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26.  Characterization of the RNase R association with ribosomes 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:34.
In this study we employed the TAP tag purification method coupled with mass spectrometry analysis to identify proteins that co-purify with Escherichia coli RNase R during exponential growth and after temperature downshift.
Our initial results suggested that RNase R can interact with bacterial ribosomes. We subsequently confirmed this result using sucrose gradient ribosome profiling joined with western blot analysis. We found that RNase R co-migrates with the single 30S ribosomal subunits. Independent data involving RNase R in the rRNA quality control process allowed us to hypothesize that the RNase R connection with ribosomes has an important physiological role.
This study leads us to conclude that RNase R can interact with ribosomal proteins and that this interaction may be a result of this enzyme involvement in the ribosome quality control.
PMCID: PMC3942186  PMID: 24517631
Ribonucleases; RNA; Ribosomes; RNase R
27.  Dissimilatory nitrate reduction by Aspergillus terreus isolated from the seasonal oxygen minimum zone in the Arabian Sea 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:35.
A wealth of microbial eukaryotes is adapted to life in oxygen-deficient marine environments. Evidence is accumulating that some of these eukaryotes survive anoxia by employing dissimilatory nitrate reduction, a strategy that otherwise is widespread in prokaryotes. Here, we report on the anaerobic nitrate metabolism of the fungus Aspergillus terreus (isolate An-4) that was obtained from sediment in the seasonal oxygen minimum zone in the Arabian Sea, a globally important site of oceanic nitrogen loss and nitrous oxide emission.
Axenic incubations of An-4 in the presence and absence of oxygen and nitrate revealed that this fungal isolate is capable of dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium under anoxic conditions. A 15N-labeling experiment proved that An-4 produced and excreted ammonium through nitrate reduction at a rate of up to 175 nmol 15NH4+ g-1 protein h-1. The products of dissimilatory nitrate reduction were ammonium (83%), nitrous oxide (15.5%), and nitrite (1.5%), while dinitrogen production was not observed. The process led to substantial cellular ATP production and biomass growth and also occurred when ammonium was added to suppress nitrate assimilation, stressing the dissimilatory nature of nitrate reduction. Interestingly, An-4 used intracellular nitrate stores (up to 6–8 μmol NO3- g-1 protein) for dissimilatory nitrate reduction.
Our findings expand the short list of microbial eukaryotes that store nitrate intracellularly and carry out dissimilatory nitrate reduction when oxygen is absent. In the currently spreading oxygen-deficient zones in the ocean, an as yet unexplored diversity of fungi may recycle nitrate to ammonium and nitrite, the substrates of the major nitrogen loss process anaerobic ammonium oxidation, and the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide.
PMCID: PMC3928326  PMID: 24517718
28.  Hyperexpression of α-hemolysin explains enhanced virulence of sequence type 93 community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:31.
The community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA) ST93 clone is becoming dominant in Australia and is clinically highly virulent. In addition, sepsis and skin infection models demonstrate that ST93 CA-MRSA is the most virulent global clone of S. aureus tested to date. While the determinants of virulence have been studied in other clones of CA-MRSA, the basis for hypervirulence in ST93 CA-MRSA has not been defined.
Here, using a geographically and temporally dispersed collection of ST93 isolates we demonstrate that the ST93 population hyperexpresses key CA-MRSA exotoxins, in particular α-hemolysin, in comparison to other global clones. Gene deletion and complementation studies, and virulence comparisons in a murine skin infection model, showed unequivocally that increased expression of α-hemolysin is the key staphylococcal virulence determinant for this clone. Genome sequencing and comparative genomics of strains with divergent exotoxin profiles demonstrated that, like other S. aureus clones, the quorum sensing agr system is the master regulator of toxin expression and virulence in ST93 CA-MRSA. However, we also identified a previously uncharacterized AraC/XylS family regulator (AryK) that potentiates toxin expression and virulence in S. aureus.
These data demonstrate that hyperexpression of α-hemolysin mediates enhanced virulence in ST93 CA-MRSA, and additional control of exotoxin production, in particular α-hemolysin, mediated by regulatory systems other than agr have the potential to fine-tune virulence in CA-MRSA.
PMCID: PMC3922988  PMID: 24512075
Staphylococcus aureus; CA-MRSA; Pathogenesis; Alpha-hemolysin
29.  New function for Escherichia coli xanthosine phophorylase (xapA): genetic and biochemical evidences on its participation in NAD+ salvage from nicotinamide 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:29.
In an effort to reconstitute the NAD+ synthetic pathway in Escherichia coli (E. coli), we produced a set of gene knockout mutants with deficiencies in previously well-defined NAD+de novo and salvage pathways. Unexpectedly, the mutant deficient in NAD+de novo and salvage pathway I could grow in M9/nicotinamide medium, which was contradictory to the proposed classic NAD+ metabolism of E. coli. Such E. coli mutagenesis assay suggested the presence of an undefined machinery to feed nicotinamide into the NAD+ biosynthesis. We wanted to verify whether xanthosine phophorylase (xapA) contributed to a new NAD+ salvage pathway from nicotinamide.
