Within the same human gastrointestinal tract, substantial differences in the bacterial species that inhabit oral cavity and intestinal tract have been noted. Previous research primarily attributed the differences to the influences of host environments and nutritional availabilities (“host habitat” effect). Our recent study indicated that, other than the host habitat effect, an existing microbial community could impose a selective pressure on incoming foreign bacterial species independent of host-mediated selection (“community selection” effect). In this study, we employed in vitro microbial floras representing microorganisms that inhabit the oral cavities and intestinal tract of mice in combination with Escherichia coli as a model intestinal bacterium and demonstrated that E. coli displays a striking community preference. It thrived when introduced into the intestinal microbial community and survived poorly in the microbial flora of foreign origin (oral community). A more detailed examination of this phenomenon showed that the oral community produced oxygen-free radicals in the presence of wild-type E. coli while mutants deficient in lipopolysaccharides (LPS) did not trigger significant production of these cell-damaging agents. Furthermore, mutants of E. coli defective in the oxidative stress response experienced a more drastic reduction in viability when cocultivated with the oral flora, while the exogenous addition of the antioxidant vitamin C was able to rescue it. We concluded that the oral-derived microbial community senses the E. coli LPS and kills the bacterium with oxygen-free radicals. This study reveals a new mechanism of community invasion resistance employed by established microflora to defend their domains.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00248-010-9708-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to trillions of microbes. Within the same GI tract substantial differences in the bacterial species that inhabit the oral cavity and intestinal tract have been noted. While the influence of host environments and nutritional availability in shaping different microbial communities is widely accepted, we hypothesize that the existing microbial flora also plays a role in selecting the bacterial species that are being integrated into the community. In this study, we used cultivable microbial communities isolated from different parts of the GI tract of mice (oral cavity and intestines) as a model system to examine this hypothesis. Microbes from these two areas were harvested and cultured using the same nutritional conditions, which led to two distinct microbial communities, each with about 20 different species as revealed by PCR-DGGE analysis. In vitro community competition assays showed that the two microbial floras exhibited antagonistic interactions towards each other. More interestingly, all the original isolates tested and their closely related species displayed striking community preferences: they persisted when introduced into the bacterial community of the same origin, while their viable count declined more than 3 orders of magnitude after 4 days of coincubation with the microbial flora of foreign origin. These results suggest that an existing microbial community might impose a selective pressure on incoming foreign bacterial species independent of host selection. The observed inter-flora interactions could contribute to the protective effect of established microbial communities against the integration of foreign bacteria to maintain the stability of the existing communities.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to trillions of microbes. Within the same GI tract, substantial differences in the bacterial species that inhabit the oral cavity and intestinal tract have been noted. While the influence of host environments and nutritional availability in shaping different microbial communities is widely accepted, we hypothesize that the existing microbial flora also plays a role in selecting the bacterial species that are being integrated into the community. In this study, we used cultivable microbial communities isolated from different parts of the GI tract of mice (oral cavity and intestines) as a model system to examine this hypothesis. Microbes from these two areas were harvested and cultured using the same nutritional conditions, which led to two distinct microbial communities, each with about 20 different species as revealed by PCR-based denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis. In vitro community competition assays showed that the two microbial floras exhibited antagonistic interactions toward each other. More interestingly, all the original isolates tested and their closely related species displayed striking community preferences: They persisted when introduced into the bacterial community of the same origin, while their viable count declined more than three orders of magnitude after 4 days of coincubation with the microbial flora of foreign origin. These results suggest that an existing microbial community might impose a selective pressure on incoming foreign bacterial species independent of host selection. The observed inter-flora interactions could contribute to the protective effect of established microbial communities against the integration of foreign bacteria to maintain the stability of the existing communities.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00248-010-9711-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
As part of the human gastrointestinal tract, the oral cavity represents a complex biological system and harbors diverse bacterial species. Unlike the gut microbiota which is often considered a health asset, studies of the oral commensal microbial flora have been largely limited to their implication in oral diseases such as dental caries and periodontal diseases; Little emphasis has been given to their potential beneficial roles, especially the protective effects against oral colonization by foreign/pathogenic bacteria. In this study, we used the salivary microbiota derived from healthy human subjects to investigate protective effects against the colonization and integration of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic bacterial pathogen, into developing and pre-formed salivary biofilms. When co-cultivated in saliva medium, P. aeruginosa persisted in the planktonic phase, but failed to integrate into salivary microbial community during biofilm formation. Furthermore, in the saliva medium supplemented with 0.05% (w/v) sucrose, the oral flora inhibited the growth of P. aeruginosa by producing lactic acid. More interestingly, while pre-formed salivary biofilms were able to prevent P. aeruginosa colonization, the same biofilms recovered from mild chlorhexidine gluconate treatment displayed a shift in microbial composition and showed a drastic reduction in protection. Our study indicates that normal oral communities with balanced microbial compositions could be important in effectively preventing the integration of foreign/pathogenic bacterial species, such as P. aeruginosa.
