Identification of an unusual pattern of global gene expression in group B Streptococcus grown in human blood

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Because passage of the bacterium to blood is a crucial step in the pathogenesis of many group B Streptococcus (GBS) invasive infections, we recently conducted a whole-genome transcriptome analysis during GBS incubation ex vivo with human blood. In the current work, we sought to analyze in detail the difference in GBS gene expression that occurred in one blood sample (donor A) relative to other blood samples. We incubated GBS strain NEM316 with fresh heparinized human blood obtained from healthy volunteers, and analyzed GBS genome expression and cytokine production. Principal component analysis identified extensive clustering of the transcriptome data among all samples at time 0. In striking contrast, the whole bacterial gene expression in the donor A blood sample was significantly different from the gene expression in all other blood samples studied, both after 30 and 90 min of incubation. More genes were up-regulated in donor A blood relative to the other samples, at 30 min and 90 min. Furthermore, there was significant variation in transcript levels between donor A blood and other blood samples. Notably, genes with the highest transcript levels in donor A blood were those involved in carbohydrate metabolism. We also discovered an unusual production of proinflammatory and immunomodulatory cytokines: MIF, tPAI-1 and IL-1beta were produced at higher levels in donor A blood relative to the other blood samples, whereas GM-CSF, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, IL-7 and IL-10 remained at lower levels in donor A blood. Potential reasons for our observations are that the immune response of donor A significantly influenced the bacterial transcriptome, or both GBS gene expression and immune response were influenced by the metabolic status of donor A.




Mereghetti, L., Sitkiewicz, I., Green, N. M., & Musser, J. M. (2009). Identification of an unusual pattern of global gene expression in group B Streptococcus grown in human blood. PLoS ONE, 4(9).

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