The surface-exposed NadA adhesin produced by a subset of capsular serogroup B strains of Neisseria meningitidis is currently being considered as a vaccine candidate to prevent invasive disease caused by a hypervirulent lineage of meningococci. Levels of NadA are known to be controlled by both transcriptional regulatory factors and a component of human saliva, 4-hydroxyphenylacetic acid. Herein, we confirmed the capacity of a DNA-binding protein termed FarR to negatively control nadA expression. We also found that a known transcriptional regulator of farR in N. gonorrhoeae termed MtrR can have a negative regulatory impact on farR and nadA expression, especially when over-expressed. MtrR-mediated repression of nadA was found to be direct, and its binding to a target DNA sequence containing the nadA promoter influenced formation and/or stability of FarR::nadA complexes. The complexity of the multi-layered regulation of nadA uncovered during this investigation suggests that N. meningitidis modulates NadA adhesin protein levels for the purpose of interacting with host cells yet avoiding antibody directed against surface exposed epitopes.
The Shigella flexneri IcsA (VirG) protein is a polarly distributed outer membrane protein that is a fundamental virulence factor which interacts with neural Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (N-WASP). The activated N-WASP then activates the Arp2/3 complex which initiates de novo actin nucleation and polymerisation to form F-actin comet tails and allows bacterial cell-to-cell spreading. In a previous study, IcsA was found to have three N-WASP interacting regions (IRs): IR I (aa 185–312), IR II (aa 330–382) and IR III (aa 508–730). The aim of this study was to more clearly define N-WASP interacting regions II and III by site-directed mutagenesis of specific amino acids. Mutant IcsA proteins were expressed in both smooth lipopolysaccharide (S-LPS) and rough LPS (R-LPS) S. flexneri strains and characterised for IcsA production level, N-WASP recruitment and F-actin comet tail formation. We have successfully identified new amino acids involved in N-WASP recruitment within different N-WASP interacting regions, and report for the first time using co-expression of mutant IcsA proteins, that N-WASP activation involves interactions with different regions on different IcsA molecules as shown by Arp3 recruitment. In addition, our findings suggest that autochaperone (AC) mutant protein production was not rescued by another AC region provided in trans, differing to that reported for two other autotransporters, PrtS and BrkA autotransporters.
Campylobater jejuni, a major foodborne diarrhoeal pathogen is reported to produce a number of cytotoxins of which only a cytolethal distending toxin (CDT) has been characterised so far. One or more additional cytotoxins other than CDT, including a Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell active, Vero cell inactive cytotoxin, may mediate inflammatory diarrhoea. Our objective was to develop a method to enrich and thus partially characterise this cytotoxin, as a pathway to the eventual identification and characterisation of the toxin.
A number of biochemical methods including cation- and anion-exchange chromatography were evaluated to enrich the cytotoxin from a cell lysate of a known cytotoxin-producing C. jejuni, C31. The cytotoxin in crude lysate was initially prepared by size-exclusion desalting and then subjected to high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) ion-exchange fractionation. One pooled fraction (pool B) was cytotoxic for CHO cells equivalent to crude toxin (tissue culture infectivity dose 50 [TCID50] of 1–2 μg/ml). The proteins of pool B were identified by mass spectrometry (MS) after separation by SDS-PAGE and trypsin digestion. Also, pool B was directly digested with trypsin and then subjected to liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LCMS) analysis for identification of lesser abundant proteins in the fraction. A total of 41 proteins were found in the fraction, which included enzymes involved in metabolic and transport functions. Eighteen non-cytoplasmic proteins including 2 major antigenic peptide proteins (PEB2 and PEB3) and 3 proteins of unknown function were also identified in the screen. Cytotoxicity in pool B was trypsin-sensitive indicating its protein nature. The cytotoxic activity was heat-stable to 50°C, and partially inactivated at 60-70°C. The pool B fraction also induced fluid accumulation in the adult rabbit ileal loop assay with cytotoxicity for mucosa confirming the presence of the cytotoxin.
We report the enrichment and partial purification of C. jejuni cytotoxin by HPLC ion-exchange chromatography. Further purification may be achieved using additional complementary chromatographic techniques. A short-list of six candidate cytotoxin proteins was identified using an LCMS screen of pool B. Successful isolation of the cytotoxin will initiate steps for the determination of the role of this cytotoxin in the pathogenesis of C. jejuni diarrhoea.
