Primary Sjögren's Syndrome (PSS) is a highly prevalent autoimmune disease, typically manifesting as lymphocytic infiltration of the exocrine glands leading to chronically impaired lacrimal and salivary secretion. Sjögren's Syndrome nuclear autoantigen 1 (SSNA1 or NA14) is a major specific target for autoantibodies in PSS but the precise function and clinical relevance of this protein are largely unknown. Orthologues of the gene are absent from many of the commonly used model organisms but are present in Chlamyodomonas reinhardtii (in which it has been termed DIP13) and most protozoa. We report the functional characterisation of the orthologue of SSNA1 in the kinetoplastid parasite, Trypanosoma brucei. Both TbDIP13 and human SSNA1 are small coiled-coil proteins which are predicted to be remote homologues of the actin-binding protein tropomyosin. We use comparative proteomic methods to identify potential interacting partners of TbDIP13. We also show evidence that TbDIP13 is able to self-assemble into fibril-like structures both in vitro and in vivo, a property which may contribute to its immunogenicity. Endogenous TbDIP13 partially co-localises with acetylated α-tubulin in the insect procyclic stage of the parasite. However, deletion of the DIP13 gene in cultured bloodstream and procyclic stages of T. brucei has little effect on parasite growth or morphology, indicating either a degree of functional redundancy or a function in an alternative stage of the parasite life cycle.
We report here the first integrated investigation of both ancient DNA and proteins in archaeobotanical samples: medieval grape (Vitis vinifera L.) seeds, preserved by anoxic waterlogging, from an early medieval (seventh–eighth century A.D.) Byzantine rural settlement in the Salento area (Lecce, Italy) and a late (fourteenth–fifteenth century A.D.) medieval site in York (England). Pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry documented good carbohydrate preservation, whilst amino acid analysis revealed approximately 90% loss of the original protein content. In the York sample, mass spectrometry-based sequencing identified several degraded ancient peptides. Nuclear microsatellite locus (VVS2, VVMD5, VVMD7, ZAG62 and ZAG79) analysis permitted a tentative comparison of the genetic profiles of both the ancient samples with the modern varieties. The ability to recover microsatellite DNA has potential to improve biomolecular analysis on ancient grape seeds from archaeological contexts. Although the investigation of five microsatellite loci cannot assign the ancient samples to any geographic region or modern cultivar, the results allow speculation that the material from York was not grown locally, whilst the remains from Supersano could represent a trace of contacts with the eastern Mediterranean.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00114-009-0629-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Archaeobotany; Grape; Ancient DNA; Ancient proteins; Mass spectrometry; Proteomics; Vitis vinifera
Recreational activities, such as water sports and adventure travel, are emerging as an important risk factor for leptospirosis, a potentially fatal zoonosis. We report the clinical course of 2 patients who acquired leptospirosis through participation in water sports. Physicians caring for patients who participate in adventure travel involving water sports should be familiar with the risk factors for and diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of leptospirosis.
In vivo induced antigen technology (IVIAT) is an immuno-screening technique that identifies bacterial antigens expressed during infection and not during standard in vitro culturing conditions. We applied IVIAT to Bacillus anthracis and identified PagA, seven members of a N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase autolysin family, three P60 family lipoproteins, two transporters, spore cortex lytic protein SleB, a penicillin binding protein, a putative prophage holin, respiratory nitrate reductase NarG, and three proteins of unknown function. Using quantitative real-time PCR comparing RNA isolated from in vitro cultured B. anthracis to RNA isolated from BALB/c mice infected with virulent Ames strain B. anthracis, we confirmed induced expression in vivo for a subset of B. anthracis genes identified by IVIAT, including L-alanine amidases BA3767, BA4073, and amiA (pXO2-42); the bacteriophage holin gene BA4074; and pagA (pXO1-110). The exogenous addition of two purified putative autolysins identified by IVIAT, N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidases BA0485 and BA2446, to vegetative B. anthracis cell suspensions induced a species-specific change in bacterial morphology and reduction in viable bacterial cells. Many of the proteins identified in our screen are predicted to affect peptidoglycan re-modeling, and our results support significant cell wall structural remodeling activity during B. anthracis infection. Identification of L-alanine amidases with B. anthracis specificity may suggest new potential therapeutic targets.
