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1.  Evaluation of biological safety in vitro and immunogenicity in vivo of recombinant Escherichia coli Shiga toxoids as candidate vaccines in cattle 
Veterinary Research  2015;46(1):38.
Cattle are the most important reservoir for enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), a subset of shigatoxigenic E. coli (STEC) capable of causing life-threatening infectious diseases in humans. In cattle, Shiga toxins (Stx) suppress the immune system thereby promoting long-term STEC shedding. First infections of animals at calves’ age coincide with the lack of Stx-specific antibodies. We hypothesize that vaccination of calves against Shiga toxins prior to STEC infection may help to prevent the establishment of a persistent type of infection. The objectives of this study were to generate recombinant Shiga toxoids (rStx1mut & rStx2mut) by site-directed mutagenesis and to assess their immunomodulatory, antigenic, and immunogenic properties. Cultures of bovine primary immune cells were used as test systems. In ileal intraepithelial lymphocytes both, recombinant wild type Stx1 (rStx1WT) and rStx2WT significantly induced transcription of IL-4 mRNA. rStx1WT and rStx2WT reduced the expression of Stx-receptor CD77 (syn. Globotriaosylceramide, Gb3) on B and T cells from peripheral blood and of CD14 on monocyte-derived macrophages. At the same concentrations, rStx1mut and rStx2mut exhibited neither of these effects. Antibodies in sera of cattle naturally infected with STEC recognized the rStxmut toxoids equally well as the recombinant wild type toxins. Immunization of calves with rStx1mut plus rStx2mut led to induction of antibodies neutralizing Stx1 and Stx2. While keeping their antigenicity and immunogenicity recombinant Shiga toxoids are devoid of the immunosuppressive properties of the corresponding wild type toxins in cattle and candidate vaccines to mitigate long-term STEC shedding by the reservoir host.
PMCID: PMC4391668  PMID: 25889651
2.  Multidrug-Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii in Veterinary Clinics, Germany 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2011;17(9):1751-1754.
An increase in prevalence of multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter spp. in hospitalized animals was observed at the Justus-Liebig-University (Germany). Genotypic analysis of 56 isolates during 2000–2008 showed 3 clusters that corresponded to European clones I–III. Results indicate spread of genotypically related strains within and among veterinary clinics in Germany.
PMCID: PMC3322069  PMID: 21888812
zoonoses; Acinetobacter baumannii; animals; veterinary clinics; antimicrobial susceptibility; antimicrobial resistance; DNA fingerprinting; amplified fragment length polymorphism; pulsed-field gel electrophoresis; PFGE; clones; Germany; dispatch
3.  Maternally and Naturally Acquired Antibodies to Shiga Toxins in a Cohort of Calves Shedding Shiga-Toxigenic Escherichia coli▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(11):3695-3704.
Calves become infected with Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) early in life, which frequently results in long-term shedding of the zoonotic pathogen. Little is known about the animals' immunological status at the time of infection. We assessed the quantity and dynamics of maternal and acquired antibodies to Shiga toxins (Stx1 and Stx2), the principal STEC virulence factors, in a cohort of 27 calves. Fecal and serum samples were taken repeatedly from birth until the 24th week of age. Sera, milk, and colostrums of dams were also assessed. STEC shedding was confirmed by detection of stx in fecal cultures. Stx1- and Stx2-specific antibodies were quantified by Vero cell neutralization assay and further analyzed by immunoblotting. By the eighth week of age, 13 and 15 calves had at least one stx1-type and at least one stx2-type positive culture, respectively. Eleven calves had first positive cultures only past that age. Sera and colostrums of all dams and postcolostral sera of all newborn calves contained Stx1-specific antibodies. Calf serum titers decreased rapidly within the first 6 weeks of age. Only five calves showed Stx1-specific seroconversion. Maternal and acquired Stx1-specific antibodies were mainly directed against the StxA1 subunit. Sparse Stx2-specific titers were detectable in sera and colostrums of three dams and in postcolostral sera of their calves. None of the calves developed Stx2-specific seroconversion. The results indicate that under natural conditions of exposure, first STEC infections frequently coincide with an absence of maternal and acquired Stx-specific antibodies in the animals' sera.
