The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa can establish life-long chronic infections in the airways of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Persistent lifestyle is established with P. aeruginosa patho-adaptive variants, which are clonal with the initially-acquired strains. Several reports indicated that P. aeruginosa adapts by loss-of-function mutations which enhance fitness in CF airways and sustain its clonal expansion during chronic infection. To validate this model of P. aeruginosa adaptation to CF airways and to identify novel genes involved in this microevolution, we designed a novel approach of positive-selection screening by PCR-based signature-tagged mutagenesis (Pos-STM) in a murine model of chronic airways infection. A systematic positive-selection scheme using sequential rounds of in vivo screenings for bacterial maintenance, as opposed to elimination, generated a list of genes whose inactivation increased the colonization and persistence in chronic airways infection. The phenotypes associated to these Pos-STM mutations reflect alterations in diverse aspects of P. aeruginosa biology which include lack of swimming and twitching motility, lack of production of the virulence factors such as pyocyanin, biofilm formation, and metabolic functions. In addition, Pos-STM mutants showed altered invasion and stimulation of immune response when tested in human respiratory epithelial cells, indicating that P. aeruginosa is prone to revise the interaction with its host during persistent lifestyle. Finally, sequence analysis of Pos-STM genes in longitudinally P. aeruginosa isolates from CF patients identified signs of patho-adaptive mutations within the genome. This novel Pos-STM approach identified bacterial functions that can have important clinical implications for the persistent lifestyle and disease progression of the airway chronic infection.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa chronic infections cause persistent respiratory symptoms and decline of the lung functions in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Despite the continuous immune response of the host defense and the aggressive antibiotics treatment, bacterial persistence is anyhow established after an acute infection stage. P. aeruginosa establishes a permanent and detrimental relationship with the host by pathogenic variants different from the initially acquired strain. Currently, much is known about the bacterial factors needed for acute infections while the mechanisms involved in the colonization and persistence in chronic airways infection remain mostly unknown. The purpose of this study was to design a novel approach of genomics-based method for in vivo high-throughput screening to directly identify bacterial functions whose inactivation promotes airways long-term chronic infection. These studies may be relevant to the design of future drugs acting against chronic infections.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients undergo remarkable phenotypic divergence over time, including loss of pigmentation, hemolysis, motility, and quorum sensing and emergence of antibiotic hypersusceptibility and/or auxotrophism. With prolonged antibiotic treatment and steady decline in lung function in chronically infected patients, the divergent characteristics associated with CF isolates have traditionally been regarded as “adapted/unusual virulence,” despite the degenerative nature of these adaptations. We examined the phenotypic and genotypic diversity in clonally related isogenic strains of P. aeruginosa from individual CF patients. Our observations support a novel model of intra-airway pseudomonal syntrophy and accompanying loss of virulence. A 2007 calendar year collection of CF P. aeruginosa isolates (n = 525) from 103 CF patients yielded in vitro MICs of sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (SMX-TMP, which typically has no activity against P. aeruginosa) ranging from 0.02 to >32 μg/ml (median, 1.5). Coisolation of clonally related SMX-TMP-susceptible and -resistant P. aeruginosa strains from the same host was common (57%), as were isogenic coisolates with mutations in efflux gene determinants (mexR, mexAB-oprM, and mexZ) and genes governing DNA mismatch repair (mutL and mutS). In this cohort, complete in vitro growth complementation between auxotrophic and prototrophic P. aeruginosa isogenic strains was evident and concurrent with the coding sequence mosaicism in resistance determinants. These observations suggest that syntrophic clonal strains evolve in situ in an organized colonial structure. We propose that P. aeruginosa adopts a multicellular lifestyle in CF patients due to host selection of an energetically favorable, less-virulent microbe restricted within and symbiotic with the airway over the host's lifetime.
