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Open Access Short Report

Retrospective survey for sialidase activity in Mycoplasma pneumoniae isolates from cases of community-acquired pneumonia

Meghan May1 and Daniel R Brown2*

  • * Corresponding author: Daniel R Brown

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biological Sciences, Towson University, Towson MD, USA

2 Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville FL, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:195  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-195

Published: 15 June 2011



Sialidase is a well-known virulence factor of other respiratory pathogens, but was only recently documented to occur in some species of Mycoplasma. The sialidase activity expressed can vary quantitatively among strains within a species of mycoplasma, from undetectable to amounts that correlate positively with strain virulence. Very few isolates of Mycoplasma pneumoniae had ever been examined for sialidase activity, so it was unknown whether sialidase may contribute to diseases involving this species.


No sialidase activity was detected by spectrofluorometric assay of 15 laboratory strains and 91 clinical isolates of M. pneumoniae banked over many years from patients having radiologically-confirmed, uncomplicated community-acquired pneumonia.


The annotated genome of strain M129 (GenBank NC_000912, ATCC 29342), also isolated from a patient with pneumonia, accurately represents the absence of sialidase genes from strains of M. pneumoniae typically associated with uncomplicated community-acquired pneumonia. A possible involvement of sialidase in neurologic or other extra-respiratory manifestations of M. pneumoniae mycoplasmosis remains to be investigated.