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1.  New insights on the biology of swine respiratory tract mycoplasmas from a comparative genome analysis 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:175.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, Mycoplasma flocculare and Mycoplasma hyorhinis live in swine respiratory tracts. M. flocculare, a commensal bacterium, is genetically closely related to M. hyopneumoniae, the causative agent of enzootic porcine pneumonia. M. hyorhinis is also pathogenic, causing polyserositis and arthritis. In this work, we present the genome sequences of M. flocculare and M. hyopneumoniae strain 7422, and we compare these genomes with the genomes of other M. hyoponeumoniae strain and to the a M. hyorhinis genome. These analyses were performed to identify possible characteristics that may help to explain the different behaviors of these species in swine respiratory tracts.
The overall genome organization of three species was analyzed, revealing that the ORF clusters (OCs) differ considerably and that inversions and rearrangements are common. Although M. flocculare and M. hyopneumoniae display a high degree of similarity with respect to the gene content, only some genomic regions display considerable synteny. Genes encoding proteins that may be involved in host-cell adhesion in M. hyopneumoniae and M. flocculare display differences in genomic structure and organization. Some genes encoding adhesins of the P97 family are absent in M. flocculare and some contain sequence differences or lack of domains that are considered to be important for adhesion to host cells. The phylogenetic relationship of the three species was confirmed by a phylogenomic approach. The set of genes involved in metabolism, especially in the uptake of precursors for nucleic acids synthesis and nucleotide metabolism, display some differences in copy number and the presence/absence in the three species.
The comparative analyses of three mycoplasma species that inhabit the swine respiratory tract facilitated the identification of some characteristics that may be related to their different behaviors. M. hyopneumoniae and M. flocculare display many differences that may help to explain why one species is pathogenic and the other is considered to be commensal. However, it was not possible to identify specific virulence determinant factors that could explain the differences in the pathogenicity of the analyzed species. The M. hyorhinis genome contains differences in some components involved in metabolism and evasion of the host’s immune system that may contribute to its growth aggressiveness. Several horizontal gene transfer events were identified. The phylogenomic analysis places M. hyopneumoniae, M. flocculare and M. hyorhinis in the hyopneumoniae clade.
PMCID: PMC3610235  PMID: 23497205
Mycoplasma; Comparative genomics; Adhesins; Swine respiratory tract
2.  Being Pathogenic, Plastic, and Sexual while Living with a Nearly Minimal Bacterial Genome 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(5):e75.
Mycoplasmas are commonly described as the simplest self-replicating organisms, whose evolution was mainly characterized by genome downsizing with a proposed evolutionary scenario similar to that of obligate intracellular bacteria such as insect endosymbionts. Thus far, analysis of mycoplasma genomes indicates a low level of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) implying that DNA acquisition is strongly limited in these minimal bacteria. In this study, the genome of the ruminant pathogen Mycoplasma agalactiae was sequenced. Comparative genomic data and phylogenetic tree reconstruction revealed that ∼18% of its small genome (877,438 bp) has undergone HGT with the phylogenetically distinct mycoides cluster, which is composed of significant ruminant pathogens. HGT involves genes often found as clusters, several of which encode lipoproteins that usually play an important role in mycoplasma–host interaction. A decayed form of a conjugative element also described in a member of the mycoides cluster was found in the M. agalactiae genome, suggesting that HGT may have occurred by mobilizing a related genetic element. The possibility of HGT events among other mycoplasmas was evaluated with the available sequenced genomes. Our data indicate marginal levels of HGT among Mycoplasma species except for those described above and, to a lesser extent, for those observed in between the two bird pathogens, M. gallisepticum and M. synoviae. This first description of large-scale HGT among mycoplasmas sharing the same ecological niche challenges the generally accepted evolutionary scenario in which gene loss is the main driving force of mycoplasma evolution. The latter clearly differs from that of other bacteria with small genomes, particularly obligate intracellular bacteria that are isolated within host cells. Consequently, mycoplasmas are not only able to subvert complex hosts but presumably have retained sexual competence, a trait that may prevent them from genome stasis and contribute to adaptation to new hosts.
Author Summary
Mycoplasmas are cell wall–lacking prokaryotes that evolved from ancestors common to Gram-positive bacteria by way of massive losses of genetic material. With their minimal genome, mycoplasmas are considered to be the simplest free-living organisms, yet several species are successful pathogens of man and animal. In this study, we challenged the commonly accepted view in which mycoplasma evolution is driven only by genome down-sizing. Indeed, we showed that a significant amount of genes underwent horizontal transfer among different mycoplasma species that share the same ruminant hosts. In these species, the occurrence of a genetic element that can promote DNA transfer via cell-to-cell contact suggests that some mycoplasmas may have retained or acquired sexual competence. Transferred genes were found to encode proteins that are likely to be associated with mycoplasma–host interactions. Sharing genetic resources via horizontal gene transfer may provide mycoplasmas with a means for adapting to new niches or to new hosts and for avoiding irreversible genome erosion.
PMCID: PMC1868952  PMID: 17511520
3.  Comparative proteomic analysis of pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains from the swine pathogen Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae 
Proteome Science  2009;7:45.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is a highly infectious swine pathogen and is the causative agent of enzootic pneumonia (EP). Following the previous report of a proteomic survey of the pathogenic 7448 strain of swine pathogen, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, we performed comparative protein profiling of three M. hyopneumoniae strains, namely the non-pathogenic J strain and the two pathogenic strains 7448 and 7422.
In 2DE comparisons, we were able to identify differences in expression levels for 67 proteins, including the overexpression of some cytoadherence-related proteins only in the pathogenic strains. 2DE immunoblot analyses allowed the identification of differential proteolytic cleavage patterns of the P97 adhesin in the three strains. For more comprehensive protein profiling, an LC-MS/MS strategy was used. Overall, 35% of the M. hyopneumoniae genome coding capacity was covered. Partially overlapping profiles of identified proteins were observed in the strains with 81 proteins identified only in one strain and 54 proteins identified in two strains. Abundance analysis of proteins detected in more than one strain demonstrates the relative overexpression of 64 proteins, including the P97 adhesin in the pathogenic strains.
