A multiresistant strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is widespread among cystic fibrosis (CF) patients attending clinics in Liverpool, United Kingdom. Suppression subtractive hybridization was used to identify sequences present in the Liverpool CF epidemic strain but absent from strain PAO1. Using dot blot and PCR amplification assays, the prevalence of such sequences among a panel of CF isolates was determined. Several sequences were found only in the Liverpool epidemic strain. Some sequences were present in the Liverpool epidemic strain and in a minority of other isolates, including sequences with homology to genes implicated in O6 serotype and siderophore production. The Liverpool epidemic strain and 81% of nonepidemic isolates contained a sequence identified as part of the PAGI-1 genomic island. Other strains implicated in epidemic spread, which were from Manchester, United Kingdom, and Melbourne, Australia, were also screened. None of the sequences identified was present in the Manchester strain. However, one of two Melbourne strains contained some of the sequences found in the Liverpool epidemic strain. All isolates implicated in epidemic spread and 76% of sporadic isolates contained the exoS gene. A sequence present in all isolates of the Liverpool epidemic strain was used to develop a diagnostic PCR test for identification of the strain from colonies or directly from sputum samples.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in people with cystic fibrosis (CF), adapts for survival in the CF lung through both mutation and gene expression changes. Frequent clonal strains such as the Australian Epidemic Strain-1 (AES-1), have increased ability to establish infection in the CF lung and to superimpose and replace infrequent clonal strains. Little is known about the factors underpinning these properties. Analysis has been hampered by lack of expression array templates containing CF-strain specific genes. We sequenced the genome of an acute infection AES-1 isolate from a CF infant (AES-1R) and constructed a non-redundant micro-array (PANarray) comprising AES-1R and seven other sequenced P. aeruginosa genomes. The unclosed AES-1R genome comprised 6.254Mbp and contained 6957 putative genes, including 338 not found in the other seven genomes. The PANarray contained 12,543 gene probe spots; comprising 12,147 P. aeruginosa gene probes, 326 quality-control probes and 70 probes for non-P. aeruginosa genes, including phage and plant genes. We grew AES-1R and its isogenic pair AES-1M, taken from the same patient 10.5 years later and not eradicated in the intervening period, in our validated artificial sputum medium (ASMDM) and used the PANarray to compare gene expression of both in duplicate. 675 genes were differentially expressed between the isogenic pairs, including upregulation of alginate, biofilm, persistence genes and virulence-related genes such as dihydroorotase, uridylate kinase and cardiolipin synthase, in AES-1M. Non-PAO1 genes upregulated in AES-1M included pathogenesis-related (PAGI-5) genes present in strains PACS2 and PA7, and numerous phage genes. Elucidation of these genes' roles could lead to targeted treatment strategies for chronically infected CF patients.
Most known virulence determinants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa are remarkably conserved in this bacterium's core genome, yet individual strains differ significantly in virulence. One explanation for this discrepancy is that pathogenicity islands, regions of DNA found in some strains but not in others, contribute to the overall virulence of P. aeruginosa. Here we employed a strategy in which the virulence of a panel of P. aeruginosa isolates was tested in mouse and plant models of disease, and a highly virulent isolate, PSE9, was chosen for comparison by subtractive hybridization to a less virulent strain, PAO1. The resulting subtractive hybridization sequences were used as tags to identify genomic islands found in PSE9 but absent in PAO1. One 99-kb island, designated P. aeruginosa genomic island 5 (PAGI-5), was a hybrid of the known P. aeruginosa island PAPI-1 and novel sequences. Whereas the PAPI-1-like sequences were found in most tested isolates, the novel sequences were found only in the most virulent isolates. Deletional analysis confirmed that some of these novel sequences contributed to the highly virulent phenotype of PSE9. These results indicate that targeting highly virulent strains of P. aeruginosa may be a useful strategy for identifying pathogenicity islands and novel virulence determinants.