PMCID: PMC2687278  PMID: 19363081
4.  In Vitro Susceptibility of Borrelia spielmanii to Antimicrobial Agents Commonly Used for Treatment of Lyme Disease▿  
Ten isolates of the recently delineated genospecies Borrelia spielmanii were tested against antimicrobial agents used to treat Lyme disease and compared to eight isolates of the other three human-pathogenic borrelial genospecies. Despite some small but significant differences in four out of eight antibiotic agents, the susceptibility pattern of B. spielmanii mainly parallels that of the other known human-pathogenic members of the B. burgdorferi sensu lato complex.
PMCID: PMC2650570  PMID: 19075048
5.  Epithelial and Mesenchymal Cells in the Bovine Colonic Mucosa Differ in Their Responsiveness to Escherichia coli Shiga Toxin 1▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(11):5381-5391.
Bovine colonic crypt cells express CD77 molecules that potentially act as receptors for Shiga toxins (Stx). The implication of this finding for the intestinal colonization of cattle by human pathogenic Stx-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) remains undefined. We used flow cytometric and real-time PCR analyses of primary cultures of colonic crypt cells to evaluate cell viability, CD77 expression, and gene transcription in the presence and absence of purified Stx1. A subset of cultured epithelial cells had Stx receptors which were located mainly intracellularly, with a perinuclear distribution, and were resistant to Stx1-induced apoptosis and Stx1 effects on chemokine expression patterns. In contrast, a population of vimentin-positive cells, i.e., mesenchymal/nonepithelial cells that had high numbers of Stx receptors on their surface, was depleted from the cultures by Stx1. In situ, CD77+ cells were located in the lamina propria of the bovine colon by using immunofluorescence staining. A newly established vimentin-positive crypt cell line with high CD77 expression resisted the cytolethal effect of Stx1 but responded to Stx1 with a significant increase in interleukin-8 (IL-8), GRO-α, MCP-1, and RANTES mRNA. Combined stimulation with lipopolysaccharide and Stx1 increased IL-10 mRNA. Our results show that bovine colonic crypt cells of epithelial origin are resistant to both the cytotoxic and modulatory effects of Stx1. In contrast, some mucosal mesenchymal cells, preliminarily characterized as mucosal macrophages, are Stx1-responsive cells that may participate in the interaction of STEC with the bovine intestinal mucosa.
PMCID: PMC2573328  PMID: 18765725
6.  Highly sensitive real-time PCR for specific detection and quantification of Coxiella burnetii 
BMC Microbiology  2006;6:2.
Coxiella burnetii, the bacterium causing Q fever, is an obligate intracellular biosafety level 3 agent. Detection and quantification of these bacteria with conventional methods is time consuming and dangerous. During the last years, several PCR based diagnostic assays were developed to detect C. burnetii DNA in cell cultures and clinical samples. We developed and evaluated TaqMan-based real-time PCR assays that targeted the singular icd (isocitrate dehydrogenase) gene and the transposase of the IS1111a element present in multiple copies in the C. burnetii genome.
To evaluate the precision of the icd and IS1111 real-time PCR assays, we performed different PCR runs with independent DNA dilutions of the C. burnetii Nine Mile RSA493 strain. The results showed very low variability, indicating efficient reproducibility of both assays. Using probit analysis, we determined that the minimal number of genome equivalents per reaction that could be detected with a 95% probability was 10 for the icd marker and 6.5 for the IS marker. Plasmid standards with cloned icd and IS1111 fragments were used to establish standard curves which were linear over a range from 10 to 107 starting plasmid copy numbers. We were able to quantify cell numbers of a diluted, heat-inactivated Coxiella isolate with a detection limit of 17 C. burnetii particles per reaction. Real-time PCR targeting both markers was performed with DNA of 75 different C. burnetii isolates originating from all over the world. Using this approach, the number of IS1111 elements in the genome of the Nine Mile strain was determined to be 23, close to 20, the number revealed by genome sequencing. In other isolates, the number of IS1111 elements varied widely (between seven and 110) and seemed to be very high in some isolates.