Our results indicate the physiological differences between the non-pathogenic strain, with its non-infective proliferate lifestyle, and the pathogenic strains, with its constitutive expression of adhesins, which would render the bacterium competent for adhesion and infection prior to host contact.
PMCID: PMC2804596  PMID: 20025764
4.  Diversifying and Stabilizing Selection of Sialidase and N-Acetylneuraminate Catabolism in Mycoplasma synoviae▿ §  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(11):3588-3593.
Sialidase activity varies widely among strains and tends to correlate with strain virulence in the avian pathogen Mycoplasma synoviae. To characterize the forms of selection acting on enzymes required for sialic acid scavenging and catabolism, the ratios of nonsynonymous (Ka) to synonymous (Ks) mutation frequency were calculated for codons in the sialidase gene of 16 strains of M. synoviae and for its nearly identical homolog in four strains of Mycoplasma gallisepticum. The Ka/Ks (ω) values for the linked genes required for nutritive N-acetylneuraminate catabolism (nanA, nagC, nanE, nagA, and nagB) from nine strains of M. synoviae were also determined. To provide context, ω was determined for all corresponding genes of 26 strains of Clostridium perfringens and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Bayesian models of sequence evolution showed that only the sialidase of M. synoviae was under significant (P < 0.001) diversifying selection, while the M. synoviae genes for N-acetylneuraminate catabolism and all genes examined from M. gallisepticum, C. perfringens, and S. pneumoniae were under neutral to stabilizing selection. Diversifying selection acting on the sialidase of M. synoviae, but not on the sialidase of M. gallisepticum or the sialidases or other enzymes essential for sialic acid scavenging in other Firmicutes, is evidence that variation in specific activity of the enzyme is perpetuated by a nonnutritive function in M. synoviae that is influenced by the genomic context of the organism.
PMCID: PMC2681885  PMID: 19329630
5.  Multigene Families Encoding the Major Hemagglutinins in Phylogenetically Distinct Mycoplasmas 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(7):3470-3475.
Mycoplasma synoviae has two major membrane antigens, MSPA and MSPB, both of which are phase variable and which may be coordinately involved in adhesion of the organism to erythrocytes. A single gene (vlhA) from M. synoviae was characterized, and polypeptides were expressed from nonoverlapping 5′ and 3′ regions in Escherichia coli. The expression product of the vlhA 5′ region reacted with specific reagents against MSPB, while that of the 3′ region reacted with specific reagents against MSPA. Analysis of the predicted amino acid sequence showed a characteristic signal peptidase II cleavage site, and the presence of the acylation site was confirmed by identification of a lipid-associated membrane protein, similar in molecular mass to MSPB, in [3H]palmitate-labelled membrane proteins. Further sequence analysis of the vlhA gene revealed a high identity with the Mycoplasma gallisepticum pMGA1.7 gene, a member of a large translated family. The vlhA gene was shown to hybridize to multiple restriction fragments of the M. synoviae genome, suggesting that it was also a member of a multigene family. These findings indicate that coordinate phase variation of the two major surface antigens of M. synoviae WVU may be due to their expression from the same gene and that homologous gene families encode the major hemagglutinins of two phylogenetically distinct mycoplasmas. The presence of homologous multigene families in such phylogenetically distinct species, but not in the genomes of more closely related species, suggests that the families may have been transferred horizontally.
PMCID: PMC108374  PMID: 9632627
6.  Identification and characterization of a Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae adhesin. 
Infection and Immunity  1995;63(3):1013-1019.
An adhesin of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae was identified and characterized in this study. A monoclonal antibody (MAb), F2G5, and its F(ab')2 fragments inhibited the adherence of M. hyopneumoniae to porcine tracheal cilia, the natural targets to which the mycoplasma binds during infection. MAb F2G5 detected multiple bands, but predominantly recognized a 97-kDa (P97) protein of M. hyopneumoniae on immunoblots. Affinity chromatography, conducted with immobilized MAb F2G5, mainly purified P97. The purified proteins were able to bind to cilia and blocked the adherence of intact M. hyopneumoniae cells to cilia. Immunolabeling of mycoplasmas with MAb F2G5 under electron microscopy demonstrated that the proteins recognized by MAb F2G5 were located at the surface of the mycoplasma, predominantly on a surface fuzzy layer. These results indicate that P97 functions as an adhesin of M. hyopneumoniae. The N-terminal amino acid sequence of P97 did not have significant homology with any known bacterial or mycoplasmal adhesins, suggesting that P97 is a novel protein. The predominant proteins detected by MAb F2G5 in different strains varied in size, indicating that the antigen bearing the epitope for MAb F2G5 undergo intraspecies size variation. Antigenic variation of adhesins may be a pathogenic mechanism utilized by M. hyopneumoniae to evade the porcine immune system.
PMCID: PMC173103  PMID: 7868222
7.  Detection and Differentiation of Avian Mycoplasmas by Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy Based on a Silver Nanorod Array 
Mycoplasma gallisepticum is a bacterial pathogen of poultry that is estimated to cause annual losses exceeding $780 million. The National Poultry Improvement Plan guidelines recommend regular surveillance and intervention strategies to contain M. gallisepticum infections and ensure mycoplasma-free avian stocks, but several factors make detection of M. gallisepticum and diagnosis of M. gallisepticum infection a major challenge. Current techniques are laborious, require special expertise, and are typically plagued by false results. In this study, we describe a novel detection strategy which uses silver nanorod array–surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (NA-SERS) for direct detection of avian mycoplasmas. As a proof of concept for use in avian diagnostics, we used NA-SERS to detect and differentiate multiple strains of avian mycoplasma species, including Acholeplasma laidlawii, Mycoplasma gallinarum, Mycoplasma gallinaceum, Mycoplasma synoviae, and M. gallisepticum, including vaccine strains 6/85, F, and ts-11. Chemometric multivariate analysis of spectral data was used to classify these species rapidly and accurately, with >93% sensitivity and specificity. Furthermore, NA-SERS had a lower limit of detection that was 100-fold greater than that of standard PCR and comparable to that of real-time quantitative PCR. Detection of M. gallisepticum in choanal cleft swabs from experimentally infected birds yielded good sensitivity and specificity, suggesting that NA-SERS is applicable for clinical detection.