Additional knockout of xapA further slowed down the bacterial growth in M9/nicotinamide medium, whereas the complementation of xapA restored the growth phenotype. To further validate the new function of xapA, we cloned and expressed E. coli xapA as a recombinant soluble protein. Biochemical assay confirmed that xapA was capable of using nicotinamide as a substrate for nicotinamide riboside formation.
Both the genetic and biochemical evidences indicated that xapA could convert nicotinamide to nicotinamide riboside in E. coli, albeit with relatively weak activity, indicating that xapA may contribute to a second NAD+ salvage pathway from nicotinamide. We speculate that this xapA-mediated NAD+ salvage pathway might be significant in some bacteria lacking NAD+de novo and NAD+ salvage pathway I or II, to not only use nicotinamide riboside, but also nicotinamide as precursors to synthesize NAD+. However, this speculation needs to be experimentally tested.
PMCID: PMC3923242  PMID: 24506841
Purine nucleoside phosphorylase; Nicotinamide riboside; Salvage pathway; Pyridine nucleotide cycles
30.  Identification and characterization of the biosynthetic gene cluster of polyoxypeptin A, a potent apoptosis inducer 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:30.
Polyoxypeptin A was isolated from a culture broth of Streptomyces sp. MK498-98 F14, which has a potent apoptosis-inducing activity towards human pancreatic carcinoma AsPC-1 cells. Structurally, polyoxypeptin A is composed of a C15 acyl side chain and a nineteen-membered cyclodepsipeptide core that consists of six unusual nonproteinogenic amino acid residues (N-hydroxyvaline, 3-hydroxy-3-methylproline, 5-hydroxypiperazic acid, N-hydroxyalanine, piperazic acid, and 3-hydroxyleucine) at high oxidation states.
A gene cluster containing 37 open reading frames (ORFs) has been sequenced and analyzed for the biosynthesis of polyoxypeptin A. We constructed 12 specific gene inactivation mutants, most of which abolished the production of polyoxypeptin A and only ΔplyM mutant accumulated a dehydroxylated analogue polyoxypeptin B. Based on bioinformatics analysis and genetic data, we proposed the biosynthetic pathway of polyoxypeptin A and biosynthetic models of six unusual amino acid building blocks and a PKS extender unit.
The identified gene cluster and proposed pathway for the biosynthesis of polyoxypeptin A will pave a way to understand the biosynthetic mechanism of the azinothricin family natural products and provide opportunities to apply combinatorial biosynthesis strategy to create more useful compounds.
PMCID: PMC3943440  PMID: 24506891
Biosynthesis; Polyoxypeptin A; Polyketide; Nonribosomal peptide; Apoptosis-inducing activity
31.  Global secretome characterization of A549 human alveolar epithelial carcinoma cells during Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:27.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae (M. pneumoniae) is one of the major etiological agents for community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in all age groups. The early host response to M. pneumoniae infection relies on the concerted release of proteins with various biological activities. However, no comprehensive analysis of the secretory proteins has been conducted to date regarding the host response upon M. pneumoniae infection.
We employed the liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)-based label-free quantitative proteomic technology to identify and characterize the members of the human alveolar epithelial carcinoma A549 cell secretome during M. pneumoniae infection. A total of 256 proteins were identified, with 113 being differentially expressed (>1.5-fold change), among which 9 were only expressed in control cells, 10 only in M. pneumoniae-treated cells, while 55 were up-regulated and 39 down-regulated by M. pneumoniae. The changed expression of some of the identified proteins was validated by RT-PCR and immunoblot analysis. Cellular localization analysis of the secretome data revealed 59.38% of the proteins were considered as “putative secretory proteins”. Functional analysis revealed that the proteins affected upon M. pneumoniae infection were mainly related to metabolic process, stress response, and immune response. We further examined the level of one up-regulated protein, IL-33, in clinical samples. The result showed that IL-33 levels were significantly higher in the plasma and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of M. pneumoniae pneumonia (MPP) patients.
The present study provided systematic information about the changes in the expression of secretory proteins during M. pneumoniae infection, which is useful for the discovery of specific biomarkers and targets for pharmacological intervention.
PMCID: PMC3922035  PMID: 24507763
Mycoplasma pneumoniae; Secretome; IL-33; Biological pathway
32.  Transcriptomic clues to understand the growth of Lactobacillus rhamnosus in cheese 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:28.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a non-starter lactic acid bacterium that plays a significant role during cheese ripening, leading to the formation of flavor. In long-ripened cheeses it persists throughout the whole time of ripening due to its capacity to adapt to changing environmental conditions. The versatile adaptability of L. rhamnosus to different ecosystems has been associated with the capacity to use non-conventional energy sources, regulating different metabolic pathways. However, the molecular mechanisms allowing the growth of L. rhamnosus in the cheese dairy environment are still poorly understood. The aim of the present study was to identify genes potentially contributing to the growth ability of L. rhamnosus PR1019 in cheese-like medium (CB) using a transcriptomic approach, based on cDNA-amplified fragment length polymorphism (cDNA-AFLP) and quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR (qPCR).
