Several bacterial pathogens have TIR domain-containing proteins that contribute to their pathogenesis. We identified a second TIR-containing protein in Brucella spp. that we have designated BtpB. We show it is a potent inhibitor of TLR signaling, probably via MyD88. BtpB is a novel Brucella effector that is translocated into host cells and interferes with activation of dendritic cells. In vivo mouse studies revealed that BtpB is contributing to virulence and control of local inflammatory responses with relevance in the establishment of chronic brucellosis. Together, our results show that BtpB is a novel Brucella effector that plays a major role in the modulation of host innate immune response during infection.
Brucella; TIR domain; Btp1/BtpA; TLR; DC; NF-κB
Brucella is a facultative intracellular pathogen and the etiological agent of brucellosis. In some cases, human brucellosis results in a persistent infection that may reactivate years after the initial exposure. The mechanisms by which the parasite evades clearance by the immune response to chronically infect its host are unknown. We recently demonstrated that dendritic cells (DCs), which are critical components of adaptive immunity, are highly susceptible to Brucella infection and are a preferential niche for the development of the bacteria. Here, we report that in contrast to several intracellular bacteria, Brucella prevented the infected DCs from engaging in their maturation process and impaired their capacities to present antigen to naïve T cells and to secrete interleukin-12. Moreover, Brucella-infected DCs failed to release tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), a defect involving the bacterial protein Omp25. Exogenous TNF-α addition to Brucella-infected DCs restored cell maturation and allowed them to present antigens. Two avirulent mutants of B. suis, B. suis bvrR and B. suis omp25 mutants, which do not express the Omp25 protein, triggered TNF-α production upon DC invasion. Cells infected with these mutants subsequently matured and acquired the ability to present antigens, two properties which were dramatically impaired by addition of anti-TNF-α antibodies. In light of these data, we propose a model in which virulent Brucella alters the maturation and functions of DCs through Omp25-dependent control of TNF-α production. This model defines a specific evasion strategy of the bacteria by which they can escape the immune response to chronically infect their host.
Brucella is a facultative intracellular pathogen of various mammals and the etiological agent of brucellosis. We recently demonstrated that dendritic cells (DCs), which are critical components of adaptive immunity, are highly susceptible to Brucella infection. Furthermore, Brucella prevented the infected DCs from engaging in maturation processes and impaired their capacity to present antigen to naive T cells and to secrete interleukin-12 (IL-12). The lipopolysaccharide (LPS) phenotype is largely associated with the virulence of Brucella. Depending on whether they express the O-side chain of LPS or not, the bacteria display a smooth or rough phenotype. Rough Brucella mutants are attenuated and induce a potent protective T-cell-dependent immune response. Due to the essential role of DCs in the initiation of T-cell-dependent adaptive immune responses, it seemed pertinent to study the interaction between rough Brucella strains and human DCs. In the present paper, we report that, in contrast to smooth bacteria, infection of DCs with rough mutants of Brucella suis or Brucella abortus leads to both phenotypic and functional maturation of infected cells. Rough mutant-infected DCs then acquire the capacity to produce IL-12 and to stimulate naive CD4+ T lymphocytes. Experiments with rough and smooth purified LPS of Brucella supported the hypothesis of an indirect involvement of the O-side chain. These results provide new data concerning the role of LPS in Brucella virulence strategy and illuminate phenomena contributing to immune protection conferred by rough vaccine strains.
Brucella species are the causative agents of one of the most prevalent zoonotic diseases: brucellosis. Infections by Brucella species cause major economic losses in agriculture, leading to abortions in infected animals and resulting in a severe, although rarely lethal, debilitating disease in humans. Brucella species persist as intracellular pathogens that manage to effectively evade recognition by the host's immune system. Sugar-modified components in the Brucella cell envelope play an important role in their host interaction. Brucella lipopolysaccharide (LPS), unlike Escherichia coli LPS, does not trigger the host's innate immune system. Brucella produces cyclic β-1,2-glucans, which are important for targeting them to their replicative niche in the endoplasmic reticulum within the host cell. This paper will focus on the role of LPS and cyclic β-1,2-glucans in Brucella-mammalian infections and discuss the use of mutants, within the biosynthesis pathway of these cell envelope structures, in vaccine development.