bacterial interference; microbial flora; oral cavity; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; salivary biofilm
Summary: Microbial evolution and subsequent species diversification enable bacterial organisms to perform common biological processes by a variety of means. The epsilonproteobacteria are a diverse class of prokaryotes that thrive in diverse habitats. Many of these environmental niches are labeled as extreme, whereas other niches include various sites within human, animal, and insect hosts. Some epsilonproteobacteria, such as Campylobacter jejuni and Helicobacter pylori, are common pathogens of humans that inhabit specific regions of the gastrointestinal tract. As such, the biological processes of pathogenic Campylobacter and Helicobacter spp. are often modeled after those of common enteric pathogens such as Salmonella spp. and Escherichia coli. While many exquisite biological mechanisms involving biochemical processes, genetic regulatory pathways, and pathogenesis of disease have been elucidated from studies of Salmonella spp. and E. coli, these paradigms often do not apply to the same processes in the epsilonproteobacteria. Instead, these bacteria often display extensive variation in common biological mechanisms relative to those of other prototypical bacteria. In this review, five biological processes of commonly studied model bacterial species are compared to those of the epsilonproteobacteria C. jejuni and H. pylori. Distinct differences in the processes of flagellar biosynthesis, DNA uptake and recombination, iron homeostasis, interaction with epithelial cells, and protein glycosylation are highlighted. Collectively, these studies support a broader view of the vast repertoire of biological mechanisms employed by bacteria and suggest that future studies of the epsilonproteobacteria will continue to provide novel and interesting information regarding prokaryotic cellular biology.
The effect of oral administration of antibiotics on the intestinal flora of conventional mice and their resistance to colonization by orally introduced Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa was studied. Colonization resistance (CR) was expressed as the log of the oral bacterial dose followed by a persistent take in 50% of the contaminated animals. The intestinal flora was virtually eliminated by the antibiotics and this elimination was accompanied by a precipitous fall of CR. CR gradually returned to normal values during the period of repopulation of the intestinal tract by the organisms surviving the treatment. Antibiotic treatment resulted in the disappearance of Enterobacteriaceae, enterococci, staphylococci and yeasts and, under appropriate housing conditions, the animals remained free of these organisms indefinitely. Germ-free mice contaminated with the intestinal flora of an antibiotic-treated animal and their offspring housed in a germ-free isolator showed high values of CR. Their intestinal flora consisted of anaerobic bacteria only. Apparently, these anaerobes are responsible for CR in these and in conventional mice.
The majority of animal associated microorganisms are present in digestive tract communities. These intestinal communities arise from selective pressures of the gut habitats as well as host's genotype are regarded as an extra ‘organ’ regulate functions that have not evolved wholly on the host. They are functionally essential in providing nourishment, regulating epithelial development, and influencing immunity in the vertebrate host. As vertebrates are born free of microorganisms, what is poorly understood is how intestinal bacterial communities assemble and develop in conjunction with the development of the host.
Set within an ecological framework, we investigated the bacterial community assembly and turnover within the intestinal habitats of developing zebrafish (from larvae to adult animals). Spatial and temporal species-richness relationships and Mantel and partial Mantel tests revealed that turnover was low and that richness and composition was best predicted by time and not intestinal volume (habitat size) or changes in food diet. We also observed that bacterial communities within the zebrafish intestines were deterministically assembled (reflected by the observed low turnover) switching to stochastic assembly in the later stages of zebrafish development.
