In bacteria, signal-transduction two-component systems are major players for adaptation to environmental stimuli. The perception of a chemical or physical signal by a sensor-kinase triggers its autophosphorylation. The phosphoryl group is then transferred to the cognate response regulator, which mediates the appropriate adaptive response. Virulence of the whooping cough agent Bordetella pertussis is controlled by the two-component system BvgAS. Atypically, the sensor-kinase BvgS is active without specific stimuli at 37°C in laboratory conditions and is inactivated by the addition of negative chemical modulators. The structure of BvgS is complex, with two tandem periplasmic Venus flytrap domains and a cytoplasmic PAS domain that precedes the kinase domain, which is followed by additional phosphotransfer domains. PAS domains are small, ubiquitous sensing or regulatory domains. The function of the PAS domain in BvgS remains unknown.
We showed that recombinant BvgS PAS proteins form dimers that are stabilized by α helical regions flanking the PAS core. A structural model of the PAS domain dimer was built and probed by site-directed mutagenesis and by biochemical and functional analyses. Although we found no ligands for the PAS domain cavity, its integrity is required for signaling. We also showed that the structural stability of the PAS core and its proper coupling to its flanking N- and C-terminal α helices are crucial for BvgS activity.
We propose that a major function of the BvgS PAS domain is to maintain conformational signals arising from mechanical strain generated by the periplasmic domain. The tight structure of the PAS core and its connections with the upstream and downstream helices ensure signaling to the kinase domain, which determines BvgS activity. Many mild substitutions that map to the PAS domain keep BvgS active but make it unresponsive to negative modulators, supporting that modulation increases conformational strain in the protein.
Two-component system; Bordetella; Virulence regulation; PAS domain; Signaling
Microcalorimetric bacterial growth studies have illustrated that thermograms differ significantly with both culture media and strain. The present contribution examines the possibility of discriminating between certain bacterial strains by microcalorimetry and the qualitative and quantitative contribution of the sample volume to the observed thermograms. Growth patterns of samples of Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 25923) and Escherichia coli (ATCC 25922) were analyzed. Certain features of the thermograms that may serve to distinguish between these bacterial strains were identified.
The thermograms of the two bacterial strains with sample volumes ranging from 0.3 to 0.7 ml and same initial bacterial concentration were analyzed. Both strains exhibit a roughly 2-peak shape that differs by peak amplitude and position along the time scale. Seven parameters corresponding to the thermogram key points related to time and heat flow values were proposed and statistically analyzed. The most relevant parameters appear to be the time to reach a heat flow of 0.05 mW (1.67 ± 0.46 h in E. coli vs. 2.99 ± 0.53 h in S. aureus, p < 0.0001), the time to reach the first peak (3.84 ± 0.5 h vs. 5.17 ± 0.49 h, p < 0.0001) and the first peak value (0.19 ± 0.02 mW vs. 0.086 ± 0.012 mW, p < 0.0001). The statistical analysis on 4 parameters of volume-normalized heat flow thermograms showed that the time to reach a volume-normalized heat flow of 0.1 mW/ml (1.75 ± 0.37 h in E. coli vs. 2.87 ± 0.65 h in S. aureus, p < 0.005), the time to reach the first volume-normalized peak (3.78 ± 0.47 h vs. 5.12 ± 0.52 h, p < 0.0001) and the first volume-normalized peak value (0.35 ± 0.05 mW/ml vs. 0.181 ± 0.040 mW/ml, p < 0.0001) seem to be the most relevant. Peakfit® decomposition and analysis of the observed thermograms complements the statistical analysis via quantitative arguments, indicating that: (1) the first peak pertains to a faster, “dissolved oxygen” bacterial growth (where the dissolved oxygen in the initial suspension acts as a limiting factor); (2) the second peak indicates a slower “diffused oxygen” growth that involves transport of oxygen contained in the unfilled part of the microcalorimetric cell; (3) a strictly fermentative growth component may slightly contribute to the observed complex thermal signal.
The investigated strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli display, under similar experimental conditions, distinct thermal growth patterns. The two strains can be easily differentiated using a selection of the proposed parameters. The presented Peakfit analysis of the complex thermal signal provides the necessary means for establishing the optimal growth conditions of various bacterial strains. These conditions are needed for the standardization of the isothermal microcalorimetry method in view of its further use in qualitative and quantitative estimation of bacterial growth.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa populations within the cystic fibrosis lung exhibit extensive phenotypic and genetic diversification. The resultant population diversity is thought to be crucial to the persistence of infection and may underpin the progression of disease. However, because cystic fibrosis lungs represent ecologically complex and hostile environments, the selective forces driving this diversification in vivo remain unclear. We took an experimental evolution approach to test the hypothesis that sub-inhibitory antibiotics can drive diversification of P. aeruginosa populations. Replicate populations of P. aeruginosa LESB58 were cultured for seven days in artificial sputum medium with and without sub-inhibitory concentrations of various clinically relevant antibiotics. We then characterised diversification with respect to 13 phenotypic and genotypic characteristics.
We observed that higher population diversity evolved in the presence of azithromycin, ceftazidime or colistin relative to antibiotic-free controls. Divergence occurred due to alterations in antimicrobial susceptibility profiles following exposure to azithromycin, ceftazidime and colistin. Alterations in colony morphology and pyocyanin production were observed following exposure to ceftazidime and colistin only. Diversification was not observed in the presence of meropenem.
