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Title: A random six-phase switch regulates pneumococcal virulence via global epigenetic changes.
Authors: Manso, Ana Sousa
Chai, M. H.
Atack, J. M.
Furi, Leonardo
De Ste Croix, Megan
Haigh, Richard
Trappetti, C.
Ogunniyi, A. D.
Shewell, L. K.
Boitano, M.
Clark, T. A.
Korlach, J.
Blades, Matthew
Mirkes, Evgeny
Gorban, Alexander N.
Paton, J. C.
Jennings, M. P.
Oggioni, Marco R.
First Published: 30-Sep-2014
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Citation: Nature Communications, 2014, 5:5055
Abstract: Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is the world's foremost bacterial pathogen in both morbidity and mortality. Switching between phenotypic forms (or 'phases') that favour asymptomatic carriage or invasive disease was first reported in 1933. Here, we show that the underlying mechanism for such phase variation consists of genetic rearrangements in a Type I restriction-modification system (SpnD39III). The rearrangements generate six alternative specificities with distinct methylation patterns, as defined by single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) methylomics. The SpnD39III variants have distinct gene expression profiles. We demonstrate distinct virulence in experimental infection and in vivo selection for switching between SpnD39III variants. SpnD39III is ubiquitous in pneumococci, indicating an essential role in its biology. Future studies must recognize the potential for switching between these heretofore undetectable, differentiated pneumococcal subpopulations in vitro and in vivo. Similar systems exist in other bacterial genera, indicating the potential for broad exploitation of epigenetic gene regulation.
DOI Link: 10.1038/ncomms6055
eISSN: 2041-1723
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit
Description: Accession codes: Gene expression (RNA-seq) data were deposited in the NCBI GEO database with accession code GSE55182. The sequences of the spnD39III loci in the locked mutant strains were deposited in the GenBank nucleotide database with accession codes KJ955483, KJ955484, KJ955485, KJ955486, KJ398403 and KJ398404. Supplementary Information accompanies this paper at naturecommunications
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Genetics

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