The objective of the present study was to construct and assess the immunogenicity of recombinant adenovirus vectors expressing the HMW1, HMW2, or Hia protein of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi). These proteins are critical adhesins and potential protective antigens expressed by NTHi. Segments of the hmw1A and hmw2A structural genes that encode the distal one-half of mature HMW1 or HMW2 were cloned into the T7 expression vector pGEMEX-2. These constructs encoded stable HMW1 or HMW2 recombinant fusion protein that expresses B-cell epitopes common to most NTHi strains. A segment of the hia gene that encodes the surface-exposed portion of mature Hia was also cloned into pGEMEX-2. The resulting T7 gene 10 translational fusions were excised from the parent plasmids and cloned into the shuttle plasmid pDC316. Cotransfection of HEK 293 cells with the pDC316 derivatives and pBHGloxΔE1,3Cre resulted in the production of viral plaques from which recombinant adenoviruses expressing fusion proteins were recovered. Chinchillas immunized intraperitoneally with a single 108-PFU dose of either the HMW2 or Hia adenoviral construct developed high anti-HMW2 or anti-Hia serum antibody titers within 4 weeks of immunization. Chinchillas immunized intranasally with a single 107- to 109-PFU dose of the Hia adenoviral construct also developed high anti-Hia serum antibody titers within 8 weeks of immunization. Recombinant adenoviruses represent a promising system to induce mucosal and systemic immunity and protection against mucosal diseases such as otitis media. Recombinant adenoviruses expressing recombinant HMW1, HMW2, or Hia protein will be important new tools in NTHi vaccine development efforts.
The HMW1/HMW2 and Hia proteins are highly immunogenic surface adhesins of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi). Approximately 75% of NTHi strains express HMW1/HMW2 adhesins, and most of the remaining 25% express an Hia adhesin. Our objective in this study was to assess the ability of antisera raised against purified HMW1/HMW2 proteins or recombinant Hia proteins to mediate opsonophagocytic killing of a large panel of unrelated NTHi strains. Native HMW1/HMW2 proteins were purified from three HMW1/HMW2-expressing NTHi strains. Recombinant fusion proteins expressing surface-exposed segments of either of two prototype Hia proteins were purified from Escherichia coli transformants. Immune sera raised in guinea pigs were assessed for their ability to mediate killing of NTHi in an opsonophagocytic assay with the HL-60 phagocytic cell line. The three HMW1/HMW2 antisera mediated killing of 22 of 65, 43 of 65, and 28 of 65 unrelated HMW1/HMW2-expressing NTHi strains, respectively. As a group, the three sera mediated killing of 48 of 65 HMW1/HMW2-expressing strains. The two Hia immune sera mediated killing of 12 of 24 and 13 of 24 unrelated Hia-expressing NTHi strains, respectively. Together, they mediated killing of 15 of 24 Hia-expressing strains. Neither the HMW1/HMW2 nor the Hia antisera mediated killing of NTHi expressing the alternative adhesin type. Antibodies directed against native HMW1/HMW2 proteins and recombinant Hia proteins are capable of mediating broad-based opsonophagocytic killing of homologous and heterologous NTHi strains. A vaccine formulated with a limited number of HMW1/HMW2 and Hia proteins might provide protection against disease caused by most NTHi strains.
The HMW1/HMW2-like adhesion proteins of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI) are expressed by 75% of NTHI strains. Antibodies directed against these proteins are opsonophagocytic in vitro and are protective in an animal model of infection. The objective of the present study was to determine the opsonophagocytic activity of high-titer anti-HMW1/HMW2 immune sera against both homologous and heterologous NTHI strains. Chinchillas were immunized with purified HMW1/HMW2-like proteins from five prototype NTHI strains. Serum opsonophagocytic activity was monitored in an assay that uses a human promyelocytic cell line, HL-60, as the source of phagocytic cells. Preimmune sera did not demonstrate opsonophagocytic killing of any strains. In contrast, the immune sera demonstrated killing of the five homologous NTHI strains at titers ranging from 1:320 to 1:640. The immune sera also demonstrated killing of eight heterologous NTHI strains that express HMW1/HMW2-like proteins at titers ranging from 0 to 1:640. Killing of heterologous strains sometimes demonstrated a prozone phenomenon. None of the immune sera killed NTHI strains that did not express HMW1/HMW2-like proteins. Adsorption of immune sera with HMW1/HMW2-like proteins purified from either homologous or heterologous NTHI strains eliminated opsonophagocytic killing of homologous strains in most cases. These data demonstrate that antibodies produced following immunization with the HMW1/HMW2-like proteins are opsonophagocytic for both homologous and heterologous NTHI and strongly suggest that common epitopes recognized by functionally active antibodies exist on the HMW1/HMW2-like proteins of unrelated NTHI strains. The results argue for the continued investigation of the HMW1/HMW2-like proteins as potential vaccine candidates for the prevention of NTHI disease.
