Tissue-specific contributions of pneumococcal virulence factors to pathogenesis

Carlos J. Orihuela, Geli Gao, Kevin P. Francis, Jun Yu, Elaine I. Tuomanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

268 Scopus citations


We assessed the ability of Streptococcus pneumoniae mutants deficient in either choline binding protein A (CbpA), pneumolysin (Pln), pyruvate oxidase (SpxB), autolysin (LytA), pneumococcal surface protein A, or neuraminidase A (NanA) to replicate in distinct anatomical sites and translocate from one site to the next. Intranasal, intratracheal, and intravenous models of disease were assessed in 4-week-old BALB/cJ mice by quantitation of bacterial titers in the relevant organs. Mice were also observed by use of real-time bioluminescent imaging (BLI). BLI allowed visualization of the bacteria in sites not tested by sampling. All mutants were created in D39 Xen7, a fully virulent derivative of capsular type 2 strain D39 that contains an optimized luxABCDE cassette. NanA, SpxB, and, to a lesser extent, CbpA contributed to prolonged nasopharyngeal colonization, whereas CbpA and NanA contributed to the transition to the lower respiratory tract. Once lung infection was established, Pln, SpxB, and LytA contributed to bacterial replication in the lungs and translocation to the bloodstream. In the bloodstream, only Pln and LytA were required for high-titer replication, whereas CbpA was required for invasion of the cerebrospinal fluid. We conclude that transitions between body sites require virulence determinants distinct from those involved in organ-specific replication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1661-1669
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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