Chapter 1 : The Streptococcal Superantigens

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Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS) is caused by a sudden release of one or more streptococcal superantigens (SAgs) into the blood. The conditions that result in this sudden production of toxin remain one of the major questions in the study and treatment of invasive streptococcal disease. The availability of streptococcal genomes has simplified the effort of identifying new SAgs. Minor allelic variation has been found for streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin (SPE)-A and SPE-C. Two cocrystal structures of streptococcal SAgs bound to soluble TcR reveal how SPE-A interacts with murineVβ8.2 and SPE-C interacts with human Vβ2.1 complexes. Streptococcal SAgs when combined with small doses of endotoxin such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) are lethal in rabbits. The focus on without knowledge of other more potent streptococcal SAgs such as streptococcal mitogenic exotoxin Z (SMEZ) and SPE-J tends to reduce the significance of these earlier studies by adding the potential for two or more SAgs to contribute to toxicity. Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute multisystem vasculitis of unknown etiology that affects mostly young children and is now recognized as the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children in the developed world. The streptococcal SAgs are a family of secreted toxins similar to their staphylococcal cousins, but with some unique features, in particular with regard to expression and potency. It is clear that the SAg genes originated in staphylococci, and the fact that most are encoded in mobile phage suggests that they confer a significant advantage to the organism.

Citation: Fraser J, Proft T. 2007. The Streptococcal Superantigens, p 3-20. In Kotb M, Fraser J (ed), Superantigens. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815844.ch1
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Table 1.

Functional properties of streptococcal superantigens

Citation: Fraser J, Proft T. 2007. The Streptococcal Superantigens, p 3-20. In Kotb M, Fraser J (ed), Superantigens. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815844.ch1

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