This study is of importance as it provides a novel insight into how intestinal bacterial communities assemble in tandem with the host's development (from early to adult stages). It is our hope that by studying intestinal microbiota of this vertebrate model with such or some more refined approaches in the future could well provide ecological insights for clinical benefit. In addition, this study also adds to our still fledgling knowledge of how spatial and temporal species-richness relationships are shaped and provides further mounting evidence that bacterial community assembly and dynamics are shaped by both deterministic and stochastic considerations.
Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 is responsible for worldwide outbreaks of bloody diarrhea, hemorrhagic colitis, and life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome. After colonizing the large intestine, EHEC forms attaching and effacing (AE) lesions on intestinal epithelial cells. These lesions cause destruction of the microvilli and elicit actin rearrangement to form pedestals that cup each bacterium individually. EHEC responds to a signal produced by the intestinal microbial flora, autoinducer-3 (AI-3), and the host hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine to activate transcription of the genes involved in AE lesion formation. These three signals, involved in interkingdom communication, are sensed by bacterial sensor kinases. Here we describe a novel two-component system, QseEF (quorum-sensing E. coli regulators E and F), which is part of the AI-3/epinephrine/norepinephrine signaling system. QseE is the sensor kinase and QseF the response regulator. The qseEF genes are cotranscribed, and transcription of qseEF is activated by epinephrine through the QseC sensor. A qseF mutant does not form AE lesions. QseF activates transcription of the gene encoding EspFu, an effector protein translocated to the host cell by the EHEC, which mimics a eukaryotic SH2/SH3 adapter protein to engender actin polymerization during pedestal formation. Expression of the espFu gene from a plasmid restored AE lesion formation to the qseF mutant, suggesting that lack of espFu expression in this mutant was responsible for the loss of pedestal formation. These findings suggest the QseEF is a two-component system involved in the regulation of AE lesion formation by EHEC.
It is thought that the normal enteric microflora acts not only to prevent intestinal colonization but also to prevent subsequent systemic dissemination of ingested, potentially pathogenic bacteria. To determine the relative roles of specific components of the intestinal bacterial flora in bacterial translocation out of the gut, mice were given various antimicrobial agents to selectively eliminate specific groups of intestinal bacteria. The cecal flora and the translocating bacteria in mesenteric lymph nodes were monitored both before and after oral inoculation with antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli C25. Orally administered streptomycin selectively eliminated cecal facultative gram-negative bacilli, orally administered bacitracin-streptomycin eliminated all cecal bacterial species except low numbers of aerobic sporeformers, and parenterally administered metronidazole selectively eliminated cecal anaerobic bacteria. Compared with control mice, only metronidazole-treated mice had significantly increased rates of dissemination of intestinal bacteria into mesenteric lymph nodes, indicating that the exclusive absence of anaerobic bacteria facilitated the translocation of the intestinal facultative bacteria. In a parallel experiment with streptomycin-resistant E. coli C25 as a marker, parallel results were obtained. Metronidazole increased the translocation of the marker strain and the indigenous strains of intestinal bacteria. Thus, anaerobes appeared to play a key role in confining indigenous bacteria to the gut. However, intestinal colonization and translocation of E. coli C25 occurred most readily after bacitracin-streptomycin treatment, suggesting that in addition to anaerobic bacteria, other bacterial groups may play a role in limiting the intestinal colonization and extraintestinal dissemination of E. coli C25.
Interactions between colonizing commensal microorganisms and their hosts play important roles in health and disease. The opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans is a common component of human intestinal flora. To gain insight into C. albicans colonization, genes expressed by fungi grown within a host were studied. The EFH1 gene, encoding a putative transcription factor, was highly expressed during growth of C. albicans in the intestinal tract. Counterintuitively, an efh1 null mutant exhibited increased colonization of the murine intestinal tract, a model of commensal colonization, whereas an EFH1 overexpressing strain exhibited reduced colonization of the intestinal tract and of the oral cavity of athymic mice, the latter situation modeling human mucosal candidiasis. When inoculated into the bloodstream of mice, both efh1 null and EFH1 overexpressing strains caused lethal infections. In contrast, other mutants are attenuated in virulence following intravenous inoculation but exhibited normal levels of intestinal colonization. Finally, although expression of several genes is dependent on transcription factor Efg1p during laboratory growth, Efg1p-independent expression of these genes was observed during growth within the murine intestinal tract. These results show that expression of EFH1 regulated the level of colonizing fungi, favoring commensalism as opposed to candidiasis. Also, different genes are required in different host niches and the pathway(s) that regulates gene expression during host colonization can differ from well-characterized pathways used during laboratory growth.
