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1.  Invasion of epithelial cells by Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans: a dynamic, multistep process. 
Infection and Immunity  1996;64(8):2988-2997.
The invasion process of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, a periodontopathogen, was studied with microscopy and viable quantitative assays using both KB and Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) epithelial cells. Microscopy revealed that the events associated with the A. actinomycetemcomitans invasion process occurred rapidly. Scanning electron micrographs revealed A. actinomycetemcomitans associated with craters on the KB cell surface and others entering the KB cells through apertures with lip-like rims within 30 min of infection. Both transmission electron and immunofluorescence micrographs demonstrated that by this time some bacteria had, in fact, already entered, replicated, and exited host cells. Scanning electron micrographs revealed that infected KB cells exhibited fibrillar protrusions which contained bulges with the conformation of bacteria. Some protrusions formed intercellular connections between KB cells. Immunofluorescence micrographs revealed protrusions which harbored A. actinomycetemcomitans. The spread of internalized A. actinomycetemcomitans from one MDCK epithelial cell monolayer to another was demonstrated using a sandwich assay developed in our laboratory. Transcytosis of A. actinomycetemcomitans through polarized MDCK cells was also demonstrated. This study indicates that soon after entry of A. actinomycetemcomitans bacteria into epithelial cells, they undergo rapid multiplication and may subsequently be found in protrusions which sometimes extend between neighboring epithelial cells. The protrusions are thought to mediate the cell-to-cell spread of A. actinomycetemcomitans. Cell-to-cell spread may also occur by the endocytosis of A. actinomycetemcomitans bacteria which have been released into the medium via rudimentary protrusions which do not interconnect epithelial cells. The finding that the A. actinomycetemcomitans invasion process is so dynamic sheds significant new light on the interaction of this periodontopathogen with mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC174179  PMID: 8757825
2.  Microtubules Are Associated with Intracellular Movement and Spread of the Periodontopathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(12):6518-6525.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans SUNY 465, the invasion prototype strain, enters epithelial cells by an actin-dependent mechanism, escapes from the host cell vacuole, and spreads intracellularly and to adjacent epithelial cells via intercellular protrusions. Internalized organisms also egress from host cells into the assay medium via protrusions that are associated with just a single epithelial cell. Here we demonstrate that agents which inhibit microtubule polymerization (e.g., colchicine) and those which stabilize polymerized microtubules (e.g., taxol) both increase markedly the number of intracellular A. actinomycetemcomitans organisms. Furthermore, both colchicine and taxol prevented the egression of A. actinomycetemcomitans from host cells into the assay medium. Immunofluorescence microscopy revealed that protrusions that mediate the bacterial spread contain microtubules. A. actinomycetemcomitans SUNY 465 and 652, strains that are both invasive and egressive, interacted specifically with the plus ends (growing ends) of the filaments of microtubule asters in a KB cell extract. By contrast, neither A. actinomycetemcomitans 523, a strain that is invasive but not egressive, nor Haemophilus aphrophilus, a noninvasive oral bacterium with characteristics similar to those of A. actinomycetemcomitans, bound to microtubules. Together these data suggest that microtubules function in the spread and movement of A. actinomycetemcomitans and provide the first evidence that host cell dispersion of an invasive bacterium may involve the usurption of host cell microtubules.
PMCID: PMC97062  PMID: 10569770
3.  Adhesion of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans to a human oral cell line. 
Infection and Immunity  1994;62(9):3672-3678.
Two quantitative, rapid assays were developed to study the adhesion of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, an oral bacterium associated with periodontal disease, to human epithelial cells. The human oral carcinoma cell line KB was grown in microtiter plates, and adherent bacteria were detected by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with purified anti-A. actinomycetemcomitans serum and horseradish peroxidase-conjugated secondary antibody or [3H]thymidine-labeled bacteria. Adhesion was found to be time dependent and increased linearly with increasing numbers of bacteria added. Variation in the level of adhesion was noted among strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans. Adhesion was not significantly altered by changes in pH (from pH 5 to 9) but was sensitive to sodium chloride concentrations greater than 0.15 M. Pooled human saliva was inhibitory for adhesion when bacteria were pretreated with saliva before being added to the cells. Pretreatment of the KB cells with saliva did not inhibit adhesion. Protease treatment of A. actinomycetemcomitans reduced adhesion of the bacteria to KB cells. The data are consistent with the hypothesis that a protein(s) is required for bacterial adhesion and that host components may play a role in modulating adhesion to epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC303017  PMID: 8063383
4.  Aae, an Autotransporter Involved in Adhesion of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans to Epithelial Cells  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(5):2384-2393.