The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa chronically infects the lower airways of patients with cystic fibrosis. Throughout the course of infection this organism undergoes adaptations that contribute to its long-term persistence in the airways. While P. aeruginosa diversity has been documented, it is less clear to what extent within-patient diversity contributes to the overall population structure as most studies have been limited to the analysis of only a few isolates per patient per time point. To examine P. aeruginosa population structure in more detail we collected multiple isolates from individual sputum samples of a patient chronically colonized with P. aeruginosa. This strain collection, comprised of 169 clonal isolates and representing three pulmonary exacerbations as well as clinically stable periods, was assayed for a wide selection of phenotypes. These phenotypes included colony morphology, motility, quorum sensing, protease activity, auxotrophy, siderophore levels, antibiotic resistance, and growth profiles. Each phenotype displayed significant variation even within isolates of the same colony morphotype from the same sample. Isolates demonstrated a large degree of individuality across phenotypes, despite being part of a single clonal lineage, suggesting that the P. aeruginosa population in the cystic fibrosis airways is being significantly under-sampled.
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.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that causes both acute pneumonitis in immunocompromised patients and chronic lung infections in individuals with cystic fibrosis and other bronchiectasis. Over 75% of clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa secrete elastase B (LasB), an elastolytic metalloproteinase that is encoded by the lasB gene. Previously, in vitro studies have demonstrated that LasB degrades a number of components in both the innate and adaptive immune systems. These include surfactant proteins, antibacterial peptides, cytokines, chemokines and immunoglobulins. However, the contribution of LasB to lung infection by P. aeruginosa and to inactivation of pulmonary innate immunity in vivo needs more clarification. In this study, we examined the mechanisms underlying enhanced clearance of the ΔlasB mutant in mouse lungs. The ΔlasB mutant was attenuated in virulence when compared to the wild-type strain PAO1 during lung infection in SP-A+/+ mice. However, the ΔlasB mutant was as virulent as PAO1 in the lungs of SP-A-/- mice. Detailed analysis showed that the ΔlasB mutant was more susceptible to SP-A-mediated opsonization but not membrane permeabilization. In vitro and in vivo phagocytosis experiments revealed that SP-A augmented the phagocytosis of ΔlasB mutant bacteria more efficiently than the isogenic wild-type PAO1. The ΔlasB mutant was found to have a severely reduced ability to degrade SP-A, consequently making it unable to evade opsonization by the collectin during phagocytosis. These results suggest that P. aeruginosa LasB protects against SP-A-mediated opsonization by degrading the collectin.
System-level modeling is beginning to be used to decipher high throughput data in the context of disease. In this study, we present an integration of expression microarray data with a genome-scale metabolic reconstruction of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the context of a chronic cystic fibrosis (CF) lung infection. A genome-scale reconstruction of P. aeruginosa metabolism was tailored to represent the metabolic states of two clonally related lineages of P. aeruginosa isolated from the lungs of a CF patient at different points over a 44-month time course, giving a mechanistic glimpse into how the bacterial metabolism adapts over time in the CF lung. Metabolic capacities were analyzed to determine how tradeoffs between growth and other important cellular processes shift during disease progression. Genes whose knockouts were either significantly growth reducing or lethal in silico were also identified for each time point and serve as hypotheses for future drug targeting efforts specific to the stages of disease progression.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a gram-negative opportunistic human pathogen often infecting the lungs of individuals with the heritable disease cystic fibrosis and the peritoneum of individuals undergoing continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis. Often these infections are not caused by colonization with P. aeruginosa alone but instead by a consortium of pathogenic bacteria. Little is known about growth and persistence of P. aeruginosa in vivo, and less is known about the impact of coinfecting bacteria on P. aeruginosa pathogenesis and physiology. In this study, a rat dialysis membrane peritoneal model was used to evaluate the in vivo transcriptome of P. aeruginosa in monoculture and in coculture with Staphylococcus aureus. Monoculture results indicate that approximately 5% of all P. aeruginosa genes are differentially regulated during growth in vivo compared to in vitro controls. Included in this analysis are genes important for iron acquisition and growth in low-oxygen environments. The presence of S. aureus caused decreased transcription of P. aeruginosa iron-regulated genes during in vivo coculture, indicating that the presence of S. aureus increases usable iron for P. aeruginosa in this environment. We propose a model where P. aeruginosa lyses S. aureus and uses released iron for growth in low-iron environments.