A subset of invasive nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI) strains has evidence of IS1016, an insertion element associated with division I H. influenzae capsule serotypes. We examined IS1016-positive invasive NTHI isolates collected as part of Active Bacterial Core Surveillance within the Georgia Emerging Infections Program for the presence or absence of hmw1 and hmw2 (two related adhesin genes that are common in NTHI but absent in encapsulated H. influenzae) and hia (homologue of hsf, an encapsulated H. influenzae adhesin gene). Isolates were serotyped using slide agglutination, confirmed as NTHI strains using PCR capsule typing, and biotyped. Two hundred twenty-nine invasive NTHI isolates collected between August 1998 and December 2006 were screened for IS1016; 22/229 (9.6%) were positive. Nineteen of 201 previously identified IS1016-positive invasive NTHI isolates collected between January 1989 and July 1998 were also examined. Forty-one IS1016-positive and 56 randomly selected IS1016-negative invasive NTHI strains were examined. The hia adhesin was present in 39 of 41 (95%) IS1016-positive NTHI strains and 1 of 56 (1.8%) IS1016-negative NTHI strains tested; hmw (hmw1, hmw2, or both) was present in 50 of 56 (89%) IS1016-negative NTHI isolates but in only 5 of 41 (12%; all hmw2) IS1016-positive NTHI isolates. IS1016-positive NTHI strains were more often biotype V (P < 0.001) or biotype I (P = 0.04) than IS1016-negative NTHI strains, which were most often biotype II. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis revealed the expected genetic diversity of NTHI with some clustering based on IS1016, hmw or hia, and biotypes. A significant association of IS1016 with biotypes V and I and the presence of hia adhesins was found among invasive NTHI. IS1016-positive NTHI strains may represent a unique subset of NTHI strains, with characteristics more closely resembling those of encapsulated H. influenzae.
Adherence of Haemophilus influenzae to respiratory epithelial cells is the first step in the pathogenesis of H. influenzae infection and is facilitated by the action of several adhesins located on the surface of the bacteria. In this study, prevalences of hifBC, which represent the pilus gene cluster; hmw1A, hmw2A, and hmwC, which represent high-molecular-weight (HMW) adhesin genes; and hia, which represents H. influenzae adhesin (Hia) genes were determined among clinical isolates of encapsulated type b (Hib) and nonencapsulated (NTHi) H. influenzae. hifBC genes were detected in 109 of 170 (64%) Hib strains and in 46 of 162 (28%) NTHi isolates (P = 0.0001) and were more prevalent among the invasive type b strains than invasive NTHi strains (P = 0.00003). Furthermore, hifBC genes were significantly more prevalent (P = 0.0398) among NTHi throat isolates than NTHi middle ear isolates. hmw1A, hmw2A, hmwC, and hia genes were not detected in Hib strains. Among NTHi isolates, the prevalence of hmw1A was 51%, the prevalence of hmw2A was 23%, the prevalence of hmwC was 48%, and the prevalence of hia was 33%. The hmw genes were significantly more prevalent among middle ear than throat isolates, while hia did not segregate with a respiratory tract site. These results show the variability of the presence of adhesin genes among clinical H. influenzae isolates and suggest that hemagglutinating pili may play a larger role in H. influenzae nasopharyngeal colonization than in acute otitis media whereas the HMW adhesins may be virulence factors for acute otitis media.
Adhesion to the respiratory epithelium plays an important role in Haemophilus influenzae infection. The distribution of H. influenzae adhesins in type b and nontypeable strains has been characterized, but little is known about the prevalence of these factors in non-type b encapsulated strains. We analyzed 53 invasive type a, type e, and type f strains for the presence of hap, hia, hmw, and hif genes; Hap, Hia, and HMW1/2 adhesins; and hemagglutinating pili. The hap gene was ubiquitous, and homologs of hmw and hia were present in 7 of 53 (13.2%) and 45 of 53 (84.9%) strains, respectively. Hap was detected in 28 of 45 (62.2%) hap+ strains, HMW1/2 was detected in 5 of 7 (71.4%) hmw+ strains, and Hia was detected in 31 of 45 (68.8%) hia+ strains. The hif gene cluster was present in 26 of 53 strains (49.1%), and 21 of 26 hif+ strains (80.8%) agglutinated (HA) red blood cells. Nine isolates exhibited HA but lacked the hif gene cluster. The distribution of adhesin genes correlated with the genetic relatedness of the strains. Strains belonging to one type a clonotype and the major type e clonotype possessed hia but lacked the hif cluster. Strains belonging to the second type a clonotype possessed both hia and hif genes. All type f strains belonging to the major type f clonotype possessed hia and lacked hifB. Although the specific complement of adhesin genes in non-type b encapsulated H. influenzae varies, most invasive strains express Hap and Hia, suggesting these adhesins may be especially important to the virulence of these organisms.
