Endovascular infections, including endocarditis, are life-threatening infectious syndromes1–3. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common world-wide cause of such syndromes with unacceptably high morbidity and mortality even with appropriate antimicrobial agent treatments4–6. The increase in infections due to methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), the high rates of vancomycin clinical treatment failures and growing problems of linezolid and daptomycin resistance have all further complicated the management of patients with such infections, and led to high healthcare costs7, 8. In addition, it should be emphasized that most recent studies with antibiotic treatment outcomes have been based in clinical settings, and thus might well be influenced by host factors varying from patient-to-patient. Therefore, a relevant animal model of endovascular infection in which host factors are similar from animal-to-animal is more crucial to investigate microbial pathogenesis, as well as the efficacy of novel antimicrobial agents. Endocarditis in rat is a well-established experimental animal model that closely approximates human native valve endocarditis. This model has been used to examine the role of particular staphylococcal virulence factors and the efficacy of antibiotic treatment regimens for staphylococcal endocarditis. In this report, we describe the experimental endocarditis model due to MRSA that could be used to investigate bacterial pathogenesis and response to antibiotic treatment.
Infection; Issue 64; Immunology; Staphylococcus aureus; endocarditis; animal model; methicillin resistance; MRSA; rat
Persistent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia (positive blood cultures after ≥7 days) represents a challenging subset of invasive MRSA infections. The comparison of genome sequences of persistent (300-169) and resolving (301-188) MRSA bacteremia isolates with similar genetic background (sequence type 45 [ST45]) will help us to better understand underlying mechanisms of persistent MRSA bacteremia.
Many host defense cationic antimicrobial peptides (HDPs) perturb the staphylococcal cell membrane (CM) and alter transmembrane potential (ΔΨ) as key parts of their lethal mechanism. Thus, a sense-response system for detecting and mediating adaptive responses to such stresses could impact organism survival; the Staphylococcus aureus LytSR two-component regulatory system (TCRS) may serve as such a ΔΨ sensor. One well-known target of this system is the lrgAB operon, which, along with the related cidABC operon, has been shown to be a regulator in the control of programmed cell death and lysis. We used an isogenic set of S. aureus strains: (i) UAMS-1, (ii) its isogenic ΔlytS and ΔlrgAB mutants, and (iii) plasmid-complemented ΔlytSR and ΔlrgAB mutants. The ΔlytS strain displayed significantly increased in vitro susceptibilities to all HDPs tested (neutrophil-derived human neutrophil peptide 1 [hNP-1], platelet-derived thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins [tPMPs], and the tPMP-mimetic peptide RP-1), as well as to calcium-daptomycin (DAP), a cationic antimicrobial peptide (CAP). In contrast, the ΔlrgAB strain exhibited no significant changes in susceptibilities to these cationic peptides, indicating that although lytSR positively regulates transcription of lrgAB, increased HDP/CAP susceptibilities in the ΔlytS mutant were lrgAB independent. Further, parental UAMS-1 (but not the ΔlytS mutant) became more resistant to hNP-1 and DAP following pretreatment with carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP) (a CM-depolarizing agent). Of note, lytSR-dependent survival against CAP/HDP killing was not associated with changes in either surface positive charge, expression of mprF and dlt, or CM fluidity. The ΔlytS strain (but not the ΔlrgAB mutant) displayed a significant reduction in target tissue survival in an endocarditis model during DAP treatment. Collectively, these results suggest that the lytSR TCRS plays an important role in adaptive responses of S. aureus to CM-perturbing HDPs/CAPs, likely by functioning as a sense-response system for detecting subtle changes in ΔΨ.
Fibronectin-binding protein A plays an important role in Staphylococcus aureus endovascular infections. We characterized the sigB-saeRS-fnbA expression network with fibronectin binding in vitro and in an experimental infective endocarditis (IE) model using parental strains RN6390 and SH1000 and their respective isogenic saeRS mutants. In contrast to the in vitro data, there was no influence of saeRS on fnbA expression in the IE model, yet ex vivo fibronectin binding was reduced in saeRS mutants. Moreover, as opposed to the in vitro findings, sigB appeared to have a positive rather than a negative effect on saeRS expression within cardiac vegetations.
Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause of endovascular infections, including catheter sepsis and infective endocarditis (IE). Vancomycin (VAN) is the primary choice for treatment of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infections. However, high rates of VAN treatment failure in MRSA infections caused by VAN-susceptible strains have been increasingly reported. Biofilm-associated MRSA infections are especially prone to clinical antibiotic failure. The present studies examined potential relationships between MRSA susceptibility to VAN in biofilms in vitro and nonsusceptibility to VAN in endovascular infection in vivo. Using 10 “VAN-susceptible” MRSA bloodstream isolates previously investigated for VAN responsiveness in experimental IE, we studied the mechanism(s) of such in vivo VAN resistance, including: (i) VAN binding to MRSA organisms; (ii) the impact of VAN on biofilm formation and biofilm composition; (iii) VAN efficacy in an in vitro catheter-related biofilm model; (iv) effects on cell wall thickness. As a group, the five strains previously categorized as VAN nonresponders (non-Rsp) in the experimental IE model differed from the five responders (Rsp) in terms of lower VAN binding, increased biofilm formation, higher survival in the presence of VAN within biofilms in the presence or absence of catheters, and greater biofilm reduction upon proteinase K treatment. Interestingly, sub-MICs of VAN significantly promoted biofilm formation only in the non-Rsp isolates. Cell wall thickness was similar among all MRSA strains. These results suggest that sublethal VAN levels that induce biofilm formation and reduce efficacy of VAN in the in vitro catheter-associated biofilms may contribute to suboptimal treatment outcomes for endovascular infections caused by “VAN-susceptible” MRSA strains.
The binding of bacteria to fibrinogen and platelets are important events in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. Srr1 is a serine-rich repeat glycoprotein of Streptococcus agalactiae that binds directly to the Aα chain of human fibrinogen. To assess the impact of Srr1 on the pathogenesis of endocarditis due to S. agalactiae, we first examined the binding of this organism to immobilized human platelets. Strains expressing Srr1 had significantly higher levels of binding to human platelets in vitro, as compared with isogenic Δsrr1 mutants. In addition, platelet binding was inhibited by pretreatment with anti-fibrinogen IgG or purified Srr1 binding region. To assess the contribution of Srr1 to pathogenicity, we compared the relative virulence of S. agalactiae NCTC 10/84 strain and its Δsrr1 mutant in a rat model of endocarditis, where animals were co-infected with the WT and the mutant strains at a 1∶1 ratio. At 72 h post-infection, bacterial densities (CFU/g) of the WT strain within vegetations, kidneys, and spleens were significantly higher, as compared with the Δsrr1 mutant. These results indicate that Srr1 contributes to the pathogenesis of endocarditis due to S. agalactiae, at least in part through its role in fibrinogen-mediated platelet binding.
A number of cases of both methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains that have developed daptomycin resistance (DAP-R) have been reported. Telavancin (TLV) is a lipoglycopeptide agent with a dual mechanism of activity (cell wall synthesis inhibition plus depolarization of the bacterial cell membrane). Five recent daptomycin-susceptible (DAP-S)/DAP-R MRSA isogenic strain pairs were evaluated for in vitro TLV susceptibility. All five DAP-R strains (DAP MICs ranging from 2 to 4 μg/ml) were susceptible to TLV (MICs of ≤0.38 μg/ml). In vitro time-kill analyses also revealed that several TLV concentrations (1-, 2-, and 4-fold MICs) caused rapid killing against the DAP-R strains. Moreover, for 3 of 5 DAP-R strains (REF2145, A215, and B2.0), supra-MICs of TLV were effective at preventing regrowth at 24 h of incubation. Further, the combination of TLV plus oxacillin (at 0.25× or 0.50× MIC for each agent) increased killing of DAP-R MRSA strains REF2145 and A215 at 24 h (∼2-log and 5-log reductions versus TLV and oxacillin alone, respectively). Finally, using a rabbit model of aortic valve endocarditis caused by DAP-R strain REF2145, TLV therapy produced a mean reduction of >4.5 log10 CFU/g in vegetations, kidneys, and spleen compared to untreated or DAP-treated rabbits. Moreover, TLV-treated rabbits had a significantly higher percentage of sterile tissue cultures (87% in vegetations and 100% in kidney and spleen) than all other treatment groups (P < 0.0001). Together, these results demonstrate that TLV has potent bactericidal activity in vitro and in vivo against DAP-R MRSA isolates.