The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause acute or chronic infections in humans. Little is known about the initial adaptation of P. aeruginosa to host tissues and the factors that determine whether a P. aeruginosa-epithelial cell interaction will manifest as an acute or a chronic infection. To gain insights into the initial phases of P. aeruginosa infections and to identify P. aeruginosa genes regulated in response to respiratory epithelia we exposed P. aeruginosa to cultured primary differentiated human airway epithelia. We used a P. aeruginosa strain that causes acute damage to the epithelia and a mutant with defects in Type III secretion and in rhamnolipid synthesis. The mutant did not cause rapid damage to epithelia as did the wildtype. We compared the transcriptomes of the P. aeruginosa wildtype and the mutant to each other and to P. aeruginosa grown under other conditions, and we discovered overlapping sets of differentially expressed genes in the wildtype and mutant exposed to epithelia. A recent study reported that exposure of P. aeruginosa to epithelia is characterized by a repression of the bacterial iron-responsive genes. These findings were suggestive of ample iron availability during infection. In contrast, we found that P. aeruginosa shows an iron-starvation response upon exposure to epithelial cells. This observation highlights the importance of the iron starvation response in both acute and chronic infections and suggests opportunities for therapy.
Acute infection; chronic infection; transcriptome; regulatory network
Chronic lung infection with the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the hallmarks of cystic fibrosis (CF) and is associated with worsening lung function, increased hospitalisation and reduced life expectancy. A virulent clonal strain of P. aeruginosa (Australian epidemic strain I; AES-I) has been found to be widespread in CF patients in eastern Australia.
Suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) was employed to identify genetic sequences that are present in the AES-I strain but absent from the sequenced reference strain PAO1. We used PCR to evaluate the distribution of several of the AES-I loci amongst a collection of 188 P. aeruginosa isolates which was comprised of 35 AES-I isolates (as determined by PFGE), 78 non-AES-I CF isolates including other epidemic CF strains as well as 69 P. aeruginosa isolates from other clinical and environmental sources.
We have identified a unique AES-I genetic locus that is present in all 35 AES-I isolates tested and not present in any of the other 153 P. aeruginosa strains examined. We have used this unique AES-I locus to develop a diagnostic PCR and a real-time PCR assay to detect the presence of P. aeruginosa and AES-I in patient sputum samples.
We have developed diagnostic PCR assays that are 100% sensitive and 100% specific for the P. aeruginosa strain AES-I. We have also shown that Whatman FTA® Elute cards may be used with PCR-based assays to rapidly detect the presence of P. aeruginosa strains in CF sputum.
Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) develop chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection with mucoid strains of P. aeruginosa; these infections cause significant morbidity. The immunological response in these infections is characterized by an influx of neutrophils to the lung and subsequent lung damage over time; however, the underlying mediators to this response are not well understood. We recently reported that IL-23 and IL-17 were elevated in the sputum of patients with CF who were actively infected with P. aeruginosa; however, the importance of IL-23 and IL-17 in mediating this inflammation was unclear. To understand the role that IL-23 plays in initiating airway inflammation in response to P. aeruginosa, IL-23p19−/− (IL-23 deficient) and wild-type (WT) mice were challenged with agarose beads containing a clinical, mucoid isolate of P. aeruginosa. Levels of proinflammatory cytokines, chemokines, bacterial dissemination, and inflammatory infiltrates were measured. IL-23-deficient mice had significantly lower induction of IL-17, keratinocyte-derived chemokine (KC), and IL-6, decreased bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) neutrophils, metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), and reduced airway inflammation than WT mice. Despite the reduced level of inflammation in IL-23p19−/− mice, there were no differences in the induction of TNF and interferon-γ or in bacterial dissemination between the two groups. This study demonstrates that IL-23 plays a critical role in generating airway inflammation observed in mucoid P. aeruginosa infection and suggests that IL-23 could be a potential target for immunotherapy to treat airway inflammation in CF.
cytokines; bronchiectasis; neutrophil; CXC chemokine
Cystic fibrosis (CF) patients are hypersusceptible to chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infections. Cultured human airway epithelial cells expressing the ΔF508 allele of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) were defective in uptake of P. aeruginosa compared with cells expressing the wild-type allele. Pseudomonas aeruginosa lipopolysaccharide (LPS)–core oligosaccharide was identified as the bacterial ligand for epithelial cell ingestion; exogenous oligosaccharide inhibited bacterial ingestion in a neonatal mouse model, resulting in increased amounts of bacteria in the lungs. CFTR may contribute to a host-defense mechanism that is important for clearance of P. aeruginosa from the respiratory tract.