PMCID: PMC3298138  PMID: 22210215
8.  Unveiling Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae Promoters: Sequence Definition and Genomic Distribution 
Several Mycoplasma species have had their genome completely sequenced, including four strains of the swine pathogen Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae. Nevertheless, little is known about the nucleotide sequences that control transcriptional initiation in these microorganisms. Therefore, with the objective of investigating the promoter sequences of M. hyopneumoniae, 23 transcriptional start sites (TSSs) of distinct genes were mapped. A pattern that resembles the σ70 promoter −10 element was found upstream of the TSSs. However, no −35 element was distinguished. Instead, an AT-rich periodic signal was identified. About half of the experimentally defined promoters contained the motif 5′-TRTGn-3′, which was identical to the −16 element usually found in Gram-positive bacteria. The defined promoters were utilized to build position-specific scoring matrices in order to scan putative promoters upstream of all coding sequences (CDSs) in the M. hyopneumoniae genome. Two hundred and one signals were found associated with 169 CDSs. Most of these sequences were located within 100 nucleotides of the start codons. This study has shown that the number of promoter-like sequences in the M. hyopneumoniae genome is more frequent than expected by chance, indicating that most of the sequences detected are probably biologically functional.
PMCID: PMC3325076  PMID: 22334569
Mycoplasma; promoter; transcription; sigma; matrix
9.  Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae Transcription Unit Organization: Genome Survey and Prediction 
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is associated with swine respiratory diseases. Although gene organization and regulation are well known in many prokaryotic organisms, knowledge on mycoplasma is limited. This study performed a comparative analysis of three strains of M. hyopneumoniae (7448, J and 232), with a focus on genome organization and gene comparison for open read frame (ORF) cluster (OC) identification. An in silico analysis of gene organization demonstrated 117 OCs and 34 single ORFs in M. hyopneumoniae 7448 and J, while 116 OCs and 36 single ORFs were identified in M. hyopneumoniae 232. Genomic comparison revealed high synteny and conservation of gene order between the OCs defined for 7448 and J strains as well as for 7448 and 232 strains. Twenty-one OCs were chosen and experimentally confirmed by reverse transcription–PCR from M. hyopneumoniae 7448 genome, validating our prediction. A subset of the ORFs within an OC could be independently transcribed due to the presence of internal promoters. Our results suggest that transcription occurs in ‘run-on’ from an upstream promoter in M. hyopneumoniae, thus forming large ORF clusters (from 2 to 29 ORFs in the same orientation) and indicating a complex transcriptional organization.
PMCID: PMC3223074  PMID: 22086999
ORF cluster; intergenic regions; cotranscription; transcriptional units
10.  Comparative genomic analyses of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae pathogenic 168 strain and its high-passaged attenuated strain 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:80.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is the causative agent of porcine enzootic pneumonia (EP), a mild, chronic pneumonia of swine. Despite presenting with low direct mortality, EP is responsible for major economic losses in the pig industry. To identify the virulence-associated determinants of M. hyopneumoniae, we determined the whole genome sequence of M. hyopneumoniae strain 168 and its attenuated high-passage strain 168-L and carried out comparative genomic analyses.
We performed the first comprehensive analysis of M. hyopneumoniae strain 168 and its attenuated strain and made a preliminary survey of coding sequences (CDSs) that may be related to virulence. The 168-L genome has a highly similar gene content and order to that of 168, but is 4,483 bp smaller because there are 60 insertions and 43 deletions in 168-L. Besides these indels, 227 single nucleotide variations (SNVs) were identified. We further investigated the variants that affected CDSs, and compared them to reported virulence determinants. Notably, almost all of the reported virulence determinants are included in these variants affected CDSs. In addition to variations previously described in mycoplasma adhesins (P97, P102, P146, P159, P216, and LppT), cell envelope proteins (P95), cell surface antigens (P36), secreted proteins and chaperone protein (DnaK), mutations in genes related to metabolism and growth may also contribute to the attenuated virulence in 168-L. Furthermore, many mutations were located in the previously described repeat motif, which may be of primary importance for virulence.
We studied the virulence attenuation mechanism of M. hyopneumoniae by comparative genomic analysis of virulent strain 168 and its attenuated high-passage strain 168-L. Our findings provide a preliminary survey of CDSs that may be related to virulence. While these include reported virulence-related genes, other novel virulence determinants were also detected. This new information will form the foundation of future investigations into the pathogenesis of M. hyopneumoniae and facilitate the design of new vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3626624  PMID: 23384176
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae; Genetic variation; Virulence attenuation; Sequence analysis; Repetitive sequences; Virulence factors
11.  Proteogenomic mapping of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae virulent strain 232 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):576.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae causes respiratory disease in swine and contributes to the porcine respiratory disease complex, a major disease problem in the swine industry. The M. hyopneumoniae strain 232 genome is one of the smallest and best annotated microbial genomes, containing only 728 annotated genes and 691 known proteins. Standard protein databases for mass spectrometry only allow for the identification of known and predicted proteins, which if incorrect can limit our understanding of the biological processes at work. Proteogenomic mapping is a methodology which allows the entire 6-frame genome translation of an organism to be used as a mass spectrometry database to help identify unknown proteins as well as correct and confirm existing annotations. This methodology will be employed to perform an in-depth analysis of the M. hyopneumoniae proteome.