Our study indicates that certain antibiotics can promote population diversification when present in sub-inhibitory concentrations. Hence, the choice of antibiotic may have previously unforeseen implications for the development of P. aeruginosa infections in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients.
Antibiotics; Cystic fibrosis; Population biology; Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Ralstonia eutropha H16 is well known to produce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), which are potential bio-based biodegradable plastics, in an efficient manner as an energy storage material under unbalanced growth conditions. To obtain further knowledge of PHA biosynthesis, this study performed a quantitative transcriptome analysis based on deep sequencing of the complementary DNA generated from the RNA (RNA-seq) of R. eutropha H16.
Total RNAs were extracted from R. eutropha cells in growth, PHA production, and stationary phases on fructose. rRNAs in the preparation were removed by repeated treatments with magnetic beads specific to bacterial rRNAs, and then the 36 bp sequences were determined using an Illumina high-throughput sequencer. The RNA-seq results indicated the induction of gene expression for transcription, translation, cell division, peptidoglycan biosynthesis, pilus and flagella assembly, energy conservation, and fatty acid biosynthesis in the growth phase; and the repression trends of genes involved in central metabolisms in the PHA production phase. Interestingly, the transcription of genes for Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle and several genes for β-oxidation were significantly induced in the PHA production phase even when the cells were grown on fructose. Moreover, incorporation of 13C was observed in poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) synthesized by R. eutropha H16 from fructose in the presence of NaH13CO3, and further gene deletion analyses revealed that both of the two ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase (Rubiscos) in CBB cycle were actually functional in CO2 fixation under the heterotrophic condition.
The results revealed the phase-dependent transcriptomic changes and a CO2 fixation capability under heterotrophic conditions by PHA-producing R. eutropha.
RNA-seq; Ralstonia eutropha; Polyhydroxyalkanoates; CO2 fixation; Cavin-benson-bassham cycle; Rubisco
Araucariaceae are important forest trees of the southern hemisphere. Life expectancy of their seedlings can largely be reduced by fungal infections. In this study we have isolated and characterized such a fungus and investigated the potential of Streptomyces Actinobacteria from the respective rhizosphere to act as antagonists.
The pathogenic fungus from Araucaria angustifolia seeds was identified by morphological markers (pore-associated Woronin-bodies) as belonging to the Pezizomycotina. Molecular data identified the fungus as Neofusicoccum parvum (Botryosphaeriaceae). Co-cultures on agar of this fungus with certain streptomycete isolates from the rhizosphere, and from the surface of Araucaria roots significantly reduced the growth of the fungus. HPLC analysis of the agar yielded streptomycete-specific exudate compounds which were partly identified. There were differences in compounds between single (bacteria, fungus) and dual cultures (bacteria + fungus).
Streptomycetes from the rhizosphere of Araucariaceae produce exudates which can suppress the development of pathogenic fungi in their seeds.
Antibiosis; Actinomycetes; Brazil pine; Secondary compounds; Anti-fungal compounds; Neofusicoccum
In this work are reported the results of a qualitative analytical method capable of detecting Bacillus anthracis spores when they are present in very low concentration in the soil. The Ground Anthrax Bacillus Refined Isolation (GABRI) method, assessed in our laboratory, was compared with the classic method. The comparison involved artificially anthrax-contaminated soil samples (500 spores/7.5 grams soil) and naturally contaminated soil samples collected in Bangladesh during a field investigation.
The results indicated that, in contrast to the classic method, the GABRI method was able to detect B.anthracis in all contaminated samples. The GABRI method produces a more sensitive measure of anthrax spore presence significantly different from the standard method. In particular, the latter is more sensitive to the presence of normal soil contaminants.
The main feature of the GABRI method is its ability to strongly reduce the presence of the environmental contaminants, which being much more numerous than B. anthracis tend to inhibit their germination and growth making it extremely difficult to visualize any colonies. The reduction of the microbial environment also allows one to be able to culture and test a larger quantity of potentially contaminated soil and to isolate B. anthracis when the spores are present in very low concentrations in the soil.
Bacillus anthracis; Contaminated soil; Isolation; Method
Polar development during the alphaproteobacterium Caulobacter crescentus cell cycle is integrated to the point that individual mutations can have pleiotropic effects on the synthesis of polar organelles. Disruption of the genes encoding the histidine kinase PleC, or its localization factor PodJ, disrupts synthesis or functionality of pili, flagella and adhesive holdfast. However, the mechanism by which these mutations affect polar development is not well understood. The aim of this study was to identify new regulators that control multiple aspects of polar organelle development.
