Prophage Induction and Expression of Prophage-Encoded Virulence Factors in Group A Streptococcus Serotype M3 Strain MGAS315

David J. Banks, Benfang Lei, James M. Musser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


The genome of the highly virulent group A Streptococcus (GAS) serotype M3 strain MGAS315 has six prophages that encode six proven or putative virulence factors. We examined prophage induction and expression of prophage-encoded virulence factors by this strain under in vitro conditions inferred to approximate in vivo conditions. Coculture of strain MGAS315 with Detroit 562 (D562) human epithelial pharyngeal cells induced the prophage encoding streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin K (SpeK) and extracellular phospholipase A 2 (Sla) and the prophage encoding streptodornase (Sdn). Increased gene copy numbers after induction correlated with increased speK sla, and sdn transcript levels. Although speK and sla are located contiguously in prophage φ315.4, these genes were transcribed independently. Whereas production of immunoreactive SpeK was either absent or minimal during coculture of GAS with D562 cells, production of immunoreactive Sla increased substantially. In contrast, despite a lack of induction of the prophage encoding speA during coculture of GAS with D562 cells, the speA transcript level and production of immunoreactive streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin A (SpeA) increased. Exposure of strain MGAS315 to hydrogen peroxide, an oxidative stressor, induced the prophage encoding mitogenic factor 4 (MF4), and there was a concomitant increase in the mf4 transcript. All prophages of strain MGAS315 that encode virulence factors were induced during culture with mitomycin C, a DNA-damaging agent. However, the virulence factor gene transcript levels and production of the encoded proteins decreased after mitomycin C treatment. Taken together, the results indicate that a complex relationship exists among environmental culture conditions, prophage induction, and production of prophage-encoded virulence factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7079-7086
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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