Brucella spp. are facultative intracellular bacteria that cause brucellosis in humans and other animals. Brucella spp. are taken up by macrophages, and the outcome of the macrophage-Brucella interaction is a basis for establishment of a chronic Brucella infection. Microarrays were used to analyze the transcriptional response of the murine macrophage-like J774.A1 cell line to infection with virulent Brucella melitensis strain 16M. It was found that most significant changes in macrophage gene transcription happened early following infection, and global macrophage gene expression profiles returned to normal between 24 and 48 h postinfection. These findings support the observation that macrophages kill the majority of Brucella cells at the early infection stage, but the surviving Brucella cells are able to avoid macrophage brucellacidal activity inside replicative phagosomes at the later infection stage. At 4 h postinfection, macrophage genes involved in cell growth, metabolism, and responses to endogenous stimuli were down-regulated, while the inflammatory response (e.g., tumor necrosis factor alpha and Toll-like receptor 2), the complement system, the responses to external stimuli, and other immune responses were up-regulated. It is likely that the most active brucellacidal activity happened between 0 and 4 h postinfection. Mitochondrion-associated gene expression, which is involved in protein synthesis and transport, electron transfer, and small-molecule transfer, and many other mitochondrial functions were significantly down-regulated at 4 h postinfection. Although there were both pro- and antiapoptosis effects, B. melitensis 16M appears to inhibit apoptosis of macrophages by blocking release of cytochrome c and production of reactive oxygen species in the mitochondria, thus preventing activation of caspase cascades.
Toll/Interleukin-1 like receptors are evolutionarily conserved proteins in eukaryotes that play crucial role in pathogen recognition and innate immune responses. Brucella are facultative intracellular bacterial pathogens causing brucellosis in animal and human hosts. Brucella behaves as a stealthy pathogen by evading the immune recognition or suppressing the TLR signaling cascades. Brucella encode a TIR domain containing protein, TcpB, which suppresses NF-κB activation as well as proinflammatory cytokine secretion mediated by TLR2 and TLR4 receptors. TcpB targets the TIRAP mediated pathway to suppress TLR signaling. With the objective of detailed characterization, we have over expressed and purified TcpB from Brucella melitensis in native condition. The purified protein exhibited lipid binding properties and cell permeability. NF-κB inhibition property of endogenous TcpB has also been demonstrated. The data provide insight into the mechanism of action of TcpB in the intracellular niche of Brucella.
Brucella; TcpB; TIR domain; NF-κB; Phosphoinositide; Inflammation
Brucella is an intracellular bacterial pathogen that causes the worldwide zoonotic disease brucellosis. Brucella virulence relies on its ability to transition to an intracellular lifestyle within host cells. Thus, this pathogen must sense its intracellular localization and then reprogram gene expression for survival within the host cell. A comparative proteomic investigation was performed to identify differentially expressed proteins potentially relevant for Brucella intracellular adaptation. Two proteins identified as cyclophilins (CypA and CypB) were overexpressed in the intracellular environment of the host cell in comparison to laboratory-grown Brucella. To define the potential role of cyclophilins in Brucella virulence, a double-deletion mutant was constructed and its resulting phenotype was characterized. The Brucella abortus ΔcypAB mutant displayed increased sensitivity to environmental stressors, such as oxidative stress, pH, and detergents. In addition, the B. abortus ΔcypAB mutant strain had a reduced growth rate at lower temperature, a phenotype associated with defective expression of cyclophilins in other microorganisms. The B. abortus ΔcypAB mutant also displays reduced virulence in BALB/c mice and defective intracellular survival in HeLa cells. These findings suggest that cyclophilins are important for Brucella virulence and survival in the host cells.
