There is an increasing need for alternatives to antibiotics for promoting animal health, given the increasing problems associated with antibiotic resistance. In this regard, we evaluated spent cider yeast as a potential probiotic for modifying the gut microbiota in weanling pigs using pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene libraries.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Piglets aged 24–26 days were assigned to one of two study groups; control (n = 12) and treatment (n = 12). The control animals were fed with a basal diet and the treatment animals were fed with basal diet in combination with cider yeast supplement (500 ml cider yeast containing ∼7.6 log CFU/ml) for 21 days. Faecal samples were collected for 16s rRNA gene compositional analysis. 16S rRNA compositional sequencing analysis of the faecal samples collected from day 0 and day 21 revealed marked differences in microbial diversity at both the phylum and genus levels between the control and treatment groups. This analysis confirmed that levels of Salmonella and Escherichia were significantly decreased in the treatment group, compared with the control (P<0.001). This data suggest a positive influence of dietary supplementation with live cider yeast on the microbial diversity of the pig distal gut.
The effect of dietary cider yeast on porcine gut microbial communities was characterized for the first time using 16S rRNA gene compositional sequencing. Dietary cider yeast can potentially alter the gut microbiota, however such changes depend on their endogenous microbiota that causes a divergence in relative response to that given diet.
Metagenomics is a powerful tool that allows for the culture-independent analysis of
complex microbial communities. One of the most complex and dense microbial ecosystems
known is that of the human distal colon, with cell densities reaching up to
1012 per gram of faeces. With the majority of species as yet uncultured,
there are an enormous number of novel genes awaiting discovery. In the current study, we
conducted a functional screen of a metagenomic library of the human gut microbiota for
potential salt-tolerant clones. Using transposon mutagenesis, three genes were identified
from a single clone exhibiting high levels of identity to a species from the genus
Collinsella (closest relative being Collinsella aerofaciens)
(COLAER_01955, COLAER_01957 and COLAER_01981), a high G+C, Gram-positive member of
the Actinobacteria commonly found in the human gut. The encoded proteins exhibit a strong
similarity to GalE, MurB and MazG. Furthermore, pyrosequencing and bioinformatic analysis
of two additional fosmid clones revealed the presence of an additional galE and
mazG gene, with the highest level of genetic identity to Akkermansia
muciniphila and Eggerthella sp. YY7918, respectively. Cloning and
heterologous expression of the genes in the osmosensitive strain, Escherichia
coli MKH13, resulted in increased salt tolerance of the transformed cells. It is
hoped that the identification of atypical salt tolerance genes will help to further
elucidate novel salt tolerance mechanisms, and will assist our increased understanding how
resident bacteria cope with the osmolarity of the gastrointestinal tract.
; human gut microbiome; metagenomics; salt tolerance
A recent comparative genomic hybridization study in our laboratory revealed considerable plasticity within the bacteriocin locus of gastrointestinal strains of Lactobacillus salivarius. Most notably, these analyses led to the identification of two novel unmodified bacteriocins, salivaricin L and salivaricin T, produced by the neonatal isolate L. salivarius DPC6488 with immunity, regulatory and export systems analogous to those of abp118, a two-component bacteriocin produced by the well characterized reference strain L. salivarius UCC118. In this addendum we discuss the intraspecific diversity of our seven bacteriocin-producing L. salivarius isolates on a genome-wide level, and more specifically, with respect to their salivaricin loci.
Lactobacillus salivarius; bacteriocin; comparative genomic hybridization; probiotic; salivaricin
We demonstrate that growth of Cronobacter sakazakii in the presence of acetate as a carbon source promotes loss of RpoS, with a consequent reduction in stress tolerance. This suggests that C. sakazakii is capable of regulating cell fitness through mutation of the rpoS gene.
Kefir is a fermented milk-based beverage to which a number of health-promoting properties have been attributed. The microbes responsible for the fermentation of milk to produce kefir consist of a complex association of bacteria and yeasts, bound within a polysaccharide matrix, known as the kefir grain. The consistency of this microbial population, and that present in the resultant beverage, has been the subject of a number of previous, almost exclusively culture-based, studies which have indicated differences depending on geographical location and culture conditions. However, culture-based identification studies are limited by virtue of only detecting species with the ability to grow on the specific medium used and thus culture-independent, molecular-based techniques offer the potential for a more comprehensive analysis of such communities. Here we describe a detailed investigation of the microbial population, both bacterial and fungal, of kefir, using high-throughput sequencing to analyse 25 kefir milks and associated grains sourced from 8 geographically distinct regions. This is the first occasion that this technology has been employed to investigate the fungal component of these populations or to reveal the microbial composition of such an extensive number of kefir grains or milks. As a result several genera and species not previously identified in kefir were revealed. Our analysis shows that the bacterial populations in kefir are dominated by 2 phyla, the Firmicutes and the Proteobacteria. It was also established that the fungal populations of kefir were dominated by the genera Kazachstania, Kluyveromyces and Naumovozyma, but that a variable sub-dominant population also exists.