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae is a common cause of human disease and initiates infection by colonizing the upper respiratory tract. In previous work we identified high-molecular-weight adhesins referred to as HMW1 and HMW2, expressed by nontypeable strain 12, and determined that most strains of nontypeable H. influenzae express one or two antigenically related proteins. More recently, we determined that some strains lack HMW1- and HMW2-like proteins and instead express an adhesin called Hia. In the present study, we determined the prevalence and distribution of the hmw and hia genes in a collection of 59 nontypeable strains previously characterized in terms of genetic relatedness. Based on Southern analysis, 47 strains contained sequences homologous to the hmw1 and hmw2 genes and nine strains contained homologs to hia. No strain harbored both hmw and hia, and three strains harbored neither. Although the hmw and hia genes failed to define distinct genetic divisions, the hmw-deficient strains formed small clusters or lineages within the larger population structure. Additional analysis established that the IS1016 insertion element was uniformly absent from strains containing hmw sequences but was present in two-thirds of the hmw-deficient strains. As IS1016 is associated with the capsule locus (cap) in most encapsulated strains of H. influenzae, we speculate that hmw-deficient nontypeable strains evolved more recently from an encapsulated ancestor.
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae is a gram-negative commensal organism that is commonly associated with localized respiratory tract disease. The pathogenesis of disease begins with colonization of the nasopharynx, a process that likely depends on bacterial adherence to respiratory epithelial cells. Hia is the major adhesin expressed by a subset of nontypeable H. influenzae strains and promotes efficient adherence to a variety of human epithelial cell lines. Based on previous work, Hia is transported to the surface of Escherichia coli transformants and is capable of mediating E. coli adherence without the assistance of other H. influenzae proteins. In the present study, we examined the mechanism of Hia secretion. PhoA fusions, deletional mutagenesis, and N-terminal amino acid sequencing established that the signal for Hia export from the cytoplasm resides in the first 49 amino acids, including a 24-amino-acid stretch with striking similarity to the N terminus of a number of proteins belonging to the autotransporter family. Immunoelectron microscopy demonstrated that the Hia internal region defined by amino acids 221 to 779 is exposed on the bacterial surface. Secondary-structure analysis predicted that the C terminus of Hia forms a β-barrel with a central hydrophilic channel, and site-specific mutagenesis and fusion protein analysis demonstrated that the C terminus targets Hia to the outer membrane and functions as an outer membrane translocator, analogous to observations with autotransporter proteins. In contrast to typical autotransporter proteins, Hia undergoes no cleavage between the internal and C-terminal domains and remains fully cell associated. Together, these results suggest that Hia is the prototype of an important subfamily of autotransporter proteins.
The HMW1 and HMW2 proteins, Hia, and hemagglutinating pili are important adherence factors in nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae. To gain insight into the relative importance of these adhesins in nasopharyngeal colonization and localized respiratory tract disease, we assessed their expression in matched nasopharyngeal and middle ear isolates of nontypeable H. influenzae from 17 children with acute otitis media. In all patients, including 11 with bilateral disease, the matched isolates were isogenic based on total protein profiles and genomic fingerprints. Of the nasopharyngeal isolates, 14 expressed only HMW1/HMW2-like proteins, 1 expressed only Hia, 1 expressed only pili, and 1 expressed both Hia and pili. Further analysis revealed concordance between nasopharyngeal isolates and the matched middle ear isolates for expression of the HMW1/HMW2-like proteins and Hia. In contrast, in the two children whose nasopharynges were colonized by piliated organisms, the corresponding middle ear isolates were nonpiliated and could not be enriched for piliation. Nevertheless, Southern analysis revealed that these two middle ear isolates contained all five hif genes required for pilus biogenesis and had no evidence of major genetic rearrangement. In summary, the vast majority of isolates of nontypeable H. influenzae associated with acute otitis media express HMW1/HMW2-like proteins, with expression present in both the nasopharynx and the middle ear. A smaller fraction of nasopharyngeal isolates express pili, while isogenic strains recovered from the middle ear are often refractory to enrichment for piliation. We speculate that the HMW adhesins and Hia are important at multiple steps in the pathogenesis of otitis media while pili contribute to early colonization and then become dispensable.