We validated TaqMan-based real-time PCR assays targeting the icd and IS1111 markers of C. burnetii. The assays were shown to be specific, highly sensitive and efficiently reproducible. Cell numbers in dilutions of a C. burnetii isolate were reliably quantified. PCR quantification suggested a high variability of the number of IS1111 elements in different C. burnetii isolates, which may be useful for further phylogenetic studies.
PMCID: PMC1360083  PMID: 16423303
7.  Bovine Ileal Intraepithelial Lymphocytes Represent Target Cells for Shiga Toxin 1 from Escherichia coli  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(4):1896-1905.
The discovery that bovine peripheral lymphocytes are sensitive to Stx1 identified a possible mechanism for the persistence of infections with Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in the bovine reservoir host. If intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) are also sensitive to Stx1, the idea that Stx1 affects inflammation in the bovine intestine is highly attractive. To prove this hypothesis, ileal IEL (iIEL) were prepared from adult cattle, characterized by flow cytometry, and subjected to functional assays in the presence and absence of purified Stx1. We found that 14.9% of all iIEL expressed Gb3/CD77, the Stx1 receptor on bovine lymphocytes, and 7.9% were able to bind the recombinant B subunit of Stx1. The majority of Gb3/CD77+ cells were activated CD3+ CD6+ CD8α+ T cells, whereas only some CD4+ T cells and B cells expressed Gb3/CD77. However, Stx1 blocked the mitogen-induced transformation to enlarged blast cells within all subpopulations to a similar extent and significantly reduced the percentage of Gb3/CD77+ cells. Although Stx1 did not affect the natural killer cell activity of iIEL, the toxin accelerated the synthesis of interleukin-4 (IL-4) mRNA and reduced the amount of IL-8 mRNA in bovine iIEL cultures. Because the intestinal system comprises a rich network of interactions between different types of cells and any dysfunction may influence the course of intestinal infections, this demonstration that Stx1 can target bovine IEL may be highly relevant for our understanding of the interplay between STEC and its reservoir host.
PMCID: PMC375150  PMID: 15039308
8.  Naturally Occurring Clostridium perfringens Nontoxic Alpha-Toxin Variant as a Potential Vaccine Candidate against Alpha-Toxin-Associated Diseases 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(11):7194-7196.
Clostridium perfringens mutant strain 121A/91 shows neither enzymatic (phospholipase C) nor hemolytic activity. Nevertheless, the cpa gene and the corresponding alpha-toxin variant are detectable. Vaccination with this genetically constructed alpha-toxin variant, rAT121/91, induces antibodies capable of significantly reducing activities induced by wild-type toxin. Thus, rAT121/91 could be a useful vaccine candidate.
PMCID: PMC100128  PMID: 11598102
9.  The AIDA Autotransporter System Is Associated with F18 and Stx2e in Escherichia coli Isolates from Pigs Diagnosed with Edema Disease and Postweaning Diarrhea 
Pathogenic Escherichia coli strains are known to cause edema disease (ED) and postweaning diarrhea (PWD) in piglets. Although the exact mechanisms of pathogenicity that lead to ED-PWD remain to be elucidated, E. coli-borne Shiga-like toxin and adhesion-mediating virulence factors such as F18 adhesin or F4 fimbriae are believed to play a central role in ED-PWD. In light of these observations we investigated whether another E. coli adhesin, the plasmid-encoded AIDA (adhesin involved in diffuse adherence) might also be present in ED-PWD-causing E. coli isolates. For rapid screening for the AIDA system in large numbers of isolates, a multiplex PCR method along with a duplex Western blot procedure was developed. When screening 104 strains obtained from pigs with or without ED-PWD, we observed a high prevalence of the AIDA operon in porcine E. coli isolates, with over 25% of all strains being AIDA positive, and we could demonstrate a significant association of the intact AIDA gene (orfB) with ED-PWD, while defects in orfB were associated with the absence of disease. Although our data hint toward a contribution of AIDA to ED-PWD, further studies will be necessary since the presence of the AIDA genes was also associated with the presence of the Shiga-like toxin and F18 adhesin genes, two reported virulence factors for ED-PWD.
PMCID: PMC96024  PMID: 11139209
10.  Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) Strains of Serogroup O118 Display Three Distinctive Clonal Groups of EHEC Pathogens 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2000;38(6):2162-2169.