Proteomic analysis indicates 483 of 691 (70%) known M. hyopneumoniae strain 232 proteins are expressed under the culture conditions given in this study. Furthermore, 171 of 328 (52%) hypothetical proteins have been confirmed. Proteogenomic mapping resulted in the identification of previously unannotated genes gatC and rpmF and 5-prime extensions to genes mhp063, mhp073, and mhp451, all conserved and annotated in other M. hyopneumoniae strains and Mycoplasma species. Gene prediction with Prodigal, a prokaryotic gene predicting program, completely supports the new genomic coordinates calculated using proteogenomic mapping.
Proteogenomic mapping showed that the protein coding genes of the M. hyopneumoniae strain 232 identified in this study are well annotated. Only 1.8% of mapped peptides did not correspond to genes defined by the current genome annotation. This study also illustrates how proteogenomic mapping can be an important tool to help confirm, correct and append known gene models when using a genome sequence as search space for peptide mass spectra. Using a gene prediction program which scans for a wide variety of promoters can help ensure genes are accurately predicted or not missed completely. Furthermore, protein extraction using differential detergent fractionation effectively increases the number of membrane and cytoplasmic proteins identifiable my mass spectrometry.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-576) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4102725  PMID: 25005615
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae; Proteome; Swine pathogen; Proteogenomic; Mapping; Mass spectrometry
12.  Ultrafast Evolution and Loss of CRISPRs Following a Host Shift in a Novel Wildlife Pathogen, Mycoplasma gallisepticum 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(2):e1002511.
Measureable rates of genome evolution are well documented in human pathogens but are less well understood in bacterial pathogens in the wild, particularly during and after host switches. Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) is a pathogenic bacterium that has evolved predominantly in poultry and recently jumped to wild house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus), a common North American songbird. For the first time we characterize the genome and measure rates of genome evolution in House Finch isolates of MG, as well as in poultry outgroups. Using whole-genome sequences of 12 House Finch isolates across a 13-year serial sample and an additional four newly sequenced poultry strains, we estimate a nucleotide diversity in House Finch isolates of only ∼2% of ancestral poultry strains and a nucleotide substitution rate of 0.8−1.2×10−5 per site per year both in poultry and in House Finches, an exceptionally fast rate rivaling some of the highest estimates reported thus far for bacteria. We also found high diversity and complete turnover of CRISPR arrays in poultry MG strains prior to the switch to the House Finch host, but after the invasion of House Finches there is progressive loss of CRISPR repeat diversity, and recruitment of novel CRISPR repeats ceases. Recent (2007) House Finch MG strains retain only ∼50% of the CRISPR repertoire founding (1994–95) strains and have lost the CRISPR–associated genes required for CRISPR function. Our results suggest that genome evolution in bacterial pathogens of wild birds can be extremely rapid and in this case is accompanied by apparent functional loss of CRISPRs.
Author Summary
Documenting the evolutionary changes occurring in pathogens when they switch hosts is important for understanding mechanisms of adaptation and rates of evolution. We took advantage of a novel host–pathogen system involving a bacterial pathogen (Mycoplasma gallisepticum, or MG) and a songbird host, the House Finch, to study genome-wide changes during a host-shift. Around 1994, biologists noticed that House Finches were contracting conjunctivitis and MG from poultry was discovered to be the cause. The resulting epizootic was one of the best documented for a wildlife species, partly as a result of thousands of citizen science observers. We sequenced the genomes of 12 House Finch MG strains sampled throughout the epizootic, from 1994–2007, as well as four additional putatively ancestral poultry MG strains. Using this serial sample, we estimate a remarkably high rate of substitution, consistent with past implications that mycoplasmas are among the fastest evolving bacteria. We also find that an array of likely phage-derived sequences known as CRISPRs has degraded and ceased to recruit new repeats in the House Finch MG strains, as compared to the poultry strains in which it is diverse and rapidly evolving. This suggests that phage dynamics might be important in the dynamics of MG infection.
PMCID: PMC3276549  PMID: 22346765
13.  Laboratory investigations into the origin of Mycoplasma synoviae isolated from a lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) 
The role of wild birds in the transmission and spread of mycoplasmas is not clear. Up to now different Mycoplasma species have been isolated from wild birds many of which are not considered pathogens sensu stricto for domestic flocks. This report describes the first isolation of Mycoplasma synoviae in a captive lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) held in a zoo in Italy and the laboratory investigations performed to elucidate its origin. Results showed that the strain was similar to the MS-H vaccine strain using the vlhA methods although no vaccination with this product was used in the zoo.
Case presentation
This paper describes investigations into a case in which 10 of 12 adult lesser flamingos (Phoeniconaias minor) died after having recently been moved from the Netherlands to a new zoo in Northern Italy. While most of the birds appeared to have died from the stress of movement and poor adaptation to their new environment, Mycoplasma synoviae, an important poultry pathogen in the layer and meat industry, was isolated for the first time from the trachea of one animal presenting catarrhal tracheitis and fibrinous airsacculitis. Genetic analysis of the conserved region of the vlhA was not able to differentiate the flamingo strain from the MS-H vaccine strain. However differences in the sequences of the obg gene of the flamingo and vaccine strain were detected. A test for temperature-sensitivity (ts) gave a ts− phenotype for the flamingo strain, in contrast to the ts+ status of the MS-H strain. Based on this information and knowing that the flamingos were not vaccinated against M. synoviae, it is highly likely that the flamingo was infected with a genetically similar wild strain by contact with infected birds.
