Leptospirosis is one of the most widespread zoonotic diseases in the world. It is caused by the pathogen Leptospira that results in multiple-organ failure, in particular of the kidney. Outer membrane lipoprotein is the suspected virulence factor of Leptospira. In Leptospira spp LipL41 is one major lipoprotein and is highly conserved. Previous study suggests that LipL41 bears hemin-binding ability and might play a possible role in iron regulation and storage. However, the characterization of hemin-binding ability of LipL41 is still unclear. Here the hemin-binding ability of LipL41 was examined, yielding a Kd = 0.59 ± 0.14 μM. Two possible heme regulatory motifs (HRMs), C[P/S], were found in LipL41 at 140Cys-Ser and 220Cys-Pro. The mutation study indicates that Cys140 and Cys220 might be cooperatively involved in hemin binding. A supramolecular assembly of LipL41 was determined by transmission electron microscopy. The LipL41 oligomer consists of 36 molecules and folds as a double-layered particle. At the C-terminus of LipL41, there are two tetratricopeptide repeats (TPRs), which might be involved in the protein-protein interaction of the supramolecular assembly.
The Gram-negative bacterium Gallibacterium anatis is a major cause of salpingitis and peritonitis in egg-laying chickens, leading to decreased egg production worldwide. Widespread multidrug resistance largely prevents treatment of this organism using traditional antimicrobial agents, while antigenic diversity hampers disease prevention by classical vaccines. Thus, insight into its pathogenesis and knowledge about important virulence factors is urgently required. A key event during the colonization and invasion of mucosal surfaces is adherence, and recently, at least three F17-like fimbrial gene clusters were identified in the genomes of several G. anatis strains. The objective of this study was to characterize the putative F17-like fimbrial subunit protein FlfA from G. anatis 12656-12 and determine its importance for virulence. In vitro expression and surface exposure of FlfA was demonstrated by flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy. The predicted function of FlfA as a fimbrial subunit protein was confirmed by immunogold electron microscopy. An flfA deletion mutant (ΔflfA) was generated in G. anatis 12656-12, and importantly, this mutant was significantly attenuated in the natural chicken host. Furthermore, protection against G. anatis 12656-12 could be induced by immunizing chickens with recombinant FlfA. Finally, in vitro expression of FlfA homologs was observed in a genetically diverse set of G. anatis strains, suggesting the potential of FlfA as a serotype-independent vaccine candidate This is the first study describing a fimbrial subunit protein of G. anatis with a clear potential as a vaccine antigen.
Acinetobacter baumannii is an emerging opportunistic bacterium associated with nosocomial infections in intensive care units. The alarming increase in infections caused by A. baumannii is strongly associated with enhanced resistance to antibiotics, in particular carbapenems. This, together with the lack of a licensed vaccine, has translated into significant economic, logistic and health impacts to health care facilities. In this study, we combined reverse vaccinology and proteomics to identify surface-exposed and secreted antigens from A. baumannii. Using in silico prediction tools and comparative genome analysis in combination with in vitro proteomic approaches, we identified 42 antigens that could be used as potential vaccine targets. Considering the paucity of effective antibiotics available to treat multidrug-resistant A. baumannii infections, these vaccine targets may serve as a framework for the development of a broadly protective multi-component vaccine, an outcome that would have a major impact on the burden of A. baumannii infections in intensive care units across the globe.
Contact angle analysis of cell surface hydrophobicity (CSH) describes the tendency of a water droplet to spread across a lawn of filtered bacterial cells. Colistin-induced disruption of the Gram-negative outer membrane necessitates hydrophobic contacts with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We aimed to characterize the CSH of Acinetobacter baumannii using contact angles, to provide insight into the mechanism of colistin resistance.