C. jejuni; Cytotoxin; Biochemical methods; HPLC ion-exchange chromatography
Invading bacteria are recognized, captured and killed by a specialized form of autophagy, called xenophagy. Recently, defects in xenophagy in Crohn’s disease (CD) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of human chronic inflammatory diseases of uncertain etiology of the gastrointestinal tract. We show here that pathogenic adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) isolated from CD patients are able to adhere and invade neutrophils, which represent the first line of defense against bacteria. Of particular interest, AIEC infection of neutrophil-like PLB-985 cells blocked autophagy at the autolysosomal step, which allowed intracellular survival of bacteria and exacerbated interleukin-8 (IL-8) production. Interestingly, this block in autophagy correlated with the induction of autophagic cell death. Likewise, stimulation of autophagy by nutrient starvation or rapamycin treatment reduced intracellular AIEC survival and IL-8 production. Finally, treatment with an inhibitor of autophagy decreased cell death of AIEC-infected neutrophil-like PLB-985 cells. In conclusion, excessive autophagy in AIEC infection triggered cell death of neutrophils.
Spirochetes have periplasmic flagella composed of a core surrounded by a sheath. The pathogen Leptospira interrogans has four flaB (proposed core subunit) and two flaA (proposed sheath subunit) genes. The flaA genes are organized in a locus with flaA2 immediately upstream of flaA1. In this study, flaA1 and flaA2 mutants were constructed by transposon mutagenesis. Both mutants still produced periplasmic flagella. The flaA1 mutant did not produce FlaA1 but continued to produce FlaA2 and retained normal morphology and virulence in a hamster model of infection but had reduced motility. The flaA2 mutant did not produce either the FlaA1 or the FlaA2 protein. Cells of the flaA2 mutant lacked the distinctive hook-shaped ends associated with L. interrogans and lacked translational motility in liquid and semisolid media. These observations were confirmed with a second, independent flaA2 mutant. The flaA2 mutant failed to cause disease in animal models of acute infection. Despite lacking FlaA proteins, the flagella of the flaA2 mutant were of the same thickness as wild-type flagella, as measured by electron microscopy, and exhibited a normal flagellum sheath, indicating that FlaA proteins are not essential for the synthesis of the flagellum sheath, as observed for other spirochetes. This study shows that FlaA subunits contribute to leptospiral translational motility, cellular shape, and virulence.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is the smallest self-replicating bacterium with a streamlined genome of 0.81 Mb. Complete genome analysis revealed the presence of multiple copies of four large repetitive elements (designated RepMP1, RepMP2/3, RepMP4 and RepMP5) that are implicated in creating sequence variations among individual strains. Recently, we described RepMP1-associated sequence variations between reference strain M129 and clinical isolate S1 that involved three RepMP1-genes (i.e. mpn130, mpn137 and mpn138). Using PCR and sequencing we analyze 28 additional M. pneumoniae strains and demonstrate the existence of S1-like sequence variants in nine strains and M129-like variants in the remaining nineteen strains. We propose a series of recombination steps that facilitates transition from M129- to S1-like sequence variants. Next we examined the remaining RepMP1-genes and observed no other rearrangements related to the repeat element. The only other detected difference was varying numbers of the 21-nucleotide tandem repeats within mpn127, mpn137, mpn501 and mpn524. Furthermore, typing of strains through analysis of large RepMPs localized within the adhesin P1 operon revealed that sequence divergence involving RepMP1-genes mpn130, mpn137 and mpn138 is strictly type-specific. Once more our analysis confirmed existence of two highly conserved groups of M. pneumoniae strains.
Infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria are a major concern in hospitals. Current infection-control practices legitimately focus on hygiene and appropriate use of antibiotics. However, little is known about the intrinsic abilities of some bacterial strains to cause outbreaks. They can be measured at a population level by the pathogen’s transmission rate, i.e. the rate at which the pathogen is transmitted from colonized hosts to susceptible hosts, or its reproduction number, counting the number of secondary cases per infected/colonized host. We collected data covering a 20-month surveillance period for carriage of multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (MDRAB) in a surgery ward. All isolates were subjected to molecular fingerprinting, and a cluster analysis of profiles was performed to identify clonal groups. We then applied stochastic transmission models to infer transmission rates of MDRAB and each MDRAB clone. Molecular fingerprinting indicated that 3 clonal complexes spread in the ward. A first model, not accounting for different clones, quantified the level of in-ward cross-transmission, with an estimated transmission rate of 0.03/day (95% credible interval [0.012–0.049]) and a single-admission reproduction number of 0.61 [0.30–1.02]. The second model, accounting for different clones, suggested an enhanced transmissibility of clone 3 (transmission rate 0.047/day [0.018–0.091], with a single-admission reproduction number of 0.81 [0.30–1.56]). Clones 1 and 2 had comparable transmission rates (respectively, 0.016 [0.001–0.045], 0.014 [0.001–0.045]). The method used is broadly applicable to other nosocomial pathogens, as long as surveillance data and genotyping information are available. Building on these results, more epidemic clones could be identified, and could lead to follow-up studies dissecting the functional basis for variation in transmissibility of MDRAB lineages.
The diminishing antimicrobial development pipeline has forced the revival of colistin as a last line of defence against infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative ‘superbugs’ such as Acinetobacter baumannii. The complete loss of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) mediates colistin resistance in some A. baumannii strains. Atomic force microscopy was used to examine the surface properties of colistin-susceptible and -resistant A. baumannii strains at mid-logarithmic and stationary growth phases in liquid and in response to colistin treatment. The contribution of LPS to surface properties was investigated using A. baumannii strains constructed with and without the lpxA gene. Bacterial spring constant measurements revealed that colistin-susceptible cells were significantly stiffer than colistin-resistant cells at both growth phases (P < 0.01), whilst colistin treatment at high concentrations (32 mg/L) resulted in more rigid surfaces for both phenotypes. Multiple, large adhesive peaks frequently noted in force curves captured on colistin-susceptible cells were not evident for colistin-resistant cells. Adhesion events were markedly reduced following colistin exposure. The cell membranes of strains of both phenotypes remained intact following colistin treatment, although fine topographical details were illustrated. These studies, conducted for the first time on live A. baumannii cells in liquid, have contributed to our understanding of the action of colistin in this problematic pathogen.
Atomic force microscopy; Colistin; Acinetobacter baumannii; Morphology; Surface properties
There is a strong need for a recombinant subunit vaccine against fowl cholera. We used a reverse vaccinology approach to identify putative secreted or cell surface associated P. multocida proteins that may represent potential vaccine candidate antigens.
A high-throughput cloning and expression protocol was used to express and purify 71 recombinant proteins for vaccine trials. Of the 71 proteins tested, only one, PlpE in denatured insoluble form, protected chickens against fowl cholera challenge. PlpE also elicited comparable levels of protection in mice. PlpE was localized by immunofluorescence to the bacterial cell surface, consistent with its ability to elicit a protective immune response. To explore the role of PlpE during infection and immunity, a plpE mutant was generated. The plpE mutant strain retained full virulence for mice.
These studies show that PlpE is a surface exposed protein and was the only protein of 71 tested that was able to elicit a protective immune response. However, PlpE is not an essential virulence factor. This is the first report of a denatured recombinant protein stimulating protection against fowl cholera.
We recently demonstrated that colistin resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii can result from mutational inactivation of genes essential for lipid A biosynthesis (Moffatt JH, et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 54:4971–4977). Consequently, strains harboring these mutations are unable to produce the major Gram-negative bacterial surface component, lipopolysaccharide (LPS). To understand how A. baumannii compensates for the lack of LPS, we compared the transcriptional profile of the A. baumannii type strain ATCC 19606 to that of an isogenic, LPS-deficient, lpxA mutant strain. The analysis of the expression profiles indicated that the LPS-deficient strain showed increased expression of many genes involved in cell envelope and membrane biogenesis. In particular, upregulated genes included those involved in the Lol lipoprotein transport system and the Mla-retrograde phospholipid transport system. In addition, genes involved in the synthesis and transport of poly-β-1,6-N-acetylglucosamine (PNAG) also were upregulated, and a corresponding increase in PNAG production was observed. The LPS-deficient strain also exhibited the reduced expression of genes predicted to encode the fimbrial subunit FimA and a type VI secretion system (T6SS). The reduced expression of genes involved in T6SS correlated with the detection of the T6SS-effector protein AssC in culture supernatants of the A. baumannii wild-type strain but not in the LPS-deficient strain. Taken together, these data show that, in response to total LPS loss, A. baumannii alters the expression of critical transport and biosynthesis systems associated with modulating the composition and structure of the bacterial surface.
