A latex agglutination test (LAT) has been developed for the diagnosis of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP). The latex microspheres were coated with MmmSC polyclonal immunoglobulin G antiserum and detected MmmSC antigen in the serum of cattle infected with CBPP and in growth medium containing MmmSC. The specific antigen recognizsed by this test appeared to be the capsular polysaccharide (CPS). The LAT recognized all 23 strains of MmmSC examined in this study, with a sensitivity level of 2 ng of CPS, or the equivalent of 5 × 103 CFU, in a reaction volume of 0.03 ml. Therefore, rapid identification of MmmSC cultures should be possible. Agglutination was also observed with the related goat pathogens and “Mycoplasma mycoides” cluster members Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides large colony biotype (four of six strains positive) and Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. capri (three of six strains positive), in agreement with the suggestion that these latter two mycoplasmas may in fact represent a single species (although collectively exhibiting two capsular serotypes). Comparisons in diagnosis with the complement fixation test (CFT) were made by using African field sera from CBPP-infected cattle. After 2 (or 3) min of incubation, the test detected 55% (or 61%) of CFT-positive sera and 29% (or 40%) of CFT-negative sera, with an overall correlation in diagnosis of 62% (or 61%). The rates for false-positive diagnoses made by using “known” CBPP-negative sera from the United Kingdom were 3 or 13% after 2 or 3 min of incubation, respectively. The data agree with previous findings that some CBPP CFT-negative misdiagnoses may occur due to “antibody eclipsing” by excess circulating antigen. The LAT combines low cost and high specificity with ease of application in the field, without the need for any specialist training or equipment.
Genes of the Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides small colony biotype (MmmSC) coding for proteins capable of eliciting protective T-cell memory responses have potential for incorporation into a recombinant subunit vaccine against contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP). Here we used lymphocytes from cattle that had completely recovered from infection to screen products of MmmSC genes for recognition by CD4+ effector memory (Tem) and central memory (Tcm) T lymphocytes. Six MmmSC genes (abc, gapN, glpO, lppA, lppB, and ptsG) were expressed as histidine-tagged recombinant polypeptides, or synthetic overlapping peptides, before inclusion in proliferation and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) assays. Only two MmmSC antigens, LppA and PtsG, consistently induced recall proliferation from immune CD4+ T cells and IFN-γ production in all animals tested. Moreover, LppA and PtsG were shown to possess epitopes recognized by both short-lived CD4+ Tem and long-lived CD4+ Tcm cells.
Four strains of Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides small colony type (MmmSC) isolated from recent outbreaks of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in Africa have been investigated. One Botswanan strain, M375, displayed numerous and significant phenotypic differences from both contemporary field isolates and older field and vaccine strains (African, Australian, and European strains dating back to 1936). Differences include altered morphology, reduced capsular polysaccharide production, high sensitivity to MmmSC rabbit hyperimmune antisera in vitro, and unique polymorphisms following immunoblotting. While insertion sequence analysis using IS1634 clearly indicates a close evolutionary relationship to west African strains, hybridization with IS1296 shows the absence of a band present in all other strains of MmmSC examined. The data suggest that a deletion has occurred in strain M375, which may explain its altered phenotype, including poor growth in vitro and a relative inability to cause septicemia in mice. These characteristics are also exhibited by Mycoplasma capricolum subsp. capripneumoniae (causal agent of contagious caprine pleuropneumonia [CCPP]), against which M375 antiserum exhibited some activity in vitro (unique among the various MmmSC antisera tested). These findings may have evolutionary implications, since CCPP is believed to be lung specific and without a septicemic phase (unlike CBPP). Since M375 was isolated from a clinical case of CBPP, this novel biotype may be fairly widespread but not normally isolated due to difficulty of culture and/or a potentially altered disease syndrome. Bovine convalescent antisera (obtained from contemporary naturally infected cattle in Botswana) were active against strain M375 in an in vitro growth inhibition test but not against any other strains of MmmSC tested. There exists the possibility therefore, that strain M375 may possess a set of protective antigens different from those of other strains of MmmSC (including vaccine strains). These findings have implications for the control of the current CBPP epidemic in Africa.