Brucellosis is a chronic infectious disease caused by Brucella spp., a Gram-negative facultative intracellular pathogen that affects humans and animals, leading to significant impact on public health and animal industry. Human brucellosis is considered the most prevalent bacterial zoonosis in the world and is characterized by fever, weight loss, depression, hepato/splenomegaly, osteoarticular, and genital infections. Relevant aspects of Brucella pathogenesis have been intensively investigated in culture cells and animal models. The mouse is the animal model more commonly used to study chronic infection caused by Brucella. This model is most frequently used to investigate specific pathogenic factors of Brucella spp., to characterize the host immune response, and to evaluate therapeutics and vaccines. Other animal species have been used as models for brucellosis including rats, guinea pigs, and monkeys. This paper discusses the murine and other laboratory animal models for human and animal brucellosis.
The facultative intracellular bacterial pathogen Brucella infects a wide range of warm-blooded land and marine vertebrates and causes brucellosis. Currently, there are nine recognized Brucella species based on host preferences and phenotypic differences. The availability of 10 different genomes consisting of two chromosomes and representing six of the species allowed for a detailed comparison among themselves and relatives in the order Rhizobiales. Phylogenomic analysis of ortholog families shows limited divergence but distinct radiations, producing four clades as follows: Brucella abortus-Brucella melitensis, Brucella suis-Brucella canis, Brucella ovis, and Brucella ceti. In addition, Brucella phylogeny does not appear to reflect the phylogeny of Brucella species' preferred hosts. About 4.6% of protein-coding genes seem to be pseudogenes, which is a relatively large fraction. Only B. suis 1330 appears to have an intact β-ketoadipate pathway, responsible for utilization of plant-derived compounds. In contrast, this pathway in the other species is highly pseudogenized and consistent with the “domino theory” of gene death. There are distinct shared anomalous regions (SARs) found in both chromosomes as the result of horizontal gene transfer unique to Brucella and not shared with its closest relative Ochrobactrum, a soil bacterium, suggesting their acquisition occurred in spite of a predominantly intracellular lifestyle. In particular, SAR 2-5 appears to have been acquired by Brucella after it became intracellular. The SARs contain many genes, including those involved in O-polysaccharide synthesis and type IV secretion, which if mutated or absent significantly affect the ability of Brucella to survive intracellularly in the infected host.
Cells in the Brucella spp. are intracellular pathogens that survive and replicate within host monocytes. Brucella maintains persistent infections in animals despite the production of high levels of anti-Brucella-specific antibodies. To determine the effect of antibody opsonization on the ability of Brucella to establish itself within monocytes, the intracellular trafficking of virulent Brucella abortus 2308 and attenuated hfq and bacA mutants was followed in the human monocytic cell line THP-1. Early trafficking events of B. abortus 2308-containing phagosomes (BCP) were indistinguishable from those seen for control particles (heat-killed B. abortus 2308, live Escherichia coli HB101, or latex beads). All phagosomes transiently communicated the early-endosomal compartment and rapidly matured into LAMP-1+, cathepsin D+, and acidic phagosomes. By 2 h postinfection, however, the number of cathepsin D+ BCP was significantly lower for live B. abortus 2308-infected cells than for either Brucella mutant strains or control particles. B. abortus 2308 persisted within these cathepsin D−, LAMP-1+, and acidic vesicles; however, at the onset of intracellular replication, the numbers of acidic B. abortus 2308 BCP decreased while remaining cathepsin D− and LAMP-1+. In contrast to B. abortus 2308, the isogenic hfq and bacA mutants remained in acidic, LAMP-1+ phagosomes and failed to initiate intracellular replication. Notably, markers specific for the host endoplasmic reticulum were absent from the BCPs throughout the course of the infection. Thus, opsonized B. abortus in human monocytes survives within phagosomes that remain in the endosomal pathway and replication of virulent B. abortus 2308 within these vesicles corresponds with an increase in intraphagosomal pH.
