Bacteriophage content of M49 strains of Streptococcus pyogenes


  • Editor: Tim Mitchell

Correspondence: Alexander N. Suvorov, Pavlova street 12, Institute of Experimental Medicine, St Petersburg 197376, Russia. Tel.: +7 8122349319; fax: +7 8122349477; e-mail:


Bacteriophages are common autonomous migrating mobile genetic elements in group A Streptococcus (GAS) and are often associated with the carriage of various virulence genes, including toxins, mitogens and enzymes. Two collections of GAS type M49 strains isolated from invasive (22 strains) and noninvasive (16 strains) clinical cases have been studied for the presence of phage and phage-associated virulence genes. All the GAS strains carried from at least two to six phage genomes as determined by the number of known phage integrase genes found. A sampling of the invasive M49 strains showed that they belonged to the same multilocus sequence typing type, carried two specific integrase genes (int5 and int7), and contained the toxin genes speA, speH and speI. Other invasive strains lacking this gene profile carried the prophage integrating in mutL–mutS region and inducing the ‘mutator’ phenotype. We suggest that this specific phage-related virulence gene constellation might be an important factor increasing M49 GAS pathogenicity.