A recent case report of a child infected with enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) of serotype O118:H16 in Bavaria, in association with the isolation of a bovine O118 strain on the same farm (A. Weber, H. Klie, H. Richter, P. Gallien, M. Timm, and K. W. Perlberg, Berl. Muench. Tieraerztl. Wochenschr. 110:211–213, 1997), prompted us to investigate the relationship between bovine and human strains of serogroup O118. A total of 29 human O118 E. coli strains from Europe (21), Canada (4), and Peru (4) were compared by virulence typing and macrorestriction analysis with 7 bovine O118 EHEC strains isolated in Bavaria. Twenty-five of the human strains were characterized as EHEC. By serotyping and determination of the virulence-associated factors Shiga toxin (stx1 stx2 stx2 variants), intimin (eae), and EHEC hemolysin (HlyEHEC), three distinctive groups of O118 human pathogens were identified. Most of the strains belonged to serotype O118:H16, displaying the virulence traits Stx1, intimin, HlyEHEC, and EspP/PssA (group 1). In addition, we identified strains of serotype O118:H12 (Stx2d only; group 2) and of serotype O118:H30 (Stx2 and intimin; group 3). Macrorestriction analysis with BlnI and XbaI revealed that all strains with a single O118 serotype profile (O118:H12, O118:H16, and O118:H30) belonged to one clonal cluster, irrespective of their origin. Group 1 strains clustered in the same clonal group as the bovine O118:H16 strains. Moreover, four pairs of strains of different origins and indistinguishable by all other methods applied were identified as group 1 strains. Our data support the direct transmission of an EHEC O118:H16 strain from a calf to a 2-year-old boy in the above-mentioned case report. Since bovine and human O118:H16 strains represent the same clones, they must be considered zoonotic EHEC pathogens. In contrast, EHEC strains of serotypes O118:H12 and O118:H30 have been isolated only from humans, indicating a reservoir for certain human O118 EHEC strains other than bovines.
PMCID: PMC86754  PMID: 10834970
11.  PCR Detection of Coxiella burnetii from Different Clinical Specimens, Especially Bovine Milk, on the Basis of DNA Preparation with a Silica Matrix 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1998;64(11):4234-4237.
For PCR detection of Coxiella burnetii in various clinical specimens we developed a sample preparation method in which silica binding of DNA was used. This method was found to be fast, easily performed with large numbers of samples, and equally sensitive for all of the specimens tested (livers, spleens, placentas, heart valves, milk, blood). The DNA preparation method described here can also be used as an initial step in any PCR-based examination of specimens. The procedure was tested with more than 600 milk samples, which were taken from 21 cows that were seropositive for C. burnetii and reportedly had fertility problems (and therefore were suspected of shedding the agent through milk intermittently or continuously). Of the 21 cows tested, 6 were shedding C. burnetii through milk. Altogether, C. burnetii DNA was detected in 6% of the samples. There was no correlation between the shedding pattern and the serological results.
PMCID: PMC106632  PMID: 9797270
12.  Physical and Genetic Map of the Obligate Intracellular Bacterium Coxiella burnetii 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(15):3816-3822.
Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and PCR techniques have been used to construct a NotI macrorestriction map of the obligate intracellular bacterium Coxiella burnetii Nine Mile. The size of the chromosome has been determined to be 2,103 kb comprising 29 NotI restriction fragments. The average resolution is 72.5 kb, or about 3.5% of the genome. Experimental data support the presence of a linear chromosome. Published genes were localized on the physical map by Southern hybridization. One gene, recognized as transposable element, was found to be present in at least nine sites evenly distributed over the whole chromosome. There is only one copy of a 16S rRNA gene. The putative oriC has been located on a 27.5-kb NotI fragment. Gene organization upstream the oriC is almost identical to that of Pseudomonas putida and Bacillus subtilis, whereas gene organization downstream the oriC seems to be unique among bacteria. The physical map will be helpful in investigations of the great heterogeneity in restriction fragment length polymorphism patterns of different isolates and the great variation in genome size. The genetic map will help to determine whether gene order in different isolates is conserved.
PMCID: PMC107364  PMID: 9683477

Results 1-12 (12)