Using three primer combinations, a total of 89 and 98 transcript-derived fragments were obtained for L. rhamnosus PR1019 grown in commercial MRS medium and CB, respectively. The cDNA-AFLP results were validated on selected regulated genes by qPCR. In order to investigate the main adaptations to growth in a cheese-mimicking system, we focused on 20 transcripts over-expressed in CB with respect to MRS. It is worth noting the presence of transcripts involved in the degradation of pyruvate and ribose. Pyruvate is a intracellular metabolite that can be produced through different metabolic routes starting from the carbon sources present in cheese, and can be released in the cheese matrix with the starter lysis. Similarly the ribonucleosides released with starter lysis could deliver ribose that represents a fermentable carbohydrate in environments, such as cheese, where free carbohydrates are lacking.
Both pyruvate degradation and ribose catabolism induce a metabolite flux toward acetate, coupled with ATP production via acetate kinase. Taking into account these considerations, we suggest that the energy produced through these pathways may concur to explain the great ability of L. rhamnosus PR1019 to grow on CB.
By a transcriptomic approach we identified a set of genes involved in alternative metabolic pathways in L. rhamnosus that could be responsible for L. rhamnosus growth in cheese during ripening.
PMCID: PMC3928093  PMID: 24506811
Lactobacillus rhamnosus; Cheese; cDNA-amplified fragment length polymorphism; Quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR
33.  Pseudomonas pyocyanin stimulates IL-8 expression through MAPK and NF-κB pathways in differentiated U937 cells 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:26.
Pyocyanin (PCN), an extracellular product of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and a blue redox active secondary metabolite, plays an important role in invasive pulmonary infection. However, the detailed inflammatory response triggered by PCN infection in inflammatory cells (particularly macrophages), if present, remains to be clarified. To investigate the effects of PCN on macrophages, the ability of PCN to induce inflammation reaction and the signaling pathway for IL-8 release in PCN-induced differentiated U937 cells were examined.
It was found that PCN increased IL-8 release and mRNA expression in Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) differentiated U937 cells in both a concentration- and time-dependent manner by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). P38 and ERK MAPKs were activated after 10 min of induction with PCN and their levels returned to baselines after 30 min by Western blotting. It was also found that within 10 min of PCN incubation, the level of p-I-κBα in the cytosol was increased, which returned to baseline level after 60 min. Meanwhile, the level of p-p65 was increased in the nuclear extract and cytosol, and maintained high in total cell lysates. The results were further confirmed by the observation that p38, ERK1/2 and NF-κB inhibitors inhibited PCN-induced NF-κB activation and attenuated PCN-induced IL-8 expression in U937 cells as a function of their concentrations. Moreover, it was shown that PCN induced oxidative stress in U937 cells and N-acetyl cysteine, an antioxidant, was able to inhibit PCN-induced IL-8 protein expression.
It is concluded that PCN induces IL-8 secretion and mRNA expression in PMA-differentiated U937 cells in a concentration- and time- dependent manner. Furthermore, p38 and ERK MAPKs and NF-κΒ signaling pathways may be involved in the expression of IL-8 in PCN-incubated PMA-differentiated U937 cells.
PMCID: PMC3925954  PMID: 24499192
Pyocyanin; IL-8; U937 cell; p38; ERK; NF-κB
34.  Histoplasma capsulatum and Pneumocystis spp. co-infection in wild bats from Argentina, French Guyana, and Mexico 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:23.
Histoplasma capsulatum and Pneumocystis organisms cause host infections primarily affecting the lung tissue. H. capsulatum is endemic in the United States of America and Latin American countries. In special environments, H. capsulatum is commonly associated with bat and bird droppings. Pneumocystis-host specificity has been primarily studied in laboratory animals, and its ability to be harboured by wild animals remains as an important issue for understanding the spread of this pathogen in nature. Bats infected with H. capsulatum or Pneumocystis spp. have been found, with this mammal serving as a probable reservoir and disperser; however, the co-infection of bats with both of these microorganisms has never been explored. To evaluate the impact of H. capsulatum and Pneumocystis spp. infections in this flying mammal, 21 bat lungs from Argentina (AR), 13 from French Guyana (FG), and 88 from Mexico (MX) were screened using nested-PCR of the fragments, employing the Hcp100 locus for H. capsulatum and the mtLSUrRNA and mtSSUrRNA loci for Pneumocystis organisms.
Of the 122 bats studied, 98 revealed H. capsulatum infections in which 55 of these bats exhibited this infection alone. In addition, 51 bats revealed Pneumocystis spp. infection of which eight bats exhibited a Pneumocystis infection alone. A total of 43 bats (eight from AR, one from FG, and 34 from MX) were found co-infected with both fungi, representing a co-infection rate of 35.2% (95% CI = 26.8-43.6%).
The data highlights the H. capsulatum and Pneumocystis in bat population’s suggesting interplay with this wild host.
PMCID: PMC3916801  PMID: 24495513
Histoplasma; Pneumocystis; Co-infection; Bats; PCR
35.  A degenerate PCR-based strategy as a means of identifying homologues of aminoglycoside and β-lactam resistance genes in the gut microbiota 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:25.
