Viridans group streptococci are a serious health concern because most of these bacteria cause life-threatening infections, especially in immunocompromised and hospitalized individuals. We focused on two alpha-hemolytic Streptococcus strains (I-G2 and I-P16) newly isolated from an ileostomy effluent of a colorectal cancer patient. We examined their pathogenic potential by investigating their prevalence in human and assessing their pathogenicity in a mouse model. We also predicted their virulence factors and pathogenic features by using comparative genomic analysis and in vitro tests. Using polyphasic and systematic approaches, we identified the isolates as belonging to a novel Streptococcus species and designated it as Streptococcus ilei. Metagenomic survey based on taxonomic assignment of datasets from the Human Microbiome Project revealed that S. ilei is present in most human population and at various body sites but is especially abundant in the oral cavity. Intraperitoneal injection of S. ilei was lethal to otherwise healthy C57BL/6J mice. Pathogenomics and in vitro assays revealed that S. ilei possesses a unique set of virulence factors. In agreement with the in vivo and in vitro data, which indicated that S. ilei strain I-G2 is more pathogenic than strain I-P16, only the former displayed the streptococcal group A antigen. We here newly identified S. ilei sp. nov., and described its prevalence in human, virulence factors, and pathogenicity. This will help to prevent S. ilei strain misidentification in the future, and improve the understanding and management of streptococcal infections.
Keywords: Streptococcus; Streptococcus ilei; ileostomy effluent; ileum; mitis group streptococci; pathogenicity; viridans group streptococci; virulence factor.
© 2021. The Microbiological Society of Korea.