Cytotoxic necrotizing factor 1 (CNF1) and hemolysin (HlyA1) are toxins produced by uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC). We previously showed that these toxins contribute to the inflammation and tissue damage seen in a mouse model of ascending urinary tract infection. CNF1 constitutively activates small Rho GTPases by deamidation of a conserved glutamine residue, and HlyA1 forms pores in eukaryotic cell membranes. In this study, we used cDNA microarrays of bladder tissue isolated from mice infected intraurethrally with wild-type CP9, CP9cnf1, or CP9ΔhlyA to further evaluate the role that each toxin plays in the host response to UPEC. Regardless of the strain used, we found that UPEC itself elicited a significant change in host gene expression 24 h after inoculation. The largest numbers of upregulated genes were in the cytokine and chemokine signaling and Toll-like receptor signaling pathways. CNF1 exerted a strong positive influence on expression of genes involved in innate immunity and signal transduction and a negative impact on metabolism- and transport-associated genes. HlyA1 evoked an increase in expression of genes that encode innate immunity factors and a decrease in expression of genes involved in cytoskeletal and metabolic processes. Multiplex cytokine and myeloperoxidase assays corroborated our finding that a strong proinflammatory response was elicited by all strains tested. Bladders challenged intraurethrally with purified CNF1 displayed pathology similar to but significantly less intense than the pathology that we observed in CP9-challenged mice. Our data demonstrate substantial roles for CNF1 and HlyA1 in initiation of a strong proinflammatory response to UPEC in the bladder.
Ricin is a potent toxin found in the beans of Ricinus communis and is often lethal for animals and humans when aerosolized or injected and causes significant morbidity and occasional death when ingested. Ricin has been proposed as a bioweapon because of its lethal properties, environmental stability, and accessibility. In oral intoxication, the process by which the toxin transits across intestinal mucosa is not completely understood. To address this question, we assessed the impact of ricin on the gastrointestinal tract and organs of mice after dissemination of toxin from the gut. We first showed that ricin adhered in a specific pattern to human small bowel intestinal sections, the site within the mouse gut in which a variable degree of damage has been reported by others. We then monitored the movement of ricin across polarized human HCT-8 intestinal monolayers grown in transwell inserts and in HCT-8 cell organoids. We observed that, in both systems, ricin trafficked through the cells without apparent damage until 24 hours post intoxication. We delivered a lethal dose of purified fluorescently-labeled ricin to mice by oral gavage and followed transit of the toxin from the gastrointestinal tracts to the internal organs by in vivo imaging of whole animals over time and ex vivo imaging of organs at various time points. In addition, we harvested organs from unlabeled ricin-gavaged mice and assessed them for the presence of ricin and for histological damage. Finally, we compared serum chemistry values from buffer-treated versus ricin-intoxicated animals. We conclude that ricin transverses human intestinal cells and mouse intestinal cells in situ prior to any indication of enterocyte damage and that ricin rapidly reaches the kidneys of intoxicated mice. We also propose that mice intoxicated orally with ricin likely die from distributive shock.
Bacillus anthracis spores are the infectious form of the organism for humans and animals. However, the approved human vaccine in the United States is derived from a vegetative culture filtrate of a toxigenic, nonencapsulated B. anthracis strain that primarily contains protective antigen (PA). Immunization of mice with purified spore proteins and formalin-inactivated spores (FIS) from a nonencapsulated, nontoxigenic B. anthracis strain confers protection against B. anthracis challenge when PA is also administered. To investigate the capacity of the spore particle to act as a vaccine without PA, we immunized mice subcutaneously with FIS from nontoxigenic, nonencapsulated B. cereus strain G9241 pBCXO1−/pBC210− (dcG9241), dcG9241 ΔbclA, or 569-UM20 or with exosporium isolated from dcG9241. FIS vaccination provided significant protection of mice from intraperitoneal or intranasal challenge with spores of the virulent B. anthracis Ames or Ames ΔbclA strain. Immunization with dcG9241 ΔbclA FIS, which are devoid of the immunodominant spore protein BclA, provided greater protection from challenge with either Ames strain than did immunization with FIS from BclA-producing strains. In addition, we used prechallenge immune antisera to probe a panel of recombinant B. anthracis Sterne spore proteins to identify novel immunogenic vaccine candidates. The antisera were variably reactive with BclA and with 10 other proteins, four of which were previously tested as vaccine candidates. Overall our data show that immunization with FIS from nontoxigenic, nonencapsulated B. cereus strains provides moderate to high levels of protection of mice from B. anthracis Ames challenge and that neither PA nor BclA is required for this protection.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 has been responsible for multiple food- and waterborne outbreaks of diarrhea and/or hemorrhagic colitis (HC) worldwide. More importantly, a portion of E. coli O157:H7-infected individuals, particularly young children, develop a life-threatening sequela of infection called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Shiga toxin (Stx), a potent cytotoxin, is the major virulence factor linked to the presentation of both HC and HUS. Currently, treatment of E. coli O157:H7 and other Stx-producing E. coli (STEC) infections is limited to supportive care. To facilitate development of therapeutic strategies and vaccines for humans against these agents, animal models that mimic one or more aspect of STEC infection and disease are needed. In this paper, we focus on the characteristics of various mouse models that have been developed and that can be used to monitor STEC colonization, disease, pathology, or combinations of these features as well as the impact of Stx alone.
Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) is an important subset of Shiga toxin–producing (Stx-producing) E. coli (STEC), pathogens that have been implicated in outbreaks of food-borne illness and can cause intestinal and systemic disease, including severe renal damage. Upon attachment to intestinal epithelium, EHEC generates “attaching and effacing” (AE) lesions characterized by intimate attachment and actin rearrangement upon host cell binding. Stx produced in the gut transverses the intestinal epithelium, causing vascular damage that leads to systemic disease. Models of EHEC infection in conventional mice do not manifest key features of disease, such as AE lesions, intestinal damage, and systemic illness. In order to develop an infection model that better reflects the pathogenesis of this subset of STEC, we constructed an Stx-producing strain of Citrobacter rodentium, a murine AE pathogen that otherwise lacks Stx. Mice infected with Stx-producing C. rodentium developed AE lesions on the intestinal epithelium and Stx-dependent intestinal inflammatory damage. Further, the mice experienced lethal infection characterized by histopathological and functional kidney damage. The development of a murine model that encompasses AE lesion formation and Stx-mediated tissue damage will provide a new platform upon which to identify EHEC alterations of host epithelium that contribute to systemic disease.
When Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains emerged as agents of human disease, two types of toxin were identified: Shiga toxin type 1 (Stx1) (almost identical to Shiga toxin produced by Shigella dysenteriae type 1) and the immunologically distinct type 2 (Stx2). Subsequently, numerous STEC strains have been characterized that express toxins with variations in amino acid sequence, some of which confer unique biological properties. These variants were grouped within the Stx1 or Stx2 type and often assigned names to indicate that they were not identical in sequence or phenotype to the main Stx1 or Stx2 type. A lack of specificity or consistency in toxin nomenclature has led to much confusion in the characterization of STEC strains. Because serious outcomes of infection have been attributed to certain Stx subtypes and less so with others, we sought to better define the toxin subtypes within the main Stx1 and Stx2 types. We compared the levels of relatedness of 285 valid sequence variants of Stx1 and Stx2 and identified common sequences characteristic of each of three Stx/Stx1 and seven Stx2 subtypes. A novel, simple PCR subtyping method was developed, independently tested on a battery of 48 prototypic STEC strains, and improved at six clinical and research centers to test the reproducibility, sensitivity, and specificity of the PCR. Using a consistent schema for nomenclature of the Stx toxins and stx genes by phylogenetic sequence-based relatedness of the holotoxin proteins, we developed a typing approach that should obviate the need to bioassay each newly described toxin and that predicts important biological characteristics.
