Streptokinase activity among group A streptococci in relation to streptokinase genotype, plasminogen binding, and disease manifestations

Microb Pathog. 1995 Jan;18(1):53-65. doi: 10.1016/s0882-4010(05)80012-9.


Certain genotypic variants of streptokinase (ska) of beta-hemolytic streptococci group A have been associated with acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (APSGN). In our earlier studies on strains isolated from Ethiopian children with various streptococcal disease manifestation, we reported an even distribution of streptokinase genotypes with no association to disease patterns. Considering the possibility that strains could differ in their ability to secrete the protein, levels of streptokinase activity in culture supernatants of these strains were determined by a plasminogen activation assay using a synthetic tripeptide, H-D-valyl-leucyl-lysin-p-nitroaniline, as a substrate. Of the 53 streptococcal group A strains, ten (19%), which belonged to genotype ska4 and ska8, did not activate human plasminogen. These strains did not activate bovine, sheep, horse, rabbit or porcine plasminogens either. They represented at least five M protein and non-typeable serotypes, and were characterized by high human plasminogen binding activity. Six of the 53 strains (11%) harbouring genotype ska3 and ska7 showed low levels of human plasminogen activation. Strains of ska1 and ska2, 37/53, activated human plasminogen at a higher level (p < 0.005). Levels of plasminogen activation were not significantly different among the ska1 and ska2 strains associated with various streptococcal disease manifestations. Antibody levels against streptokinase were higher (p < 0.05) in convalescent sera from acute rheumatic fever and APSGN patients in comparison with sera from other patient categories and healthy controls. Streptokinase genotype and in vitro streptokinase production do not correlate directly to streptococcal disease manifestation, indicating a probable significance of additional streptococcal and/or host factors in the initiation of APSGN.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Glomerulonephritis / etiology
  • Glomerulonephritis / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plasminogen / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Streptococcal Infections / complications
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / enzymology*
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / genetics
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / immunology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / pathogenicity
  • Streptokinase / analysis*
  • Streptokinase / genetics
  • Streptokinase / immunology
  • Streptokinase / metabolism


  • Plasminogen
  • Streptokinase