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1.  Ageing Fxr Deficient Mice Develop Increased Energy Expenditure, Improved Glucose Control and Liver Damage Resembling NASH 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64721.
Nuclear receptor subfamily 1, group H, member 4 (Nr1h4, FXR) is a bile acid activated nuclear receptor mainly expressed in the liver, intestine, kidney and adrenal glands. Upon activation, the primary function is to suppress cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase (Cyp7a1), the rate-limiting enzyme in the classic or neutral bile acid synthesis pathway. In the present study, a novel Fxr deficient mouse line was created and studied with respect to metabolism and liver function in ageing mice fed chow diet. The Fxr deficient mice were similar to wild type mice in terms of body weight, body composition, energy intake and expenditure as well as behaviours at a young age. However, from 15 weeks of age and onwards, the Fxr deficient mice had almost no body weight increase up to 39 weeks of age mainly because of lower body fat mass. The lower body weight gain was associated with increased energy expenditure that was not compensated by increased food intake. Fasting levels of glucose and insulin were lower and glucose tolerance was improved in old and lean Fxr deficient mice. However, the Fxr deficient mice displayed significantly increased liver weight, steatosis, hepatocyte ballooning degeneration and lobular inflammation together with elevated plasma levels of ALT, bilirubin and bile acids, findings compatible with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and cholestasis. In conclusion, ageing Fxr deficient mice display late onset leanness associated with elevated energy expenditure and improved glucose control but develop severe NASH-like liver pathology.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064721
PMCID: PMC3659114  PMID: 23700488
2.  Staphylococcus aureus α-Toxin-Dependent Induction of Host Cell Death by Membrane-Derived Vesicles 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54661.
Staphylococcus aureus causes a wide spectrum of infections in humans, ranging from superficial cutaneous infections, infections in the circum-oral region, to life-threatening bacteremia. It was recently demonstrated that Gram-positive organisms such as S. aureus liberate membrane-derived vesicles (MVs), which analogously to outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) of Gram-negative bacteria can play a role in delivering virulence factors to host cells. In the present study we have shown that cholesterol-dependent fusion of S. aureus MVs with the plasma membrane represents a route for delivery of a key virulence factor, α-toxin (α-hemolysin; Hla) to human cells. Most S. aureus strains produce this 33-kDa pore-forming protein, which can lyse a wide range of human cells, and induce apoptosis in T-lymphocytes. Our results revealed a tight association of biologically active α-toxin with membrane-derived vesicles isolated from S. aureus strain 8325-4. Concomitantly, α-toxin contributed to HeLa cell cytotoxicity of MVs, and was the main vesicle-associated protein responsible for erythrocyte lysis. In contrast, MVs obtained from an isogenic hla mutant were significantly attenuated with regards to both causing lysis of erythrocytes and death of HeLa cells. This is to our knowledge the first recognition of an S. aureus MV-associated factor contributing to host cell cytotoxicity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054661
PMCID: PMC3561366  PMID: 23382935
3.  Proteomics of Protein Secretion by Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41662.
The extracellular proteome (secretome) of periodontitis-associated bacteria may constitute a major link between periodontitis and systemic diseases. To obtain an overview of the virulence potential of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, an oral and systemic human pathogen implicated in aggressive periodontitis, we used a combined LC-MS/MS and bioinformatics approach to characterize the secretome and protein secretion pathways of the rough-colony serotype a strain D7S. LC-MS/MS revealed 179 proteins secreted during biofilm growth. Further to confirming the release of established virulence factors (e.g. cytolethal distending toxin [CDT], and leukotoxin [LtxA]), we identified additional putative virulence determinants in the secretome. These included DegQ, fHbp, LppC, Macrophage infectivity protein (MIP), NlpB, Pcp, PotD, TolB, and TolC. This finding indicates that the number of extracellular virulence-related proteins is much larger than previously demonstrated, which was also supported by in silico analysis of the strain D7S genome. Moreover, our LC-MS/MS and in silico data revealed that at least Type I, II, and V secretion are actively used to excrete proteins directly into the extracellular space, or via two-step pathways involving the Sec/Tat systems for transport across the inner membrane, and outer membrane factors, secretins and auto-transporters, respectively for delivery across the outer membrane. Taken together, our results provide a molecular basis for further elucidating the role of A. actinomycetemcomitans in periodontal and systemic diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041662
PMCID: PMC3405016  PMID: 22848560
4.  Perinuclear Localization of Internalized Outer Membrane Vesicles Carrying Active Cytolethal Distending Toxin from Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(1):31-42.
Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans is implicated in aggressive forms of periodontitis. Similarly to several other Gram-negative species, this organism produces and excretes a cytolethal distending toxin (CDT), a genotoxin associated with cell distention, G2 cell cycle arrest, and/or apoptosis in many mammalian cell types. In this study, we have identified A. actinomycetemcomitans outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) as a vehicle for simultaneous delivery of multiple proteins, including CDT, into human cells. The OMV proteins were internalized in both HeLa cells and human gingival fibroblasts (HGF) via a mechanism of OMV fusion with lipid rafts in the plasma membrane. The active toxin unit, CdtB, was localized inside the nucleus of the intoxicated cells, whereas OmpA and proteins detected using an antibody specific to whole A. actinomycetemcomitans serotype a cells had a perinuclear distribution. In accordance with a tight association of CdtB with OMVs, vesicles isolated from A. actinomycetemcomitans strain D7SS (serotype a), in contrast to OMVs from a D7SS cdtABC mutant, induced a cytolethal distending effect on HeLa and HGF cells, indicating that OMV-associated CDT was biologically active. Association of CDT with OMVs was also observed in A. actinomycetemcomitans isolates belonging to serotypes b and c, indicating that OMV-mediated release of CDT may be conserved in A. actinomycetemcomitans. Although the role of A. actinomycetemcomitans OMVs in periodontal disease has not yet been elucidated, our present data suggest that OMVs could deliver biologically active CDT and additional virulence factors into susceptible cells of the periodontium.
doi:10.1128/IAI.06069-11
PMCID: PMC3255663  PMID: 22025516
5.  Increased Gut Permeability and Microbiota Change Associate with Mesenteric Fat Inflammation and Metabolic Dysfunction in Diet-Induced Obese Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34233.
We investigated the relationship between gut health, visceral fat dysfunction and metabolic disorders in diet-induced obesity. C57BL/6J mice were fed control or high saturated fat diet (HFD). Circulating glucose, insulin and inflammatory markers were measured. Proximal colon barrier function was assessed by measuring transepithelial resistance and mRNA expression of tight-junction proteins. Gut microbiota profile was determined by 16S rDNA pyrosequencing. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-6 mRNA levels were measured in proximal colon, adipose tissue and liver using RT-qPCR. Adipose macrophage infiltration (F4/80+) was assessed using immunohistochemical staining. HFD mice had a higher insulin/glucose ratio (P = 0.020) and serum levels of serum amyloid A3 (131%; P = 0.008) but reduced circulating adiponectin (64%; P = 0.011). In proximal colon of HFD mice compared to mice fed the control diet, transepithelial resistance and mRNA expression of zona occludens 1 were reduced by 38% (P<0.001) and 40% (P = 0.025) respectively and TNF-α mRNA level was 6.6-fold higher (P = 0.037). HFD reduced Lactobacillus (75%; P<0.001) but increased Oscillibacter (279%; P = 0.004) in fecal microbiota. Correlations were found between abundances of Lactobacillus (r = 0.52; P = 0.013) and Oscillibacter (r = −0.55; P = 0.007) with transepithelial resistance of the proximal colon. HFD increased macrophage infiltration (58%; P = 0.020), TNF-α (2.5-fold, P<0.001) and IL-6 mRNA levels (2.5-fold; P = 0.008) in mesenteric fat. Increased macrophage infiltration in epididymal fat was also observed with HFD feeding (71%; P = 0.006) but neither TNF-α nor IL-6 was altered. Perirenal and subcutaneous adipose tissue showed no signs of inflammation in HFD mice. The current results implicate gut dysfunction, and attendant inflammation of contiguous adipose, as salient features of the metabolic dysregulation of diet-induced obesity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034233
PMCID: PMC3311621  PMID: 22457829
6.  Specified Species in Gingival Crevicular Fluid Predict Bacterial Diversity 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13589.
