Background and objectives: Streptococcus pneumoniae, a major human pathogen, is closely related to the commensal species S. mitis and S. oralis. S. pneumoniae surface proteins are implicated in virulence and host interaction of this species, but many of them have recently been detected in S. mitis B6 in silico. We tested for the presence of such genes usinga set of eight S. mitis and eleven S. oralis strains from different geographic locations.
Materials and methods: An oligonucleotide microarray was designed based on the genomes of S. pneumoniae R6 and TIGR4 as well as S. mitis B6 to include 63 cell surface proteins. The S. pneumoniae genes encoding neuraminidases, hyaluronidase and pneumolysin were also included. In addition to comparative genomic hybridization experiments, homologues were identified in silico in the genome of S. oralis Uo5.
Results and conclusions: The results document that many S. pneumoniae related surface proteins are ubiquitously present among the Mitis group of streptococci. All 19 samples hybridized with the pavA probe representing a gene important for adherence and invasion of S. pneumoniae. Only eight genes were not recognized in any strain, including the S. pneumoniae PcpC gene as the only virulence gene of the S. pneumoniae core genome.The fact that only 12 out of 26 genes present in the S. oralis Uo5 genome could be detected by microarray analysis confirms the sequence variation of surface components.
Keywords: Streptococcus mitis; Streptococcus oralis; Streptococcus pneumoniae; cell surface protein; choline binding proteins; virulence factors.