Bacillus cereus G9241 was isolated from a welder with a pulmonary anthrax-like illness. The organism contains two megaplasmids, pBCXO1 and pBC218. These plasmids are analogous to the Bacillus anthracis Ames plasmids pXO1 and pXO2 that encode anthrax toxins and capsule, respectively. Here we evaluated the virulence of B. cereus G9241 as well as the contributions of pBCXO1 and pBC218 to virulence. B. cereus G9241 was avirulent in New Zealand rabbits after subcutaneous inoculation and attenuated 100-fold compared to the published 50% lethal dose (LD50) values for B. anthracis Ames after aerosol inoculation. A/J and C57BL/6J mice were comparably susceptible to B. cereus G9241 by both subcutaneous and intranasal routes of infection. However, the LD50s for B. cereus G9241 in both mouse strains were markedly higher than those reported for B. anthracis Ames and more like those of the toxigenic but nonencapsulated B. anthracis Sterne. Furthermore, B. cereus G9241 spores could germinate and disseminate after intranasal inoculation into A/J mice, as indicated by the presence of vegetative cells in the spleen and blood of animals 48 h after infection. Lastly, B. cereus G9241 derivatives cured of one or both megaplasmids were highly attenuated in A/J mice. We conclude that the presence of the toxin- and capsule-encoding plasmids pBCXO1 and pBC218 in B. cereus G9241 alone is insufficient to render the strain as virulent as B. anthracis Ames. However, like B. anthracis, full virulence of B. cereus G9241 for mice requires the presence of both plasmids.
Previously, we showed that the Shiga toxin type 2 (Stx2)-expressing Escherichia coli O157:H7 strain 86-24 colonized mice better than did its isogenic stx2 negative mutant. Here, we confirmed that finding by demonstrating that Stx2 given orally to mice increased the levels of the 86-24 stx2 mutant shed in feces. Then we assessed the impact of Stx2-neutralizing antibodies, administered passively or generated by immunization with an Stx2 toxoid, on E. coli O157:H7 colonization of mice. We found that such antibodies reduced the E. coli O157:H7 burden in infected mice and, as anticipated, also protected them from weight loss and death.
Shiga toxin; anti-Shiga toxin; E. coli O157:H7 colonization
Escherichia coli O157:H7 and other Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing E. coli (STEC) bacteria are not enteroinvasive but can cause hemorrhagic colitis. In some STEC-infected individuals, a life-threatening sequela of infection called the hemolytic uremic syndrome may develop that can lead to kidney failure. This syndrome is linked to the production of Stx by the infecting organism. For Stx to reach the kidney, the toxin must first penetrate the colonic epithelial barrier. However, the Stx receptor, globotriaosylceramide (Gb3), has been thought to be absent from human intestinal epithelial cells. Thus, the mechanisms by which the toxin associates with and traverses through the intestine en route to the kidneys have been puzzling aspects of STEC pathogenesis. In this study, we initially determined that both types of Stx made by STEC, Stx1 and Stx2, do in fact bind to colonic epithelia in fresh tissue sections and to a colonic epithelial cell line (HCT-8). We also discovered that globotetraosylceramide (Gb4), a lower-affinity toxin receptor derived from Gb3, is readily detectable on the surfaces of human colonic tissue sections and HCT-8 cells. Furthermore, we found that Gb3 is present on a fraction of HCT-8 cells, where it presumably functions to bind and internalize Stx1 and Stx2. In addition, we established by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) that both fresh colonic epithelial sections and HCT-8 cells express Gb3 synthase mRNA. Taken together, our data suggest that Gb3 may be present in small quantities in human colonic epithelia, where it may compete for Stx binding with the more abundantly expressed glycosphingolipid Gb4.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a food-borne pathogen that can cause hemorrhagic colitis and, occasionally, hemolytic uremic syndrome, a sequela of infection that can result in renal failure and death. Here we sought to model the pathogenesis of orally-administered E. coli O157:H7 in BALB/c mice with an intact intestinal flora. First, we defined the optimal dose that permitted sustained fecal shedding of E. coli O157:H7 over 7 days (~109 colony-forming units). Next, we monitored the load of E. coli O157:H7 in intestinal sections over time and observed that the cecum was consistently the tissue with the highest E. coli O157:H7 recovery. We then followed the expression of two key E. coli O157:H7 virulence factors, the adhesin intimin and Shiga toxin type 2, and detected both proteins early in infection when bacterial burdens were highest. Additionally, we noted that during infection, animals lost weight and ~30% died. Moribund animals also exhibited elevated levels of blood urea nitrogen, and, on necropsy, showed evidence of renal tubular damage. We conclude that conventional mice inoculated orally with high doses of E. coli O157:H7 can be used to model both intestinal colonization and subsequent development of certain extraintestinal manifestations of E. coli O157:H7 disease.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 mouse model; Shiga toxin; intimin
The biological attack conducted through the U.S. postal system in 2001 broadened the threat posed by anthrax from one pertinent mainly to soldiers on the battlefield to one understood to exist throughout our society. The expansion of the threatened population placed greater emphasis on the reexamination of how we vaccinate against Bacillus anthracis. The currently-licensed Anthrax Vaccine, Adsorbed (AVA) and Anthrax Vaccine, Precipitated (AVP) are capable of generating a protective immune response but are hampered by shortcomings that make their widespread use undesirable or infeasible. Efforts to gain U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for licensure of a second generation recombinant protective antigen (rPA)-based anthrax vaccine are ongoing. However, this vaccine's reliance on the generation of a humoral immune response against a single virulence factor has led a number of scientists to conclude that the vaccine is likely not the final solution to optimal anthrax vaccine design. Other vaccine approaches, which seek a more comprehensive immune response targeted at multiple components of the B. anthracis organism, are under active investigation. This review seeks to summarize work that has been done to build on the current PA-based vaccine methodology and to evaluate the search for future anthrax prophylaxis strategies.