The Mycoplasma mycoides cluster consists of five species or subspecies that are ruminant pathogens. One subspecies, Mycoplasma mycoides subspecies mycoides Small Colony (MmmSC), is the causative agent of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia. Its very close relative, Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. capri (Mmc), is a more ubiquitous pathogen in small ruminants causing mastitis, arthritis, keratitis, pneumonia and septicaemia and is also found as saprophyte in the ear canal. To understand the genetics underlying these phenotypic differences, we compared the MmmSC PG1 type strain genome, which was already available, with the genome of an Mmc field strain (95010) that was sequenced in this study. We also compared the 95010 genome with the recently published genome of another Mmc strain (GM12) to evaluate Mmc strain diversity.
The MmmSC PG1 genome is 1,212 kbp and that of Mmc 95010 is ca. 58 kbp shorter. Most of the sequences present in PG1 but not 95010 are highly repeated Insertion Sequences (three types of IS) and large duplicated DNA fragments. The 95010 genome contains five types of IS, present in fewer copies than in PG1, and two copies of an integrative conjugative element. These mobile genetic elements have played a key role in genome plasticity, leading to inversions of large DNA fragments. Comparison of the two genomes suggested a marked decay of the PG1 genome that seems to be correlated with a greater number of IS. The repertoire of gene families encoding surface proteins is smaller in PG1. Several genes involved in polysaccharide metabolism and protein degradation are also absent from, or degraded in, PG1.
The genome of MmmSC PG1 is larger than that of Mmc 95010, its very close relative, but has less coding capacity. This is the result of large genetic rearrangements due to mobile elements that have also led to marked gene decay. This is consistent with a non-adaptative genomic complexity theory, allowing duplications or pseudogenes to be maintained in the absence of adaptive selection that would lead to purifying selection and genome streamlining over longer evolutionary times. These findings also suggest that MmmSC only recently adapted to its bovine host.
Mycoplasma mycoides subspecies mycoides Small Colony (MmmSC) is the causative agent of Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), a disease of substantial economic importance in sub-Saharan Africa. Failure of vaccination to curtail spread of this disease has led to calls for evaluation of the role of antimicrobials in CBPP control. Three major classes of antimicrobial are effective against mycoplasmas, namely tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones and macrolides. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to determine the effector kinetics of oxytetracycline, danofloxacin and tulathromycin against two MmmSC field strains in artificial medium and adult bovine serum.
Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) were determined for oxytetracycline, danofloxacin and tulathromycin against MmmSC strains B237 and Tan8 using a macrodilution technique, and time-kill curves were constructed for various multiples of the MIC over a 24 hour period in artificial medium and serum. Data were fitted to sigmoid Emax models to obtain 24 hour-area under curve/MIC ratios for mycoplasmastasis and, where appropriate, for mycoplasmacidal activity and virtual mycoplasmal elimination.
Minimum inhibitory concentrations against B237 were 20-fold higher, 2-fold higher and approximately 330-fold lower in serum than in artificial medium for oxytetracycline, danofloxacin and tulathromycin, respectively. Such differences were mirrored in experiments using Tan8. Oxytetracycline was mycoplasmastatic against both strains in both matrices. Danofloxacin elicited mycoplasmacidal activity against B237 and virtual elimination of Tan8; similar maximum antimycoplasmal effects were observed in artificial medium and serum. Tulathromycin effected virtual elimination of B237 but was mycoplasmastatic against Tan8 in artificial medium. However, this drug was mycoplasmastatic against both strains in the more physiologically relevant matrix of serum.