To identify mutants with pleiotropic polar organelle synthesis defects, transposon mutagenesis was performed and mutants were selected based resistance to the pili-tropic bacteriophage ΦCbK. Mutants were then screened for defects in motility and holdfast production. Only a single podJ/pleC-independent mutant was isolated which had defects in all three phenotypes. Directed phage assays confirmed the phage resistance phenotype, while the strain demonstrated a similar dispersal radius as a podJ mutant in swarm agar, and treatment with a fluorescent lectin that labels the holdfast showed no staining for this mutant. The transposon had inserted into the promoter region of ctrA, a gene encoding a master transcriptional regulator of the cell cycle, disrupting native transcription but still allowing reduced transcriptional activity and protein production of this essential protein. Transcriptional fusions showed that essential genes controlled by CtrA exhibited minor to moderate changes in expression in the ctrA promoter mutant, while the pilA gene, encoding the subunit of the pilus filament, had a drastic decrease in gene expression. Introduction of a plasmid-born copy of ctrA under its native promoter complemented the phage resistance and holdfast defects, as well as a moderate cell morphology defect, but not the swarming defect.
A mutation was identified that caused pleiotropic defects in polar organelle synthesis, and revealed the surprising result that some CtrA-dependent promoters are more sensitive to changes in CtrA concentration than others. However, the fact that no pleiotropic mutations were found in new regulators suggests that downstream signaling of PleC/PodJ is either essential, redundant, or branching such that all three phenotypes were not simultaneously affected.
CtrA; P2 promoter; PodJ; Pleiotrophic
HC-toxin, a cyclic tetrapeptide, is a virulence determinant for the plant pathogenic fungus Cochliobolus carbonum. It was recently discovered that another fungus, Alternaria jesenskae, also produces HC-toxin.
The major genes (collectively known as AjTOX2) involved in the biosynthesis of HC-toxin were identified from A. jesenskae by genomic sequencing. The encoded orthologous proteins share 75-85% amino acid identity, and the genes for HC-toxin biosynthesis are duplicated in both fungi. The genomic organization of the genes in the two fungi show a similar but not identical partial clustering arrangement. A set of representative housekeeping proteins show a similar high level of amino acid identity between C. carbonum and A. jesenskae, which is consistent with the close relatedness of these two genera within the family Pleosporaceae (Dothideomycetes).
This is the first report that the plant virulence factor HC-toxin is made by an organism other than C. carbonum. The genes may have moved by horizontal transfer between the two species, but it cannot be excluded that they were present in a common ancestor and lost from other species of Alternaria and Cochliobolus.
Nonribosomal peptide synthetase; Host-selective toxin; Plant pathogenesis; Cyclic peptide
Accurate identification of fastidious Gram-negative rods (GNR) by conventional phenotypic characteristics is a challenge for diagnostic microbiology. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of molecular methods, e.g., 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis for identification of fastidious GNR in the clinical microbiology laboratory.
A total of 158 clinical isolates covering 20 genera and 50 species isolated from 1993 to 2010 were analyzed by comparing biochemical and 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis based identification. 16S rRNA gene homology analysis identified 148/158 (94%) of the isolates to species level, 9/158 (5%) to genus and 1/158 (1%) to family level. Compared to 16S rRNA gene sequencing as reference method, phenotypic identification correctly identified 64/158 (40%) isolates to species level, mainly Aggregatibacter aphrophilus, Cardiobacterium hominis, Eikenella corrodens, Pasteurella multocida, and 21/158 (13%) isolates correctly to genus level, notably Capnocytophaga sp.; 73/158 (47%) of the isolates were not identified or misidentified.
We herein propose an efficient strategy for accurate identification of fastidious GNR in the clinical microbiology laboratory by integrating both conventional phenotypic methods and 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. We conclude that 16S rRNA gene sequencing is an effective means for identification of fastidious GNR, which are not readily identified by conventional phenotypic methods.
Fastidious Gram-negative rods; 16S rRNA gene; Conventional phenotypic methods
Six independent Gram-negative, facultatively anaerobic, non-spore-forming, nitrogen-fixing rod-shaped isolates were obtained from the root endosphere of rice grown at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and investigated in a polyphasic taxonomic study.
The strains produced fatty acid patterns typical for members of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Comparative sequence analyses of the 16S rRNA as well as rpoB genes allocated the strains to two well-defined groups within the genus Enterobacter, family Enterobacteriaceae. The analyses indicated Enterobacter radicincitans, Enterobacter arachidis and Enterobacter oryzae to be the closest related species. An RpoB (translated) protein comparison supported the placement in the genus Enterobacter and the relatedness of our isolates to the aforementioned species. Genomic DNA:DNA hybridization analyses and biochemical analyses provided further evidence that the novel strains belong to two new species within the genus Enterobacter. The two species can be differentiated from each other and from existing enteric species by acid production from L-rhamnose and D-melibiose, decarboxylation of ornithine and utilization of D-alanine, D-raffinose L-proline and L-aspartic acid, among other characteristics. Members of both species revealed capacities to colonise rice roots, including plant-growth-promoting capabilities such as an active supply of fixed nitrogen to the plant and solubilisation of inorganic phosphorus, next to traits allowing adaptation to the plant.
Two novel proposed enterobacterial species, denominated Enterobacter oryziphilus sp. nov. (type strain REICA_142T=LMG 26429T=NCCB 100393T) and Enterobacter oryzendophyticus sp. nov. (type strain REICA_082T=LMG 26432T =NCCB 100390T) were isolated from rice roots. Both species are capable of promoting rice growth by supplying nitrogen and phosphorus.
