Rapid screening method for detecting highly pathogenicStreptococcus intermediusstrains carrying a mutation in thelacRgene

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Streptococcus intermedius is a member of the normal human commensal flora and secretes a human-specific cytolysin intermedilysin (ILY) as a major virulence factor. Expression of ily is repressed by LacR and loss-of-function mutations of LacR are observed in many ILY high-producing strains isolated from deep-seated abscesses, suggesting that high ILY production is necessary for increased virulence. However, because ILY exhibits no β-hemolysis on animal blood agar plates, differentiating ILY high- and low-producing strains using conventional laboratory methods is not possible. Interestingly, S. intermedius also produces glycosidases, including MsgA and NanA, which exhibit N-acetyl-β-d-glucosaminidase and neuraminidase activities, respectively. Moreover, MsgA expression, but not NanA, is negatively regulated by LacR. Here we measured the activities of MsgA, NanA and ILY in strains isolated from clinical specimens and dental plaque to determine the correlation between these glycosidase activities and ILY hemolytic activity. Hemolytic activity showed a strong positive correlation with MsgA and a weak negative correlation with NanA activities. Therefore, we calculated the ratio of MsgA and NanA activity (M/N ratio). This value showed a stronger positive correlation (r = 0.81) with ILY hemolytic activity and many strains with high M/N ratios (>2) were ILY-high producers with loss-of-function mutations in LacR.

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