Although the fungus Candida albicans commonly colonizes the human gastrointestinal tract as a commensal, the organism is also an opportunistic pathogen, responsible for a wide range of infections in immunocompromised persons. While numerous studies of infection have been conducted, few studies have analyzed the commensal state. The studies described here analyze C. albicans cells colonizing the intestinal tract of immunocompetent mice in the absence of disease, a model for commensalism. Results showed that expression of the putative transcription factor Efh1p by cells colonizing the intestinal tract was relatively high, but paradoxically, expression of Efh1p was associated with lower colonization. Efh1p had no detectable effect on the ability of C. albicans to cause lethal disseminated infection in mice. In contrast, Rbt1p and Rbt4p, two proteins of poorly defined function required for normal disseminated infection, were not required for intestinal colonization. These results argue that the commensal state is distinct from the pathogenic state and that different factors are important in different states. Also, the regulation of expression of genes RBT1, RBT4, and ECE1 during intestinal colonization differed from their well-characterized regulation during laboratory growth. Further studies of commensal colonization are needed to understand this important stage of C. albicans biology.
Rationale: Defining the biogeography of bacterial populations in human body habitats is a high priority for understanding microbial–host relationships in health and disease. The healthy lung was traditionally considered sterile, but this notion has been challenged by emerging molecular approaches that enable comprehensive examination of microbial communities. However, studies of the lung are challenging due to difficulties in working with low biomass samples.
Objectives: Our goal was to use molecular methods to define the bacterial microbiota present in the lungs of healthy individuals and assess its relationship to upper airway populations.
Methods: We sampled respiratory flora intensively at multiple sites in six healthy individuals. The upper tract was sampled by oral wash and oro-/nasopharyngeal swabs. Two bronchoscopes were used to collect samples up to the glottis, followed by serial bronchoalveolar lavage and lower airway protected brush. Bacterial abundance and composition were analyzed by 16S rDNA Q-PCR and deep sequencing.
Measurements and Main Results: Bacterial communities from the lung displayed composition indistinguishable from the upper airways, but were 2 to 4 logs lower in biomass. Lung-specific sequences were rare and not shared among individuals. There was no unique lung microbiome.
Conclusions: In contrast to other organ systems, the respiratory tract harbors a homogenous microbiota that decreases in biomass from upper to lower tract. The healthy lung does not contain a consistent distinct microbiome, but instead contains low levels of bacterial sequences largely indistinguishable from upper respiratory flora. These findings establish baseline data for healthy subjects and sampling approaches for sequence-based analysis of diseases.
healthy lung colonization; microbiome; 16S rDNA; pyrosequencing
Streptococcus mutans has been implicated as the major acid-producing (cariogenic) bacterium. Dietary sugars and other factors may cause an imbalance of oral microflora that enables S. mutans to become dominant in the multi-species biofilms on the tooth surface, which could lead to dental caries. The application of broad-spectrum antimicrobials often results in re-colonization and re-dominance of S. mutans within oral flora, while in contrast, therapies capable of selective elimination of S. mutans from oral microbial communities may help to re-establish the normal flora and provide long-term protection. C16G2, a novel synthetic antimicrobial peptide with specificity for S. mutans, was found to have robust killing efficacy and selectivity for S. mutans in vitro. A subsequent pilot human study found that a single application of C16G2 in the oral cavity (formulated in a mouthrinse vehicle) was associated with a reduction in plaque and salivary S. mutans, lactic acid production, and enamel demineralization during the entire 4-day testing period. C16G2 is now being developed as a new anticaries drug.