Acinetobacter baumannii is an emerging bacterial pathogen that causes nosocomial pneumonia and other infections. Although it is recognized as an increasing threat to immunocompromised patients, the mechanism of host defense against A. baumannii infection remains poorly understood. In this study, we examined the potential role of macrophages in host defense against A. baumannii infection using in vitro macrophage culture and the mouse model of intranasal (i.n.) infection. Large numbers of A. baumannii were taken up by alveolar macrophages in vivo as early as 4 h after i.n. inoculation. By 24 h, the infection induced significant recruitment and activation (enhanced expression of CD80, CD86 and MHC-II) of macrophages into bronchoalveolar spaces. In vitro cell culture studies showed that A. baumannii were phagocytosed by J774A.1 (J774) macrophage-like cells within 10 minutes of co-incubation, and this uptake was microfilament- and microtubule-dependent. Moreover, the viability of phagocytosed bacteria dropped significantly between 24 and 48 h after co-incubation. Infection of J774 cells by A. baumannii resulted in the production of large amounts of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, and moderate amounts of nitric oxide (NO). Prior treatment of J774 cells with NO inhibitors significantly suppressed their bactericidal efficacy (P<0.05). Most importantly, in vivo depletion of alveolar macrophages significantly enhanced the susceptibility of mice to i.n. A. baumannii challenge (P<0.01). These results indicate that macrophages may play an important role in early host defense against A. baumannii infection through the efficient phagocytosis and killing of A. baumannii to limit initial pathogen replication and the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines for the rapid recruitment of other innate immune cells such as neutrophils.
Several Acinetobacter strains have utility for biotechnology applications, yet some are opportunistic pathogens. We compared strains of seven Acinetobacter species (baumannii, Ab; calcoaceticus, Ac; guillouiae, Ag; haemolyticus, Ah; lwoffii, Al; junii, Aj; and venetianus, Av-RAG-1) for their potential virulence attributes, including proliferation in mammalian cell conditions, haemolytic/cytolytic activity, ability to elicit inflammatory signals, and antibiotic susceptibility. Only Ah grew at 102 and 104 bacteria/well in mammalian cell culture medium at 37°C. However, co-culture with colonic epithelial cells (HT29) improved growth of all bacterial strains, except Av-RAG-1. Cytotoxicity of Ab and Ah toward HT29 was at least double that of other test bacteria. These effects included bacterial adherence, loss of metabolism, substrate detachment, and cytolysis. Only Ab and Ah exhibited resistance to killing by macrophage-like J774A.1 cells. Haemolytic activity of Ah and Av-RAG-1 was strong, but undetectable for other strains. When killed with an antibiotic, Ab, Ah, Aj and Av-RAG-1 induced 3 to 9-fold elevated HT29 interleukin (IL)-8 levels. However, none of the strains altered levels of J774A.1 pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α). Antibiotic susceptibility profiling showed that Ab, Ag and Aj were viable at low concentrations of some antibiotics. All strains were positive for virulence factor genes ompA and epsA, and negative for mutations in gyrA and parC genes that convey fluoroquinolone resistance. The data demonstrate that Av-RAG-1, Ag and Al lack some potentially harmful characteristics compared to other Acinetobacter strains tested, but the biotechnology candidate Av-RAG-1 should be scrutinized further prior to widespread use.
We previously reported that A. hydrophila GalU mutants were still able to produce UDP-glucose introduced as a glucose residue in their lipopolysaccharide core. In this study, we found the unique origin of this UDP-glucose from a branched α-glucan surface polysaccharide. This glucan, surface attached through the O-antigen ligase (WaaL), is common to the mesophilic Aeromonas strains tested. The Aeromonas glucan is produced by the action of the glycogen synthase (GlgA) and the UDP-Glc pyrophosphorylase (GlgC), the latter wrongly indicated as an ADP-Glc pyrophosphorylase in the Aeromonas genomes available. The Aeromonas glycogen synthase is able to react with UDP or ADP-glucose, which is not the case of E. coli glycogen synthase only reacting with ADP-glucose. The Aeromonas surface glucan has a role enhancing biofilm formation. Finally, for the first time to our knowledge, a clear preference on behalf of bacterial survival and pathogenesis is observed when choosing to produce one or other surface saccharide molecules to produce (lipopolysaccharide core or glucan).