Individuals with cystic fibrosis have abbreviated life spans primarily due to chronic airway infection. A limited number of types of organisms are responsible for these infections, with Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa being of primary importance. In the pre-antibiotic era, greater than 90% of deaths due to infection were caused by S. aureus and death usually occurred in the first 2 years of life. With the advent of effective antistaphylococcal therapy, life spans increased and P. aeruginosa became the pathogen of primary importance. P. aeruginosa isolates recovered from patients with cystic fibrosis have a unique phenotypic characteristic referred to as "mucoid." The mucoid phenotype is due to the production of a mucoid exopolysaccharide. A mucoid exopolysaccharide is believed to play a central role in the establishment of chronic pseudomonal lung infection in these patients. A third organism, Pseudomonas cepacia, has recently been detected in the airways of older patients with cystic fibrosis and is associated with increased mortality. The virulence of P. cepacia is not understood, but the organism is extremely refractory to antimicrobial therapy. Other bacteria, including Haemophilus influenzae and members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, appear to play a secondary role in airway infection. Aspergillus fumigatus is the most important fungal agent causing allergic bronchopulmonary disease. The role of viruses has only recently been examined. At least in some patients with cystic fibrosis, respiratory syncytial virus may be important in predisposing to subsequent bacterial infections.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited multi-system disorder characterised by chronic airway infection with pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Acquisition of P. aeruginosa by patients with CF is usually from the environment, but recent studies have demonstrated patient to patient transmission of certain epidemic strains, possibly via an airborne route. This study was designed to examine the survival of P. aeruginosa within artificially generated aerosols.
Survival was effected by the solution used for aerosol generation. Within the aerosols it was adversely affected by an increase in air temperature. Both epidemic and non-epidemic strains of P. aeruginosa were able to survive within the aerosols, but strains expressing a mucoid phenotype had a survival advantage.
This would suggest that segregating individuals free of P. aeruginosa from those with chronic P. aeruginosa infection who are more likely to be infected with mucoid strains may help reduce the risk of cross-infection. Environmental factors also appear to influence bacterial survival. Warming and drying the air within clinical areas and avoidance of humidification devices may also be beneficial in reducing the risk of cross-infection.
The airways of individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF) often become chronically infected with unique strains of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Several lines of evidence suggest that the infecting P. aeruginosa lineage diversifies in the CF lung niche, yet so far this contemporary diversity has not been investigated at a genomic level. In this work, we sequenced the genomes of pairs of randomly selected contemporary isolates sampled from the expectorated sputum of three chronically infected adult CF patients. Each patient was infected by a distinct strain of P. aeruginosa. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and insertions/deletions (indels) were identified in the DNA common to the paired isolates from different patients. The paired isolates from one patient differed due to just 1 SNP and 8 indels. The paired isolates from a second patient differed due to 54 SNPs and 38 indels. The pair of isolates from the third patient both contained a mutS mutation, which conferred a hypermutator phenotype; these isolates cumulatively differed due to 344 SNPs and 93 indels. In two of the pairs of isolates, a different accessory genome composition, specifically integrated prophage, was identified in one but not the other isolate of each pair. We conclude that contemporary isolates from a single sputum sample can differ at the SNP, indel, and accessory genome levels and that the cross-sectional genomic variation among coeval pairs of P. aeruginosa CF isolates can be comparable to the variation previously reported to differentiate between paired longitudinally sampled isolates.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important opportunistic pathogen causing chronic airway infections, especially in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. The majority of the CF patients acquire P. aeruginosa during early childhood, and most of them develop chronic infections resulting in severe lung disease, which are rarely eradicated despite intensive antibiotic therapy. Current knowledge indicates that three major adaptive strategies, biofilm development, phenotypic diversification, and mutator phenotypes [driven by a defective mismatch repair system (MRS)], play important roles in P. aeruginosa chronic infections, but the relationship between these strategies is still poorly understood. We have used the flow-cell biofilm model system to investigate the impact of the mutS associated mutator phenotype on development, dynamics, diversification and adaptation of P. aeruginosa biofilms. Through competition experiments we demonstrate for the first time that P. aeruginosa MRS-deficient mutators had enhanced adaptability over wild-type strains when grown in structured biofilms but not as planktonic cells. This advantage was associated with enhanced micro-colony development and increased rates of phenotypic diversification, evidenced by biofilm architecture features and by a wider range and proportion of morphotypic colony variants, respectively. Additionally, morphotypic variants generated in mutator biofilms showed increased competitiveness, providing further evidence for mutator-driven adaptive evolution in the biofilm mode of growth. This work helps to understand the basis for the specific high proportion and role of mutators in chronic infections, where P. aeruginosa develops in biofilm communities.