Buruli ulcer disease (BUD) is an emerging disease caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans. In the present study we have characterized the serological reactivities of sera from volunteer case patients with laboratory-confirmed BUD and controls living in three different regions of Ghana where the disease is endemic to determine if serology may be useful for disease confirmation. Our results showed highly reactive immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses among patients with laboratory-confirmed disease, healthy control family members of the case patients, and sera from patients with tuberculosis from areas where BUD is not endemic. These responses were represented by reactivities to multiple protein bands found in the M. ulcerans culture filtrate (CF). In contrast, patient IgM antibody responses to the M. ulcerans CF (MUCF) proteins were more distinct than those of healthy family members living in the same village. A total of 84.8% (56 of 66) of the BUD patients exhibited strong IgM antibody responses against MUCF proteins (30, 43 and 70 to 80 kDa), whereas only 4.5% (3 of 66) of the family controls exhibited such responses. The sensitivity of the total IgM response for the patients was 84.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 74.3 to 91.6%), and the specificity determined with sera from family controls was 95.5% (95% CI, 87.5 to 98.4%). These studies suggest that the IgM responses of patients with BUD will be helpful in the identification and production of the M. ulcerans recombinant antigens required for the development of a sensitive and specific serological assay for the confirmation of active BUD.
After the intentional release of Bacillus anthracis through the U.S. Postal Service in the fall of 2001, many environments were contaminated with B. anthracis spores, and frequent inquiries were made regarding the science of destroying these spores. We conducted a survey of the literature that had potential application to the inactivation of B. anthracis spores. This article provides a tabular summary of the results.
Bacillus anthracis; sporicidal efficacy; heat inactivation; chemical sterilization; gaseous sterilization; and radiation; synopsis
Because of the emergence of Buruli ulcer disease, the World Health Organization launched a Global Buruli Ulcer Initiative in 1998. This indolent skin infection is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans. During a study of risk factors for the disease in Ghana, adequate excisional skin-biopsy specimens were obtained from 124 clinically suspicious lesions. Buruli ulcer disease was diagnosed in 78 lesions since acid-fast bacilli (AFB) were found by histopathologic examination. Lesions with other diagnoses included filariasis (3 cases), zygomycosis (2 cases), ulcerative squamous cell carcinomas (2 cases), keratin cyst (1 case), and lymph node (1 case). Thirty-seven specimens that did not show AFB were considered suspected Buruli ulcer disease cases. Necrosis of subcutaneous tissues and dermal collagen were found more frequently in AFB-positive specimens compared with specimens from suspected case-patients (p<0.001). Defining histologic criteria for a diagnosis of Buruli ulcer disease is of clinical and public health importance since it would allow earlier treatment, leading to less deforming sequelae.
Mycobacterium ulcerans; Buruli ulcer; histopathology; PCR; culture; acid-fast bacilli; research
Adventure travel is becoming more popular, increasing the likelihood of contact with unusual pathogens. We investigated an outbreak of leptospirosis in “Eco-Challenge” multisport race athletes to determine illness etiology and implement public health measures. Of 304 athletes, we contacted 189 (62%) from the United States and 26 other countries. Eighty (42%) athletes met our case definition. Twenty-nine (36%) case-patients were hospitalized; none died. Logistic regression showed swimming in the Segama River (relative risk [RR]=2.0; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.3 to 3.1) to be an independent risk factor. Twenty-six (68%) of 38 case-patients tested positive for leptospiral antibodies. Taking doxycycline before or during the race was protective (RR=0.4, 95% CI=0.2 to 1.2) for the 20 athletes who reported using it. Increased adventure travel may lead to more frequent exposure to leptospires, and preexposure chemoprophylaxis for leptospirosis (200 mg oral doxycycline/week) may decrease illness risk. Efforts are needed to inform adventure travel participants of unique infections such as leptospirosis.
leptospirosis; febrile illness; adventure travel immunoassay; doxycycline; research
We examined outbreak investigations conducted around the world from 1988 to 1999 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. In 44 (4.0%) of 1,099 investigations, identified causative agents had bioterrorism potential. In six investigations, intentional use of infectious agents was considered. Healthcare providers reported 270 (24.6%) outbreaks and infection control practitioners reported 129 (11.7%); together they reported 399 (36.3%) of the outbreaks. Health departments reported 335 (30.5%) outbreaks. For six outbreaks in which bioterrorism or intentional contamination was possible, reporting was delayed for up to 26 days. We confirmed that the most critical component for bioterrorism outbreak detection and reporting is the frontline healthcare profession and the local health departments. Bioterrorism preparedness should emphasize education and support of this frontline as well as methods to shorten the time between outbreak and reporting.