The pathogenesis of Staphylococcus aureus infective endocarditis (IE) is postulated to involve invasion and damage of endothelial cells (ECs). However, the precise relationships between S. aureus – EC interactions in vitro and IE virulence and treatment outcomes in vivo are poorly defined. Ten methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) clinical isolates previously tested for their virulence and vancomycin responsiveness in an experimental IE model were assessed in vitro for their hemolytic activity, protease production, and capacity to invade and damage ECs. There was a significant positive correlation between the in vitro EC damage caused by these MRSA strains and their virulence during experimental IE (in terms of bacterial densities in target tissues; P < 0.02). Importantly, higher EC damage was also significantly correlated with poor microbiologic response to vancomycin in the IE model (P < 0.001). Interestingly, the extent of EC damage was unrelated to a strain's ability to invade ECs, hemolytic activity and protease production, or β-toxin gene transcription. Inactivation of the agr locus in two MRSA strains caused ∼20% less damage as compared to the corresponding parental strains, indicating that a functional agr is required for maximal EC damage induction. Thus, MRSA-induced EC damage in vitro is a unique virulence phenotype that is independent of many other prototypical MRSA virulence factors, and may be a key biomarker for predicting MRSA virulence potential and antibiotic outcomes during endovascular infections.
The two-component regulatory system, GraRS, appears to be involved in staphylococcal responses to cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAPs). However, the mechanism(s) by which GraRS is induced, regulated, and modulated remain undefined. In this study, we used two well-characterized MRSA strains (Mu50 and COL) and their respective mutants of graR and vraG (encoding the ABC transporter-dependent efflux pump immediately downstream of graRS), and show that (i) the expression of two key determinants of net positive surface charge (mprF and dlt) is dependent on the cotranscription of both graR and vraG, (ii) reduced expression of mprF and dlt in graR mutants was phenotypically associated with reduced surface-positive charge, (iii) this net reduction in surface-positive charge in graR and vraG mutants, in turn, correlated with enhanced killing by a range of CAPs of diverse structure and origin, including those from mammalian platelets (tPMPs) and neutrophils (hNP-1) and from bacteria (polymyxin B), and (iv) the synthesis and translocation of membrane lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol (an mprF-dependent function) was substantially lower in graR and vraG mutants than in parental strains. Importantly, the inducibility of mprF and dlt transcription via the graRS-vraFG pathway was selective, with induction by sublethal exposure to the CAPs, RP-1 (platelets), and polymyxin B, but not by other cationic molecules (hNP-1, vancomycin, gentamicin, or calcium-daptomycin). Although graR regulates expression of vraG, the expression of graR was codependent on an intact downstream vraG locus. Collectively, these data support an important role of the graRS and vraFG loci in the sensing of and response to specific CAPs involved in innate host defenses.
The accessory gene regulator (agr) locus has been shown to be important for virulence in several animal models of Staphylococcus aureus infection. However, the role of agr in human infections, and specifically in antibiotic treatment, is controversial. Interestingly, agr dysfunction has been associated with reduced vancomycin responses. To systematically investigate the role of agr in virulence and treatment outcome in the context of endovascular infection, 10 well-characterized vancomycin-susceptible methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) bloodstream isolates (5 agr-I [clonal complex 45, or CC45] and 5 agr-II [CC5]) were studied for (i) agr function, (ii) RNAIII transcriptional profiles, (iii) agr locus sequences, (iv) intrinsic virulence and responses to vancomycin therapy in an experimental infective endocarditis (IE) model, and (v) in vivo RNAIII expression. Significant differences in agr function (determined by delta-hemolysin activity) correlated with the time point of RNAIII transcription (earlier RNAIII onset equals increased agr function). Unexpectedly, four MRSA strains with strong delta-hemolysin activities exhibited significant resistance to vancomycin treatment in experimental IE. In contrast, five of six MRSA strains with weak or no delta-hemolysin activity were highly susceptible to vancomycin therapy in the IE model. agr sequence analyses showed no common single-nucleotide polymorphism predictive of agr functionality. In vivo RNAIII expression in cardiac vegetations did not correlate with virulence or vancomycin treatment outcomes in the IE model. Inactivation of agr in two strains with strong delta-hemolysin activity did not affect virulence or the in vivo efficacy of vancomycin. Our findings suggest that agr dysfunction does not correlate with vancomycin treatment failures in this experimental IE model in two distinct MRSA genetic backgrounds.
Cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAPs) play important roles in host immune defenses. Plectasin is a defensin-like CAP isolated from the saprophytic fungus Pseudoplectania nigrella. NZ2114 is a novel variant of plectasin with potent activity against Gram-positive bacteria. In this study, we investigated (i) the in vivo pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) characteristics of NZ2114 and (ii) the in vivo efficacy of NZ2114 in comparison with those of two conventional antibiotics, vancomycin or daptomycin, in an experimental rabbit infective endocarditis (IE) model due to a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strain (ATCC 33591). All NZ2114 regimens (5, 10, and 20 mg/kg of body weight, intravenously [i.v.], twice daily for 3 days) significantly decreased MRSA densities in cardiac vegetations, kidneys, and spleen versus those in untreated controls, except in one scenario (5 mg/kg, splenic MRSA counts). The efficacy of NZ2114 was clearly dose dependent in all target tissues. At 20 mg/kg, NZ2114 showed a significantly greater efficacy than vancomycin (P < 0.001) and an efficacy similar to that of daptomycin. Of importance, only NZ2114 (in 10- and 20-mg/kg regimens) prevented posttherapy relapse in cardiac vegetations, kidneys, and spleen, while bacterial counts in these target tissues continued to increase in vancomycin- and daptomycin-treated animals. These in vivo efficacies were equivalent and significantly correlated with three PK indices investigated: fCmax/MIC (the maximum concentration of the free, unbound fraction of a drug in serum divided by the MIC), fAUC/MIC (where AUC is the area under the concentration-time curve), and f%T>MIC (%T>MIC is the cumulative percentage of a 24-h period that the drug concentration exceeds the MIC under steady-state pharmacokinetic conditions), as analyzed by a sigmoid maximum-effect (Emax) model (R2 > 0.69). The superior efficacy of NZ2114 in this MRSA IE model suggests the potential for further development of this compound for treating serious MRSA infections.
Persistent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia (PB) (positive blood cultures after ≥7 days of therapy) represents a clinically challenging subset of invasive MRSA infections. In this investigation, we examined the potential correlation of specific virulence signatures with PB versus resolving MRSA bacteremia (RB) (negative blood cultures within 2 to 4 days of therapy) strains. Thirty-six MRSA isolates from patients enrolled in a recent multinational clinical trial were studied for (i) susceptibility to host defense cationic peptides (HDPs) (i.e., thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins [tPMPs] and human neutrophil peptide 1 [hNP-1]); (ii) adherence to host endovascular ligands (fibronectin) and cells (endothelial cells); and (iii) biofilm formation. We found that PB isolates exhibited significantly reduced susceptibilities to tPMPs and hNP-1 (P < 0.001 and P = 0.023, respectively). There was no significant association between the PB outcome and fibronectin binding, endothelial cell binding, or biofilm formation (P = 0.25, 0.97, and 0.064 versus RB strains, respectively). However, multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that the PB outcome was significantly associated with the combination of reduced susceptibilities to HDPs and extent of biofilm formation (P < 0.0001). Similar results were obtained in a second analysis using days of bacteremia as a continuous outcome, showing that reduced HDP susceptibilities and increased biofilm formation cocontributed to predict the duration of bacteremia. Our data indicate that PB isolates have specific pathogenic signatures independent of conventional antimicrobial susceptibility. These combinatorial mosaics can be defined and used to prospectively distinguish PB from RB strains in advance and potentially to predict ultimate clinical outcomes.
