Due to their crucial role in pathogenesis and virulence, phages of Staphylococcus aureus have been extensively studied. Most of them encode and disseminate potent staphylococcal virulence factors. In addition, their movements contribute to the extraordinary versatility and adaptability of this prominent pathogen by improving genome plasticity. In addition to S. aureus, phages from coagulase-negative Staphylococci (CoNS) are gaining increasing interest. Some of these species, such as S. epidermidis, cause nosocomial infections and are therefore problematic for public health. This review provides an overview of the staphylococcal phages family extended to CoNS phages. At the morphological level, all these phages characterized so far belong to the Caudovirales order and are mainly temperate Siphoviridae. At the molecular level, comparative genomics revealed an extensive mosaicism, with genes organized into functional modules that are frequently exchanged between phages. Evolutionary relationships within this family, as well as with other families, have been highlighted. All these aspects are of crucial importance for our understanding of evolution and emergence of pathogens among bacterial species such as Staphylococci.
bacteriophages; Staphylococcus; horizontal transfer; virulence
Several trap plasmids (enabling positive selection of transposition events) were used to identify a pool of functional transposable elements (TEs) residing in bacteria of the genus Paracoccus (Alphaproteobacteria). Complex analysis of 25 strains representing 20 species of this genus led to the capture and characterization of (i) 37 insertion sequences (ISs) representing 9 IS families (IS3, IS5, IS6, IS21, IS66, IS256, IS1182, IS1380 and IS1634), (ii) a composite transposon Tn6097 generated by two copies of the ISPfe2 (IS1634 family) containing two predicted genetic modules, involved in the arginine deiminase pathway and daunorubicin/doxorubicin resistance, (iii) 3 non-composite transposons of the Tn3 family, including Tn5393 carrying streptomycin resistance and (iv) a transposable genomic island TnPpa1 (45 kb). Some of the elements (e.g. Tn5393, Tn6097 and ISs of the IS903 group of the IS5 family) were shown to contain strong promoters able to drive transcription of genes placed downstream of the target site of transposition. Through the application of trap plasmid pCM132TC, containing a promoterless tetracycline resistance reporter gene, we identified five ways in which transposition can supply promoters to transcriptionally silent genes. Besides highlighting the diversity and specific features of several TEs, the analyses performed in this study have provided novel and interesting information on (i) the dynamics of the process of transposition (e.g. the unusually high frequency of transposition of TnPpa1) and (ii) structural changes in DNA mediated by transposition (e.g. the generation of large deletions in the recipient molecule upon transposition of ISPve1 of the IS21 family). We also demonstrated the great potential of TEs and transposition in the generation of diverse phenotypes as well as in the natural amplification and dissemination of genetic information (of adaptative value) by horizontal gene transfer, which is considered the driving force of bacterial evolution.
Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are composed of two elements: a toxic protein and an antitoxin which is either an RNA (type I and III) or a protein (type II). Type II systems are abundant in bacterial genomes in which they move via horizontal gene transfer. They are generally composed of two genes organized in an operon, encoding a toxin and a labile antitoxin. When carried by mobile genetic elements, these small modules contribute to their stability by a phenomenon denoted as addiction. Recently, we developed a bioinformatics procedure that, along with experimental validation, allowed the identification of nine novel toxin super-families. Here, considering that some toxin super-families exhibit dramatic sequence diversity but similar structure, bioinformatics tools were used to predict tertiary structures of novel toxins. Seven of the nine novel super-families did not show any structural homology with known toxins, indicating that combination of sequence similarity and three-dimensional structure prediction allows a consistent classification. Interestingly, the novel super-families are translation inhibitors similar to the majority of known toxins indicating that this activity might have been selected rather than more detrimental traits such as DNA-gyrase inhibitors, which are very toxic for cells.
