains studied, only six could bind FH and/or C4BP above the threshold levels. The fraction of the offered radioactive protein bound ranged between 6-12% for FH and 19-56% for C4BP. The clinical course of the tonsillar disease was not related to the binding of FH or C4BP by GAS. The binding strains were mostly of the T4M4 or T28M28 type. From the invasive strains (n=10), three bound FH (binding level: 8-11%) and two C4BP (36-39%). The binding correlated only partially to M-protein (emm) type suggesting that the binding was not exclusively due to M-protein. The results indicate that complement regulator binding by GAS is only partially related to pathogenicity and not a universal property of all group A streptococci.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteremia / microbiology*
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Complement C4b-Binding Protein / metabolism*
  • Complement Factor H / metabolism*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Protein Binding
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Serotyping
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / classification
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / immunology*
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / isolation & purification
  • Tonsillitis / microbiology*


  • Complement C4b-Binding Protein
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Complement Factor H