The periodontal pathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans possesses myriad virulence factors, among them the ability to adhere to and invade epithelial cells. Recent advances in the molecular manipulation of this pathogen and the sequencing of strain HK 1651 ( have facilitated examination of the genetics of its interaction with epithelial cells. The related gram-negative organism, Haemophilus influenzae, possesses autotransporter adhesins. A search of the sequence database of strain HK 1651 revealed a homologue with similarity in the pore-forming domain to that of the H. influenzae autotransporter, Hap. A. actinomycetemcomitans mutants deficient in the homologue, Aae, showed reduced binding to epithelial cells. A method for making A. actinomycetemcomitans SUNY 465 transiently resistant to spectinomycin was used with conjugation to generate an isogenic aae mutant. An allelic replacement mutant was created in the naturally transformable A. actinomycetemcomitans strain ATCC 29523. Lactoferrin, an important part of the innate host defense system, protects against bacterial infection by bactericidal and antiadhesion mechanisms. Lactoferrin in human milk removes or cleaves Hap and another autotransporter, an immunoglobulin A1 protease, from the surface of H. influenzae, thereby reducing their binding to epithelial cells. Human milk whey had similar effects on Aae from A. actinomycetemcomitans ATCC 29523 and its binding to epithelial cells; however, there was little effect on the binding of SUNY 465. A difference in the genetic structure of aae in the two strains, apparently due to the copy number of a 135-base repeated sequence, may be the cause of the differential action of lactoferrin. aae is the first A. actinomycetemcomitans gene involved in adhesion to epithelial cells to be identified.
PMCID: PMC153273  PMID: 12704108
5.  Augmentation of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Invasion of Human Oral Epithelial Cells and Up-Regulation of Interleukin-8 Production by Saliva CD14  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(10):5598-5604.
It has recently been shown that human salivary glands constitutively express CD14, an important molecule in innate immunity, and that a soluble form of CD14 is secreted in saliva. The concentration of CD14 in parotid (a serous gland) saliva was comparable to that in normal serum and 10-fold the amount in whole saliva, although the physiological function of saliva CD14 remained unclear. Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans is a periodontopathic bacterium and is able to invade oral epithelial cells. The present study showed that upon exposure to live A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 for 2 h, human oral epithelial HSC-2 cells produced interleukin-8 (IL-8) for a further 24 h and whole saliva augmented the production induced by A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4. Parotid saliva showed a more pronounced effect on the production of IL-8 than whole saliva. Neither saliva preparation itself had IL-8-inducing activity. Parotid saliva exhibited antibacterial activity against a low concentration of A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4, but recombinant CD14 did not show the activity. The internalization of A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 into HSC-2 cells was inhibited by cytochalasin B, indicating that the process was actin dependent, and depletion of CD14 from parotid saliva inhibited the invasion and, as a consequence, inhibited production of IL-8. Furthermore, human recombinant CD14 augmented invasion and IL-8 production. These results suggest that saliva CD14 promoted the invasion of oral epithelial cells by A. actinomycetemcomitans and consequently augmented the production of IL-8, playing an important role in innate immunity in the oral cavity.
PMCID: PMC201103  PMID: 14500479
6.  Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Outer Membrane Protein 100 Triggers Innate Immunity and Production of β-Defensin and the 18-Kilodalton Cationic Antimicrobial Protein through the Fibronectin-Integrin Pathway in Human Gingival Epithelial Cells  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(9):5211-5220.
Antimicrobial peptides, human β-defensin (hBD), and the 18-kDa cationic antimicrobial protein (CAP18) are components of innate immunity. These peptides have antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans is a gram-negative facultative anaerobe implicated in the initiation of periodontitis. The innate immunity peptides have antibacterial activity against A. actinomycetemcomitans. We investigated the molecular mechanism of human gingival epithelial cells (HGEC) responding to exposure to A. actinomycetemcomitans. HGEC constitutively express hBD1 and inducibly express hBD2, hBD3, and CAP18 on exposure to A. actinomycetemcomitans. The level of expression varies among clinical isolates. In the signaling pathway for hBD2 induction by the bacterial contact, we demonstrate that the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and not the NF-κB transcription factor pathway is used. We found the outer membrane protein 100 (Omp100; identified by molecular mass) is the component inducing the hBD2 response. Omp100 binds to fibronectin, an extracellular matrix inducing hBD2 via the MAP kinase pathway. Anti-integrin α5β1, antifibronectin, genistein, and PP2 suppress the Omp100-induced expression of hBD2, suggesting that Src kinase is involved through integrin α5β1. The inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6 and IL-8, produced by HGEC on contact with A. actinomycetemcomitans also stimulate expression of hBD2. Further, neutralizing antibody against TNF-α or IL-8 partially inhibits the induction of hBD2 on bacterial contact. Therefore, we found that the induction of the antimicrobial peptides is mediated by a direct response principally through an Omp100-fibronectin interaction, and using secondary stimulation by inflammatory cytokines induced by the bacterial exposure.
PMCID: PMC1594852  PMID: 16926414
7.  Invasion of Human Vascular Endothelial Cells by Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans via the Receptor for Platelet-Activating Factor 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(9):5416-5419.
Strains of the periodontal pathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans are variable with respect to display of phosphorylcholine (PC)-bearing antigens. We have examined strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans with and without PC to assess their ability to invade endothelial cells via the receptor for platelet-activating factor (PAF). Results of antibiotic protection assays indicate that PC-bearing A. actinomycetemcomitans invade human vascular endothelial cells by a mechanism inhibitable by CV3988, a PAF receptor antagonist, and by PAF itself. The invasive phenotype was verified by transmission electron microscopy. A PC-deficient strain of this organism was not invasive. This property, in addition to the established ability of A. actinomycetemcomitans to invade epithelial cells, may provide this organism with access to the systemic circulation. The ability of PC-bearing oral bacteria to access the circulation may also explain the elevated levels of anti-PC antibody in serum found in patients with periodontitis.
