Nearly all group B streptococcal strains representing the five major serotypes were found to produce extracellular nucleases by screening with an agar-well-diffusion technique in DNA-methyl green agar plates. Three different nucleases have been isolated and partially purified by DEAE-and carboxymethyl-cellulose chromatography. They possessed different mobilities on polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and different molecular weights. These nucleases, designated I, II, and III, are optimally activated by cations of calcium and manganese and exhibited RNase as well as DNase activity. Despite differences in their physical and biochemical properties, nucleases II and III appear antigenically similar, but distinct from nuclease I. These group B streptococcal nucleases are immunologically different from the nucleases of group A streptococci. Neutralizing activity, probably antibody, to nucleases II and III was found in human sera, and was most prevalent in sera of pregnant women colonized with group B streptococci and in their newborn infants.

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