Background
Analysis of gingival crevicular fluid (GCF) samples may give information of unattached (planktonic) subgingival bacteria. Our study represents the first one targeting the identity of bacteria in GCF.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We determined bacterial species diversity in GCF samples of a group of periodontitis patients and delineated contributing bacterial and host-associated factors. Subgingival paper point (PP) samples from the same sites were taken for comparison. After DNA extraction, 16S rRNA genes were PCR amplified and DNA-DNA hybridization was performed using a microarray for over 300 bacterial species or groups. Altogether 133 species from 41 genera and 8 phyla were detected with 9 to 62 and 18 to 64 species in GCF and PP samples, respectively, per patient. Projection to latent structures by means of partial least squares (PLS) was applied to the multivariate data analysis. PLS regression analysis showed that species of genera including Campylobacter, Selenomonas, Porphyromonas, Catonella, Tannerella, Dialister, Peptostreptococcus, Streptococcus and Eubacterium had significant positive correlations and the number of teeth with low-grade attachment loss a significant negative correlation to species diversity in GCF samples. OPLS/O2PLS discriminant analysis revealed significant positive correlations to GCF sample group membership for species of genera Campylobacter, Leptotrichia, Prevotella, Dialister, Tannerella, Haemophilus, Fusobacterium, Eubacterium, and Actinomyces.
Conclusions/Significance
Among a variety of detected species those traditionally classified as Gram-negative anaerobes growing in mature subgingival biofilms were the main predictors for species diversity in GCF samples as well as responsible for distinguishing GCF samples from PP samples. GCF bacteria may provide new prospects for studying dynamic properties of subgingival biofilms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013589
PMCID: PMC2963608  PMID: 21049043
7.  Proinflammatory effect in whole blood by free soluble bacterial components released from planktonic and biofilm cells 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:206.
Background
Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans is an oral bacterium associated with aggressive forms of periodontitis. Increasing evidence points to a link between periodontitis and cardiovascular diseases, however, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. This study investigated the pathogenic potential of free-soluble surface material, released from live planktonic and biofilm A. actinomycetemcomitans cells.
Results
By employing an ex vivo insert model (filter pore size 20 nm) we demonstrated that the A. actinomycetemcomitans strain D7S and its derivatives, in both planktonic and in biofilm life-form, released free-soluble surface material independent of outer membrane vesicles. This material clearly enhanced the production of several proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8, MIP-1β) in human whole blood, as evidenced by using a cytokine antibody array and dissociation-enhanced-lanthanide-fluorescent-immunoassay. In agreement with this, quantitative real-time PCR indicated a concomitant increase in transcription of each of these cytokine genes. Experiments in which the LPS activity was blocked with polymyxin B showed that the stimulatory effect was only partly LPS-dependent, suggesting the involvement of additional free-soluble factors. Consistent with this, MALDI-TOF-MS and immunoblotting revealed release of GroEL-like protein in free-soluble form. Conversely, the immunomodulatory toxins, cytolethal distending toxin and leukotoxin, and peptidoglycan-associated lipoprotein, appeared to be less important, as evidenced by studying strain D7S cdt/ltx double, and pal single mutants. In addition to A. actinomycetemcomitans a non-oral species, Escherichia coli strain IHE3034, tested in the same ex vivo model also released free-soluble surface material with proinflammatory activity.
Conclusion
A. actinomycetemcomitans, grown in biofilm and planktonic form, releases free-soluble surface material independent of outer membrane vesicles, which induces proinflammatory responses in human whole blood. Our findings therefore suggest that release of surface components from live bacterial cells could constitute a mechanism for systemic stimulation and be of particular importance in chronic localized infections, such as periodontitis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-8-206
PMCID: PMC2612679  PMID: 19038023
8.  Vesicle-independent extracellular release of a proinflammatory outer membrane lipoprotein in free-soluble form 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:18.