We previously reported that two surface-exposed high-molecular-weight proteins, HMW1 and HMW2, expressed by a prototypic strain of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI) mediate attachment to human epithelial cells. These proteins are members of a family of highly immunogenic proteins common to most nontypeable Haemophilus strains. We also reported that immunization with an HMW1-HMW2 mixture modified the course of disease in an animal model of otitis media, suggesting the potential usefulness of these proteins as NTHI vaccine components. Identification of surface-accessible B-cell epitopes could be important to efforts to develop recombinant or synthetic peptide vaccines based upon these high-molecular-weight proteins. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to identify surface-accessible epitopes on the HMW1 and HMW2 proteins by using monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and to determine the prevalence of these epitopes among the high-molecular-weight proteins expressed by heterologous nontypeable Haemophilus strains. MAbs were generated by immunizing mice with high-molecular-weight proteins purified from prototype strains and were screened by immunoelectron microscopy (IEM) for the ability to recognize surface epitopes. Two MAbs, designated AD6 and 10C5, that recognized surface epitopes by IEM were recovered. In order to map the epitopes recognized by these two MAbs, we constructed a set of HMW1 and HMW2 recombinant fusion proteins using the pGEMEX vectors and examined the reactivity of the MAbs with these fusion proteins. MAb AD6 recognized an epitope in both HMW1 and HMW2 which mapped to the last 75 amino acids at the carboxy termini of the two proteins. When examined for reactivity with heterologous strains, MAb AD6 recognized high-molecular-weight proteins in 75% of 125 unrelated nontypeable Haemophilus strains and, in addition, reacted with three of three such strains when examined by IEM. MAb 10C5 recognized an epitope that mapped to a 155-amino-acid segment near the carboxy terminus of HMW1. This epitope was adjacent to but distinct from the AD6 epitope and was absent from HMW2. The 10C5 epitope was expressed by 40% of the AD6 reactive strains. Identification of shared surface-exposed epitopes on the high-molecular-weight adhesion proteins suggests the possibility of developing recombinant or synthetic peptide-based vaccines protective against disease caused by the majority of NTHI strains.
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) causes repeated respiratory infections in patients with chronic lung diseases. These infections are characterized by a brisk inflammatory response which results in the accumulation of polymorphonucleated cells in the lungs and is dependent on the expression and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. We hypothesize that multiple NTHi molecules, including lipooligosaccharide (LOS), mediate cellular interactions with respiratory epithelial cells, leading to the production of proinflammatory cytokines. To address this hypothesis, we exposed 9HTEo− human tracheal epithelial cells to NTHi and compared the resulting profiles of cytokine gene expression and secretion using multiprobe RNase protection assays and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), respectively. Dose-response experiments demonstrated a maximum stimulation of most cytokines tested, using a ratio of 100 NTHi bacterial cells to 1 9HTEo− tracheal epithelial cell. Compared with purified LOS, NTHi bacterial cells stimulated 3.6- and 4.5-fold increases in epithelial cell expression of interleukin-8 (IL-8) and IL-6 genes, respectively. Similar results were seen with epithelial cell macrophage chemotactic protein 1, IL-1α, IL-1β, and tumor necrosis factor alpha expression. Polymyxin B completely inhibited LOS stimulation but only partially reduced NTHi whole cell stimulation. Taken together, these results suggest that multiple bacterial molecules including LOS contribute to the NTHi stimulation of respiratory epithelial cell cytokine production. Moreover, no correlation was seen between NTHi adherence to epithelial cells mediated by hemagglutinating pili, Hia, HMW1, HMW2, and Hap and epithelial cytokine secretion. These data suggest that bacterial molecules beyond previously described NTHi cell surface adhesins and LOS play a role in the induction of proinflammatory cytokines from respiratory epithelial cells.
High prevalence of invasive Hia disease among North American Aboriginal populations is more likely related to exposure than to inadequate immunity.
In the post-Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine era that began in the 1980's, H. influenzae type a (Hia) emerged as a prominent cause of invasive disease in North American Aboriginal populations. To test whether a lack of naturally acquired antibodies may underlie increased rates of invasive Hia disease, we compared serum bactericidal activity against Hia and Hib and IgG and IgM against capsular polysaccharide between Canadian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal healthy and immunocompromised adults. Both healthy and immunocompromised Aboriginal adults exhibited significantly higher bactericidal antibody titers against Hia than did non-Aboriginal adults (p = 0.042 and 0.045 respectively), with no difference in functional antibody activity against Hib. IgM concentrations against Hia were higher than IgG in most study groups; the inverse was true for antibody concentrations against Hib. Our results indicate that Aboriginal adults possess substantial serum bactericidal activity against Hia that is mostly due to IgM antibodies. The presence of sustained IgM against Hia suggests recent Hia exposure.
