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1.  Detection and Tracking of a Novel Genetically Tagged Biological Simulant in the Environment 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(23):8281-8288.
A variant of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki containing a single, stable copy of a uniquely amplifiable DNA oligomer integrated into the genome for tracking the fate of biological agents in the environment was developed. The use of genetically tagged spores overcomes the ambiguity of discerning the test material from pre-existing environmental microflora or from previously released background material. In this study, we demonstrate the utility of the genetically “barcoded” simulant in a controlled indoor setting and in an outdoor release. In an ambient breeze tunnel test, spores deposited on tiles were reaerosolized and detected by real-time PCR at distances of 30 m from the point of deposition. Real-time PCR signals were inversely correlated with distance from the seeded tiles. An outdoor release of powdered spore simulant at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood, MD, was monitored from a distance by a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) laser. Over a 2-week period, an array of air sampling units collected samples were analyzed for the presence of viable spores and using barcode-specific real-time PCR assays. Barcoded B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki spores were unambiguously identified on the day of the release, and viable material was recovered in a pattern consistent with the cloud track predicted by prevailing winds and by data tracks provided by the LIDAR system. Finally, the real-time PCR assays successfully differentiated barcoded B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki spores from wild-type spores under field conditions.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02006-12
PMCID: PMC3497391  PMID: 23001670
2.  Choice of Bacterial Growth Medium Alters the Transcriptome and Phenotype of Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63912.
The type of bacterial culture medium is an important consideration during design of any experimental protocol. The aim of this study was to understand the impact of medium choice on bacterial gene expression and physiology by comparing the transcriptome of Salmonella enterica SL1344 after growth in the widely used LB broth or the rationally designed MOPS minimal medium. Transcriptomics showed that after growth in MOPS minimal media, compared to LB, there was increased expression of 42 genes involved in amino acid synthesis and 23 genes coding for ABC transporters. Seven flagellar genes had decreased expression after growth in MOPS minimal medium and this correlated with a decreased motility. In both MOPS minimal medium and MEM expression of genes from SPI-2 was increased and the adhesion of S. Typhimurium to intestinal epithelial cells was higher compared to the levels after growth in LB. However, SL1344 invasion was not significantly altered by growth in either MOPs minimal media or MEM. Expression of SPI-2 was also measured using chromosomal GFP reporter fusions followed by flow cytometry which showed, for the first time, that the reduction in SPI-2 transcript after growth in different media related to a reduction in the proportion of the bacterial population expressing SPI-2. These data highlight the profound differences in the global transcriptome after in vitro growth in different media and show that choice of medium should be considered carefully during experimental design, particularly when virulence related phenotypes are being measured.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063912
PMCID: PMC3660369  PMID: 23704954
3.  RamA, a Member of the AraC/XylS Family, Influences Both Virulence and Efflux in Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium ▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(6):1607-1616.
The transcriptomes of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344 lacking a functional ramA or ramR or with plasmid-mediated high-level overexpression of ramA were compared to those of the wild-type parental strain. Inactivation of ramA led to increased expression of 14 SPI-1 genes and decreased expression of three SPI-2 genes, and it altered expression of ribosomal biosynthetic genes and several amino acid biosynthetic pathways. Furthermore, disruption of ramA led to decreased survival within RAW 264.7 mouse macrophages and attenuation within the BALB/c ByJ mouse model. Highly overexpressed ramA led to increased expression of genes encoding multidrug resistance (MDR) efflux pumps, including acrAB, acrEF, and tolC. Decreased expression of 34 Salmonella pathogenicity island (SPI) 1 and 2 genes, decreased SipC production, decreased adhesion to and survival within macrophages, and decreased colonization of Caenorhabditis elegans were also seen. Disruption of ramR led to the increased expression of ramA, acrAB, and tolC, but not to the same level as when ramA was overexpressed on a plasmid. Inactivation of ramR had a more limited effect on pathogenicity gene expression. In silico analysis of a suggested RamA-binding consensus sequence identified target genes, including ramR, acrA, tolC, sipABC, and ssrA. This study demonstrates that the regulation of a mechanism of MDR and expression of virulence genes show considerable overlap, and we postulate that such a mechanism is dependent on transcriptional activator concentration and promoter sensitivity. However, we have no evidence to support the hypothesis that increased MDR via RamA regulation of AcrAB-TolC gives rise to a hypervirulent strain.
doi:10.1128/JB.01517-09
PMCID: PMC2832520  PMID: 20081028
4.  The Global Consequence of Disruption of the AcrAB-TolC Efflux Pump in Salmonella enterica Includes Reduced Expression of SPI-1 and Other Attributes Required To Infect the Host▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(13):4276-4285.