DNA-gyrase; endoribonuclease; Gin; horizontal gene transfer; RelE/ParE; selfish genes
The Mrr protein of Escherichia coli is a laterally acquired Type IV restriction endonuclease with specificity for methylated DNA. While Mrr nuclease activity can be elicited by high-pressure stress in E. coli MG1655, its (over)expression per se does not confer any obvious toxicity. In this study, however, we discovered that Mrr of E. coli MG1655 causes distinct genotoxicity when expressed in Salmonella typhimurium LT2. Genetic screening enabled us to contribute this toxicity entirely to the presence of the endogenous Type III restriction modification system (StyLTI) of S. typhimurium LT2. The StyLTI system consists of the Mod DNA methyltransferase and the Res restriction endonuclease, and we revealed that expression of the LT2 mod gene was sufficient to trigger Mrr activity in E. coli MG1655. Moreover, we could demonstrate that horizontal acquisition of the MG1655 mrr locus can drive the loss of endogenous Mod functionality present in S. typhimurium LT2 and E. coli ED1a, and observed a strong anti-correlation between close homologues of MG1655 mrr and LT2 mod in the genome database. This apparent evolutionary antagonism is further discussed in the light of a possible role for Mrr as defense mechanism against the establishment of epigenetic regulation by foreign DNA methyltransferases.
Type II toxin–antitoxin (TA) systems are generally composed of two genes organized in an operon, encoding a labile antitoxin and a stable toxin. They were first discovered on plasmids where they contribute to plasmid stability by a phenomenon denoted as ‘addiction’, and subsequently in bacterial chromosomes. To discover novel families of antitoxins and toxins, we developed a bioinformatics approach based on the ‘guilt by association’ principle. Extensive experimental validation in Escherichia coli of predicted antitoxins and toxins increased significantly the number of validated systems and defined novel toxin and antitoxin families. Our data suggest that toxin families as well as antitoxin families originate from distinct ancestors that were assembled multiple times during evolution. Toxin and antitoxin families found on plasmids tend to be promiscuous and widespread, indicating that TA systems move through horizontal gene transfer. We propose that due to their addictive properties, TA systems are likely to be maintained in chromosomes even though they do not necessarily confer an advantage to their bacterial hosts. Therefore, addiction might play a major role in the evolutionary success of TA systems both on mobile genetic elements and in bacterial chromosomes.
CsrA is a global posttranscriptional regulator of numerous physiological processes, such as glycogenesis and glycolysis. Here, we show that the csrA gene of Escherichia coli is essential for growth on LB and on synthetic medium containing glycolytic carbon sources. However, csrA is not necessary for growth on synthetic medium containing pyruvate, showing that the Krebs cycle is functional in the csrA::cat deletion mutant. Deletion of the glgCAP operon in the csrA::cat mutant restored the ability to grow on LB and on synthetic medium containing glycolytic carbon sources, showing that growth inhibition is due to an excess of glycogen synthesis.
A CcdB homologue from V. fischeri was overexpressed in E. coli and purified. The free protein was crystallized, as were its complexes with fragments of E. coli and V. fischeri gyrase and with the F-plasmid CcdA C-terminal domain.
The ccd toxin–antitoxin module from the Escherichia coli F plasmid has a homologue on the Vibrio fischeri integron. The homologue of the toxin (CcdBVfi) was crystallized in two different crystal forms. The first form belongs to space group I23 or I213, with unit-cell parameter a = 84.5 Å, and diffracts to 1.5 Å resolution. The second crystal form belongs to space group C2, with unit-cell parameters a = 58.5, b = 43.6, c = 37.5 Å, β = 110.0°, and diffracts to 1.7 Å resolution. The complex of CcdBVfi with the GyrA14Vfi fragment of V. fischeri gyrase crystallizes in space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 53.5, b = 94.6, c = 58.1 Å, and diffracts to 2.2 Å resolution. The corresponding mixed complex with E. coli GyrA14Ec crystallizes in space group C2, with unit-cell parameters a = 130.1, b = 90.8, c = 58.1 Å, β = 102.6°, and diffracts to 1.95 Å. Finally, a complex between CcdBVfi and part of the F-plasmid antitoxin CcdAF crystallizes in space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 46.9, b = 62.6, c = 82.0 Å, and diffracts to 1.9 Å resolution.
toxin–antitoxin systems; CcdB; Vibrio fischeri; CcdA; gyrase
Bacterial toxin–antitoxin (TA) systems are diverse and widespread in the prokaryotic kingdom. They are composed of closely linked genes encoding a stable toxin that can harm the host cell and its cognate labile antitoxin, which protects the host from the toxin's deleterious effect. TA systems are thought to invade bacterial genomes through horizontal gene transfer. Some TA systems might behave as selfish elements and favour their own maintenance at the expense of their host. As a consequence, they may contribute to the maintenance of plasmids or genomic islands, such as super-integrons, by post-segregational killing of the cell that loses these genes and so suffers the stable toxin's destructive effect. The function of the chromosomally encoded TA systems is less clear and still open to debate. This Review discusses current hypotheses regarding the biological roles of these evolutionarily successful small operons. We consider the various selective forces that could drive the maintenance of TA systems in bacterial genomes.
Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are widespread among bacterial chromosomes and mobile genetic elements. Although in plasmids TA systems have a clear role in their vertical inheritance by selectively killing plasmid-free daughter cells (postsegregational killing or addiction phenomenon), the physiological role of chromosomally encoded ones remains under debate. The assumption that chromosomally encoded TA systems are part of stress response networks and/or programmed cell death machinery has been called into question recently by the observation that none of the five canonical chromosomally encoded TA systems in the Escherichia coli chromosome seem to confer any selective advantage under stressful conditions (V. Tsilibaris, G. Maenhaut-Michel, N. Mine, and L. Van Melderen, J. Bacteriol. 189:6101-6108, 2007). Their prevalence in bacterial chromosomes indicates that they might have been acquired through horizontal gene transfer. Once integrated in chromosomes, they might in turn interfere with their homologues encoded by mobile genetic elements. In this work, we show that the chromosomally encoded Erwinia chrysanthemi ccd (control of cell death) (ccdEch) system indeed protects the cell against postsegregational killing mediated by its F-plasmid ccd (ccdF) homologue. Moreover, competition experiments have shown that this system confers a fitness advantage under postsegregational conditions mediated by the ccdF system. We propose that ccdEch acts as an antiaddiction module and, more generally, that the integration of TA systems in bacterial chromosomes could drive the evolution of plasmid-encoded ones and select toxins that are no longer recognized by the antiaddiction module.
The Escherichia coli K-12 chromosome encodes at least five proteic toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems. The mazEF and relBE systems have been extensively characterized and were proposed to be general stress response modules. On one hand, mazEF was proposed to act as a programmed cell death system that is triggered by a variety of stresses. On the other hand, relBE and mazEF were proposed to serve as growth modulators that induce a dormancy state during amino acid starvation. These conflicting hypotheses led us to test a possible synergetic effect of the five characterized E. coli TA systems on stress response. We compared the behavior of a wild-type strain and its derivative devoid of the five TA systems under various stress conditions. We were unable to detect TA-dependent programmed cell death under any of these conditions, even under conditions previously reported to induce it. Thus, our results rule out the programmed-cell-death hypothesis. Moreover, the presence of the five TA systems advantaged neither recovery from the different stresses nor cell growth under nutrient-limited conditions in competition experiments. This casts a doubt on whether TA systems significantly influence bacterial fitness and competitiveness during non-steady-state growth conditions.
Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are widely represented on mobile genetic elements as well as in bacterial chromosomes. TA systems encode a toxin and an antitoxin neutralizing it. We have characterized a homolog of the ccd TA system of the F plasmid (ccdF) located in the chromosomal backbone of the pathogenic O157:H7 Escherichia coli strain (ccdO157). The ccdF and the ccdO157 systems coexist in O157:H7 isolates, as these pathogenic strains contain an F-related virulence plasmid carrying the ccdF system. We have shown that the chromosomal ccdO157 system encodes functional toxin and antitoxin proteins that share properties with their plasmidic homologs: the CcdBO157 toxin targets the DNA gyrase, and the CcdAO157 antitoxin is degraded by the Lon protease. The ccdO157 chromosomal system is expressed in its natural context, although promoter activity analyses revealed that its expression is weaker than that of ccdF. ccdO157 is unable to mediate postsegregational killing when cloned in an unstable plasmid, supporting the idea that chromosomal TA systems play a role(s) other than stabilization in bacterial physiology. Our cross-interaction experiments revealed that the chromosomal toxin is neutralized by the plasmidic antitoxin while the plasmidic toxin is not neutralized by the chromosomal antitoxin, whether expressed ectopically or from its natural context. Moreover, the ccdF system is able to mediate postsegregational killing in an E. coli strain harboring the ccdO157 system in its chromosome. This shows that the plasmidic ccdF system is functional in the presence of its chromosomal counterpart.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) clinical and molecular epidemiology varies with location and time. These differences are not or are poorly understood.