Antibody; IgM; IgG; bacteria; bactericidal; Haemophilus influenzae type a; Hia; polysaccharide antibodies; vaccine; indigenous; Aboriginal; Aborigine; antibody functional activity; secondary immunodeficiency; North America; Canada
The HMW1- and HMW2-like adhesion proteins of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae are expressed by 75% of these strains, and antibodies directed against these proteins are protective in animal models of infection. The purpose of the present study was to define the functional activity of human antibodies specific for these proteins in an in vitro complement-dependent opsonophagocytic assay. Human promyelocytic cell line HL-60 served as the source of phagocytic cells, and a commercial preparation of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) served as the source of human antibodies. High-molecular-weight (HMW) proteins were purified from four prototype nontypeable H. influenzae strains and used to prepare solid-phase affinity columns. IVIG was adsorbed on each column to remove strain-specific anti-HMW antibodies and to allow recovery of affinity-purified anti-HMW antibody fractions. Unadsorbed IVIG killed each of the prototype strains at titers of 1:80 to 1:320. HMW-adsorbed sera demonstrated fourfold decreases in opsonophagocytic titer against the homologous strains compared to unadsorbed IVIG. Affinity-purified anti-HMW antibody preparations demonstrated opsonophagocytic titers of 1:20 to 1:80 against the respective homologous strains and opsonophagocytic titers as high as 1:80 against heterologous strains. None of the affinity-purified anti-HMW antibody preparations was opsonophagocytic for a representative nontypeable H. influenzae strain that did not express HMW1- or HMW2-like proteins. These data demonstrate that human antibodies specific for the HMW1/HMW2-like adhesion proteins of nontypeable H. influenzae are opsonophagocytic and that such antibodies recognize epitopes shared by the HMW proteins of unrelated nontypeable H. influenzae strains. These results argue for continued investigation of the HMW1/HMW2-like proteins as potential vaccine candidates for prevention of disease due to nontypeable H. influenzae.
The ability of unencapsulated (nontypeable) Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) to cause systemic disease in healthy children has been recognized only in the past decade. To determine the extent of similarity among invasive nontypeable isolates, we compared strain R2866 with 16 additional NTHi isolates from blood and spinal fluid, 17 nasopharyngeal or throat isolates from healthy children, and 19 isolates from middle ear aspirates. The strains were evaluated for the presence of several genetic loci that affect bacterial surface structures and for biochemical reactions that are known to differ among H. influenzae strains. Eight strains, including four blood isolates, shared several properties with R2866: they were biotype V (indole and ornithine decarboxylase positive, urease negative), contained sequence from the adhesin gene hia, and lacked a genetic island flanked by the infA and ksgA genes. Multilocus sequence typing showed that most biotype V isolates belonged to the same phylogenetic cluster as strain R2866. When present, the infA-ksgA island contains lipopolysaccharide biosynthetic genes, either lic2B and lic2C or homologs of the losA and losB genes described for Haemophilus ducreyi. The island was found in most nasopharyngeal and otitis isolates but was absent from 40% of invasive isolates. Overall, the 33 hmw-negative isolates were much more likely than hmw-containing isolates to have tryptophanase, ornithine decarboxylase, or lysine decarboxylase activity or to contain the hif genes. We conclude (i) that invasive isolates are genetically and phenotypically diverse and (ii) that certain genetic loci of NTHi are frequently found in association among NTHi strains.
Haemophilus influenzae is a common gram-negative pathogen that initiates infection by colonizing the upper respiratory tract epithelium. In previous work, we reported the isolation of a locus involved in expression of short, thin surface fibrils by H. influenzae type b and presented evidence that surface fibrils promote attachment to human epithelial cells. In the present study, we determined that the fibril locus is composed of one long open reading frame, designated hsf, which encodes a protein (Hsf) with a molecular mass of approximately 240 kDa. The derived amino acid sequence of the hsf product demonstrated 81% similarity and 72% identity to a recently identified nontypeable H. influenzae adhesin referred to as Hia. In experiments with a panel of eight cultured cell lines, the Hsf and Hia proteins were found to confer the same binding specificities, suggesting that hsf and hia are alleles of the same locus. Southern analysis and mutagenesis studies reinforced this conclusion. Further investigation revealed that an hsf homolog is ubiquitous among encapsulated H. influenzae strains and is present in a subset of nontypeable Haemophilus strains as well. We speculate that the hsf gene product plays an important role in the process of respiratory tract colonization by H. influenzae.
