Author(s): Wood DN, Chaussee MA, Chaussee MS, Buttaro BA
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Abstract In addition to causing fulminant disease, Streptococcus pyogenes may be asymptomatically carried between recurrent episodes of pharyngitis. To better understand streptococcal carriage, we characterized in vitro long-term stationary-phase survival (>4 weeks) of S. pyogenes. When grown in sugar-limited Todd-Hewitt broth, S. pyogenes cells remained culturable for more than 1 year. Both Todd-Hewitt supplemented with excess glucose and chemically defined medium allowed survival for less than 1 week. After 4 weeks of survival in sugar-limited Todd-Hewitt broth, at least 10(3) CFU per ml remained. When stained with fluorescent live-dead viability stain, there were a number of cells with intact membranes that were nonculturable. Under conditions that did not support persistence, these cells disappeared 2 weeks after loss of culturability. In persistent cultures, these may be cells that are dying during cell turnover. After more than 4 weeks in stationary phase, the culturable cells formed two alternative colony phenotypes: atypical large colonies and microcolonies. Protein expression in two independently isolated microcolony strains, from 14-week cultures, was examined by use of two-dimensional electrophoresis. The proteomes of these two strains exhibited extensive changes compared to the parental strain. While some of these changes were common to the two strains, many of the changes were unique to a single strain. Some of the common changes were in metabolic pathways, suggesting a possible alternate metabolism for the persisters. Overall, these data suggest that under certain in vitro conditions, S. pyogenes cells can persist for greater than 1 year as a dynamic population.
This article was published in J Bacteriol
and referenced in Immunochemistry & Immunopathology