Plant growth-promoting bacteria; Endophytes; Diazotrophic bacteria; Methanotrophic bacteria; Phosphate-solubilizing bacteria; Production of indole-3-acetic acid; International Rice Research Institute
Methanoarchaea are among the strictest known anaerobes, yet they can survive exposure to oxygen. The mechanisms by which they sense and respond to oxidizing conditions are unknown. MsvR is a transcription regulatory protein unique to the methanoarchaea. Initially identified and characterized in the methanogen Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus (Mth), MthMsvR displays differential DNA binding under either oxidizing or reducing conditions. Since MthMsvR regulates a potential oxidative stress operon in M. thermautotrophicus, it was hypothesized that the MsvR family of proteins were redox-sensitive transcription regulators.
An MsvR homologue from the methanogen Methanosarcina acetivorans, MaMsvR, was overexpressed and purified. The two MsvR proteins bound the same DNA sequence motif found upstream of all known MsvR encoding genes, but unlike MthMsvR, MaMsvR did not bind the promoters of select genes involved in the oxidative stress response. Unlike MthMsvR that bound DNA under both non-reducing and reducing conditions, MaMsvR bound DNA only under reducing conditions. MaMsvR appeared as a dimer in gel filtration chromatography analysis and site-directed mutagenesis suggested that conserved cysteine residues within the V4R domain were involved in conformational rearrangements that impact DNA binding.
Results presented herein suggest that homodimeric MaMsvR acts as a transcriptional repressor by binding Ma PmsvR under non-reducing conditions. Changing redox conditions promote conformational changes that abrogate binding to Ma PmsvR which likely leads to de-repression.
Methanogens; Transcription; Archaea; Regulation
Antimicrobial resistance is increasing among clinical Campylobacter cases and is common among isolates from other sources, specifically retail poultry - a major source of human infection. In this study the antimicrobial susceptibility of isolates from a UK-wide survey of Campylobacter in retail poultry in 2001 and 2004–5 was investigated. The occurrence of phenotypes resistant to tetracycline, quinolones (ciprofloxacin and naladixic acid), erythromycin, chloramphenicol and aminoglycosides was quantified. This was compared with a phylogeny for these isolates based upon Multi Locus Sequence Typing (MLST) to investigate the pattern of antimicrobial resistance acquisition.
Antimicrobial resistance was present in all lineage clusters, but statistical testing showed a non-random distribution. Erythromycin resistance was associated with Campylobacter coli. For all antimicrobials tested, resistant isolates were distributed among relatively distant lineages indicative of widespread acquisition. There was also evidence of clustering of resistance phenotypes within lineages; indicative of local expansion of resistant strains.
These results are consistent with the widespread acquisition of antimicrobial resistance among chicken associated Campylobacter isolates, either through mutation or horizontal gene transfer, and the expansion of these lineages as a proportion of the population. As Campylobacter are not known to multiply outside of the host and long-term carriage in humans is extremely infrequent in industrialized countries, the most likely location for the proliferation of resistant lineages is in farmed chickens.
Cadmium is a non-essential metal that is toxic because of its interference with essential metals such as iron, calcium and zinc causing numerous detrimental metabolic and cellular effects. The amount of this metal in the environment has increased dramatically since the advent of the industrial age as a result of mining activities, the use of fertilizers and sewage sludge in farming, and discharges from manufacturing activities. The metal bioremediation utility of phototrophic microbes has been demonstrated through their ability to detoxify Hg(II) into HgS under aerobic conditions. Metal sulfides are generally very insoluble and therefore, biologically unavailable.
When Cd(II) was exposed to cells it was bioconverted into CdS by the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, the red alga Cyanidioschyzon merolae, and the cyanobacterium, Synechoccocus leopoliensis. Supplementation of the two eukaryotic algae with extra sulfate, but not sulfite or cysteine, increased their cadmium tolerances as well as their abilities to produce CdS, indicating an involvement of sulfate assimilation in the detoxification process. However, the combined activities of extracted serine acetyl-transferase (SAT) and O-acetylserine(thiol)lyase (OASTL) used to monitor sulfate assimilation, was not significantly elevated during cell treatments that favored sulfide biosynthesis. It is possible that the prolonged incubation of the experiments occurring over two days could have compensated for the low rates of sulfate assimilation. This was also the case for S. leopoliensis where sulfite and cysteine as well as sulfate supplementation enhanced CdS synthesis. In general, conditions that increased cadmium sulfide production also resulted in elevated cysteine desulfhydrase activities, strongly suggesting that cysteine is the direct source of sulfur for CdS synthesis.
Cadmium(II) tolerance and CdS formation were significantly enhanced by sulfate supplementation, thus indicating that algae and cyanobacteria can produce CdS in a manner similar to that of HgS. Significant increases in sulfate assimilation as measured by SAT-OASTL activity were not detected. However, the enhanced activity of cysteine desulfhydrase indicates that it is instrumental in the provision of H2S for aerobic CdS biosynthesis.
Acinetobacter baumannii is an important nosocomial pathogen that has become increasingly resistant to multiple antibiotics. Genetic manipulation of MDR A. baumannii is useful especially for defining the contribution of each active efflux mechanism in multidrug resistance. Existing methods rely on the use of an antibiotic selection marker and are not suited for multiple gene deletions.
