Streptococcus pyogenes is one of the most medically relevant genera of Gram positive bacteria. S. pyogenes belongs to Group A streptococcus (GAS), the most pathogenic streptococci. S. pyogenes is exclusively a human pathogen that is known for its ability to cause a wide array of infections ranging from superficial pharyngitis and impetigo to invasive life threatening conditions including septicemia, necrotizing fasciitis, and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. The dissemination of S. pyogenes within a human host is dependent upon virulence factors aimed at host immune system evasion leading to infection. More specifically, S. pyogenes’ virulence factors are required for bacterial dissemination, adherence, colonization and host-cell entry. Other virulence factors enable the evasion of phagocytosis, and survival within the phagocyte. The plethora of virulence factors explains the variety of S. pyogenes infections and its recent epidemiological resurgence world-wide. Uncovering the molecular mechanisms of S. pyogenes pathogenesis is crucial in helping scientists develop new therapies for this human health threat. In the following review, the most potent virulence and virulence-associated factors of S. pyogenes will be discussed along with their mechanisms of action.

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