Background
Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans is an oral bacterium associated with aggressively progressing periodontitis. Extracellular release of bacterial outer membrane proteins has been suggested to mainly occur via outer membrane vesicles. This study investigated the presence and conservation of peptidoglycan-associated lipoprotein (AaPAL) among A. actinomycetemcomitans strains, the immunostimulatory effect of AaPAL, and whether live cells release this structural outer membrane lipoprotein in free-soluble form independent of vesicles.
Results
The pal locus and its gene product were confirmed in clinical A. actinomycetemcomitans strains by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism and immunoblotting. Culturing under different growth conditions revealed no apparent requirement for the AaPAL expression. Inactivation of pal in a wild-type strain (D7S) and in its spontaneous laboratory variant (D7SS) resulted in pleiotropic cellular effects. In a cell culture insert model (filter pore size 0.02 μm), AaPAL was detected from filtrates when strains D7S and D7SS were incubated in serum or broth in the inserts. Electron microscopy showed that A. actinomycetemcomitans vesicles (0.05–0.2 μm) were larger than the filter pores and that there were no vesicles in the filtrates. The filtrates were immunoblot negative for a cytoplasmic marker, cyclic AMP (cAMP) receptor protein. An ex vivo model indicated cytokine production from human whole blood stimulated by AaPAL.
Conclusion
Free-soluble AaPAL can be extracellularly released in a process independent of vesicles.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-8-18
PMCID: PMC2257964  PMID: 18226201
9.  SarA Is a Repressor of hla (α-Hemolysin) Transcription in Staphylococcus aureus: Its Apparent Role as an Activator of hla in the Prototype Strain NCTC 8325 Depends on Reduced Expression of sarS▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(24):8526-8533.
In most Staphylococcus aureus strains, inactivation of sarA increases hla transcription, indicating that sarA is a repressor. However, in S. aureus NCTC 8325 and its derivatives, used for most studies of hla regulation, inactivation of sarA resulted in decreased hla transcription. The disparate phenotype of strain NCTC 8325 seems to be associated with its rsbU mutation, which leads to σB deficiency. This has now been verified by the demonstration that sarA repressed hla transcription in an rsbU+ derivative of strain 8325-4 (SH1000). That sarA could act as a repressor of hla in an 8325-4 background was confirmed by the observation that inactivation of sarA in an agr sarS rot triple mutant dramatically increased hla transcription to wild-type levels. However, the apparent role of sarA as an activator of hla in 8325-4 was not a result of the rsbU mutation alone, as inactivation of sarA in another rsbU mutant, strain V8, led to increased hla transcription. Northern blot analysis revealed much higher levels of sarS mRNA in strain V8 than in 8325-4, which was likely due to the mutation in the sarS activator, tcaR, in 8325-4, which was not found in strain V8. On the other hand, the relative increase in sarS transcription upon the inactivation of sarA was 15-fold higher in 8325-4 than in strain V8. Because of this, inactivation of sarA in 8325-4 means a net increase in repressor activity, whereas in strain V8, inactivation of sarA means a net decrease in repressor activity and, therefore, enhanced hla transcription.
doi:10.1128/JB.00866-06
PMCID: PMC1698246  PMID: 17012389
10.  Characterization of Dominantly Negative Mutant ClyA Cytotoxin Proteins in Escherichia coli 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(18):5491-5499.
We report studies of the subcellular localization of the ClyA cytotoxic protein and of mutations causing defective translocation to the periplasm in Escherichia coli. The ability of ClyA to translocate to the periplasm was abolished in deletion mutants lacking the last 23 or 11 amino acid residues of the C-terminal region. A naturally occurring ClyA variant lacking four residues (183 to 186) in a hydrophobic subdomain was retained mainly in the cytosolic fraction. These mutant proteins displayed an inhibiting effect on the expression of the hemolytic phenotype of wild-type ClyA. Studies in vitro with purified mutant ClyA proteins revealed that they were defective in formation of pore assemblies and that their activity in hemolysis assays and in single-channel conductance tests was at least 10-fold lower than that of the wild-type ClyA. Tests with combinations of the purified proteins indicated that mutant and wild-type ClyA interacted and that formation of heteromeric assemblies affected the pore-forming activity of the wild-type protein. The observed protein-protein interactions were consistent with, and provided a molecular explanation for, the dominant negative feature of the mutant ClyA variants.
doi:10.1128/JB.185.18.5491-5499.2003
PMCID: PMC193753  PMID: 12949101
11.  Characterization of a Pore-Forming Cytotoxin Expressed by Salmonella enterica Serovars Typhi and Paratyphi A  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(10):5759-5769.