The potential for the human gut microbiota to serve as a reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes has been the subject of recent discussion. However, this has yet to be investigated using a rapid PCR-based approach. In light of this, here we aim to determine if degenerate PCR primers can detect aminoglycoside and β-lactam resistance genes in the gut microbiota of healthy adults, without the need for an initial culture-based screen for resistant isolates. In doing so, we would determine if the gut microbiota of healthy adults, lacking recent antibiotic exposure, is a reservoir for resistance genes.
The strategy employed resulted in the identification of numerous aminoglycoside (acetylation, adenylation and phosphorylation) and β-lactam (including blaOXA, blaTEM, blaSHV and blaCTX-M) resistance gene homologues. On the basis of homology, it would appear that these genes originated from different bacterial taxa, with members of the Enterobacteriaceae being a particularly rich source. The results demonstrate that, even in the absence of recent antibiotic exposure, the human gut microbiota is a considerable reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes.
This study has demonstrated that the gut can be a significant source of aminoglycoside and β-lactam resistance genes, even in the absence of recent antibiotic exposure. The results also demonstrate that PCR-based approaches can be successfully applied to detect antibiotic resistance genes in the human gut microbiota, without the need to isolate resistant strains. This approach could also be used to rapidly screen other complex environments for target genes.
PMCID: PMC3917905  PMID: 24499167
Antibiotic resistance; Aminoglycosides; β-lactam; Gut microbiota; PCR
36.  A shotgun antisense approach to the identification of novel essential genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:24.
Antibiotics in current use target a surprisingly small number of cellular functions: cell wall, DNA, RNA, and protein biosynthesis. Targeting of novel essential pathways is expected to play an important role in the discovery of new antibacterial agents against bacterial pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, that are difficult to control because of their ability to develop resistance, often multiple, to all current classes of clinical antibiotics.
We aimed to identify novel essential genes in P. aeruginosa by shotgun antisense screening. This technique was developed in Staphylococcus aureus and, following a period of limited success in Gram-negative bacteria, has recently been used effectively in Escherichia coli. To also target low expressed essential genes, we included some variant steps that were expected to overcome the non-stringent regulation of the promoter carried by the expression vector used for the shotgun antisense libraries. Our antisense screenings identified 33 growth-impairing single-locus genomic inserts that allowed us to generate a list of 28 “essential-for-growth” genes: five were “classical” essential genes involved in DNA replication, transcription, translation, and cell division; seven were already reported as essential in other bacteria; and 16 were “novel” essential genes with no homologs reported to have an essential role in other bacterial species. Interestingly, the essential genes in our panel were suggested to take part in a broader range of cellular functions than those currently targeted by extant antibiotics, namely protein secretion, biosynthesis of cofactors, prosthetic groups and carriers, energy metabolism, central intermediary metabolism, transport of small molecules, translation, post-translational modification, non-ribosomal peptide synthesis, lipopolysaccharide synthesis/modification, and transcription regulation. This study also identified 43 growth-impairing inserts carrying multiple loci targeting 105 genes, of which 25 have homologs reported as essential in other bacteria. Finally, four multigenic growth-impairing inserts belonged to operons that have never been reported to play an essential role.
For the first time in P. aeruginosa, we applied regulated antisense RNA expression and showed the feasibility of this technology for the identification of novel essential genes.
PMCID: PMC3922391  PMID: 24499134
37.  The Vibrio cholerae diguanylate cyclase VCA0965 has an AGDEF active site and synthesizes cyclic di-GMP 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:22.
Diguanylate cyclases (DGCs) regulate biofilm formation and motility in bacteria by synthesizing the second messenger cyclic di-GMP (c-di-GMP) in response to environmental stimuli. DGC enzymatic activity is believed to be dependent on the presence of a GG(D/E)EF active site motif, however approximately 25% of known DGCs contain a degenerate active site. The Vibrio cholerae protein VCA0965 contains an AGDEF active site and is presumed to be an inactive DGC.
Ectopic expression of VCA0965 in V. cholerae causes a 3-fold reduction in flagellar-based motility. Additionally, an RXXD allosteric inhibition mutant of VCA0965 strongly inhibited motility and stimulated biofilm formation. This activity was lost when the active site of VCA0965 was mutated to AGDAF, suggesting that VCA0965 synthesizes c-di-GMP. In support of this, ectopic expression of VCA0965 and VCA0965 containing a mutation in its RXXD motif significantly increased the intracellular c-di-GMP levels in V. cholerae and Escherichia coli. Furthermore, we found that purified VCA0965 was able to synthesize c-di-GMP in vitro. Systematic mutation of the first amino acid in the AGDEF motif of VCA0965 revealed that glycine, methionine, and histidine also produced an active DGC capable of inhibiting motility and increasing the intracellular concentration of c-di-GMP in V. cholerae.
Based on these results, we conclude that VCA0965 is capable of c-di-GMP synthesis and that the first amino acid of the GG(D/E)EF motif is more tolerant of substitutions than currently appreciated.
PMCID: PMC3974145  PMID: 24490592
Diguanylate cyclase; Phosphodiesterase; Cyclic di-GMP; Biofilm; GGDEF
38.  Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis used for the phylogeny of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex based on a pyrosequencing assay 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:21.
