Evolutionary Constraints Shaping Streptococcus pyogenes-Host Interactions
journal contributionposted on 27.06.2018, 00:00 authored by RV Wilkening, MJ Federle
Research on the Gram-positive human-restricted pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Streptococcus, GAS) has long focused on invasive illness, the most severe manifestations of GAS infection. Recent advances in descriptions of molecular mechanisms of GAS virulence, coupled with massive sequencing efforts to isolate genomes, have allowed the field to better understand the molecular and evolutionary changes leading to pandemic strains. These findings suggest that it is necessary to rethink the dogma involving GAS pathogenesis, and that the most productive avenues for research going forward may be investigations into GAS in its 'normal' habitat, the nasopharynx, and its ability to either live with its host in an asymptomatic lifestyle or as an agent of superficial infections. This review will consider these advances, focusing on the natural history of GAS, the evolution of pandemic strains, and novel roles for several key virulence factors that may allow the field to better understand their physiological role.