Monitoring the emergence and transmission of Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains among cystic fibrosis (CF) patients is important for infection control in CF centers internationally. A recently developed multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme is used for epidemiologic analyses of P. aeruginosa outbreaks; however, little is known about its suitability for isolates from CF patients compared with that of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus-PCR (ERIC-PCR). As part of a prevalence study of P. aeruginosa strains in Australian CF clinics, we compared the discriminatory power and concordance of ERIC-PCR, PFGE, and MLST among 93 CF sputum and 11 control P. aeruginosa isolates. PFGE and MLST analyses were also performed on 30 paired isolates collected 85 to 354 days apart from 30 patients attending two CF centers separated by 3,600 kilometers in order to detect within-host evolution. Each of the three methods displayed high levels of concordance and discrimination; however, overall lower discrimination was seen with ERIC-PCR than with MLST and PFGE. Analysis of the 50 ERIC-PCR types yielded 54 PFGE types, which were related by ≤6 band differences, and 59 sequence types, which were classified into 7 BURST groups and 42 singletons. MLST also proved useful for detecting novel and known strains and for inferring relatedness among unique PFGE types. However, 47% of the paired isolates produced PFGE patterns that within 1 year differed by one to five bands, whereas with MLST all paired isolates remained identical. MLST thus represents a categorical analysis tool with resolving power similar to that of PFGE for typing P. aeruginosa. Its focus on highly conserved housekeeping genes is particularly suited for long-term clinical monitoring and detecting novel strains.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). While most CF patients are thought to acquire P. aeruginosa from the environment, person-person transmissible strains have been identified in CF clinics worldwide. The molecular basis for transmissibility and colonization of the CF lung remains poorly understood.
A dual proteomics approach consisting of gel-based and gel-free comparisons were undertaken to analyse protein profiles in a transmissible, early (acute) isolate of the Australian epidemic strain 1 (AES-1R), the virulent burns/wound isolate PA14, and the poorly virulent, laboratory-associated strain PAO1. Over 1700 P. aeruginosa proteins were confidently identified. AES-1R protein profiles revealed elevated abundance of proteins associated with virulence and siderophore biosynthesis and acquisition, antibiotic resistance and lipopolysaccharide and fatty acid biosynthesis. The most abundant protein in AES-1R was confirmed as a previously hypothetical protein with sequence similarity to carbohydrate-binding proteins and database search revealed this gene is only found in the CF-associated strain PA2192. The link with CF infection may suggest that transmissible strains have acquired an ability to rapidly interact with host mucosal glycoproteins.
Our data suggest that AES-1R expresses higher levels of proteins, such as those involved in antibiotic resistance, iron acquisition and virulence that may provide a competitive advantage during early infection in the CF lung. Identification of novel proteins associated with transmissibility and acute infection may aid in deciphering new strategies for intervention to limit P. aeruginosa infections in CF patients.
Genetic investigations were carried out with 50 phenotypically selected strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa from 18 patients attending an Australian cystic fibrosis (CF) center. The isolates were analyzed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Phylogenetic analysis of the macrorestriction patterns showed rates of genetic similarity ranging from 76 to 100%; 24 (48%) of the strains from 11 patients had greater than 90% similarity. A dominant strain emerged: 15 isolates from seven patients had identical PFGE patterns, and 4 other isolates were very closely related. The 50 isolates were grouped into 21 pulsotypes on the basis of visual delineation of a three-band difference. Ten of the 18 (56%) patients were infected with clonal or subclonal strains. Sequence analysis of PCR products derived from the mucA gene showed 20 mutations, with the number of mutations in individual isolates ranging from 1 to 4; 19 of these changes are reported here for the first time. Potentially functional changes were found in 22 (44%) isolates. Eight changes (five transversions and three single base deletions) led to premature stop codons, providing support for the presence of mucA mutations as one pathway to mucoidy. There was a trend toward an association between the dominant strain and lack of potentially functional mucA mutations (P = 0.09 by the χ2 test) but no relationship between genotype and phenotype. This is the first study of genetic variation in P. aeruginosa isolates from adult Australian CF patients. The findings highlight the need for further investigations on the transmissibility of P. aeruginosa in CF patients.