H. pylori drug-resistant strains and non-compliance to therapy are the major causes of H. pylori eradication failure. For some bacterial species it has been demonstrated that fatty acids have a growth inhibitory effect. Our main aim was to assess the ability of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to inhibit H. pylori growth both in vitro and in a mouse model. The effectiveness of standard therapy (ST) in combination with DHA on H. pylori eradication and recurrence prevention success was also investigated. The effects of DHA on H. pylori growth were analyzed in an in vitro dose-response study and n in vivo model. We analized the ability of H. pylori to colonize mice gastric mucosa following DHA, ST or a combination of both treatments. Our data demonstrate that DHA decreases H. pylori growth in vitro in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, DHA inhibits H. pylori gastric colonization in vivo as well as decreases mouse gastric mucosa inflammation. Addition of DHA to ST was also associated with lower H. pylori infection recurrence in the mouse model. In conclusion, DHA is an inhibitor of H. pylori growth and its ability to colonize mouse stomach. DHA treatment is also associated with a lower recurrence of H. pylori infection in combination with ST. These observations pave the way to consider DHA as an adjunct agent in H. pylori eradication treatment.
Unambiguous identification of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) is not possible by conventional microbiology. Molecular characterisation of phenotypically defined NTHi isolates suggests that up to 40% are Haemophilus haemolyticus (Hh); however, the genetic similarity of NTHi and Hh limits the power of simple molecular techniques such as PCR for species discrimination.
Here we assess the ability of previously published and novel PCR-based assays to identify true NTHi. Sixty phenotypic NTHi isolates, classified by a dual 16S rRNA gene PCR algorithm as NTHi (n = 22), Hh (n = 27) or equivocal (n = 11), were further characterised by sequencing of the 16S rRNA and recA genes then interrogated by PCR-based assays targeting the omp P2, omp P6, lgtC, hpd, 16S rRNA, fucK and iga genes. The sequencing data and PCR results were used to define NTHi for this study. Two hpd real time PCR assays (hpd#1 and hpd#3) and the conventional iga PCR assay were equally efficient at differentiating study-defined NTHi from Hh, each with a receiver operator characteristic curve area of 0.90 [0.83; 0.98]. The hpd#1 and hpd#3 assays were completely specific against a panel of common respiratory bacteria, unlike the iga PCR, and the hpd#3 assay was able to detect below 10 copies per reaction.
Our data suggest an evolutionary continuum between NTHi and Hh and therefore no single gene target could completely differentiate NTHi from Hh. The hpd#3 real time PCR assay proved to be the superior method for discrimination of NTHi from closely related Haemophilus species with the added potential for quantification of H. influenzae directly from specimens. We suggest the hpd#3 assay would be suitable for routine NTHi surveillance and to assess the impact of antibiotics and vaccines, on H. influenzae carriage rates, carriage density, and disease.
Background. Leptospira species cause leptospirosis, a zoonotic disease found worldwide. Current vaccines against leptospirosis provide protection only against closely related serovars.
Methods. We evaluated an attenuated transposon mutant of Leptospira interrogans serovar Manilae (M1352, defective in lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis) as a live vaccine against leptospirosis. Hamsters received a single dose of vaccine and were challenged with the homologous serovar (Manilae) and a serologically unrelated heterologous serovar (Pomona). Comparisons were made with killed vaccines. Potential cross-protective antigens against leptospirosis were investigated.
Results. Live M1352 vaccine induced superior protection in hamsters against homologous challenge. The live vaccine also stimulated cross-protection against heterologous challenge, with 100% survival (live M1352) versus 40% survival (killed vaccine). Hamsters receiving either vaccine responded to the dominant membrane proteins LipL32 and LipL41. Hamsters receiving the live vaccine additionally recognized LA3961/OmpL36 (unknown function), Loa22 (OmpA family protein, recognized virulence factor), LA2372 (general secretory protein G), and LA1939 (hypothetical protein). Manilae LigA was recognized by M1352 vaccinates, whereas LipL36 was detected in Pomona.