GspB is a serine-rich repeat (SRR) adhesin of Streptococcus gordonii that mediates binding of this organism to human platelets via its interaction with sialyl-T antigen on the receptor GPIbα. This interaction appears to be a major virulence determinant in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. To address the mechanism by which GspB recognizes its carbohydrate ligand, we determined the high-resolution x-ray crystal structure of the GspB binding region (GspBBR), both alone and in complex with a disaccharide precursor to sialyl-T antigen. Analysis of the GspBBR structure revealed that it is comprised of three independently folded subdomains or modules: 1) an Ig-fold resembling a CnaA domain from prokaryotic pathogens; 2) a second Ig-fold resembling the binding region of mammalian Siglecs; 3) a subdomain of unique fold. The disaccharide was found to bind in a pocket within the Siglec subdomain, but at a site distinct from that observed in mammalian Siglecs. Confirming the biological relevance of this binding pocket, we produced three isogenic variants of S. gordonii, each containing a single point mutation of a residue lining this binding pocket. These variants have reduced binding to carbohydrates of GPIbα. Further examination of purified GspBBR-R484E showed reduced binding to sialyl-T antigen while S. gordonii harboring this mutation did not efficiently bind platelets and showed a significant reduction in virulence, as measured by an animal model of endocarditis. Analysis of other SRR proteins revealed that the predicted binding regions of these adhesins also had a modular organization, with those known to bind carbohydrate receptors having modules homologous to the Siglec and Unique subdomains of GspBBR. This suggests that the binding specificity of the SRR family of adhesins is determined by the type and organization of discrete modules within the binding domains, which may affect the tropism of organisms for different tissues.
The binding of bacteria to human platelets is thought to be important for development of infective endocarditis, a life-threatening infection of the cardiovascular system. Streptococcus gordonii is a leading cause of endocarditis. This pathogen uses a protein called GspB to attach to carbohydrates on human platelets. While this binding interaction appears to be mediated by a specific, contiguous domain within GspB, little is known about the molecular details of the interaction between GspB and the carbohydrate receptors on its human host. We therefore determined the crystal structure of the region of GspB that binds to platelet carbohydrates, both alone and in complex with a synthetic carbohydrate receptor. Using this structure as a guide, we were able to produce three strains of S. gordonii that lacked the ability to bind to platelet carbohydrates. One of these isogenic variants was studied more in-depth and lacked the ability to bind to human platelets in vitro and was reduced in virulence when tested in vivo. These studies provide the first structural information detailing the molecular interactions between any serine-rich repeat adhesin and its host receptor, and identify how different, related adhesins may have evolved different specificities for host receptors.
In vivo development of daptomycin resistance (DAPr) among Staphylococcus aureus strains, especially methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains, in conjunction with clinical treatment failures, has emerged as a major problem. This has raised the question of DAP-based combination regimens to enhance efficacy against such strains. We studied five recent DAP-susceptible (DAPs)/DAPr clinical MRSA strain pairs obtained from patients who failed DAP monotherapy regimens, as well as one DAPs/DAPr MRSA strain pair in which the resistant strain was generated by in vitro passage in DAP. Of note, we identified a DAP-oxacillin (OX) “seesaw” phenomenon in vitro in which development of DAPr was accompanied by a concomitant fall in OX resistance, as demonstrated by 3- to 4-fold decreases in the OX MIC, a susceptibility shift by population analyses, and enhanced early killing by OX in time-kill assays. In addition, the combination of DAP and OX exerted modest improvement in in vitro bactericidal effects. Using an experimental model of infective endocarditis and two DAPs/DAPr strain pairs, we demonstrated that (i) OX monotherapy was ineffective at clearing DAPr strains from any target tissue in this model (heart valve, kidneys, or spleen) and (ii) DAP-OX combination therapy was highly effective in DAPr strain clearances from these organs. The mechanism(s) of the seesaw effect remains to be defined but does not appear to involve excision of the staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) that carries mecA.
Using isogenic clinical bloodstream Staphylococcus aureus strains from a patient with relapsing endocarditis, we investigated transcriptional profiles of mprF and dlt genes in the context of cell surface charge and daptomycin nonsusceptibility. As in prior studies, a point mutation within mprF was observed in the daptomycin-nonsusceptible strain. However, neither the transcriptional profile of mprF, nor membrane phospholipid analyses were compatible with the anticipated mprF gain-in-function phenotype. In contrast, we demonstrated enhanced dlt expression coincident with increased positive surface charge and reduced daptomycin binding.