Patients suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF) commonly harbor the important pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa in their airways. During chronic late-stage CF, P. aeruginosa is known to grow under reduced oxygen tension and is even capable of respiring anaerobically within the thickened airway mucus, at a pH of ∼6.5. Therefore, proteins involved in anaerobic metabolism represent potentially important targets for therapeutic intervention. In this study, the clinically relevant “anaerobiome” or “proteogenome” of P. aeruginosa was assessed. First, two different proteomic approaches were used to identify proteins differentially expressed under anaerobic versus aerobic conditions. Microarray studies were also performed, and in general, the anaerobic transcriptome was in agreement with the proteomic results. However, we found that a major portion of the most upregulated genes in the presence of NO3− and NO2− are those encoding Pf1 bacteriophage. With anaerobic NO2−, the most downregulated genes are those involved postglycolytically and include many tricarboxylic acid cycle genes and those involved in the electron transport chain, especially those encoding the NADH dehydrogenase I complex. Finally, a signature-tagged mutagenesis library of P. aeruginosa was constructed to further screen genes required for both NO3− and NO2− respiration. In addition to genes anticipated to play important roles in the anaerobiome (anr, dnr, nar, nir, and nuo), the cysG and dksA genes were found to be required for both anaerobic NO3− and NO2− respiration. This study represents a major step in unraveling the molecular machinery involved in anaerobic NO3− and NO2− respiration and offers clues as to how we might disrupt such pathways in P. aeruginosa to limit the growth of this important CF pathogen when it is either limited or completely restricted in its oxygen supply.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is especially adept at colonizing the airways of individuals afflicted with the autosomal recessive disease cystic fibrosis (CF). CF patients suffer from chronic airway inflammation, which contributes to lung deterioration. Once established in the airways, P. aeruginosa continuously adapts to the changing environment, in part through acquisition of beneficial mutations via a process termed pathoadaptation. MutS and DinB are proposed to play opposing roles in P. aeruginosa pathoadaptation: MutS acts in replication-coupled mismatch repair, which acts to limit spontaneous mutations; in contrast, DinB (DNA polymerase IV) catalyzes error-prone bypass of DNA lesions, contributing to mutations. As part of an ongoing effort to understand mechanisms underlying P. aeruginosa pathoadaptation, we characterized hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced phenotypes of isogenic P. aeruginosa strains bearing different combinations of mutS and dinB alleles. Our results demonstrate an unexpected epistatic relationship between mutS and dinB with respect to H2O2-induced cell killing involving error-prone repair and/or tolerance of oxidized DNA lesions. In striking contrast to these error-prone roles, both MutS and DinB played largely accurate roles in coping with DNA lesions induced by ultraviolet light, mitomycin C, or 4-nitroquinilone 1-oxide. Models discussing roles for MutS and DinB functionality in DNA damage-induced mutagenesis, particularly during CF airway colonization and subsequent P. aeruginosa pathoadaptation are discussed.