Conclusion. This study demonstrated that a live, attenuated vaccine can stimulate cross-protective immunity to L. interrogans and has identified antigens that potentially confer cross-protection against leptospirosis.
Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causal agent of melioidosis, employs a number of virulence factors during its infection of mammalian cells. One such factor is the type three secretion system (TTSS), which is proposed to mediate the transport and secretion of bacterial effector molecules directly into host cells. The B. pseudomallei genome contains three TTSS gene clusters (designated TTSS1, TTSS2, and TTSS3). Previous research has indicated that neither TTSS1 nor TTSS2 is involved in B. pseudomallei virulence in a hamster infection model. We have characterized a B. pseudomallei mutant lacking expression of the predicted TTSS1 ATPase encoded by bpscN. This mutant was significantly attenuated for virulence in a respiratory melioidosis mouse model of infection. In addition, analyses in vitro showed diminished survival and replication in RAW264.7 cells and an increased level of colocalization with the autophagy marker protein LC3 but an unhindered ability to escape from phagosomes. Taken together, these data provide evidence that the TTSS1 bpscN gene product plays an important role in the intracellular survival of B. pseudomallei and the pathogenesis of murine infection.
A major limitation in the clinical management and experimental research of leptospirosis is the poor performance of the available methods for the direct detection of leptospires. In this study, we compared real-time PCR (qPCR), targeting the lipL32 gene, with the immunofluorescent imprint method (IM) for the detection and quantification of leptospires in kidney samples from the rat and hamster experimental models of leptospirosis. Using a virulent strain of Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni, a chronic infection was established in the rat model, which were euthanized 28 days post-infection, while the hamster model simulated an acute infection and the hamsters were euthanized eight days after inoculation. Leptospires in the kidney samples were detected using culture isolation, qPCR and the IM, and quantified using qPCR and the IM. In both the acute and chronic infection models, the correlation between quantification by qPCR and the IM was found to be positive and statistically significant (P<0.05). Therefore, this study demonstrates that the IM is a viable alternative for not only the detection but also the quantification of leptospires, particularly when the use of qPCR is not feasible.
Aeromonas species are common inhabitants of aquatic environments giving rise to infections in both fish and humans. Identification of aeromonads to the species level is problematic and complex due to their phenotypic and genotypic heterogeneity.
Aeromonas hydrophila or Aeromonas sp were genetically re-identified using a combination of previously published methods targeting GCAT, 16S rDNA and rpoD genes. Characterization based on the genus specific GCAT-PCR showed that 94 (96%) of the 98 strains belonged to the genus Aeromonas. Considering the patterns obtained for the 94 isolates with the 16S rDNA-RFLP identification method, 3 clusters were recognised, i.e. A. caviae (61%), A. hydrophila (17%) and an unknown group (22%) with atypical RFLP restriction patterns. However, the phylogenetic tree constructed with the obtained rpoD sequences showed that 47 strains (50%) clustered with the sequence of the type strain of A. aquariorum, 18 (19%) with A. caviae, 16 (17%) with A. hydrophila, 12 (13%) with A. veronii and one strain (1%) with the type strain of A. trota. PCR investigation revealed the presence of 10 virulence genes in the 94 isolates as: lip (91%), exu (87%), ela (86%), alt (79%), ser (77%), fla (74%), aer (72%), act (43%), aexT (24%) and ast (23%).
This study emphasizes the importance of using more than one method for the correct identification of Aeromonas strains. The sequences of the rpoD gene enabled the unambiguous identication of the 94 Aeromonas isolates in accordance with results of other recent studies. Aeromonas aquariorum showed to be the most prevalent species (50%) containing an important subset of virulence genes lip/alt/ser/fla/aer. Different combinations of the virulence genes present in the isolates indicate their probable role in the pathogenesis of Aeromonas infections.
