To develop targeted gene integration in the periodontal pathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, a ColE1-based, spectinomycin-resistant plasmid containing a segment of the leukotoxin gene was electroporated into strain JP2. In all of the stable spectinomycin-resistant transformants that arose, the plasmid had recombined into the genomic leukotoxin locus since ColE1-based vectors cannot replicate extrachromosomally in A. actinomycetemcomitans. Directed genomic integration was then used to construct a leukotoxin-negative strain by transforming the leukotoxin-producing strain JP2 with a ColE1-based plasmid containing an internal fragment of the leukotoxin gene. Cytotoxicity assays proved that these transformants had < 0.1% of the leukotoxin activity of the parental strain. These results demonstrate that integration-based approaches can be used for generating isogenic mutants in specific virulence genes in A. actinomycetemcomitans.
The first example of conjugal transfer of DNA from Escherichia coli to the periodontal pathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans is presented. Derivatives of the incompatibility group P (IncP) plasmid RK2 successfully transferred from an E. coli donor to an A. actinomycetemcomitans recipient. The resulting A. actinomycetemcomitans transconjugants transferred the plasmids back to E. coli recipients. The IncP transfer functions were also used in trans to mobilize the IncQ plasmid pBK1 from E. coli to A. actinomycetemcomitans. The IncP and IncQ plasmids both transferred into A. actinomycetemcomitans at high frequencies (0.3 to 0.5 transconjugants per donor) and showed no gross deletions, insertions, or rearrangements. Determinations of MICs of various antibiotics for the A. actinomycetemcomitans transconjugant strains demonstrated the expression of ampicillin, chloramphenicol, and kanamycin resistance determinants.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans is a member of the family Pasteurellaceae and a major causative agent of periodontitis. While several genera from this family are known to be competent for transformation, A. actinomycetemcomitans has yet to be fully characterized. Here we show that the competence of A. actinomycetemcomitans is remarkably similar to that of Haemophilus influenzae. In addition to having a similar frequency of transformation as H. influenzae, A. actinomycetemcomitans competence could also be induced at least 100-fold by cyclic AMP, suggesting that, as in H. influenzae, at least some competence genes are regulated by catabolite repression. Even more intriguing was the discovery of a putative A. actinomycetemcomitans DNA uptake signal sequence (USS) virtually identical to the USS of H. influenzae. Moreover, we provide evidence that this sequence functions in the same capacity as that from H. influenzae; the sequence appears to be required and sufficient for DNA uptake in a variety of assays. Finally, we have taken advantage of this system to develop a simple, highly efficient competence-based method for generating site-directed mutations in the wild-type fimbriated A. actinomycetemcomitans.
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 (http://www.genome.ou.edu/act.html) 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.
The leukotoxin produced by Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans has been implicated in the etiology of juvenile periodontitis. To initiate a genetic analysis of the role of this protein in disease, we have cloned the leukotoxin gene in Escherichia coli. Recombinant colonies carrying toxin gene sequences were isolated by screening a genomic A. actinomycetemcomitans library with a DNA probe for the leukotoxin gene from a related bacterium, Pasteurella haemolytica. To demonstrate that the cloned A. actinomycetemcomitans DNA contained a functional leukotoxin gene, protein extracts of E. coli containing the A. actinomycetemcomitans clone were tested directly for leukotoxic activity against human cell lines in chromium release assays. A construct containing the entire cloned region produced a functional toxin. No cytotoxicity was seen when extracts from cells containing plasmids with deletions in the putative coding region were used. Furthermore, the toxin produced by the cloned gene has the same target cell specificity as the leukotoxin extracted directly from A. actinomycetemcomitans. These results indicate that sequences encoding a functional leukotoxin have been cloned and are expressed in E. coli. Southern blot analysis of DNA from leukotoxin-producing (Lkt+) and non-leukotoxin-producing (Lkt-) strains indicated that the Lkt- strain also contained a copy of the gene.
