A Chimeric Penicillin Binding Protein 2X Significantly Decreases in Vitro Beta-Lactam Susceptibility and Increases in Vivo Fitness of Streptococcus pyogenes

Randall J. Olsen, Luchang Zhu, Regan E. Mangham, Ahmad Faili, Samer Kayal, Stephen B. Beres, James M. Musser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

All tested strains of Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus, GAS) remain susceptible to penicillin. However, GAS strains with amino acid substitutions in penicillin-binding proteins that confer decreased susceptibility to beta-lactam antibiotics have been identified recently. This discovery raises concerns about emergence of beta-lactam antibiotic resistance in GAS. Whole genome sequencing recently identified GAS strains with a chimeric penicillin-binding protein 2X (PBP2X) containing a recombinant segment from Streptococcus dysgalactiae subspecies equisimilis (SDSE). To directly test the hypothesis that the chimeric SDSE-like PBP2X alters beta-lactam susceptibility in vitro and fitness in vivo, an isogenic mutant strain was generated and virulence assessed in a mouse model of necrotizing myositis. Compared with naturally occurring and isogenic strains with a wild-type GAS-like PBP2X, strains with the chimeric SDSE-like PBP2X had reduced susceptibility in vitro to nine beta-lactam antibiotics. In a mouse model of necrotizing myositis, the strains had identical fitness in the absence of benzylpenicillin treatment. However, mice treated intermittently with a subtherapeutic dose of benzylpenicillin had significantly more colony-forming units recovered from limbs infected with strains with the chimeric SDSE-like PBP2X. These results show that mutations such as the PBP2X chimera may result in significantly decreased beta-lactam susceptibility and increased fitness and virulence. Expanded diagnostic laboratory surveillance, genome sequencing, and molecular pathogenesis study of potentially emergent beta-lactam antibiotic resistance among GAS are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1397-1406
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Volume192
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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