A tellurite-resistant (sacB+, xylE+) suicide vector, pMo130-TelR, was created for deleting the adeFGH and adeIJK operons in two clinical MDR A. baumannii, DB and R2 from Singapore. Using a two-step selection, plasmid insertion recombinants (first-crossover) were selected for tellurite resistance and the deletion mutants (second-crossover) were then selected for loss of sacB. The DNA deletions were verified by PCR while loss of gene expression in the ΔadeFGH, ΔadeIJK and ΔadeFGHΔadeIJK deletion mutants was confirmed using qRT-PCR. The contribution of AdeFGH and AdeIJK pumps to MDR was defined by comparing antimicrobial susceptibilities of the isogenic mutants and the parental strains. The deletion of adeIJK produced no more than eight-fold increase in susceptibility to nalidixic acid, tetracycline, minocycline, tigecycline, clindamycin, trimethoprim and chloramphenicol, while the deletion of adeL-adeFGH operon alone had no impact on antimicrobial susceptibility. Dye accumulation assays using H33342 revealed increased dye retention in all deletion mutants, except for the R2ΔadeFGH mutant, where a decrease was observed. Increased accumulation of ethidium bromide was observed in the parental strains and all pump deletion mutants in the presence of efflux inhibitors. The efflux pump deletion mutants in this study revealed that only the AdeIJK, but not the AdeFGH RND pump, contributes to antimicrobial resistance and dye accumulation in MDR A. baumannii DB and R2.
The marker-less gene deletion method using pMo130-TelR is applicable for creating single and multiple gene deletions in MDR A. baumannii. The adeFGH and adeIJK operons were successfully deleted separately and together using this method and the impact of each efflux pump on antimicrobial resistance could be defined clearly.
Acinetobacter baumannii; Multidrug-resistant; AdeFGH; AdeIJK; RND pumps; Allelic replacement
Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus are associated with the development of dental caries in humans. However, previous diagnostic systems are unsuitable for monitoring viable cell numbers in oral specimens. Assessing the relationship between the numbers of viable and dead bacterial cells and oral status is important for understanding oral infectious diseases. Propidium monoazide (PMA) has been reported to penetrate dead cells following membrane damage and to cross-link DNA, thereby inhibiting DNA amplification. In the present study, we established an assay for selective analysis of two viable human cariogenic pathogens, S. mutans and S. sobrinus, using PMA combined with real-time PCR (PMA-qPCR).
We designed species-specific primer sets for S. mutans and S. sobrinus, generated standard curves for measuring cell numbers, and evaluated the dynamic range of the assay. To determine the effectiveness of the assay, PMA was added to viable and autoclave-killed cell mixtures. PMA treatment effectively prevented DNA amplification from dead cells. No amplification of DNA from dead cells was observed in these organisms. In addition, we applied this assay to analyze viable cell numbers in oral specimens. A significant correlation was found between the number of viable S. mutans cells in saliva and that in plaque among caries-free patients, whereas no correlation was observed between saliva and carious dentin. The total and viable cell numbers in caries-positive saliva were significantly higher than those in caries-free saliva. Finally, we analyzed the usefulness of this assay for in vitro oral biofilm analysis. We applied PMA-qPCR for monitoring viable S. mutans cell numbers in vitro in planktonic cells and oral biofilm treated with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). In planktonic cells, the number of viable cells decreased significantly with increasing H2O2 concentration, whereas only a small decrease was observed in biofilm cell numbers.
PMA-qPCR is potentially useful for quantifying viable cariogenic pathogens in oral specimens and is applicable to oral biofilm experiments. This assay will help to elucidate the relationship between the number of viable cells in oral specimens and the oral status.
Dental caries; Dental plaque; Biofilm; Propidium monoazide (PMA); Quantification; qPCR (Real-time PCR); Streptococcus mutans; Streptococcus sobrinus; Viability
As an opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa is able to cause acute and chronic infections. The biofilm mode of life significantly contributes to the growth and persistence of P. aeruginosa during an infection process and mediates the pathogenicity of the bacterium. Within a biofilm mucoid strains of P. aeruginosa simultaneously produce and secrete several hydrolytic enzymes and the extracellular polysaccharide alginate. The focus of the current study was the interaction between extracellular lipase LipA and alginate, which may be physiologically relevant in biofilms of mucoid P. aeruginosa.
Fluorescence microscopy of mucoid P. aeruginosa biofilms were performed using fluorogenic lipase substrates. It showed a localization of the extracellular enzyme near the cells. A microtiter plate-based binding assay revealed that the polyanion alginate is able to bind LipA. A molecular modeling approach showed that this binding is structurally based on electrostatic interactions between negatively charged residues of alginate and positively charged amino acids of the protein localized opposite of the catalytic centre. Moreover, we showed that the presence of alginate protected the lipase activity by protection from heat inactivation and from degradation by the endogenous, extracellular protease elastase LasB. This effect was influenced by the chemical properties of the alginate molecules and was enhanced by the presence of O-acetyl groups in the alginate chain.
We demonstrate that the extracellular lipase LipA from P. aeruginosa interacts with the polysaccharide alginate in the self-produced extracellular biofilm matrix of P. aeruginosa via electrostatic interactions suggesting a role of this interaction for enzyme immobilization and accumulation within biofilms. This represents a physiological advantage for the cells. Especially in the biofilm lifestyle, the enzyme is retained near the cell surface, with the catalytic centre exposed towards the substrate and is protected from denaturation and proteolytic degradation.
