Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) has emerged as a powerful tool for comparing bacterial isolates in outbreak detection and investigation. Here we demonstrate that WGS performed prospectively for national epidemiologic surveillance of Listeria monocytogenes has the capacity to be superior to our current approaches using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), multilocus sequence typing (MLST), multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA), binary typing, and serotyping. Initially 423 L. monocytogenes isolates underwent WGS, and comparisons uncovered a diverse genetic population structure derived from three distinct lineages. MLST, binary typing, and serotyping results inferred in silico from the WGS data were highly concordant (>99%) with laboratory typing performed in parallel. However, WGS was able to identify distinct nested clusters within groups of isolates that were otherwise indistinguishable using our current typing methods. Routine WGS was then used for prospective epidemiologic surveillance on a further 97 L. monocytogenes isolates over a 12-month period, which provided a greater level of discrimination than that of conventional typing for inferring linkage to point source outbreaks. A risk-based alert system based on WGS similarity was used to inform epidemiologists required to act on the data. Our experience shows that WGS can be adopted for prospective L. monocytogenes surveillance and investigated for other pathogens relevant to public health.
Bluetongue virus (BTV) is transmitted by biting midges (Culicoides spp.). It causes disease mainly in sheep and occasionally in cattle and other species. BTV has spread into northern Europe, causing disease in sheep and cattle. The introduction of new serotypes, changes in vector species, and climate change have contributed to these changes. Ten BTV serotypes have been isolated in Australia without apparent associated disease. Simplified methods for preferential isolation of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and template preparation enabled high-throughput sequencing of the 10 genome segments of all Australian BTV prototype serotypes. Phylogenetic analysis reinforced the Western and Eastern topotypes previously characterized but revealed unique features of several Australian BTVs. Many of the Australian BTV genome segments (Seg-) were closely related, clustering together within the Eastern topotypes. A novel Australian topotype for Seg-5 (NS1) was identified, with taxa spread across several serotypes and over time. Seg-1, -2, -3, -4, -6, -7, -9, and -10 of BTV_2_AUS_2008 were most closely related to the cognate segments of viruses from Taiwan and Asia and not other Australian viruses, supporting the conclusion that BTV_2 entered Australia recently. The Australian BTV_15_AUS_1982 prototype was revealed to be unusual among the Australian BTV isolates, with Seg-3 and -8 distantly related to other BTV sequences from all serotypes.
Leptospira interrogans serovar Bratislava infection occurs in multiple domestic and wildlife species and is associated with poor reproductive performance in swine and horses. We present the complete genome assembly of strain PigK151 comprising two chromosomes, CI (4.457 Mbp) and CII (358 kbp).
H2S-producing multiresistant Salmonella enterica serovar Kentucky strain sequence type (ST) 198 and its non-H2S-producing variant were isolated from a patient. Whole-genome comparison showed a base addition in the gene encoding molybdenum cofactor biosynthesis protein C, which could affect H2S production in the variant. Lack of H2S production has implications for diagnosis of salmonella.
The Mapputta serogroup tentatively contains the mosquito-associated viruses Mapputta, Maprik, Trubanaman and Gan Gan. Interestingly, this serogroup has previously been associated with an acute epidemic polyarthritis-like illness in humans; however, there has been no ensuing genetic characterisation. Here we report the complete genome sequences of Mapputta and Maprik viruses, and a new Mapputta group candidate, Buffalo Creek virus, previously isolated from mosquitoes and detected by serology in a hospitalised patient. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that the group is one of the earliest diverged groups within the genus Orthobunyavirus of the family Bunyaviridae. Analyses show that these three viruses are related to the recently sequenced Australian bunyaviruses from mosquitoes, Salt Ash and Murrumbidgee. A notable feature of the Mapputta group viruses is the absence of the NSs (non-structural) ORF commonly found on the S segment of other orthobunyaviruses. Viruses of the Mapputta group have been isolated from geographically diverse regions ranging from tropical Papua New Guinea to the semi-arid climate of south-eastern Australia. The relevance of this group to human health in the region merits further investigation.