METHODS AND RESULTS
Contact angles were analysed for five paired colistin-susceptible and -resistant A. baumannii strains. Drainage of the water droplet through bacterial layers was demonstrated to influence results. Consequently, measurements were performed 0.66-sec after droplet deposition. Colistin-resistant cells exhibited lower contact angles (38.8±2.8° to 46.8±1.3°) compared to their paired-susceptible strains (40.7±3.0° to 48.0±1.4°; ANOVA; p<0.05). Contact angles increased at stationary phase (50.3±2.9° to 61.5±2.5° and 47.4±2.0° to 50.8±3.2°, susceptible and resistant, respectively, ANOVA; p<0.05), and in response to colistin 32-mgL−1 exposure (44.5±1.5° to 50.6±2.8° and 43.5±2.2° to 48.0±2.2°, susceptible and resistant, respectively; ANOVA; p<0.05). Analysis of complemented strains constructed with an intact lpxA gene, or empty vector, highlighted the contribution of LPS to CSH.
Compositional outer-membrane variations likely account for CSH differences between A. baumannii phenotypes, which influence the hydrophobic colistin-bacterium interaction.
SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF STUDY
Important insight into the mechanism of colistin resistance has been provided. Greater consideration of contact angle mehodology is nescessary to ensure accurate analyses are performed.
Antimicrobials; Lipopolysaccharide; Mechanism of Action
Recent evidence indicates that Kingella kingae produces a polysaccharide capsule. In an effort to determine the composition and structure of this polysaccharide capsule, in the current study we purified capsular material from the surface of K. kingae strain 269–492 variant KK01 using acidic conditions to release the capsule and a series of steps to remove DNA, RNA, and protein. Analysis of the resulting material by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry revealed N-acetyl galactosamine (GalNAc), 3-deoxy-D-manno-oct-2-ulosonic acid (Kdo), and galactose (Gal). Further analysis by NMR demonstrated two distinct polysaccharides, one consisting of GalNAc and Kdo with the structure →3)-β-GalpNAc-(1→5)-β-Kdop-(2→ and the other containing galactose alone with the structure →5)-β-Galf-(1→. Disruption of the ctrA gene required for surface localization of the K. kingae polysaccharide capsule resulted in elimination of GalNAc and Kdo but had no effect on the presence of Gal in bacterial surface extracts. In contrast, deletion of the pamABCDE locus involved in production of a reported galactan exopolysaccharide eliminated Gal but had no effect on the presence of GalNAc and Kdo in surface extracts. Disruption of ctrA and deletion of pamABCDE resulted in a loss of all carbohydrates in surface extracts. These results establish that K. kingae strain KK01 produces a polysaccharide capsule with the structure →3)-β-GalpNAc-(1→5)-β-Kdop-(2→ and a separate exopolysaccharide with the structure →5)-β-Galf-(1→. The polysaccharide capsule and the exopolysaccharide require distinct genetic loci for surface localization.
Infections caused by multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii have emerged as a serious global health problem. We have shown previously that A. baumannii can become resistant to the last-line antibiotic colistin via the loss of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), including the lipid A anchor, from the outer membrane (J. H. Moffatt, M. Harper, P. Harrison, J. D. Hale, E. Vinogradov, T. Seemann, R. Henry, B. Crane, F. St. Michael, A. D. Cox, B. Adler, R. L. Nation, J. Li, and J. D. Boyce, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 54:4971–4977, 2010). Here, we show how these LPS-deficient bacteria interact with components of the host innate immune system. LPS-deficient A. baumannii stimulated 2- to 4-fold lower levels of NF-κB activation and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) secretion from immortalized murine macrophages, but it still elicited low levels of TNF-α secretion via a Toll-like receptor 2-dependent mechanism. Furthermore, we show that while LPS-deficient A. baumannii was not altered in its resistance to human serum, it showed increased susceptibility to the human antimicrobial peptide LL-37. Thus, LPS-deficient, colistin-resistant A. baumannii shows significantly altered activation of the host innate immune inflammatory response.