PMCID: PMC101808  PMID: 10948174
8.  Secretion of RTX Leukotoxin by Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(11):6094-6100.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, the etiologic agent for localized juvenile periodontitis and certain other human infections, such as endocarditis, expresses a leukotoxin that acts on polymorphonuclear leukocytes and macrophages. Leukotoxin is a member of the highly conserved repeat toxin (RTX) family of bacterial toxins expressed by a variety of pathogenic bacteria. While the RTX toxins of other bacterial species are secreted, the leukotoxin of A. actinomycetemcomitans is thought to remain associated with the bacterial cell. We have examined leukotoxin production and localization in rough (adherent) and smooth (nonadherent) strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans. We found that leukotoxin expressed by the rough, adherent, clinical isolate CU1000N is indeed cell associated, as expected. However, we were surprised to find that smooth, nonadherent strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans, including Y4, JP2 (a strain expressing a high level of toxin), and CU1060N (an isogenic smooth variant of CU1000N), secrete an abundance of leukotoxin into the culture supernatants during early stages of growth. After longer times of incubation, leukotoxin disappears from the supernatants, and its loss is accompanied by the appearance of a number of low-molecular-weight polypeptides. The secreted leukotoxin is active, as evidenced by its ability to kill HL-60 cells in vitro. We found that the growth phase and initial pH of the growth medium significantly affect the abundance of secreted leukotoxin, and we have developed a rapid (<2 h) method to partially purify large amounts of leukotoxin. Remarkably, mutations in the tad genes, which are required for tight nonspecific adherence of A. actinomycetemcomitans to surfaces, cause leukotoxin to be released from the bacterial cell. These studies show that A. actinomycetemcomitans has the potential to secrete abundant leukotoxin. It is therefore appropriate to consider a possible role for leukotoxin secretion in the pathogenesis of A. actinomycetemcomitans.
PMCID: PMC97685  PMID: 11035711
9.  Immunosuppressive properties of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin. 
Infection and Immunity  1988;56(1):122-127.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans produces a leukotoxin that kills human polymorphonuclear cells (PMNs) and monocytes but not lymphocytes. In this study, we examined A. actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin for its ability to alter human peripheral blood lymphocyte (HPBL) responsiveness. After a 90-min exposure to the leukotoxin, all monocytes were killed and HPBL responsiveness to mitogens and antigens was significantly inhibited. The ability of the leukotoxin to inhibit HPBL responses was not surprising, since monocytes and macrophages are required for many lymphocyte functions. However, we were unable to totally restore HPBL responsiveness when adherent autologous monocytes were added back to cultures of leukotoxin-treated lymphocytes. These studies demonstrate that A. actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin may also exert nonlethal effects directly on lymphocytes. Furthermore, impaired lymphocyte function did not appear to be the result of indirect effects of products released by dying monocytes. Although it is not clear how A. actinomycetemcomitans acts to cause disease, several investigators have proposed that impaired host defenses may play a pivotal role. Several studies have demonstrated defects in PMN, monocyte, and lymphocyte function in patients with periodontal disease. These findings, along with the data presented in this paper, support the hypothesis that patients who harbor A. actinomycetemcomitans could suffer from local or systemic immune suppression. The effects of this suppression may be to enhance the pathogenicity of A. actinomycetemcomitans itself or that of some other opportunistic organism.
PMCID: PMC259245  PMID: 3335399
10.  Kinetics of KB and HEp-2 cell responses to an invasive, cytolethal distending toxin-producing strain of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans 
Oral microbiology and immunology  2002;17(4):245-251.
The periodontal pathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans produces cytolethal distending toxin (CDT), a complex multicomponent toxin that arrests the growth of many types of eukaryotic cell. The kinetics of the effects of CDT-containing extracts, from an invasive strain of this bacterium, were examined on epithelial-like cells routinely used in invasion studies. Both KB and HEp-2 cells were exquisitely sensitive to the effects of the CDT with TD50 of 30 and 300 pg of total bacterial protein, respectively. Initial cell morphology changes were relatively rapid, occurring within the first 13 h of exposure. CDT-treated KB cells increased in size to 4–5 times the size of untreated controls. Cytotoxicity was irreversible when attached cells were incubated, for a minimum of 120 min, with nanogram quantities of CDT-containing extract. As cultures aged, the cells became more resistant to the effects of the CDT-containing extracts. These findings have important implications for understanding the ability of A. actinomycetemcomitans to invade and multiply in epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC1434795  PMID: 12121475
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans; cytolethal distending toxin; invasion; KB cells; Hep-2 cells
11.  Signaling transduction analysis in gingival epithelial cells after infection with Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans 
Molecular Oral Microbiology  2011;27(1):23-33.
Periodontal diseases result from the interaction of bacterial pathogens with the host’s gingival tissue. Gingival epithelial cells are constantly challenged by microbial cells, and respond by altering their transcription profiles, inducing the production of inflammatory mediators. Different transcription profiles are induced by oral bacteria and little is known about how the gingival epithelium responds after interaction with the periodontopathogenic organism Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. In the present study, we examined the transcription of genes involved in signaling transduction pathways in gingival epithelial cells exposed to viable A. actinomycetemcomitans.
immortalized gingival epithelial cells (OBA-9) were infected with A. actinomycetemcomitans JP2 for 24 hours and the transcription profile of genes encoding Human Signal Transduction Pathways was determined. Functional analysis of inflammatory mediators positively transcribed was performed by ELISA in culture supernatant and in gingival tissues.