Oxytetracycline, danofloxacin and tulathromycin are all suitable candidates for further investigation as potential treatments for CBPP. This study also highlights the importance of testing drug activity in biological matrices as well as artificial media.
Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides “Small Colony” (MmmSC) is responsible for contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in bovidae, a notifiable disease to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Although its origin is not documented, the disease was known in Europe in 1773. It reached nearly world-wide distribution in the 19th century through the cattle trade and was eradicated from most continents by stamping-out policies. During the 20th century it persisted in Africa, and it reappeared sporadically in Southern Europe. Yet, classical epidemiology studies failed to explain the re-occurrence of the disease in Europe in the 1990s. The objectives of this study were to obtain a precise phylogeny of this pathogen, reconstruct its evolutionary history, estimate the date of its emergence, and determine the origin of the most recent European outbreaks. A large-scale genomic approach based on next-generation sequencing technologies was applied to construct a robust phylogeny of this extremely monomorphic pathogen by using 20 representative strains of various geographical origins. Sixty two polymorphic genes of the MmmSC core genome were selected, representing 83601 bp in total and resulting in 139 SNPs within the 20 strains. A robust phylogeny was obtained that identified a lineage specific to European strains; African strains were scattered in various branches. Bayesian analysis allowed dating the most recent common ancestor for MmmSC around 1700. The strains circulating in Sub-Saharan Africa today, however, were shown to descend from a strain that existed around 1810. MmmSC emerged recently, about 300 years ago, and was most probably exported from Europe to other continents, including Africa, during the 19th century. Its diversity is now greater in Africa, where CBPP is enzootic, than in Europe, where outbreaks occurred sporadically until 1999 and where CBPP may now be considered eradicated unless MmmSC remains undetected.
The lipoprotein LppQ is the most prominent antigen of Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides small colony type (SC) during infection of cattle. This pathogen causes contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), a devastating disease of considerable socio-economic importance in many countries worldwide. The dominant antigenicity and high specificity for M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC of lipoprotein LppQ have been exploited for serological diagnosis and for epidemiological investigations of CBPP. Scanning electron microscopy and immunogold labelling were used to provide ultrastructural evidence that LppQ is located to the cell membrane at the outer surface of M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC. The selectivity and specificity of this method were demonstrated through discriminating localization of extracellular (i.e., in the zone of contact with host cells) vs. integral membrane domains of LppQ. Thus, our findings support the suggestion that the accessible N-terminal domain of LppQ is surface exposed and such surface localization may be implicated in the pathogenesis of CBPP.
Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP); Immunogold labeling; Lipoprotein LppQ; Domain analysis; Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides SC; Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) is a mycoplasmal disease caused by Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides SC (MmmSC). Since the disease is a serious problem that can affect cattle production in parts of Africa, there is a need for an effective and economical vaccine. Identifying which of the causative agent's proteins trigger potentially protective immune responses is an important step towards developing a subunit vaccine. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to determine whether phage display combined with bioinformatics could be used to narrow the search for genes that code for potentially immunogenic proteins of MmmSC. Since the production of IgG2 and IgA are associated with a Th1 cellular immune response which is implicated in protection against CBPP, antigens which elicit these immunoglobulin subclasses may be useful in developing a subunit vaccine.
A filamentous phage library displaying a repertoire of peptides expressed by fragments of the genome of MmmSC was constructed. It was subjected to selection using antibodies from naturally- and experimentally-infected cattle. Mycoplasmal genes were identified by matching the nucleotide sequences of DNA from immunoselected phage particles with the mycoplasmal genome. This allowed a catalogue of genes coding for the proteins that elicited an immune response to be compiled. Using this method together with computer algorithms designed to score parameters that influence surface accessibility and hence potential antigenicity, five genes (abc, gapN, glpO, lppB and ptsG) were chosen to be expressed in Escherichia coli. After appropriate site-directed mutagenesis, polypeptides representing portions of each of these proteins were tested for immunoreactivity. Of these five, polypeptides representing expression products of abc and lppB were recognised on immunoblots by sera obtained from cattle during a natural outbreak of the disease.