This case provides evidence for the potential role of international trade of ornamental birds as a possible route of introduction of new mycoplasma strains between countries, and moreover highlight that vlhA gene sequencing was not sufficient to discriminate the wild strain isolated from the flamingo from the MS-H vaccine strain.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12917-016-0680-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4788927  PMID: 26968657
Mycoplasma synoviae; VlhA; Lesser flamingo; Phoeniconaias minor; Aereosacculitis
14.  Molecular Variability of the Adhesin-Encoding Gene pvpA among Mycoplasma gallisepticum Strains and Its Application in Diagnosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(5):1882-1888.
Mycoplasma gallisepticum is an important pathogen of chickens and turkeys that causes considerable economic losses to the poultry industry worldwide. The reemergence of M. gallisepticum outbreaks among poultry, the increased use of live M. gallisepticum vaccines, and the detection of M. gallisepticum in game and free-flying song birds has strengthened the need for molecular diagnostic and strain differentiation tests. Molecular techniques, including restriction fragment length polymorphism of genomic DNA (RFLP) and PCR-based random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD), have already been utilized as powerful tools to detect intraspecies variation. However, certain intrinsic drawbacks constrain the application of these methods. The main goal of this study was to determine the feasibility of using an M. gallisepticum-specific gene encoding a phase-variable putative adhesin protein (PvpA) as the target for molecular typing. This was accomplished using a pvpA PCR-RFLP assay. Size variations among PCR products and nucleotide divergence of the C-terminus-encoding region of the pvpA gene were the basis for strain differentiation. This method can be used for rapid differentiation of vaccine strains from field isolates by amplification directly from clinical samples without the need for isolation by culture. Moreover, molecular epidemiology of M. gallisepticum outbreaks can be performed using RFLP and/or sequence analysis of the pvpA gene.
PMCID: PMC88043  PMID: 11326008
15.  Comparative Genomic Analyses of Attenuated Strains of Mycoplasma gallisepticum▿ †  
Infection and Immunity  2010;78(4):1760-1771.
Mycoplasma gallisepticum is a significant respiratory and reproductive pathogen of domestic poultry. While the complete genomic sequence of the virulent, low-passage M. gallisepticum strain R (Rlow) has been reported, genomic determinants responsible for differences in virulence and host range remain to be completely identified. Here, we utilize genome sequencing and microarray-based comparative genomic data to identify these genomic determinants of virulence and to elucidate genomic variability among strains of M. gallisepticum. Analysis of the high-passage, attenuated derivative of Rlow, Rhigh, indicated that relatively few total genomic changes (64 loci) occurred, yet they are potentially responsible for the observed attenuation of this strain. In addition to previously characterized mutations in cytadherence-related proteins, changes included those in coding sequences of genes involved in sugar metabolism. Analyses of the genome of the M. gallisepticum vaccine strain F revealed numerous differences relative to strain R, including a highly divergent complement of vlhA surface lipoprotein genes, and at least 16 genes absent or significantly fragmented relative to strain R. Notably, an Rlow isogenic mutant in one of these genes (MGA_1107) caused significantly fewer severe tracheal lesions in the natural host compared to virulent M. gallisepticum Rlow. Comparative genomic hybridizations indicated few genetic loci commonly affected in F and vaccine strains ts-11 and 6/85, which would correlate with proteins affecting strain R virulence. Together, these data provide novel insights into inter- and intrastrain M. gallisepticum genomic variability and the genetic basis of M. gallisepticum virulence.
PMCID: PMC2849401  PMID: 20123709
16.  Mycoplasma synoviae infection on Newcastle disease vaccination of chickens 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2008;39(2):384-389.
Newcastle disease is characterized by respiratory manifestations in association with nervous and/or digestive symptoms. Its prevention is done by vaccination with live attenuated (lentogenic strains) and/or killed vaccines. The lentogenic strains can lead to strong post-vaccination reaction, principally due to the presence of other pathogenic agents. Among them, Mycoplasma synoviae is worldwide important, mainly in Brazil. The dissemination of this agent in poultry flocks has been achieved due to difficulties in diagnosis and disease reproduction, virulence variations among different M.synoviae strains, and attribution of typical M.synoviae disease manifestation to other disease agents. This experimental study in SPF chicks (Gallus gallus), previously infected by M.synoviae and thereafter vaccinated against Newcastle disease, was done with the objective of evaluating M.synoviae pathogenicity through assessment of post-vaccinal respiratory reactions and serologic responses to Newcastle disease virus vaccine in the absence of environmental factors. A total of 86 three days old chicks were used, being 57 infected by eye and nostril drop, with chicken activated M. synoviae strain WVU 1853. Seven days later, 21 mycoplasma infected birds plus 29 not mycoplasma infected ones were vaccinated against Newcastle disease. As results, the not infected and vaccinated birds yielded, significantly, higher and longer lasting serologic responses to Newcastle disease vaccine virus than those infected and vaccinated. Similarly, the infected and vaccinated birds yielded lower serologic reactions to M.synoviae than those only mycoplasma infected. No post-vaccinal respiratory reaction was observed in the vaccinated birds.
