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1.  Genetic Diversity and Ecological Success of Staphylococcus aureus Strains Colonizing Humans ▿ †  
The genetic determinants and phenotypic traits which make a Staphylococcus aureus strain a successful colonizer are largely unknown. The genetic diversity and population structure of 133 S. aureus isolates from healthy, generally risk-free adult carriers were investigated using four different typing methods: multilocus sequence typing (MLST), amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis (AFLP), double-locus sequence typing (DLST), and spa typing were compared. Carriage isolates displayed great genetic diversity which could only be revealed fully by DLST. Results of AFLP and MLST were highly concordant in the delineation of genotypic clusters of closely related isolates, roughly equivalent to clonal complexes. spa typing and DLST provided considerably less phylogenetic information. The resolution of spa typing was similar to that of AFLP and inferior to that of DLST. AFLP proved to be the most universal method, combining a phylogeny-building capacity similar to that of MLST with a much higher resolution. However, it had a lower reproducibility than sequencing-based MLST, DLST, and spa typing. We found two cases of methicillin-resistant S. aureus colonization, both of which were most likely associated with employment at a health service. Of 21 genotypic clusters detected, 2 were most prevalent: cluster 45 and cluster 30 each colonized 24% of the carrier population. The number of bacteria found in nasal samples varied significantly among the clusters, but the most prevalent clusters were not particularly numerous in the nasal samples. We did not find much evidence that genotypic clusters were associated with different carrier characteristics, such as age, sex, medical conditions, or antibiotic use. This may provide empirical support for the idea that genetic clusters in bacteria are maintained in the absence of adaptation to different niches. Alternatively, carrier characteristics other than those evaluated here or factors other than human hosts may exert selective pressure maintaining genotypic clusters.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01860-08
PMCID: PMC2612194  PMID: 18978084
2.  A Whole-Genome Association Study of Major Determinants for Host Control of HIV-1 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;317(5840):944-947.
Understanding why some people establish and maintain effective control of HIV-1 and others do not is a priority in the effort to develop new treatments for HIV/AIDS. Using a whole-genome association strategy, we identified polymorphisms that explain nearly 15% of the variation among individuals in viral load during the asymptomatic set-point period of infection. One of these is found within an endogenous retroviral element and is associated with major histocompatibility allele human leukocyte antigen (HLA)–B*5701, whereas a second is located near the HLA-C gene. An additional analysis of the time to HIV disease progression implicated two genes, one of which encodes an RNA polymerase I subunit. These findings emphasize the importance of studying human genetic variation as a guide to combating infectious agents.
doi:10.1126/science.1143767
PMCID: PMC1991296  PMID: 17641165
3.  First Case of Bacteremia and Multifocal Cellulitis Due to Helicobacter canis in an Immunocompetent Patient▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(12):4598-4600.
Bacteremia due to Helicobacter canis has been reported in a patient with X-linked hypogammaglobulinemia. Here we report on the first human case of H. canis bacteremia in an immunocompetent host. Identification of the organism was made by genetic and phylogenetic analyses of the complete 16S rRNA sequence.
doi:10.1128/JCM.01453-06
PMCID: PMC1698384  PMID: 17005753
4.  Fibrinogen and fibronectin binding cooperate for valve infection and invasion in Staphylococcus aureus experimental endocarditis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2005;201(10):1627-1635.
The expression of Staphylococcus aureus adhesins in Lactococcus lactis identified clumping factor A (ClfA) and fibronectin-binding protein A (FnBPA) as critical for valve colonization in rats with experimental endocarditis. This study further analyzed their role in disease evolution. Infected animals were followed for 3 d. ClfA-positive lactococci successfully colonized damaged valves, but were spontaneously eradicated over 48 h. In contrast, FnBPA-positive lactococci progressively increased bacterial titers in vegetations and spleens. At imaging, ClfA-positive lactococci were restricted to the vegetations, whereas FnBPA-positive lactococci also invaded the adjacent endothelium. This reflected the capacity of FnBPA to trigger cell internalization in vitro. Because FnBPA carries both fibrinogen- and fibronectin-binding domains, we tested the role of these functionalities by deleting the fibrinogen-binding domain of FnBPA and supplementing it with the fibrinogen-binding domain of ClfA in cis or in trans. Deletion of the fibrinogen-binding domain of FnBPA did not alter fibronectin binding and cell internalization in vitro. However, it totally abrogated valve infectivity in vivo. This ability was restored in cis by inserting the fibrinogen-binding domain of ClfA into truncated FnBPA, and in trans by coexpressing full-length ClfA and truncated FnBPA on two separate plasmids. Thus, fibrinogen and fibronectin binding could cooperate for S. aureus valve colonization and endothelial invasion in vivo.
doi:10.1084/jem.20050125
PMCID: PMC2212930  PMID: 15897276
5.  Mutations of Pneumocystis jirovecii Dihydrofolate Reductase Associated with Failure of Prophylaxis 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2004;48(11):4301-4305.
