Hydrogen Peroxide Production of Group A Streptococci (GAS) is emm-Type Dependent and Increased at Low Temperatures

  • Leonhard MenschnerEmail author
  • Uta Falke
  • Peter Konrad
  • Reinhard Berner
  • Nicole Toepfner


Group A streptococcus (GAS) is an important human pathogen whose clinical isolates differ in their ability to produce hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). H2O2 is primarily produced by the enzyme lactate oxidase (LctO), an in depth in silico research revealed that all genome-sequenced GAS possess the required gene lctO. The importance of lctO for GAS is underlined by its highly conserved catabolite control element (cre box) as well as its perfect promotor sequence in comparison to the known consensus sequences of the Gram-positive model organism Bacillus subtilis. In this study, we provide further insight in the function and regulation of lactate oxidase by analyzing a large group of clinical GAS isolates. We found that H2O2 production increased over time in the late stationary phase; after 4 days of incubation, 5.4% of the isolates showed a positive result at 37 °C, while the rate increased to 16.4% at 20 °C. This correlation between H2O2 production and low temperatures suggests additional regulatory mechanisms for lctO besides catabolite control protein A (CcpA) and indicates that lctO might play a role for GAS energy metabolism at sub-body temperatures. Furthermore, we could identify that H2O2 production was different among clinical isolates; we could correlate H2O2 production to emm-types, indicating that emm-types 6 and 75 had the highest rate of H2O2 production. The emm-type- and temperature-dependent H2O2 production of clinical GAS isolates might contribute to their different survival strategies.


Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethical Statement

The isolates investigated within this manuscript were derived as part of routine diagnostic procedures at the University Hospital of Freiburg, Germany. The anonymized investigation of such samples and the respective clinical data review were covered by the general care contract filed between the University Hospital and the patients and/or their parents. The contract was approved by the local IRB.

Supplementary material

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Carl Gustav CarusTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany

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