The dominant cause of premature death in patients suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF) is chronic lung infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The chronic lung infection often lasts for decades with just one clone. However, as a result of inflammation, antibiotic treatment and different niches in the lungs, the clone undergoes significant genetic changes, resulting in diversifying geno- and phenotypes. Such an adaptation may generate different host responses. To experimentally reflect the year-long chronic lung infection in CF, groups of BALB/c mice were infected with clonal isolates from different periods (1980, 1988, 1997, 1999 and 2003) of the chronic lung infection of one CF patient using the seaweed alginate embedment model. The results showed that the non-mucoid clones reduced their virulence over time, resulting in faster clearing of the bacteria from the lungs, improved pathology and reduced pulmonary production of macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2) and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF). In contrast, the mucoid clones were more virulent and virulence increased with time, resulting in impaired pulmonary clearing of the latest clone, severe inflammation and increased pulmonary MIP-2 and G-CSF production. In conclusion, adaptation of P. aeruginosa in CF is reflected by changed ability to establish lung infection and results in distinct host responses to mucoid and non-mucoid phenotypes.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; cystic fibrosis; adaptation; chronic lung infection; host response
The opportunistic bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes chronic respiratory infections in cystic fibrosis and immunocompromised individuals. Bacterial adherence to the basolateral domain of the host cells and internalization are thought to participate in P. aeruginosa pathogenicity. However, the mechanism by which the pathogen initially modulates the paracellular permeability of polarized respiratory epithelia remains to be understood. To investigate this mechanism, we have searched for virulence factors secreted by P. aeruginosa that affect the structure of human airway epithelium in the early stages of infection. We have found that only bacterial strains secreting rhamnolipids were efficient in modulating the barrier function of an in vitro-reconstituted human respiratory epithelium, irrespective of their release of elastase and lipopolysaccharide. In contrast to previous reports, we document that P. aeruginosa was not internalized by epithelial cells. We further report that purified rhamnolipids, applied on the surfaces of the epithelia, were sufficient to functionally disrupt the epithelia and to promote the paracellular invasion of rhamnolipid-deficient P. aeruginosa. The mechanism involves the incorporation of rhamnolipids within the host cell membrane, leading to tight-junction alterations. The study provides direct evidence for a hitherto unknown mechanism whereby the junction-dependent barrier of the respiratory epithelium is selectively altered by rhamnolipids.
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.
The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes a variety of infections in immunocompromised individuals, including individuals with the heritable disease cystic fibrosis. Like the carbon sources metabolized by many disease-causing bacteria, the carbon sources metabolized by P. aeruginosa at the host infection site are unknown. We recently reported that l-alanine is a preferred carbon source for P. aeruginosa and that two genes potentially involved in alanine catabolism (dadA and dadX) are induced during in vivo growth in the rat peritoneum and during in vitro growth in sputum (mucus) collected from the lungs of individuals with cystic fibrosis. The goals of this study were to characterize factors required for alanine catabolism in P. aeruginosa and to assess the importance of these factors for in vivo growth. Our results reveal that dadA and dadX are arranged in an operon and are required for catabolism of l-alanine. The dad operon is inducible by l-alanine, d-alanine, and l-valine, and induction is dependent on the transcriptional regulator Lrp. Finally, we show that a mutant unable to catabolize dl-alanine displays decreased competitiveness in a rat lung model of infection.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa airway infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with cystic fibrosis. Treatment of established infections is difficult, even with microbiologically active agents. Thus, prevention of infection is an important goal of management. Isolates from cystic fibrosis patients appear to originate from the environment but adapt to the milieu of the airway of the cystic fibrosis patient and evolve toward a common phenotype. Identification of the antigens expressed early in infection may lead to novel targets for vaccine development. Immunogenic peptides were identified in a J404 random nonapeptide phage display library with serum from cystic fibrosis patients obtained within the first year of P. aeruginosa infection. One hundred sixty-five reactive clones were verified by plaque lift assays, and their inserts were sequenced. The sequenced nonapeptides were compared with the published sequence of strain PAO1, identifying homologies to 76 genes encoding outer membrane and secreted proteins. The majority of these were proteins involved in small-molecule transport, membrane structural proteins, and secreted factors. An in silico analysis was performed that suggested that the occurrence of multiple matches to predominantly outer membrane and secreted proteins was not attributable to random chance. Finally, gene expression array data from early isolates of P. aeruginosa from cystic fibrosis patients was compared with the results from phage display analysis. Eleven outer membrane and secreted proteins were common between the two data sets. These included genes involved in iron acquisition, antibiotic efflux, fimbrial biogenesis, and pyocin synthesis. These results demonstrate the feasibility and validity of this novel approach and suggest potential targets for future development.