The mechanisms by which RND pumps contribute to pathogenicity are currently not understood. Using the AcrAB-TolC system as a paradigm multidrug-resistant efflux pump and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium as a model pathogen, we have demonstrated that AcrA, AcrB, and TolC are each required for efficient adhesion to and invasion of epithelial cells and macrophages by Salmonella in vitro. In addition, AcrB and TolC are necessary for Salmonella to colonize poultry. Mutants lacking acrA, acrB, or tolC showed differential expression of major operons and proteins involved in pathogenesis. These included chemotaxis and motility genes, including cheWY and flgLMK and 14 Salmonella pathogenicity island (SPI)-1-encoded type III secretion system genes, including sopE, and associated effector proteins. Reverse transcription-PCR confirmed these data for identical mutants in two other S. Typhimurium backgrounds. Western blotting showed reduced production of SipA, SipB, and SipC. The absence of AcrB or TolC also caused widespread repression of chemotaxis and motility genes in these mutants, and for acrB::aph, this was associated with decreased motility. For mutants lacking a functional acrA or acrB gene, the nap and nir operons were repressed, and both mutants grew poorly in anaerobic conditions. All phenotypes were restored to that of the wild type by trans-complementation with the wild-type allele of the respective inactivated gene. These data explain how mutants lacking a component of AcrAB-TolC are attenuated and that this phenotype is a result of decreased expression of numerous genes encoding proteins involved in pathogenicity. The link between antibiotic resistance and pathogenicity establishes the AcrAB-TolC system as fundamental to the biology of Salmonella.
doi:10.1128/JB.00363-09
PMCID: PMC2698494  PMID: 19411325
5.  RamA Confers Multidrug Resistance in Salmonella enterica via Increased Expression of acrB, Which Is Inhibited by Chlorpromazine ▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2008;52(10):3604-3611.
Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344, in which efflux pump genes (acrB, acrD, acrF, tolC) or regulatory genes thereof (marA, soxS, ramA) were inactivated, was grown in the presence of 240 antimicrobial and nonantimicrobial agents in the Biolog Phenotype MicroArray. Mutants lacking tolC, acrB, and ramA grew significantly worse than other mutants in the presence of 48 agents (some of which have not previously been identified as substrates of AcrAB-TolC) and particularly poorly in the presence of phenothiazines, which are human antipsychotics. MIC testing revealed that the phenothiazine chlorpromazine had antimicrobial activity and synergized with common antibiotics against different Salmonella serovars and SL1344. Chlorpromazine increased the intracellular accumulation of ethidium bromide, which was ablated in mutants lacking acrB, suggesting an interaction with AcrB. High-level but not low-level overexpression of ramA increased the expression of acrB; conferred resistance to chloramphenicol, tetracycline, nalidixic acid, and triclosan and organic solvent tolerance; and increased the amount of ethidium bromide accumulated. Chlorpromazine induced the modest overproduction of ramA but repressed acrB. These data suggest that phenothiazines are not efflux pump inhibitors but influence gene expression, including that of acrB, which confers the synergy with antimicrobials observed.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00661-08
PMCID: PMC2565896  PMID: 18694955
6.  Medium Plays a Role in Determining Expression of acrB, marA, and soxS in Escherichia coli 
Analysis of expression of acrB, marA, and soxS in rich and minimal media, at early and late logarithmic growth phases, showed that acrB had increased expression in minimal medium compared to rich medium, but expression decreased dose dependently upon exposure to ciprofloxacin.
doi:10.1128/AAC.50.3.1071-1074.2006
PMCID: PMC1426439  PMID: 16495271

Results 1-6 (6)