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1.  A combined approach for comparative exoproteome analysis of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:12.
Bacterial exported proteins represent key components of the host-pathogen interplay. Hence, we sought to implement a combined approach for characterizing the entire exoproteome of the pathogenic bacterium Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, the etiological agent of caseous lymphadenitis (CLA) in sheep and goats.
An optimized protocol of three-phase partitioning (TPP) was used to obtain the C. pseudotuberculosis exoproteins, and a newly introduced method of data-independent MS acquisition (LC-MSE) was employed for protein identification and label-free quantification. Additionally, the recently developed tool SurfG+ was used for in silico prediction of sub-cellular localization of the identified proteins. In total, 93 different extracellular proteins of C. pseudotuberculosis were identified with high confidence by this strategy; 44 proteins were commonly identified in two different strains, isolated from distinct hosts, then composing a core C. pseudotuberculosis exoproteome. Analysis with the SurfG+ tool showed that more than 75% (70/93) of the identified proteins could be predicted as containing signals for active exportation. Moreover, evidence could be found for probable non-classical export of most of the remaining proteins.
Comparative analyses of the exoproteomes of two C. pseudotuberculosis strains, in addition to comparison with other experimentally determined corynebacterial exoproteomes, were helpful to gain novel insights into the contribution of the exported proteins in the virulence of this bacterium. The results presented here compose the most comprehensive coverage of the exoproteome of a corynebacterial species so far.
PMCID: PMC3025830  PMID: 21241507
2.  Label-free proteomic analysis to confirm the predicted proteome of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis under nitrosative stress mediated by nitric oxide 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):1065.
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis biovar ovis is a facultative intracellular pathogen, and the etiological agent of caseous lymphadenitis in small ruminants. During the infection process, the bacterium is subjected to several stress conditions, including nitrosative stress, which is caused by nitric oxide (NO). In silico analysis of the genome of C. pseudotuberculosis ovis 1002 predicted several genes that could influence the resistance of this pathogen to nitrosative stress. Here, we applied high-throughput proteomics using high definition mass spectrometry to characterize the functional genome of C. pseudotuberculosis ovis 1002 in the presence of NO-donor Diethylenetriamine/nitric oxide adduct (DETA/NO), with the aim of identifying proteins involved in nitrosative stress resistance.
We characterized 835 proteins, representing approximately 41% of the predicted proteome of C. pseudotuberculosis ovis 1002, following exposure to nitrosative stress. In total, 102 proteins were exclusive to the proteome of DETA/NO-induced cells, and a further 58 proteins were differentially regulated between the DETA/NO and control conditions. An interactomic analysis of the differential proteome of C. pseudotuberculosis in response to nitrosative stress was also performed. Our proteomic data set suggested the activation of both a general stress response and a specific nitrosative stress response, as well as changes in proteins involved in cellular metabolism, detoxification, transcriptional regulation, and DNA synthesis and repair.
Our proteomic analysis validated previously-determined in silico data for C. pseudotuberculosis ovis 1002. In addition, proteomic screening performed in the presence of NO enabled the identification of a set of factors that can influence the resistance and survival of C. pseudotuberculosis during exposure to nitrosative stress.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1065) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4289026  PMID: 25477071
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis; Caseous lymphadenitis; Proteomics; Label-free proteomics; Nitrosative stress; Nitric oxide
3.  The Pan-Genome of the Animal Pathogen Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis Reveals Differences in Genome Plasticity between the Biovar ovis and equi Strains 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53818.
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis is a facultative intracellular pathogen and the causative agent of several infectious and contagious chronic diseases, including caseous lymphadenitis, ulcerative lymphangitis, mastitis, and edematous skin disease, in a broad spectrum of hosts. In addition, Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis infections pose a rising worldwide economic problem in ruminants. The complete genome sequences of 15 C. pseudotuberculosis strains isolated from different hosts and countries were comparatively analyzed using a pan-genomic strategy. Phylogenomic, pan-genomic, core genomic, and singleton analyses revealed close relationships among pathogenic corynebacteria, the clonal-like behavior of C. pseudotuberculosis and slow increases in the sizes of pan-genomes. According to extrapolations based on the pan-genomes, core genomes and singletons, the C. pseudotuberculosis biovar ovis shows a more clonal-like behavior than the C. pseudotuberculosis biovar equi. Most of the variable genes of the biovar ovis strains were acquired in a block through horizontal gene transfer and are highly conserved, whereas the biovar equi strains contain great variability, both intra- and inter-biovar, in the 16 detected pathogenicity islands (PAIs). With respect to the gene content of the PAIs, the most interesting finding is the high similarity of the pilus genes in the biovar ovis strains compared with the great variability of these genes in the biovar equi strains. Concluding, the polymerization of complete pilus structures in biovar ovis could be responsible for a remarkable ability of these strains to spread throughout host tissues and penetrate cells to live intracellularly, in contrast with the biovar equi, which rarely attacks visceral organs. Intracellularly, the biovar ovis strains are expected to have less contact with other organisms than the biovar equi strains, thereby explaining the significant clonal-like behavior of the biovar ovis strains.
PMCID: PMC3544762  PMID: 23342011
4.  Proteome scale comparative modeling for conserved drug and vaccine targets identification in Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(Suppl 7):S3.
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis (Cp) is a pathogenic bacterium that causes caseous lymphadenitis (CLA), ulcerative lymphangitis, mastitis, and edematous to a broad spectrum of hosts, including ruminants, thereby threatening economic and dairy industries worldwide. Currently there is no effective drug or vaccine available against Cp. To identify new targets, we adopted a novel integrative strategy, which began with the prediction of the modelome (tridimensional protein structures for the proteome of an organism, generated through comparative modeling) for 15 previously sequenced C. pseudotuberculosis strains. This pan-modelomics approach identified a set of 331 conserved proteins having 95-100% intra-species sequence similarity. Next, we combined subtractive proteomics and modelomics to reveal a set of 10 Cp proteins, which may be essential for the bacteria. Of these, 4 proteins (tcsR, mtrA, nrdI, and ispH) were essential and non-host homologs (considering man, horse, cow and sheep as hosts) and satisfied all criteria of being putative targets. Additionally, we subjected these 4 proteins to virtual screening of a drug-like compound library. In all cases, molecules predicted to form favorable interactions and which showed high complementarity to the target were found among the top ranking compounds. The remaining 6 essential proteins (adk, gapA, glyA, fumC, gnd, and aspA) have homologs in the host proteomes. Their active site cavities were compared to the respective cavities in host proteins. We propose that some of these proteins can be selectively targeted using structure-based drug design approaches (SBDD). Our results facilitate the selection of C. pseudotuberculosis putative proteins for developing broad-spectrum novel drugs and vaccines. A few of the targets identified here have been validated in other microorganisms, suggesting that our modelome strategy is effective and can also be applicable to other pathogens.