The complete nucleotide sequence and genetic map of pVT745 are presented. The 25-kb plasmid was isolated from Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, a periodontal pathogen. Two-thirds of the plasmid encode functions related to conjugation, replication, and replicon stability. Among potential gene products with a high degree of similarity to known proteins are those associated with plasmid conjugation. It was shown that pVT745 derivatives not only mobilized a coresident nontransmissible plasmid, pMMB67, but also mediated their own conjugative transfer to different A. actinomycetemcomitans strains. However, transfer of pVT745 derivatives from A. actinomycetemcomitans to Escherichia coli JM109 by conjugation was successful only when an E. coli origin of replication was present on the pVT745 construct. Surprisingly, 16 open reading frames encode products of unknown function. The plasmid contains a conserved replication region which belongs to the HAP (Haemophilus-Actinobacillus-Pasteurella) theta replicon family. However, its host range appears to be rather narrow compared to other members of this family. Sequences homologous to pVT745 have previously been detected in the chromosomes of numerous A. actinomycetemcomitans strains. The nature and origin of these homologs are discussed based on information derived from the nucleotide sequence.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans is a gram-negative, facultative, anaerobic bacterium that colonizes the human oral cavity and the upper respiratory tract. This bacterium is strongly associated with localized aggressive periodontitis and adult periodontitis and is the causative agent for other serious systemic infections. Recently, we have identified a protein, EmaA (extracellular matrix protein adhesin A), that mediates the adhesion of A. actinomycetemcomitans to collagen. The conserved sequence and predicted secondary structure suggest that EmaA is an orthologue of the Yersinia enterocolitica adhesin YadA. Electron microscopy examinations of A. actinomycetemcomitans have identified antenna-like protrusions associated with the surface of the bacterium. These structures are absent on emaA mutant strains and can be restored by transformation of the mutant strain with emaA in trans. The loss of these structures is associated with a decrease in the binding of this bacterium to collagen. The antenna-like structures are composed of a long rod that terminates in an ellipsoidal head region. The analysis of these structures using image processing techniques has provided an initial estimate of the overall dimensions, which suggests that the appendages are oligomeric structures formed by either three or four subunits. Together, the data suggest that emaA is required for the expression of novel appendages on the surface of A. actinomycetemcomitans that mediate the adhesion of the bacterium to collagen.
The Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans afeABCD iron transport system, the expression of which is controlled by iron and Fur, was identified in three different isolates. The protein products of this locus are related to bacterial ABC transporters involved in metal transport. Transformation of the Escherichia coli 1017 iron acquisition mutant with a plasmid harboring afeABCD promoted cell growth under iron-chelated conditions. However, insertion disruption of each of the afeABCD coding regions abolished this growth-relieving effect. The replacement of the parental afeA allele with the derivative afeA::EZ::TN drastically reduced the ability of A. actinomycetemcomitans cells to grow under iron-chelated conditions.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans is the etiologic agent of localized aggressive periodontitis, a rapidly progressing oral disease that occurs in adolescents. A. actinomycetemcomitans can also cause systemic disease, including infective endocarditis. In early work on A. actinomycetemcomitans workers concluded that this bacterium is not beta-hemolytic. More recent reports have suggested that A. actinomycetemcomitans does have the potential to be beta-hemolytic. While growing A. actinomycetemcomitans on several types of growth media, we noticed a beta-hemolytic reaction on media from one manufacturer. Beta-hemolysis occurred on Columbia agar from Accumedia with either sheep or horse blood, but not on similar media from other manufacturers. A surprising result was that mutants of A. actinomycetemcomitans defective for production of leukotoxin, a toxin that is reportedly highly specific for only human and primate white blood cells, are not beta-hemolytic. Purified leukotoxin was able to lyse sheep and human erythrocytes in vitro. This work showed that in contrast to the accepted view, A. actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin can indeed destroy erythrocytes and that the production of this toxin results in beta-hemolytic colonies on solid medium. In light of these results, the diagnostic criteria for clinical identification of A. actinomycetemcomitans and potentially related bacteria should be reevaluated. Furthermore, in studies on A. actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin workers should now consider this toxin's ability to destroy red blood cells.