A fluorescence microscopy method to directly follow the localization of defined proteins in Staphylococcus was hampered by the unstable fluorescence of fluorescent proteins. Here, we constructed plasmid (pCX) encoded red fluorescence (RF) mCherry (mCh) hybrids, namely mCh-cyto (no signal peptide and no sorting sequence), mCh-sec (with signal peptide), and mCh-cw (with signal peptide and cell wall sorting sequence). The S. aureus clones targeted mCh-fusion proteins into the cytosol, the supernatant and the cell envelope respectively; in all cases mCherry exhibited bright fluorescence. In staphylococci two types of signal peptides (SP) can be distinguished: the +YSIRK motif SPlip and the −YSIRK motif SPsasF. mCh-hybrids supplied with the +YSIRK motif SPlip were always expressed higher than those with −YSIRK motif SPsasF. To study the location of the anchoring process and also the influence of SP type, mCh-cw was supplied on the one hand with +YSIRK motif (mCh-cw1) and the other hand with -YSIRK motif (mCh-cw2). MCh-cw1 preferentially localized at the cross wall, while mCh-cw2 preferentially localized at the peripheral wall. Interestingly, when treated with sub-lethal concentrations of penicillin or moenomycin, both mCh-cw1 and mCh-cw2 were concentrated at the cross wall. The shift from the peripheral wall to the cross wall required Sortase A (SrtA), as in the srtA mutant this effect was blunted. The effect is most likely due to antibiotic mediated increase of free anchoring sites (Lipid II) at the cross wall, the substrate of SrtA, leading to a preferential incorporation of anchored proteins at the cross wall.
Zoonotic diseases account for over 60% of all communicable diseases causing illness in humans and 75% of recently emerging infectious diseases. As limited resources are available for the control and prevention of zoonotic diseases, it is necessary to prioritize diseases in order to direct resources into those with the greatest needs. The selection of criteria for prioritization has traditionally been on the basis of expert opinion; however, details of the methods used to identify criteria from expert opinion often are not published and a full range of criteria may not be captured by expert opinion.
This study used six focus groups to identify criteria for the prioritization of zoonotic diseases in Canada. Focus groups included people from the public, animal health professionals and human health professionals. A total of 59 criteria were identified for prioritizing zoonotic diseases. Human-related criteria accounted for the highest proportion of criteria identified (55%), followed by animal-related criteria (26%) then pathogen/disease-related criteria (19%).
Similarities and differences were observed in the identification and scoring of criteria for disease prioritization between groups; the public groups were strongly influenced by the individual-level of disease burden, the responsibility of the scientific community in disease prioritization and the experiences of recent events while the professional groups were influenced by the societal- and population-level of disease burden and political and public pressure.
This was the first study to describe a mixed semi-quantitative and qualitative approach to deriving criteria for disease prioritization. This was also the first study to involve the opinion of the general public regarding disease prioritization. The number of criteria identified highlights the difficulty in prioritizing zoonotic diseases. The method presented in this paper has formulated a comprehensive list of criteria that can be used to inform future disease prioritization studies.
Electrostatic forces mediate the initial interaction between cationic colistin and Gram-negative bacterial cells. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) loss mediates colistin resistance in some A. baumannii strains. Our aim was to determine the surface charge of colistin-susceptible and –resistant A. baumannii as a function of growth phase and in response to polymyxin treatment.
The zeta potential of A. baumannii ATCC 19606 and 10 clinical multidrug-resistant strains (MICs 0.5–2 mg/L) was assessed. Colistin-resistant derivatives (MIC >128 mg/L) of wild-type strains were selected in the presence of 10 mg/L colistin, including the LPS-deficient lpxA mutant, ATCC 19606R. To determine the contribution of LPS to surface charge, two complemented ATCC 19606R derivatives were examined, namely ATCC 19606R + lpxA (containing an intact lpxA gene) and ATCC 19606R + V (containing empty vector). Investigations were conducted as a function of growth phase and polymyxin treatment (1, 4 and 8 mg/L).
Wild-type cells exhibited a greater negative charge (−60.5 ± 2.36 to −26.2 ± 2.56 mV) thancolistin-resistant cells (−49.2 ± 3.09 to −19.1 ± 2.80 mV) at mid-log phase (ANOVA, P < 0.05). Opposing growth-phase trends were observed for both phenotypes: wild-type cells displayed reduced negative charge and colistin-resistant cells displayed increased negative charge at stationary compared with mid-logarithmic phase. Polymyxin exposure resulted in a concentration-dependent increase in zeta potential. Examination of ATCC 19606R and complemented strains supported the importance of LPS in determining surface charge, suggesting a potential mechanism of colistin resistance.