Several studies in recent years have provided evidence that Pseudomonas aeruginosa has a non-clonal population structure punctuated by highly successful epidemic clones or clonal complexes. The role of recombination in the diversification of P. aeruginosa clones has been suggested, but not yet demonstrated using multi-locus sequence typing (MLST). Isolates of P. aeruginosa from five Mediterranean countries (n = 141) were subjected to pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), serotyping and PCR targeting the virulence genes exoS and exoU. The occurrence of multi-resistance (≥3 antipseudomonal drugs) was analyzed with disk diffusion according to EUCAST. MLST was performed on a subset of strains (n = 110) most of them had a distinct PFGE variant. MLST data were analyzed with Bionumerics 6.0, using minimal spanning tree (MST) as well as eBURST. Measurement of clonality was assessed by the standardized index of association (IAS). Evidence of recombination was estimated by ClonalFrame as well as SplitsTree4.0. The MST analysis connected 70 sequence types, among which ST235 was by far the most common. ST235 was very frequently associated with the O11 serotype, and frequently displayed multi-resistance and the virulence genotype exoS−/exoU+. ClonalFrame linked several groups previously identified by eBURST and MST, and provided insight to the evolutionary events occurring in the population; the recombination/mutation ratio was found to be 8.4. A Neighbor-Net analysis based on the concatenated sequences revealed a complex network, providing evidence of frequent recombination. The index of association when all the strains were considered indicated a freely recombining population. P. aeruginosa isolates from the Mediterranean countries display an epidemic population structure, particularly dominated by ST235-O11, which has earlier also been coupled to the spread of ß-lactamases in many countries.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen and an important cause of infection, particularly amongst cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. While specific strains capable of patient-to-patient transmission are known, many infections appear to be caused by unique and unrelated strains. There is a need to understand the relationship between strains capable of colonising the CF lung and the broader set of P. aeruginosa isolates found in natural environments. Here we report the results of a multilocus sequence typing (MLST)-based study designed to understand the genetic diversity and population structure of an extensive regional sample of P. aeruginosa isolates from South East Queensland, Australia. The analysis is based on 501 P. aeruginosa isolates obtained from environmental, animal and human (CF and non-CF) sources with particular emphasis on isolates from the Lower Brisbane River and isolates from CF patients obtained from the same geographical region. Overall, MLST identified 274 different sequence types, of which 53 were shared between one or more ecological settings. Our analysis revealed a limited association between genotype and environment and evidence of frequent recombination. We also found that genetic diversity of P. aeruginosa in Queensland, Australia was indistinguishable from that of the global P. aeruginosa population. Several CF strains were encountered frequently in multiple ecological settings; however, the most frequently encountered CF strains were confined to CF patients. Overall, our data confirm a non-clonal epidemic structure and indicate that most CF strains are a random sample of the broader P. aeruginosa population. The increased abundance of some CF strains in different geographical regions is a likely product of chance colonisation events followed by adaptation to the CF lung and horizontal transmission among patients.
The Liverpool epidemic strain (LES) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is widespread among cystic fibrosis (CF) patients in the United Kingdom and has emerged recently in North America. In this study, we report the analysis of 24 “anomalous” CF isolates of P. aeruginosa that produced inconsistent results with regard to either pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) or PCR tests for the LES. We used a new typing method, the ArrayTube genotyping system, to determine that of the 24 anomalous isolates tested, 13 were confirmed as the LES. LES isolates could not be clearly distinguished from non-LES isolates by two other commonly used genetic fingerprinting tests, randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis and BOX-PCR, and varied considerably in their carriage of LES genomic islands and prophages. The genomic instability of the LES suggests that identification of this emerging transmissible strain could be a challenging task, and it questions whether discrimination is always a desirable feature of bacterial typing methods in the context of chronic CF infections.
The emergence of virulent Pseudomonas aeruginosa clones is a threat to cystic fibrosis (CF) patients globally. Characterization of clonal P. aeruginosa strains is critical for an understanding of its clinical impact and developing strategies to meet this problem. Two clonal strains (AES-1 and AES-2) are circulating within CF centers in eastern Australia. In this study, phenotypic characteristics of 43 (14 AES-1, 5 AES-2, and 24 nonclonal) P. aeruginosa isolates were compared to gain insight into the properties of clonal strains. All 43 isolates produced bands of the predicted size in PCRs for vfr, rhlI, rhlR, lasA, lasB, aprA, rhlAB, and exoS genes; 42 were positive for lasI and lasR, and none had exoU. Thirty-seven (86%) isolates were positive in total protease assays; on zymography, 24 (56%) produced elastase/staphylolysin and 22 (51%) produced alkaline protease. Clonal isolates were more likely than nonclonal isolates to be positive for total proteases (P = 0.02), to show elastase and alkaline protease activity by zymography (P = 0.04 and P = 0.01, respectively), and to show elastase activity by the elastin-Congo red assay (P = 0.04). There were no other associations with genotype. Overall, increasing patient age was associated with decreasing elastase activity (P = 0.03). Thirty-two (74%) isolates had at least one N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) by thin-layer chromatography. rhl-associated AHL detection was associated with the production and level of total protease and elastase activity (all P < 0.01). Thirty-three (77%) isolates were positive for ExoS by Western blot analysis, 35 (81%) produced rhamnolipids, and 34 (79%) showed chitinase activity. Findings suggest that protease activity during chronic infection may contribute to the transmissibility or virulence of these clonal strains.