BALB/c mice systemically immunized by intraperitoneal injection with whole, viable cells of two different strains of nontypable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI) exhibited a markedly enhanced ability to clear the homologous strain of NTHI from the lower respiratory tract. Immunization did not influence the number of phagocytic cells recovered by bronchoalveolar lavage from mice before or after intrapulmonary challenge with NTHI. Immunization also induced the synthesis of relatively large quantities of NTHI-directed antibodies which were detectable in both the bloodstream and the alveolar spaces of the lung. Radioimmunoprecipitation and Western blot (immunoblot) analyses indicated that these antibodies were directed against both the proteins and lipooligosaccharide (LOS) in the NTHI outer membrane. Bactericidal and opsonophagocytic assays determined that the NTHI-directed antibodies in the serum were functional and able to kill or opsonize the homologous NTHI strain. Mice immunized with an NTHI major outer membrane protein-LOS complex also had an increased ability to effect pulmonary clearance of NTHI. Serum and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid collected from these animals immunized with the outer membrane protein-LOS complex contained relatively high levels of antibodies to both of these antigens. The serum from these animals also possessed bactericidal and opsonic activity against the homologous NTHI strain. These results indicate that systemic immunization can enhance the ability of experimental animals to clear NTHI from the lower respiratory tract and suggest that immunoprophylaxis of NTHI pulmonary disease may be feasible.
We recently determined that passive transfer of serum directed against a synthetic peptide called LB1 or a recombinant fusion protein immunogen [LPD-LB1(f)2,1,3] could prevent otitis media after challenge with a homologous nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI) isolate. NTHI residing in the nasopharynx was rapidly cleared from this site, thus preventing it from ascending the eustachian tube and inducing otitis media in chinchillas compromised by an ongoing viral upper respiratory tract infection. While LB1 is based solely on one NTHI adhesin, the latter immunogen, LPD-LB1(f)2,1,3, was designed to incorporate two NTHI antigens shown to play a role in the pathogenesis of otitis media; lipoprotein D (LPD) and the P5-homologous fimbrin adhesin. The design of LPD-LB1(f)2,1,3 also accommodated for the recently demonstrated existence of three major groupings, based on amino acid sequence diversity, in the third surface-exposed region of P5-fimbrin. LPD-LB1(f)2,1,3 was thus designed to potentially confer broader protection against challenge by diverse strains of NTHI. Chinchillas were passively immunized here with serum specific for either LB1 or for LPD-LB1(f)2,1,3 prior to challenge with a member of all three groups of NTHI relative to diversity in region 3. The transferred serum pools were also analyzed for titer, specificity, and several functional activities. We found that both serum pools had equivalent ability to mediate C′-dependent killing and to inhibit adherence of NTHI strains to human oropharyngeal cells. When passively transferred, both serum pools significantly inhibited the signs and incidence of otitis media (P ≤ 0.01) induced by any of the three challenge isolates. Despite providing protection against disease, the ability of these antisera to induce total eradication of NTHI from the nasopharynx was not equivalent among NTHI groups. These data thus suggested that while early, complete eradication of NTHI from the nasopharynx was highly protective, reduction of the bacterial load to below a critical threshold level appeared to be similarly effective.
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI) is an important respiratory pathogen. NTHI initiates infection by adhering to the airway epithelium. Here, we report that NTHI interacts with intracellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) expressed by respiratory epithelial cells. A fourfold-higher number of NTHI bacteria adhered to Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells transfected with human ICAM-1 (CHO-ICAM-1) than to control CHO cells (P ≤ 0.005). Blocking cell surface ICAM-1 with specific antibody reduced the adhesion of NTHI to A549 respiratory epithelial cells by 37% (P = 0.001) and to CHO-ICAM-1 cells by 69% (P = 0.005). Preincubating the bacteria with recombinant ICAM-1 reduced adhesion by 69% (P = 0.003). The adherence to CHO-ICAM-1 cells of NTHI strains deficient in the adhesins P5, P2, HMW1/2, and Hap or expressing a truncated lipooligosaccharide was compared to that of parental strains. Only strain 1128f−, which lacks the outer membrane protein (OMP) P5-homologous adhesin (P5 fimbriae), adhered less well than its parental strain. The numbers of NTHI cells adhering to CHO-ICAM-1 cells were reduced by 67% (P = 0.009) following preincubation with anti-P5 antisera. Furthermore, recombinant ICAM bound to an OMP preparation from strain 1128f+, which expresses P5, but not to that from its P5-deficient mutant, confirming a specific interaction between ICAM-1 and P5 fimbriae. Incubation of respiratory epithelial cells with NTHI increased ICAM-1 expression fourfold (P = 0.001). Adhesion of NTHI to the respiratory epithelium, therefore, upregulates the expression of its own receptor. Blocking interactions between NTHI P5 fimbriae and ICAM-1 may reduce respiratory colonization by NTHI and limit the frequency and severity of NTHI infection.