Methods and Findings
We prospectively studied the epidemiology of GAS infections among children in outpatient hospital clinics in Brussels (Belgium) and Brasília (Brazil). Clinical questionnaires were filled out and microbiological sampling was performed. GAS isolates were emm-typed according to the Center for Disease Control protocol. emm pattern was predicted for each isolate. 334 GAS isolates were recovered from 706 children. Skin infections were frequent in Brasília (48% of the GAS infections), whereas pharyngitis were predominant (88%) in Brussels. The mean age of children with GAS pharyngitis in Brussels was lower than in Brasília (65/92 months, p<0.001). emm-typing revealed striking differences between Brazilian and Belgian GAS isolates. While 20 distinct emm-types were identified among 200 Belgian isolates, 48 were found among 128 Brazilian isolates. Belgian isolates belong mainly to emm pattern A–C (55%) and E (42.5%) while emm pattern E (51.5%) and D (36%) were predominant in Brasília. In Brasília, emm pattern D isolates were recovered from 18.5% of the pharyngitis, although this emm pattern is supposed to have a skin tropism. By contrast, A–C pattern isolates were unfrequently recovered in a region where rheumatic fever is still highly prevalent.
Epidemiologic features of GAS from a pediatric population were very different in an industrialised country and a low incomes region, not only in term of clinical presentation, but also in terms of genetic diversity and distribution of emm patterns. These differences should be taken into account for designing treatment guidelines and vaccine strategies.
Microcin B17 (MccB17) is a peptide antibiotic produced by Escherichia coli strains carrying the pMccB17 plasmid. MccB17 is synthesized as a precursor containing an amino-terminal leader peptide that is cleaved during maturation. Maturation requires the product of the chromosomal tldE (pmbA) gene. Mature microcin is exported across the cytoplasmic membrane by a dedicated ABC transporter. In sensitive cells, MccB17 targets the essential topoisomerase II DNA gyrase. Independently, tldE as well as tldD mutants were isolated as being resistant to CcdB, another natural poison of gyrase encoded by the ccd poison-antidote system of plasmid F. This led to the idea that TldD and TldE could regulate gyrase function. We present in vivo evidence supporting the hypothesis that TldD and TldE have proteolytic activity. We show that in bacterial mutants devoid of either TldD or TldE activity, the MccB17 precursor accumulates and is not exported. Similarly, in the ccd system, we found that TldD and TldE are involved in CcdA and CcdA41 antidote degradation rather than being involved in the CcdB resistance mechanism. Interestingly, sequence database comparisons revealed that these two proteins have homologues in eubacteria and archaebacteria, suggesting a broader physiological role.
The integron is a genetic recombination system that catalyses the acquisition of genes on mobilisable elements called gene cassettes. In Vibrio species, multiple acquired gene cassettes form a cassette array that can comprise 1–3% of the bacterial genome. Since 75% of these gene cassettes contain genes encoding proteins of uncharacterised function, how the integron has driven adaptation and evolution in Vibrio species remains largely unknown. A feature of cassette arrays is the presence of large indels. Using Vibrio rotiferianus DAT722 as a model organism, the aim of this study was to determine how large cassette deletions affect vibrio physiology with a view to improving understanding into how cassette arrays influence bacterial host adaptation and evolution.
Biological assays and proteomic techniques were utilised to determine how artificially engineered deletions in the cassette array of V. rotiferianus DAT722 affected cell physiology. Multiple phenotypes were identified including changes to growth and expression of outer membrane porins/proteins and metabolic proteins. Furthermore, the deletions altered cell surface polysaccharide with Proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance on whole cell polysaccharide identifying changes in the carbohydrate ring proton region indicating that gene cassette products may decorate host cell polysaccharide via the addition or removal of functional groups.
From this study, it was concluded that deletion of gene cassettes had a subtle effect on bacterial metabolism but altered host surface polysaccharide. Deletion (and most likely rearrangement and acquisition) of gene cassettes may provide the bacterium with a mechanism to alter its surface properties, thus impacting on phenotypes such as biofilm formation. Biofilm formation was shown to be altered in one of the deletion mutants used in this study. Reworking surface properties may provide an advantage to the bacterium’s interactions with organisms such as bacteriophage, protozoan grazers or crustaceans.
