Vaccination Drives Changes in Metabolic and Virulence Profiles of Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Watkins ER., Penman BS., Lourenço J., Buckee CO., Maiden MCJ., Gupta S.
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.