Footrot is a contagious, debilitating disease of sheep, causing major economic losses in most sheep-producing countries. The causative agent is the Gram-negative anaerobe Dichelobacter nodosus. Depending on the virulence of the infective bacterial strain, clinical signs vary from a mild interdigital dermatitis (benign footrot) to severe underrunning of the horn of the hoof (virulent footrot). The aim of this study was to investigate the genetic relationship between D. nodosus strains of different phenotypic virulences and between isolates from different geographic regions. Genome sequencing was performed on 103 D. nodosus isolates from eight different countries. Comparison of these genome sequences revealed that they were highly conserved, with >95% sequence identity. However, single nucleotide polymorphism analysis of the 31,627 nucleotides that were found to differ in one or more of the 103 sequenced isolates divided them into two distinct clades. Remarkably, this division correlated with known virulent and benign phenotypes, as well as with the single amino acid difference between the AprV2 and AprB2 proteases, which are produced by virulent and benign strains, respectively. This division was irrespective of the geographic origin of the isolates. However, within one of these clades, isolates from different geographic regions generally belonged to separate clusters. In summary, we have shown that D. nodosus has a bimodal population structure that is globally conserved and provide evidence that virulent and benign isolates represent two distinct forms of D. nodosus strains. These data have the potential to improve the diagnosis and targeted control of this economically significant disease.
The Gram-negative anaerobic bacterium Dichelobacter nodosus is the causative agent of ovine footrot, a disease of major importance to the worldwide sheep industry. The known D. nodosus virulence factors are its type IV fimbriae and extracellular serine proteases. D. nodosus strains are designated virulent or benign based on the type of disease caused under optimal climatic conditions. These isolates have similar fimbriae but distinct extracellular proteases. To determine the relationship between virulent and benign isolates and the relationship of isolates from different geographical regions, a genomic study that involved the sequencing and subsequent analysis of 103 D. nodosus isolates was undertaken. The results showed that D. nodosus isolates are highly conserved at the genomic level but that they can be divided into two distinct clades that correlate with their disease phenotypes and with a single amino acid substitution in one of the extracellular proteases.
High concentrations of free metal ions in the environment can be detrimental to bacterial survival. However, bacteria utilize strategies, including the activation of stress response pathways and immobilizing chemical elements on their surface, to limit this toxicity. In this study, we characterized LA4131, the HtpX-like M48 metalloprotease from Leptospira interrogans, with a putative role in bacterial stress response and membrane homeostasis. Growth of the la4131 transposon mutant strain (L522) in 360 μM FeSO4 (10-fold the normal in vitro concentration) resulted in the production of an amorphous iron precipitate. Atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy analysis of the strain demonstrated that precipitate production was associated with the generation and release of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) from the leptospiral surface. Transcriptional studies indicated that inactivation of la4131 resulted in altered expression of a subset of metal toxicity and stress response genes. Combining these findings, this report describes OMV production in response to environmental stressors and associates OMV production with the in vitro activity of an HtpX-like metalloprotease.
Leptospirosis is a worldwide zoonosis caused by pathogenic Leptospira spp., but knowledge of leptospiral pathogenesis remains limited. However, the development of mutagenesis systems has allowed the investigation of putative virulence factors and their involvement in leptospirosis. LipL41 is the third most abundant lipoprotein found in the outer membranes of pathogenic leptospires and has been considered a putative virulence factor. LipL41 is encoded on the large chromosome 28 bp upstream of a small open reading frame encoding a hypothetical protein of unknown function. This gene was named lep, for LipL41 expression partner. In this study, lipL41 was found to be cotranscribed with lep. Two transposon mutants were characterized: a lipL41 mutant and a lep mutant. In the lep mutant, LipL41 protein levels were reduced by approximately 90%. Lep was shown through cross-linking and coexpression experiments to bind to LipL41. Lep is proposed to be a molecular chaperone essential for the stable expression of LipL41. The roles of LipL41 and Lep in the pathogenesis of Leptospira interrogans were investigated; surprisingly, neither of these two unique proteins was essential for acute leptospirosis.
Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) are one of the leading causes of nosocomial infections in health care facilities around the globe. In particular, infections caused by vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium are becoming increasingly common. Comparative and functional genomic studies of E. faecium isolates have so far been limited owing to the lack of a fully assembled E. faecium genome sequence. Here we address this issue and report the complete 3.0-Mb genome sequence of the multilocus sequence type 17 vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium strain Aus0004, isolated from the bloodstream of a patient in Melbourne, Australia, in 1998. The genome comprises a 2.9-Mb circular chromosome and three circular plasmids. The chromosome harbors putative E. faecium virulence factors such as enterococcal surface protein, hemolysin, and collagen-binding adhesin. Aus0004 has a very large accessory genome (38%) that includes three prophage and two genomic islands absent among 22 other E. faecium genomes. One of the prophage was present as inverted 50-kb repeats that appear to have facilitated a 683-kb chromosomal inversion across the replication terminus, resulting in a striking replichore imbalance. Other distinctive features include 76 insertion sequence elements and a single chromosomal copy of Tn1549 containing the vanB vancomycin resistance element. A complete E. faecium genome will be a useful resource to assist our understanding of this emerging nosocomial pathogen.
This study characterizes the 21.4 kilobase plasmid pECTm80 isolated from Escherichia coli strain 80, an α hemolytic human clinical diarrhoeal isolate (serotype O108:H-). DNA sequence analysis of pECTm80 revealed it belonged to incompatibility group X1, and contained plasmid partition and toxin-antitoxin systems, an R6K-like triple origin (ori) replication system, genes required for replication regulation, insertion sequences IS1R, ISEc37 and a truncated transposase gene (Tn3-like ΔtnpA) of the Tn3 family, and carried a class 2 integron. The class 2 integron of pECTm80 contains an intact cassette array dfrA1-sat2, encoding resistance to trimethoprim and streptothricin, and an aadA1 gene cassette truncated by the insertion of IS1R. The complex plasmid replication system includes α, β and γ origins of replication. Pairwise BLASTn comparison of pECTm80 with plasmid pE001 reveals a conserved plasmid backbone suggestive of a common ancestral lineage. Plasmid pECTm80 is of potential clinical importance, as it carries multiple genes to ensure its stable maintenance through successive bacterial cell divisions and multiple antibiotic resistance genes.
A comparative genomics approach was utilised to compare the genomes of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) isolated from early onset paediatric Crohn's disease (CD) patients as well as Johne's diseased animals. Draft genome sequences were produced for MAP isolates derived from four CD patients, one ulcerative colitis (UC) patient, and two non-inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) control individuals using Illumina sequencing, complemented by comparative genome hybridisation (CGH). MAP isolates derived from two bovine and one ovine host were also subjected to whole genome sequencing and CGH. All seven human derived MAP isolates were highly genetically similar and clustered together with one bovine type isolate following phylogenetic analysis. Three other sequenced isolates (including the reference bovine derived isolate K10) were genetically distinct. The human isolates contained two large tandem duplications, the organisations of which were confirmed by PCR. Designated vGI-17 and vGI-18 these duplications spanned 63 and 109 open reading frames, respectively. PCR screening of over 30 additional MAP isolates (3 human derived, 27 animal derived and one environmental isolate) confirmed that vGI-17 and vGI-18 are common across many isolates. Quantitative real-time PCR of vGI-17 demonstrated that the proportion of cells containing the vGI-17 duplication varied between 0.01 to 15% amongst isolates with human isolates containing a higher proportion of vGI-17 compared to most animal isolates. These findings suggest these duplications are transient genomic rearrangements. We hypothesise that the over-representation of vGI-17 in human derived MAP strains may enhance their ability to infect or persist within a human host by increasing genome redundancy and conferring crude regulation of protein expression across biologically important regions.
