An Anatomical Atlas of S. Pneumoniae

An Anatomical Atlas of S. Pneumoniae

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a common cause of bacterial sinusitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Symptoms vary widely but can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Although the use of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines over the last 20 years have decreased the mortality rate from these infections, the microbe shows increasing rates of antibiotic resistance to penicillin, amoxicillin, ceftriaxone, and meropenem.

S. pneumoniae initially colonizes the nose and throat, but from there it can spread to the bloodstream and other organs. Researchers at three universities worked together to understand how S. pneumoniae adapts to different sites in the body. Using three different bacterial strains, they measured bacterial gene expression at five locations in an experimental mouse model – the nasopharynx, lungs, blood, heart, and kidneys.

What resulted was an anatomical atlas that showed both shared and highly distinct gene expression profiles. Some genes were highly expressed by all three strains of bacteria and at all of the locations in the body. But other genes showed variable expression depending on where colonization occurred, causing the bacteria to act differently throughout the body. For example, altered gene regulation allows the bacteria to transition to a biofilm in the heart. Interestingly, when upregulated genes were deleted, disease burden was lowered at the corresponding anatomical site. These findings may help to identify candidates as targets for novel pharmaceutical intervention or vaccine development.

TransPharm Preclinical Solutions has validated multiple strains of S. pneumoniae in mouse models of bacteremia and otitis media, as well as pulmonary and soft tissue infections. Additional validations are available upon request. To learn more, contact us for a complimentary consultation or a free, no-obligation quote.

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