Chapter 11 : Mechanisms of Carriage

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is one of many closely related oral streptococci of the mitis phylogenetic group that colonize the human oro- and nasopharynx. Recently, experimental carriage studies performed in healthy adults have offered the prospect of utilizing the natural host to further investigate this fundamental aspect of pneumococcal biology. Surface molecules that have been shown to function as adhesins to human epithelial cells include phosphorylcholine (ChoP) and CbpA. ChoP, an otherwise unusual prokaryotic structural component, is common to several other genera residing primarily in the upper respiratory tract, such as , , , and . The expression of a surface-attached hyaluronidase (a hyaluronate lyase), Hyl, which could facilitate spread through a matrix of hyaluronan, a major polysaccharide component of host connective tissues, suggests that such a strategy may contribute to pneumococcal pathogenesis. Adherence to host structures may be particularly problematic for an encapsulated organism like the pneumococcus. Some degree of encapsulation appears to be essential for colonization, although even small amounts of capsular polysaccharide effectively block attachment to host cells. A final consideration is that pneumococcal infection frequently occurs in the setting of a recent or concurrent upper respiratory infection from common viruses.

Citation: Weiser J. 2004. Mechanisms of Carriage, p 169-182. In Tuomanen E, Mitchell T, Morrison D, Spratt B (ed), The Pneumococcus. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816537.ch11
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