The increasing interest in the human microbiota raises some interesting questions about the terminology we use to describe some of the structures and strategies employed by commensal and pathogenic microbes to compete in these complex biological ecosystems. For example, all microbes arriving in the alimentary tract face the task of surviving passage through the stomach, coping with bile, interacting with the immune system, competing with the established microbiota, and obtaining sufficient nutrients to gain a foothold in this hostile environment. It is not surprising then that many gastrointestinal microbes (both pathogens and commensals) use similar strategies to overcome the challenges associated with this particular biological niche. Given that many of these structures and strategies were discovered and characterized in pathogens and because they often play important roles in establishing and maintaining an infection, they have often been characterized as virulence factors. It would be misleading to describe the same strategies and structures found in harmless commensals as “virulence factors,” since they represent a sine qua non for life in the gastrointestinal tract. It may be time to reconsider and refer to them as “niche factors,” both in terms of providing scientific accuracy but also in light of the growing interest in using gut microbes as probiotics, where the distinction between virulence factors and niche factors is likely to be very important from a regulatory perspective.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are capable of regenerative and immunomodulatory functions in cell-based therapies in a variety of human diseases and injuries; however, their therapeutic efficacy and potential side effects remain major obstacles in clinical applications. We report here a 3D spheroid culture approach to optimize stem cell properties and therapeutic effects of human gingiva-derived mesenchymal stem cells (GMSCs) in mitigation of experimental oral mucositis. Under growth condition of ultra-low attachment, GMSCs spontaneously aggregated into 3D spheroids and exhibited distinct early stem cell phenotype characterized by elevated expression Stro-1 and CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR-4) as well as OCT-4 and Nanog, 2 important transcriptional factors relevant to stem cell properties, and decreased expression of MSC-associated markers, including CD29, CD90, and CD105. Functionally, spheroid GMSCs are capable of enhanced multipotency and augmented secretion of several chemokines and cytokines relevant to cell migration, survival, and angiogenesis. More importantly, spheroid GMSCs expressed increased levels of reactive oxygen species, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1 and -2α, and manganese superoxide dismutase, which correlated with improved resistance to oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. Using an in vivo murine model of chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis, we demonstrated that spheroid-derived GMSCs possessed better therapeutic efficacy than their adherent cells in reversing body weight loss and promoting the regeneration of disrupted epithelial lining of the mucositic tongues. These findings suggest that 3D spheroid culture allows early stemness preservation and potentially precondition GMSCs for enhanced mitigation of oral mucositis.
The lantibiotic lacticin 3147 has been the focus of much research due to its broad spectrum of activity against many microbial targets, including drug-resistant pathogens. In order to protect itself, a lacticin 3147 producer must possess a cognate immunity mechanism. Lacticin 3147 immunity is provided by an ABC transporter, LtnFE, and a dedicated immunity protein, LtnI, both of which are capable of independently providing a degree of protection. In the study described here, we carried out an in-depth investigation of LtnI structure-function relationships through the creation of a series of fusion proteins and LtnI determinants that have been the subject of random and site-directed mutagenesis. We establish that LtnI is a transmembrane protein that contains a number of individual residues and regions, such as those between amino acids 20 and 27 and amino acids 76 and 83, which are essential for LtnI function. Finally, as a consequence of the screening of a bank of 28,000 strains producing different LtnI derivatives, we identified one variant (LtnI I81V) that provides enhanced protection. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a lantibiotic immunity protein with enhanced functionality.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that innovations from the “golden age” of antibiotics are becoming ineffective, resulting in a pressing need for novel therapeutics. The bacteriocin family of antimicrobial peptides has attracted much attention in recent years as a source of potential alternatives. The most intensively studied bacteriocin is nisin, a broad spectrum lantibiotic that inhibits Gram-positive bacteria including important food pathogens and clinically relevant antibiotic resistant bacteria. Nisin is gene-encoded and, as such, is amenable to peptide bioengineering, facilitating the generation of novel derivatives that can be screened for desirable properties. It was to this end that we used a site-saturation mutagenesis approach to create a bank of producers of nisin A derivatives that differ with respect to the identity of residue 12 (normally lysine; K12). A number of these producers exhibited enhanced bioactivity and the nisin A K12A producer was deemed of greatest interest. Subsequent investigations with the purified antimicrobial highlighted the enhanced specific activity of this modified nisin against representative target strains from the genera Streptococcus, Bacillus, Lactococcus, Enterococcus and Staphylococcus.