Zeta potential differences between A. baumannii phenotypes probably reflect compositional outer-membrane variations that impact the electrostatic component of colistin activity.
physicochemical properties; Gram-negative; polymyxin
Infections caused by Acinetobacter baumannii are of increasing concern, largely due to the multidrug resistance of many strains. Here we show that insertion sequence ISAba11 movement can result in inactivation of the A. baumannii lipid A biosynthesis genes lpxA and lpxC, resulting in the complete loss of lipopolysaccharide production and high-level colistin resistance.
The genome of Shigella, a gram negative bacterium which is the causative agent of bacillary dysentery, shares strong homologies with that of its commensal ancestor, Escherichia coli. The acquisition, by lateral gene transfer, of a large plasmid carrying virulence determinants has been a crucial event in the evolution towards the pathogenic lifestyle and has been paralleled by the occurrence of mutations affecting genes, which negatively interfere with the expression of virulence factors. In this context, we have analysed to what extent the presence of the plasmid-encoded virF gene, the major activator of the Shigella regulon for invasive phenotype, has modified the transcriptional profile of E. coli. Combining results from transcriptome assays and comparative genome analyses we show that in E. coli VirF, besides being able to up-regulate several chromosomal genes, which potentially influence bacterial fitness within the host, also activates genes which have been lost by Shigella. We have focused our attention on the speG gene, which encodes spermidine acetyltransferase, an enzyme catalysing the conversion of spermidine into the physiologically inert acetylspermidine, since recent evidence stresses the involvement of polyamines in microbial pathogenesis. Through identification of diverse mutations, which prevent expression of a functional SpeG protein, we show that the speG gene has been silenced by convergent evolution and that its inactivation causes the marked increase of intracellular spermidine in all Shigella spp. This enhances the survival of Shigella under oxidative stress and allows it to better face the adverse conditions it encounters inside macrophage. This is supported by the outcome of infection assays performed in mouse peritoneal macrophages and of a competitive-infection assay on J774 macrophage cell culture. Our observations fully support the pathoadaptive nature of speG inactivation in Shigella and reveal that the accumulation of spermidine is a key determinant in the pathogenicity strategy adopted by this microrganism.
Coxiella burnetii, the etiologic agent of human Q fever, is a Gram-negative and naturally obligate intracellular bacterium. The O-specific polysaccharide chain (O-PS) of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of C. burnetii is considered a heteropolymer of the two unusual sugars β-D-virenose and dihydrohydroxystreptose and mannose. We hypothesize that GDP-D-mannose is a metabolic intermediate to GDP-β-D-virenose. GDP-D-mannose is synthesized from fructose-6-phosphate in 3 successive reactions; Isomerization to mannose-6-phosphate catalyzed by a phosphomannose isomerase (PMI), followed by conversion to mannose-1-phosphate mediated by a phosphomannomutase (PMM) and addition of GDP by a GDP-mannose pyrophosphorylase (GMP). GDP-D-mannose is then likely converted to GDP-6-deoxy-D-lyxo-hex-4-ulopyranose (GDP-Sug), a virenose intermediate, by a GDP-mannose-4,6-dehydratase (GMD). To test the validity of this pathway in C. burnetii, three open reading frames (CBU0671, CBU0294 and CBU0689) annotated as bifunctional type II PMI, as PMM or GMD were functionally characterized by complementation of corresponding E. coli mutant strains and in enzymatic assays. CBU0671, failed to complement an Escherichia coli manA (PMM) mutant strain. However, complementation of an E. coli manC (GMP) mutant strain restored capsular polysaccharide biosynthesis. CBU0294 complemented a Pseudomonas aeruginosa algC (GMP) mutant strain and showed phosphoglucomutase activity (PGM) in a pgm E. coli mutant strain. Despite the inability to complement a manA mutant, recombinant C. burnetii PMI protein showed PMM enzymatic activity in biochemical assays. CBU0689 showed dehydratase activity and determined kinetic parameters were consistent with previously reported data from other organisms. These results show the biological function of three C. burnetii LPS biosynthesis enzymes required for the formation of GDP-D-mannose and GDP-Sug. A fundamental understanding of C. burnetii genes that encode PMI, PMM and GMP is critical to fully understand the biosynthesic pathway of GDP-β-D-virenose and LPS structure in C. burnetii.