Aging and a sedentary lifestyle conspire to reduce bone quantity and quality, decrease muscle mass and strength, and undermine postural stability, culminating in an elevated risk of skeletal fracture. Concurrently, a marked reduction in the available bone-marrow-derived population of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) jeopardizes the regenerative potential that is critical to recovery from musculoskeletal injury and disease. A potential way to combat the deterioration involves harnessing the sensitivity of bone to mechanical signals, which is crucial in defining, maintaining and recovering bone mass. To effectively utilize mechanical signals in the clinic as a non-drug-based intervention for osteoporosis, it is essential to identify the components of the mechanical challenge that are critical to the anabolic process. Large, intense challenges to the skeleton are generally presumed to be the most osteogenic, but brief exposure to mechanical signals of high frequency and extremely low intensity, several orders of magnitude below those that arise during strenuous activity, have been shown to provide a significant anabolic stimulus to bone. Along with positively influencing osteoblast and osteocyte activity, these low-magnitude mechanical signals bias MSC differentiation towards osteoblastogenesis and away from adipogenesis. Mechanical targeting of the bone marrow stem-cell pool might, therefore, represent a novel, drug-free means of slowing the age-related decline of the musculoskeletal system.
Johnes disease (JD), caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis (MAP), occurs worldwide as chronic granulomatous enteritis of domestic and wild ruminants. To develop a cost effective vaccine, in a previous study we constructed an attenuated Salmonella strain that expressed a fusion product made up of partial fragments of MAP antigens (Ag85A, Ag85B and SOD) that imparted protection against challenge in a mouse model. In the current study we evaluated the differential immune response and protective efficacy of the Sal-Ag vaccine against challenge in a goat model as compared to the live attenuated vaccine MAP316F. PBMCs from goats vaccinated with Sal-Ag and challenged with MAP generated significantly lower levels of IFN-γ, following in vitro stimulation with either Antigen-mix or PPD jhonin, than PBMC from MAP316F vaccinated animals. Flow cytometric analysis showed the increase in IFN-γ correlated with a significantly higher level of proliferation of CD4, CD8 and γδT cells and an increased expression of CD25 and CD45R0 in MAP316F vaccinated animals as compared to control animals. Evaluation of a range of cytokines involved in Th1, Th2, Treg, and Th17 immune responses by quantitative PCR showed low levels of expression of Th1 (IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-12) and proinflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-8, IL-18, TNF-α) in the Sal-Ag immunized group. Significant levels of Th2 and anti-inflammatory cytokines transcripts (IL-4, IL-10, IL-13, TGF-β) were expressed but their level was low and with a pattern similar to the control group. Over all, Sal-Ag vaccine imparted partial protection that limited colonization in tissues of some animals upon challenge with wild type MAP but not to the level achieved with MAP316F. In conclusion, the data indicates that Sal-Ag vaccine induced only a low level of protective immunity that failed to limit the colonization of MAP in infected animals. Hence the Sal-Ag vaccine needs further refinement to increase its efficacy.
Blood is the specimen of choice for most laboratory tests for diagnosis and disease monitoring. Sampling exhaled breath is a noninvasive alternative to phlebotomy and has the potential for real-time monitoring at the bedside. Improved instrumentation has advanced breath analysis for several gaseous compounds from humans. However, application to small animal models of diseases and physiology has been limited. To extend breath analysis to mice, we crafted a means for collecting nose-only breath samples from groups and individual animals who were awake. Samples were subjected to gas chromatography and mass spectrometry procedures developed for highly sensitive analysis of trace volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the atmosphere. We evaluated the system with experimental systemic infections of severe combined immunodeficiency Mus musculus with the bacterium Borrelia hermsii. Infected mice developed bacterial densities of ∼107 per ml of blood by day 4 or 5 and in comparison to uninfected controls had hepatosplenomegaly and elevations of both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. While 12 samples from individual infected mice on days 4 and 5 and 6 samples from uninfected mice did not significantly differ for 72 different VOCs, carbon monoxide (CO) was elevated in samples from infected mice, with a mean (95% confidence limits) effect size of 4.2 (2.8–5.6), when differences in CO2 in the breath were taken into account. Normalized CO values declined to the uninfected range after one day of treatment with the antibiotic ceftriaxone. Strongly correlated with CO in the breath were levels of heme oxygenase-1 protein in serum and HMOX1 transcripts in whole blood. These results (i) provide further evidence of the informativeness of CO concentration in the exhaled breath during systemic infection and inflammation, and (ii) encourage evaluation of this noninvasive analytic approach in other various other rodent models of infection and for utility in clinical management.