PMCID: PMC4243142  PMID: 25573232
5.  IscR Is Essential for Yersinia pseudotuberculosis Type III Secretion and Virulence 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(6):e1004194.
Type III secretion systems (T3SS) are essential for virulence in dozens of pathogens, but are not required for growth outside the host. Therefore, the T3SS of many bacterial species are under tight regulatory control. To increase our understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind T3SS regulation, we performed a transposon screen to identify genes important for T3SS function in the food-borne pathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. We identified two unique transposon insertions in YPTB2860, a gene that displays 79% identity with the E. coli iron-sulfur cluster regulator, IscR. A Y. pseudotuberculosis iscR in-frame deletion mutant (ΔiscR) was deficient in secretion of Ysc T3SS effector proteins and in targeting macrophages through the T3SS. To determine the mechanism behind IscR control of the Ysc T3SS, we carried out transcriptome and bioinformatic analysis to identify Y. pseudotuberculosis genes regulated by IscR. We discovered a putative IscR binding motif upstream of the Y. pseudotuberculosis yscW-lcrF operon. As LcrF controls transcription of a number of critical T3SS genes in Yersinia, we hypothesized that Yersinia IscR may control the Ysc T3SS through LcrF. Indeed, purified IscR bound to the identified yscW-lcrF promoter motif and mRNA levels of lcrF and 24 other T3SS genes were reduced in Y. pseudotuberculosis in the absence of IscR. Importantly, mice orally infected with the Y. pseudotuberculosis ΔiscR mutant displayed decreased bacterial burden in Peyer's patches, mesenteric lymph nodes, spleens, and livers, indicating an essential role for IscR in Y. pseudotuberculosis virulence. This study presents the first characterization of Yersinia IscR and provides evidence that IscR is critical for virulence and type III secretion through direct regulation of the T3SS master regulator, LcrF.
Author Summary
Bacterial pathogens use regulators that sense environmental cues to enhance their fitness. Here, we identify a transcriptional regulator in the human gut pathogen, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, which controls a specialized secretion system essential for bacterial growth in mammalian tissues. This regulator was shown in other bacterial species to alter its activity in response to changes in iron concentration and oxidative stress, but has never been studied in Yersinia. Importantly, Y. pseudotuberculosis experiences large changes in iron bioavailability upon transit from the gut to deeper tissues and iron is a critical component in Yersinia virulence, as individuals with iron overload disorders have enhanced susceptibility to systemic Yersinia infections. Our work places this iron-modulated transcriptional regulator within the regulatory network that controls virulence gene expression in Y. pseudotuberculosis, identifying it as a potential new target for antimicrobial agents.
PMCID: PMC4055776  PMID: 24945271
6.  Differential transcriptional profile of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis in response to abiotic stresses 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:14.
The completion of whole-genome sequencing for Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis strain 1002 has contributed to major advances in research aimed at understanding the biology of this microorganism. This bacterium causes significant loss to goat and sheep farmers because it is the causal agent of the infectious disease caseous lymphadenitis, which may lead to outcomes ranging from skin injury to animal death. In the current study, we simulated the conditions experienced by the bacteria during host infection. By sequencing transcripts using the SOLiDTM 3 Plus platform, we identified new targets expected to potentiate the survival and replication of the pathogen in adverse environments. These results may also identify possible candidates useful for the development of vaccines, diagnostic kits or therapies aimed at the reduction of losses in agribusiness.
Under the 3 simulated conditions (acid, osmotic and thermal shock stresses), 474 differentially expressed genes exhibiting at least a 2-fold change in expression levels were identified. Important genes to the infection process were induced, such as those involved in virulence, defence against oxidative stress, adhesion and regulation, and many genes encoded hypothetical proteins, indicating that further investigation of the bacterium is necessary. The data will contribute to a better understanding of the biology of C. pseudotuberculosis and to studies investigating strategies to control the disease.
Despite the veterinary importance of C. pseudotuberculosis, the bacterium is poorly characterised; therefore, effective treatments for caseous lymphadenitis have been difficult to establish. Through the use of RNAseq, these results provide a better biological understanding of this bacterium, shed light on the most likely survival mechanisms used by this microorganism in adverse environments and identify candidates that may help reduce or even eradicate the problems caused by this disease.
PMCID: PMC3890534  PMID: 24405787
Differential gene expression; Transcripts; RNAseq; SOLID™; Stress; C. pseudotuberculosis
7.  Association between haptoglobin and IgM levels and the clinical progression of caseous lymphadenitis in sheep 
Sheep caseous lymphadenitis (CLA), caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis (Cp), is associated with direct economic losses and presents significant zoonotic potential. Despite the importance of the disease, a satisfactory vaccine model has not been developed. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the association between haptoglobin (Hp) and IgM levels and the clinical progression of CLA in primarily infected sheep and in sheep immunized with Cp- secreted antigens adjuvanted with Quillaja saponaria saponins. These animals were kept with CLA-positive sheep to simulate natural exposure that occurs in field conditions. During the experiment, the Hp and IgM levels were monitored for 21 days, and the development of internal CLA lesions was investigated through necropsies on day182 post-immunization.
Primarily infected sheep in Group 2 (inoculated with 2x105 Cp virulent strain) had higher Hp values between the first and ninth days post inoculation (PI) than sheep in Group 1 (control; P < 0.05). Immunized animals in Group 3 had significantly higher Hp values between the third and seventh days PI, compared with the control group (P < 0.01). Binary logistic regression (BLR) analysis of primarily infected sheep indicated an association between Hp concentration and CLA clinical progression: animals with high Hp values had 99.9% less risk of having CLA abscesses than animals with low Hp levels (Odds ratio = 0.001, P < 0.05). Both experimental groups had significantly higher IgM titers than the control group around the ninth and eleventh days PI (P < 0.05). The BLR analysis for immunized sheep indicated an association between IgM levels and clinical progression: sheep with high IgM titers had 100.0% less risk of having CLA abscesses than animals with low IgM levels (Odds ratio = 0.000, P < 0.05).