Different polymorphisms have been described as markers to classify the lineages of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. The analysis of nine single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was used to describe seven SNPs cluster groups (SCGs). We attempted to classify those strains that could not been categorized into lineages by the genotyping methods used in the routine testing.
The M. tuberculosis complex isolates collected in 2010 in our region were analysed. A new method based on multiplex-PCRs and pyrosequencing to analyse these SNPs was designed. For the pyrosequencing assay nine SNPs that defined the seven SCGs were selected from the literature: 1977, 74092, 105139, 232574, 311613, 913274, 2460626, 3352929 and gyrA95. In addition, SNPs in katG463, mgtC 182 , Ag85C103 and RDRio deletion were detected.
This work has permitted to achieve a better classification of Aragonian strains into SCGs and in some cases, to assign strains to its certain lineage. Besides, the description of a new pattern shared by two isolates “SCG-6c” reinforces the interest of SNPs to follow the evolution of M. tuberculosis complex.
PMCID: PMC3922597  PMID: 24491224
M. tuberculosis; SNP; Pyrosequencing; SCG; Lineages; Cluster
39.  Lactobacillus GG restoration of the gliadin induced epithelial barrier disruption: the role of cellular polyamines 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:19.
Celiac disease is characterized by enhanced intestinal paracellular permeability due to alterations of function and expression of tight junction (TJ) proteins including ZO-1, Claudin-1 and Occludin. Polyamines are pivotal in the control of intestinal barrier function and are also involved in the regulation of intercellular junction proteins. Different probiotic strains may inhibit gliadin-induced toxic effects and the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (L.GG) is effective in the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. Aims of the study were to establish in epithelial Caco-2 cells whether i) gliadin affects paracellular permeability and polyamine profile; ii) co-administration of viable L.GG, heat-killed L.GG (L.GG-HK) or its conditioned medium (L.GG-CM) preserves the intestinal epithelial barrier integrity. Additionally, the effects of L.GG on TJ protein expression were tested in presence or absence of polyamines.
Administration of gliadin (1 mg/ml) to Caco-2 cells for 6 h caused a significant alteration of paracellular permeability as demonstrated by the rapid decrease in transepithelial resistance with a concomitant zonulin release. These events were followed by a significant increase in lactulose paracellular transport and a slight lowering in ZO-1 and Occludin expression without affecting Claudin-1. Besides, the single and total polyamine content increased significantly. The co-administration of viable L.GG (108 CFU/ml), L.GG-HK and L.GG-CM with gliadin significantly restored barrier function as demonstrated by transepithelial resistance, lactulose flux and zonulin release. Viable L.GG and L.GG-HK, but not L.GG-CM, led to a significant reduction in the single and total polyamine levels. Additionally, only the co-administration of viable L.GG with gliadin significantly increased ZO-1, Claudin-1 and Occludin gene expression compared to control cells. When Caco-2 cells treated with viable L.GG and gliadin were deprived in the polyamine content by α-Difluoromethylornithine, the expression of TJ protein mRNAs was not significantly different from that in controls or cells treated with gliadin alone.
Gliadin modifies the intestinal paracellular permeability and significantly increases the polyamine content in Caco-2 cells. Concomitant administration of L.GG is able to counteract these effects. Interestingly, the presence of cellular polyamines is necessary for this probiotic to exert its capability in restoring paracellular permeability by affecting the expression of different TJ proteins.
PMCID: PMC3911798  PMID: 24483336
Caco-2 cells; Celiac disease; Gliadin; Intestinal barrier function; Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG; Paracellular permeability; Polyamines; Tight junction proteins
40.  Hydrophobins are required for conidial hydrophobicity and plant root colonization in the fungal biocontrol agent Clonostachys rosea 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:18.
Filamentous fungi produce small cysteine rich surface active amphiphilic hydrophobins on the outer surface of cell walls that mediate interactions between the fungus and the environment. The role of hydrophobins in surface hydrophobicity, sporulation, fruit body formation, recognition and adhesion to host surface and virulence have been reported. The aim of the present study was to characterize the biological function of hydrophobins in the fungal biocontrol agent Clonostachys rosea in order to understand their potential roles in biocontrol mechanisms.
Based on the presence of hydrophobin domains, cysteine spacing patterns and hydropathy plots, we identified three class II hydrophobin genes in C. rosea. Gene expression analysis showed basal expression of Hyd1, Hyd2 and Hyd3 in all conditions tested with the exception of induced Hyd1 expression in conidiating mycelium. Interestingly, up-regulation of Hyd1, Hyd2 and Hyd3 was found during C. rosea self interaction compared to interactions with the fungal plant pathogens Botrytis cinerea or Fusarium graminearum in dual culture assays. Phenotypic analysis of C. rosea deletion and complementation strains showed that Hyd1 and Hyd3 are jointly required for conidial hydrophobicity, although no difference in mycelia hydrophobicity was found between wild type (WT) and mutant strains. Interestingly, mutant strains showed increased growth rates, conidiation and enhanced tolerances of conidia to abiotic stresses. Antagonism tests using in vitro dual culture and detached leaf assays showed that the mutant strains were more aggressive towards B. cinerea, F. graminearum or Rhizoctonia solani, and that aggression was partly related to earlier conidial germination and enhanced tolerance of mutant strains to secreted fungal metabolites. Furthermore, in vitro Arabidopsis thaliana root colonization assays revealed reduced root colonization ability of the ΔHyd3 strain, but not for the ΔHyd1 strain. Furthermore, enhanced root colonization ability for the ΔHyd1ΔHyd3 strain was found in comparison to WT.