The major outer membrane protein (OmpP2) of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI) has been shown to vary markedly with respect to both size and the presence of specific surface-exposed epitopes among strains of this unencapsulated pathogen. In contrast, the OmpP2 proteins of H. influenzae type b (Hib) strains are well conserved at the level of primary protein structure and have in common several surface-exposed antigenic determinants that have not been detected in NTHI strains. The availability of an isogenic, avirulent Hib ompP2 mutant made it possible to investigate whether an NTHI OmpP2 protein could function properly in the Hib outer membrane. A plasmid shuttle vector (pGJB103) was used to clone the ompP2 gene from NTHI TN106 into a recombination-deficient H. influenzae strain in which expression of the NTHI OmpP2 protein was detected by means of an NTHI TN106 OmpP2-specific monoclonal antibody. The amino acid sequence of this NTHI OmpP2 protein, as deduced from the nucleotide sequence of the NTHI TN106 ompP2 gene, was determined to be 83% identical to that of the Hib OmpP2 protein. Transformation of this cloned NTHI ompP2 gene into the Hib ompP2 mutant yielded a Hib transformant strain that expressed the NTHI OmpP2 protein. Expression of this NTHI OmpP2 protein allowed the Hib ompP2 mutant, which normally grows poorly in vitro, to grow in a manner indistinguishable from that of the wild-type Hib strain. More importantly, the introduction of this functional NTHI ompP2 gene into the avirulent Hib ompP2 mutant restored the virulence of this strain to wild-type levels. These results indicate that an NTHI OmpP2 protein can be expressed and function properly in the Hib outer membrane.
In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the lower respiratory tract is commonly colonized by bacterial pathogens, including nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae. The H. influenzae HMW1 and HMW2 adhesins are homologous proteins that promote bacterial adherence to respiratory epithelium and are the predominant targets of the host immune response. These adhesins undergo graded phase variation, controlled by the numbers of 7-bp repeats upstream of the HMW1 and HMW2 structural genes (hmw1A and hmw2A, respectively). In this study, we examined the levels of HMW1 and HMW2 expressed by H. influenzae isolates collected serially from patients with COPD. We found that expression of HMW1 and HMW2 in a given strain decreased over time in a majority of patients, reflecting progressive increases in the numbers of 7-bp repeats and associated with high serum titers of HMW1/HMW2-specific antibodies. We speculate that the presence of high titers of antibodies against the HMW1 and HMW2 adhesins and other immune factors in the lower respiratory tracts of patients with COPD may result in gradual selection for bacteria with reduced levels of HMW1 and HMW2.
Among surface antigens of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), the HMW1 and HMW2 proteins are the major adhesins promoting colonization of the upper respiratory tract. Since they are potential vaccine candidates, knowledge concerning variation in HMW proteins expression among clinical isolates is of great interest. In this study, expression of hmw1A and hmw2A genes was evaluated by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR in 3 NTHi invasive isolates (strains 56, 72, 91) and in the prototype strain 12. Number of 7-bp repeats within the hmwA promoters and presence of HMW proteins by Western blotting were also determined.
Results showed that gene transcription varied not only among different isolates but also between the hmw1A and hmw2A genes from the same isolate. Compared to that found in prototype strain 12, up-regulation of the hmw1A gene expression was found in strain 56, down-regulation of both hmw1A and hmw2A genes transcripts was observed in strain 72 whereas the two hmwA genes appeared differentially expressed in strain 91 with the hmw1A transcript enhanced but the hmw2A transcript reduced.
Increasing numbers of 7-bp repeats within the hmwA promoters generally correlated with decreased amounts of mRNA transcript, however additional control mechanisms contributing to modulation of hmw1A gene seem to be present.
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) is a common cause of localized respiratory tract disease and initiates infection by colonizing the nasopharynx. Approximately 75 to 80% of NTHi clinical isolates produce proteins that belong to the HMW family of adhesins, which are believed to facilitate colonization. The prototype HMW adhesins are designated HMW1 and HMW2 and were identified in NTHi strain 12. HMW1 and HMW2 are 71% identical and 80% similar overall, yet display differing cellular binding specificities. In the present study we set out to define more clearly the relationships between HMW1 and HMW2 and other members of the HMW family of adhesins. PCR analysis of 49 epidemiologically distinct isolates revealed that all strains possessing hmw genes as determined by Southern analysis contain two hmw loci in conserved, unlinked physical locations on the chromosome. Functional analysis of the HMW adhesins produced by three unrelated strains demonstrated that each isolate possesses one protein with HMW1-like adherence properties and another with HMW2-like adherence properties. These findings suggest that the hmw1 and hmw2 loci may have arisen via a gene duplication event in an ancestral strain. In addition, they support the hypothesis that the distinct binding specificities of HMW1 and HMW2 emerged early and have persisted over time, suggesting an ongoing selective advantage.