Resistance to C. pseudotuberculosis infection is supported by the early acute phase response, in which up-regulation of Hp and IgM were predictive of a lower risk of CLA lesion development. Because the immunogen used in this study induced a high production of both Hp and IgM, Q. saponaria saponin should be considered a promising candidate in vaccine formulations against sheep CLA.
PMCID: PMC3866939  PMID: 24330714
Caseous lymphadenitis; Small ruminants; Quillaja saponaria; Acute phase response; Haptoglobin; Immunoglobulin M
8.  The Complete Genome Sequence of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis IP31758, the Causative Agent of Far East Scarlet-Like Fever 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(8):e142.
The first reported Far East scarlet-like fever (FESLF) epidemic swept the Pacific coastal region of Russia in the late 1950s. Symptoms of the severe infection included erythematous skin rash and desquamation, exanthema, hyperhemic tongue, and a toxic shock syndrome. The term FESLF was coined for the infection because it shares clinical presentations with scarlet fever caused by group A streptococci. The causative agent was later identified as Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, although the range of morbidities was vastly different from classical pseudotuberculosis symptoms. To understand the origin and emergence of the peculiar clinical features of FESLF, we have sequenced the genome of the FESLF-causing strain Y. pseudotuberculosis IP31758 and compared it with that of another Y. pseudotuberculosis strain, IP32953, which causes classical gastrointestinal symptoms. The unique gene pool of Y pseudotuberculosis IP31758 accounts for more than 260 strain-specific genes and introduces individual physiological capabilities and virulence determinants, with a significant proportion horizontally acquired that likely originated from Enterobacteriaceae and other soil-dwelling bacteria that persist in the same ecological niche. The mobile genome pool includes two novel plasmids phylogenetically unrelated to all currently reported Yersinia plasmids. An icm/dot type IVB secretion system, shared only with the intracellular persisting pathogens of the order Legionellales, was found on the larger plasmid and could contribute to scarlatinoid fever symptoms in patients due to the introduction of immunomodulatory and immunosuppressive capabilities. We determined the common and unique traits resulting from genome evolution and speciation within the genus Yersinia and drew a more accurate species border between Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. pestis. In contrast to the lack of genetic diversity observed in the evolutionary young descending Y. pestis lineage, the population genetics of Y. pseudotuberculosis is more heterogenous. Both Y. pseudotuberculosis strains IP31758 and the previously sequenced Y. pseudotuberculosis strain IP32953 have evolved by the acquisition of specific plasmids and by the horizontal acquisition and incorporation of different genetic information into the chromosome, which all together or independently seems to potentially impact the phenotypic adaptation of these two strains.
Author Summary
We have analyzed the genome sequence of a Y. pseudotuberculosis isolate responsible for Far East scarlet-like fever (FESLF). FESLF leads to severe clinical manifestations, including scarlet-like skin rash, from which this illness gets its name, and, most importantly, a toxic shock syndrome not seen in common pseudotuberculosis infections. The aim of this study was to catalogue the genomic inventory and get insights in the origin and emergence of this disease. The genus Yersinia comprises two other pathogens that cause worldwide infections in humans and animals: Y. enterocolitica, like Y. pseudotuberculosis, causes gastrointestinal disorders, while Yersinia pestis is the causative agent of plague, also known as the “Black Death.” By comparing the genome of these three Yersinia species, we could identify several unique virulence determinants, many of which are known to trigger and modulate the host immune system response and may be intimately associated with the severe and atypical FESLF clinical presentations. We have shown that the reductive gene loss process that Y. pestis has undergone since emerging from the enteric pathogen Y. pseudotuberculosis is not as extensive as originally thought. On the other hand, our analysis indicates that gene acquisition is a major factor that influenced Y. pseudotuberculosis genome evolution.
PMCID: PMC1959361  PMID: 17784789
9.  An Encapsulated Yersinia pseudotuberculosis Is a Highly Efficient Vaccine against Pneumonic Plague 
Plague is still a public health problem in the world and is re-emerging, but no efficient vaccine is available. We previously reported that oral inoculation of a live attenuated Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, the recent ancestor of Yersinia pestis, provided protection against bubonic plague. However, the strain poorly protected against pneumonic plague, the most deadly and contagious form of the disease, and was not genetically defined.
Methodology and Principal Findings
The sequenced Y. pseudotuberculosis IP32953 has been irreversibly attenuated by deletion of genes encoding three essential virulence factors. An encapsulated Y. pseudotuberculosis was generated by cloning the Y. pestis F1-encoding caf operon and expressing it in the attenuated strain. The new V674pF1 strain produced the F1 capsule in vitro and in vivo. Oral inoculation of V674pF1 allowed the colonization of the gut without lesions to Peyer's patches and the spleen. Vaccination induced both humoral and cellular components of immunity, at the systemic (IgG and Th1 cells) and the mucosal levels (IgA and Th17 cells). A single oral dose conferred 100% protection against a lethal pneumonic plague challenge (33×LD50 of the fully virulent Y. pestis CO92 strain) and 94% against a high challenge dose (3,300×LD50). Both F1 and other Yersinia antigens were recognized and V674pF1 efficiently protected against a F1-negative Y. pestis.
Conclusions and Significance
The encapsulated Y. pseudotuberculosis V674pF1 is an efficient live oral vaccine against pneumonic plague, and could be developed for mass vaccination in tropical endemic areas to control pneumonic plague transmission and mortality.
Author Summary
Plague, among the most deadly infections of mankind's history, is present in Africa, Asia and America, and is currently re-emerging, recently causing cases in areas from where it had disappeared for decades. Pneumonic plague, its most deadly and contagious form, is responsible for human-to-human spreading of the infection. Vaccination would be an effective means to control the disease, but no efficient vaccine is currently available. Because live vaccines are potent inducers of protective immunity, our strategy was to use a Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, closely related to Y. pestis but genetically more stable, to make it suitable for use as live oral vaccine. We have developed a genetically defined Y. pseudotuberculosis strain strongly attenuated by deletion of virulence factors genes, which was also induced to produce the Y. pestis F1 pseudocapsule. A single oral dose was harmless and provided high- level protection against pneumonic plague. Such a candidate vaccine offers promising perspectives to control pneumonic plague mortality and transmission.
PMCID: PMC3279354  PMID: 22348169
10.  Evidence for Reductive Genome Evolution and Lateral Acquisition of Virulence Functions in Two Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis Strains 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18551.