We report the resequencing and revised annotation of the Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis K10 genome. A total of 90 single-nucleotide errors and a 51-bp indel in the original K10 genome were corrected, and the whole genome annotation was revised. Correction of these sequencing errors resulted in 28 frameshift alterations. The amended genome sequence is accessible via the supplemental section of study SRR060191 in the NCBI Sequence Read Archive and will serve as a valuable reference genome for future studies.
Leptospirosis is a global zoonosis affecting millions of people annually. Transcriptional changes in response to temperature were previously investigated using microarrays to identify genes potentially expressed upon host entry. Past studies found that various leptospiral outer membrane proteins are differentially expressed at different temperatures. However, our microarray studies highlighted a divergence between protein abundance and transcript levels for some proteins. Given the abundance of post-transcriptional expression control mechanisms, this finding highlighted the importance of global protein analysis systems.
To complement our previous transcription study, we evaluated differences in the proteins of the leptospiral outer membrane fraction in response to temperature upshift. Outer membrane protein-enriched fractions from Leptospira interrogans grown at 30°C or overnight upshift to 37°C were isolated and the relative abundance of each protein was determined by iTRAQ analysis coupled with two-dimensional liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (2-DLC/MS-MS). We identified 1026 proteins with 99% confidence; 27 and 66 were present at elevated and reduced abundance respectively. Protein abundance changes were compared with transcriptional differences determined from the microarray studies. While there was some correlation between the microarray and iTRAQ data, a subset of genes that showed no differential expression by microarray was found to encode temperature-regulated proteins. This set of genes is of particular interest as it is likely that regulation of their expression occurs post-transcriptionally, providing an opportunity to develop hypotheses about the molecular dynamics of the outer membrane of Leptospira in response to changing environments.
This is the first study to compare transcriptional and translational responses to temperature shift in L. interrogans. The results thus provide an insight into the mechanisms used by L. interrogans to adapt to conditions encountered in the host and to cause disease. Our results suggest down-regulation of protein expression in response to temperature, and decreased expression of outer membrane proteins may facilitate minimal interaction with host immune mechanisms.
Leptospirosis, caused by Leptospira spp., is a disease of worldwide significance affecting millions of people annually. Bacteria of this species are spread by various carrier animals, including rodents and domestic livestock, which shed the leptospires via their urine into the environment. Humans become infected through direct contact with carrier animals or indirectly via contaminated water or soil. Temperature is a key trigger used by many bacteria to sense changes in environmental conditions, including entry from the environment into the host. This study was the first comprehensive research into changes occurring in the outer membrane of Leptospira in response to temperature and how these changes correlate with gene expression changes. An understanding of the regulation and function of these proteins is important as they may provide an adaptation and survival advantage for the microorganism which may enhance its ability to infect hosts and cause disease. Our data suggest regulation of proteins in the outer membrane which may possibly be a mechanism to minimise interactions with the host immune response.
Leptospira interrogans is the most common cause of leptospirosis in humans and animals. Genetic analysis of L. interrogans has been severely hindered by a lack of tools for genetic manipulation. Recently we developed the mariner-based transposon Himar1 to generate the first defined mutants in L. interrogans. In this study, a total of 929 independent transposon mutants were obtained and the location of insertion determined. Of these mutants, 721 were located in the protein coding regions of 551 different genes. While sequence analysis of transposon insertion sites indicated that transposition occurred in an essentially random fashion in the genome, 25 unique transposon mutants were found to exhibit insertions into genes encoding 16S or 23S rRNAs, suggesting these genes are insertional hot spots in the L. interrogans genome. In contrast, loci containing notionally essential genes involved in lipopolysaccharide and heme biosynthesis showed few transposon insertions. The effect of gene disruption on the virulence of a selected set of defined mutants was investigated using the hamster model of leptospirosis. Two attenuated mutants with disruptions in hypothetical genes were identified, thus validating the use of transposon mutagenesis for the identification of novel virulence factors in L. interrogans. This library provides a valuable resource for the study of gene function in L. interrogans. Combined with the genome sequences of L. interrogans, this provides an opportunity to investigate genes that contribute to pathogenesis and will provide a better understanding of the biology of L. interrogans.