Lantibiotics are post-translationally modified antimicrobial peptides, of which nisin A is the most extensively studied example. Bioengineering of nisin A has resulted in the generation of derivatives with increased in vitro potency against Gram-positive bacteria. Of these, nisin V (containing a Met21Val change) is noteworthy by virtue of exhibiting enhanced antimicrobial efficacy against a wide range of clinical and food-borne pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes. However, this increased potency has not been tested in vivo.
Here we address this issue by assessing the ability of nisin A and nisin V to control a bioluminescent strain of Listeria monocytogenes EGDe in a murine infection model.
More specifically, Balb/c mice were infected via the intraperitoneal route at a dose of 1 × 105 cfu/animal and subsequently treated intraperitoneally with either nisin V, nisin A or a PBS control. Bioimaging of the mice was carried out on day 3 of the trial. Animals were then sacrificed and levels of infection were quantified in the liver and spleen.
This analysis revealed that nisin V was more effective than Nisin A with respect to controlling infection and therefore merits further investigation with a view to potential chemotherapeutic applications.
Antimicrobial; Lantibiotic; Bacteriocin; Peptide engineering; Mutagenesis; Nisin
Significant phenotypic diversity was observed when we examined the abilities of a number of Cronobacter sakazakii natural isolates to cope with various sublethal stress conditions (acid, alkaline, osmotic, oxidative, or heat stress). Levels of catalase activity and use of acetate as a carbon source, phenotypes commonly used as indirect assays to predict RpoS function, revealed a high correlation between predicted RpoS activity and tolerance to acid, alkaline, osmotic, and oxidative treatments. The rpoS genes were sequenced and analyzed for polymorphisms. Loss-of-function mutations were found in two strains; C. sakazakii DPC 6523 and the genome-sequenced strain C. sakazakii ATCC BAA-894. The complementation of these strains with a functional rpoS gene resulted in an increase in bacterial tolerance to acid, osmotic, and oxidative stresses. The pigmentation status of strains was also assessed, and a high variability in carotenoid content was observed, with a functional rpoS gene being essential for the production of the characteristic yellow pigment. In conclusion, the evidence presented in this study demonstrates that rpoS is a highly polymorphic gene in C. sakazakii, and it supports the importance of RpoS for the tolerance under stress conditions that C. sakazakii may encounter in the food chain and in the host during infection.
Nisin is a bacteriocin widely utilized in more than 50 countries as a safe and natural antibacterial food preservative. It is the most extensively studied bacteriocin, having undergone decades of bioengineering with a view to improving function and physicochemical properties. The discovery of novel nisin variants with enhanced activity against clinical and foodborne pathogens has recently been described. We screened a randomized bank of nisin A producers and identified a variant with a serine to glycine change at position 29 (S29G), with enhanced efficacy against S. aureus SA113. Using a site-saturation mutagenesis approach we generated three more derivatives (S29A, S29D and S29E) with enhanced activity against a range of Gram positive drug resistant clinical, veterinary and food pathogens. In addition, a number of the nisin S29 derivatives displayed superior antimicrobial activity to nisin A when assessed against a range of Gram negative food-associated pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and Cronobacter sakazakii. This is the first report of derivatives of nisin, or indeed any lantibiotic, with enhanced antimicrobial activity against both Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria.
Caseicins A and B are low-molecular-weight antimicrobial peptides which are released by proteolytic digestion of sodium caseinate. Caseicin A (IKHQGLPQE) is a nine-amino-acid cationic peptide, and caseicin B (VLNENLLR) is a neutral eight-amino-acid peptide; both have previously been shown to exhibit antibacterial activity against a number of pathogens, including Cronobacter sakazakii. Previously, four variants of each caseicin which differed subtly from their natural counterparts were generated by peptide synthesis. Antimicrobial activity assays revealed that the importance of a number of the residues within the peptides was dependent on the strain being targeted. In this study, this engineering-based approach was expanded through the creation of a larger collection of 26 peptides which are altered in a variety of ways. The investigation highlights the generally greater tolerance of caseicin B to change, the fact that changes have a more detrimental impact on anti-Gram-negative activity, and the surprising number of variants which exhibit enhanced activity against Staphylococcus aureus.