Most drugs used for prevention and treatment of Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia target enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of folic acid, i.e., dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS) and dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). Emergence of P. jirovecii drug resistance has been suggested by the association between failure of prophylaxis with sulfa drugs and mutations in DHPS. However, data on the occurrence of mutations in DHFR, the target of trimethoprim and pyrimethamine, are scarce. We examined polymorphisms in P. jirovecii DHFR from 33 patients diagnosed with P. jirovecii pneumonia who were receiving prophylaxis with a DHFR inhibitor (n = 15), prophylaxis without a DHFR inhibitor (n = 11), or no prophylaxis (n = 7). Compared to the wild-type sequence present in GenBank, 19 DHFR nucleotide substitution sites were found in 18 patients with 3 synonymous and 16 nonsynonymous mutations. Of 16 amino acid changes, 6 were located in positions conserved among distant organisms, and five of these six positions are probably involved in the putative active sites of the enzyme. Patients with failure of prophylaxis, including a DHFR inhibitor, were more likely to harbor nonsynonymous DHFR mutations than those who did not receive such prophylaxis (9 of 15 patients versus 2 of 18; P = 0.008). Analysis of the rate of nonsynonymous versus synonymous mutations was consistent with selection of amino acid substitutions in patients with failure of prophylaxis including a DHFR inhibitor. The results suggest that P. jirovecii populations may evolve under selective pressure from DHFR inhibitors, in particular pyrimethamine, and that DHFR mutations may contribute to P. jirovecii drug resistance.
doi:10.1128/AAC.48.11.4301-4305.2004
PMCID: PMC525445  PMID: 15504856
6.  Molecular Evidence of Interhuman Transmission of Pneumocystis Pneumonia among Renal Transplant Recipients Hospitalized with HIV-Infected Patients 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(10):1766-1773.
Molecular evidence indicates that P. jirovecii may be nosocomially transmitted to severely immunosuppressed patients.
Ten Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP) cases were diagnosed in renal transplant recipients (RTRs) during a 3-year period. Nosocomial transmission from HIV-positive patients with PCP was suspected because these patients shared the same hospital building, were not isolated, and were receiving suboptimal anti-PCP prophylaxis or none. P. jirovecii organisms were typed with the multitarget polymerase chain reaction–single-strand conformation polymorphism method. Among the 45 patients with PCP hospitalized during the 3-year period, 8 RTRs and 6 HIV-infected patients may have encountered at least 1 patient with active PCP within the 3 months before the diagnosis of their own PCP episode. In six instances (five RTRs, one HIV-infected patient), the patients harbored the same P. jirovecii molecular type as that found in the encountered PCP patients. The data suggest that part of the PCP cases observed in this building, particularly those observed in RTRs, were related to nosocomial interhuman transmission.
doi:10.3201/eid1010.040453
PMCID: PMC3323259  PMID: 15504262
Epidemiology; Pneumocystis carinii; Pneumocystis jirovecii; interhuman transmission; cluster analysis; sulfa drug resistance; dihydropteroate synthase; single-strand conformation polymorphism; PCP; research
7.  Sulfa Resistance and Dihydropteroate Synthase Mutants in Recurrent Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(7):864-867.
Failure of sulfa or sulfone prophylaxis is associated with mutations in Pneumocystis carinii gene coding for dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS). The DHPS genotype was analyzed in AIDS patients who had two separate episodes of P. carinii pneumonia. The results suggest that DHPS mutations can be selected de novo within patients by the pressure of a sulfa or sulfone drug.
doi:10.3201/eid0907.020753
PMCID: PMC3023424  PMID: 12890330
Pneumocystis carinii; pneumonia; fungal typing; drug resistance; drug pressure; mutation; dihydropteroate synthase; AIDS; dispatch
8.  Risk for Pneumocystis carinii Transmission among Patients with Pneumonia: a Molecular Epidemiology Study 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(1):132-134.
We report a molecular typing and epidemiologic analysis of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) cases diagnosed in our geographic area from 1990 to 2000. Our analysis suggests that transmission from patients with active PCP to susceptible persons caused only a few, if any, PCP cases in our setting.
doi:10.3201/eid0901.020141
PMCID: PMC2873751  PMID: 12533297
Pneumocystis carinii; pneumonia; molecular epidemiology; typing; disease transmission; dispatch
9.  Expression of Staphylococcus aureus Clumping Factor A in Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris Using a New Shuttle Vector 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(6):3516-3522.
Staphylococcus aureus harbors redundant adhesins mediating tissue colonization and infection. To evaluate their intrinsic role outside of the staphylococcal background, a system was designed to express them in Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris 1363. This bacterium is devoid of virulence factors and has a known genetic background. A new Escherichia coli-L. lactis shuttle and expression vector was constructed for this purpose. First, the high-copy-number lactococcal plasmid pIL253 was equipped with the oriColE1 origin, generating pOri253 that could replicate in E. coli. Second, the lactococcal promoters P23 or P59 were inserted at one end of the pOri253 multicloning site. Gene expression was assessed by a luciferase reporter system. The plasmid carrying P23 (named pOri23) expressed luciferase constitutively at a level 10,000 times greater than did the P59-containing plasmid. Transcription was absent in E. coli. The staphylococcal clumping factor A (clfA) gene was cloned into pOri23 and used as a model system. Lactococci carrying pOri23-clfA produced an unaltered and functional 130-kDa ClfA protein attached to their cell walls. This was indicated both by the presence of the protein in Western blots of solubilized cell walls and by the ability of ClfA-positive lactococci to clump in the presence of plasma. ClfA-positive lactococci had clumping titers (titer of 4,112) similar to those of S. aureus Newman in soluble fibrinogen and bound equally well to solid-phase fibrinogen. These experiments provide a new way to study individual staphylococcal pathogenic factors and might complement both classical knockout mutagenesis and modern in vivo expression technology and signature tag mutagenesis.
PMCID: PMC97637  PMID: 10816506

Results 1-9 (9)