Bacillus anthracis; anthrax; vaccine
Monoclonal antibody (MAb) 11E10 recognizes the Shiga toxin type 2 (Stx2) A1 subunit. The binding of 11E10 to Stx2 neutralizes both the cytotoxic and lethal activities of Stx2, but the MAb does not bind to or neutralize Stx1 despite the 61% identity and 75% similarity in the amino acids of the A1 fragments. In this study, we sought to identify the segment or segments on Stx2 that constitute the 11E10 epitope and to determine how recognition of that region by 11E10 leads to inactivation of the toxin. Toward those objectives, we generated a set of chimeric Stx1/Stx2 molecules and then evaluated the capacity of 11E10 to recognize those hybrid toxins by Western blot analyses and to neutralize them in Vero cell cytotoxicity assays. We also compared the amino acid sequences and crystal structures of Stx1 and Stx2 for stretches of dissimilarity that might predict a binding epitope on Stx2 for 11E10. Through these assessments, we concluded that the 11E10 epitope is comprised of three noncontiguous regions surrounding the Stx2 active site. To determine how 11E10 neutralizes Stx2, we examined the capacity of 11E10/Stx2 complexes to target ribosomes. We found that the binding of 11E10 to Stx2 prevented the toxin from inhibiting protein synthesis in an in vitro assay but also altered the overall cellular distribution of Stx2 in Vero cells. We propose that the binding of MAb 11E10 to Stx2 neutralizes the effects of the toxin by preventing the toxin from reaching and/or inactivating the ribosomes.
Based on previous studies showing that host chemokines exert antimicrobial activities against bacteria, we sought to determine whether the interferon-inducible Glu-Leu-Arg-negative CXC chemokines CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 exhibit antimicrobial activities against Bacillus anthracis. In vitro analysis demonstrated that all three CXC chemokines exerted direct antimicrobial effects against B. anthracis spores and bacilli including marked reductions in spore and bacillus viability as determined using a fluorometric assay of bacterial viability and CFU determinations. Electron microscopy studies revealed that CXCL10-treated spores failed to undergo germination as judged by an absence of cytological changes in spore structure that occur during the process of germination. Immunogold labeling of CXCL10-treated spores demonstrated that the chemokine was located internal to the exosporium in association primarily with the spore coat and its interface with the cortex. To begin examining the potential biological relevance of chemokine-mediated antimicrobial activity, we used a murine model of inhalational anthrax. Upon spore challenge, the lungs of C57BL/6 mice (resistant to inhalational B. anthracis infection) had significantly higher levels of CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 than did the lungs of A/J mice (highly susceptible to infection). Increased CXC chemokine levels were associated with significantly reduced levels of spore germination within the lungs as determined by in vivo imaging. Taken together, our data demonstrate a novel antimicrobial role for host chemokines against B. anthracis that provides unique insight into host defense against inhalational anthrax; these data also support the notion for an innovative approach in treating B. anthracis infection as well as infections caused by other spore-forming organisms.
Intestinal cells grown in microgravity produce a three-dimensional tissue assembly or “organoid” similar to the human intestinal mucosa, making it an ideal model for enteric infections such as cryptosporidiosis.
