SURFACE CHARACTERISTICS OF GROUP A STREPTOCOCCI WITH AND WITHOUT M-PROTEIN

Authors


Department of Medical Microbiology, Sölvegatan 23, S-223 62 Lund, Sweden.

Abstract

Twenty M protein-positive and eight M protein-negative strains of group A streptococci were investigated with respect to surface hydrophobicity and amount of lipoteichoic acid (LTA). Surface hydrophobicity as determined in polymer two-phase systems varied substantially between individual strains and there was no correlation to the presence of antiphagocytic M protein. The amount of LTA on the surface of the bacteria varied with hydrophobic affinity of the cells. Strains with a high content of surface LTA were found among both M-positive and M-negative streptococci. Cellular and extracellular LTA was estimated on six strains by the ability of hot phenol extracts and culture fluids to sensitize erythrocytes and by rocket immunoelectrophoretic quantitation. Differences in content of surface LTA did not correlate to differences in the total amount of cellular LTA. Pepsin digestion of M-positive group A streptococci at suboptimal pH resulted in a loss of M antigen whereas surface LTA and the hydrophobic interaction liability was retained. The results indicate that the degree of surface hydrophobicity as measured by two-phase partitioning is not correlated to either the type-specific or the antiphagocytic moiety of M protein. The results support the correlation between surface LTA and surface hydrophobicity of group A streptococci.

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