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Genomic evidence for the evolution of Streptococcus equi host restriction, increased virulence, and genetic exchange with human pathogens

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Michael Kehoe

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Abstract

The continued evolution of bacterial pathogens has major implications for both human and animal disease, but the exchange of genetic material between host-restricted pathogens is rarely considered. Streptococcus equi subspecies equi (S. equi) is a host-restricted pathogen of horses that has evolved from the zoonotic pathogen Streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus (S. zooepidemicus). These pathogens share approximately 80% genome sequence identity with the important human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes. We sequenced and compared the genomes of S. equi 4047 and S. zooepidemicus H70 and screened S. equi and S. zooepidemicus strains from around the world to uncover evidence of the genetic events that have shaped the evolution of the S. equi genome and led to its emergence as a host-restricted pathogen. Our analysis provides evidence of functional loss due to mutation and deletion, coupled with pathogenic specialization through the acquisition of bacteriophage encoding a phospholipase A2 toxin, and four superantigens, and an integrative conjugative element carrying a novel iron acquisition system with similarity to the high pathogenicity island of Yersinia pestis. We also highlight that S. equi, S. zooepidemicus, and S. pyogenes share a common phage pool that enhances cross-species pathogen evolution. We conclude that the complex interplay of functional loss, pathogenic specialization, and genetic exchange between S. equi, S. zooepidemicus, and S. pyogenes continues to influence the evolution of these important streptococci.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Holden MTG, Heather Z, Paillot R, Steward KF, Webb K, Ainslie F, Jourdan T, Bason NC, Holroyd NE, Mungall K, Quail MA, Sanders M, Simmonds M, Willey D, Brooks K, Aanensen DM, Spratt BG, Jolley KA, Maiden MCJ, Kehoe M, Chanter N, Bentley SD, Robinson C, Maskell DJ, Parkhill J, Waller AS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS Pathogens

Year: 2009

Volume: 5

Issue: 3

Date deposited: 07/11/2011

ISSN (print): 1553-7366

ISSN (electronic): 1553-7374

Publisher: Public Library of Science

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1000346

DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000346


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