Biofilm; Lipase; Polysaccharide; Interaction; Enzyme stability; Molecular modeling
Porphyromonas gingivalis is a key pathogen in periodontitis, an inflammatory disease leading to destruction of bone and tooth-supporting tissue. P. gingivalis possesses a number of pathogenic properties to enhance growth and survival, including proteolytic gingipains. Accumulating data shows that gingipains are involved in the regulation of host inflammatory responses. The aim of this study was to determine if P. gingivalis infection modulates the inflammatory response of fibroblasts, including the release of chemokines and cytokines. Human gingival fibroblasts or primary dermal fibroblasts were pre-stimulated with tumor-necrosis factor-α (TNF- α) and cocultured with P. gingivalis. Gingipain inhibitors were used to explore the effect of gingipains. CXCL8 levels were determined with ELISA and the relative levels of various inflammatory mediators were determined by a cytokine assay.
TNF-α-triggered CXCL8 levels were completely abolished by viable P. gingivalis, whereas heat-killed P. gingivalis did not suppress CXCL8. Accumulation of CXCL8 was partially restored by an arginine-gingipain inhibitor. Furthermore, fibroblasts produced several inflammatory mediators, notably chemokines, all of which were suppressed by viable P. gingivalis.
These findings provide evidence that fibroblast-derived inflammatory signals are modulated by heat-instable gingipains, whereby the bacteria can escape killing by the host immune system and promote its own growth and establishment. In addition, we show that fibroblasts are important mediators of inflammation in response to infection and thereby play a crucial role in determining the nature and magnitude of the invasion of immune cells.
Porphyromonas gingivalis; Fibroblasts; Chemokines; Cytokines
Transcriptional regulation by alternative sigma (σ) factors represents an important mechanism that allows bacteria to rapidly regulate transcript and protein levels in response to changing environmental conditions. While the role of the alternative σ factor σB has been comparatively well characterized in L. monocytogenes, our understanding of the roles of the three other L. monocytogenes alternative σ factors is still limited. In this study, we employed a quantitative proteomics approach using Isobaric Tags for Relative and Absolute Quantitation (iTRAQ) to characterize the L. monocytogenes σL, σH, and σC protein regulons. Proteomic comparisons used a quadruple alternative σ factor mutant strain (ΔBCHL) and strains expressing a single alternative σ factor (i.e., σL, σH, and σC; strains ΔBCH, ΔBCL, and ΔBHL) to eliminate potential redundancies between σ factors.
Among the three alternative σ factors studied here, σH provides positive regulation for the largest number of proteins, consistent with previous transcriptomic studies, while σL appears to contribute to negative regulation of a number of proteins. σC was found to regulate a small number of proteins in L. monocytogenes grown to stationary phase at 37°C. Proteins identified as being regulated by multiple alternative σ factors include MptA, which is a component of a PTS system with a potential role in regulation of PrfA activity.
This study provides initial insights into global regulation of protein production by the L. monocytogenes alternative σ factors σL, σH, and σC. While, among these σ factors, σH appears to positively regulate the largest number of proteins, we also identified PTS systems that appear to be co-regulated by multiple alternative σ factors. Future studies should not only explore potential roles of alternative σ factors in activating a “cascade” of PTS systems that potentially regulate PrfA, but also may want to explore the σL and σC regulons under different environmental conditions to identify conditions where these σ factors may regulate larger numbers of proteins or genes.
Listeria monocytogenes; Alternative sigma factors; Quantitative proteomics
Deep hypersaline anoxic basins (DHABs) are isolated habitats at the bottom of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, which originate from the ancient dissolution of Messinian evaporites. The different basins have recruited their original biota from the same source, but their geological evolution eventually constituted sharp environmental barriers, restricting genetic exchange between the individual basins. Therefore, DHABs are unique model systems to assess the effect of geological events and environmental conditions on the evolution and diversification of protistan plankton. Here, we examine evidence for isolated evolution of unicellular eukaryote protistan plankton communities driven by geological separation and environmental selection. We specifically focused on ciliated protists as a major component of protistan DHAB plankton by pyrosequencing the hypervariable V4 fragment of the small subunit ribosomal RNA. Geospatial distributions and responses of marine ciliates to differential hydrochemistries suggest strong physical and chemical barriers to dispersal that influence the evolution of this plankton group.
Ciliate communities in the brines of four investigated DHABs are distinctively different from ciliate communities in the interfaces (haloclines) immediately above the brines. While the interface ciliate communities from different sites are relatively similar to each other, the brine ciliate communities are significantly different between sites. We found no distance-decay relationship, and canonical correspondence analyses identified oxygen and sodium as most important hydrochemical parameters explaining the partitioning of diversity between interface and brine ciliate communities. However, none of the analyzed hydrochemical parameters explained the significant differences between brine ciliate communities in different basins.
Our data indicate a frequent genetic exchange in the deep-sea water above the brines. The “isolated island character” of the different brines, that resulted from geological events and contemporary environmental conditions, create selective pressures driving evolutionary processes, and with time, lead to speciation and shape protistan community composition. We conclude that community assembly in DHABs is a mixture of isolated evolution (as evidenced by small changes in V4 primary structure in some taxa) and species sorting (as indicated by the regional absence/presence of individual taxon groups on high levels in taxonomic hierarchy).