15 of 84 genes on the array were over-expressed (p<0.01) after 24 hours infection with viable A. actinomycetemcomitans. Over-expressed genes included those implicated in tissue remodeling and bone resorption, such as CSF2, genes encoding components of the LDL pathway, NF-kB–dependent genes and other cytokines. ELISA data confirmed that GM-CSF/CSF2, TNF-α and ICAM-1 were highly expressed by infected gingival cells when compared to control non infected cells, and presented higher concentrations in tissues from aggressive and chronic periodontitis patients than from healthy controls.
The induction in epithelial cells of factors such as the proinflammatory cytokine CSF2, which is involved in osteoclastogenesis, may help explaining the outcomes of A. actinomycetemcomitans infection.
PMCID: PMC3257577  PMID: 22230463
Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans; gene expression; epithelial cell; infection
12.  Trimeric Form of Intracellular ATP Synthase Subunit β of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans Binds Human Interleukin-1β 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18929.
Bacterial biofilms resist host defenses and antibiotics partly because of their decreased metabolism. Some bacteria use proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin (IL)-1β, as cues to promote biofilm formation and to alter virulence. Although one potential bacterial IL-1β receptor has been identified, current knowledge of the bacterial IL-1β sensing mechanism is limited. In chronic biofilm infection, periodontitis, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans requires tight adherence (tad)-locus to form biofilms, and tissue destroying active lesions contain more IL-1β than inactive ones. The effect of IL-1β on the metabolic activity of A. actinomycetemcomitans biofilm was tested using alamarBlue™. The binding of IL-1β to A. actinomycetemcomitans cells was investigated using transmission electron microscopy and flow cytometry. To identify the proteins which interacted with IL-1β, different protein fractions from A. actinomycetemcomitans were run in native-PAGE and blotted using biotinylated IL-1β and avidin-HRP, and identified using mass spectroscopy. We show that although IL-1β slightly increases the biofilm formation of A. actinomycetemcomitans, it reduces the metabolic activity of the biofilm. A similar reduction was observed with all tad-locus mutants except the secretin mutant, although all tested mutant strains as well as wild type strains bound IL-1β. Our results suggest that IL-1β might be transported into the A. actinomycetemcomitans cells, and the trimeric form of intracellular ATP synthase subunit β interacted with IL-1β, possibly explaining the decreased metabolic activity. Because ATP synthase is highly conserved, it might universally enhance biofilm resistance to host defense by binding IL-1β during inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3078924  PMID: 21533109
13.  Azithromycin Kills Invasive Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans in Gingival Epithelial Cells 
Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans invades periodontal pocket epithelium and is therefore difficult to eliminate by periodontal scaling and root planing. It is susceptible to azithromycin, which is taken up by many types of mammalian cells. This led us to hypothesize that azithromycin accumulation by gingival epithelium could enhance the killing of intraepithelial A. actinomycetemcomitans. [3H]azithromycin transport by Smulow-Glickman gingival epithelial cells and SCC-25 oral epithelial cells was characterized. To test our hypothesis, we infected cultured Smulow-Glickman cell monolayers with A. actinomycetemcomitans (Y4 or SUNY 465 strain) for 2 h, treated them with gentamicin to eliminate extracellular bacteria, and then incubated them with azithromycin for 1 to 4 h. Viable intracellular bacteria were released, plated, and enumerated. Azithromycin transport by both cell lines exhibited Michaelis-Menten kinetics and was competitively inhibited by l-carnitine and several other organic cations. Cell incubation in medium containing 5 μg/ml azithromycin yielded steady-state intracellular concentrations of 144 μg/ml in SCC-25 cells and 118 μg/ml in Smulow-Glickman cells. Azithromycin induced dose- and time-dependent intraepithelial killing of both A. actinomycetemcomitans strains. Treatment of infected Smulow-Glickman cells with 0.125 μg/ml azithromycin killed approximately 29% of the intraepithelial CFU of both strains within 4 h, while treatment with 8 μg/ml azithromycin killed ≥82% of the CFU of both strains (P < 0.05). Addition of carnitine inhibited the killing of intracellular bacteria by azithromycin (P < 0.05). Thus, human gingival epithelial cells actively accumulate azithromycin through a transport system that facilitates the killing of intraepithelial A. actinomycetemcomitans and is shared with organic cations.
PMCID: PMC3591903  PMID: 23274657
14.  Subinhibitory concentrations of cefpodoxime alter membrane protein expression of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and enhance its susceptibility to killing by neutrophils. 