The Listeria monocytogenes LiaSR two-component system (2CS) encoded by lmo1021 and lmo1022 plays an important role in resistance to the food preservative nisin. A nonpolar deletion in the histidine kinase-encoding component (ΔliaS) resulted in a 4-fold increase in nisin resistance. In contrast, the ΔliaS strain exhibited increased sensitivity to a number of cephalosporin antibiotics (and was also altered with respect to its response to a variety of other antimicrobials, including the active agents of a number of disinfectants). This pattern of increased nisin resistance and reduced cephalosporin resistance in L. monocytogenes has previously been associated with mutation of a second histidine kinase, LisK, which is a predicted regulator of liaS and a penicillin binding protein encoded by lmo2229. We noted that lmo2229 transcription is increased in the ΔliaS mutant and in a ΔliaS ΔlisK double mutant and that disruption of lmo2229 in the ΔliaS ΔlisK mutant resulted in a dramatic sensitization to nisin but had a relatively minor impact on cephalosporin resistance. We anticipate that further efforts to unravel the complex mechanisms by which LiaSR impacts on the antimicrobial resistance of L. monocytogenes could facilitate the development of strategies to increase the susceptibility of the pathogen to these agents.
Clostridium difficile is an important nosocomial pathogen associated particularly with diarrheal disease in elderly individuals in hospitals and long-term care facilities. We examined the carriage rate of Clostridium difficile by culture as a function of fecal microbiota composition in elderly subjects recruited from the community, including outpatient, short-term respite, and long-term hospital stay subjects. The carriage rate ranged from 1.6% (n = 123) for subjects in the community, to 9.5% (n = 43) in outpatient settings, and increasing to 21% (n = 151) for patients in short- or long-term care in hospital. The dominant 072 ribotype was carried by 43% (12/28) of subjects, while the hypervirulent strain R027 (B1/NAP1/027) was isolated from 3 subjects (11%), 2 of whom displayed C. difficile associated diarrhea (CDAD) symptoms at the time of sampling. Emerging ribotypes with enhanced virulence (078 and 018) were also isolated from two asymptomatic subjects. Pyrosequencing of rRNA gene amplicons was used to determine the composition of the fecal microbiota as a surrogate for the microbial population structure of the distal intestine. Asymptomatic subjects (n = 20) from whom C. difficile was isolated showed no dramatic difference at the phylum or family taxonomic level compared to those that were culture negative (n = 252). However, in contrast, a marked reduction in microbial diversity at genus level was observed in patients who had been diagnosed with CDAD at the time of sampling and from whom C. difficile R027 was isolated.
Fermented sausages, although presumed safe for consumption, sometimes cause serious bacterial infections in humans that may be deadly. Not much is known about why and when this is the case. We tested the hypothesis that residual veterinary antibiotics in meat can disrupt the fermentation process, giving pathogenic bacteria a chance to survive and multiply. We found that six commercially available starter cultures were susceptible to commonly used antibiotics, namely, oxytetracycline, penicillin, and erythromycin. In meat, statutorily tolerable levels of oxytetracycline and erythromycin inhibited fermentation performance of three and five of the six starter cultures, respectively. In model sausages, the disruption of meat fermentation enhanced survival of the pathogens Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium compared to successful fermentations. Our work reveals an overlooked risk associated with the presence of veterinary drugs in meat.
Antibiotics have for a long time been used as growth promoters in farm animals, and while they are banned as such in Europe, their clinical use in farm animals still accounts for the majority of consumption. Here, we examined how acceptable levels of antibiotics in meat influence fermentation. Our results show that commonly used bacterial starter cultures are sensitive to residual antibiotics at or near statutorily tolerable levels, and as a result, processed sausages may indeed contain high levels of pathogens. Our findings provide a possible explanation for outbreaks and disease cases associated with consumption of fermented sausages and offer yet another argument for limiting the use of antimicrobials in farm animals.