microbial ecology; microbiology; microbial genetics; caries; dental biofilm; microbiota
Bacterial pathogens must be able to both recognize suitable niches within the host for colonization and successfully compete with commensal flora for nutrients in order to establish infection. Ethanolamine (EA) is a major component of mammalian and bacterial membranes and is used by pathogens as a carbon and/or nitrogen source in the gastrointestinal tract. The deadly human pathogen enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 (EHEC) uses EA in the intestine as a nitrogen source as a competitive advantage for colonization over the microbial flora. Here we show that EA is not only important for nitrogen metabolism but that it is also used as a signaling molecule in cell-to-cell signaling to activate virulence gene expression in EHEC. EA in concentrations that cannot promote growth as a nitrogen source can activate expression of EHEC’s repertoire of virulence genes. The EutR transcription factor, known to be the receptor of EA, is only partially responsible for this regulation, suggesting that yet another EA receptor exists. This important link of EA with metabolism, cell-to-cell signaling, and pathogenesis, highlights the fact that a fundamental means of communication within microbial communities relies on energy production and processing of metabolites. Here we show for the first time that bacterial pathogens not only exploit EA as a metabolite but also coopt EA as a signaling molecule to recognize the gastrointestinal environment and promote virulence expression.
In order to successfully cause disease, a pathogen must be able to sense a host environment and modulate expression of its virulence genes as well as compete with the indigenous microbiota for nutrients. Ethanolamine (EA) is present in the large intestine due to the turnover of intestinal cells. Here, we show that the human pathogen Escherichia coli O157:H7, which causes bloody diarrhea and hemolytic-uremic syndrome, regulates virulence gene expression through EA metabolism and by responding to EA as a signal. These findings provide the first information directly linking EA with bacterial pathogenesis.
Lateral gene transfer (LGT) appears to promote genotypic and phenotypic variation in microbial communities in a range of environments, including the mammalian intestine. However, the extent and mechanisms of LGT in intestinal microbial communities of non-mammalian hosts remains poorly understood.
We sequenced two fosmid inserts obtained from a genomic DNA library derived from an agar-degrading enrichment culture of marine iguana fecal material. The inserts harbored 16S rRNA genes that place the organism from which they originated within Clostridium cluster IV, a well documented group that habitats the mammalian intestinal tract. However, sequence analysis indicates that 52% of the protein-coding genes on the fosmids have top BLASTX hits to bacterial species that are not members of Clostridium cluster IV, and phylogenetic analysis suggests that at least 10 of 44 coding genes on the fosmids may have been transferred from Clostridium cluster XIVa to cluster IV. The fosmids encoded four transposase-encoding genes and an integrase-encoding gene, suggesting their involvement in LGT. In addition, several coding genes likely involved in sugar transport were probably acquired through LGT.
Our phylogenetic evidence suggests that LGT may be common among phylogenetically distinct members of the phylum Firmicutes inhabiting the intestinal tract of marine iguanas.
The microbial communities that reside within the intestinal tract in vertebrates are complex and dynamic. In this report, we establish the utility of Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system for identifying the factors that contribute to bacterial persistence and for host control of gut luminal populations. We found that for N2 worms grown on mixed lawns of bacteria, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium substantially outcompeted Escherichia coli, even when E. coli was initially present at 100-fold-higher concentrations. To address whether innate immunity affects the competition, the daf-2 and daf-16 mutants were studied; their total gut bacterial levels reflect overall capacity for colonization, but Salmonella outcompeted E. coli to an extent similar to wild-type worms. To address the role of virulence properties, Salmonella Δspi-1 Δspi-2 was used to compete with E. coli. The net differential was significantly less than that for wild-type Salmonella; thus, spi-1 spi-2 encodes C. elegans colonization factors. An E. coli strain with repeated in vivo passage had an enhanced ability to compete against an in vitro-passed E. coli strain and against Salmonella. Our data provide evidence of active competition for colonization niches in the C. elegans gut, as determined by bacterial factors and subject to in vivo selection.