Brucella species are facultative intracellular bacterial pathogens that cause brucellosis, a global zoonosis of profound importance. Although recent studies have demonstrated that Brucella spp. replicate within an intracellular compartment that contains endoplasmic reticulum (ER) resident proteins, the molecular mechanisms by which the pathogen secures this replicative niche remain obscure. Here, we address this issue by exploiting Drosophila S2 cells and RNA interference (RNAi) technology to develop a genetically tractable system that recapitulates critical aspects of mammalian cell infection. After validating this system by demonstrating a shared requirement for phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) activities in supporting Brucella infection in both host cell systems, we performed an RNAi screen of 240 genes, including 110 ER-associated genes, for molecules that mediate bacterial interactions with the ER. We uncovered 52 evolutionarily conserved host factors that, when depleted, inhibited or increased Brucella infection. Strikingly, 29 of these factors had not been previously suggested to support bacterial infection of host cells. The most intriguing of these was inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1), a transmembrane kinase that regulates the eukaryotic unfolded protein response (UPR). We employed IRE1α−/− murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) to demonstrate a role for this protein in supporting Brucella infection of mammalian cells, and thereby, validated the utility of the Drosophila S2 cell system for uncovering novel Brucella host factors. Finally, we propose a model in which IRE1α, and other ER-associated genes uncovered in our screen, mediate Brucella replication by promoting autophagosome biogenesis.
Brucella spp. are facultative intracellular pathogens that cause brucellosis in a broad range of hosts, including humans. Brucella melitensis, B. abortus, and B. suis are highly infectious and can be readily transmitted in aerosolized form, and a human vaccine against brucellosis is unavailable. Therefore, these pathogens are recognized as potential bioterror agents. Because genetic systems for studying host–Brucella interactions have been unavailable, little is known about the host factors that mediate infection. Here, we demonstrate that a Drosophila S2 cell system and RNA interference can be exploited to study the role that evolutionarily conserved Brucella host proteins play in these processes. We also show that this system provides for the identification and characterization of host factors that mediate Brucella interactions with the host cell endoplasmic reticulum. In fact, we identified 52 host factors that, when depleted, inhibited or increased Brucella infection. Among the identified Brucella host factors, 29 have not been previously shown to support bacterial infection. Finally, we demonstrate that the novel host factor inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1) and its mammalian ortholog (IRE1α) are required for Brucella infection of Drosophila S2 and mammalian cells, respectively. Therefore, this work contributes to our understanding of host factors mediating Brucella infection.
Brucella species are gram-negative, facultative intracellular bacteria that infect humans and animals. These organisms can survive and replicate within a membrane-bound compartment inside professional and nonprofessional phagocytic cells. Inhibition of phagosome-lysosome fusion has been proposed as a mechanism for intracellular survival in both types of cells. We have previously shown that the maturation inhibition of the Brucella-containing phagosome appears to be restricted at the phagosomal membrane, but the precise molecular mechanisms and factors involved in this inhibition have yet to be identified. Interestingly, recent studies have revealed that caveolae or lipid rafts are implicated in the entry of some microorganisms into host cells and mediate an endocytic pathway avoiding fusion with lysosomes. In this study, we investigated the role of cholesterol and the ganglioside GM1, two components of lipid rafts, in entry and short-term survival of Brucella suis in murine macrophages, by using cholesterol-sequestering (filipin and β-methyl cyclodextrin) and GM1-binding (cholera toxin B) molecules. Our results suggest that lipid rafts may provide a portal for entry of Brucella into murine macrophages under nonopsonic conditions, thus allowing phagosome-lysosome fusion inhibition, and provide further evidence to support the idea that the phagosome maturation inhibition is restricted at the phagosomal membrane.
Brucellosis is an important zoonotic disease of almost worldwide distribution. One significant immune phenomenon of this disease is the ability of the pathogen to hide and survive in the host, establishing long lasting chronic infections. Brucella was found to have the ability to actively modulate the host immune response in order to establish chronic infections, but the mechanism by which the pathogen achieves this remains largely unknown. In our screening for protective antigens of Brucella abortus, 3 proteins (BAB1_0597, BAB1_0917, and BAB2_0431) were found to induce significantly higher levels of gamma interferon (IFNγ) in splenocytes of PBS immunized mice than those immunized with S19. This finding strongly implied that these three proteins inhibit the production of IFNγ. Previous studies have shown that LPS, PrpA, and Btp1/TcpB are three important immunomodulatory molecules with the capacity to interfere with host immune response. They have been shown to have the ability to inhibit the secretion of IFNγ, or to increase the production of IL-10. Due to the role of these proteins in virulence and immunomodulation, they likely offer significant potential as live, attenuated Brucella vaccine candidates. Understanding the mechanisms by which these proteins modulate the host immune responses will deepen our knowledge of Brucella virulence and provide important information on the development of new vaccines against Brucellosis.