The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of the antibiotic cefpodoxime on the gram-negative periodontopathic microorganism Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and its interaction with elements of the host immune system. Growth of A. actinomycetemcomitans in subinhibitory concentrations of cefpodoxime induced morphological changes in the bacteria, causing the organisms to grow as filaments rather than coccobacilli. Growth in cefpodoxime did not render these bacteria susceptible to killing by serum, nor did it abrogate the requirement for serum opsonins to support the bactericidal activity of neutrophils. Cefpodoxime enhanced the susceptibility of A. actinomycetemcomitans to the bactericidal activity of neutrophils. In the presence of suitable opsonins, neutrophils were able to kill four times as many cefpodoxime-induced A. actinomycetemcomitans filaments as untreated A. actinomycetemcomitans CFU. This effect was due to antibiotic actions on the bacterium and not on the neutrophil. At inhibitory concentrations, the bactericidal activities of cefpodoxime and neutrophils were additive, and cefpodoxime did not interfere with the normal functioning of the neutrophils. Concomitant with these morphological and functional changes, the expression of two outer membrane proteins (66 and 29 kDa) and one inner membrane protein (57 kDa) was decreased in A. actinomycetemcomitans grown in cefpodoxime. The concentration range over which cefpodoxime is effective against A. actinomycetemcomitans in vivo may be extended by the ability of subinhibitory concentrations to enhance the susceptibility of this organism to host immune defenses.
PMCID: PMC162551  PMID: 7726506
15.  Characteristics of adherence of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans to epithelial cells. 
Infection and Immunity  1994;62(3):928-935.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans smooth variants [SUNY 75(S), SUNY 465, 652] were investigated for their ability to adhere to KB epithelial cells. Both the type of medium (broth versus agar) and anaerobicity influenced adherence levels and cell surface characteristics. Optimal adherence was observed with all three strains after growth of the bacterial cells in broth under anaerobic conditions, a condition which was associated with extracellular microvesicles. Adherence of SUNY 75(S) also was correlated with extracellular amorphous material, whereas adherence of SUNY 465 was also associated with fimbriation which accompanied a smooth to rough phenotype shift. The relationship between adherence and extracellular vesicles, extracellular amorphous material, and fimbriation suggests that all of these components may function in A. actinomycetemcomitans adherence to epithelial cells. The phenotype shift observed in SUNY 465 cells is further evidence that A. actinomycetemcomitans SUNY 465 is predisposed to variant shifts which are associated with changes in adherence and invasion properties.
PMCID: PMC186205  PMID: 8112865
16.  Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Y4 capsular-polysaccharide-like polysaccharide promotes osteoclast-like cell formation by interleukin-1 alpha production in mouse marrow cultures. 
Infection and Immunity  1995;63(5):1893-1898.
The mechanism of osteoclast-like cell formation induced by periodontopathic bacterium Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Y4 (serotype b) capsular-polysaccharide-like polysaccharide (capsular-like polysaccharide) was examined in a mouse bone marrow culture system. When mouse bone marrow cells were cultured with A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 capsular-like polysaccharide for 9 days, many multinucleated cells were formed. The multinucleated cells showed several characteristics of osteoclasts, including tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRACP) and the ability to resorb the calcified dentine. In this study, we examined the effects of antisera to interleukins on the formation of osteoclast-like cells induced by A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 capsular-like polysaccharide. Monospecific anti-mouse recombinant interleukin-1 alpha (rIL-1 alpha) serum completely inhibited the formation of osteoclast-like cells in the presence of A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 capsular-like polysaccharide. However, anti-mouse rIL-1 beta and anti-mouse rIL-6 sera showed no effect on osteoclast-like cell formation. IL-1 receptor antagonist significantly inhibited the osteoclast-like cell formation mediated by A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 capsular-like polysaccharide in mouse marrow cultures. The bioactive IL-1 was detected in the culture media of mouse bone marrow cells stimulated with A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 capsular-like polysaccharide. These results indicate that IL-1 alpha is involved in the mechanism of the formation of osteoclast-like cells induced by A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 capsular-like polysaccharide. We sought to determine whether osteoclast-like cell formation induced by A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 capsular-like polysaccharide could be modulated by the protein kinase inhibitors H8 and HA1004. The formation of osteoclast-like cells was suppressed by H8 and HA1004. These findings suggest that the signals by protein kinases may regulate osteoclast-like cell formation induced by A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 capsular-like polysaccharide. Furthermore, a correlation between IL-1 alpha and prostaglandin E2 in the osteoclast recruitment induced by A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 capsular-like polysaccharide is discussed.
PMCID: PMC173240  PMID: 7729899
17.  Intra- and Interspecies Regulation of Gene Expression by Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans LuxS 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(12):7625-7634.