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.
A large gene cluster associated with the biosynthesis of the serotype-specific polysaccharide antigen (SPA) of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Y4 (serotype b) was cloned and characterized. Western blot analysis showed that Escherichia coli DH5α, containing a plasmid carrying this cluster, produced a polysaccharide which reacted with a monoclonal antibody directed against the SPA of A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4. High-performance liquid chromatography analysis indicated that the polysaccharide produced by an E. coli transformant, as well as A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 SPA, was composed of rhamnose and fucose. Furthermore, using various derivatives of the plasmid, we demonstrated that the cloned 13-kb BssHII-BspHI fragment was indispensable for SPA synthesis in E. coli DH5α. The 24,909-bp nucleotide sequence, which included this fragment and its flanking regions, was determined. In the sequenced area, 24 open reading frames (ORFs) with the same orientation were found. Most of these were located sequentially within a short distance of each other. Many of the deduced amino acid sequences were similar to the gene products of the polysaccharide synthetic genes of other bacteria. The average G+C content (37.7%) of all 24 ORFs in the sequenced area was lower than that (45.6%) of the whole chromosome of A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4. It is noteworthy the average G+C content of the nine ORFs in the 8.5-kb central region of the 13-kb BssHII-BspHI fragment indispensable for SPA synthesis in E. coli was found to be especially low (27.0%).
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.
The agar dilution technique was used for determination of the antibiotic susceptibilities of 57 oral isolates and 2 nonoral isolates of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans. Tetracycline, minocycline, and chloramphenicol inhibited more than 96% of the strains tested at a concentration of less than or equal to 2 micrograms/ml; 89% of the strains were inhibited by 2 micrograms of carbenicillin per ml. The other antimicrobial agents tested were less active. Approximately 10% of the A. actinomycetemcomitans strains were resistant to ampicillin, erythromycin, and penicillin G at concentrations of 32 to 64 micrograms/ml. These data suggest that tetracycline and minocycline may be valuable drugs in the treatment of A. actinomycetemcomitans infections.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and Capnocytophaga spp. are gram-negative bacteria implicated in the etiology of periodontal disease (particularly in individuals with neutrophil defects) and life-threatening systemic infections. They are resistant to many antibiotics of microbial origin but are sensitive to the nonoxidative microbicidal action of neutrophils. These organisms are susceptible to the microbicidal effect of cathepsin G but are killed by two distinct mechanisms. The purpose of this study was to assess their sensitivity to the antibiotic effects of IIGGR and HPQYNQR, antimicrobial peptides derived from human neutrophil cathepsin G. The efficacies of the synthetic peptides IIGGR and HPQYNQR were tested by single-dose screening, dose-response, and kinetic assays against three representative strains (each) of A. actinomycetemcomitans and Capnocytophaga spp. and one strain of Eikenella corrodens. Strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans were sensitive to IIGGR and HPQYNQR at equal concentrations (wt/vol), whereas strains of Capnocytophaga and E. corrodens were more sensitive to IIGGR than to HPQYNQR. These differential antibiotic effects occurred over both time and dose ranges too narrow to be of therapeutic significance but are consistent with the premise that cathepsin G kills these oral bacteria by two distinct mechanisms. Except for IVGGR, congeners of IIGGR, including AIGGR, IAGGR, IIAGR, IIGAR, IIGGA, IQGGR, ILGGR, and I-norleucyl-GGR (InLGGR), were microbicidal at 500 micrograms/ml. IIGGR-amide exhibited no antibiotic activity. The D-enantiomer of IIGGR, DIDIGGDR, was as potent as IIGGR itself. APQYNQR exhibited antibiotic activity but somewhat less than HPQYNQR. We conclude that charge distribution, but not chirality or net charge, is an important determinant in the antibiotic efficacy of IIGGR. Moreover, peptide antibiotics derived from cathepsin G may have therapeutic value against periodontal gram-negative, facultative bacteria.
