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1.  Genetic Evidence for the Involvement of the S-Layer Protein Gene sap and the Sporulation Genes spo0A, spo0B, and spo0F in Phage AP50c Infection of Bacillus anthracis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2014;196(6):1143-1154.
In order to better characterize the Bacillus anthracis typing phage AP50c, we designed a genetic screen to identify its bacterial receptor. Insertions of the transposon mariner or targeted deletions of the structural gene for the S-layer protein Sap and the sporulation genes spo0A, spo0B, and spo0F in B. anthracis Sterne resulted in phage resistance with concomitant defects in phage adsorption and infectivity. Electron microscopy of bacteria incubated with AP50c revealed phage particles associated with the surface of bacilli of the Sterne strain but not with the surfaces of Δsap, Δspo0A, Δspo0B, or Δspo0F mutants. The amount of Sap in the S layer of each of the spo0 mutant strains was substantially reduced compared to that of the parent strain, and incubation of AP50c with purified recombinant Sap led to a substantial reduction in phage activity. Phylogenetic analysis based on whole-genome sequences of B. cereus sensu lato strains revealed several closely related B. cereus and B. thuringiensis strains that carry sap genes with very high similarities to the sap gene of B. anthracis. Complementation of the Δsap mutant in trans with the wild-type B. anthracis sap or the sap gene from either of two different B. cereus strains that are sensitive to AP50c infection restored phage sensitivity, and electron microscopy confirmed attachment of phage particles to the surface of each of the complemented strains. Based on these data, we postulate that Sap is involved in AP50c infectivity, most likely acting as the phage receptor, and that the spo0 genes may regulate synthesis of Sap and/or formation of the S layer.
doi:10.1128/JB.00739-13
PMCID: PMC3957716  PMID: 24363347
2.  Genomic Comparison of Escherichia coli O104:H4 Isolates from 2009 and 2011 Reveals Plasmid, and Prophage Heterogeneity, Including Shiga Toxin Encoding Phage stx2 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48228.
In May of 2011, an enteroaggregative Escherichia coli O104:H4 strain that had acquired a Shiga toxin 2-converting phage caused a large outbreak of bloody diarrhea in Europe which was notable for its high prevalence of hemolytic uremic syndrome cases. Several studies have described the genomic inventory and phylogenies of strains associated with the outbreak and a collection of historical E. coli O104:H4 isolates using draft genome assemblies. We present the complete, closed genome sequences of an isolate from the 2011 outbreak (2011C–3493) and two isolates from cases of bloody diarrhea that occurred in the Republic of Georgia in 2009 (2009EL–2050 and 2009EL–2071). Comparative genome analysis indicates that, while the Georgian strains are the nearest neighbors to the 2011 outbreak isolates sequenced to date, structural and nucleotide-level differences are evident in the Stx2 phage genomes, the mer/tet antibiotic resistance island, and in the prophage and plasmid profiles of the strains, including a previously undescribed plasmid with homology to the pMT virulence plasmid of Yersinia pestis. In addition, multiphenotype analysis showed that 2009EL–2071 possessed higher resistance to polymyxin and membrane-disrupting agents. Finally, we show evidence by electron microscopy of the presence of a common phage morphotype among the European and Georgian strains and a second phage morphotype among the Georgian strains. The presence of at least two stx2 phage genotypes in host genetic backgrounds that may derive from a recent common ancestor of the 2011 outbreak isolates indicates that the emergence of stx2 phage-containing E. coli O104:H4 strains probably occurred more than once, or that the current outbreak isolates may be the result of a recent transfer of a new stx2 phage element into a pre-existing stx2-positive genetic background.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048228
PMCID: PMC3486847  PMID: 23133618
3.  Whole genome sequencing of phage resistant Bacillus anthracis mutants reveals an essential role for cell surface anchoring protein CsaB in phage AP50c adsorption 
Virology Journal  2012;9:246.
Background
Spontaneous Bacillus anthracis mutants resistant to infection by phage AP50c (AP50R) exhibit a mucoid colony phenotype and secrete an extracellular matrix.