Ltnα and Ltnβ are individual components of the two-peptide lantibiotic lacticin 3147 and are unusual in that, although ribosomally synthesized, they contain d-amino acids. These result from the dehydration of l-serine to dehydroalanine by LtnM and subsequent stereospecific hydrogenation to d-alanine by LtnJ. Homologues of LtnJ are rare but have been identified in silico in Staphylococcus aureus C55 (SacJ), Pediococcus pentosaceus FBB61 (PenN), and Nostoc punctiforme PCC73102 (NpnJ, previously called NpunJ [P. D. Cotter et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 102:18584–18589, 2005]). Here, the ability of these enzymes to catalyze d-alanine formation in the lacticin 3147 system was assessed through heterologous enzyme production in a ΔltnJ mutant. PenN successfully incorporated d-alanines in both peptides, and SacJ modified Ltnα only, while NpnJ was unable to modify either peptide. Site-directed mutagenesis was also employed to identify residues of key importance in LtnJ. The most surprising outcome from these investigations was the generation of peptides by specific LtnJ mutants which exhibited less bioactivity than those generated by the ΔltnJ strain. We have established that the reduced activity of these peptides is due to the inability of the associated LtnJ enzymes to generate d-alanine residues in a stereospecific manner, resulting in the presence of both d- and l-alanines at the relevant locations in the lacticin 3147 peptides.
Bacteriocins are an abundant and diverse group of ribosomally synthesized antimicrobial peptides produced by bacteria and archaea. Traditionally, bacteriocin production has been considered an important trait in the selection of probiotic strains, but until recently, few studies have definitively demonstrated the impact of bacteriocin production on the ability of a strain to compete within complex microbial communities and/or positively influence the health of the host. Although research in this area is still in its infancy, there is intriguing evidence to suggest that bacteriocins may function in a number of ways within the gastrointestinal tract. Bacteriocins may facilitate the introduction of a producer into an established niche, directly inhibit the invasion of competing strains or pathogens, or modulate the composition of the microbiota and influence the host immune system. Here we review the role of bacteriocin production in complex microbial communities and their potential to enhance human health.
Nisin U is a member of the extended nisin family of lantibiotics. Here we identify the presence of nisin U immunity gene homologues in Streptococcus infantarius subsp. infantarius BAA-102. Heterologous expression of these genes in Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris HP confers protection to nisin U and other members of the nisin family, thereby establishing that the recently identified phenomenon of resistance through immune mimicry also occurs with respect to nisin.
With the rapid advances in sequencing technologies in recent years, the human genome is now considered incomplete without the complementing microbiome, which outnumbers human genes by a factor of one hundred. The human microbiome, and more specifically the gut microbiome, has received considerable attention and research efforts over the past decade. Many studies have identified and quantified “who is there?,” while others have determined some of their functional capacity, or “what are they doing?” In a recent study, we identified novel salt-tolerance loci from the human gut microbiome using combined functional metagenomic and bioinformatics based approaches. Herein, we discuss the identified loci, their role in salt-tolerance and their importance in the context of the gut environment. We also consider the utility and power of functional metagenomics for mining such environments for novel genes and proteins, as well as the implications and possible applications for future research.
functional metagenomics; human gut microbiome; salt tolerance; meta-biotechnology
Bacteriocins produced by Lactobacillus salivarius isolates derived from a gastrointestinal origin have previously demonstrated efficacy for in vivo protection against Listeria monocytogenes infection. In this study, comparative genomic analysis was employed to investigate the intraspecies diversity of seven L. salivarius isolates of human and porcine intestinal origin, based on the genome of the well-characterized bacteriocin-producing strain L. salivarius UCC118. This revealed a highly conserved megaplasmid-borne gene cluster in these strains involved in the regulation and secretion of two-component class IIb bacteriocins. However, considerable intraspecific variation was observed in the structural genes encoding the bacteriocin peptides. They ranged from close relatives of abp118, such as salivaricin P, which differs by 2 amino acids, to completely novel bacteriocins, such as salivaricin T, which is characterized in this study. Salivaricin T inhibits closely related lactobacilli and bears little homology to previously characterized salivaricins. Interestingly, the two peptides responsible for salivaricin T activity, SalTα and SalTβ, share considerable identity with the component peptides of thermophilin 13, a bacteriocin produced by Streptococcus thermophilus. Furthermore, the salivaricin locus of strain DPC6488 also encodes an additional novel one-component class IId anti-listerial bacteriocin, salivaricin L. These findings suggest a high level of redundancy in the bacteriocins that can be produced by intestinal L. salivarius isolates using the same enzymatic production and export machinery. Such diversity may contribute to their ability to dominate and compete within the complex microbiota of the mammalian gut.