The adherence of 58 nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae isolates obtained from patients with otitis media or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and obtained from the throats of healthy individuals to Chang and NCI-H292 epithelial cells was compared. Otitis media isolates, but not COPD isolates, adhered significantly more to both cell lines than did throat isolates. Since high-molecular-weight (HMW) proteins are major adhesins of nontypeable H. influenzae, the isolates were screened for HMW protein expression by Western blotting with two polyclonal sera and PCR with hmw-specific primers. Twenty-three of the 32 adhering isolates (72%) and only 1 of the 26 nonadherent strains were HMW protein or hmw gene positive. Among the 32 isolates adhering to either cell line, 5 different adherence patterns were distinguished based on the inhibiting effect of dextran sulfate. Using H. influenzae strain 12 expressing two well-defined HMW proteins (HMW1 and HMW2) and its isogenic mutants as a reference, we observed HMW1-like adherence to both cell lines for 16 of the 32 adherent isolates. Four others showed HMW2-like adherence to NCI-H292. Of the three other patterns of adherence, one probably also involved HMW protein. Screening of the isolates with six HMW-specific monoclonal antibodies in a whole-cell enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay showed that the HMW proteins of COPD isolates and carrier isolates were more distinct from the HMW proteins from H. influenzae strain 12 than those from otitis media isolates. Characterization of the HMW protein of a COPD isolate by adherence and DNA sequence analysis showed that despite large sequence diversity in the hmwA gene, probably resulting in the antigenic differences, the HMW protein mediated the HMW2-like adherence of this strain.
The mom gene of bacteriophage Mu encodes an enzyme that converts adenine to N6-(1-acetamido)-adenine in the phage DNA and thereby protects the viral genome from cleavage by a wide variety of restriction endonucleases. Mu-like prophage sequences present in Haemophilus influenzae Rd (FluMu), Neisseria meningitidis type A strain Z2491 (Pnme1) and H. influenzae biotype aegyptius ATCC 11116 do not possess a Mom-encoding gene. Instead, at the position occupied by mom in Mu they carry an unrelated gene that encodes a protein with homology to DNA adenine N6-methyltransferases (hin1523, nma1821, hia5, respectively). Products of the hin1523, hia5 and nma1821 genes modify adenine residues to N6-methyladenine, both in vitro and in vivo. All of these enzymes catalyzed extensive DNA methylation; most notably the Hia5 protein caused the methylation of 61% of the adenines in λ DNA. Kinetic analysis of oligonucleotide methylation suggests that all adenine residues in DNA, with the possible exception of poly(A)-tracts, constitute substrates for the Hia5 and Hin1523 enzymes. Their potential ‘sequence specificity’ could be summarized as AB or BA (where B = C, G or T). Plasmid DNA isolated from Escherichia coli cells overexpressing these novel DNA methyltransferases was resistant to cleavage by many restriction enzymes sensitive to adenine methylation.
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) is a gram-negative bacterium that causes otitis media in children as well as other infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract in children and adults. We are employing genetic strategies to identify and characterize virulence determinants in NTHi. NTHi is naturally competent for transformation and thus construction of most mutants by common methodologies is relatively straightforward. However, new methodology was required in order to construct unmarked non-polar mutations in poorly expressed genes whose products are required for transformation. We have adapted the lambda red/FLP-recombinase-mediated strategy used in E. coli for use in NTHi.
A cassette containing a spectinomycin resistance gene and an rpsL gene flanked by FRT sites was constructed. A PCR amplicon containing 50 base pairs of DNA homologous to the 5' and 3' ends of the gene to be disrupted and the cassette was generated, then recombineered into the target NTHi gene, cloned on a plasmid, using the lambda recombination proteins expressed in E. coli DY380. Thus, the gene of interest was replaced by the cassette. The construct was then transformed into a streptomycin resistant NTHi strain and mutants were selected on spectinomycin-containing growth media. A plasmid derived from pLS88 with a temperature sensitive replicon expressing the FLP recombinase gene under the control of the tet operator/repressor was constructed. This plasmid was electroporated into the NTHi mutant at the permissive temperature and FLP expression was induced using anhydrotetracycline. The recombinase recognizes the FRT sites and eliminates the antibiotic cassette by site-specific recombination, creating the unmarked non-polar mutation. The plasmid is cured by growth of cells at the restrictive temperature.
The products of the genes in the NTHi pilABCD operon are required for type IV pilus biogenesis and have a role in transformation. We demonstrated the utility of our methodology by the construction of a non-polar pilA mutation in NTHi strain 2019 and complementation of the mutation with a plasmid containing the pilA gene. Utilization of this approach allowed us to readily generate unmarked non-polar mutations in NTHi genes.