SUMMARY: The production of a haemolysin by Streptococcus suis capsular type 2 was investigated. Human group O erythrocytes were the most susceptible, followed by horse, sheep, cow and pig red blood cells, which exhibited similar susceptibilities; rabbit erythrocytes were the least susceptible. The haemolysin was produced at the end of the exponential growth phase. The toxin described in this paper was purified by affinity chromatography using a thiopropyl-Sepharose 6B column. It is an extracellular protein with a molecular mass of 65 kDa. The haemolysin belongs to the family of toxins known as antigenically related cholesterol-binding cytolytic toxins, since it shares common characteristics with other members of this family, such as sensitivity to oxygen and oxidizing agents, activation by reducing agents, inhibition by low concentrations of cholesterol, formation of transmembrane pores and a ‘multi-hit’ mechanism of action. In addition, anti-streptolysin antibodies inhibited the haemolytic activity caused by the S. suis haemolysin. Antibodies against the haemolysin could not be detected in pigs experimentally infected with a haemolytic positive strain of S. suis capsular type 2. To our knowledge, this is the only Lancefield group D Streptococcus producing a haemolysin with these characteristics. The role of this haemolysin in the pathogenesis of S. suis infections remains to be investigated.


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