Streptococcus pyogenes M/emm3 strains have been epidemiologically linked with enhanced infection severity and risk of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), a syndrome triggered by superantigenic stimulation of T cells. Comparison of S. pyogenes strains causing STSS demonstrated that emm3 strains were surprisingly less mitogenic than other emm-types (emm1, emm12, emm18, emm28, emm87, emm89) both in vitro and in vivo, indicating poor superantigenic activity. We identified a 13 bp deletion in the superantigen smeZ gene of all emm3 strains tested. The deletion led to a premature stop codon in smeZ, and was not present in other major emm-types tested. Expression of a functional non-M3-smeZ gene successfully enhanced mitogenic activity in emm3 S. pyogenes and also restored mitogenic activity to emm1 and emm89 S. pyogenes strains where the smeZ gene had been disrupted. In contrast, the M3-smeZ gene with the 13 bp deletion could not enhance or restore mitogenicity in any of these S. pyogenes strains, confirming that M3-smeZ is non-functional regardless of strain background. The mutation in M3-smeZ reduced the potential for M3 S. pyogenes to induce cytokines in human tonsil, but not during invasive infection of superantigen-sensitive mice. Notwithstanding epidemiological associations with STSS and disease severity, emm3 strains have inherently poor superantigenicity that is explained by a conserved mutation in smeZ.
Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are widespread among the plasmids and genomes of bacteria and archaea. This work reports the first description of a functional TA system in Streptomyces that is identical in two species routinely used in the laboratory: Streptomyces lividans and S. coelicolor. The described system belongs to the YefM/YoeB family and has a considerable similarity to Escherichia coli YefM/YoeB (about 53% identity and 73% similarity). Lethal effect of the S. lividans putative toxin (YoeBsl) was observed when expressed alone in E. coli SC36 (MG1655 ΔyefM-yoeB). However, no toxicity was obtained when co-expression of the antitoxin and toxin (YefM/YoeBsl) was carried out. The toxic effect was also observed when the yoeBsl was cloned in multicopy in the wild-type S. lividans or in a single copy in a S. lividans mutant, in which this TA system had been deleted. The S. lividans YefM/YoeBsl complex, purified from E. coli, binds with high affinity to its own promoter region but not to other three random selected promoters from Streptomyces. In vivo experiments demonstrated that the expression of yoeBsl in E. coli blocks translation initiation processing mRNA at three bases downstream of the initiation codon after 2 minutes of induction. These results indicate that the mechanism of action is identical to that of YoeB from E. coli.
The ζε module consists of a labile antitoxin protein, ε, which in dimer form (ε2) interferes with the action of the long-living monomeric ζ phosphotransferase toxin through protein complex formation. Toxin ζ, which inhibits cell wall biosynthesis and may be bactericide in nature, at or near physiological concentrations induces reversible cessation of Bacillus subtilis proliferation (protective dormancy) by targeting essential metabolic functions followed by propidium iodide (PI) staining in a fraction (20–30%) of the population and selects a subpopulation of cells that exhibit non-inheritable tolerance (1–5×10−5). Early after induction ζ toxin alters the expression of ∼78 genes, with the up-regulation of relA among them. RelA contributes to enforce toxin-induced dormancy. At later times, free active ζ decreases synthesis of macromolecules and releases intracellular K+. We propose that ζ toxin induces reversible protective dormancy and permeation to PI, and expression of ε2 antitoxin reverses these effects. At later times, toxin expression is followed by death of a small fraction (∼10%) of PI stained cells that exited earlier or did not enter into the dormant state. Recovery from stress leads to de novo synthesis of ε2 antitoxin, which blocks ATP binding by ζ toxin, thereby inhibiting its phosphotransferase activity.
Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus-(CA-MRSA) strains have emerged in Argentina. We investigated the clinical and molecular evolution of community-onset MRSA infections (CO-MRSA) in children of Córdoba, Argentina, 2005–2008. Additionally, data from 2007 were compared with the epidemiology of these infections in other regions of the country.