Brucella; chronic infection; immune response; live attenuated vaccine; virulence proteins
Brucella spp. cause chronic zoonotic disease often affecting individuals and animals in impoverished economic or public health conditions; however, these bacteria do not have obvious virulence factors. Restriction of iron availability to pathogens is an effective strategy of host defense. For brucellae, virulence depends on the ability to survive and replicate within the host cell where iron is an essential nutrient for the growth and survival of both mammalian and bacterial cells. Iron is a particularly scarce nutrient for bacteria with an intracellular lifestyle. Brucella melitensis and Brucella canis share ∼99% of their genomes but differ in intracellular lifestyles. To identify differences, gene transcription of these two pathogens was examined during infection of murine macrophages and compared to broth grown bacteria. Transcriptome analysis of B. melitensis and B. canis revealed differences of genes involved in iron transport. Gene transcription of the TonB, enterobactin, and ferric anguibactin transport systems was increased in B. canis but not B. melitensis during infection of macrophages. The data suggest differences in iron requirements that may contribute to differences observed in the lifestyles of these closely related pathogens. The initial importance of iron for B. canis but not for B. melitensis helps elucidate differing intracellular survival strategies for two closely related bacteria and provides insight for controlling these pathogens.
The intracellular pathogen Brucella is the causative agent of brucellosis, a worldwide zoonosis that affects mammals, including humans. Essential to Brucella virulence is its ability to survive and replicate inside host macrophages, yet the underlying mechanisms and the nature of the replicative compartment remain unclear. Here we show in a model of Brucella abortus infection of murine bone marrow–derived macrophages that a fraction of the bacteria that survive an initial macrophage killing proceed to replicate in a compartment segregated from the endocytic pathway. The maturation of the Brucella-containing vacuole involves sustained interactions and fusion with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which creates a replicative compartment with ER-like properties. The acquisition of ER membranes by replicating Brucella is independent of ER-Golgi COPI-dependent vesicular transport. A mutant of the VirB type IV secretion system, which is necessary for intracellular survival, was unable to sustain interactions and fuse with the ER, and was killed via eventual fusion with lysosomes. Thus, we demonstrate that live intracellular Brucella evade macrophage killing through VirB-dependent sustained interactions with the ER. Moreover, we assign an intracellular function to the VirB system, as being required for late maturation events necessary for the biogenesis of an ER-derived replicative organelle.
macrophage; Brucella; endoplasmic reticulum; type IV secretion; trafficking
A method for the in vitro study of intracellular brucella has been described. Exudative leukocytes containing intracellular brucella have been maintained in vitro in a synthetic tissue culture medium or in human or animal serum. Intracellular brucella are protected in vitro against the lethal action of therapeutic agents or the bactericidal action of serum. This protection of intracellular brucella is dependent upon the presence of an intact, viable host cell. None of the currently available therapeutic agents, whether used alone or in combinations, were capable of killing all intracellular brucella in vitro in 24 hours. A remarkable protection of intracellular brucella against streptomycin has been demonstrated. The most effective reduction in the number of viable intracellular brucella was accomplished by exposure of the host cells to streptomycin plus aureomycin, terramycin, or chloramphenicol. The available evidence suggests that the ability of brucella to localize and remain viable within the cells of an infected host is an important biologic factor in establishing and perpetuating brucella infections, despite therapeutic measures or the operation of the host's humoral defense mechanisms. Reduction of neotetrazolium by leukocytes and brucella in vitro provides a method for assessing the metabolic status of the host cell, but does not discriminate with any degree of certainty a viable from a non-viable intracellular organism.
