Designed reduction of Streptococcus pneumoniae pathogenicity via synthetic changes in virulence factor codon-pair bias

J. Robert Coleman, Dimitris Papamichail, Masahide Yano, María Del Mar García-Suárez, Liise Anne Pirofski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


In this study, we used a previously described method of controlling gene expression with computer-based gene design and de novo DNA synthesis to attenuate the virulence of Streptococcus pneumoniae. We produced 2 S. pneumoniae serotype 3 (SP3) strains in which the pneumolysin gene (ply) was recoded with underrepresented codon pairs while retaining its amino acid sequence and determined their ply expression and pneumolysin production in vitro and their virulence in a mouse pulmonary infection model. Expression of ply and production of pneumolysin of the recoded SP3 strains were decreased, and the recoded SP3 strains were less virulent in mice than the wild-type SP3 strain or a Dply SP3 strain. Further studies showed that the least virulent recoded strain induced a markedly reduced inflammatory response in the lungs compared with the wild-type or Δply strain. These findings suggest that reducing pneumococcal virulence gene expression by altering codon-pair bias could hold promise for rational design of live-attenuated pneumococcal vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1264-1273
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases

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