The cell density-dependent control of gene expression is employed by many bacteria for regulating a variety of physiological functions, including the generation of bioluminescence, sporulation, formation of biofilms, and the expression of virulence factors. Although periodontal organisms do not appear to secrete acyl-homoserine lactone signals, several species, e.g., Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, and Fusobacterium nucleatum, have recently been shown to secrete a signal related to the autoinducer II (AI-2) of the signal system 2 pathway in Vibrio harveyi. Here, we report that the periodontal pathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans expresses a homolog of V. harveyi luxS and secretes an AI-2-like signal. Cell-free conditioned medium from A. actinomycetemcomitans or from a recombinant Escherichia coli strain (E. coli AIS) expressing A. actinomycetemcomitans luxS induced luminescence in V. harveyi BB170 >200-fold over controls. AI-2 levels peaked in mid-exponential-phase cultures of A. actinomycetemcomitans and were significantly reduced in late-log- and stationary-phase cultures. Incubation of early-log-phase A. actinomycetemcomitans cells with conditioned medium from A. actinomycetemcomitans or from E. coli AIS resulted in a threefold induction of leukotoxic activity and a concomitant increase in leukotoxin polypeptide. In contrast, no increase in leukotoxin expression occurred when cells were exposed to sterile medium or to conditioned broth from E. coli AIS−, a recombinant strain in which luxS was insertionally inactivated. A. actinomycetemcomitans AI-2 also induced expression of afuA, encoding a periplasmic iron transport protein, approximately eightfold, suggesting that LuxS-dependent signaling may play a role in the regulation of iron acquisition by A. actinomycetemcomitans. Finally, A. actinomycetemcomitans AI-2 added in trans complemented a luxS knockout mutation in P. gingivalis by modulating the expression of the luxS-regulated genes uvrB and hasF in this organism. Together, these results suggest that LuxS-dependent signaling may modulate aspects of virulence and the uptake of iron by A. actinomycetemcomitans and induce responses in other periodontal organisms in mixed-species oral biofilm.
PMCID: PMC98856  PMID: 11705942
18.  Interaction of oral bacteria with gingival epithelial cell multilayers 
Molecular oral microbiology  2011;26(3):210-220.
Primary gingival epithelial cells were cultured in multilayers as a model for the study of interactions with oral bacteria associated with health and periodontal disease. Multilayers maintained at an air-liquid interface in low calcium medium displayed differentiation and cytokeratin properties characteristic of junctional epithelium. Multilayers were infected with fluorescently labeled Porphyromonas gingivalis, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Fusobacterium nucleatum or Streptococcus gordonii, and bacterial association was determined by confocal microscopy and quantitative image analysis. P. gingivalis invaded intracellularly and spread cell to cell. A. actinomycetemcomitans and F. nucleatum remained extracellular and showed intercellular movement through the multilayer. S. gordonii remained extracellular and predominantly associated with the superficial cell layer. None of the bacterial species disrupted barrier function as measured by transepithelial electrical resistance. P. gingivalis did not elicit secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. However, A. actinomycetemcomitans and S. gordonii induced IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-8 secretion; and F. nucleatum stimulated production of IL-1β and TNF-α. A. actinomycetemcomitans, F. nucleatum and S. gordonii, but not P. gingivalis, increased levels of apoptosis after 24 h infection. The results indicate that the organisms with pathogenic potential were able to traverse the epithelium, while the commensal bacteria did not. In addition, distinct host responses characterized the interaction between the junctional epithelium and oral bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3248246  PMID: 21545698
oral pathogens; oral commensals; virulence; periodontal disease
19.  Multiplex PCR using conserved and species-specific 16S rRNA gene primers for simultaneous detection of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and Porphyromonas gingivalis. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1996;34(11):2674-2678.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and Porphyromonas gingivalis are strongly associated with periodontitis. However, little is known about their distribution in periodontally healthy individuals, because culturing techniques are not sufficiently sensitive. A modified multiplex PCR was developed to address that question. Our method uses two species-specific forward primers in combination with a single reverse primer. These primers target variable and conserved regions of the 16S rRNA gene. Sensitivity was determined by testing serial dilutions of A. actinomycetemcomitans and P. gingivalis cells. Primer specificity was tested against (i) six A. actinomycetemcomitans strains and four P. gingivalis strains, (ii) seven different species of oral bacteria, and (iii) supra- and subgingival plaque from 20 subjects. The multiplex PCR had a lower limit of detection of 2 A. actinomycetemcomitans and 30 P. gingivalis cells. Species-specific amplicons were obtained for all A. actinomycetemcomitans and P. gingivalis strains tested and did not occur with seven other bacterial species unless A. actinomycetemcomitans and P. gingivalis were added. Neither target species was detected in supragingival plaque; A. actinomycetemcomitans was detected in one subgingival specimen, and P. gingivalis was detected in another. When plaque samples were spiked with 10 A. actinomycetemcomitans cells and 100 P. gingivalis cells, species-specific amplicons were detected. These findings show our multiplex PCR to be highly sensitive and specific while allowing simultaneous detection of A. actinomycetemcomitans and P. gingivalis. This assay has potential applications in epidemiological studies, diagnosis, treatment planning, and monitoring of periodontal pathogens.
PMCID: PMC229384  PMID: 8897163
20.  Expression of Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II and CD80 by Gingival Epithelial Cells Induces Activation of CD4+ T Cells in Response to Bacterial Challenge  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(2):1044-1051.