These results show a role for hydrophobins in conidial hydrophobicity, control of conidial germination under stress conditions, and in root colonization in C. rosea. However, functional studies of Hyd2 remains to be performed in order to fully assess the role of hydrophobins in C. rosea.
PMCID: PMC3922079  PMID: 24483277
Antagonism; Biocontrol; Clonostachys rosea; Filamentous fungi; Gene knockout; Hydrophobins
41.  Reviewer acknowledgement 2013 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:20.
Contributing reviewers
The editors of BMC Microbiology would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 13 (2013).
PMCID: PMC3905663
42.  The Escherichia coli uropathogenic-specific-protein-associated immunity protein 3 (Imu3) has nucleic acid -binding activity 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:16.
The Escherichia coli uropathogenic-specific protein (Usp) is a bacteriocin-like genotoxin, active against mammalian cells and associated with E. coli strains that provoke pyelonephritis, prostatitis and bacteraemia. Usp is encoded by a small pathogenicity island with three downstream small open reading frames (Imu1-3) that are believed to provide immunity to the producer. To prevent host suicide, colicins, bacteriocins of E. coli, form tight complexes with their cognate immunity proteins. Colicin – immunity protein complexes are among the strongest protein complexes known. Here, the Usp associated immunity protein 3 (Imu3) was partially characterized to gain insight into its role and mechanism of activity.
Isolation and partial characterisation of the Usp-associated immunity protein-3 (Imu3) revealed that, while Usp and Imu3 do not form a high affinity complex, Imu3 exhibits DNA and RNA binding activity. Imu3 was also shown to protect DNA against degradation by colicin E7.
Our data infer that nonspecific DNA binding of the Imu3 immunity protein, prevents suicide of E. coli producing the genotoxin Usp.
PMCID: PMC3917654  PMID: 24472116
Escherichia coli; Imu3; Immunity protein; Uropathogenic-specific protein DNA/RNA binding
43.  Comparison of the major virulence-related genes of Listeria monocytogenes in Internalin A truncated strain 36-25-1 and a clinical wild-type strain 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:15.
Internalin A (InlA) facilitates the invasion of Listeria monocytogenes into a host cell. Some strains of Listeria monocytogenes express truncated forms of InlA, which reduces invasiveness. However, few virulence-related genes other than inlA have been analyzed in InlA-truncated strains. In the present study, we sequenced the draft genome of strain 36-25-1, an InlA-truncated strain, with pyrosequencing and compared 36 major virulence-related genes in this strain and a clinical wild-type strain.
Strain 36-25-1 possessed all of the virulence-related genes analyzed. Of the analyzed genes, only 4 genes (dltA, gtcA, iap, and inlA) differed when the nucleotide sequences of strain 36-25-1 and the clinical wild-type strain were compared. Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequences found no mutations that significantly influenced virulence in genes other than inlA.
The virulence-associated genes in strain 36-25-1 differ little from those of the clinical wild-type strain, indicating that a slight mutation in the nucleotide sequence determines the virulence of the InlA-truncated strain. In addition, the results suggest that, aside from InlA-mediated cell invasiveness, there is almost no difference between the virulence of strain 36-25-1 and that of the clinical wild-type strain.
PMCID: PMC3917698  PMID: 24472083
Listeria monocytogenes; Internalin A; Next-generation-sequencing
44.  Genomic sequence of temperate phage Smp131 of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia that has similar prophages in xanthomonads 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:17.
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a ubiquitous Gram-negative bacterium previously named as Xanthomonas maltophilia. This organism is an important nosocomial pathogen associated with infections in immunocompromised patients. Clinical isolates of S. maltophilia are mostly resistant to multiple antibiotics and treatment of its infections is becoming problematic. Several virulent bacteriophages, but not temperate phage, of S. maltophilia have been characterized.
In this study, a temperate myophage of S. maltophilia (Smp131) was isolated and characterized. Sequence analysis showed that its genome is 33,525-bp long with 47 open reading frames (ORFs). Its similarity to P2-like phages and prophages in S. maltophilia and several Xanthomonas pathovars includes genomic organization, arrangement of several operons, and possession of a slippery sequence T7G for translational frameshifting in tail assembly genes. Smp131 encodes a tyrosine family integrase that shares low degrees of similarity with those of other phages and a lysin belonging to family 19 chitinase that is observed in plants and some bacteria, although not in phages. tRNA are the preferred sites for host integration of Smp131 and the related phages: tRNA-Thr for Smp131 and prophage of S. maltophilia K279a; tRNA-Lys for prophages of X. campestris pv. campestris ATCC33913, X. oryzae pv. oryzae strains MAFF311018, and KACC10331; and tRNA-Asn for prophage of X. oryzae pv. oryzae PXO99A and remnant of X. axonopodis pv. citri 306. Regions flanking the prophages are varied highly in nucleotide sequence and rich in transposase genes, suggesting that frequent insertion/excision had occurred.