Some isolates of the Liverpool cystic fibrosis epidemic strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa exhibit an unusual virulence-related phenotype, characterized by over-production of quorum sensing-regulated exoproducts such as pyocyanin and LasA protease. Our aim was to determine the prevalence of this unusual phenotype amongst isolates of the epidemic strain, and to study other intraclonal phenotypic and genotypic variations.
The unusual phenotype was detected in at least one epidemic strain isolate from the majority of cystic fibrosis patients tested, and can be retained for up to seven years during chronic infection. Multiple sequential isolates of the epidemic strain taken from six patients over a period of up to nine years exhibited a wide range of phenotypes, including different antimicrobial susceptibilities. Our data suggest that each sputum sample contains a mixture of phenotypes and genotypes within the epidemic strain population, including within colony morphotypes. Many isolates exhibit premature (during early rather than late exponential growth) and over-production of pyocyanin, which has a number of toxic effects directly relevant to cystic fibrosis.
The widespread occurrence of this unusual phenotype suggests that it may play an important role in the success of the epidemic strain.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa chronic lung infections are the major cause of morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. The P. aeruginosa strains PAO1 and PA14 were compared with the Liverpool epidemic strain LESB58 to assess in vivo growth, infection kinetics, and bacterial persistence and localization within tissues in a rat model of chronic lung infection. The three P. aeruginosa strains demonstrated similar growth curves in vivo but differences in tissue distribution. The LESB58 strain persisted in the bronchial lumen, while the PAO1 and PA14 strains were found localized in the alveolar regions and grew as macrocolonies after day 7 postinfection. Bacterial strains were compared for swimming and twitching motility and for the production of biofilm. The P. aeruginosa LESB58 strain produced more biofilm than PAO1 and PA14. Competitive index (CI) analysis of PAO1, PA14, and LESB58 in vivo indicated CI values of 0.002, 0.0002, and 0.14 between PAO1-PA14, PAO1-LESB58, and LESB58-PA14, respectively. CI analysis comparing the in vivo growth of the PAO1 ΔPA5441 mutant and four PA14 surface attachment-defective (sad) mutants gave CI values 10 to 1,000 times lower in competitions with their respective wild-type strains PAO1 and PA14. P. aeruginosa strains studied in the rat model of chronic lung infection demonstrated similar in vivo growth but differences in virulence as shown with a competitive in vivo assay. These differences were further confirmed with biofilm and motility in vitro assays, where strain LESB58 produced more biofilm but had less capacity for motility than PAO1 and PA14.
