Streptococcus agalactiae causes severe invasive disease in humans and mastitis in cattle. Temporally matched bovine milk isolates and clinical human invasive isolates (52 each) collected in New York State over 18 months were characterized by molecular subtyping and phenotypic methods to probe the interspecies transmission potential of this species. EcoRI ribotyping differentiated 17 ribotypes, and DNA sequencing of the housekeeping gene sodA and the putative virulence gene hylB differentiated 7 and 17 allelic types, respectively. Human and bovine isolates were not randomly distributed between ribotypes or hylB and sodA clusters. The combined analysis of all subtyping data allowed the differentiation of 39 clonal groups; 26 groups contained only bovine isolates, and 2 groups contained both human and bovine isolates. The EcoRI ribotype diversity among bovine isolates (Simpson's numerical index of discrimination [mean ± standard deviation], 0.90 ± 0.05) being significantly higher than that among human isolates (0.42 ± 0.15) further supports that these isolates represent distinct populations. Eight human isolates, but no bovine isolates, showed an IS1548 transposon insertion in hylB, which encodes a hyaluronidase. Based on data for 43 representative isolates, human isolates, on average, showed lower hyaluronidase activities than bovine isolates. Isolates with the IS1548 insertion in hylB showed no hyaluronidase activity. Human and bovine isolates did not differ in their abilities to invade HeLa human epithelial cells. Our data show that (i) EcoRI ribotyping, combined with hylB and sodA sequencing, provides a discriminatory subtype analysis of S. agalactiae; (ii) most human invasive and bovine S. agalactiae isolates represent distinct subtypes, suggesting limited interspecies transmission; and (iii) hyaluronidase activity is not required for all human infections.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)