Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Microbiology & Immunology

First Advisor

Ping Xu


Streptococci resident in the oral cavity have been linked to infective endocarditis (IE). While viridans streptococci are commonly studied and associated with IE, less research has been focused on Streptococcus pneumoniae. Two-component systems (TCSs), consisting of a histidine kinase (HK) protein and response regulator (RR) protein, are bacterial signaling systems that may mediate S. pneumoniae TIGR4 strain virulence in IE. To test this hypothesis, TCS RR mutants of TIGR4 were examined in vivo through use of rabbit models. There were 14 RR proteins identified and 13 RR mutants synthesized because SP_1227 was found to be essential. The requirement of the 13 RRs for S. pneumoniae growth in IE models was assessed by quantifying mutants after overnight inoculation in IE infected rabbits through use of real time PCR (qPCR), colony enumeration on antibiotic selection plates, and competitive index assays. Real time PCR pinpointed several candidate virulence factors. Candidate RR SP_0798 was selected to be further examined. In the in vivo model, mutant SP_0798 grew significantly less than our control mutant SP_1678, which encodes a hypothetical protein and grew at a comparable rate to wild-type TIGR4 strains. Literature and databases identified SP_0798 as the ciaR gene, which has roles in regulating many diverse cellular functions. Our data suggests that RR SP_0798 is a virulence factor of S. pneumoniae TIGR4 strain in IE. This research may place more emphasis on virulence factors and lead to novel methods to combat pneumococcal endocarditis.


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VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2011