Interaction between Group A Streptococci and the Plasmin(ogen) System Promotes Virulence in a Mouse Skin Infection Model

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Group A streptococci are capable of acquiring a surface-associated, unregulatable plasmin-like enzymatic activity when incubated in human plasma. The effect of this enzymatic activity on virulence of group A isolate CS101 was examined in a mouse skin infection model. Initial studies demonstrated enhanced virulence for bacteria preincubated in human plasma but not in plasminogen—depleted plasma. A direct correlation between surface-associated enzymatic activity and virulence was not observed; however, an association between virulence and the assembly of a surface-associated plasminogen activator that could activate mouse plasminogen was noted. This activity enhanced virulence in wild type but not in plg−/− plasminogen-deficient mice. These results support the hypothesis that acquisition of a surface-associated plasmin(ogen)-dependent enzymatic activity can contribute to the virulence of group A streptococcal invasive infections.

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