The in vitro susceptibility of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans to azithromycin, a new macrolide antibiotic of a new class known as azalides, was compared with that of erythromycin by the agar dilution method on Mueller-Hinton Haemophilus test medium. Eighty-two A. actinomycetemcomitans strains, 79 recent clinical isolates obtained from 40 periodontally healthy or diseased subjects, and 3 type strains were included in the study. Erythromycin showed poor in vitro activity against A. actinomycetemcomitans. Azithromycin, however, was highly effective against A. actinomycetemcomitans: all strains were inhibited at 2.0 micrograms/ml. Azithromycin exhibited the best in vitro activity against the serotype a subpopulation of A. actinomycetemcomitans: 100% of the strains were inhibited at 1.0 micrograms/ml. The lowest MICs were, however, recorded by serotype b strains. Since azithromycin has favorable pharmacokinetic properties, including excellent distribution into tissues, it could be expected to pass into gingival crevicular fluid at levels sufficient to inhibit A. actinomycetemcomitans in vivo. Therefore, it is a good candidate for future clinical trials in A. actinomycetemcomitans-associated periodontitis.
tfoX (sxy) is a regulatory gene needed to turn on competence genes. Aggregatibacter (Actinobacillus) actinomycetemcomitans has a tfoX gene that is important for transformation. We cloned this gene on an IncQ plasmid downstream of the inducible tac promoter. When this plasmid was resident in cells of A. actinomycetemcomitans and tfoX was induced, the cells became competent for transformation. Several strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans, including different serotypes, as well as rough (adherent) and isogenic smooth (nonadherent) forms were tested. Only our two serotype f strains failed to be transformed. With the other strains, we could easily get transformants with extrachromosomal plasmid DNA when closed circular, replicative plasmid carrying an uptake signal sequence (USS) was used. When a replicative plasmid carrying a USS and cloned DNA from the chromosome of A. actinomycetemcomitans was linearized by digestion with a restriction endonuclease or when genomic DNA was used directly, the outcome was allelic exchange. To facilitate allelic exchange, we constructed a suicide plasmid (pMB78) that does not replicate in A. actinomycetemcomitans and carries a region with two inverted copies of a USS. This vector gave allelic exchange in the presence of cloned and induced tfoX easily and without digestion. Using transposon insertions in cloned katA DNA, we found that as little as 78 bp of homology at one of the ends was sufficient for that end to participate in allelic exchange. The cloning and induction of tfoX makes it possible to transform nearly any strain of A. actinomycetemcomitans, and allelic exchange has proven to be important for site-directed mutagenesis.
periodontitis; pathogen; USS; allelic exchange; site-directed mutagenesis; competence
When cultured in broth, fresh clinical isolates of the gram-negative periodontal pathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans form tenaciously adherent biofilm colonies on surfaces such as plastic and glass. These biofilm colonies release adherent cells into the medium, and the released cells can attach to the surface of the culture vessel and form new colonies, enabling the biofilm to spread. We mutagenized A. actinomycetemcomitans clinical strain CU1000 with transposon IS903φkan and isolated a transposon insertion mutant that formed biofilm colonies which were tightly adherent to surfaces but which lacked the ability to release cells into the medium and disperse. The transposon insertion in the mutant strain mapped to a gene, designated dspB, that was predicted to encode a secreted protein homologous to the catalytic domain of the family 20 glycosyl hydrolases. A plasmid carrying a wild-type dspB gene restored the ability of biofilm colonies of the mutant strain to disperse. We expressed A. actinomycetemcomitans DspB protein engineered to contain a hexahistidine metal-binding site at its C terminus in Escherichia coli and purified the protein by using Ni affinity chromatography. Substrate specificity studies performed with monosaccharides labeled with 4-nitrophenyl groups showed that DspB hydrolyzed the 1→4 glycosidic bond of β-substituted N-acetylglucosamine, which is consistent with the known functions of other family 20 glycosyl hydrolases. When added to culture medium, purified DspB protein, but not heat-inactivated DspB, restored the ability of the mutant strain to release cells and disperse. DspB protein also caused the detachment of cells from preformed biofilm colonies of strain CU1000 grown attached to plastic and the disaggregation of highly autoaggregated clumps of CU1000 cells in solution. We concluded that dspB encodes a soluble β-N-acetylglucosaminidase that causes detachment and dispersion of A. actinomycetemcomitans biofilm cells.