The ehx plasmids of these strains are highly related, which suggests acquisition of the large plasmid was central to the strains’ emergence.
Most Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections that are associated with severe sequelae such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) are caused by attaching and effacing pathogens that carry the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE). However, a proportion of STEC isolates that do not carry LEE have been associated with HUS. To clarify the emergence of LEE-negative STEC, we compared the genetic composition of the virulence plasmids pO113 and pO157 from LEE-negative and LEE-positive STEC, respectively. The complete nucleotide sequence of pO113 showed that several plasmid genes were shared by STEC O157:H7. In addition, allelic profiling of the ehxA gene demonstrated that pO113 belongs to a different evolutionary lineage than pO157 and that the virulence plasmids of LEE-negative STEC strains were highly related. In contrast, multilocus sequence typing of 17 LEE-negative STEC isolates showed several clonal groups, suggesting that pathogenic LEE-negative STEC has emerged several times throughout its evolution.
STEC; molecular evolution; EhxA protein; Escherichia coli plasmids; foodborne pathogens; research
Leptospira interrogans differs from other spirochetes in that it contains homologs of all the Escherichia coli lpx genes required for the biosynthesis of the lipid A anchor of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). LPS from L. interrogans cells is unusual in that it activates TLR2 rather than TLR4. The structure of L. interrogans lipid A has now been determined by a combination of matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry, NMR spectroscopy, and biochemical studies. Lipid A was released from LPS of L. interrogans serovar Pomona by 100 °C hydrolysis at pH 4.5 in the presence of SDS. Following purification by anion exchange and thin layer chromatography, the major component was shown to have a molecular weight of 1727. Mild hydrolysis with dilute NaOH reduced this to 1338, consistent with the presence of four N-linked and two O-linked acyl chains. The lipid A molecules of both the virulent and nonvirulent forms of L. interrogans serovar Icterohaemorrhagiae (strain Verdun) were identical to those of L. interrogans Pomona by the above criteria. Given the selectivity of L. interrogans LpxA for 3-hydroxylaurate, we propose that L. interrogans lipid A is acylated with R-3-hydroxylaurate at positions 3 and 3′ and with R-3-hydroxypalmitate at positions 2 and 2′. The hydroxyacyl chain composition was validated by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry of fatty acid methyl esters. Intact hexa-acylated lipid A of L. interrogans Pomona was also analyzed by NMR, confirming the presence a β-1′,6-linked disaccharide of 2,3-diamino-2,3-dideoxy-D-glucopyranose units. Two secondary unsaturated acyl chains are attached to the distal residue. The 1-position of the disaccharide is derivatized with an axial phosphate moiety, but the 4′-OH is unsubstituted. 1H and 31P NMR analyses revealed that the 1-phosphate group is methylated. Purified L. interrogans lipid A is inactive against human THP-1 cells but does stimulate tumor necrosis factor production by mouse RAW264.7 cells.
S10-spc-α is a 17.5 kb cluster of 32 genes encoding ribosomal proteins. This locus has an unusual composition and organization in Leptospira interrogans. We demonstrate the highly conserved nature of this region among diverse Leptospira and show its utility as a phylogenetically informative region. Comparative analyses were performed by PCR using primer sets covering the whole locus. Correctly sized fragments were obtained by PCR from all L. interrogans strains tested for each primer set indicating that this locus is well conserved in this species. Few differences were detected in amplification profiles between different pathogenic species, indicating that the S10-spc-α locus is conserved among pathogenic Leptospira. In contrast, PCR analysis of this locus using DNA from saprophytic Leptospira species and species with an intermediate pathogenic capacity generated varied results. Sequence alignment of the S10-spc-α locus from two pathogenic species, L. interrogans and L. borgpetersenii, with the corresponding locus from the saprophyte L. biflexa serovar Patoc showed that genetic organization of this locus is well conserved within Leptospira. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) of four conserved regions resulted in the construction of well-defined phylogenetic trees that help resolve questions about the interrelationships of pathogenic Leptospira. Based on the results of secY sequence analysis, we found that reliable species identification of pathogenic Leptospira is possible by comparative analysis of a 245 bp region commonly used as a target for diagnostic PCR for leptospirosis. Comparative analysis of Leptospira strains revealed that strain H6 previously classified as L. inadai actually belongs to the pathogenic species L. interrogans and that L. meyeri strain ICF phylogenetically co-localized with the pathogenic clusters. These findings demonstrate that the S10-spc-α locus is highly conserved throughout the genus and may be more useful in comparing evolution of the genus than loci studied previously.