Cytolysin A (ClyA) is a pore-forming cytotoxic protein encoded by the clyA gene that has been characterized so far only in Escherichia coli. Using DNA sequence analysis and PCR, we established that clyA is conserved in the human-specific typhoid Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Paratyphi A and that the entire clyA gene locus is absent in many other S. enterica serovars, including Typhimurium. The gene products, designated ClyASTy and ClyASPa, show ≥90% amino acid identity to E. coli cytolysin A, ClyAEC, and they are immunogenically related. The Salmonella proteins showed a pore-forming activity and are hence functional homologues to ClyAEC. The chromosomal clyASTy gene locus was expressed at detectable levels in the serovar Typhi strains S2369/96 and S1112/97. Furthermore, in the serovar Typhi vaccine strain Ty21a, expression of clyASTy reached phenotypic levels, as detected on blood agar plates. The hemolytic phenotype was abolished by the introduction of an in-frame deletion in the clyASTy chromosomal locus of Ty21a. Transcomplementation of the mutant with a cloned clyASTy gene restored the hemolytic phenotype. To our knowledge, Ty21a is the first reported phenotypically hemolytic Salmonella strain in which the genetic determinant has been identified.
doi:10.1128/IAI.70.10.5759-5769.2002
PMCID: PMC128311  PMID: 12228306
12.  Silencing and Activation of ClyA Cytotoxin Expression in Escherichia coli 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(22):6347-6357.
Cytolysin A (ClyA) is a pore-forming cytotoxic protein encoded by the clyA gene of Escherichia coli K-12. Genetic analysis suggested that clyA is silenced by the nucleoid protein H-NS. Purified H-NS protein showed preferential binding to clyA sequences in the promoter region, as evidenced by DNase I footprinting and gel mobility shift assays. Transcriptional derepression and activation of a chromosomal clyA::luxAB operon fusion were seen under conditions of H-NS deficiency and SlyA overproduction, respectively. In H-NS-deficient bacteria neither the absence nor the overproduction of SlyA affected the derepressed ClyA expression any further. Therefore, we suggest that overproduction of SlyA in hns+ E. coli derepresses clyA transcription by counteracting H-NS. The cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP) was required for ClyA expression, and it interacted with a predicted, albeit suboptimal, CRP binding site in the clyA upstream region. Site-specific alterations of the CRP binding site to match the consensus resulted in substantially higher levels of ClyA expression, while alterations that were predicted to reduce CRP binding reduced ClyA expression. During anaerobic growth the fumarate and nitrate reduction regulator (FNR) was important for ClyA expression, and the clyA gene could be activated by overexpression of FNR. A major clyA transcript having its 5′ end (+1) located 72 bp upstream of the translational start codon and 61 bp downstream of the CRP-FNR binding site was detected in the absence of H-NS. The clyA promoter was characterized as a class I promoter that could be transcriptionally activated by CRP and/or FNR. According to DNA bending analyses, the clyA promoter region has high intrinsic curvature. We suggest that it represents a regulatory region which is particularly susceptible to H-NS silencing, and its features are discussed in relation to regulation of other silenced operons.
PMCID: PMC94780  PMID: 11053378
13.  Cytocidal and Apoptotic Effects of the ClyA Protein from Escherichia coli on Primary and Cultured Monocytes and Macrophages 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(7):4363-4367.
Cytolysin A (ClyA) is a newly discovered cytolytic protein of Escherichia coli K-12 that mediates a hemolytic phenotype. We show here that highly purified ClyA and ClyA-expressing E. coli were cytotoxic and apoptogenic to fresh as well as cultured human and murine monocytes/macrophages.
PMCID: PMC101772  PMID: 10858262

Results 1-13 (13)