HCT8 cells were grown in a reduced-gravity, low-shear, rotating wall vessel (RWV) system and infected with C. parvum oocysts. Routine and electron microscopy (EM), immunolabelling with fluorescein-labeled Vicia villosa lectin and phycoerythrin-labeled monoclonal antibody to a 15kD surface membrane protein and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) using probes for 18s rRNA of C. parvum and HCT8 cells were performed.
The RWV allowed development of columnar epithelium-like structures. Higher magnification revealed well-developed brush-borders at the apical side of the tissue. Incubation with C. parvum resulted to patchy disruption of the epithelium and localized infection with the organism at the surface of several epithelial cells. EM revealed irregular stunting of microvilli, foci of indistinct tight junctions, and areas of loose paracellular spaces. Quantitative PCR showed 1.85 logs (70-fold) progression of infection from 6 to 48 hours of incubation.
The HCT8 organoid displayed morphologic changes indicative of successful and quantifiable infection with C. parvum. The HCT8 organoid culture system may have application in interventional in vitro studies for cryptosporidiosis.
Cryptosporidium; organoid; microgravity; in vitro model; cryptosporidiosis; 3D tissue culture
The Bacillus anthracis genome encodes four superoxide dismutases (SODs), enzymes capable of detoxifying oxygen radicals. That two of these SODs, SOD15 and SODA1, are present in the outermost layers of the B. anthracis spore is indicated by previous proteomic analyses of the exosporium. Given the requirement that spores must survive interactions with reactive oxygen species generated by cells such as macrophages during infection, we hypothesized that SOD15 and SODA1 protect the spore from oxidative stress and contribute to the pathogenicity of B. anthracis. To test these theories, we constructed a double-knockout (Δsod15 ΔsodA1) mutant of B. anthracis Sterne strain 34F2 and assessed its lethality in an A/J mouse intranasal infection model. The 50% lethal dose of the Δsod15 ΔsodA1 strain was similar to that of the wild type (34F2), but surprisingly, measurable whole-spore SOD activity was greater than that in 34F2. A quadruple-knockout strain (Δsod15 ΔsodA1 ΔsodC ΔsodA2) was then generated, and as anticipated, spore-associated SOD activity was diminished. Moreover, the quadruple-knockout strain, compared to the wild type, was attenuated more than 40-fold upon intranasal challenge of mice. Spore resistance to exogenously generated oxidative stress and to macrophage-mediated killing correlated with virulence in A/J mice. Allelic exchange that restored sod15 and sodA1 to their wild-type state restored wild-type characteristics. We conclude that SOD molecules within the spore afford B. anthracis protection against oxidative stress and enhance the pathogenicity of B. anthracis in the lung. We also surmise that the presence of four SOD alleles within the genome provides functional redundancy for this key enzyme.
Cytotoxic necrotizing factor type 1 (CNF1) and CNF2 are toxins of pathogenic Escherichia coli that share 85% identity over 1,014 amino acids. Although both of these toxins modify GTPases, CNF1 is a more potent inducer of multinucleation in HEp-2 cells, binds more efficiently to HEp-2 cells, and, despite the conservation of amino acids (C866 and H881) required for enzymatic activity of the toxins, deamidates RhoA and Cdc42 better than CNF2. Here we exploited the differences between CNF1 and CNF2 to define the epitope on CNF1 to which the CNF1-specific neutralizing monoclonal antibody (MAb) (MAb NG8) binds and to determine the mechanism by which MAb NG8 neutralizes CNF1 activity on HEp-2 cells. For these purposes, we generated a panel of 21 site-directed mutants in which amino acids in CNF1 were exchanged for the amino acids in CNF2 between amino acids 546 and 869 and vice versa. This region of CNF1 not only is recognized by MAb NG8 but also is involved in binding of this toxin to HEp-2 cells. All the mutants retained the capacity to induce multinucleation of HEp-2 cells. However, the CNF1 double mutant with D591E and F593L mutations (CNF1D591E F593L) and the CNF1H661Q single mutant displayed drastically reduced reactivity with MAb NG8. A reverse chimeric triple mutant, CNF1E591D L593F Q661H, imparted MAb NG8 reactivity to CNF2. MAb NG8 neutralized CNF2E591D L593F Q661H activity in a dose-dependent manner and reduced the binding of this chimeric toxin to HEp-2 cells. Taken together, these results pinpoint three amino acids in CNF1 that are key amino acids for recognition by neutralizing MAb NG8 and further help define a region in CNF1 that is critical for full toxin binding to HEp-2 cells.
Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) results from infection by Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing Escherichia coli and is the most common cause of acute renal failure in children. We have developed a mouse model of HUS by administering endotoxin-free Stx2 in multiple doses over 7 to 8 days. At sacrifice, moribund animals demonstrated signs of HUS: increased blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine levels, proteinuria, deposition of fibrin(ogen), glomerular endothelial damage, hemolysis, leukocytopenia, and neutrophilia. Increased expression of proinflammatory chemokines and cytokines in the sera of Stx2-treated mice indicated a systemic inflammatory response. Currently, specific therapeutics for HUS are lacking, and therapy for patients is primarily supportive. Mice that received 11E10, a monoclonal anti-Stx2 antibody, 4 days after starting injections of Stx2 recovered fully, displaying normal renal function and normal levels of neutrophils and lymphocytes. In addition, these mice showed decreased fibrin(ogen) deposition and expression of proinflammatory mediators compared to those of Stx2-treated mice in the absence of antibody. These results indicate that, when performed during progression of HUS, passive immunization of mice with anti-Stx2 antibody prevented the lethal effects of Stx2.
There is considerable heterogeneity among the Shiga toxin type 2 (Stx2) toxins elaborated by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). One such Stx2 variant, the Stx2d mucus-activatable toxin (Stx2dact), is rendered more toxic by the action of elastase present in intestinal mucus, which cleaves the last two amino acids of the A2 portion of the toxin A subunit. We screened 153 STEC isolates from food, animals, and humans for the gene encoding Stx2dact by using a novel one-step PCR procedure. This method targeted the region of stx2dact that encodes the elastase recognition site. The presence of stx2dact was confirmed by DNA sequencing of the complete toxin genes. Seven STEC isolates from cows (four isolates), meat (two isolates), and a human (one isolate) that carried the putative stx2dact gene were identified; all were eae negative, and none was the O157:H7 serotype. Three of the isolates (CVM9322, CVM9557, and CVM9584) also carried stx1, two (P1332 and P1334) carried stx1 and stx2c, and one (CL-15) carried stx2c. One isolate, P1130, harbored only stx2dact. The Vero cell cytotoxicities of supernatants from P1130 and stx1 deletion mutants of CVM9322, CVM9557, and CVM9584 were increased 13- to 30-fold after treatment with porcine elastase. Thus, Stx2dact-producing strains, as detected by our one-step PCR method, can be isolated not only from humans, as previously documented, but also from food and animals. The latter finding has important public health implications based on a recent report from Europe of a link between disease severity and infection with STEC isolates that produce Stx2dact.
Inactivated Bacillus anthracis spores given with protective antigen (PA) contribute to immunity against anthrax in several animal models. Antiserum raised against whole irradiated B. anthracis spores has been shown to have anti-germination and opsonic activities in vitro. Based on these observations, we hypothesized that surface-exposed spore proteins might serve as supplemental components of a PA-based anthrax vaccine. The protective anti-spore serum was tested for reactivity with recombinant forms of 30 proteins known, or believed to be, present within the B. anthracis exosporium. Eleven of those proteins were reactive with this antiserum, and, subsequently a subset of this group was used to generate rabbit polyclonal antibodies. These sera were evaluated for recognition of the immunogens on intact spores generated from Sterne strain, as well as from an isogenic mutant lacking the spore surface protein Bacillus collagen-like antigen (BclA). The data were consistent with the notion that the antigens in question were located beneath BclA on the basal surface of the exosporium. A/J mice immunized with either the here-to-for hypothetical protein p5303 or the structural protein BxpB, each in combination with subprotective levels of PA, showed enhanced protection against subcutaneous spore challenge. While neither anti-BxpB or anti-p5303 antibodies reduced the rate of spore germination in vitro, both caused increased uptake and lead to a higher rate of destruction by phagocytic cells. We conclude that by facilitating more efficient phagocytic clearance of spores, antibodies against individual exosporium components can contribute to protection against B. anthracis infection.