PMCID: PMC3768380  PMID: 24031234
vaccine; serology; Mycoplasma; Newcastle disease
17.  Monoclonal Antibodies to Escherichia coli-Expressed P46 and P65 Membranous Proteins for Specific Immunodetection of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae in Lungs of Infected Pigs 
The P46 and P65 proteins of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae are two membranous proteins carrying species-specific antigenic determinants. Based on the genomic sequence of the reference strain ATCC 25934, primers were designed for PCR amplification of the genes encoding entire P46 (1,260 bp) and P65 (1,803 bp) and N-terminally truncated P65c (1,200 bp). These primers were shown to be specific to M. hyopneumoniae since no DNA amplicons could be obtained with other mycoplasma species that commonly colonize the porcine respiratory tract. Both amplified genes were then cloned into the pGEX-4T-1 vector to be expressed in Escherichia coli cells as recombinant fusion proteins with glutathione S-transferase (GST). Prior to generation of expression constructs, TGA nonsense codons, exceptionally used for tryptophan residues by M. hyopneumoniae, had been converted to TGG codons by PCR-directed mutagenesis. Following induction by IPTG (isopropyl-β-d-thiogalactopyranoside), both GST-P46 and GST-P65c recombinant fusion proteins were recovered by disrupting transformed cells by sonication, purified by affinity chromatography, and then cut with thrombin to release the P46 and P65c moieties. The enriched E. coli-expressed P46 and P65c proteins were used to immunize female BALB/c mice for the generation of anti-P46 and anti-P65c monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). The polypeptide specificities of MAbs obtained was confirmed by Western blotting with cell lysates prepared from the homologous strain. Cross-reactivity study of the anti-P46 and anti-P65c MAbs towards two other M. hyopneumoniae reference strains (ATCC 25095 and J strains) and Quebec field strains that had been isolated in culture, suggested that the MAbs obtained against both membranous proteins were directed against highly conserved species-specific epitopes. No reactivity to other mycoplasma species tested was demonstrated. Clinical signs and lesions suggestive of enzootic pneumonia were reproduced in specific-pathogen-free pigs that had been inoculated intratracheally with a virulent Quebec field strain (IAF-DM9827) of M. hyopneumoniae. Both anti-P46 and anti-P65c MAbs permitted effective detection by indirect immunofluorescence and indirect immunoperoxidase assay of M. hyopneumoniae in, respectively, frozen and formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded lung sections from pigs that were killed after the 6- to 7-week observation period.
PMCID: PMC154955  PMID: 12738649
18.  Transposon mutagenesis in Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae using a novel mariner-based system for generating random mutations 
Veterinary Research  2013;44(1):124.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is the cause of enzootic pneumonia in pigs, a chronic respiratory disease associated with significant economic losses to swine producers worldwide. The molecular pathogenesis of infection is poorly understood due to the lack of genetic tools to allow manipulation of the organism and more generally for the Mycoplasma genus. The objective of this study was to develop a system for generating random transposon insertion mutants in M. hyopneumoniae that could prove a powerful tool in enabling the pathogenesis of infection to be unraveled. A novel delivery vector was constructed containing a hyperactive C9 mutant of the Himar1 transposase along with a mini transposon containing the tetracycline resistance cassette, tetM. M. hyopneumoniae strain 232 was electroporated with the construct and tetM-expressing transformants selected on agar containing tetracycline. Individual transformants contained single transposon insertions that were stable upon serial passages in broth medium. The insertion sites of 44 individual transformants were determined and confirmed disruption of several M. hyopneumoniae genes. A large pool of over 10 000 mutants was generated that should allow saturation of the M. hyopneumoniae strain 232 genome. This is the first time that transposon mutagenesis has been demonstrated in this important pathogen and could be generally applied for other Mycoplasma species that are intractable to genetic manipulation. The ability to generate random mutant libraries is a powerful tool in the further study of the pathogenesis of this important swine pathogen.
PMCID: PMC4028751  PMID: 24359443
19.  A novel transposon construct expressing PhoA with potential for studying protein expression and translocation in Mycoplasma gallisepticum  
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:138.
Mycoplasma gallisepticum is a major poultry pathogen and causes severe economic loss to the poultry industry. In mycoplasmas lipoproteins are abundant on the membrane surface and play a critical role in interactions with the host, but tools for exploring their molecular biology are limited.
In this study we examined whether the alkaline phosphatase gene (phoA ) from Escherichia coli could be used as a reporter in mycoplasmas. The promoter region from the gene for elongation factor Tu (ltuf) and the signal and acylation sequences from the vlhA 1.1 gene, both from Mycoplasma gallisepticum , together with the coding region of phoA , were assembled in the transposon-containing plasmid pISM2062.2 (pTAP) to enable expression of alkaline phosphatase (AP) as a recombinant lipoprotein. The transposon was used to transform M. gallisepticum strain S6. As a control, a plasmid containing a similar construct, but lacking the signal and acylation sequences, was also produced (pTP) and also introduced into M. gallisepticum . Using a colorimetric substrate for detection of alkaline phosphatase activity, it was possible to detect transformed M. gallisepticum . The level of transcription of phoA in organisms transformed with pTP was lower than in those transformed with pTAP, and alkaline phosphatase was not detected by immunoblotting or enzymatic assays in pTP transformants, eventhough alkaline phosphatase expression could be readily detected by both assays in pTAP transformants. Alkaline phosphatase was shown to be located in the hydrophobic fraction of transformed mycoplasmas following Triton X-114 partitioning and in the membrane fraction after differential fractionation. Trypsin proteolysis confirmed its surface exposure. The inclusion of the VlhA lipoprotein signal sequence in pTAP enabled translocation of PhoA and acylation of the amino terminal cysteine moiety, as confirmed by the effect of treatment with globomycin and radiolabelling studies with [14 C]palmitate. PhoA could be identified by mass-spectrometry after separation by two-dimensional electrophoresis.
This is the first study to express PhoA as a lipoprotein in mycoplasmas. The pTAP plasmid will facilitate investigations of lipoproteins and protein translocation across the cell membrane in mycoplasmas, and the ease of detection of these transformants makes this vector system suitable for the simultaneous screening and detection of cloned genes expressed as membrane proteins in mycoplasmas.