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.
The bacterium Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans is a common commensal of the human oral cavity and the putative causative agent of the disease localized aggressive periodontitis. A. actinomycetemcomitans is a slow-growing bacterium that possesses limited metabolic machinery for carbon utilization. This likely impacts its ability to colonize the oral cavity, where growth and community composition is mediated by carbon availability. We present evidence that in the presence of the in vivo relevant carbon substrates glucose, fructose, and lactate A. actinomycetemcomitans preferentially metabolizes lactate. This preference for lactate exists despite the fact that A. actinomycetemcomitans grows faster and obtains higher cell yields during growth with carbohydrates. The preference for lactate is mediated by a novel exclusion mechanism in which metabolism of lactate inhibits carbohydrate uptake. Coculture studies reveal that A. actinomycetemcomitans utilizes lactate produced by the oral bacterium Streptococcus gordonii, suggesting the potential for cross-feeding in the oral cavity.
DNA-DNA hybridization was used to identify clinical isolates as Haemophilus aphrophilus or Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans. Some of the isolates were naturally competent for genetic transformation and were also used as DNA recipients for identification of other isolates. The results obtained by hybridization were supported by interstrain-to-intrastrain transformation ratios. Distinction between the closely related species H. aphrophilus and A. actinomycetemcomitans was generally clear-cut by both methods. Distinction of H. aphrophilus and A. actinomycetemcomitans from type and reference strains of a diversity of species in the family Neisseriaceae and other gram-negative species was also demonstrated by both methods. This is the first description of the identification of clinical isolates of H. aphrophilus or A. actinomycetemcomitans by using them as recipients in genetic transformation. The results suggest that this is a reliable system for identification of new clinical isolates belonging to these taxonomic entities.
Aggregatibacter (Actinobacillus) actinomycetemcomitans is a gram-negative oral pathogen that is the etiologic agent of localized aggressive periodontitis and systemic infections. A. actinomycetemcomitans produces leukotoxin (LtxA), which is a member of the RTX (repeats in toxin) family of secreted bacterial toxins and is known to target human leukocytes and erythrocytes. To better understand how LtxA functions as a virulence factor, we sought to detect and study potential A. actinomycetemcomitans proteins that interact with LtxA. We found that Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD) interacts specifically with LtxA. Cu,Zn SOD was purified from A. actinomycetemcomitans to homogeneity and remained enzymatically active. Purified Cu,Zn SOD allowed us to isolate highly specific anti-Cu,Zn SOD antibody and this antibody was used to further confirm protein interaction. Cu,Zn SOD-deficient mutants displayed decreased survival in the presence of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species and could be complemented with wild-type Cu,Zn SOD in trans. We suggest that A. actinomycetemcomitans Cu,Zn SOD may protect both bacteria and LtxA from reactive species produced by host inflammatory cells during disease. This is the first example of a protein-protein interaction involving a bacterial Cu,Zn SOD.
We performed plasmid electrotransformation of Caulobacter crescentus strains and obtained up to 3 x 10(8) transformants per micrograms of pKT230. The presence and integrity of the paracrystalline protein surface (S) layer influenced electroporation; caulobacters lacking the S layer were electrotransformed 10 times more efficiently than caulobacters possessing the S layers. A procedure yielding 1,500 transformants per micrograms of pKT230 was developed for a marine caulobacter. Electroporation was used in combination with several genetic techniques, including introduction of ligation mixtures, suicide transposon mutagenesis, gene replacement, and plasmid electrotransfer from Escherichia coli to caulobacters.