Leptospira biflexa is a free-living saprophytic spirochete present in aquatic environments. We determined the genome sequence of L. biflexa, making it the first saprophytic Leptospira to be sequenced. The L. biflexa genome has 3,590 protein-coding genes distributed across three circular replicons: the major 3,604 chromosome, a smaller 278-kb replicon that also carries essential genes, and a third 74-kb replicon. Comparative sequence analysis provides evidence that L. biflexa is an excellent model for the study of Leptospira evolution; we conclude that 2052 genes (61%) represent a progenitor genome that existed before divergence of pathogenic and saprophytic Leptospira species. Comparisons of the L. biflexa genome with two pathogenic Leptospira species reveal several major findings. Nearly one-third of the L. biflexa genes are absent in pathogenic Leptospira. We suggest that once incorporated into the L. biflexa genome, laterally transferred DNA undergoes minimal rearrangement due to physical restrictions imposed by high gene density and limited presence of transposable elements. In contrast, the genomes of pathogenic Leptospira species undergo frequent rearrangements, often involving recombination between insertion sequences. Identification of genes common to the two pathogenic species, L. borgpetersenii and L. interrogans, but absent in L. biflexa, is consistent with a role for these genes in pathogenesis. Differences in environmental sensing capacities of L. biflexa, L. borgpetersenii, and L. interrogans suggest a model which postulates that loss of signal transduction functions in L. borgpetersenii has impaired its survival outside a mammalian host, whereas L. interrogans has retained environmental sensory functions that facilitate disease transmission through water.
Transmission of pathogenic Leptospira between mammalian hosts usually involves dissemination via soil or water contaminated by the urine of carrier animals. The ability of Leptospira to adapt to the diverse conditions found inside and outside the host is reflected in its relatively large genome size and high percentage of signal transduction genes. An exception is Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar Hardjo, which is transmitted by direct contact and appears to have lost genes necessary for survival outside the mammalian host. Invasion of host tissues by Leptospira interrogans involves a transition from a low osmolar environment outside the host to a higher physiologic osmolar environment within the host. Expression of the lipoprotein LigA and LigB adhesins is strongly induced by an upshift in osmolarity to the level found in mammalian host tissues. These data suggest that Leptospira utilizes changes in osmolarity to regulate virulence characteristics. To better understand how L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni adapts to osmolar conditions that correspond with invasion of a mammalian host, we quantified alterations in transcript levels using whole-genome microarrays. Overnight exposure in leptospiral culture medium supplemented with sodium chloride to physiologic osmolarity significantly altered the transcript levels of 6% of L. interrogans genes. Repressed genes were significantly more likely to be absent or pseudogenes in L. borgpetersenii, suggesting that osmolarity is relevant in studying the adaptation of L. interrogans to host conditions. Genes induced by physiologic osmolarity encoded a higher than expected number of proteins involved in signal transduction. Further, genes predicted to encode lipoproteins and those coregulated by temperature were overrepresented among both salt-induced and salt-repressed genes. In contrast, leptospiral homologues of hyperosmotic or general stress genes were not induced at physiologic osmolarity. These findings suggest that physiologic osmolarity is an important signal for regulation of gene expression by pathogenic leptospires during transition from ambient conditions to the host tissue environment.