PMCID: PMC3438114  PMID: 22770122
Mycoplasma gallisepticum ; Lipoprotein; Membrane protein; Reporter gene; phoA ; Alkaline phosphatase
20.  Characterization of Cleavage Events in the Multifunctional Cilium Adhesin Mhp684 (P146) Reveals a Mechanism by Which Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae Regulates Surface Topography 
mBio  2012;3(2):e00282-11.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae causes enormous economic losses to swine production worldwide by colonizing the ciliated epithelium in the porcine respiratory tract, resulting in widespread damage to the mucociliary escalator, prolonged inflammation, reduced weight gain, and secondary infections. Protein Mhp684 (P146) comprises 1,317 amino acids, and while the N-terminal 400 residues display significant sequence identity to the archetype cilium adhesin P97, the remainder of the molecule is novel and displays unusual motifs. Proteome analysis shows that P146 preprotein is endogenously cleaved into three major fragments identified here as P50P146, P40P146, and P85P146 that reside on the cell surface. Liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) identified a semitryptic peptide that delineated a major cleavage site in Mhp684. Cleavage occurred at the phenylalanine residue within sequence 672ATEF↓QQ677, consistent with a cleavage motif resembling S/T-X-F↓X-D/E recently identified in Mhp683 and other P97/P102 family members. Biotinylated surface proteins recovered by avidin chromatography and separated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-D GE) showed that more-extensive endoproteolytic cleavage of P146 occurs. Recombinant fragments F1P146-F3P146 that mimic P50P146, P40P146, and P85P146 were constructed and shown to bind porcine epithelial cilia and biotinylated heparin with physiologically relevant affinity. Recombinant versions of F3P146 generated from M. hyopneumoniae strain J and 232 sequences strongly bind porcine plasminogen, and the removal of their respective C-terminal lysine and arginine residues significantly reduces this interaction. These data reveal that P146 is an extensively processed, multifunctional adhesin of M. hyopneumoniae. Extensive cleavage coupled with variable cleavage efficiency provides a mechanism by which M. hyopneumoniae regulates protein topography.
Vaccines used to control Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infection provide only partial protection. Proteins of the P97/P102 families are highly expressed, functionally redundant molecules that are substrates of endoproteases that generate multifunctional adhesin fragments on the cell surface. We show that P146 displays a chimeric structure consisting of an N terminus, which shares sequence identity with P97, and novel central and C-terminal regions. P146 is endoproteolytically processed at multiple sites, generating at least nine fragments on the surface of M. hyopneumoniae. Dominant cleavage events occurred at S/T-X-F↓X-D/E-like sites generating P50P146, P40P146, and P85P146. Recombinant proteins designed to mimic the major cleavage fragments bind porcine cilia, heparin, and plasminogen. P146 undergoes endoproteolytic processing events at multiple sites and with differential processing efficiency, generating combinatorial diversity on the surface of M. hyopneumoniae.
PMCID: PMC3322551  PMID: 22493032
21.  Mycoplasma synoviae enolase is a plasminogen/fibronectin binding protein 
BMC Veterinary Research  2014;10:223.
Mycoplasma synoviae is an avian pathogen that can lead to respiratory tract infections and arthritis in chickens and turkeys, resulting in serious economic losses to the poultry industry. Enolase reportedly plays important roles in several bacterial pathogens, but its role in M. synoviae has not been established. Therefore, in this study, the enolase encoding gene (eno) of M. synoviae was amplified from strain WVU1853 and expressed in E. coli BL21 cells. Then the enzymatic activity, immunogenicity and binding activity with chicken plasminogen (Plg) and human fibronectin (Fn) was evaluated.
We demonstrated that the recombinant M. synoviae enolase protein (rMsEno) can catalyze the conversion of 2-phosphoglycerate (2-PGA) to phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP), the Km and Vmax values of rMsEno were 1.1 × 10−3 M and 0.739 μmol/L/min, respectively. Western blot and immuno-electron microscopy analyses confirmed that enolase was distributed on the surface and within the cytoplasm of M. synoviae cells. The binding assays demonstrated that rMsEno was able to bind to chicken Plg and human Fn proteins. A complement-dependent mycoplasmacidal assay demonstrated that rabbit anti–rMsEno serum had distinct mycoplasmacidal efficacy in the presence of complement, which also confirmed that enolase was distributed on the surface of M. synoviae. An inhibition assay showed that the adherence of M. synoviae to DF-1 cells pre-treated with Plg could be effectively inhibited by treatment with rabbit anti-rMsEno serum.
These results reveal that M. synoviae enolase has good catalytic activity for conversion of 2-PGA to PEP, and binding activity with chicken Plg and human Fn. Rabbit anti–rMsEno serum displayed an obvious complement-dependent mycoplasmacidal effect and adherent inhibition effect. These results suggested that the M. synoviae enolase plays an important role in M. synoviae metabolism, and could potentially impact M. synoviae infection and immunity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12917-014-0223-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4189797  PMID: 25253294
Mycoplasma synoviae; Enolase; Enzymatic activity; Adherence
22.  Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae p65 Surface Lipoprotein Is a Lipolytic Enzyme with a Preference for Shorter-Chain Fatty Acids 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(17):5790-5798.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is the most significant bacterial pathogen of the respiratory tract of swine. p65 is an immunodominant surface lipoprotein of M. hyopneumoniae that is specifically recognized during disease. Analysis of the translated amino acid sequence of the gene encoding p65 revealed similarity to the GDSL family of lipolytic enzymes. To examine the lipolytic activity of p65, the gene was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli after truncation of the prokaryotic lipoprotein signal sequence and mutagenesis of the mycoplasma TGA tryptophan codons. After treatment with thrombin, the recombinant glutathione S-transferase (GST)-p65 protein yielded a 66-kDa fusion protein cleavage product corresponding in size to the mature p65 protein. The esterase activity of recombinant GST-p65 was indicated by the formation of a cleared zone on tributyrin agar plates and the hydrolysis of p-nitrophenyl esters of caproate (pNPC) and p-nitrophenyl esters of palmitate (pNPP). Lipase activity was indicated by the hydrolysis of the artificial triglyceride 1,2-O-dilauryl-rac-glycero-3-glutaric acid resorufin ester. Using pNPC and pNPP as substrates, recombinant GST-p65 had optimal activity between pHs 9.2 and 10.2 and at a temperature higher than 39°C. Calcium ions did not increase the activity of recombinant GST-p65. Rabbit anti-p65 antibodies inhibited the activity of recombinant GST-p65 and also inhibited the growth of M. hyopneumoniae in vitro. Examination of the kinetic parameters of recombinant GST-p65 for the hydrolysis of pNPC and pNPP indicated a preference for the shorter fatty acid chain of pNPC. The physiological and/or pathogenic role of mycoplasma lipolytic enzymes has not been determined, but they are likely to play an important role in mycoplasmas' nutritional requirements for long-chain fatty acids and may reduce the function of lung surfactants in mycoplasma-induced respiratory diseases. This is the first report of the lipolytic activity of a lipid-modified surface immunogen of a mycoplasma.