Intestinal microbiota comprises microbial communities that reside in the gastrointestinal tract and are critical to normal host physiology. Understanding the microbiota's role in host response to invading pathogens will further advance our knowledge of host-microbe interactions. Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium was used as a model enteric pathogen to investigate the effect of intestinal microbiota perturbation on host susceptibility to infection. Antibiotics were used to perturb the intestinal microbiota. C57BL/6 mice were treated with clinically relevant doses of streptomycin and vancomycin in drinking water for 2 days, followed by oral infection with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Alterations in microbiota composition and numbers were evaluated by fluorescent in situ hybridization, differential plating, and Sybr green staining. Antibiotics had a dose-dependent effect on intestinal microbiota composition. The chosen antibiotic regimen did not significantly alter the total numbers of intestinal bacteria but altered the microbiota composition. Greater preinfection perturbations in the microbiota resulted in increased mouse susceptibility to Salmonella serovar Typhimurium intestinal colonization, greater postinfection alterations in the microbiota, and more severe intestinal pathology. These results suggest that antibiotic treatment alters the balance of the microbial community, which predisposes the host to Salmonella serovar Typhimurium infection, demonstrating the importance of a healthy microbiota in host response to enteric pathogens.
The gastrointestinal tract of mammals is inhabited by hundreds of distinct species of commensal microorganisms that exist in a mutualistic relationship with the host. How commensal microbiota influence the host immune system is poorly understood. We show here that colonization of the small intestine of mice with a single commensal microbe, segmented filamentous bacterium (SFB), is sufficient to induce the appearance of CD4+ T helper cells that produce IL-17 and IL-22 (Th17 cells) in the lamina propria. SFB adhere tightly to the surface of epithelial cells in the terminal ileum of mice with Th17 cells but are absent from mice that have few Th17 cells. Colonization with SFB was correlated with increased expression of genes associated with inflammation and anti-microbial defenses, and resulted in enhanced resistance to the intestinal pathogen Citrobacter rodentium. Thus, manipulation of this commensalregulated pathway may provide new opportunities for enhancing mucosal immunity and treating autoimmune disease.
The oral cavity harbors a diverse and complex microbial community. Bacteria accumulate on both the hard and soft oral tissues in sessile biofilms and engage the host in an intricate cellular dialog, which normally constrains the bacteria to a state of commensal harmony. Dendritic cells (DCs) are likely to balance tolerance and active immunity to commensal microorganisms as part of chronic inflammatory responses. While the role played by DCs in maintaining intestinal homeostasis has been investigated extensively, relatively little is known about DC responses to oral bacteria.
In this study, we pulsed human monocyte-derived immature DCs (iDCs) with cell wall extracts from pathogenic and commensal gram-positive or gram-negative oral bacteria.
Although all bacterial extracts tested induced iDCs to mature and produce cytokines/chemokines including interleukin-12p40, tumor necrosis factor-α, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), the most important factor for programming DCs by oral bacteria was whether they were gram-positive or gram-negative, not whether they were commensal or pathogenic. In general, gram-negative oral bacteria, except for periodontopathic Porphyromonas gingivalis, stimulated DC maturation and cytokine production at lower concentrations than gram-positive oral bacteria. The threshold of bacteria needed to stimulate chemokine production was 100-fold to 1000-fold lower than that needed to induce cytokines. In addition, very low doses of oral commensal bacteria triggered monocytes to migrate toward DC-derived MCP-1.
Oral commensal and pathogenic bacteria do not differ qualitatively in how they program DCs. DC-derived MCP-1 induced in response to oral commensal bacteria may play a role, at least in part, in the maintenance of oral tissue integrity by attracting monocytes.
commensal bacteria; dendritic cells; MCP-1
Microbial colonization of the digestive tract is a crucial event in vertebrate development, required for maturation of host immunity and establishment of normal digestive physiology. Advances in genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic technologies are providing a more detailed picture of the constituents of the intestinal habitat, but these approaches lack the spatial and temporal resolution needed to characterize the assembly and dynamics of microbial communities in this complex environment. We report the use of light sheet microscopy to provide high resolution imaging of bacterial colonization of the zebrafish intestine. The methodology allows us to characterize bacterial population dynamics across the entire organ and the behaviors of individual bacterial and host cells throughout the colonization process. The large four-dimensional datasets generated by these imaging approaches require new strategies for image analysis. When integrated with other “omics” datasets, information about the spatial and temporal dynamics of microbial cells within the vertebrate intestine will provide new mechanistic insights into how microbial communities assemble and function within hosts.