Bioterrorism; Preparedness; Outbreak; Anthrax; perspective
Four rapid tests for the serologic diagnosis of leptospirosis were evaluated, and the performance of each was compared with that of the current standard, the microscopic agglutination test (MAT). The four rapid tests were a microplate immunoglobulin M (IgM)-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), an indirect hemagglutination assay (IHA), an IgM dipstick assay (LDS), and an IgM dot-ELISA dipstick test (DST). A panel of 276 sera from 133 cases of leptospirosis from four different geographic locations was tested as well as 642 sera from normal individuals or individuals with other infectious or autoimmune diseases. Acute-phase sera from cases (n = 148) were collected ≤14 days (median = 6.0) after the onset of symptoms, and convalescent-phase sera (n = 128) were collected ≥15 days after onset (median = 29.1). By a traditional method (two-by-two contingency table), the sensitivities for detection of leptospirosis cases were 93.2% by LDS, 92.5% by DST, 86.5% by ELISA, and 79.0% by IHA. Specificity was 98.8% by DST, 97% by ELISA and MAT, 95.8% by IHA, and 89.6% by LDS. With a latent class analysis (LCA) model that included all the rapid tests and the clinical case definition, sensitivity was 95.5% by DST, 94.5% by LDS, 89.9% by ELISA, and 81.1% by IHA. The sensitivity and specificity estimated by the traditional methods were quite close to the LCA estimates. However, LCA allowed estimation of the sensitivity of the MAT (98.2%), which traditional methods do not allow. For acute-phase sera, sensitivity was 52.7% by LDS, 50.0% by DST, 48.7% by MAT and ELISA, and 38.5% by IHA. The sensitivity for convalescent-phase sera was 93.8% by MAT, 84.4% by DST, 83.6% by LDS, 75.0% by ELISA, and 67.2% by IHA. A good overall correlation with the MAT was obtained for each of the assays, with the highest concordance being with the DST (kappa value, 0.85; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.8 to 0.90). The best correlation was between ELISA and DST (kappa value, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.81 to 0.91). False-positive LDS results were frequent (≥20%) in sera from individuals with Epstein-Barr virus, human immunodeficiency virus, and periodontal disease and from healthy volunteers. The ease of use and significantly high sensitivity and specificity of DST and ELISA make these good choices for diagnostic testing.
Mycobacterium ulcerans causes Buruli ulcer disease (BUD), an ulcerative skin disease emerging mainly in West Africa. Laboratory confirmation of BUD is complicated as no “gold standard” for diagnosis exists. A nested primer PCR based on IS2404 has shown promise as a diagnostic assay. We evaluated the IS2404-based PCR to detect M. ulcerans DNA in tissue specimens from 143 BUD patients diagnosed according to the World Health Organization BUD clinical case definition in Ghana. Comparisons were made with culture and histopathology results. Variables influencing detection rate tested in this PCR protocol included the amount of tissue used and the stage of disease. The nested PCR was repeated on DNA extracted from a different part of the same biopsy specimen of 21 culture-positive samples. Of all 143 specimens, 107 (74.8%; 95% confidence interval, 68 to 82%) showed the presence of M. ulcerans DNA by PCR. Of the 78 histology-confirmed BUD patient samples, 64 (83%) were PCR positive. Detection rates were influenced neither by the amount of tissue processed for PCR nor by the stage of disease (preulcerative or ulcerative). Taken together, the two nested PCR tests on the subset of 21 culture-positive samples were able to detect M. ulcerans DNA in all 21 culture-confirmed patients. For future studies, small tissue samples, e.g., punch biopsy samples, might be sufficient for case confirmation.
After an outbreak of leptospirosis in workers who participated in cleaning a pond during September 1999 in Thailand, a serologic survey was conducted. Among a cohort of 104 persons from one village who participated in pond cleaning activity, 43 (41.3%) were seropositive for immunoglobulin M antibodies against Leptospira, indicating recent infection. Only 17 (39.5%) of 43 seropositive persons reported a recent febrile illness; the remaining seropositive persons were considered asymptomatic, suggesting that asymptomatic leptospirosis infection may be common where leptospirosis is endemic. Multivariable logistic regression indicated that wearing long pants or skirts was independently protective against leptospirosis infection (ORadjusted = 0.217), while the presence of more than two wounds on the body was independently associated with infection (ORadjusted = 3.97). Educational efforts should be enhanced in areas where leptospirosis is endemic to encourage the use of protective clothing. In addition wound management and avoidance of potentially contaminated water when skin wounds are present should be included in health education programs.
