Group B streptococci (GBS) are a major cause of neonatal meningitis, and sialic acid is a determinant of the development of meningitis. The transcription level of the neuD gene, used as a marker of neu gene expression and capsular production, was significantly higher in serotype III GBS strains isolated from meningitis than from vaginal carriage. This was irrespective both of the phylogenetic position of strains and of the presence of a thymine at position 264 in the neuD gene. Differences in neuD gene transcription may explain in part why particular isolates among the GBS strains colonizing the vagina can cause meningitis.
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