light sheet microscopy; microbiota; zebrafish; intestine; in vivo imaging; symbiosis
Scanning electron microscopy, light microscopy, and quantitative culture of microorganisms in intestinal contents were used to determine the effects of oral tetracycline, the bacterial flora of conventionally reared animals (conventional), and thymus-dependent immune competency on the capacity of Candida albicans to colonize and infect the gastrointestinal tract of four groups of mice: thymus-intact conventional mice, conventional athymic mice, flora-defined athymic mice, and thymus-intact bacteria-free mice. Thymus-intact conventional mice without antibiotic treatment began to shed C. albicans less than 48 h after oral yeast challenge and were devoid of detectable yeast by day 16. Tetracycline altered the bacterial flora qualitatively and quantitatively, allowing C. albicans to colonize in less than 48 h and to persist in the gut tract for 32 days. Only 2 of 72 of these conventional mice developed candidiasis (hyphal infection). Although tetracycline altered the bacterial flora of conventional athymic (nude) mice, it was not required to allow C. albicans to colonize their gut tract to levels significantly higher than those in thymus-intact conventional mice. All conventional nude mice were consistently colonized and 14 of 24 animals showed an increased yeast colonization of the keratinized stomach, but only 3 of 24 developed gastric candidiasis. Flora-defined athymic (nude) mice had significantly lower aerobic bacterial levels and significantly higher C. albicans levels in the gut contents than conventional athymic mice. The flora-defined nude mice, however, developed gastric candidiasis by day 5. Thymus-intact bacteria-free mice were uniformly colonized and infected with C. albicans less than 48 h after oral challenge regardless of tetracycline treatment. Populations of C. albicans in the gut of bacteria-free mice were significantly higher than in the gut tract of the thymus-intact conventional or athymic mice. Gastric mycelial infection was detected in 8 of 10 bacteria-free animals 2 days after oral challenge. By 32 days, 45 of 50 mice of both tetracycline-treated and control bacteria-free groups were infected with C. albicans. These data indicate that a competive bacteria flora is more effective than an intact immune system in preventing gastric candidiasis and that an immune deficiency may allow increased yeast colonization of the keratinized and glandular stomach epithelium. Tetracycline did not appear to enhance the invasiveness or pathogenicity of C. albicans in mice even though it facilitates yeast-phase gut colonization in conventionally reared mice.
The normal flora furnishes the host with ecological barriers that prevent pathogen
attack while maintaining tissue homeostasis. Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
constitute a highly relevant model of microbial adaptation in which some patients
infected with Escherichia coli develop acute pyelonephritis, while
other patients with bacteriuria exhibit an asymptomatic carrier state similar to
bacterial commensalism. It remains unclear if the lack of destructive inflammation
merely reflects low virulence or if carrier strains actively inhibit
disease-associated responses in the host. Here, we identify a new mechanism of
bacterial adaptation through broad suppression of RNA polymerase II–dependent
(Pol II–dependent) host gene expression. Over 60% of all genes were
suppressed 24 hours after human inoculation with the prototype asymptomatic
bacteriuria (ABU) strain E. coli 83972, and inhibition was verified
by infection of human cells. Specific repressors and activators of Pol
II–dependent transcription were modified, Pol II phosphorylation was
inhibited, and pathogen-specific signaling was suppressed in cell lines and
inoculated patients. An increased frequency of strains inhibiting Pol II was
epidemiologically verified in ABU and fecal strains compared with acute
pyelonephritis, and a Pol II antagonist suppressed the disease-associated host
response. These results suggest that by manipulating host gene expression, ABU
strains promote tissue integrity while inhibiting pathology. Such bacterial
modulation of host gene expression may be essential to sustain asymptomatic bacterial
carriage by ensuring that potentially destructive immune activation will not occur.
