Group A streptococcal M-like proteins: From pathogenesis to vaccine potential

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M and M-like surface proteins from group A Streptococcus (GAS) act as virulence factors and have been used in multiple vaccine candidates. While the M protein has been extensively studied, the two genetically and functionally related M-like proteins, Mrp and Enn, although present in most streptococcal strains have been relatively less characterised. We compile the current state of knowledge for these two proteins, from discovery to recent studies on function and immunogenicity, using the M protein for comparison as a prototype of this family of proteins. We focus on the known interactions between M-like proteins and host ligand proteins, and analyse the genetic data supporting these interactions. We discuss known and possible functions of M-like proteins during GAS infections, and highlight knowledge gaps where further investigation is warranted.

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