PMCID: PMC516823  PMID: 15317784
23.  Species-Specific Monoclonal Antibodies to Escherichia coli-Expressed p36 Cytosolic Protein of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae 
The p36 protein of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is a cytosolic protein carrying species-specific antigenic determinants. Based on the genomic sequence of the reference strain ATCC 25934, primers were designed for PCR amplification of the p36-encoding gene (948 bp). These primers were shown to be specific to M. hyopneumoniae since no DNA amplicons could be obtained with other mycoplasma species and pathogenic bacteria that commonly colonize the porcine respiratory tract. The amplified p36 gene was subcloned into the pGEX-4T-1 vector to be expressed in Escherichia coli as a fusion protein with glutathione S-transferase (GST). The GST-p36 recombinant fusion protein was purified by affinity chromatography and cut by thrombin, and the enriched p36 protein was used to immunize female BALB/c mice for the production of anti-p36 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). The polypeptide specificity of the nine MAbs obtained was confirmed by Western immunoblotting with cell lysates prepared from the homologous strain. Cross-reactivity studies of the anti-p36 MAbs towards two other M. hyopneumoniae reference strains (ATCC 25095 and J strains) and Quebec field strains that had been isolated in culture suggested that these anti-p36 MAbs were directed against a highly conserved epitope, or closely located epitopes, of the p36 protein. No reactivity was demonstrated against other mycoplasma species tested. Clinical signs and lesions suggestive of enzootic pneumonia were reproduced in specific-pathogen-free pigs infected experimentally with a virulent Quebec field strain (IAF-DM9827) of M. hyopneumoniae. The bacteria could be recovered from lung homogenates of pigs that were killed after the 3-week observation period by both PCR and cultivation procedures. Furthermore, the anti-p36 MAbs permitted effective detection by indirect immunofluorescence of M. hyopneumoniae in frozen lung sections from experimentally infected pigs. However, attempts to use the recombinant p36 protein as an antigen in an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the detection of antibodies in sera from convalescent pigs showed no correlation with clinical and pathological findings.
PMCID: PMC95908  PMID: 10882646
24.  Molecular Detection of Avian Pathogens in Poultry Red Mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) Collected in Chicken Farms 
Poultry red mite (PRM, Dermanyssus gallinae) is a blood-sucking ectoparasite as well as a possible vector of several avian pathogens. In this study, to define the role of PRM in the prevalence of avian infectious agents, we used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to check for the presence of seven pathogens: Avipox virus (APV), Fowl Adenovirus (FAdV), Marek’s disease virus (MDV), Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae (ER), Salmonella enterica (SE), Mycoplasma synoviae (MS) and Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG). A total of 159 PRM samples collected between 2004 and 2012 from 142 chicken farms in 38 prefectures in Japan were examined. APV DNA was detected in 22 samples (13.8%), 19 of which were wild-type APV. 16S ribosomal RNA (16S rRNA) of MS was detected in 15 samples (9.4%), and the mgc2 gene of MG was detected in 2 samples (1.3%). Eight of 15 MS 16S rRNA sequences differed from the vaccine sequence, indicating they were wild-type strains, while both of the MG mgc2 gene sequences detected were identical to the vaccine sequences. Of these avian pathogen-positive mite samples, three were positive for both wild-types of APV and MS. On the other hand, the DNAs of ER, SE, FAdV and MDV were not detected in any samples. These findings indicated that PRM can harbor the wild-type pathogens and might play a role as a vector in spreading these diseases in farms.
PMCID: PMC4300372  PMID: 25649939
avian pathogens; Dermanyssus gallinae; DNA detection; poultry red mite
25.  Mutations in GTP Binding Protein Obg of Mycoplasma synoviae Vaccine Strain MS-H: Implications in Temperature-Sensitivity Phenotype 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73954.
Mycoplasma synoviae strain MS-H, developed by chemical mutagenesis of the Australian field strain 86079/7NS, is a live temperature-sensitive (ts+) vaccine used for control of M. synoviae infection in poultry worldwide. Genetic basis of temperature sensitivity and attenuation of MS-H has not been revealed thus far. Comparison of the complete genome sequence of MS-H, its parent strain 86079/7NS and two non-temperature sensitive (ts–) reisolates of MS-H revealed a mutation in a highly conserved domain of GTP binding protein Obg of MS-H, with reversion in ts– MS-H reisolates. Nucleotide change from G to A at position 369 of the obg gene resulted in an alteration of glycine to arginine at position 123 in Obg fold. Further analysis of the complete obg gene sequence in several MS-H reisolates revealed that a Gly123Arg substitution was associated with alteration in temperature sensitivity phenotype of MS-H. A second mutation, C to T at position 629, in obg gene was found in some of the MS-H reisolates and appeared to suppress the effects of the Gly123Arg substitution. In silico analysis of point mutations revealed that Gly123Arg has highly destabilizing effect on the MS-H Obg structure that can potentially abolish its biological functions in vivo especially at non-permissive temperature. Findings of this study implicate Obg alteration (Gly123Arg) as one of the possible causes of MS-H attenuation/temperature sensitivity and warrant further investigations into exploring the role of Obg-like proteins, an evolutionarily conserved protein from human to bacteria, in the biology of mycoplasmas.
PMCID: PMC3775756  PMID: 24069254

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