Genome-Wide Screens Identify Group A Streptococcus Surface Proteins Promoting Female Genital Tract Colonization and Virulence

Luchang Zhu, Randall J. Olsen, Stephen B. Beres, Matthew Ojeda Saavedra, Samantha L. Kubiak, Concepcion C. Cantu, Leslie Jenkins, Prasanti Yerramilli, Layne Pruitt, Amelia R.L. Charbonneau, Andrew S. Waller, James M. Musser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Group A streptococcus (GAS) is a major pathogen that impacts health and economic affairs worldwide. Although the oropharynx is the primary site of infection, GAS can colonize the female genital tract and cause severe diseases, such as puerperal sepsis, neonatal infections, and necrotizing myometritis. Our understanding of how GAS genes contribute to interaction with the primate female genital tract is limited by the lack of relevant animal models. Using two genome-wide transposon mutagenesis screens, we identified 69 GAS genes required for colonization of the primate vaginal mucosa in vivo and 96 genes required for infection of the uterine wall ex vivo. We discovered a common set of 39 genes important for GAS fitness in both environments. They include genes encoding transporters, surface proteins, transcriptional regulators, and metabolic pathways. Notably, the genes that encode the surface-exclusion protein (SpyAD) and the immunogenic secreted protein 2 (Isp2) were found to be crucial for GAS fitness in the female primate genital tract. Targeted gene deletion confirmed that isogenic mutant strains ΔspyAD and Δisp2 are significantly impaired in ability to colonize the primate genital tract and cause uterine wall pathologic findings. Our studies identified novel GAS genes that contribute to female reproductive tract interaction that warrant translational research investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)862-873
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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