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Extensive Adaptive Changes Occur in the Transcriptome of Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Streptococcus) in Response to Incubation with Human Blood

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003143
  • Research Article
  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology/Medical Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases/Bacterial Infections
  • Biology
  • Medicine


To enhance understanding of how Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus, GBS) adapts during invasive infection, we performed a whole-genome transcriptome analysis after incubation with whole human blood. Global changes occurred in the GBS transcriptome rapidly in response to blood contact following shift from growth in a rich laboratory medium. Most (83%) of the significantly altered transcripts were down-regulated after 30 minutes of incubation in blood, and all functional categories of genes were abundantly represented. We observed complex dynamic changes in the expression of transcriptional regulators and stress response genes that allow GBS to rapidly adapt to blood. The transcripts of relatively few proven virulence genes were up-regulated during the first 90 minutes. However, a key discovery was that genes encoding proteins involved in interaction with the host coagulation/fibrinolysis system and bacterial-host interactions were rapidly up-regulated. Extensive transcript changes also occurred for genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism, including multi-functional proteins and regulators putatively involved in pathogenesis. Finally, we discovered that an incubation temperature closer to that occurring in patients with severe infection and high fever (40°C) induced additional differences in the GBS transcriptome relative to normal body temperature (37°C). Taken together, the data provide extensive new information about transcriptional adaptation of GBS exposed to human blood, a crucial step during GBS pathogenesis in invasive diseases, and identify many new leads for molecular pathogenesis research.

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