Bacillus anthracis; Spore; Exosporium; Vaccine
Many uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) strains produce both hemolysin (Hly) and cytotoxic necrotizing factor type 1 (CNF1), and the loci for these toxins are often linked. The conclusion that Hly and CNF1 contribute to urovirulence is supported by the results of epidemiological studies associating the severity of urinary tract infections (UTIs) with toxin production by UPEC isolates. Additionally, we previously reported that mouse bladders and rat prostates infected with UPEC strain CP9 exhibit a more profound inflammatory response than the organs from animals challenged with CP9cnf1 and that CNF1 decreases the antimicrobial activities of polymorphonuclear leukocytes. More recently, we created an Hly mutant, CP9ΔhlyA1::cat, and showed that it was less hemolytic and destructive for cultured bladder cells than CP9 was. Here we evaluated the relative effects of mutations in hlyA1 or cnf1 alone or together on the pathogenicity of CP9 in a mouse model of ascending UTI. To do this, we constructed an hlyA1-complemented clone of CP9ΔhlyA1::cat and an hlyA1 cnf1 CP9 double mutant. We found that Hly had no influence on bacterial colonization of the bladder or kidneys in single or mixed infections with the wild type and CP9ΔhlyA1::cat but that it did provoke sloughing of the uroepithelium and bladder hemorrhage within the first 24 h after challenge. Finally, we confirmed that CNF1 expression induces bladder inflammation and, in particular, as shown in this study, submucosal edema. From these data, we speculate that Hly and CNF1 may be largely responsible for the signs and symptoms of cystitis in humans infected with toxigenic UPEC.
We sought to visualize the site of Bacillus anthracis spore germination in vivo. For that purpose, we constructed a reporter plasmid with the lux operon under control of the spore small acid-soluble protein B (sspB) promoter. In B. subtilis, sspB-driven synthesis of luciferase during sporulation results in incorporation of the enzyme in spores. We observed that B. anthracis Sterne transformed with our sspBp::lux plasmid was only luminescent during germination. In contrast, Sterne transformed with a similarly constructed plasmid with lux expression under control of the protective antigen promoter displayed luminescence only during vegetative growth. We then infected A/J mice intranasally with spores that harbored the germination reporter. Mice were monitored for up to 14 days with the Xenogen In Vivo Imaging System. While luminescence only became evident in live animals at 18 h, dissection after sacrificing infected mice at earlier time points revealed luminescence in lung tissue at 30 min after intranasal infection. Microscopic histochemical and immunofluorescence studies on luminescent lung sections and imprints revealed that macrophages were the first cells in contact with the B. anthracis spores. By 6 h after infection, polymorphonuclear leukocytes with intracellular spores were evident in the alveolar spaces. After 24 h, few free spores were observed in the alveolar spaces; most of the spores detected by immunofluorescence were in the cytoplasm of interstitial macrophages. In contrast, mediastinal lymph nodes remained nonluminescent throughout the infection. We conclude that in this animal system, the primary site of B. anthracis spore germination is the lungs.
Bacillus collagen-like protein of anthracis (BclA) is an immunodominant glycoprotein located on the exosporium of Bacillus anthracis. We hypothesized that antibodies to this spore surface antigen are largely responsible for the augmented immunity to anthrax that has been reported for animals vaccinated with inactivated spores and protective antigen (PA) compared to vaccination with PA alone. To test this theory, we first evaluated the capacity of recombinant, histidine-tagged, nonglycosylated BclA (rBclA) given with adjuvant to protect A/J mice against 10 times the 50% lethal dose of Sterne strain spores introduced subcutaneously. Although the animals elicited anti-rBclA antibodies and showed a slight but statistically significant prolongation in the mean time to death (MTD), none of the mice survived. Similarly, rabbit anti-rBclA immunoglobulin G (IgG) administered intraperitoneally to mice before spore inoculation increased the MTD statistically significantly but afforded protection to only 1 of 10 animals. However, all mice that received suboptimal amounts of recombinant PA and that then received rBclA 2 weeks later survived spore challenge. Additionally, anti-rBclA IgG, compared to anti-PA IgG, promoted a sevenfold-greater uptake of opsonized spores by mouse macrophages and markedly decreased intramacrophage spore germination. Since BclA has some sequence similarity to human collagen, we also tested the extent of binding of anti-rBclA antibodies to human collagen types I, III, and V and found no discernible cross-reactivity. Taken together, these results support the concept of rBclA as being a safe and effective boost for a PA-primed individual against anthrax and further suggest that such rBclA-enhanced protection occurs by the induction of spore-opsonizing and germination-inhibiting antibodies.