Evolutionary adaptation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to the cystic fibrosis lung is limited by genetic variation, which depends on rates of horizontal gene transfer and mutation supply. Because each may increase following secondary infection or mutator emergence, we sought to ascertain the incidence of secondary infection and genetic variability in populations containing or lacking mutators. Forty-nine strains collected over 3 years from 16 patients were phenotyped for antibiotic resistance and mutator status and were genotyped by repetitive-sequence PCR (rep-PCR), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Though phenotypic and genetic polymorphisms were widespread and clustered more strongly within than between longitudinal series, their distribution revealed instances of secondary infection. Sequence data, however, indicated that interlineage recombination predated initial strain isolation. Mutator series were more likely to be multiply antibiotic resistant, but not necessarily more variable in their nucleotide sequences, than nonmutators. One mutator and one nonmutator series were sequenced at mismatch repair loci and analyzed for gene content using DNA microarrays. Both were wild type with respect to mutL, but mutators carried an 8-bp mutS deletion causing a frameshift mutation. Both series lacked 126 genes encoding pilins, siderophores, and virulence factors whose inactivation has been linked to adaptation during chronic infection. Mutators exhibited loss of severalfold more genes having functions related to mobile elements, motility, and attachment. A 105-kb, 86-gene deletion was observed in one nonmutator that resulted in loss of virulence factors related to pyoverdine synthesis and elements of the multidrug efflux regulon. Diminished DNA repair activity may facilitate but not be absolutely required for rapid evolutionary change.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. P. aeruginosa flagellin, the main structural protein of the flagellar filament, is a virulence factor with proinflammatory activity on respiratory epithelial cells. P. aeruginosa bacteria express one of two isoforms of flagellin (type a or b) that differ in their primary amino acid sequences as well as in posttranslational glycosylation. In this study, the distribution of type a and b flagellins among 3 P. aeruginosa laboratory strains and 14 clinical isolates (1 ulcerative keratitis, 3 cystic fibrosis, and 10 acute pneumonia isolates) was determined, and their abilities to stimulate interleukin-8 (IL-8) production by human airway epithelial cells was compared. By comparison with the PAK (type a) and PAO1 (type b) prototype laboratory strains, 10/14 (71.4%) of clinical isolates expressed type a and 4/14 (28.6%) expressed type b flagellins. Among four cell lines surveyed, BEAS-2B cells were found to give the greatest difference between constitutive and flagellin-stimulated IL-8 production. All 17 flagellins stimulated IL-8 production by BEAS-2B cells (range, 700 to 4,000 pg/ml). However, no discernible differences in IL-8 production were evident when comparing type a versus type b flagellins or flagellins from laboratory versus clinical strains or among the clinical strains.
The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa is able to thrive in diverse ecological niches and to cause serious human infection. P. aeruginosa environmental strains are producing various virulence factors that are required for establishing acute infections in several host organisms; however, the P. aeruginosa phenotypic variants favour long-term persistence in the cystic fibrosis (CF) airways. Whether P. aeruginosa strains, which have adapted to the CF-niche, have lost their competitive fitness in the other environment remains to be investigated. In this paper, three P. aeruginosa clonal lineages, including early strains isolated at the onset of infection, and late strains, isolated after several years of chronic lung infection from patients with CF, were analysed in multi-host model systems of acute infection. P. aeruginosa early isolates caused lethality in the three non-mammalian hosts, namely Caenorhabditis elegans, Galleria mellonella, and Drosophila melanogaster, while late adapted clonal isolates were attenuated in acute virulence. When two different mouse genetic background strains, namely C57Bl/6NCrl and Balb/cAnNCrl, were used as acute infection models, early P. aeruginosa CF isolates were lethal, while late isolates exhibited reduced or abolished acute virulence. Severe histopathological lesions, including high leukocytes recruitment and bacterial load, were detected in the lungs of mice infected with P. aeruginosa CF early isolates, while late isolates were progressively cleared. In addition, systemic bacterial spread and invasion of epithelial cells, which were detected for P. aeruginosa CF early strains, were not observed with late strains. Our findings indicate that niche-specific selection in P. aeruginosa reduced its ability to cause acute infections across a broad range of hosts while maintaining the capacity for chronic infection in the CF host.
