Preventing bacterial infections with pilus-based vaccines: the group B streptococcus paradigm

J Infect Dis. 2009 Jan 1;199(1):108-15. doi: 10.1086/595564.


We recently described the presence of 3 pilus variants in the human pathogen group B streptococcus (GBS; also known as Streptococcus agalactiae), each encoded by a distinct pathogenicity island, as well as the ability of pilus components to elicit protection in mice against homologous challenge. To determine whether a vaccine containing a combination of proteins from the 3 pilus types could provide broad protection, we analyzed pili distribution and conservation in 289 clinical isolates. We found that pilus sequences in each island are conserved, all strains carried at least 1 of the 3 islands, and a combination of the 3 pilus components conferred protection against all tested GBS challenge strains. These data are the first to indicate that a vaccine exclusively constituted by pilus components can be effective in preventing infections caused by GBS, and they pave the way for the use of a similar approach against other pathogenic streptococci.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Serotyping
  • Streptococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Streptococcal Infections / pathology
  • Streptococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / genetics
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / isolation & purification
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / pathogenicity*


  • Bacterial Vaccines