Cytotoxic necrotizing factor type 1 (CNF1) and CNF2 are highly homologous toxins that are produced by certain pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli. These 1,014-amino-acid toxins catalyze the deamidation of a specific glutamine residue in RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42 and consist of a putative N-terminal binding domain, a transmembrane region, and a C-terminal catalytic domain. To define the regions of CNF1 that are responsible for binding of the toxin to its cellular receptor, the laminin receptor precursor protein (LRP), a series of CNF1 truncated toxins were characterized and assessed for toxin binding. In particular, three truncated toxins, ΔN63, ΔN545, and ΔC469, retained conformational integrity and in vitro enzymatic activity and were immunologically reactive against a panel of anti-CNF1 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Based on a comparison of these truncated toxins with wild-type CNF1 and CNF2 in LRP and HEp-2 cell binding assays and in MAb and LRP competitive binding inhibition assays and based on the results of confocal microscopy, we concluded that CNF1 contains two major binding regions: one located within the N terminus, which contained amino acids 135 to 164, and one which resided in the C terminus and included amino acids 683 to 730. The data further indicate that CNF1 can bind to an additional receptor(s) on HEp-2 cells and that LRP can also serve as a cellular receptor for CNF2.
Bacillus collagen-like protein of anthracis (BclA) is the immunodominant glycoprotein on the exosporium of Bacillus anthracis spores. Here, we sought to assess the impact of BclA on spore germination in vitro and in vivo, surface charge, and interaction with host matrix proteins. For that purpose, we constructed a markerless bclA null mutant in B. anthracis Sterne strain 34F2. The growth and sporulation rates of the ΔbclA and parent strains were nearly indistinguishable, but germination of mutant spores occurred more rapidly than that of wild-type spores in vitro and was more complete by 60 min. Additionally, the mean time to death of A/J mice inoculated subcutaneously or intranasally with mutant spores was lower than that for the wild-type spores even though the 50% lethal doses of the two strains were similar. We speculated that these in vitro and in vivo differences between mutant and wild-type spores might reflect the ease of access of germinants to their receptors in the absence of BclA. We also compared the hydrophobic and adhesive properties of ΔbclA and wild-type spores. The ΔbclA spores were markedly less water repellent than wild-type spores, and, probably as a consequence, the extracellular matrix proteins laminin and fibronectin bound significantly better to mutant than to wild-type spores. These studies suggest that BclA acts as a shield to not only reduce the ease with which spores germinate but also change the surface properties of the spore, which, in turn, may impede the interaction of the spore with host matrix substances.
In a multi-health center study, a new rapid optical immunoassay (OIA) for the detection of Shiga toxin types 1 and 2, the BioStar OIA SHIGATOX kit (Inverness Medical Professional Diagnostics, Inc.), was used to prospectively screen 742 fresh fecal samples for Shiga toxins in parallel with the Premier enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) kit (Meridian BioScience, Inc.) with and without enrichment of the specimens by incubation in MacConkey broth. Additionally, 85 previously tested frozen fecal samples were assessed as described above. All positive immunoassay results were confirmed by the Vero cell cytotoxicity assay. A further modification of the screening procedure was evaluated on 470 of the prospectively screened specimens. Swabs of growth from conventionally plated stool culture media were subjected to the OIA SHIGATOX, and results were compared with those obtained with the Premier EHEC kit following broth enrichment. Overall, the OIA SHIGATOX kit was significantly more sensitive than the Premier EHEC kit on fresh direct stool specimens (sensitivities, 96.8% and 83.9%, respectively; P < 0.05). The two assays performed equally well with each other on frozen and broth-enriched samples. The colony sweep method used in conjunction with the OIA kit was somewhat more effective at detection of Shiga toxins from growth on agar than the overnight broth enrichment procedure used with the Premier EHEC assay (sensitivities, 100% and 92%, respectively; P < 0.09). Overall, the OIA SHIGATOX kit provided rapid, easy-to-interpret results and was highly effective at detection of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli in fecal samples and overnight cultures.