Since phage display physically couples phenotype with genotype, it was used to compile a list of sequences that code for MmmSC proteins bearing epitopes which were recognised by antibodies in the serum of infected animals. Together with the appropriate bioinformatic analyses, this approach provided several potentially useful vaccine or diagnostic leads. The phage display step empirically identified sequences by their interaction with antibodies which accordingly reduced the number of ORFs that had to be expressed for testing. This is a particular advantage when working with MmmSC since the mycoplasmal codon for tryptophan needs to be mutated to prevent it from being translated as a stop in E. coli.
Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) is the most serious cattle disease in Africa, caused by Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides small-colony type (SC). CBPP control strategies currently rely on vaccination with a vaccine based on live attenuated strains of the organism. Recently, an lppQ− mutant of the existing vaccine strain T1/44 has been developed (Janis et al., 2008). This T1lppQ− mutant strain is devoid of lipoprotein LppQ, a potential virulence attribute of M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC. It is designated as a potential live DIVA (Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated Animals) vaccine strain allowing both serological and etiological differentiation. The present paper reports on the validation of a control strategy for CBPP in cattle, whereby a TaqMan real-time PCR based on the lppQ gene has been developed for the direct detection of M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC in ex vivo bronchoalveolar lavage fluids of cows and for the discrimination of wild type strains from the lppQ− mutant vaccine strain.
Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides SC; TaqMan real-time PCR; Bronchoalveolar lavage fluids; lppQ− mutant vaccine strain; DIVA
In recent years, mycoplasma taxonomists have found that numerous mycoplasma strains from goats are serologically indistinguishable from Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides, the causative agent of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), by routinely used tests, e.g. the metabolism- and growth-inhibition tests. As a result, such organisms are now openly referred to as M. mycoides subsp. mycoides. Seven of these so-called M. mycoides subsp. mycoides strains from goats were compared with two strains of M. mycoides subsp. mycoides from CBPP, and with one strain of M. mycoides subsp. capri, by means of two in-vivo tests, namely, (1) a test of the ability of each strain, injected intraperitoneally into mice, to produce mycoplasmaemia, and (2) a cross-protection test in mice. Of the seven strains, only one ('O goat') was indistinguishable from genuine M. mycoides subsp. mycoides; it also had small colonies resembling those of genuine M. mycoides subsp. mycoides. The other six were easily distinguished from genuine M. mycoides subsp. mycoides, and they produced large colonies. These six strains and others like them should no longer be given a name that fails to distinguish them from the causative agent of CBPP. Cross-protection tests showed that the seven goat strains referred to above differed from M. mycoides subsp. capri.
Nine caprine and ovine mycoplasma strains, said to be indistinguishable serologically from Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides (the causative organism of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia; CBPP) were examined in mice by (1) a mycoplasmaemia test, and (2) a cross-protection test. Of the nine strains, two from goats belonged to a small colony (SC) type; four caprine and three ovine strains belonged to a large colony (LC) type.
The two SC strains — like a single SC strain examined in an earlier study — were indistinguishable from genuine M. mycoides subsp. mycoides as isolated from CBPP. They produced mycoplasmaemia readily. In a cross-protection test, the two SC strains and a CBPP strain immunized completely against each other.
Of the seven LC strains, six — like six LC strains examined in an earlier study — were easily distinguished from genuine M. mycoides subsp. mycoides; except for one that was not tested, all were shown to lack the ability to produce mycoplasmaemia readily. In cross-protection tests all six strains immunized partially but not completely against a CBPP strain.
The seventh LC strain (Mankefår 2833) was exceptional: it produced mycoplasmaemia readily, resembling the SC strains in this respect. Like other LC strains, in cross-protection tests it protected only partially against a CBPP strain. Strain Mankefår 2833 was isolated in ca. 1965 by Brack from a Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) in a German zoo.