Staphylococcus aureus; daptomycin; cationic antimicrobial peptide (CAP); mprF; dlt
The binding of bacteria to human platelets is a likely central mechanism in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. We have previously found that platelet binding by Streptococcus mitis SF100 is mediated by surface components encoded by a lysogenic bacteriophage, SM1. We now demonstrate that SM1-encoded lysin contributes to platelet binding via its direct interaction with fibrinogen. Far Western blotting of platelets revealed that fibrinogen was the major membrane-associated protein bound by lysin. Analysis of lysin binding with purified fibrinogen in vitro confirmed that these proteins could bind directly, and that this interaction was both saturable and inhibitable. Lysin bound both the Aα and Bβ chains of fibrinogen, but not the γ subunit. Binding of lysin to the Bβ chain was further localized to a region within the fibrinogen D fragment. Disruption of the SF100 lysin gene resulted in an 83±3.1% reduction (mean ± SD) in binding to immobilized fibrinogen by this mutant strain (PS1006). Preincubation of this isogenic mutant with purified lysin restored fibrinogen binding to wild type levels. When tested in a co-infection model of endocarditis, loss of lysin expression resulted in a significant reduction in virulence, as measured by achievable bacterial densities (CFU/g) within vegetations, kidneys, and spleens. These results indicate that bacteriophage-encoded lysin is a multifunctional protein, representing a new class of fibrinogen-binding proteins. Lysin appears to be cell wall-associated through its interaction with choline. Once on the bacterial surface, lysin can bind fibrinogen directly, which appears to be an important interaction for the pathogenesis of endocarditis.
The binding of bacteria to human platelets is thought to be a central event in the development of endocarditis (a life-threatening cardiovascular infection). We have previously found that platelet binding by Streptococcus mitis is mediated by surface components encoded by a bacteriophage contained within the host bacterium. We now show that lysin (an enzyme of bacteriophage origin) contributes to platelet binding via its direct interaction with fibrinogen on the platelet surface. Lysin bound to purified fibrinogen in vitro, and this interaction specifically involved the Aα and Bβ chains of fibrinogen. Binding of lysin to the Bβ chain was further localized to a region within the fibrinogen D fragment. Disruption of the gene encoding lysin gene resulted in a significant reduction in binding to fibrinogen by S. mitis, as well as a major reduction in virulence, as measured by a rat model of endocarditis. These results indicate that lysin is a multifunctional protein, representing a new class of fibrinogen-binding molecules. Lysin is localized to the bacterial surface via its interaction with cell wall choline, where it then can bind fibrinogen directly. Cell surface lysin apparently also contributes to the development of endovascular infections via its previously unrecognized fibrinogen binding activity.
Staphylococci are the leading causes of endovascular infections worldwide. Commonly, these infections involve the formation of biofilms on the surface of biomaterials. Biofilms are a complex aggregation of bacteria commonly encapsulated by an adhesive exopolysaccharide matrix. In staphylococci, this exopolysaccharide matrix is composed of polysaccharide intercellular adhesin (PIA). PIA is synthesized when the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle is repressed. The inverse correlation between PIA synthesis and TCA cycle activity led us to hypothesize that increasing TCA cycle activity would decrease PIA synthesis and biofilm formation and reduce virulence in a rabbit catheter-induced model of biofilm infection. TCA cycle activity can be induced by preventing staphylococci from exogenously acquiring a TCA cycle-derived amino acid necessary for growth. To determine if TCA cycle induction would decrease PIA synthesis in Staphylococcus aureus, the glutamine permease gene (glnP) was inactivated and TCA cycle activity, PIA accumulation, biofilm forming ability, and virulence in an experimental catheter-induced endovascular biofilm (endocarditis) model were determined. Inactivation of this major glutamine transporter increased TCA cycle activity, transiently decreased PIA synthesis, and significantly reduced in vivo virulence in the endocarditis model in terms of achievable bacterial densities in biofilm-associated cardiac vegetations, kidneys, and spleen. These data confirm the close linkage of TCA cycle activity and virulence factor production and establish that this metabolic linkage can be manipulated to alter infectious outcomes.
Persistent MRSA bacteremia (PB) represents an important subset of Staphylococcus aureus infections and correlates with poor clinical outcomes.
We profiled relevant in vitro phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of MRSA isolates from 39 persons with bacteremia (21 had PB and 18 had resolving bacteremia [RB]). We also compared the intrinsic virulence and responsiveness to vancomycin of selected PB and RB strains in an experimental endocarditis model (IE).