Ciliates; Hypersaline; Deep-sea anoxic basins; DHABs; Brine; Species sorting; Environmental filtering; Niche separation
To control the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospitals, infection control measures such as hand hygiene practices were introduced into the teaching hospitals in Shanghai, China, in 2008. Currently, there is limited information characterizing the latest hospital-acquired S. aureus infections in this area. Therefore, we sought to determine the prevalence, molecular characteristics, and genotype-phenotype correlation of hospital-acquired S. aureus infections in Huashan Hospital, one of the largest teaching hospitals in Shanghai.
Among 608 hospital-acquired S. aureus clinical isolates obtained from January to December of 2011 in Huashan Hospital, 68.1% were MRSA. The predominant MRSA clones were ST239-SCCmecIII and ST5-SCCmecII. ST239 was mainly recovered from respiratory specimens and sterile body fluids, ST5 was associated with respiratory specimens and blood, and ST1 was most prevalent in urine samples. In this study, 31 dispersed sequence types (STs) of methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) were identified, most of which caused skin/soft tissue infection and bacteremia. The frequencies of pvl-, muPA-, and qacA/B-positive isolates were 1.6, 9.9, and 11.8% respectively. MuPA was more frequently identified in ST1 and ST5, and qacA/B was more prevalent in ST239 and ST5. Most of the pvl-positive isolates were MSSA, whereas the majority of muPA- and qacA/B-positive isolates were MRSA. ST239 and ST5 had higher resistance rates to multiple antibiotics. In Huashan Hospital, the infection rate in the intensive care unit (ICU) was 3.9 per 1000 hospitalized days, but only 1.2 per 1000 hospitalized days in the other wards. Each ward harbored its own dominant STs. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis showed diversity within the same epidemic S. aureus clones originating from the same wards.
There is still a high prevalence of MRSA infections in the teaching hospital in Shanghai. There were also differences in the major infection types caused by MRSA and MSSA, and hospital-acquired S. aureus infections in the ICU of Huashan Hospital pose a greater threat to patient safety than in other wards. The high proportion of multiple antibiotic and chlorhexidine-based antiseptic-resistant clones in this hospital underscores the need for more effective infection control measures to help curtail dissemination of MRSA to hospitalized patients.
Staphylococcus aureus; Methicillin resistant; Methicillin susceptible; Sequence types; Hospital-acquired infections
Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (MDRAB) is associated with nosocomial infections worldwide. To date, the use of a phage to prevent infections caused by MDRAB has not been demonstrated.
The MDRAB-specific phage ϕAB2 was stable at 4°C and pH 7 in 0.5% chloroform solution, and showed a slight decrease in plaque-forming units (PFU)/ml of 0.3–0.9 log after 330 days of storage. The addition of ϕAB2 at a concentration of at least 105 PFU/ml to an A. baumannii M3237 suspension killed >99.9% of A. baumannii M3237 after 5 min, regardless of A. baumannii M3237 concentration (104, 105, or 106 colony-forming units (CFU)/ml). The addition of ϕAB2 at a concentration of 108 PFU/slide (>107 PFU/cm2) to glass slides containing A. baumannii M3237 at 104, 105, or 106 CFU/slide, significantly reduced bacterial numbers by 93%, 97%, and 99%, respectively. Thus, this concentration is recommended for decontamination of glass surfaces. Moreover, infusion of ϕAB2 into 10% glycerol exhibited strong anti-MDRAB activity (99.9% reduction), even after 90 days of storage. Treatment of a 10% paraffin oil-based lotion with ϕAB2 significantly reduced (99%) A. baumannii M3237 after 1 day of storage. However, ϕAB2 had no activity in the lotion after 1 month of storage.
Phages may be useful for reducing MDRAB contamination in liquid suspensions or on hard surfaces. Phages may also be inoculated into a solution to produce an antiseptic hand wash. However, the phage concentration and incubation time (the duration of phage contact with bacteria) should be carefully considered to reduce the risk of MDRAB contamination.
Bacteriophage; Biocontrol; MDRAB
Increasing multidrug-resistance in bacteria resulted in a greater need to find alternative antimicrobial substances that can be used for clinical applications or preservation of food and dairy products. Research on antimicrobial peptides including lipopeptides exhibiting both narrow and broad spectrum inhibition activities is increasing in the recent past. Therefore, the present study was aimed at isolation and characterization of antimicrobial lipopeptide producing bacterial strains from fecal contaminated soil sample.
The phenotypic and 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis of all isolates identified them as different species of Gram-negative genera Citrobacter and Enterobacter. They exhibited common phenotypic traits like citrate utilization, oxidase negative and facultative anaerobic growth. The HPLC analysis of solvent extracts obtained from cell free fermented broth revealed the presence of multiple antimicrobial lipopeptides. The comprehensive mass spectral analysis (MALDI-TOF MS and GC-MS) of HPLC purified fractions of different isolates revealed that the lipopeptides varied in their molecular weight between (m/z) 607.21 to 1536.16 Da. Isomers of mass ion m/z 984/985 Da was produced by all strains. The 1495 Da lipopeptides produced by strains S-3 and S-11 were fengycin analogues and most active against all strains. While amino acid analysis of lipopeptides suggested most of them had similar composition as in iturins, fengycins, kurstakins and surfactins, differences in their β-hydroxy fatty acid content proposed them to be isoforms of these lipopeptides.