Cells of the gram-negative periodontopathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans express a surface-exposed, outer membrane autotransporter protein, designated Aae, which has been implicated in epithelial cell binding. We constructed a mutant strain of A. actinomycetemcomitans that contained a transposon insertion in the Aae structural gene (aae) and tested the mutant to determine its ability to bind to buccal epithelial cells (BECs) isolated from healthy volunteers. Significantly fewer mutant cells than wild-type cells bound to BECs. A broad-host-range plasmid that contained an intact aae gene driven by a heterologous tac promoter restored the ability of the mutant strain to bind to BECs at wild-type levels. This plasmid also conferred upon Escherichia coli the ability to express the Aae protein on its surface and to bind to human BECs. Aae-expressing E. coli also bound to BECs isolated from six Old World primates but not to BECs isolated from four New World primates or nine other nonprimate mammals, as well as to human gingival epithelial cells but not to human pharyngeal, palatal, tongue, bronchial, or cervical epithelial cells. Our findings indicate that Aae mediates binding of A. actinomycetemcomitans to BECs from humans and Old World primates and that this process may contribute to the host range specificity and tissue tropism exhibited by this bacterium.
Bacteriolysis in Tris-maleate buffer (0.005 M, pH 7.2) supplemented with EDTA (0.01 M) and hen egg white lysozyme (HEWL, 1.0 microgram/ml) was set up to assist differentiation between the taxonomically closely related Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and Haemophilus aphrophilus. A. actinomycetemcomitans was more sensitive to lysis in this system than H. aphrophilus. The standard method for bacteriolysis separated the 10 tested strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans into two groups (I and II) based on their lysis patterns, whereas the 7 strains of H. aphrophilus examined were homogeneous. In group I of A. actinomycetemcomitans, EDTA displayed a considerable lytic effect, which was not increased by supplementation with HEWL. In group II, the lytic effect of EDTA was much less, but HEWL had a considerable supplementary lytic effect. When the turbidity of A. actinomycetemcomitans (ATCC 29522) or H. aphrophilus (ATCC 33389) suspended in Tris buffer was monitored at close pH intervals (0.2) from pH 5.2 to 9.2, maximal lysis of ATCC 29522 occurred with EDTA at pH 8.0 and with EDTA-HEWL at pH 7.6, while ATCC 33389 lysed with EDTA at pH 9.0 and with EDTA-HEWL at pH 9.2. When other members of the family Pasteurellaceae (Haemophilus influenzae type b, Haemophilus paraphrophilus, Pasteurella multocida, Pasteurella haemolytica, and Pasteurella ureae) were included for comparison, the group I strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans were the most rapidly lysed by EDTA. H. paraphrophilus was the least sensitive of the gram-negative strains tested, but not as resistant as Micrococcus luteus (control). M. luteus was the organism most sensitive to lysozyme, followed by P. ureae and the group II strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans, while the group I strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans, H. paraphrophilus, and P. haemolytica were the least sensitive organisms.
Directed mutagenesis of a gene coding for a membrane protein of the periodontopathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans was achieved by conjugation. The gene was disrupted by insertion of an antibiotic cassette into a unique endonuclease restriction sequence engineered by inverse PCR. The disrupted gene was cloned into a conjugative plasmid and transferred from Escherichia coli to A. actinomycetemcomitans. The allelic replacement mutation resulted in the loss of a 22-kDa inner membrane protein. The loss of this protein (ImpA) resulted in changes in the outer membrane protein composition of the bacterium. Concurrent with the mutation in impA was a change in the pattern of growth of the mutant bacteria in broth cultures. The progenitor bacteria grew as a homogeneous suspension of cells compared to a granular, autoaggregating adherent cell population described for the mutant bacteria. These data suggest that ImpA may play a regulatory role or be directly involved in protein(s) that are exported and associated with colony variations in A. actinomycetemcomitans.