Brucella is a Gram-negative, facultative intracellular bacterium that causes zoonotic brucellosis in humans and various animals. Out of 10 classified Brucella species, B. melitensis, B. abortus, B. suis, and B. canis are pathogenic to humans. In the past decade, the mechanisms of Brucella pathogenesis and host immunity have been extensively investigated using the cutting edge systems biology and bioinformatics approaches. This article provides a comprehensive review of the applications of Omics (including genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics) and bioinformatics technologies for the analysis of Brucella pathogenesis, host immune responses, and vaccine targets. Based on more than 30 sequenced Brucella genomes, comparative genomics is able to identify gene variations among Brucella strains that help to explain host specificity and virulence differences among Brucella species. Diverse transcriptomics and proteomics gene expression studies have been conducted to analyze gene expression profiles of wild type Brucella strains and mutants under different laboratory conditions. High throughput Omics analyses of host responses to infections with virulent or attenuated Brucella strains have been focused on responses by mouse and cattle macrophages, bovine trophoblastic cells, mouse and boar splenocytes, and ram buffy coat. Differential serum responses in humans and rams to Brucella infections have been analyzed using high throughput serum antibody screening technology. The Vaxign reverse vaccinology has been used to predict many Brucella vaccine targets. More than 180 Brucella virulence factors and their gene interaction networks have been identified using advanced literature mining methods. The recent development of community-based Vaccine Ontology and Brucellosis Ontology provides an efficient way for Brucella data integration, exchange, and computer-assisted automated reasoning.
Brucella; pathogenesis; host immunity; vaccine; systems biology; bioinformatics
During the complex interaction between an infectious agent and a host organism, the pathogen can interfere with the host cell's programmed death to its own benefit. Induction or prevention of host cell apoptosis appears to be a critical step for determining the infection outcome. Members of the gram-negative bacterial genus Brucella are intracellular pathogens which preferentially invade monocytic cells and develop within these cells. We investigated the effect of Brucella suis infection on apoptosis of human monocytic phagocytes. The present study provides evidence that Brucella infection inhibited spontaneously occurring apoptosis in human monocytes. Prevention of monocyte apoptosis was not mediated by Brucella lipopolysaccharide and required bacterial survival within infected cells. Both invaded and noninvaded cells were protected, indicating that soluble mediators released during infection were involved in the phenomenon. Analysis of Brucella-infected monocytes revealed specific overexpression of the A1 gene, a member of the bcl-2 family implicated in the survival of hematopoietic cells. Brucella infection also rendered macrophage-like cells resistant to Fas ligand- or gamma interferon-induced apoptosis, suggesting that Brucella infection protected host cells from several cytotoxic processes occurring at different steps of the immune response. The present data clearly show that Brucella suis modulated the monocyte/macrophage's apoptotic response to the advantage of the pathogen, thus preventing host cell elimination. This might represent a strategy for Brucella development in infected hosts.
Brucellosis is a worldwide zoonosis that affects livestock and humans and is caused by closely related Brucella spp., which are adapted to intracellular life within cells of a large variety of mammals. Brucella can be considered a furtive pathogen that infects professional and non-professional phagocytes. In these cells Brucella survives in a replicative niche, which is characterized for having a very low oxygen tension and being deprived from nutrients such as amino acids and vitamins. Among these vitamins, we have focused on riboflavin (vitamin B2). Flavin metabolism has been barely implicated in bacterial virulence. We have recently described that Brucella and other Rhizobiales bear an atypical riboflavin metabolic pathway. In the present work we analyze the role of the flavin metabolism on Brucella virulence. Mutants on the two lumazine synthases (LS) isoenzymes RibH1 and RibH2 and a double RibH mutant were generated. These mutants and different complemented strains were tested for viability and virulence in cells and in mice. In this fashion we have established that at least one LS must be present for B. abortus survival and that RibH2 and not RibH1 is essential for intracellular survival due to its LS activity in vivo. In summary, we show that riboflavin biosynthesis is essential for Brucella survival inside cells or in mice. These results highlight the potential use of flavin biosynthetic pathway enzymes as targets for the chemotherapy of brucellosis.