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease features persistent neutrophil accumulation to the airways from the time of infancy. CF children are frequently exposed to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and by adulthood, 80% of CF patients are chronically infected. The formation of biofilms is a particularly important phenotypic characteristic of P. aeruginosa that allows for bacterial survival despite aggressive antibiotic therapy and an exuberant immune response. Here, we show that the presence of neutrophils enhances initial P. aeruginosa biofilm development over a period of 72 h through the formation of polymers comprised of actin and DNA. F-actin was found to be a site of attachment for P. aeruginosa. These actin and DNA polymers are present in CF sputum, and disruption of the polymers dispersed the associated P. aeruginosa cells and reduced biofilm development. These findings demonstrate a potential maladaptation of the primary innate response. When the host fails to eradicate the infection, cellular components from necrotic neutrophils can serve as a biological matrix to facilitate P. aeruginosa biofilm formation.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen, causes acute pneumonia in patients with hospital-acquired infections and is commonly associated with chronic lung disease in individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). Evidence suggests that the pathophysiological effects of P. aeruginosa are mediated in part by virulence factors secreted by the bacterium. Among these factors is pyocyanin, a redox active compound that increases intracellular oxidant stress. We find that pyocyanin increases release of interleukin-8 (IL-8) by both normal and CF airway epithelial cell lines and by primary airway epithelial cells. Moreover, pyocyanin synergizes with the inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor alpha and IL-1α. RNase protection assays indicate that increased IL-8 release is accompanied by increased levels of IL-8 mRNA. The antioxidant n-acetyl cysteine, general inhibitors of protein tyrosine kinases, and specific inhibitors of mitogen-activated protein kinases diminish pyocyanin-dependent increases in IL-8 release. Conversely, inhibitors of protein kinases C (PKC) and PKA have no effect. In contrast to its effects on IL-8 expression, pyocyanin inhibits cytokine-dependent expression of the monocyte/macrophage/T-cell chemokine RANTES. Increased release of IL-8, a potent neutrophil chemoattractant, in response to pyocyanin could contribute to the marked infiltration of neutrophils and subsequent neutrophil-mediated tissue damage that are observed in Pseudomonas-associated lung disease.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important opportunistic pathogen that can cause chronic and often life-threatening infections of the respiratory tract, particularly in individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). Because infections with P. aeruginosa remain the major cause of the high morbidity and mortality of CF, a vaccine against P. aeruginosa would be very useful for preventing this disorder. The outer membrane protein F (OprF) of P. aeruginosa is a promising vaccine candidate and various B cell epitopes within OprF have been identified. Given that adenovirus (Ad) vectors have strong immunogenic potential and can function as adjuvants for genetic vaccines, the present study evaluates the immunogenic and protective properties of a novel replication-deficient Ad vector in which the Ad hexon protein was modified to include a 14–amino acid epitope of P. aeruginosa OprF (Epi8) in loop 1 of the hypervariable region 5 of the hexon (AdZ.Epi8). Immunization of C57BL/6 mice with AdZ.Epi8 resulted in detectable serum anti–P. aeruginosa and anti-OprF humoral responses. These responses were haplotype dependent, with higher serum anti-OprF titers in CBA mice than in BALB/c or C57BL/6 mice. AdZ.Epi8 induced Epi8-specific IFN-γ–positive CD4 and CD8 T cell responses and resulted in protection against a lethal pulmonary challenge with agar-encapsulated P. aeruginosa. Importantly, repeated administration of AdZ.Epi8 resulted in boosting of the anti-OprF humoral and anti-Epi8 cellular response, whereas no boosting effect was present in the response against the transgene β-galactosidase. These observations suggest that Ad vectors expressing pathogen epitopes in their capsid will protect against an extracellular pathogen and will allow boosting of the epitope-specific humoral response with repeated administration, a strategy that should prove useful in developing Ad vectors as vaccines where humoral immunity will be protective.