Antibiotic-resistant infections caused by gram-negative bacteria are a major healthcare concern. Repurposing drugs circumvents the time and money limitations associated with developing new antimicrobial agents needed to combat these antibiotic-resistant infections. Here we identified the off-patent antifungal agent, ciclopirox, as a candidate to repurpose for antibiotic use. To test the efficacy of ciclopirox against antibiotic-resistant pathogens, we used a curated collection of Acinetobacter baumannii, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella pneumoniae clinical isolates that are representative of known antibiotic resistance phenotypes. We found that ciclopirox, at 5–15 µg/ml concentrations, inhibited bacterial growth regardless of the antibiotic resistance status. At these same concentrations, ciclopirox reduced growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa clinical isolates, but some of these pathogens required higher ciclopirox concentrations to completely block growth. To determine how ciclopirox inhibits bacterial growth, we performed an overexpression screen in E. coli. This screen revealed that galE, which encodes UDP-glucose 4-epimerase, rescued bacterial growth at otherwise restrictive ciclopirox concentrations. We found that ciclopirox does not inhibit epimerization of UDP-galactose by purified E. coli GalE; however, ΔgalU, ΔgalE, ΔrfaI, or ΔrfaB mutant strains all have lower ciclopirox minimum inhibitory concentrations than the parent strain. The galU, galE, rfaI, and rfaB genes all encode enzymes that use UDP-galactose or UDP-glucose for galactose metabolism and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) biosynthesis. Indeed, we found that ciclopirox altered LPS composition of an E. coli clinical isolate. Taken together, our data demonstrate that ciclopirox affects galactose metabolism and LPS biosynthesis, two pathways important for bacterial growth and virulence. The lack of any reported fungal resistance to ciclopirox in over twenty years of use in the clinic, its excellent safety profiles, novel target(s), and efficacy, make ciclopirox a promising potential antimicrobial agent to use against multidrug-resistant problematic gram-negative pathogens.
LC3-associated phagocytosis (LAP) of Burkholderia pseudomallei by murine macrophage (RAW 264.7) cells is an intracellular innate defense mechanism. Beclin 1, a protein with several roles in autophagic processes, is known to be recruited to phagosomal membranes as a very early event in LAP. We sought to determine whether knockdown of Beclin 1 by small interfering RNA (siRNA) would affect recruitment of LC3 and subsequent LAP of infecting B. pseudomallei. Both starvation and rapamycin treatment can induce Beclin 1-dependent autophagy. Therefore, we analyzed the consequences of Beclin 1 knockdown for LAP in infected cells that had been either starved or treated with rapamycin by determining the levels of bacterial colocalization with LC3 and intracellular survival. Concurrently, we confirmed the location of bacteria as either contained in phagosomes or free in the cytoplasm. We found that both rapamycin and starvation treatment enhanced LAP of B. pseudomallei but that the rapamycin response is Beclin 1 independent whereas the starvation response is Beclin 1 dependent.
Pathogenic Leptospira spp. are likely to encounter higher concentrations of reactive oxygen species induced by the host innate immune response. In this study, we characterized Leptospira interrogans catalase (KatE), the only annotated catalase found within pathogenic Leptospira species, by assessing its role in resistance to H2O2-induced oxidative stress and during infection in hamsters. Pathogenic L. interrogans bacteria had a 50-fold-higher survival rate under H2O2-induced oxidative stress than did saprophytic L. biflexa bacteria, and this was predominantly catalase dependent. We also characterized KatE, the only annotated catalase found within pathogenic Leptospira species. Catalase assays performed with recombinant KatE confirmed specific catalase activity, while protein fractionation experiments localized KatE to the bacterial periplasmic space. The insertional inactivation of katE in pathogenic Leptospira bacteria drastically diminished leptospiral viability in the presence of extracellular H2O2 and reduced virulence in an acute-infection model. Combined, these results suggest that L. interrogans KatE confers in vivo resistance to reactive oxygen species induced by the host innate immune response.
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).