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, a Gram-positive, facultative intracellular pathogen, is the etiologic agent of the disease known as caseous lymphadenitis (CL). CL mainly affects small ruminants, such as goats and sheep; it also causes infections in humans, though rarely. This species is distributed worldwide, but it has the most serious economic impact in Oceania, Africa and South America. Although C. pseudotuberculosis causes major health and productivity problems for livestock, little is known about the molecular basis of its pathogenicity.
Methodology and Findings
We characterized two C. pseudotuberculosis genomes (Cp1002, isolated from goats; and CpC231, isolated from sheep). Analysis of the predicted genomes showed high similarity in genomic architecture, gene content and genetic order. When C. pseudotuberculosis was compared with other Corynebacterium species, it became evident that this pathogenic species has lost numerous genes, resulting in one of the smallest genomes in the genus. Other differences that could be part of the adaptation to pathogenicity include a lower GC content, of about 52%, and a reduced gene repertoire. The C. pseudotuberculosis genome also includes seven putative pathogenicity islands, which contain several classical virulence factors, including genes for fimbrial subunits, adhesion factors, iron uptake and secreted toxins. Additionally, all of the virulence factors in the islands have characteristics that indicate horizontal transfer.
These particular genome characteristics of C. pseudotuberculosis, as well as its acquired virulence factors in pathogenicity islands, provide evidence of its lifestyle and of the pathogenicity pathways used by this pathogen in the infection process. All genomes cited in this study are available in the NCBI Genbank database ( under accession numbers CP001809 and CP001829.
PMCID: PMC3078919  PMID: 21533164
11.  Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis cp09 mutant and cp40 recombinant protein partially protect mice against caseous lymphadenitis 
BMC Veterinary Research  2014;10(1):965.
Caseous lymphadenitis (CLA) is an infectious disease that affects small ruminants and is caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. This disease is responsible for high economic losses due to condemnation and trim of infected carcasses, decreased leather and wool yield, loss of sales of breeding stock and deaths from internal involvement. Treatment is costly and ineffective; the most cost-effective strategy is timely immunisation. Various vaccine strategies have been tested, and recombinant vaccines are a promising alternative. Thus, in this study, different vaccine formulations using a recombinant protein (rCP40) and the CP09 live recombinant strain were evaluated. Five groups of 10 mice each were immunised with saline (G1), rCP40 (G2), CP09 (G3), a combination of CP09 and rCP40 (G4) and a heterologous prime-boost strategy (G5). Mice received two immunisations within 15 days. On day 30 after primary immunisation, all groups were challenged with a C. pseudotuberculosis virulent strain. Mice were monitored and mortality was recorded for 30 days after challenge.
The G2, G4 and G5 groups showed high levels of IgG1 and IgG2a; G2 presented significant IgG2a production after virulent challenge in the absence of IgG1 and IgG3 induction. Thirty days after challenge, the mice survival rates were 20 (G1), 90 (G2), 50 (G3), 70 (G4) and 60% (G5).
rCP40 is a promising target in the development of vaccines against caseous lymphadenitis.
PMCID: PMC4297461  PMID: 25527190
Caseous lymphadenitis; Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis; Recombinant vaccines; Live attenuated vaccines
12.  Vaccine Potential of Attenuated Mutants of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis in Sheep 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(2):474-479.
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, a gram-positive facultative intracellular bacterial pathogen, is the etiological agent of the economically important disease caseous lymphadenitis (CLA) in both sheep and goats. Attenuated mutants of C. pseudotuberculosis have the potential to act as novel vaccines against CLA and as veterinary vaccine vectors. In this report, we have assessed the virulence of both aroQ and pld mutants of C. pseudotuberculosis in sheep and concurrently their capacity to act as vaccines against homologous challenge. The results suggest that aroQ mutants of C. pseudotuberculosis are attenuated with regard to both lymph node persistence and vaccination site reactogenicity. Immunologically, aroQ mutants failed to elicit detectable specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-secreting lymphocytes and induced low levels of antibodies to C. pseudotuberculosis culture supernatant antigens. Following subcutaneous vaccination, the immune responses induced by aroQ mutants did not protect sheep from infection with the wild-type strain but did appear to reduce the clinical severity of disease resulting from challenge. Conversely, an attenuated C. pseudotuberculosis strain expressing an enzymatically inactive phospholipase D exotoxin, when used as a vaccine, elicited a protective immune response. Protection appeared to correlate with in vivo persistence of the vaccine strain, the induction of IFN-γ-secreting lymphocytes, and relatively high levels of antibodies to culture supernatant antigens. The results suggest that aroQ mutants of C. pseudotuberculosis may be overly attenuated for use as a CLA vaccines or as vaccine vectors.
PMCID: PMC107930  PMID: 9453598
13.  Attenuation and vaccine potential of aroQ mutants of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. 
Infection and Immunity  1997;65(8):3048-3056.
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, a gram-positive intracellular bacterial pathogen, is the etiological agent of the disease caseous lymphadenitis (CLA) in both sheep and goats. Attenuated mutants of C. pseudotuberculosis have the potential to act as novel live veterinary vaccine vectors. We have cloned and sequenced the aroB and aroQ genes from C. pseudotuberculosis C231. By allelic exchange, aroQ mutants of both C231, designated CS100, and a pld mutant strain TB521, designated CS200, were constructed. Infection of BALB/c mice indicated that introduction of the aroQ mutation into C231 and TB521 attenuated both strains. In sublethally infected BALB/c mice, both CS100 and CS200 were cleared from spleens and livers by day 8 postinfection. The in vivo persistence of these strains was increased when the intact aroQ gene was supplied on a plasmid in trans. Mice infected with TB521 harbored bacteria in organs at least till day 8 postinfection without ill effect. When used as a vaccine, only the maximum tolerated dose of CS100 had the capacity to protect mice from homologous challenge. Vaccination with TB521 also elicited protective immunity, and this was associated with gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) production from splenocytes stimulated 7 days postvaccination. The role of IFN-gamma in controlling primary infections with C. pseudotuberculosis was examined in mice deficient for the IFN-gamma receptor (IFN-gammaR(-/-) mice). IFN-gammaR(-/-) mice cleared an infection with CS100 but were significantly more susceptible than control littermates to infection with C231 or TB521. These studies support an important role for IFN-gamma in control of primary C. pseudotuberculosis infections and indicate that aroQ mutants remain attenuated even in immunocompromised animals. This is the first report of an aroQ mutant of a bacterial pathogen, and the results may have implications for the construction of aromatic mutants of Mycobacterium tuberculosis for use as vaccines.