Although antimicrobial producing strains can be used as biocontrol agents in food preservation, strains with ability to produce multiple antimicrobial lipopeptides have potential applications in biotechnology sectors such as pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. This is the first report on antibacterial lipopeptides production by strains of Citrobacter and Enterobacter.
Citrobacter; Enterobacter; Antimicrobial lipopeptide; MALDI and phylogenetic analysis
Sika deer (Cervus nippon) have different dietary preferences to other ruminants and are tolerant to tannin-rich plants. Because the rumen bacteria in domestic Sika deer have not been comprehensively studied, it is important to investigate its rumen bacterial population in order to understand its gut health and to improve the productivity of domestic Sika deer.
The rumen bacterial diversity in domestic Sika deer (Cervus nippon) fed oak leaves- (OL group) and corn stalks-based diets (CS group) were elucidated using 16S rRNA gene libraries and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Overall, 239 sequences were examined from the two groups, 139 clones from the OL group were assigned to 57 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and 100 sequences from the CS group were divided into 50 OTUs. Prevotella-like sequences belonging to the phylum Bacteroidetes were the dominant bacteria in both groups (97.2% OL and 77% CS), and sequences related to Prevotella brevis were present in both groups. However, Prevotella shahii-like, Prevotella veroralis-like, Prevotella albensis-like, and Prevotella salivae-like sequences were abundant in the OL group compared to those in the CS group, while Succinivibrio dextrinosolvens-like and Prevotella ruminicola-like sequences were prevalent in the CS group. PCR-DGGE showed that bacterial communities clustered with respect to diets and the genus Prevotella was the dominant bacteria in the rumen of domestic Sika deer. However, the distribution of genus Prevotella from two groups was apparent. In addition, other fibrolytic bacteria, such as Clostridium populeti and Eubacterium cellulosolvens were found in the rumen of domestic Sika deer.
The rumen of domestic Sika deer harbored unique bacteria which may represent novel species. The bacterial composition appeared to be affected by diet, and sequences related to Prevotella spp. may represent new species that may be related to the degradation of fiber biomass or tannins. Moreover, the mechanism and biological functions of Prevotella spp. in the rumen ecosystem, and synergistic interactions with other microorganisms should be noticed.
Ecology; Prevotella; Fiber; Tannin
Burkholderia cenocepacia employs both N-Acyl homoserine lactone (AHL) and cis-2-dodecenoic acid (BDSF) quorum sensing (QS) systems in regulation of bacterial virulence. It was shown recently that disruption of BDSF synthase RpfFBc caused a reduction of AHL signal production in B. cenocepacia. However, how BDSF system influences AHL system is still not clear.
We show here that BDSF system controls AHL system through a novel signaling mechanism. Null mutation of either the BDSF synthase, RpfFBc, or the BDSF receptor, RpfR, caused a substantial down-regulation of AHL signal production in B. cenocepacia strain H111. Genetic and biochemical analyses showed that BDSF system controls AHL signal production through the transcriptional regulation of the AHL synthase gene cepI by modulating the intracellular level of second messenger cyclic di-GMP (c-di-GMP). Furthermore, we show that BDSF and AHL systems have a cumulative role in the regulation of various biological functions, including swarming motility, biofilm formation and virulence factor production, and exogenous addition of either BDSF or AHL signal molecules could only partially rescue the changed phenotypes of the double deletion mutant defective in BDSF and AHL signal production.
These results, together with our previous findings, thus depict a molecular mechanism with which BDSF regulates AHL signal production and bacterial virulence through modulating the phosphodiesterase activity of its receptor RpfR to influence the intracellular level of c-di-GMP.
Bifidobacterium represents one of the largest genus within the Actinobacteria, and includes at present 32 species. These species share a high sequence homology of 16S rDNA and several molecular techniques already applied to discriminate among them give ambiguous results.
The slightly higher variability of the hsp60 gene sequences with respect to the 16S rRNA sequences offers better opportunities to design or develop molecular assays, allowing identification and differentiation of closely related species. hsp60 can be considered an excellent additional marker for inferring the taxonomy of the members of Bifidobacterium genus.
This work illustrates a simple and cheap molecular tool for the identification of Bifidobacterium species. The hsp60 universal primers were used in a simple PCR procedure for the direct amplification of 590 bp of the hsp60 sequence. The in silico restriction analysis of bifidobacterial hsp60 partial sequences allowed the identification of a single endonuclease (HaeIII) able to provide different PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) patterns in the Bifidobacterium spp. type strains evaluated. The electrophoretic analyses allowed to confirm the different RFLP patterns.
The developed PCR-RFLP technique resulted in efficient discrimination of the tested species and subspecies and allowed the construction of a dichotomous key in order to differentiate the most widely distributed Bifidobacterium species as well as the subspecies belonging to B. pseudolongum and B. animalis.
Bifidobacterium spp; hsp60; PCR-RFLP; Taxonomy