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Pneumolysin is an important virulence factor of the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae. Sequence analysis of the ply gene from 121 clinical isolates of S. pneumoniae uncovered a number of alleles. Twenty-two strains were chosen for further analysis, and 14 protein alleles were discovered. Five of these had been reported previously, and the remaining 9 were novel. Cell lysates were used to determine the specific hemolytic activities of the pneumolysin proteins. Six strains showed no hemolytic activity, and the remaining 16 were hemolytic, to varying degrees. We report that the nonhemolytic allele reported previously in serotype 1, sequence type (ST) 306 isolates is also present in a number of pneumococcal isolates of serotype 8 that belong to the ST53 lineage. Serotype 1 and 8 pneumococci are known to be associated with outbreaks of invasive disease. The nonhemolytic pneumolysin allele is therefore associated with the dominant clones of outbreak-associated serotypes of S. pneumoniae.

Original publication




Journal article


J Infect Dis

Publication Date





936 - 944


Alleles, Bacterial Proteins, Cluster Analysis, DNA, Bacterial, Disease Outbreaks, Genotype, Hemolysis, Humans, Molecular Sequence Data, Pneumococcal Infections, Polymorphism, Genetic, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Sequence Homology, Serotyping, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptolysins, Virulence Factors