Barbieri – Research Activity

Regulation of metabolism and virulence in Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Streptococcus)

Streptococcus agalactiae is one of the main causes of invasive neonatal infections occurring in the first three months of life. Since this Gram-positive bacterium is a commensal of the gastro-intestinal and urogenital tract of up to 30% of healthy adults, it can be vertically transmitted from a colonized mother to her child during pregnancy or during delivery. Although administration of intra partum antibiotic prophylaxis to women colonized by Streptococcus agalactiae reduced the incidence of vertically acquired infections, this strategy did not contribute to reducing the incidence of infections horizontally transmitted after birth. These manifest within 7 and 90 days of age and are characterized by bloodstream infection with a high rate of associated meningitis.

The project “Exploring the role of the transcriptional regulator CodY in the pathogenesis of neonatal Group B streptococcal meningitis“, funded with € 250,000 by Fondazione Cariplo, aims to study the molecular mechanisms underlying the virulence of Streptococcus agalactiae. In particular, the role of the transcriptional regulator CodY will be analyzed. In Gram-positive bacteria, this protein controls metabolism according to the nutritional status of the cell. In all the pathogenic bacteria in which it has been described, CodY is also responsible for the coordinated expression of metabolism and virulence genes.

Starting from the idea that regulation of metabolism and coordination of expression of metabolic and virulence genes is important for Streptococcus agalactiae pathogenesis, this project aims at studying for the first time the role of CodY in the regulation of gene expression and virulence of Streptococcus agalactiae.

Collaborators: Giampiero Pietrocola (Department of Molecular Medicine, UniPV), Carmelo Biondo (Department of Human and Pediatric Pathology “Gaetano Barresi”, University of Messina)

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