Leptospirosis; Leptospira; skin wounds; control strategies; Thailand
The bioterrorism-associated human anthrax epidemic in the fall of 2001 highlighted the need for a sensitive, reproducible, and specific laboratory test for the confirmatory diagnosis of human anthrax. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed, optimized, and rapidly qualified an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies to Bacillus anthracis protective antigen (PA) in human serum. The qualified ELISA had a minimum detection limit of 0.06 µg/mL, a reliable lower limit of detection of 0.09 µg/mL, and a lower limit of quantification in undiluted serum specimens of 3.0 µg/mL anti-PA IgG. The diagnostic sensitivity of the assay was 97.8%, and the diagnostic specificity was 94.2%. A competitive inhibition anti-PA IgG ELISA was also developed to enhance diagnostic specificity to 100%. The anti-PA ELISAs proved valuable for the confirmation of cases of cutaneous and inhalational anthrax and evaluation of patients in whom the diagnosis of anthrax was being considered.
Bacillus anthracis; anthrax; antibody; assay; toxin; bioterrorism; ELISA; serology
We used unpublished reports, published manuscripts, and communication with investigators to identify and summarize 49 anthrax-related epidemiologic field investigations conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1950 to August 2001. Of 41 investigations in which Bacillus anthracis caused human or animal disease, 24 were in agricultural settings, 11 in textile mills, and 6 in other settings. Among the other investigations, two focused on building decontamination, one was a response to bioterrorism threats, and five involved other causes. Knowledge gained in these investigations helped guide the public health response to the October 2001 intentional release of B. anthracis, especially by addressing the management of anthrax threats, prevention of occupational anthrax, use of antibiotic prophylaxis in exposed persons, use of vaccination, spread of B. anthracis spores in aerosols, clinical diagnostic and laboratory confirmation methods, techniques for environmental sampling of exposed surfaces, and methods for decontaminating buildings.
anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; bacterial infections; disease outbreaks; public health; bioterrorism; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.); historical article (publication type); zoonoses
On October 12, 2001, two envelopes containing Bacillus anthracis spores passed through a sorting machine in a postal facility in Washington, D.C. When anthrax infection was identified in postal workers 9 days later, the facility was closed. To determine if exposure to airborne B. anthracis spores continued to occur, we performed air sampling around the contaminated sorter. One CFU of B. anthracis was isolated from 990 L of air sampled before the machine was activated. Six CFUs were isolated during machine activation and processing of clean dummy mail. These data indicate that an employee working near this machine might inhale approximately 30 B. anthracis-containing particles during an 8-h work shift. What risk this may have represented to postal workers is not known, but the risk is approximately 20-fold less than estimates of sub-5 micron B. anthracis-containing particles routinely inhaled by asymptomatic, unvaccinated workers in a goat-hair mill.
Bacillus anthracis; anthrax; risk assessment; occupational exposure
In October 2001, the first inhalational anthrax case in the United States since 1976 was identified in a media company worker in Florida. A national investigation was initiated to identify additional cases and determine possible exposures to Bacillus anthracis. Surveillance was enhanced through health-care facilities, laboratories, and other means to identify cases, which were defined as clinically compatible illness with laboratory-confirmed B. anthracis infection. From October 4 to November 20, 2001, 22 cases of anthrax (11 inhalational, 11 cutaneous) were identified; 5 of the inhalational cases were fatal. Twenty (91%) case-patients were either mail handlers or were exposed to worksites where contaminated mail was processed or received. B. anthracis isolates from four powder-containing envelopes, 17 specimens from patients, and 106 environmental samples were indistinguishable by molecular subtyping. Illness and death occurred not only at targeted worksites, but also along the path of mail and in other settings. Continued vigilance for cases is needed among health-care providers and members of the public health and law enforcement communities.
anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; public health; research; priority-setting
From 1974 to 1998, 22 isolates of an unusual bacterium, designated as CDC group nonoxidizer 1 (NO-1), were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for identification. The organism's phenotypic characteristics were similar to asaccharolytic strains of Acinetobacter, but differed in their cellular morphology and cellular fatty acid profile. We report here on NO-1's clinical and epidemiologic significance. In all cases, isolates were recovered from an animal bite wound; 17 (77%) were isolated from a dog bite wound, 4 (18%) from a cat bite wound, and one (5%) from an unspecified animal bite. Clinical data were retrieved and reviewed for 12 (55%) of the 22 bite victims. None of the patients had pre-existing conditions associated with immunosuppression. Seven (58%) patients were hospitalized for a median stay of 5 days (range, 2 to 11 days). The median time between bite to the worsening of symptoms was 17.5 hours (range, 3 to 78 hours). All patients recovered following antibiotic treatment.
zoonotic; bite wound; CDC Nonoxidizer Group 1 (NO-1)