Prevalence of closely related prophages in Stenotrophomonas and Xanthomonads may have contributed to the diversity of these closely related species owing to possible horizontal gene transfer mediated by the phages.
PMCID: PMC3931495  PMID: 24472137
Genomic sequence; Integration; Prophage; Stenotrophomonas; Temperate phage; Xanthomonas
45.  Inferring the relation between transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation from expression compendia 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:14.
Publicly available expression compendia that measure both mRNAs and sRNAs provide a promising resource to simultaneously infer the transcriptional and the posttranscriptional network. To maximally exploit the information contained in such compendia, we propose an analysis flow that combines publicly available expression compendia and sequence-based predictions to infer novel sRNA-target interactions and to reconstruct the relation between the sRNA and the transcriptional network.
We relied on module inference to construct modules of coexpressed genes (sRNAs). TFs and sRNAs were assigned to these modules using the state-of-the-art inference techniques LeMoNe and Context Likelihood of Relatedness (CLR). Combining these expressions with sequence-based sRNA-target interactions allowed us to predict 30 novel sRNA-target interactions comprising 14 sRNAs. Our results highlight the role of the posttranscriptional network in finetuning the transcriptional regulation, e.g. by intra-operonic regulation.
In this work we show how strategies that combine expression information with sequence-based predictions can help unveiling the intricate interaction between the transcriptional and the posttranscriptional network in prokaryotic model systems.
PMCID: PMC3948049  PMID: 24467879
sRNA; Gene; Module network; Network inference; Escherichia coli
46.  Characterization of AcrD, a Resistance-Nodulation-Cell Division-type multidrug efflux pump from the fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:13.
Multidrug efflux pumps are membrane translocases that have the ability to extrude a variety of structurally unrelated compounds from the cell. AcrD, a resistance-nodulation-cell division (RND) transporter, was shown to be involved in efflux of highly hydrophilic aminoglycosides and a limited number of amphiphilic compounds in E. coli. Here, a homologue of AcrD in the plant pathogen and causal agent of fire blight disease Erwinia amylovora was identified.
The substrate specificity of AcrD was studied by overexpression of the corresponding gene from a high-copy plasmid in E. amylovora Ea1189-3, which is hypersensitive to many drugs due to a deficiency of the major multidrug pump AcrB. AcrD mediated resistance to several amphiphilic compounds including clotrimazole and luteolin, two compounds hitherto not described as substrates of AcrD in enterobacteria. However, AcrD was not able to expel aminoglycosides. An acrD mutant exhibited full virulence on apple rootstock and immature pear fruits. RT-PCR analysis revealed an induction of acrD expression in infected apple tissue but not on pear fruits. Moreover, a direct binding of BaeR, the response regulator of the two-component regulatory system BaeSR, to the acrD promoter was observed as has already been shown in other enterobacteria.
AcrD from E. amylovora is involved in resistance to a limited number of amphiphilic compounds, but in contrast to AcrD of E. coli, it is not involved in resistance to aminoglycosides. The expression of acrD was up-regulated by addition of the substrates deoxycholate, naringenin, tetracycline and zinc. AcrD appears to be regulated by the BaeSR two-component system, an envelope stress signal transduction pathway.
PMCID: PMC3915751  PMID: 24443882
Plant pathogen; Fire blight; Erwinia amylovora; Multidrug efflux; RND transporter; AcrD
47.  Altered lipid composition in Streptococcus pneumoniae cpoA mutants 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:12.
Penicillin-resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae is mainly due to alterations in genes encoding the target enzymes for beta-lactams, the penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs). However, non-PBP genes are altered in beta-lactam-resistant laboratory mutants and confer decreased susceptibility to beta-lactam antibiotics. Two piperacillin resistant laboratory mutants of Streptococcus pneumoniae R6 contain mutations in the putative glycosyltransferase gene cpoA. The CpoA gene is part of an operon including another putative glycosyltransferase gene spr0982, both of which being homologous to glycolipid synthases present in other Gram-positive bacteria.
We now show that the cpoA mutants as well as a cpoA deletion mutant are defective in the synthesis of galactosyl-glucosyl-diacylglycerol (GalGlcDAG) in vivo consistent with the in vitro function of CpoA as α-GalGlcDAG synthase as shown previously. In addition, the proportion of phosphatidylglycerol increased relative to cardiolipin in cpoA mutants. Moreover, cpoA mutants are more susceptible to acidic stress, have an increased requirement for Mg2+ at low pH, reveal a higher resistance to lysis inducing conditions and are hypersensitive to bacitracin.
The data show that deficiency of the major glycolipid GalGlcDAG causes a pleitotropic phenotype of cpoA mutant cells consistent with severe membrane alterations. We suggest that the cpoA mutations selected with piperacillin are directed against the lytic response induced by the beta-lactam antibiotic.
PMCID: PMC3901891  PMID: 24443834
Streptococcus pneumoniae; Glycolipids; Penicillin resistance; Glycosyltransferase; CpoA; Phospholipid
48.  The transcriptome landscape of Prochlorococcus MED4 and the factors for stabilizing the core genome 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:11.
