Murine vaginal colonization model for investigating asymptomatic mucosal carriage of Streptococcus pyogenes

Infect Immun. 2013 May;81(5):1606-17. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00021-13. Epub 2013 Mar 4.


While many virulence factors promoting Streptococcus pyogenes invasive disease have been described, specific streptococcal factors and host properties influencing asymptomatic mucosal carriage remain uncertain. To address the need for a refined model of prolonged S. pyogenes asymptomatic mucosal colonization, we have adapted a preestrogenized murine vaginal colonization model for S. pyogenes. In this model, derivatives of strains HSC5, SF370, JRS4, NZ131, and MEW123 established a reproducible, asymptomatic colonization of the vaginal mucosa over a period of typically 3 to 4 weeks' duration at a relatively high colonization efficiency. Prior treatment with estradiol prolonged streptococcal colonization and was associated with reduced inflammation in the colonized vaginal epithelium as well as a decreased leukocyte presence in vaginal fluid compared to the levels of inflammation and leukocyte presence in non-estradiol-treated control mice. The utility of our model for investigating S. pyogenes factors contributing to mucosal carriage was verified, as a mutant with a mutation in the transcriptional regulator catabolite control protein A (CcpA) demonstrated significant impairment in vaginal colonization. An assessment of in vivo transcriptional activity in the CcpA(-) strain for several known CcpA-regulated genes identified significantly elevated transcription of lactate oxidase (lctO) correlating with excessive generation of hydrogen peroxide to self-lethal levels. Deletion of lctO did not impair colonization, but deletion of lctO in a CcpA(-) strain prolonged carriage, exceeding even that of the wild-type strain. Thus, while LctO is not essential for vaginal colonization, its dysregulation is deleterious, highlighting the critical role of CcpA in promoting mucosal colonization. The vaginal colonization model should prove effective for future analyses of S. pyogenes mucosal colonization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asymptomatic Infections*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Estrogens / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Leukocytes / cytology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mucous Membrane / microbiology*
  • Streptococcus pyogenes* / drug effects
  • Transcription Factors / deficiency
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Vagina / cytology
  • Vagina / microbiology*


  • Estrogens
  • Transcription Factors
  • Estradiol