The ability of the liver to regenerate is crucial to protect liver function after injury and during chronic disease. Increases in hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) are thought to drive liver regeneration. However, in contrast to endothelial progenitor cells, mature LSECs express little HGF. Therefore, we sought to establish in rats whether liver injury causes BM LSEC progenitor cells to engraft in the liver and provide increased levels of HGF and to examine the relative contribution of resident and BM LSEC progenitors. LSEC label-retaining cells and progenitors were identified in liver and LSEC progenitors in BM. BM LSEC progenitors did not contribute to normal LSEC turnover in the liver. However, after partial hepatectomy, BM LSEC progenitor proliferation and mobilization to the circulation doubled. In the liver, one-quarter of the LSECs were BM derived, and BM LSEC progenitors differentiated into fenestrated LSECs. When irradiated rats underwent partial hepatectomy, liver regeneration was compromised, but infusion of LSEC progenitors rescued the defect. Further analysis revealed that BM LSEC progenitors expressed substantially more HGF and were more proliferative than resident LSEC progenitors after partial hepatectomy. Resident LSEC progenitors within their niche may play a smaller role in recovery from partial hepatectomy than BM LSEC progenitors, but, when infused after injury, these progenitors engrafted and expanded markedly over a 2-month period. In conclusion, LSEC progenitor cells are present in liver and BM, and recruitment of BM LSEC progenitors is necessary for normal liver regeneration.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common cause of infection in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). In addition, biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance of Pseudomonas are major problems that can complicate antibiotic therapy. We evaluated the efficacy of using bacteriophages to kill the pathogen in both biofilms and in the murine lung. We isolated and characterized two phages from a local wastewater treatment plant, a myovirus (ϕNH-4) and a podovirus (ϕMR299-2). Both phages were active against clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa. Together, the two phages killed all 9 clinical isolate strains tested, including both mucoid and nonmucoid strains. An equal mixture of the two phages was effective in killing P. aeruginosa NH57388A (mucoid) and P. aeruginosa MR299 (nonmucoid) strains when growing as a biofilm on a cystic fibrosis bronchial epithelial CFBE41o- cell line. Phage titers increased almost 100-fold over a 24-h period, confirming replication of the phage. Furthermore, the phage mix was also effective in killing the pathogen in murine lungs containing 1 × 107 to 2 × 107
P. aeruginosa. Pseudomonas was effectively cleared (reduced by a magnitude of at least 3 to 4 log units) from murine lungs in 6 h. Our study demonstrates the efficacy of these two phages in killing clinical Pseudomonas isolates in the murine lung or as a biofilm on a pulmonary cell line and supports the growing interest in using phage therapy for the control and treatment of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas lung infections in CF patients.
Given the rise in antibiotic resistance, nonantibiotic therapies are required for the treatment of infection. This is particularly true for the treatment of Pseudomonas infection in patients with cystic fibrosis. We have identified two bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) that can kill Pseudomonas growing on human lung cells and in an animal model of lung infection. The use of bacteriophages is particularly appropriate because the killing agent can replicate on the target cell, generating fresh copies of the bacteriophage. Thus, in the presence of a target, the killing agent multiplies. By using two bacteriophages we can reduce the risk of resistant colonies developing at the site of infection. Bacteriophage therapy is an exciting field, and this study represents an important demonstration of efficacy in validated infection models.
Regulation of iron homeostasis in many pathogens is principally mediated by the ferric uptake regulator, Fur. Since acquisition of iron from the host is essential for the intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, we predicted the existence of Fur-regulated systems that support infection. We examined the contribution of nine Fur-regulated loci to the pathogenicity of L. monocytogenes in a murine model of infection. While mutating the majority of the genes failed to affect virulence, three mutants exhibited a significantly compromised virulence potential. Most striking was the role of the membrane protein we designate FrvA (Fur regulated virulence factor A; encoded by frvA [lmo0641]), which is absolutely required for the systemic phase of infection in mice and also for virulence in an alternative infection model, the Wax Moth Galleria mellonella. Further analysis of the ΔfrvA mutant revealed poor growth in iron deficient media and inhibition of growth by micromolar concentrations of haem or haemoglobin, a phenotype which may contribute to the attenuated growth of this mutant during infection. Uptake studies indicated that the ΔfrvA mutant is unaffected in the uptake of ferric citrate but demonstrates a significant increase in uptake of haem and haemin. The data suggest a potential role for FrvA as a haem exporter that functions, at least in part, to protect the cell against the potential toxicity of free haem.