PB and RB isolates differed significantly with regard to several in vitro characteristics that are believed to impact endovascular infections. PB isolates exhibited significantly more resistance to the cationic defensin hNP-1, enhanced membrane fluidity, and substantially greater adhesion to fibronectin, fibrinogen, and endothelial cells. Genotypically, PB isolates had higher frequency of SCCmec II, CC30, and spa 16; and higher rates of agr type III, cap8, tst-1, and cna carriage. Finally, a prototypic PB strain was more resistant to vancomycin treatment in the infective endocarditis model than a RB comparator strain, despite equivalent virulence profiles.
Our findings indicate that PB isolates may have specific virulence signatures that distinguish them from RB isolates. These data suggest that methods might be developed to identify patients at higher risk for PB in real-time, thereby optimizing the effectiveness of anti-MRSA therapeutic strategies.
Vancomycin susceptibility, the accessory gene global regulator (agr) genotype and function, staphylococcal cassette chromosome (SCC) mec type, and susceptibility to cationic thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein 1 (tPMP-1) have been individually predictive of duration of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia. This investigation evaluated the interrelationship of these factors with time to clearance of MRSA bacteremia during vancomycin therapy in patients without endocarditis.
Vancomycin minimum inhibitory concentration and in vitro killing, agr function (δ-hemolysin activity), agr group, SCCmec type, and survival in tPMP-1 killing assays were determined for 29 MRSA bacteremia isolates.
Increased resistance to tPMP-1 killing was observed with agr group III MRSA (P =.025) and MRSA with reduced or absent agr function (P =.023). The median time to clearance of MRSA bacteremia was earlier for agr group III (3 days) versus group I (10.5 days) or II (15 days) (P =.001). In multivariate analysis, agr group II, reduced tPMP-1 killing in vitro, and prior vancomycin exposure were significant independent predictors of longer MRSA bacteremia duration.
Specific genotypic, phenotypic, and clinical parameters appear to correlate with persistent MRSA bacteremia. The interrelationship of these and other factors probably contributes to vancomycin-mediated clearance of MRSA bacteremia.
We used a well-characterized isogenic set of clinical bloodstream Staphylococcus aureus strains to study (i) regulation of mprF-mediated phosphatidylglycerol lysinylation in the contexts of in vitro daptomycin (DAP) nonsuceptibility and (ii) the role of mprF mutation in endovascular virulence. We observed a correlation between increased expression of a mutant mprF gene and reduced in vitro DAP susceptibility. There were no detectable fitness differences between strains in experimental infective endocarditis.
We have previously shown the importance of mgrA and sarA in controlling autolysis of Staphylococcus aureus, with MgrA and SarA both being negative regulators of murein hydrolases.
In this study, we analyzed the effects of mgrA and sarA on antibiotic-mediated lysis in vitro, and on the responses to cell wall-active antibiotic therapy in an experimental endocarditis model using two representative MRSA strains: laboratory strain COL and community-acquired clinical isolate, MW2.
We found that mgrA and sarA independently down-regulated sarV (a marker for autolysis), although the alteration in sarV expression did not correlate directly with the autolysis profiles of single mgrA and sarA mutants. Importantly, the mgrA/sarA double mutants of both strains were more autolytic in vitro as compared with the single mutants. In vivo, we demonstrated that, despite equivalent intrinsic virulence between the parents and their isogenic mgrA/sarA double mutants in the endocarditis model, oxacillin and vancomycin treatment of the mgrA/sarA double mutants of MRSA strains COL and MW2 yielded significant reductions in vegetation bacterial densities vs. their respective parents.
These results suggest that down-regulation of mgrA/sarA in combination with cell wall-active antibiotics may represent a novel approach to treat MRSA infections.