HLA-DR (major histocompatibility complex [MHC] class II) is often expressed by epithelial cells in gingival tissues with periodontal disease but not by cells in healthy gingival tissues. Confocal microscopic analyses revealed that gingival epithelial cells (GEC) from tissue with periodontal disease express both HLA-DR and B7-1 (CD80) costimulatory molecules. Rat GEC lines were established to elucidate the possible role of MHC class II and B7-1 expression by GEC. Stimulation of a rat GEC line with gamma interferon (IFN-γ) induced the expression of MHC class II, whereas the cell line constitutively expressed B7-1 costimulatory molecules as determined by reverse transcription-PCR and flow cytometry. Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Omp29-specific CD4+ Th1 clone cells proliferated in response to pretreatment of GEC with fixed A. actinomycetemcomitans and IFN-γ. However, the Th1 cells did not respond to pretreatment of GEC with the bacteria alone or IFN-γ alone. The activation of Th1 clone cells induced by the GEC was inhibited by antibody to MHC class II or by CTLA4 immunoglobulin (CTLA4-Ig). Lymph node T cells did not demonstrate superantigen activity to A. actinomycetemcomitans, although both lymph node T cells and Th1 clone cells were sensitive to superantigen activity of staphylococcal enterotoxin A as cultured in the presence of IFN-γ-treated GEC. These results suggested that GEC can take up bacterial antigen and consequently process and present the bacterial antigen to CD4+ T cells by MHC class II in conjunction with B7 costimulation. GEC appeared to play a role in the adaptive immune response by stimulating antigen-specific CD4+ T cells.
PMCID: PMC546936  PMID: 15664948
21.  Pathogenicity of the highly leukotoxic JP2 clone of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans and its geographic dissemination and role in aggressive periodontitis 
Journal of Oral Microbiology  2014;6:10.3402/jom.v6.23980.
For decades, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans has been associated with aggressive forms of periodontitis in adolescents. In the middle of the 1990s, a specific JP2 clone of A. actinomycetemcomitans, belonging to the cluster of serotype b strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans and having a number of other characteristics, was found to be strongly associated with aggressive forms of periodontitis, particularly in North Africa. Although several longitudinal studies still point to the bacterial species, A. actinomycetemcomitans as a risk factor of aggressive periodontitis, it is now also widely accepted that the highly leukotoxic JP2 clone of A. actinomycetemcomitans is implicated in rapidly progressing forms of aggressive periodontitis. The JP2 clone strains are highly prevalent in human populations living in Northern and Western parts of Africa. These strains are also prevalent in geographically widespread populations that have originated from the Northwest Africa. Only sporadic signs of a dissemination of the JP2 clone strains to non-African populations have been found despite Africans living geographically widespread for hundreds of years. It remains an unanswered question if a particular host tropism exists as a possible explanation for the frequent colonization of the Northwest African population with the JP2 clone. Two exotoxins of A. actinomycetemcomitans are known, leukotoxin (LtxA) and cytolethal distending toxin (Cdt). LtxA is able to kill human immune cells, and Cdt can block cell cycle progression in eukaryotic cells and thus induce cell cycle arrest. Whereas the leukotoxin production is enhanced in JP2 clone strains thus increasing the virulence potential of A. actinomycetemcomitans, it has not been possible so far to demonstrate such a role for Cdt. Lines of evidence have led to the understanding of the highly leukotoxic JP2 clone of A. actinomycetemcomitans as an aetiological factor of aggressive periodontitis. Patients, who are colonized with the JP2 clone, are likely to share this clone with several family members because the clone is transmitted through close contacts. This is a challenge to the clinicians. The patients need intense monitoring of their periodontal status as the risk for developing severely progressing periodontal lesions are relatively high. Furthermore, timely periodontal treatment, in some cases including periodontal surgery supplemented by the use of antibiotics, is warranted. Preferably, periodontal attachment loss should be prevented by early detection of the JP2 clone of A. actinomycetemcomitans by microbial diagnostic testing and/or by preventive means.
PMCID: PMC4139931  PMID: 25206940
Virulence factors; spreading; geographical dissemination; leukotoxin; cytolethal distending toxin; host response
22.  Evidence for invasion of a human oral cell line by Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans. 
Infection and Immunity  1991;59(8):2719-2726.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, an oral bacterial species associated with periodontal disease, was found to invade human cell lines. Invasion was demonstrated by recovery of viable organisms from gentamicin-treated KB cell monolayers and by light and electron microscopy. Internalization occurred through a cytochalasin D-sensitive process. Invasion efficiencies of some A. actinomycetemcomitans strains were comparable to those of invasive members of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Differences in invasiveness were correlated with bacterial colonial morphology. Smooth variants invaded more proficiently than rough variants. A. actinomycetemcomitans can undergo a smooth-to-rough colonial morphology shift which results in the loss of invasiveness. Coordinated regulation of genes involved in the rough-to-smooth phenotypic transitions may play a role in the episodic nature of periodontal disease.
PMCID: PMC258078  PMID: 1855989
23.  Metabolite Cross-Feeding Enhances Virulence in a Model Polymicrobial Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(3):e1002012.
Microbes within polymicrobial infections often display synergistic interactions resulting in enhanced pathogenesis; however, the molecular mechanisms governing these interactions are not well understood. Development of model systems that allow detailed mechanistic studies of polymicrobial synergy is a critical step towards a comprehensive understanding of these infections in vivo. In this study, we used a model polymicrobial infection including the opportunistic pathogen Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans and the commensal Streptococcus gordonii to examine the importance of metabolite cross-feeding for establishing co-culture infections. Our results reveal that co-culture with S. gordonii enhances the pathogenesis of A. actinomycetemcomitans in a murine abscess model of infection. Interestingly, the ability of A. actinomycetemcomitans to utilize L-lactate as an energy source is essential for these co-culture benefits. Surprisingly, inactivation of L-lactate catabolism had no impact on mono-culture growth in vitro and in vivo suggesting that A. actinomycetemcomitans L-lactate catabolism is only critical for establishing co-culture infections. These results demonstrate that metabolite cross-feeding is critical for A. actinomycetemcomitans to persist in a polymicrobial infection with S. gordonii supporting the idea that the metabolic properties of commensal bacteria alter the course of pathogenesis in polymicrobial communities.