The ability of Mankefår 2833 to produce mycoplasmaemia enabled it to be used as a challenge strain in cross-protection tests. For the purpose of such tests the collection of nine mycoplasma strains referred to above was augmented with six LC strains from an earlier study. Partial but not complete protection against Mankefår 2833 was produced by two caprine SC strains, one CBPP strain, and nine LC strains. Three further LC strains gave protection that may have been as strong as that produced by the homologous strain, but confirmatory experiments are needed. A strain of M. mycoides subsp. capri gave no protection against Mankefår 2833.
Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), caused by Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides, is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa. The current live vaccine T1/44 has limited efficacy and occasionally leads to severe side effects in the animals. A better understanding of the immune responses triggered by Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides and their role in disease progression will help to facilitate the design of a rational vaccine. Currently, knowledge of cytokines involved in immunity and immunopathology in CBPP is rather limited. The aim of this study was to characterize the in vivo plasma concentrations of the cytokines TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10 and the overall role of CD4+ T cells in the development of cytokine levels during a primary infection. Plasma cytokine concentrations in two groups of cattle (CD4+ T cell-depleted and non-depleted cattle) experimentally infected with Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides were measured and their relationship to the clinical outcomes was investigated.
Plasma cytokine concentrations varied between animals in each group. Depletion of CD4+ T cells did not induce significant changes in plasma levels of TNF-α, IL-4, and IL-10, suggesting a minor role of CD4+ T cells in regulation or production of the three cytokines during the time window of depletion (1-2 weeks post depletion). Unexpectedly, the IFN-γ concentrations were slightly, but statistically significantly higher in the depleted group (p < 0.05) between week three and four post infection. Three CD4+ T cell-depleted animals that experienced severe disease, had high levels of TNF-α and IFN-γ. Only one severely diseased non-depleted animal showed a high serum concentration of IL-4 post infection.
Comparison of most severely diseased animals, which had to be euthanized prior to the expected date, versus less severe diseased animals, irrespective of the depletion status, suggested that high TNF-α levels are correlated with more severe pathology in concomitance with high IFN-γ levels.
Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia; Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides; Cytokines; TNF-α; IFN-γ; IL-4; IL-10
A recombinant antigen cocktail enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for diagnosis of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) was developed after careful selection of antigens among one-third of the surface proteome proteins of the infectious agent Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides small colony (M. mycoides SC). First, a miniaturized and parallelized assay system employing antigen suspension bead array technology was used to screen 97 bovine sera for humoral immune responses toward 61 recombinant surface proteins from M. mycoides SC. Statistical analysis of the data resulted in selection of eight proteins that showed strong serologic responses in CBPP-affected sera and minimal reactivity in negative control sera, with P values of <10−6. Only minor cross-reactivity to hyperimmune sera against other mycoplasmas was observed. When applied in an ELISA, the cocktail of eight recombinant antigens allowed a fivefold signal separation between 24 CBPP-affected and 23 CBPP-free sera from different geographical origins. No false-positive results and only two false-negative results were obtained. In conclusion, the selected recombinant mycoplasma antigens qualified as highly specific markers for CBPP and could be employed in both a suspension bead array platform and a cocktail ELISA setting. This set of proteins and technologies therefore offers a powerful combination to drive and further improve serological assays toward reliable, simple, and cost-effective diagnosis of CBPP.
Specific humoral immune responses in a clinical trial on cattle for vaccines against contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) were investigated. The trial included a subunit vaccine consisting of five recombinant putative variable surface proteins of the infectious agent Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides small colony type (M. mycoides SC) compared to the currently approved attenuated vaccine strain T1/44 and untreated controls. Humoral immune responses to 65 individual recombinant surface proteins of M. mycoides SC were monitored by a recently developed bead-based array assay. Responses to the subunit vaccine components were found to be weak. Animals vaccinated with this vaccine were not protected and had CBPP lesions similar to those of the untreated controls. In correlating protein-specific humoral responses to T1/44-induced immunity, five proteins associated with a protective immune response were identified by statistical evaluation, namely, MSC_1046 (LppQ), MSC_0271, MSC_0136, MSC_0079, and MSC_0431. These five proteins may be important candidates in the development of a novel subunit vaccine against CBPP.