PMCID: PMC175430  PMID: 9234753
14.  Molecular characterization of the Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis hsp60-hsp10 operon, and evaluation of the immune response and protective efficacy induced by hsp60 DNA vaccination in mice 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:243.
Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are important candidates for the development of vaccines because they are usually able to promote both humoral and cellular immune responses in mammals. We identified and characterized the hsp60-hsp10 bicistronic operon of the animal pathogen Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, a Gram-positive bacterium of the class Actinobacteria, which causes caseous lymphadenitis (CLA) in small ruminants.
To construct the DNA vaccine, the hsp60 gene of C. pseudotuberculosis was cloned in a mammalian expression vector. BALB/c mice were immunized by intramuscular injection with the recombinant plasmid (pVAX1/hsp60).
This vaccination induced significant anti-hsp60 IgG, IgG1 and IgG2a isotype production. However, immunization with this DNA vaccine did not confer protective immunity.
PMCID: PMC3158118  PMID: 21774825
15.  A Role for Sigma Factor σE in Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis Resistance to Nitric Oxide/Peroxide Stress 
Pathogenic intracellular bacteria can respond to antimicrobial mechanisms of the host cell through transient activation of stress-responsive genes by alternative sigma (σ) factors of the RNA polymerase. We evaluated the contribution of the extracytoplasmic function sigma factor σE for Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis resistance to stress conditions resembling those found intracellularly during infection. A sigE-null mutant strain (ΔsigE) of this bacterium was more susceptible in vitro to acidic pH, cell surface stressors, and biologically relevant concentrations of nitric oxide (NO). The same mutant strain was unable to persist in C57BL/6 mice but remained infective in mice lacking inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), confirming the significance of σE for resistance to nitric oxide/peroxide stress in vivo. High-throughput proteomic analysis identified NO-responsive extracellular proteins of C. pseudotuberculosis and demonstrated the participation of σE in composition of this bacterium’s exoproteome.
PMCID: PMC3322355  PMID: 22514549
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis; sigma factor; nitric oxide; inducible nitric oxide synthase
16.  Characterization of Chromosomal Regions Conserved in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Lost by Yersinia pestis▿ †  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(10):4592-4599.
The transformation of the enteropathogenic bacterium Yersinia pseudotuberculosis into the plague bacillus, Yersinia pestis, has been accompanied by extensive genetic loss. This study focused on chromosomal regions conserved in Y. pseudotuberculosis and lost during its transformation into Y. pestis. An extensive PCR screening of 78 strains of the two species identified five regions (R1 to R5) and four open reading frames (ORFs; orf1 to orf4) that were conserved in Y. pseudotuberculosis and absent from Y. pestis. Their conservation in Y. pseudotuberculosis suggests a positive selective pressure and a role during the life cycle of this species. Attempts to delete two ORFs (orf3 and orf4) from the chromosome of strain IP32953 were unsuccessful, indicating that they are essential for its viability. The seven remaining loci were individually deleted from the IP32953 chromosome, and the ability of each mutant to grow in vitro and to kill mice upon intragastric infection was evaluated. Four loci (orf1, R2, R4, and R5) were not required for optimal growth or virulence of Y. pseudotuberculosis. In contrast, orf2, encoding a putative pseudouridylate synthase involved in RNA stability, was necessary for the optimal growth of IP32953 at 37°C in a chemically defined medium (M63S). Deletion of R1, a region predicted to encode the methionine salvage pathway, altered the mutant pathogenicity, suggesting that the availability of free methionine is severely restricted in vivo. R3, a region composed mostly of genes of unknown functions, was necessary for both optimal growth of Y. pseudotuberculosis at 37°C in M63S and for virulence. Therefore, despite their loss in Y. pestis, five of the nine Y. pseudotuberculosis-specific chromosomal loci studied play a role in the survival, growth, or virulence of this species.
PMCID: PMC2546824  PMID: 18678673
17.  The complete genome sequence of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis FRC41 isolated from a 12-year-old girl with necrotizing lymphadenitis reveals insights into gene-regulatory networks contributing to virulence 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:728.
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis is generally regarded as an important animal pathogen that rarely infects humans. Clinical strains are occasionally recovered from human cases of lymphadenitis, such as C. pseudotuberculosis FRC41 that was isolated from the inguinal lymph node of a 12-year-old girl with necrotizing lymphadenitis. To detect potential virulence factors and corresponding gene-regulatory networks in this human isolate, the genome sequence of C. pseudotuberculosis FCR41 was determined by pyrosequencing and functionally annotated.
Sequencing and assembly of the C. pseudotuberculosis FRC41 genome yielded a circular chromosome with a size of 2,337,913 bp and a mean G+C content of 52.2%. Specific gene sets associated with iron and zinc homeostasis were detected among the 2,110 predicted protein-coding regions and integrated into a gene-regulatory network that is linked with both the central metabolism and the oxidative stress response of FRC41. Two gene clusters encode proteins involved in the sortase-mediated polymerization of adhesive pili that can probably mediate the adherence to host tissue to facilitate additional ligand-receptor interactions and the delivery of virulence factors. The prominent virulence factors phospholipase D (Pld) and corynebacterial protease CP40 are encoded in the genome of this human isolate. The genome annotation revealed additional serine proteases, neuraminidase H, nitric oxide reductase, an invasion-associated protein, and acyl-CoA carboxylase subunits involved in mycolic acid biosynthesis as potential virulence factors. The cAMP-sensing transcription regulator GlxR plays a key role in controlling the expression of several genes contributing to virulence.
The functional data deduced from the genome sequencing and the extended knowledge of virulence factors indicate that the human isolate C. pseudotuberculosis FRC41 is equipped with a distinct gene set promoting its survival under unfavorable environmental conditions encountered in the mammalian host.
PMCID: PMC3022926  PMID: 21192786
18.  Genes Encoding Specific Nickel Transport Systems Flank the Chromosomal Urease Locus of Pathogenic Yersiniae 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(20):5706-5713.
