mSphere. 2017 Jun 7;2(3). pii: e00201-17. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00201-17. eCollection 2017 May-Jun.

Long Persistence of a Streptococcus pneumoniae 23F Clone in a Cystic Fibrosis Patient.

Rieger M1, Mauch H2, Hakenbeck R1.

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Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates of serotype 23F with intermediate penicillin resistance were recovered on seven occasions over a period of 37 months from a cystic fibrosis patient in Berlin. All isolates expressed the same multilocus sequence type (ST), ST10523. The genome sequences of the first and last isolates, D122 and D141, revealed the absence of two phage-related gene clusters compared to the genome of another ST10523 strain, D219, isolated earlier at a different place in Germany. Genomes of all three strains carried the same novel mosaic penicillin-binding protein (PBP) genes, pbp2xpbp2b, and pbp1a; these genes were distinct from those of other penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae strains except for pbp1a of a Romanian S. pneumoniae isolate. All PBPs contained mutations that have been associated with the penicillin resistance phenotype. Most interestingly, a mosaic block identical to an internal pbp2xsequence of ST10523 was present in pbp2x of Streptococcus mitis strain B93-4, which was isolated from the same patient. This suggests interspecies gene transfer from S. pneumoniae to S. mitis within the host. Nearly all genes expressing surface proteins, which represent major virulence factors of S. pneumoniaeand are typical for this species, were present in the genome of ST10523. One exception was the hyaluronidase gene hlyA, which contained a 12-nucleotide deletion within the promoter region and an internal stop codon. The lack of a functional hyaluronidase might contribute to the ability to persist in the host for an unusually long period of time. IMPORTANCEStreptococcus pneumoniae is a common resident in the human nasopharynx. However, carriage can result in severe diseases due to a unique repertoire of pathogenicity factors that are rare in closely related commensal streptococci. We investigated a penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae clone of serotype 23F isolated from a cystic fibrosis patient on multiple occasions over an unusually long period of over 3 years that was present without causing disease. Genome comparisons revealed an apparent nonfunctional pneumococcus-specific gene encoding a hyaluronidase, supporting the view that this enzyme adds to the virulence potential of the bacterium. The 23F clone harbored unique mosaic genes encoding penicillin resistance determinants, the product of horizontal gene transfer involving the commensal S. mitis as donor species. Sequences identical to one such mosaic gene were identified in an S. mitis strain from the same patient, suggesting that in this case S. pneumoniaeplayed the role of donor.


23F clone; Streptococcus pneumoniae; cystic fibrosis; hyaluronidase; penicillin-binding proteins; persistence

PMID: 28596991 PMCID: PMC5463027 DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00201-17