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New Study Examines Genetic Role in Preterm Labor and Stillbirth

June 11, 2021

UPMC Newborn Medicine Program researcher, Thomas A. Hooven, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics and scholar at the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute of Pediatric Research led a study which has found that a genetic regulator plays a critical role in allowing group B Streptococcus (GBS) to enter the bloodstream, which can trigger adverse responses leading to preterm labor and stillbirth.

The study, “Genome-Wide Fitness Analysis of Group B Streptococcus In Human Amniotic Fluid Reveals A Transcription Factor That Controls Multiple Virulence Traits,” was published in March in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

The research team from the Hooven Laboratory focused on a single GBS gene that encodes a transcription factor the team named MrvR. The MrvR transcription factor was found to be a key component for GBS resistance to human amniotic fluid. Dr. Hooven’s team discovered that MrvR contributes to the development of chorioamnionitis – infection of the placenta, fetal membranes, and fetus – which can lead to preterm labor, stillbirth, and other complications

In addition to colleagues from the University of Vermont, University of Maryland, University of Wisconsin, New York University School of Medicine, and Georgetown University School of Medicine, Dr. Hooven was joined by Mary F. Keith, DO, MS, and postdoctoral researcher Kathyayini Parlakoti Gopalakrishna, MBBS, PhD, both members of the UPMC Newborn Medicine Program and the Hooven Laboratory.

Learn more about the Hooven Laboratory and Dr. Hooven.


Dammann AN, Chamby AB, Catomeris AJ, Davidson KM, Tettelin H, Pijkeren JPV, Gopalakrishna KP, Keith MF, Elder JL, Ratner AJ, Hooven TA. Genome-Wide Fitness Analysis of Group B Streptococcus in Human Amniotic Fluid Reveals a Transcription Factor That Controls Multiple Virulence Traits. PLOS Pathogens. 2021 March 8;