The transition metal nickel is an essential cofactor for a number of bacterial enzymes, one of which is urease. Prior to its incorporation into metalloenzyme active sites, nickel must be imported into the cell. Here, we report identification of two loci corresponding to nickel-specific transport systems in the gram-negative, ureolytic bacterium Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. The loci are located on each side of the chromosomal urease gene cluster ureABCEFGD and have the same orientation as the latter. The yntABCDE locus upstream of the ure genes encodes five predicted products with sequence homology to ATP-binding cassette nickel permeases present in several gram-negative bacteria. The ureH gene, located downstream of ure, encodes a single-component carrier which displays homology to polypeptides of the nickel-cobalt transporter family. Transporters with homology to these two classes are also present (again in proximity to the urease locus) in the other two pathogenic yersiniae, Y. pestis and Y. enterocolitica. An Escherichia coli nikA insertion mutant recovered nickel uptake ability following heterologous complementation with either the ynt or the ureH plasmid-borne gene of Y. pseudotuberculosis, demonstrating that each carrier is necessary and sufficient for nickel transport. Deletion of ynt in Y. pseudotuberculosis almost completely abolished bacterial urease activity, whereas deletion of ureH had no effect. Nevertheless, rates of nickel transport were significantly altered in both ynt and ureH mutants. Furthermore, the ynt ureH double mutant was totally devoid of nickel uptake ability, thus indicating that Ynt and UreH constitute the only routes for nickel entry. Both Ynt and UreH show selectivity for Ni2+ ions. This is the first reported identification of genes coding for both kinds of nickel-specific permeases situated adjacent to the urease gene cluster in the genome of a microorganism.
PMCID: PMC139606  PMID: 12270829
19.  High sero-prevalence of caseous lymphadenitis identified in slaughterhouse samples as a consequence of deficiencies in sheep farm management in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil 
Caseous lymphadenitis (CLA), caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, is one of the most important diseases of sheep and goats, causing considerable economic losses for herd owners.
We assessed the seroprevalence of infection with C. pseudotuberculosis in 805 sheep from 23 sheep farms that supply slaughterhouses in the state of Minas Gerais; we also analyzed management practices that could be associated with CLA occurrence, used on these and nearby farms that also supplied animals to the slaughterhouse (n = 60). The serum samples for assaying CLA infection were taken at the slaughterhouse. Frequency of infection with C. pseudotuberculosis was estimated at 43.7%, and farm frequency was estimated at 100%. Management practices were analyzed through a questionnaire. All farmers (60/60) had extensive/semi-extensive rearing system; 70.0% (42/60) identified sheep individually; 11.7% (7/60) had periodical technical assistance; 41.7% (25/60) disinfected the facilities; 86.7% (52/60) used barbed wire fences and did not implement adequate CLA control measures; only 11.7% (7/60) of breeders reported vaccination against C. pseudotuberculosis; 13.3% (8/60) took note of animals with clinical signs of CLA; 1.7% (1/60) opened and sanitized abscesses, and isolated the infected animals; 10.0% (6/60) knew the zoonotic potential of this disease and 1.7% (1/60) of the farmers culled animals in case of recurrence of abscesses.
It can be concluded that C. pseudotuberculosis infection is widely spread in sheep flocks in Minas Gerais state in Brazil and that there is a lack of good management measures and vaccination, allowing transmission of this infectious agent throughout the production network.
PMCID: PMC3256107  PMID: 22067701
Caseous lymphadenitis; Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis; sheep; slaughterhouse; Minas Gerais
20.  Metabolic modeling of endosymbiont genome reduction on a temporal scale 
This study explores the order in which individual metabolic genes are lost in an in silico evolutionary process leading from the metabolic network of Eschericia coli to that of the genome-reduced endosymbiont Buchnera aphidicola.
Simulating the reductive evolutionary process under several growth conditions, a remarkable correlation between in silico and phylogenetically reconstructed gene loss time is obtained.A gene's k-robustness (its depth of backups) is prime determinant of its loss time.In silico gene loss time is a better predictor of their actual loss times than genomic features and network properties.Simulating the reductive evolutionary process by the loss of large blocks followed by single-gene deletions, as known to occur in evolution, yields a remarkable correspondence with the phylogenetic reconstruction and the block loss reported in the literature.
An open fundamental challenge in Systems Biology is whether a genome-scale model can predict patterns of genome evolution by realistically accounting for the associated biochemical constraints. In this study, we explore the order in which individual genes are lost in an in silico evolutionary process, leading from the metabolic network of Eschericia coli to that of the endosymbiont Buchnera aphidicola.
To evaluate the in silico gene loss time, we repeated the reductive evolutionary process introduced by Pál et al (2006), denoting the in silico deletion time of a gene in a single run of the reductive evolutionary process as the number of genes deleted before its own deletion occurred. By comparing the in silico evaluations of the gene loss time to that obtained by a phylogenetic reconstruction (Figure 1), we could evaluate the ability of an in silico process to predict temporal patterns of genome reduction. Applying this procedure on a literature-based viable media, we obtained a mean Spearman's correlation of 0.46 (53% of the maximal correlation, empirical P-value <9.9e−4) between in silico and phylogenetically reconstructed loss times. In order to provide an upper bound on evolutionary necessity stemming from metabolic constraints, we searched the space of potential growth media and biomass functions via a simulated annealing search algorithm aimed at identifying an environment/biomass function that maximizes the target correlation between in silico and reconstructed loss times. Simulating the reductive evolutionary process under the growth conditions and biomass function obtained in this process, we managed to improve the correlation between in silico and reconstructed loss times to a mean Spearman's correlation of 0.54 (63% of the maximal correlation, empirical P-value <9.9e−4, Figure 3).
Examining the dependency of the predicted loss time of each gene on its intrinsic network-level properties we find a very strong inverse Spearman's correlation of −0.84 (empirical P-value <9.9e−4) between the order of gene loss predicted in silico and the k-robustness levels of the genes, the latter denoting the depth of their functional backups in the network (Deutscher et al, 2006). Moreover, in order to examine whether the relative loss time of a gene is influenced by its functional dependencies with other genes, we performed a flux-coupling analysis and identified pairs of reactions whose activities asymmetrically depend on each other, i.e., are directionally coupled (Burgard et al, 2004). We find that genes encoding reactions whose activity is needed for activating the other reaction (and not vice versa) have a tendency to be lost later, as one would expect (binomial P-value <1e−14).
To assess the scale of these results, we examined as a control how well genomic features and network properties predict the phylogenetically reconstructed gene loss times. We examined the dependency of the latter on several factors that are known be inversely correlated with the propensity of a gene to be lost (Brinza et al, 2009; Delmotte et al, 2006; Tamames et al, 2007), including the genes' mRNA levels, tAI values (Covert et al, 2004; Reis et al, 2004; Sharp and Li, 1987; Tuller et al, 2010a) and the number of partners the gene products have in a protein–protein interaction network. Remarkably, these genomic features yield considerably lower Spearman's correlation than that obtained by the in silico simulations. Moreover, multiply regressing the loss times from the phylogenetic reconstruction on the in silico gene loss time predictions and the genomic and network variables, we found that the (normalized) coefficient of the in silico predictions in the regression is much higher than those of the genomic features, further testifying to the considerable independent predictive power of the metabolic model.