Gene gain and loss frequently occurs in the cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus, a phototroph that numerically dominates tropical and subtropical open oceans. However, little is known about the stabilization of its core genome, which contains approximately 1250 genes, in the context of genome streamlining. Using Prochlorococcus MED4 as a model organism, we investigated the constraints on core genome stabilization using transcriptome profiling.
RNA-Seq technique was used to obtain the transcriptome map of Prochlorococcus MED4, including operons, untranslated regions, non-coding RNAs, and novel genes. Genome-wide expression profiles revealed that three factors contribute to core genome stabilization. First, a negative correlation between gene expression levels and protein evolutionary rates was observed. Highly expressed genes were overrepresented in the core genome but not in the flexible genome. Gene necessity was determined as a second powerful constraint on genome evolution through functional enrichment analysis. Third, quick mRNA turnover may increase corresponding proteins’ fidelity among genes that were abundantly expressed. Together, these factors influence core genome stabilization during MED4 genome evolution.
Gene expression, gene necessity, and mRNA turnover contribute to core genome maintenance during cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus genus evolution.
PMCID: PMC3898218  PMID: 24438106
Core genome; Gene expression; Molecular evolution; Prochlorococcus; RNA-Seq; Transcriptome
49.  Mycobacterium bovis BCG infection severely delays Trichuris muris expulsion and co-infection suppresses immune responsiveness to both pathogens 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:9.
The global epidemiology of parasitic helminths and mycobacterial infections display extensive geographical overlap, especially in the rural and urban communities of developing countries. We investigated whether co-infection with the gastrointestinal tract-restricted helminth, Trichuris muris, and the intracellular bacterium, Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) BCG, would alter host immune responses to, or the pathological effect of, either infection.
We demonstrate that both pathogens are capable of negatively affecting local and systemic immune responses towards each other by modifying cytokine phenotypes and by inducing general immune suppression. T. muris infection influenced non-specific and pathogen-specific immunity to M. bovis BCG by down-regulating pulmonary TH1 and Treg responses and inducing systemic TH2 responses. However, co-infection did not alter mycobacterial multiplication or dissemination and host pulmonary histopathology remained unaffected compared to BCG-only infected mice. Interestingly, prior M. bovis BCG infection significantly delayed helminth clearance and increased intestinal crypt cell proliferation in BALB/c mice. This was accompanied by a significant reduction in systemic helminth-specific TH1 and TH2 cytokine responses and significantly reduced local TH1 and TH2 responses in comparison to T. muris-only infected mice.
Our data demonstrate that co-infection with pathogens inducing opposing immune phenotypes, can have differential effects on compartmentalized host immune protection to either pathogen. In spite of local and systemic decreases in TH1 and increases in TH2 responses co-infected mice clear M. bovis BCG at the same rate as BCG only infected animals, whereas prior mycobacterial infection initiates prolonged worm infestation in parallel to decreased pathogen-specific TH2 cytokine production.
PMCID: PMC3898725  PMID: 24433309
Helminth; Co-infection; Mycobacteria; Tuberculosis
50.  Development of loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay for specific and rapid detection of differential goat Pox virus and Sheep Pox virus 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:10.
Capripox viruses are economically important pathogens in goat and sheep producing areas of the world, with specific focus on goat pox virus (GTPV), sheep pox virus (SPPV) and the Lumpy Skin Disease virus (LSDV). Clinically, sheep pox and goat pox have the same symptoms and cannot be distinguished serologically. This presents a real need for a rapid, inexpensive, and easy to operate and maintain genotyping tool to facilitate accurate disease diagnosis and surveillance for better management of Capripox outbreaks.
A LAMP method was developed for the specific differential detection of GTPV and SPPV using three sets of LAMP primers designed on the basis of ITR sequences. Reactions were performed at 62°C for either 45 or 60 min, and specificity confirmed by successful differential detection of several GTPV and SPPV isolates. No cross reactivity with Orf virus, foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), A. marginale Lushi isolate, Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. capri, Chlamydophila psittaci, Theileria ovis, T. luwenshuni, T. uilenbergi or Babesia sp was noted. RFLP-PCR analysis of 135 preserved epidemic materials revealed 48 samples infected with goat pox and 87 infected with sheep pox, with LAMP test results showing a positive detection for all samples. When utilizing GTPV and SPPV genomic DNA, the universal LAMP primers (GSPV) and GTPV LAMP primers displayed a 100% detection rate; while the SPPV LAMP detection rate was 98.8%, consistent with the laboratory tested results.
In summary, the three sets of LAMP primers when combined provide an analytically robust method able to fully distinguish between GTPV and SPPV. The presented LAMP method provides a specific, sensitive and rapid diagnostic tool for the distinction of GTPV and SPPV infections, with the potential to be standardized as a detection method for Capripox viruses in endemic areas.
PMCID: PMC3942189  PMID: 24438089
Goat pox virus (GTPV); Sheep pox virus (SPPV); Inverted terminal repeat (ITR) regions; Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP); Differential diagnosis

Results 26-50 (2207)