Brucella spp. are facultative intracellular bacteria that can establish themselves and cause chronic disease in humans and animals. NK cells play a key role in host defense. They are implicated in an early immune response to a variety of pathogens. However, it was shown that they do not control Brucella infection in mice. On the other hand, NK cell activity is impaired in patients with acute brucellosis, and recently it was demonstrated that human NK cells mediate the killing of intramacrophagic Mycobacterium tuberculosis in in vitro infection. Therefore, we have analyzed the behavior of Brucella suis infecting isolated human macrophages in the presence of syngeneic NK cells. We show that (i) NK cells impair the intramacrophagic development of B. suis, a phenomenon enhanced by NK cell activators, such as interleukin-2; (ii) NK cells cultured in the presence of infected macrophages are highly activated and secrete gamma interferon and tumor necrosis factor alpha; (iii) impairment of bacterial multiplication inside infected cells is marginally associated with the cytokines produced during the early phase of macrophage-NK cell cocultures; (iv) direct cell-to-cell contact is required for NK cells to mediate the inhibition of B. suis development; and (v) inhibition of B. suis development results from an induction of NK cell cytotoxicity against infected macrophages. Altogether, these findings show that NK cells could participate early in controlling the intramacrophagic development of B. suis in humans. It seems thus reasonable to hypothesize a role for NK cells in the control of human brucellosis. However, by impairing the activity of these cells in the acute phase of the illness, the pathogen should avoid this control.
MicroRNA (miRNA) is small non-coding RNA with approximate 22 nt in length. Recent studies indicate that miRNAs play significant roles in pathogen-host interactions. Brucella organisms are Gram-negative facultative intracellular bacteria that cause Brucellosis. Brucella strains infect macrophages and establish chronic infection by altering host life activities including apoptosis and autophagy. Here, we report a comprehensive analysis of miRNA expression profiles in mock- and Brucella-infected RAW264.7 cells using high-throughput sequencing approach. In total, 344 unique miRNAs were co-expressed in the two libraries, in which 57 miRNAs were differentially expressed. Eight differentially expressed miRNAs with high abundance were subjected to further analysis. The GO enrichment analysis suggests that the putative target genes of these differentially expressed miRNAs are involved in apoptosis, autophagy and immune response. In particular, a total of 25 target genes are involved in regulating apoptosis and autophagy, indicating that these miRNAs may play important regulatory roles in the Brucella-host interactions. Furthermore, the interactions of miR-1981 and its target genes, Bcl-2 and Bid, were validated by luciferase assay. The results show that miR-1981 mimic up-regulated the luciferase activity of psiCHECK-2 Bcl-2 3′ UTR, but the luciferase activity of psiCHECK-2 Bid 3′ UTR was not changed significantly. Taken together, these data provide valuable framework on Brucella induced miRNA expression in RAW264.7 cells, and suggest that Brucella may establish chronic infection by regulating miRNA expression profile.
Brucella; RAW264.7; microRNA; high-throughput sequencing; apoptosis; autophagy
Brucella spp. is a species of facultative intracellular Gram-negative bacteria that induces abortion and causes sterility in domesticated mammals and chronic undulant fever in humans. Important determinants of Brucella’s virulence and potential for chronic infection include the ability to circumvent the host cell’s internal surveillance system and the capability to proliferate within dedicated and non-dedicated phagocytes. Hence, identifying genes necessary for intracellular survival may hold the key to understanding Brucella infection. In the present study, microarray analysis reveals that 7.82% (244/3334) of all Brucella abortus genes were up-regulated and 5.4% (180/3334) were down-regulated in RAW264.7 cells, compared to free-living cells in TSB. qRT-PCR verification further confirmed a >5-fold up-regulation for fourteen genes. Functional analysis classified araC, ddp, and eryD as to partake in information storage and processing, alp, flgF and virB9 to be involved in cellular processes, hpcd and aldh to play a role in metabolism, mfs and nikC to be involved in both cellular processes and metabolism, and four hypothetical genes (bruAb1_1814, bruAb1_0475, bruAb1_1926, and bruAb1_0292) had unknown functions. Furthermore, we constructed a B. abortus 2308 mutant Δddp where the ddp gene is deleted in order to evaluate the role of ddp in intracellular survival. Infection assay indicated significantly higher adherence and invasion abilities of the Δddp mutant, however it does not survive well in RAW264.7 cells. Brucella may survive in hostile intracellular environment by modulating gene expression.
