Small DNA deletions creating avirulence in Streptococcus pyogenes

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Science  31 Aug 1984:
Vol. 225, Issue 4665, pp. 935-938
DOI: 10.1126/science.6089334


The M protein is the antigen on the surface of group A streptococci that allows these bacteria to resist phagocytosis. DNA encoding the M12 protein was cloned into Escherichia coli and used as an isotopically labeled hybridization probe to compare genomic DNA's isolated from M+ and M- isogenic cultures in an effort to elucidate the genetic basis of this variation. DNA's from two spontaneous, independent M- variants contained small (approximately 50 base pairs) deletions which were mapped to identical restriction fragments within or adjacent to the M protein coding sequence. Taken together with the pleiotropic nature of these deletions, this suggests that they define a regulatory switch.