Mycoplasma mycoides subspecies mycoides small colony (SC) is the aetiologic agent of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), a respiratory disease causing important losses in cattle production. The publication of the genome sequence of M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC should facilitate the identification of putative virulence factors. However, real progress in the study of molecular mechanisms of pathogenicity also requires efficient molecular tools for gene inactivation. In the present study, we have developed a transposon-based approach for the random mutagenesis of M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC. A PCR-based screening assay enabled the characterization of several mutants with knockouts of genes potentially involved in pathogenicity. The initial transposon was further improved by combining it with the transposon γδ TnpR/res recombination system to allow the production of unmarked mutations. Using this approach, we isolated a mutant free of antibiotic-resistance genes, in which the gene encoding the main lipoprotein LppQ was disrupted. The mutant was found to express only residual amounts of the truncated N-terminal end of LppQ. This approach opens the way to study virulence factors and pathogen-host interactions of M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC and to develop new, genetically defined vaccine strains.
Small colony (SC) strains of Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides from contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and from goats were compared with large colony (LC) strains of so-called M. mycoides subsp. mycoides from goats and sheep by means of a cross-protection test in which mice were challenged with M. mycoides subsp. capri. Of 13 LC strains, all gave partial cross-protection, and 11 were shown to be more closely related than four SC strains to subspecies capri. In a further experiment, six SC strains--three from CBPP and three from goats--all gave weak partial cross-protection against subspecies capri.
In two trials the efficacy of inactivated vaccines against contagious bovine pleuropneumonia was tested by exposing vaccinated cattle to droplet infection provided by close contact with experimentally infected 'donors'. Complete protection was given by an extreme form of vaccination in which a heavy suspension of killed Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides emulsified with Freund's complete adjuvant was given in two large doses. 'Mouse-protective antibody' (MPA) was also produced, i.e. serum transferred to mice 2-4 h before intraperitoneal challenge prevented the development of mycoplasmaemia. However, the study did not answer the question 'Is MPA protective for cattle?'. No protection was given by a milder form of vaccination in which a lighter suspension of killed mycoplasmas emulsified with Freund's incomplete adjuvant was given in a comparatively small dose on a single occasion.
Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), caused by Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides, is an important livestock disease in Africa. The current control measures rely on a vaccine with limited efficacy and occasional severe side effects. Knowledge of the protective arms of immunity involved in this disease will be beneficial for the development of an improved vaccine. In previous studies on cattle infected with M. mycoides subsp. mycoides, a correlation was detected between the levels of mycoplasma-specific IFN-γ-secreting CD4+ T lymphocytes and reduced clinical signs. However, no cause and effect has been established, and the role of such cells and of protective responses acquired during a primary infection is not known.
We investigated the role of CD4+ T lymphocytes in CBPP by comparing disease patterns and post mortem findings between CD4+ T cell depleted and non-depleted cattle. The depletion was carried out using several injections of BoCD4 specific murine monoclonal antibody on day 6 after experimental endotracheal infection with the strain Afadé. All cattle were monitored clinically daily and sacrificed 28-30 days post-infection. Statistically significant but small differences were observed in the mortality rate between the depleted and non-depleted animals. However, no differences in clinical parameters (fever, signs of respiratory distress) and pathological lesions were observed, despite elimination of CD4+ T cells for more than a week. The slightly higher mortality in the depleted group suggests a minor role of CD4+ T cells in control of CBPP.
Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) caused by Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides small-colony type (SC) is among the most serious threats for livestock producers in Africa. Glycerol metabolism-associated H2O2 production seems to play a crucial role in virulence of this mycoplasma. A wide number of attenuated strains of M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC are currently used in Africa as live vaccines. Glycerol metabolism is not affected in these vaccine strains and therefore it does not seem to be the determinant of their attenuation. A non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the bgl gene coding for the 6-phospho-β-glucosidase (Bgl) has been described recently. The SNP differentiates virulent African strains isolated from outbreaks with severe CBPP, which express the Bgl isoform Val204, from strains to be considered less virulent isolated from CBPP outbreaks with low mortality and vaccine strains, which express the Bgl isoform Ala204.
Strains of M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC considered virulent and possessing the Bgl isoform Val204, but not strains with the Bgl isoform Ala204, do trigger elevated levels of damage to embryonic bovine lung (EBL) cells upon incubation with the disaccharides (i.e., β-D-glucosides) sucrose and lactose. However, strains expressing the Bgl isoform Val204 show a lower hydrolysing activity on the chromogenic substrate p-nitrophenyl-β-D-glucopyranoside (pNPbG) when compared to strains that possess the Bgl isoform Ala204. Defective activity of Bgl in M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC does not lead to H2O2 production. Rather, the viability during addition of β-D-glucosides in medium-free buffers is higher for strains harbouring the Bgl isoform Val204 than for those with the isoform Ala204.
Our results indicate that the studied SNP in the bgl gene is one possible cause of the difference in bacterial virulence among strains of M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC. Bgl does not act as a direct virulence factor, but strains possessing the Bgl isoform Val204 with low hydrolysing activity are more prone to survive in environments that contain high levels of β-D-glucosides, thus contributing in some extent to mycoplasmaemia.
Recently, artificial oriC plasmids containing the chromosomal dnaA gene and surrounding DnaA box sequences were obtained for the mollicutes Spiroplasma citri and Mycoplasma pulmonis. In order to study the specificity of these plasmids among mollicutes, a set of similar oriC plasmids was developed for three mycoplasmas belonging to the mycoides cluster, Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides LC (MmmLC), M.mycoides subsp. mycoides SC (MmmSC) and Mycoplasma capricolum subsp. capricolum. Mycoplasmas from the mycoides cluster, S.citri and M.pulmonis were used as recipients for transformation experiments by homologous and heterologous oriC plasmids. All five mollicutes were successfully transformed by homologous plasmids, suggesting that the dnaA gene region represents the functional replication origin of the mollicute chromosomes. However, the ability of mollicutes to replicate heterologous oriC plasmids was found to vary noticeably with the species. For example, the oriC plasmid from M.capricolum did not replicate in the closely related species MmmSC and MmmLC. In contrast, plasmids harbouring the oriC from MmmSC, MmmLC and the more distant species S.citri were all found to replicate in M.capricolum. Our results suggest that the cis-elements present in oriC sequences are not the only determinants of this host specificity.
Genomic restriction maps for the small colony (SC) strains (PG1, KH3J, Gladysdale, and V5) of Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides (the agent of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia) and for Mycoplasma strain PG50 (classified as bovine serogroup 7), with respective sizes of 1,280, 1,280, 1,260, 1,230, and 1,040 kbp, were compared with the map (1,200 kbp) for a large colony strain (Y goat) of M. mycoides subsp. mycoides. The number and order of all mapped restriction sites were fully conserved in the SC genomes, as were the approximate positions of mapped loci. A number of these restriction sites in the Y genome and some, but fewer, in the PG50 genome appeared to be conserved. The SC and large colony strains shared conservation in the relative positions of the mapped loci, except for rpoC.