Bacteria from the Brucella genus are able to survive and proliferate within macrophages. Because they are phylogenetically closely related to macrophages, myeloid dendritic cells (DCs) constitute potential targets for Brucella bacteria. Here we report that DCs display a great susceptibility to Brucella infection. Therefore, DCs might serve as a reservoir and be important for the development of Brucella bacteria within their host.
Brucella are facultative intracellular bacteria that chronically infect humans and animals causing brucellosis. Brucella are able to invade and replicate in a broad range of cell lines in vitro, however the cells supporting bacterial growth in vivo are largely unknown. In order to identify these, we used a Brucella melitensis strain stably expressing mCherry fluorescent protein to determine the phenotype of infected cells in spleen and liver, two major sites of B. melitensis growth in mice. In both tissues, the majority of primary infected cells expressed the F4/80 myeloid marker. The peak of infection correlated with granuloma development. These structures were mainly composed of CD11b+ F4/80+ MHC-II+ cells expressing iNOS/NOS2 enzyme. A fraction of these cells also expressed CD11c marker and appeared similar to inflammatory dendritic cells (DCs). Analysis of genetically deficient mice revealed that differentiation of iNOS+ inflammatory DC, granuloma formation and control of bacterial growth were deeply affected by the absence of MyD88, IL-12p35 and IFN-γ molecules. During chronic phase of infection in susceptible mice, we identified a particular subset of DC expressing both CD11c and CD205, serving as a reservoir for the bacteria. Taken together, our results describe the cellular nature of immune effectors involved during Brucella infection and reveal a previously unappreciated role for DC subsets, both as effectors and reservoir cells, in the pathogenesis of brucellosis.
Brucella are facultative intracellular bacteria chronically infecting humans and animals causing brucellosis, one of the most common zoonotic disease worldwide which can result in infertility and chronic debilitating disease. The cells supporting Brucella growth in vivo remain largely unknown. In order to identify these, we constructed a Brucella melitensis strain expressing a fluorescent protein that allowed us to characterize infected cells by microscopy of the spleen and liver from infected mice. In both tissues, the majority of primary infected cells were cells from the macrophage lineage. The peak of infection correlated with granuloma development. These structures contained the majority of bacteria and were mainly composed of cells expressing CD11b, F4/80, MHC-II, which are specific of activated monocytes/macrophages. A fraction of granuloma cells also expressed CD11c and were similar to inflammatory dendritic cells (DCs). During the chronic phase of infection in susceptible mice, we identified a particular subset of DC expressing CD205 and serving as a reservoir for the bacteria. Overall, our results describe the nature of immune cells infected by Brucella in vivo and reveal an unappreciated role for DC subsets, both as effectors and reservoir cells. These results could help develop new therapeutic strategies to control Brucella infection.
There is no safe, effective human vaccine against brucellosis. Live attenuated Brucella strains are widely used to vaccinate animals. However these live Brucella vaccines can cause disease and are unsafe for humans. Killed Brucella or subunit vaccines are not effective in eliciting long term protection. In this study, we evaluate an approach using a live, non-pathogenic bacteria (E. coli) genetically engineered to mimic the brucellae pathway of infection and present antigens for an appropriate cytolitic T cell response.
E. coli was modified to express invasin of Yersinia and listerialysin O (LLO) of Listeria to impart the necessary infectivity and antigen releasing traits of the intracellular pathogen, Brucella. This modified E. coli was considered our vaccine delivery system and was engineered to express Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) or Brucella antigens for in vitro and in vivo immunological studies including cytokine profiling and cytotoxicity assays.
The E. coli vaccine vector was able to infect all cells tested and efficiently deliver therapeutics to the host cell. Using GFP as antigen, we demonstrate that the E. coli vaccine vector elicits a Th1 cytokine profile in both primary and secondary immune responses. Additionally, using this vector to deliver a Brucella antigen, we demonstrate the ability of the E. coli vaccine vector to induce specific Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes (CTLs).
Protection against most intracellular bacterial pathogens can be obtained mostly through cell mediated immunity. Data presented here suggest modified E. coli can be used as a vaccine vector for delivery of antigens and therapeutics mimicking the infection of the pathogen and inducing cell mediated immunity to that pathogen.