Author Summary
Many bacterial infections are not the result of colonization and persistence of a single pathogenic microbe in an infection site but instead the result of colonization by several. Although the importance of polymicrobial interactions and pathogenesis has been noted by many prominent microbiologists including Louis Pasteur, most studies of pathogenic microbes have focused on single organism infections. One of the primary reasons for this oversight is the lack of robust model systems for studying bacterial interactions in an infection site. Here, we use a model co-culture system composed of the opportunistic oral pathogen Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans and the common oral commensal Streptococcus gordonii to assess the impact of polymicrobial growth on pathogenesis. We found that the abilities of A. actinomycetemcomitans to persist and cause disease are enhanced during co-culture with S. gordonii. Remarkably, this enhanced persistence requires A. actinomycetemcomitans catabolism of L-lactate, the primary metabolite produced by S. gordonii. These data demonstrate that during co-culture growth, S. gordonii provides a carbon source for A. actinomycetemcomitans that is necessary for establishing a robust polymicrobial infection. This study also demonstrates that virulence of an opportunistic pathogen is impacted by members of the commensal flora.
PMCID: PMC3069116  PMID: 21483753
24.  Nonspecific Adherence by Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Requires Genes Widespread in Bacteria and Archaea 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(21):6169-6176.
The gram-negative coccobacillus, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, is the putative agent for localized juvenile periodontitis, a particularly destructive form of periodontal disease in adolescents. This bacterium has also been isolated from a variety of other infections, notably endocarditis. Fresh clinical isolates of A. actinomycetemcomitans form tenacious biofilms, a property likely to be critical for colonization of teeth and other surfaces. Here we report the identification of a locus of seven genes required for nonspecific adherence of A. actinomycetemcomitans to surfaces. The recently developed transposon IS903φkan was used to isolate mutants of the rough clinical isolate CU1000 that are defective in tight adherence to surfaces (Tad−). Unlike wild-type cells, Tad− mutant cells adhere poorly to surfaces, fail to form large autoaggregates, and lack long, bundled fibrils. Nucleotide sequencing and genetic complementation analysis revealed a 6.7-kb region of the genome with seven adjacent genes (tadABCDEFG) required for tight adherence. The predicted TadA polypeptide is similar to VirB11, an ATPase involved in macromolecular transport. The predicted amino acid sequences of the other Tad polypeptides indicate membrane localization but no obvious functions. We suggest that the tad genes are involved in secretion of factors required for tight adherence of A. actinomycetemcomitans. Remarkably, complete and highly conserved tad gene clusters are present in the genomes of the bubonic plague bacillus Yersinia pestis and the human and animal pathogen Pasteurella multocida. Partial tad loci also occur in strikingly diverse Bacteria and Archaea. Our results show that the tad genes are required for tight adherence of A. actinomycetemcomitans to surfaces and are therefore likely to be essential for colonization and pathogenesis. The occurrence of similar genes in a wide array of microorganisms indicates that they have important functions. We propose that tad-like genes have a significant role in microbial colonization.
PMCID: PMC94753  PMID: 11029439
25.  DNA from Periodontopathogenic Bacteria Is Immunostimulatory for Mouse and Human Immune Cells 
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(2):850-856.
Although bacterial DNA (bDNA) containing unmethylated CpG motifs stimulates innate immune cells through Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR-9), its precise role in the pathophysiology of diseases is still equivocal. Here we examined the immunostimulatory effects of DNA extracted from periodontopathogenic bacteria. A major role in the etiology of periodontal diseases has been attributed to Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, and Peptostreptococcus micros. We therefore isolated DNA from these bacteria and stimulated murine macrophages and human gingival fibroblasts (HGF) in vitro. Furthermore, HEK 293 cells transfected with human TLR-9 were also stimulated with these DNA preparations. We observed that DNA from these pathogens stimulates macrophages and gingival fibroblasts to produce tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6 in a dose-dependent manner. Methylation of the CpG motifs abolished the observed effects. Activation of HEK 293 cells expressing TLR-9 which were responsive to bDNA but not to lipopolysaccharide confirmed that immunostimulation was achieved by bDNA. In addition, the examined bDNA differed in the ability to stimulate murine macrophages, HGF, and TLR-9-transfected cells. DNA from A. actinomycetemcomitans elicited a potent cytokine response, while DNA from P. gingivalis and P. micros showed lower immunostimulatory activity. Taken together, the results strongly suggest that DNA from A. actinomycetemcomitans, P. gingivalis, and P. micros possesses immunostimulatory properties in regard to cytokine secretion by macrophages and fibroblasts. These stimulatory effects are due to unmethylated CpG motifs within bDNA and differ between distinct periodontopathogenic bacteria strains. Hence, immunostimulation by DNA from A. actinomycetemcomitans, P. gingivalis, and P. micros could contribute to the pathogenesis of periodontal diseases.
PMCID: PMC145359  PMID: 12540566

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