Finally, simulating the evolutionary process as large block deletions at first followed by single-gene deletions as is thought to occur in evolution (Moran and Mira, 2001; van Ham et al, 2003), a remarkable correspondence with the phylogenetic reconstruction was found. Namely, we find that after a certain amount of genes are deleted from the genome, no further block deletions can occur due to the increasing density of essential genes. Notably, the maximum amount of genes that can be deleted in blocks (i.e., until no more blocks can be deleted) corresponds to the number of genes appearing in our phylogenetic reconstruction from the LCA (last common ancestor of Buchnera and E. coli) to the LCSA (last common symbiotic ancestor, nodes 1–3 in Figure 1A), as described in the literature.
A fundamental challenge in Systems Biology is whether a cell-scale metabolic model can predict patterns of genome evolution by realistically accounting for associated biochemical constraints. Here, we study the order in which genes are lost in an in silico evolutionary process, leading from the metabolic network of Eschericia coli to that of the endosymbiont Buchnera aphidicola. We examine how this order correlates with the order by which the genes were actually lost, as estimated from a phylogenetic reconstruction. By optimizing this correlation across the space of potential growth and biomass conditions, we compute an upper bound estimate on the model's prediction accuracy (R=0.54). The model's network-based predictive ability outperforms predictions obtained using genomic features of individual genes, reflecting the effect of selection imposed by metabolic stoichiometric constraints. Thus, while the timing of gene loss might be expected to be a completely stochastic evolutionary process, remarkably, we find that metabolic considerations, on their own, make a marked 40% contribution to determining when such losses occur.
PMCID: PMC3094061  PMID: 21451589
constraint-based modeling; endosymbiont; evolution; metabolism
21.  The Aeromonas salmonicida subsp. salmonicida exoproteome: global analysis, moonlighting proteins and putative antigens for vaccination against furunculosis 
Proteome Science  2013;11:44.
Aeromonas salmonicida subsp. salmonicida, the etiologic agent of furunculosis, is a major pathogen of fisheries worldwide. Despite the identification of several virulence factors the pathogenesis is still poorly understood. We have used high-throughput proteomics to display the differences between in vitro secretome of A. salmonicida wild-type (wt, hypervirulent, JF5054) and T3SS-deficient (isogenic ΔascV, extremely low-virulent, JF2747) strains in exponential (GP) and stationary (SP) phases of growth.
Among the different experimental conditions we obtained semi-quantitative values for a total of 2136 A. salmonicida proteins. Proteins of specific A. salmonicida species were proportionally less detected than proteins common to the Aeromonas genus or those shared with other Aeromonas species, suggesting that in vitro growth did not induce the expression of these genes. Four detected proteins which are unidentified in the genome of reference strains of A. salmonicida were homologous to components of the conjugative T4SS of A. hydrophila pRA1 plasmid. Polypeptides of three proteins which are specific to the 01-B526 strain were also discovered. In supernatants (SNs), the number of detected proteins was higher in SP (326 for wt vs 329 for mutant) than in GP (275 for wt vs 263 for mutant). In pellets, the number of identified proteins (a total of 1536) was approximately the same between GP and SP. Numerous highly conserved cytoplasmic proteins were present in A. salmonicida SNs (mainly EF-Tu, EF-G, EF-P, EF-Ts, TypA, AlaS, ribosomal proteins, HtpG, DnaK, peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerases, GAPDH, Enolase, FbaA, TpiA, Pgk, TktA, AckA, AcnB, Mdh, AhpC, Tpx, SodB and PNPase), and several evidences support the theory that their extracellular localization was not the result of cell lysis. According to the Cluster of Orthologous Groups classification, 29% of excreted proteins in A. salmonicida SNs were currently poorly characterized.
In this part of our work we elucidated the whole in vitro exoproteome of hypervirulent A. salmonicida subsp. salmonicida and showed the secretion of several highly conserved cytoplasmic proteins with putative moonlighting functions and roles in virulence. All together, our results offer new information about the pathogenesis of furunculosis and point out potential candidates for vaccine development.
PMCID: PMC3826670  PMID: 24127837
22.  Reduced Secretion of YopJ by Yersinia Limits In Vivo Cell Death but Enhances Bacterial Virulence 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(5):e1000067.
Numerous microbial pathogens modulate or interfere with cell death pathways in cultured cells. However, the precise role of host cell death during in vivo infection remains poorly understood. Macrophages infected by pathogenic species of Yersinia typically undergo an apoptotic cell death. This is due to the activity of a Type III secreted effector protein, designated YopJ in Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. pestis, and YopP in the closely related Y. enterocolitica. It has recently been reported that Y. enterocolitica YopP shows intrinsically greater capacity for being secreted than Y. pestis YopJ, and that this correlates with enhanced cytotoxicity observed for high virulence serotypes of Y. enterocolitica. The enzymatic activity and secretory capacity of YopP from different Y. enterocolitica serotypes have been shown to be variable. However, the underlying basis for differential secretion of YopJ/YopP, and whether reduced secretion of YopJ by Y. pestis plays a role in pathogenesis during in vivo infection, is not currently known. It has also been reported that similar to macrophages, Y. enterocolitica infection of dendritic cells leads to YopP-dependent cell death. We demonstrate here that in contrast to Y. enterocolitica, Y. pseudotuberculosis infection of bone marrow–derived dendritic cells does not lead to increased cell death. However, death of Y. pseudotuberculosis–infected dendritic cells is enhanced by ectopic expression of YopP in place of YopJ. We further show that polymorphisms at the N-terminus of the YopP/YopJ proteins are responsible for their differential secretion, translocation, and consequent cytotoxicity. Mutation of two amino acids in YopJ markedly enhanced both translocation and cytotoxicity. Surprisingly, expression of YopP or a hypersecreted mutant of YopJ in Y. pseudotuberculosis resulted in its attenuation in oral mouse infection. Complete absence of YopJ also resulted in attenuation of virulence, in accordance with previous observations. These findings suggest that control of cytotoxicity is an important virulence property for Y. pseudotuberculosis, and that intermediate levels of YopJ-mediated cytotoxicity are necessary for maximal systemic virulence of this bacterial pathogen.