Leptospirosis is an important zoonosis of worldwide distribution. Humans become infected via exposure to pathogenic Leptospira spp. from infected animals or contaminated water or soil. The availability of genome sequences for Leptospira interrogans, serovars Lai and Copenhageni, has opened up opportunities to examine global transcription profiles using microarray technology. Temperature is a key environmental factor known to affect leptospiral protein expression. Leptospira spp. can grow in artificial media at a range of temperatures reflecting conditions found in the environment and the mammalian host. Therefore, transcriptional changes were compared between cultures grown at 20°C, 30°C, 37°C, and 39°C to represent ambient temperatures in the environment, growth under laboratory conditions, and temperatures in healthy and febrile hosts. Data from direct pairwise comparisons of the four temperatures were consolidated to examine transcriptional changes at two generalized biological conditions representing mammalian physiological temperatures (37°C and 39°C) versus environmental temperatures (20°C and 30°C). Additionally, cultures grown at 30°C then shifted overnight to 37°C were compared with those grown long-term at 30°C and 37°C to identify genes potentially expressed in the early stages of infection. Comparison of data sets from physiological versus environmental experiments with upshift experiments provided novel insights into possible transcriptional changes at different stages of infection. Changes included differential expression of chemotaxis and motility genes, signal transduction systems, and genes encoding proteins involved in alteration of the outer membrane. These findings indicate that temperature is an important factor regulating expression of proteins that facilitate invasion and establishment of disease.
The enteric, anaerobic spirochete Brachyspira hyodysenteriae is the causative agent of swine dysentery, a severe mucohemorrhagic diarrheal disease of pigs that has economic significance in every major pork-producing country. Recent investigation into potential vaccine candidates has focused on the outer membrane proteins of B. hyodysenteriae. Bhmp39 (formerly Vsp39) is the most abundant surface-exposed outer membrane protein of B. hyodysenteriae; its predicted gene sequence has previously been shown to share sequence similarity to eight genes divided evenly between two paralogous loci. The peptide sequence suggested that Bhmp39 is encoded by one of these genes, bhmp39h. The biological significance of maintaining eight homologous bhmp39 genes is unclear, though it has been proposed that this may play a role in antigenic variation. In this study, real-time, reverse transcription-PCR was used to demonstrate that bhmp39f and bhmp39h were the transcripts most abundantly expressed by B. hyodysenteriae strain B204 cultured under in vitro growth conditions. Mass spectrometry data of the purified 39-kDa membrane protein showed that both Bhmp39f and Bhmp39h were present. Northern blot analysis across predicted Rho-independent terminators demonstrated that the genes of the bhmp39efgh locus result in monocistronic transcripts.
Leptospira is the etiologic agent of leptospirosis, a bacterial zoonosis distributed worldwide. Leptospiral lipopolysaccharide is a protective immunogen, but the extensive serological diversity of leptospires has inspired a search for conserved outer membrane proteins (OMPs) that may stimulate heterologous immunity. Previously, a global analysis of leptospiral OMPs (P. A. Cullen, S. J. Cordwell, D. M. Bulach, D. A. Haake, and B. Adler, Infect. Immun. 70:2311-2318, 2002) identified pL21, a novel 21-kDa protein that is the second most abundant constituent of the Leptospira interrogans serovar Lai outer membrane proteome. In this study, we identified the gene encoding pL21 and found it to encode a putative lipoprotein; accordingly, the protein was renamed LipL21. Southern hybridization analysis revealed the presence of lipL21 in all of the pathogenic species but in none of the saprophytic species examined. Alignment of the LipL21 sequence from six strains of Leptospira revealed 96 to 100% identity. When specific polyclonal antisera to recombinant LipL21 were used, LipL21 was isolated together with other known leptospiral OMPs by both Triton X-114 extraction and sucrose density gradient membrane fractionation. All nine strains of pathogenic leptospires investigated by Western blotting, whether culture attenuated or virulent, were found to express LipL21. In contrast, the expression of LipL21 or an antigenically related protein could not be detected in nonpathogenic L. biflexa. Infected hamster sera and two of eight human leptospirosis sera tested were found to react with recombinant LipL21. Native LipL21 was found to incorporate tritiated palmitic acid, consistent with the prediction of a lipoprotein signal peptidase cleavage site. Biotinylation of the leptospiral surface resulted in selective labeling of LipL21 and the previously known OMPs LipL32 and LipL41. These findings show that LipL21 is a surface-exposed, abundant outer membrane lipoprotein that is expressed during infection and conserved among pathogenic Leptospira species.
