Streptococcus suis is an important swine pathogen that can be transmitted to humans by contact with diseased animals or contaminated raw pork products. This pathogen possesses a coat of capsular polysaccharide (CPS) that confers protection against the immune system. Yet, the CPS is not the only virulence factor enabling this bacterium to successfully colonize, invade, and disseminate in its host leading to severe systemic diseases such as meningitis and toxic shock-like syndrome. Indeed, recent research developments, cautiously inventoried in this review, have revealed over 100 'putative virulence factors or traits' (surface-associated or secreted components, regulatory genes or metabolic pathways), of which at least 37 have been claimed as being 'critical' for virulence. In this review we discuss the current contradictions and controversies raised by this explosion of virulence factors and the future directions that may be conceived to advance and enlighten research on S. suis pathogenesis.
Keywords: Animal models; Mutagenesis; Pathogenesis; Streptococcus suis; Virulence factors.
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