Two datasets were used: i) lab-based prospective surveillance of CA-MRSA isolates from 3 Córdoba pediatric hospitals-(CBAH1-H3) in 2007–2008 (compared to previously published data of 2005) and ii) a sampling of CO-MRSA from a study involving both, healthcare-associated community-onset-(HACO) infections in children with risk-factors for healthcare-associated infections-(HRFs), and CA-MRSA infections in patients without HRFs detected in multiple centers of Argentina in 2007. Molecular typing was performed on the CA-MRSA-(n: 99) isolates from the CBAH1-H3-dataset and on the HACO-MRSA-(n: 51) and CA-MRSA-(n: 213) isolates from other regions. Between 2005–2008, the annual proportion of CA-MRSA/CA-S. aureus in Córdoba hospitals increased from 25% to 49%, P<0.01. Total CA-MRSA infections increased 3.6 fold-(5.1 to 18.6 cases/100,000 annual-visits, P<0.0001), associated with an important increase of invasive CA-MRSA infections-(8.5 fold). In all regions analyzed, a single genotype prevailed in both CA-MRSA (82%) and HACO-MRSA(57%), which showed pulsed-field-gel electrophoresis-(PFGE)-type-“I”, sequence-type-5-(ST5), SCCmec-type-IVa, spa-t311, and was positive for PVL. The second clone, pulsotype-N/ST30/CC30/SCCmecIVc/t019/PVL+, accounted for 11.5% of total CA-MRSA infections. Importantly, the first 4 isolates of Argentina belonging to South American-USA300 clone-(USA300/ST8/CC8/SCCmecIVc/t008/PVL+/ACME−) were detected. We also demonstrated that a HA-MRSA clone-(pulsotype-C/ST100/CC5) caused 2% and 10% of CA-MRSA and HACO-MRSA infections respectively and was associated with a SCCmec type closely related to SCCmecIV(2B&5).
The dissemination of epidemic MRSA clone, ST5-IV-PVL+ was the main cause of increasing staphylococcal community-onset infections in Argentinean children (2003–2008), conversely to other countries. The predominance of this clone, which has capacity to express the h-VISA phenotype, in healthcare-associated community-onset cases suggests that it has infiltrated into hospital-settings.
Some of the variety of Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus dysgalactiae ssp. equisimilis (SDSE) M proteins act as collagen-binding adhesins that facilitate acute infection. Moreover, their potential to trigger collagen autoimmunity has been implicated in the pathogenesis of acute rheumatic fever and attributed to a collagen-binding motif called PARF (peptide associated with rheumatic fever). For the first time we determine the rate of clinical isolates with collagen-binding M proteins that use a PARF motif (A/T/E)XYLXX(L/F)N in a defined geographic region, Vellore in South India. In this region both, incidence of streptococcal infections and prevalence of acute rheumatic fever are high. M proteins with PARF motif conferred collagen-binding activity to 3.9% of 153 S. pyogenes and 10.6% of 255 SDSE clinical isolates from Vellore. The PARF motif occurred in three S. pyogenes and 22 SDSE M protein types. In one of the S. pyogenes and five of the SDSE M proteins that contained the motif, collagen-binding was impaired, due to influences of other parts of the M protein molecule. The accumulated data on the collagen binding activity of certain M protein types allowed a reanalysis of published worldwide emm-typing data with the aim to estimate the rates of isolates that bind collagen via PARF. The results indicate that M proteins, which bind collagen via a PARF motif, are epidemiologically relevant in human infections, not only in Vellore. It is imperative to include the most relevant collagen-binding M types in vaccines. But when designing M protein based vaccines it should be considered that collagen binding motifs within the vaccine antigen remain potential risk factors.
The lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is considered the major virulent factor in Brucella spp. Several genes have been identified involved in the synthesis of the three LPS components: lipid A, core and O-PS. Usually, Brucella strains devoid of O-PS (rough mutants) are less virulent than the wild type and do not induce undesirable interfering antibodies. Such of them proved to be protective against brucellosis in mice. Because of these favorable features, rough strains have been considered potential brucellosis vaccines. In this study, we evaluated the antigenic, immunologic and genetic characteristics of rough strains B.abortus RB51, B.melitensis B115 and B.melitensis B18. RB51 derived from B.abortus 2308 virulent strain and B115 is a natural rough strain in which the O-PS is present in the cytoplasm. B18 is a rough rifampin-resistan mutant isolated in our laboratory.
The surface antigenicity of RB51, B115 and B18 was evaluated by testing their ability to bind antibodies induced by rough or smooth Brucella strains. The antibody response induced by each strain was evaluated in rabbits. Twenty-one genes, involved in the LPS-synthesis, were sequenced and compared with the B.melitensis 16M strain.