A hallmark of airways in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) is highly refractory, chronic infections by several opportunistic bacterial pathogens. A recent study demonstrated that acidified sodium nitrite (A-NO2−) killed the highly refractory mucoid form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a pathogen that significantly compromises lung function in CF patients (S. S. Yoon et al., J. Clin. Invest. 116:436-446, 2006). Therefore, the microbicidal activity of A-NO2− (pH 6.5) against the following three major CF pathogens was assessed: P. aeruginosa (a mucoid, mucA22 mutant and a sequenced nonmucoid strain, PAO1), Staphylococcus aureus USA300 (methicillin resistant), and Burkholderia cepacia, a notoriously antibiotic-resistant organism. Under planktonic, anaerobic conditions, growth of all strains except for P. aeruginosa PAO1 was inhibited by 7.24 mM (512 μg ml−1 NO2−). B. cepacia was particularly sensitive to low concentrations of A-NO2− (1.81 mM) under planktonic conditions. In antibiotic-resistant communities known as biofilms, which are reminiscent of end-stage CF airway disease, A-NO2− killed mucoid P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, and B. cepacia; 1 to 2 logs of cells were killed after a 2-day incubation with a single dose of ∼15 mM A-NO2−. Animal toxicology and phase I human trials indicate that these bactericidal levels of A-NO2− can be easily attained by aerosolization. Thus, in summary, we demonstrate that A-NO2− is very effective at killing these important CF pathogens and could be effective in other infectious settings, particularly under anaerobic conditions where bacterial defenses against the reduction product of A-NO2−, nitric oxide (NO), are dramatically reduced.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a gram-negative rod that is ubiquitous in nature. P. aeruginosa is also the quintessential opportunistic pathogen, causing a wide variety of infections in compromised hosts. In cystic fibrosis patients, P. aeruginosa is the leading cause of death. In this study, the evolutionary genetic relationships among 17 P. aeruginosa isolates were examined by comparative sequence analysis of the housekeeping gene encoding malate dehydrogenase and the chaperone groEL. The P. aeruginosa isolates examined included the sequenced strain PAO1, 11 strains recovered from cystic fibrosis patients in Ireland, 4 environmental isolates recovered from a hospital environment, and 1 isolate recovered from a plant rhizosphere. Phylogenetically, clinical and environmental isolates clustered together with one another on the mdh gene tree. At the groEL locus, among the 17 isolates examined, only two polymorphic sites were observed, highlighting the close genetic relationship between isolates from these different environments. Phenotypic analysis of 12 traits among our isolates, however, found that only clinical isolates produced phenazines and elastase. Furthermore, molecular analysis of the distribution of 15 regions associated with virulence showed that two of the environmental isolates examined lacked the majority of regions. Among the clinical isolates examined, the 15 virulence regions were variably present. The distribution of two prophages (Bacto1, Pf1) was also determined, with most isolates encoding both these regions. Of the four genomic islands (the flagellum island and PAGI-1, -2, and -3) examined, only two isolates contained the flagellum island, and PAGI-1, -2, and -3 were absent from all isolates tested. Our data demonstrate the significant role horizontal gene transfer and recombination, together with gene loss, play in the evolution of this important human pathogen.
Whole-genome shotgun sequencing was used to study the sequence variation of three Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates, two from clonal infections of cystic fibrosis patients and one from an aquatic environment, relative to the genomic sequence of reference strain PAO1. The majority of the PAO1 genome is represented in these strains; however, at least three prominent islands of PAO1-specific sequence are apparent. Conversely, ∼10% of the sequencing reads derived from each isolate fail to align with the PAO1 backbone. While average sequence variation among all strains is roughly 0.5%, regions of pronounced differences were evident in whole-genome scans of nucleotide diversity. We analyzed two such divergent loci, the pyoverdine and O-antigen biosynthesis regions, by complete resequencing. A thorough analysis of isolates collected over time from one of the cystic fibrosis patients revealed independent mutations resulting in the loss of O-antigen synthesis alternating with a mucoid phenotype. Overall, we conclude that most of the PAO1 genome represents a core P. aeruginosa backbone sequence while the strains addressed in this study possess additional genetic material that accounts for at least 10% of their genomes. Approximately half of these additional sequences are novel.
Sequencing of a highly virulent strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and comparison to a previously sequenced, less pathogenic, strain, together with experimental testing in a C. elegans model, suggests that Pseudomonas virulence is multifactorial and combinatorial.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a ubiquitous environmental bacterium and an important opportunistic human pathogen. Generally, the acquisition of genes in the form of pathogenicity islands distinguishes pathogenic isolates from nonpathogens. We therefore sequenced a highly virulent strain of P. aeruginosa, PA14, and compared it with a previously sequenced (and less pathogenic) strain, PAO1, to identify novel virulence genes.
The PA14 and PAO1 genomes are remarkably similar, although PA14 has a slightly larger genome (6.5 megabses [Mb]) than does PAO1 (6.3 Mb). We identified 58 PA14 gene clusters that are absent in PAO1 to determine which of these genes, if any, contribute to its enhanced virulence in a Caenorhabditis elegans pathogenicity model. First, we tested 18 additional diverse strains in the C. elegans model and observed a wide range of pathogenic potential; however, genotyping these strains using a custom microarray showed that the presence of PA14 genes that are absent in PAO1 did not correlate with the virulence of these strains. Second, we utilized a full-genome nonredundant mutant library of PA14 to identify five genes (absent in PAO1) required for C. elegans killing. Surprisingly, although these five genes are present in many other P. aeruginosa strains, they do not correlate with virulence in C. elegans.