Recombinant leptospiral outer membrane proteins (OMPs) can elicit immunity to leptospirosis in a hamster infection model. Previously characterized OMPs appear highly conserved, and thus their potential to stimulate heterologous immunity is of critical importance. In this study we undertook a global analysis of leptospiral OMPs, which were obtained by Triton X-114 extraction and phase partitioning. Outer membrane fractions were isolated from Leptospira interrogans serovar Lai grown at 20, 30, and 37°C with or without 10% fetal calf serum and, finally, in iron-depleted medium. The OMPs were separated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Gel patterns from each of the five conditions were compared via image analysis, and 37 gel-purified proteins were tryptically digested and characterized by mass spectrometry (MS). Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time-of-flight MS was used to rapidly identify leptospiral OMPs present in sequence databases. Proteins identified by this approach included the outer membrane lipoproteins LipL32, LipL36, LipL41, and LipL48. No known proteins from any cellular location other than the outer membrane were identified. Tandem electrospray MS was used to obtain peptide sequence information from eight novel proteins designated pL18, pL21, pL22, pL24, pL45, pL47/49, pL50, and pL55. The expression of LipL36 and pL50 was not apparent at temperatures above 30°C or under iron-depleted conditions. The expression of pL24 was also downregulated after iron depletion. The leptospiral major OMP LipL32 was observed to undergo substantial cleavage under all conditions except iron depletion. Additionally, significant downregulation of these mass forms was observed under iron limitation at 30°C, but not at 30°C alone, suggesting that LipL32 processing is dependent on iron-regulated extracellular proteases. However, separate cleavage products responded differently to changes in growth temperature and medium constituents, indicating that more than one process may be involved in LipL32 processing. Furthermore, under iron-depleted conditions there was no concomitant increase in the levels of the intact form of LipL32. The temperature- and iron-regulated expression of LipL36 and the iron-dependent cleavage of LipL32 were confirmed by immunoblotting with specific antisera. Global analysis of the cellular location and expression of leptospiral proteins will be useful in the annotation of genomic sequence data and in providing insight into the biology of Leptospira.
Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a key antigen in immunity to leptospirosis. Its biosynthesis requires enzymes for the biosynthesis and polymerization of nucleotide sugars and the transport through and attachment to the bacterial membrane. The genes encoding these functions are commonly clustered into loci; for Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar Hardjo subtype Hardjobovis, this locus, named rfb, spans 36.7 kb and contains 31 open reading frames, of which 28 have been assigned putative functions on the basis of sequence similarity. Characterization of the function of these genes is hindered by the fact that it is not possible to construct isogenic mutant strains in Leptospira. We used two approaches to circumvent this problem. The first was to clone the entire locus into a heterologous host system and determine if a “recombinant” LPS or polysaccharide was synthesized in the new host. The second approach used putative functions to identify mutants in other bacterial species whose mutations might be complemented by genes on the leptospiral rfb locus. This approach was used to investigate the function of three genes in the leptospiral rfb locus and demonstrated function for orfH10, which complemented a wbpM strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and orfH13, which complemented an rfbW strain of Vibrio cholerae. However, despite the similarity of OrfH11 to WecC, a wecC strain of E. coli was not complemented by orfH11. The predicted protein encoded by orfH8 is similar to GalE from a number of organisms. A Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strain producing no GalE was used as a background in which orfH8 produced detectable GalE enzyme activity.