This review describes the importance of microbial adhesion in the ecology of the urogenital and intestinal tracts and the influence of host and microbial factors in bacterial interference. In a recent revival of interest in bacterial interference, lactobacillus administration has been studied as a means of treating and preventing disease. Although evidence is conflicting, Lactobacillus acidophilus appears to be involved in beneficial antagonistic and cooperative reactions that interfere with establishment of pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract. The mechanisms of action are believed to involve competitive exclusion and production of inhibitory substances, including bacteriocins. These characteristics, as well as demonstrated adherence abilities in vitro, led to selection of certain Lactobacillus strains for clinical studies of cystitis. Weekly intravaginal Lactobacillus therapy reduced the recurrence rate of uncomplicated lower urinary tract infections in women. Use of Lactobacillus strains resistant to Nonoxynol-9, a spermicide that kills members of the protective normal vaginal flora, may have potential for use in women with recurrent cystitis using this contraceptive agent. In veterinary studies, bacterial interference by administration of probiotics has also been beneficial in disease prevention in animals. Carefully selected bacterial mixtures integrate with the gastrointestinal flora of the animals and can confer disease resistance and improve physiological function. Additional human and animal trials are needed to determine the practical, long-term usefulness of bacterial interference as a protective mechanism against infectious diseases.
Urogenital infections not caused by sexual transmission, namely yeast vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis, and urinary tract infection remain a major medical problem in terms of the number of women afflicted each year. Although antimicrobial therapy is generally effective at eradicating these infections, there is still a high incidence of recurrence. The patient's quality of life is affected and many women become frustrated by the cycle of repeated antimicrobial agents whose effectiveness is diminishing due to increasing development of microbial resistance. There is good clinical evidence to show that the intestinal and urogenital microbial flora have a central role in maintaining both the health and wellbeing of humans. Furthermore, the use of "good bacteria" to replace or augment bacterial populations is gradually achieving scientific acceptance. This application is termed probiotics: "live micro-organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host". The role of the intestinal, vaginal, and urethral flora and probiotics in urogenital health will be the focus of this review.
The mammalian intestine harbors a vast, complex and dynamic microbial population, which has profound effects on host nutrition, intestinal function and immune response, as well as influence on physiology outside of the alimentary tract. Imbalance in the composition of the dense colonizing bacterial population can increase susceptibility to various acute and chronic diseases. Valuable insights on the association of the microbiota with disease critically depend on investigation of mouse models. Like in humans, the microbial community in the mouse intestine is relatively stable and resilient, yet can be influenced by environmental factors. An often-overlooked variable in research is basic animal husbandry, which can potentially alter mouse physiology and experimental outcomes. This study examined the effects of common husbandry practices, including food and bedding alterations, as well as facility and cage changes, on the gut microbiota over a short time course of five days using three culture-independent techniques, quantitative PCR, terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) and next generation sequencing (NGS). This study detected a substantial transient alteration in microbiota after the common practice of a short cross-campus facility transfer, but found no comparable alterations in microbiota within 5 days of switches in common laboratory food or bedding, or following an isolated cage change in mice acclimated to their housing facility. Our results highlight the importance of an acclimation period following even simple transfer of mice between campus facilities, and highlights that occult changes in microbiota should be considered when imposing husbandry variables on laboratory animals.
Lactobacilli are major inhabitants of the normal microflora of the gastrointestinal tract, and some select species have been used extensively as probiotic cultures. One potentially important property of these organisms is their ability to interact with epithelial cells in the intestinal tract, which may promote retention and host-bacterial communication. However, the mechanisms by which they attach to intestinal epithelial cells are unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate cell surface proteins in Lactobacillus acidophilus that may promote attachment to intestinal tissues. Using genome sequence data, predicted open reading frames were searched against known protein and protein motif databases to identify four proteins potentially involved in adhesion to epithelial cells. Homologous recombination was used to construct isogenic mutations in genes encoding a mucin-binding protein, a fibronectin-binding protein, a surface layer protein, and two streptococcal R28 homologs. The abilities of the mutants to adhere to intestinal epithelial cells were then evaluated in vitro. Each strain was screened on Caco-2 cells, which differentiate and express markers characteristic of normal small-intestine cells. A significant decrease in adhesion was observed in the fibronectin-binding protein mutant (76%) and the mucin-binding protein mutant (65%). A surface layer protein mutant also showed reduction in adhesion ability (84%), but the effect of this mutation is likely due to the loss of multiple surface proteins that may be embedded in the S-layer. This study demonstrated that multiple cell surface proteins in L. acidophilus NCFM can individually contribute to the organism's ability to attach to intestinal cells in vitro.