Genes required for pathogenicity in one strain of P. aeruginosa are neither required for nor predictive of virulence in other strains. We therefore propose that virulence in this organism is both multifactorial and combinatorial, the result of a pool of pathogenicity-related genes that interact in various combinations in different genetic backgrounds.
One of the hallmarks of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients is very-high-cell-density (HCD) replication in the lung, allowing this bacterium to induce virulence controlled by the quorum-sensing systems. However, the nutrient sources sustaining HCD replication in this chronic infection are largely unknown. Here, we performed microarray studies of P. aeruginosa directly isolated from the lungs of CF patients to demonstrate its metabolic capability and virulence in vivo. In vivo microarray data, confirmed by real-time reverse transcription-PCR, indicated that the P. aeruginosa population expressed several genes for virulence, drug resistance, and utilization of multiple nutrient sources (lung surfactant lipids and amino acids) contributing to HCD replication. The most abundant lung surfactant lipid molecule, phosphatidylcholine (PC), induces key genes of P. aeruginosa pertinent to PC degradation in vitro as well as in vivo within the lungs of CF patients. The results support recent research indicating that P. aeruginosa exists in the lungs of CF patients as a diverse population with full virulence potential. The data also indicate that there is deregulation of several pathways, suggesting that there is in vivo evolution by deregulation of a large portion of the transcriptome during chronic infection in CF patients. To our knowledge, this is the first in vivo transcriptome analysis of P. aeruginosa in a natural infection in CF patients, and the results indicate several important aspects of P. aeruginosa pathogenesis, drug resistance, nutrient utilization, and general metabolism within the lungs of CF patients.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that may cause severe infections in humans and other vertebrates. In addition, a human clinical isolate of P. aeruginosa, strain PA14, also causes disease in a variety of nonvertebrate hosts, including plants, Caenorhabditis elegans, and the greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella. This has led to the development of a multihost pathogenesis system in which plants, nematodes, and insects have been used as adjuncts to animal models for the identification of P. aeruginosa virulence factors. Another approach to identifying virulence genes in bacteria is to take advantage of the natural differences in pathogenicity between isolates of the same species and to use a subtractive hybridization technique to recover relevant genomic differences. The sequenced strain of P. aeruginosa, strain PAO1, has substantial differences in virulence from strain PA14 in several of the multihost models of pathogenicity, and we have utilized the technique of representational difference analysis (RDA) to directly identify genomic differences between P. aeruginosa strains PA14 and PAO1. We have found that the pilC, pilA, and uvrD genes in strain PA14 differ substantially from their counterparts in strain PAO1. In addition, we have recovered a gene homologous to the ybtQ gene from Yersinia, which is specifically present in strain PA14 but absent in strain PAO1. Mutation of the ybtQ homolog in P. aeruginosa strain PA14 significantly attenuates the virulence of this strain in both G. mellonella and a burned mouse model of sepsis to levels comparable to those seen with PAO1. This suggests that the increased virulence of P. aeruginosa strain PA14 compared to PAO1 may relate to specific genomic differences identifiable by RDA.
Populations of the Liverpool Epidemic Strain (LES) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa undergo extensive diversification in the cystic fibrosis (CF) lung during long-term chronic infections.
We analyzed sets of 40 isolates from the sputa of five CF patients, each chronically infected with a different non-LES strain of P. aeruginosa. For each sample (two per patient), diversity was assessed by characterizing nine phenotypic traits.
All P. aeruginosa populations were highly diverse, with the majority of phenotypic variation being due to within-sample diversity.