Author Summary
The ability of bacterial pathogens to modulate death of infected host cells is an important virulence determinant. For pathogenic members of the genus Yersinia, the type III secreted effector protein YopJ/YopP is required for Yersinia-induced macrophage death. The YopJ protein is expressed by Y. pseudotuberculosis, while the ninety-four percent identical YopP protein is expressed by Y. enterocolitica. Y. enterocolitica infection also triggers YopP-dependent killing of dendritic cells, which are critical antigen presenting cells of the immune system. We demonstrate that in contrast to macrophages, dendritic cells are resistant to Y. pseudotuberculosis-mediated cytotoxicity. However, Y. pseudotuberculosis expressing YopP in place of YopJ was highly cytotoxic toward dendritic cells. This difference in cytotoxicity was attributable to a difference in the delivery of YopJ and YopP into mammalian cells. Furthermore, mutation of two amino acids at the N-terminus of YopJ enhanced its delivery and cytotoxicity. Remarkably, we found that enhancing the cytotoxicity of Y. pseudotuberculosis by expression of YopP led to its attenuation in a mouse model of Yersinia infection. This indicates that optimal virulence for a given pathogen requires careful regulation of virulence properties and highlights the potential evolutionary tradeoffs between cellular cytotoxicity and in vivo virulence.
PMCID: PMC2361194  PMID: 18483548
23.  First report of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis from caseous lymphadenitis lesions in Black Alentejano pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) 
BMC Veterinary Research  2014;10(1):218.
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis is the etiologic agent of caseous lymphadenitis, a common disease in small ruminant populations throughout the world and responsible for a significant economic impact for producers.
Case presentation
To our knowledge, this is the first characterization of C. pseudotuberculosis from caseous lymphadenitis lesions in Black Alentejano pig (Sus scrofa domesticus). In this study, phenotypic and genotypic identification methods allocated the swine isolates in C. pseudotuberculosis biovar ovis. The vast majority of the isolates were able to produce phospholipase D and were susceptible to most of the antimicrobial compounds tested. Macrorestriction patterns obtained by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) grouped the C. pseudotuberculosis in two clusters with a high similarity index, which reveals their clonal relatedness. Furthermore, swine isolates were compared with C. pseudotuberculosis from caprines and PFGE patterns also showed high similarity, suggesting the prevalence of dominant clones and a potential cross-dissemination between these two animal hosts.
This work represents the first report of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis from caseous lymphadenitis lesions in Black Alentejano pig and alerts for the importance of the establishment of suitable control and sanitary management practices to control the infection and avoid further dissemination of this important pathogen to other animal hosts.
PMCID: PMC4177237  PMID: 25240511
Antimicrobial resistance; Black Alentejano pig; Caseous lymphadenitis; Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis; Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis
24.  Simultaneous, specific and real-time detection of biothreat and frequently encountered food-borne pathogens 
Journal of food protection  2012;75(4):660-670.
The bacterial genera Escherichia, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio, Yersinia and Francisella include important food safety and biothreat agents causing food-related and other human illnesses worldwide. We aimed to develop rapid methods with the capability to simultaneously and differentially detect all six pathogens in one run. Our initial experiments to use previously reported sets of primers revealed non-specificity of some of the sequences when tested against a broader array of pathogens, or proved not optimal for simultaneous detection parameters. By extensive mining of the whole genome and protein databases of diverse closely and distantly related bacterial species and strains, we have identified unique genome regions, which we utilized to develop a detection platform. Twelve of the specific genomic targets we have identified to design the primers in F. tularensis ssp. tularensis, F. tularensis ssp. novicida, S. dysentriae, S. typhimurium, V. cholera, Y. pestis, and Y. pseudotuberculosis contained either hypothetical or putative proteins, the functions of which have not been clearly defined. Corresponding primer sets were designed from the target regions for use in real-time PCR assays to detect specific biothreat pathogens at species or strain levels. The primer sets were first tested by in-silico PCR against whole genome sequences of different species, sub-species, or strains and then by in vitro PCR against genomic DNA preparations from 23 strains representing six biothreat agents (E.coli O157:H7 strain EDL 933, Shigella dysentriae, Salmonella typhi, Francisella tularensis ssp. tularensis, Vibrio cholera, and Yersinia pestis) and six foodborne pathogens (Salmonella typhimurium, Salmonella saintpaul, Shigella sonnei, Francisella novicida, Vibrio parahemolytica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis). Each pathogen was specifically identifiable at the genus and species levels. Sensitivity assays performed using purified DNA showed the lowest detection limit of 640 fg DNA/µl for F. tularensis. A preliminary test done to detect Shigella organisms in a milk matrix showed that 6–60 colony forming units of the bacterium per milliliter of milk could be detected in about an hour. Therefore, we have developed a platform to simultaneously detect foodborne pathogen and biothreat agents specifically and in real-time. Such a platform could enable rapid detection or confirmation of contamination by these agents.
PMCID: PMC3524339  PMID: 22488053
Biothreat agents; PCR; food-borne pathogens
25.  PIPS: Pathogenicity Island Prediction Software 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30848.
The adaptability of pathogenic bacteria to hosts is influenced by the genomic plasticity of the bacteria, which can be increased by such mechanisms as horizontal gene transfer. Pathogenicity islands play a major role in this type of gene transfer because they are large, horizontally acquired regions that harbor clusters of virulence genes that mediate the adhesion, colonization, invasion, immune system evasion, and toxigenic properties of the acceptor organism. Currently, pathogenicity islands are mainly identified in silico based on various characteristic features: (1) deviations in codon usage, G+C content or dinucleotide frequency and (2) insertion sequences and/or tRNA genetic flanking regions together with transposase coding genes. Several computational techniques for identifying pathogenicity islands exist. However, most of these techniques are only directed at the detection of horizontally transferred genes and/or the absence of certain genomic regions of the pathogenic bacterium in closely related non-pathogenic species. Here, we present a novel software suite designed for the prediction of pathogenicity islands (pathogenicity island prediction software, or PIPS). In contrast to other existing tools, our approach is capable of utilizing multiple features for pathogenicity island detection in an integrative manner. We show that PIPS provides better accuracy than other available software packages. As an example, we used PIPS to study the veterinary pathogen Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, in which we identified seven putative pathogenicity islands.
PMCID: PMC3280268  PMID: 22355329

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