The direct binding of bacteria to platelets is a central interaction in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. GspB is a serine-rich, cell wall glycoprotein of Streptococcus gordonii that mediates the binding of this organism to human platelets in vitro. To assess the contribution of this adhesin to the pathogenesis of endocarditis, we compared the virulence of S. gordonii M99 (which expresses GspB) with an isogenic, gspB mutant (PS846) in two rat models of endovascular infection. In the first group of experiments, animals were infected intravenously with M99 or PS846, and sacrificed 72 h later, to assess levels of bacteria within cardiac vegetations, kidneys, and spleens. When inoculated with 105 CFU, rats infected with PS846 had significantly lower densities of organisms within vegetations (mean: 3.84 log10 CFU/g) as compared with M99-infected rats (6.67 log10 CFU/g; P < 0.001). Marked differences were also seen in rats co-infected with M99 and PS846, at a 1:1 ratio. While M99 was found at high levels within vegetations, kidneys and spleens (mean log10 CFU/g: 6.62, 5.07 and 4.18, respectively) PS846 was not detected within these tissues. Thus, platelet binding by GspB appears to be a major interaction in the pathogenesis of endocarditis due to S. gordonii.
Endocarditis; Platelets; Streptococci; Virulence; Adhesins; Bacterial
Platelets (PLTs) act in antimicrobial host defense by releasing PLT microbicidal proteins (PMPs) or PLT kinocidins (PKs). Receptors mediating staphylocidal efficacy and PMP or PK release versus isogenic PMP-susceptible (ISP479C) and -resistant (ISP479R) Staphylococcus aureus strains were examined in vitro. Isolated PLTs were incubated with ISP479C or ISP479R (PLT/S. aureus ratio range, 1:1 to 10,000:1) in the presence or absence of a panel of PLT inhibitors, including P2X and P2Y receptor antagonists of increasingly narrow specificity, and PLT adhesion receptors (CD41, CD42b, and CD62P). PLT-to-S. aureus exposure ratios of ≥10:1 yielded significant reductions in the viability of both strains. Results from reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography indicated that staphylocidal PLT releasates contained PMPs and PKs. At ratios below 10:1, the PLT antistaphylococcal efficacy relative to the intrinsic S. aureus PMP-susceptible or -resistant phenotype diminished. Apyrase (an agent of ADP degradation), suramin (a general P2 receptor antagonist), pyridoxal 5′-phosphonucleotide derivative (a specific P2X1 antagonist), and cangrelor (a specific P2Y12 antagonist) mitigated the PLT staphylocidal response against both strains, correlating with reduced levels of PMP and PK release. Specific inhibition occurred in the presence and absence of homologous plasma. The antagonism of the thromboxane A2, cyclooxygenase-1/cyclooxygenase-2, or phospholipase C pathway or the hindrance of surface adhesion receptors failed to impede PLT anti-S. aureus responses. These results suggest a multifactorial PLT anti-S. aureus response mechanism involving (i) a PLT-to-S. aureus ratio sufficient for activation; (ii) the ensuing degranulation of PMPs, PKs, ADP, and/or ATP; (iii) the activation of P2X1/P2Y12 receptors on adjacent PLTs; and (iv) the recursive amplification of PMP and PK release from these PLTs.
Increasingly frequent reports have described the in vivo loss of daptomycin susceptibility in association with clinical treatment failures. The mechanism(s) of daptomycin resistance is not well understood. We studied an isogenic set of Staphylococcus aureus isolates from the bloodstream of a daptomycin-treated patient with recalcitrant endocarditis in which serial strains exhibited decreasing susceptibility to daptomycin. Since daptomycin is a membrane-targeting lipopeptide, we compared a number of membrane parameters in the initial blood isolate (parental) with those in subsequent daptomycin-resistant strains obtained during treatment. In comparison to the parental strain, resistant isolates demonstrated (i) enhanced membrane fluidity, (ii) increased translocation of the positively charged phospholipid lysyl-phosphotidylglycerol to the outer membrane leaflet, (iii) increased net positive surface charge (P < 0.05 versus the parental strain), (iv) reduced susceptibility to daptomycin-induced depolarization, permeabilization, and autolysis (P < 0.05 versus the parental strain), (v) significantly lower surface binding of daptomycin (P < 0.05 versus the parental strain), and (vi) increased cross-resistance to the cationic antimicrobial host defense peptides human neutrophil peptide 1 (hNP-1) and thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein 1 (tPMP-1). These data link distinct changes in membrane structure and function with in vivo development of daptomycin resistance in S. aureus. Moreover, the cross-resistance to hNP-1 and tPMP-1 may also impact the capacity of these daptomycin-resistant organisms to be cleared from sites of infection, particularly endovascular foci.