The results indicated that RB51, B115 and B18 have differences in antigenicity, immunologic and genetic properties. Particularly, in B115 a nonsense mutation was detected in wzm gene, which could explain the intracellular localization of O-PS in this strain.
Complementation studies to evaluate the precise role of each mutation in affecting Brucella morphology and its virulence, could provide useful information for the assessment of new, attenuated vaccines for brucellosis.
The Pseudomonas aeruginosa MexEF-OprN efflux pump confers resistance to clinically significant antibiotics. Regulation of mexEF-oprN operon expression is multifaceted with the MexT activator being one of the most prominent regulatory proteins.
We have exploited the impaired metabolic fitness of a P. aeruginosa mutant strain lacking several efflux pump of the resistance nodulation cell division superfamily and the TolC homolog OpmH, and isolated derivatives (large colony variants) that regained fitness by incubation on nutrient-rich medium in the absence of antibiotics. Although the mexEF-oprN operon is uninducible in this mutant due to a 8-bp mexT insertion present in some P. aeruginosa PAO1 strains, the large colony variants expressed high levels of MexEF-OprN. Unlike large colony variants obtained after plating on antibiotic containing medium which expressed mexEF-oprN in a MexT-dependent fashion as evidenced by clean excision of the 8-bp insertion from mexT, mexEF-oprN expression was MexT-independent in the large colony variants obtained by plating on LB alone since the mexT gene remained inactivated. A search for possible regulators of mexEF-oprN expression using transposon mutagenesis and genomic library expression approaches yielded several candidates but proved inconclusive.
Our results show that antibiotic and metabolic stress lead to up-regulation of MexEF-OprN expression via different mechanisms and that MexEF-OprN does not only extrude antimicrobials but rather serves other important metabolic functions.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is intrinsically cross-resistant to virtually all β-lactam antibiotics. The central determinant for the MRSA phenotype is the mecA gene, whose transcriptional control may be mediated by a repressor (mecI) and a sensor/inducer (mecR1). The mecI-mecR1-mediated induction of mecA takes several hours rendering the strains phenotypically susceptible in spite of the presence of the resistance gene. Therefore, it has been proposed that the full resistance to β-lactams observed in many contemporary clinical MRSA strains requires a non-functional mecI-mecR1 regulatory system. The mecA gene is embedded in a large chromosomal cassette (the SCCmec element) for which several structural types have been described. Some epidemic MRSA clones, typically expressing full β-lactam resistance, carry SCCmec elements that contain an intact mecI-mecR1 locus (e.g. SCCmec types II and III). We have addressed this apparent contradiction by first sequencing the mecI coding region and mecA promoter sequences in a collection of prototype MRSA strains characterized by different SCCmec types. A conserved non-sense mutation within mecI was detected in all SCCmec type III strains tested, presumably responsible for a non-functional truncated MecI protein and, therefore, explaining the full resistance phenotype. In SCCmec type II strains no conserved mutations were found. We next transformed a collection of prototype MRSA epidemic strains with a recombinant plasmid overexpressing a wild-type copy of mecI. Surprisingly, for the great majority of the strains no significant alterations in the phenotypic expression of β-lactam resistance could be detected. These findings were confirmed and further explored, challenging the currently accepted mechanism of mecA transcriptional control. Our observations suggest the existence of yet unidentified additional determinants involved in the transcriptional control of mecA gene and point to a revision of the mecA regulatory mechanism in contemporary MRSA strains.
Pole-to-pole oscillations of the Min proteins in Escherichia coli are required for the proper placement of the division septum. Direct interaction of MinE with the cell membrane is critical for the dynamic behavior of the Min system. In vitro, this MinE-membrane interaction led to membrane deformation; however, the underlying mechanism remained unclear. Here we report that MinE-induced membrane deformation involves the formation of an amphipathic helix of MinE2–9, which, together with the adjacent basic residues, function as membrane anchors. Biochemical evidence suggested that the membrane association induces formation of the helix, with the helical face, consisting of A2, L3, and F6, inserted into the membrane. Insertion of this helix into the cell membrane can influence local membrane curvature and lead to drastic changes in membrane topology. Accordingly, MinE showed characteristic features of protein-induced membrane tubulation and lipid clustering in in vitro reconstituted systems. In conclusion, MinE shares common protein signatures with a group of membrane trafficking proteins in eukaryotic cells. These MinE signatures appear to affect membrane curvature.