Maintenance of diverse populations in the CF lung is a common feature of P. aeruginosa infections.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Cystic fibrosis; Population biology
Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 is the most commonly used strain for research on this ubiquitous and metabolically versatile opportunistic pathogen. Strain PAO1, a derivative of the original Australian PAO isolate, has been distributed worldwide to laboratories and strain collections. Over decades discordant phenotypes of PAO1 sublines have emerged. Taking the existing PAO1-UW genome sequence (named after the University of Washington, which led the sequencing project) as a blueprint, the genome sequences of reference strains MPAO1 and PAO1-DSM (stored at the German Collection for Microorganisms and Cell Cultures [DSMZ]) were resolved by physical mapping and deep short read sequencing-by-synthesis. MPAO1 has been the source of near-saturation libraries of transposon insertion mutants, and PAO1-DSM is identical in its SpeI-DpnI restriction map with the original isolate. The major genomic differences of MPAO1 and PAO1-DSM in comparison to PAO1-UW are the lack of a large inversion, a duplication of a mobile 12-kb prophage region carrying a distinct integrase and protein phosphatases or kinases, deletions of 3 to 1,006 bp in size, and at least 39 single-nucleotide substitutions, 17 of which affect protein sequences. The PAO1 sublines differed in their ability to cope with nutrient limitation and their virulence in an acute murine airway infection model. Subline PAO1-DSM outnumbered the two other sublines in late stationary growth phase. In conclusion, P. aeruginosa PAO1 shows an ongoing microevolution of genotype and phenotype that jeopardizes the reproducibility of research. High-throughput genome resequencing will resolve more cases and could become a proper quality control for strain collections.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a ubiquitous gram-negative bacterium, is capable of colonizing a wide range of environmental niches and can also cause serious infections in humans. In order to understand the genetic makeup of pathogenic P. aeruginosa strains, a method of differential hybridization of arrayed libraries of cloned DNA fragments was developed. An M13 library of DNA from strain X24509, isolated from a patient with a urinary tract infection, was screened using a DNA probe from P. aeruginosa strain PAO1. The genome of PAO1 has been recently sequenced and can be used as a reference for comparisons of genetic organization in different strains. M13 clones that did not react with a DNA probe from PAO1 carried X24509-specific inserts. When a similar array hybridization analysis with DNA probes from different strains was used, a set of M13 clones which carried sequences present in the majority of human P. aeruginosa isolates from a wide range of clinical sources was identified. The inserts of these clones were used to identify cosmids encompassing a contiguous 48.9-kb region of the X24509 chromosome called PAGI-1 (for “P. aeruginosa genomic island 1”). PAGI-1 is incorporated in the X24509 chromosome at a locus that shows a deletion of a 6,729-bp region present in strain PAO1. Survey of the incidence of PAGI-1 revealed that this island is present in 85% of the strains from clinical sources. Approximately half of the PAGI-1-carrying strains show the same deletion as X24509, while the remaining strains contain both the PAGI-1 sequences and the 6,729-bp PAO1 segment. Sequence analysis of PAGI-1 revealed that it contains 51 predicted open reading frames. Several of these genes encoded products with predictable function based on their sequence similarities to known genes, including insertion sequences, determinants of regulatory proteins, a number of dehydrogenase gene homologs, and two for proteins of implicated in detoxification of reactive oxygen species. It is very likely that PAGI-1 was acquired by a large number of P. aeruginosa isolates through horizontal gene transfer. The selection for its maintenance may be the consequence of expression of any one of the genes of unknown function or the genes which allow P. aeruginosa to survive under the conditions that generate reactive oxygen species. Alternatively, one or both of the transcriptional regulators encoded in PAGI-1 may control the expression of genes in the P. aeruginosa chromosome, which provides a selective advantage for strains that have acquired this genomic island.
Considerable lung injury results from the inflammatory response to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). The P. aeruginosa laboratory strain PAO1, an environmental isolate, and isolates from CF patients were cultured in vitro and outer membrane vesicles from those cultures were quantitated, purified, and characterized. Vesicles were produced throughout the growth phases of the culture and vesicle yield was strain-independent. Strain-dependent differences in the protein composition of vesicles were quantitated and identified. The aminopeptidase PaAP (PA2939) was highly enriched in vesicles from CF isolates. Vesicles from all strains elicited IL-8 secretion by lung epithelial cells. These results suggest that P. aeruginosa colonizing the CF lung may produce vesicles with a particular composition and that the vesicles could contribute to inflammation.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Outer membrane; Vesicles; Cystic Fibrosis; Aminopeptidase; Pathogenesis