Vaccination Drives Changes in Metabolic and Virulence Profiles of Streptococcus pneumoniae.


The bacterial pathogen, Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus), is a leading cause of life-threatening illness and death worldwide. Available conjugate vaccines target only a small subset (up to 13) of >90 known capsular serotypes of S. pneumoniae and, since their introduction, increases in non-vaccine serotypes have been recorded in several countries: a phenomenon termed Vaccine Induced Serotype Replacement (VISR). Here, using a combination of mathematical modelling and whole genome analysis, we show that targeting particular serotypes through vaccination can also cause their metabolic and virulence-associated components to transfer through recombination to non-vaccine serotypes: a phenomenon we term Vaccine-Induced Metabolic Shift (VIMS). Our results provide a novel explanation for changes observed in the population structure of the pneumococcus following vaccination, and have important implications for strain-targeted vaccination in a range of infectious disease systems.

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