The ‘Mycoplasma mycoides cluster’ comprises the ruminant pathogens Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides the causative agent of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), Mycoplasma capricolum subsp. capripneumoniae the agent of contagious caprine pleuropneumonia (CCPP), Mycoplasma capricolum subsp. capricolum, Mycoplasma leachii and Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. capri. CBPP and CCPP are major livestock diseases and impact the agricultural sector especially in developing countries through reduced food-supply and international trade restrictions. In addition, these diseases are a threat to disease-free countries. We used a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) approach to gain insights into the demographic history of and phylogenetic relationships among the members of the ‘M. mycoides cluster’. We collected partial sequences from seven housekeeping genes representing a total of 3,816 base pairs from 118 strains within this cluster, and five strains isolated from wild Caprinae. Strikingly, the origin of the ‘M. mycoides cluster’ dates to about 10,000 years ago, suggesting that the establishment and spread of the cluster coincided with livestock domestication. In addition, we show that hybridization and recombination may be important factors in the evolutionary history of the cluster.
The cytotoxicities of various strains of Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides small colony type (SC), the agent of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), were measured in vitro using embryonic calf nasal epithelial (ECaNEp) cells. Strains isolated from acute cases of CBPP induced high cytotoxicity in the presence of glycerol, concomitant with the release of large amounts of toxic H2O2 that were found to be translocated into the cytoplasms of the host cells by close contact of the Mycoplasma strains with the host cells. Currently used vaccine strains also showed high cytotoxicity and high H2O2 release, indicating that they are attenuated in another virulence attribute. Strains isolated from recent European outbreaks of CBPP with mild clinical signs, which are characterized by a defect in the glycerol uptake system, released small amounts of H2O2 and showed low cytotoxicity to ECaNEp cells. M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC strain PG1 released large amounts of H2O2 but was only slightly cytotoxic. PG1 was found to have a reduced capacity to bind to ECaNEp cells and was unable to translocate H2O2 into the bovine cells, in contrast to virulent strains that release large amounts of H2O2. Thus, an efficient translocation of H2O2 into host cells is a prerequisite for the cytotoxic effect and requires an intact adhesion mechanism to ensure a close contact between mycoplasmas and host cells.
Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides small colony biotype (SC) is the high-consequence animal pathogen causing contagious bovine pleuropneumonia. We report the complete genome sequences of the pathogenic strain M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC Gladysdale and a close phylogenetic relative, Mycoplasma leachii PG50T, another bovine pathogen of the M. mycoides phylogenetic clade.
The phylogenetically related Mycoplasma capricolum subsp. capricolum and M. mycoides subsp. mycoides biotype Large Colony are two small-ruminant pathogens involved in contagious agalactia. Their respective contributions to clinical outbreaks are not well documented, because they are difficult to differentiate with the current diagnostic techniques. In order to identify DNA sequences specific to one taxon or the other, a suppression-subtractive hybridization approach was developed. DNA fragments resulting from the reciprocal subtraction of the type strains were used as probes on a panel of M. capricolum subsp. capricolum and M. mycoides subsp. mycoides biotype Large Colony strains to assess their intrataxon specificity. Due to a high intrataxon polymorphism and important cross-reactions between taxa, a single DNA fragment was shown to be specific for M. capricolum subsp. capricolum and to be present in all M. capricolum subsp. capricolum field isolates tested in this study. A PCR assay targeting the corresponding gene (simpA51) was designed that resulted in a 560-bp amplification only in M. capricolum subsp. capricolum and in M. capricolum subsp. capripneumoniae (the etiological agent of contagious caprine pleuropneumonia). simpA51 was further improved to generate a multiplex PCR (multA51) that allows the differentiation of M. capricolum subsp. capripneumoniae from M. capricolum subsp. capricolum. Both the simpA51 and multA51 assays accurately identify M. capricolum subsp. capricolum among other mycoplasmas, including all members of the M. mycoides cluster. simpA51 and multA51 PCRs are proposed as sensitive and robust tools for the specific identification of M. capricolum subsp. capricolum and M. capricolum subsp. capripneumoniae.