Methods
Here we utilized a Roche/454-based whole genome sequencing approach to identify mutations that are candidates for conferring AP50c phage resistance, followed by genetic deletion and complementation studies to validate the whole genome sequence data and demonstrate that the implicated gene is necessary for AP50c phage infection.
Results
Using whole genome sequence data, we mapped the relevant mutations in six AP50R strains to csaB. Eleven additional spontaneous mutants, isolated in two different genetic backgrounds, were screened by PCR followed by Sanger sequencing of the csaB gene. In each spontaneous mutant, we found either a non-synonymous substitution, a nonsense mutation, or a frame-shift mutation caused by single nucleotide polymorphisms or a 5 base pair insertion in csaB. All together, 5 and 12 of the 17 spontaneous mutations are predicted to yield altered full length and truncated CsaB proteins respectively. As expected from these results, a targeted deletion or frame-shift mutations introduced into csaB in a different genetic background, in a strain not exposed to AP50c, resulted in a phage resistant phenotype. Also, substitution of a highly conserved histidine residue with an alanine residue (H270A) in CsaB resulted in phage resistance, suggesting that a functional CsaB is necessary for phage sensitivity. Conversely, introduction of the wild type allele of csaB in cis into the csaB deletion mutant by homologous recombination or supplying the wild type CsaB protein in trans from a plasmid restored phage sensitivity. The csaB mutants accumulated cell wall material and appeared to have a defective S-layer, whereas these phenotypes were reverted in the complemented strains.
Conclusions
Taken together, these data suggest an essential role for csaB in AP50c phage infection, most likely in phage adsorption. (The whole genome sequences generated from this study have been submitted to GenBank under SRA project ID: SRA023659.1 and sample IDs: AP50 R1: SRS113675.1, AP50 R2: SRS113676.1, AP50 R3: SRS113728.1, AP50 R4: SRS113733.1, AP50 R6: SRS113734.1, JB220 Parent: SRS150209.1, JB220 Mutant: SRS150211.1).
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-246
PMCID: PMC3545897  PMID: 23098174
Phage resistance; WGS; Mutation mapping; SNP; B. anthracis
4.  Rapid Identification of Genetic Modifications in Bacillus anthracis Using Whole Genome Draft Sequences Generated by 454 Pyrosequencing 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12397.
Background
The anthrax letter attacks of 2001 highlighted the need for rapid identification of biothreat agents not only for epidemiological surveillance of the intentional outbreak but also for implementing appropriate countermeasures, such as antibiotic treatment, in a timely manner to prevent further casualties. It is clear from the 2001 cases that survival may be markedly improved by administration of antimicrobial therapy during the early symptomatic phase of the illness; i.e., within 3 days of appearance of symptoms. Microbiological detection methods are feasible only for organisms that can be cultured in vitro and cannot detect all genetic modifications with the exception of antibiotic resistance. Currently available immuno or nucleic acid-based rapid detection assays utilize known, organism-specific proteins or genomic DNA signatures respectively. Hence, these assays lack the ability to detect novel natural variations or intentional genetic modifications that circumvent the targets of the detection assays or in the case of a biological attack using an antibiotic resistant or virulence enhanced Bacillus anthracis, to advise on therapeutic treatments.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We show here that the Roche 454-based pyrosequencing can generate whole genome draft sequences of deep and broad enough coverage of a bacterial genome in less than 24 hours. Furthermore, using the unfinished draft sequences, we demonstrate that unbiased identification of known as well as heretofore-unreported genetic modifications that include indels and single nucleotide polymorphisms conferring antibiotic and phage resistances is feasible within the next 12 hours.
Conclusions/Significance
Second generation sequencing technologies have paved the way for sequence-based rapid identification of both known and previously undocumented genetic modifications in cultured, conventional and newly emerging biothreat agents. Our findings have significant implications in the context of whole genome sequencing-based routine clinical diagnostics as well as epidemiological surveillance of natural disease outbreaks caused by bacterial and viral agents.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012397
PMCID: PMC2928293  PMID: 20811637

Results 1-4 (4)