Clonal success of piliated penicillin nonsusceptible pneumococci

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Antibiotic resistance in pneumococci is due to the spread of strains belonging to a limited number of clones. The Spain(9v)-3 clone of sequence type (ST)156 is one of the most successful clones with reduced susceptibility to penicillin [pneumococci nonsusceptible to penicillin (PNSP)]. In Sweden during 2000-2003, a dramatic increase in the number of PNSP isolates was observed. Molecular characterization of these isolates showed that a single clone of sequence type ST156 increased from 40% to 80% of all serotype 14, thus causing the serotype expansion. Additionally, during the same time period, we examined the clonal composition of two serotypes 9V and 19F: all 9V and 20% of 19F isolates belonged to the clonal cluster of ST156, and overall approximate to 50% of all PNSP belonged to the ST156 clonal cluster. Moreover, microarray and PCR analysis showed that all ST156 isolates, irrespective of capsular type, carried the rlrA pilus islet. This islet was also found to be present in the penicillin-sensitive ST162 clone, which is believed to be the drug-susceptible ancestor of ST156. Competitive experiments between related ST156 serotype 19F strains confirmed that those containing the rlrA pilus islet were more successful in an animal model of carriage. We conclude that the pilus island is an important biological factor common to ST156 isolates and other successful PNSP clones. In Sweden, a country where the low antibiotic usage does not explain the spread of resistant strains, at least 70% of all PNSP isolates collected during year 2003 carried the pilus islet.


  • K. Sjoestroem
  • C. Blomberg
  • J. Fernebro
  • J. Dagerhamn
  • E. Morfeldt
  • M. A. Barocchi
  • S. Browall
  • M. Moschioni
  • M. Andersson
  • F. Henriques
  • Barbara Albiger
  • Rino Rappuoli
  • S. Normark
  • B. Henriques-Normark
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Mikrobiologi inom det medicinska området


Sidor (från-till)12907-12912
TidskriftProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
StatusPublished - 2007
Peer review utfördJa