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1.  Insights into the Gene Expression Profile of Uncultivable Hemotrophic Mycoplasma suis during Acute Infection, Obtained Using Proteome Analysis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(6):1505-1514.
Hemotrophic mycoplasmas, bacteria without cell walls whose niche is the erythrocytes of their hosts, have never been cultivated in vitro. Therefore, knowledge of their pathogenesis is fundamental. Mycoplasma suis infects pigs, causing either acute fatal hemolytic anemia or chronic low-grade anemia, growth retardation, and immune suppression. Recently, the complete genomes of two hemotrophic mycoplasma species, M. suis and M. haemofelis, were sequenced, offering new strategies for the analysis of their pathogenesis. In this study we implemented a proteomic approach to identify M. suis proteins during acute infection by using tandem mass spectrometry. Twenty-two percent of the predicted proteins encoded in M. suis strain KI_3806 were identified. These included nearly all encoded proteins of glycolysis and nucleotide metabolism. The proteins for lipid metabolism, however, were underrepresented. A high proportion of the detected proteins are involved in information storage and processing (72.6%). In addition, several proteins of different functionalities, i.e., posttranslational modification, membrane genesis, signal transduction, intracellular trafficking, inorganic ion transport, and defense mechanisms, were identified. In its reduced genome, M. suis harbors 65.3% (strain Illinois) and 65.9% (strain KI_3806) of the genes encode hypothetical proteins. Of these, only 6.3% were identified at the proteome level. All proteins identified in this study are present in both M. suis strains and are encoded in more highly conserved regions of the genome sequence. In conclusion, our proteome approach is a further step toward the elucidation of the pathogenesis and life cycle of M. suis as well as the establishment of an in vitro cultivation system.
PMCID: PMC3294830  PMID: 22267506
2.  Mycoplasma suis infection results endothelial cell damage and activation: new insight into the cell tropism and pathogenicity of hemotrophic mycoplasma 
Veterinary Research  2013;44(1):6.
Hemotrophic mycoplasmas (HM) are highly specialized red blood cell parasites that cause infectious anemia in a variety of mammals, including humans. To date, no in vitro cultivation systems for HM have been available, resulting in relatively little information about the pathogenesis of HM infection. In pigs, Mycoplasma suis-induced infectious anemia is associated with hemorrhagic diathesis, and coagulation dysfunction. However, intravasal coagulation and subsequent consumption coagulopathy can only partly explain the sequence of events leading to hemorrhagic diathesis manifesting as cyanosis, petechial bleeding, and ecchymosis, and to disseminated coagulation. The involvement of endothelial activation and damage in M. suis-associated pathogenesis was investigated using light and electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and cell sorting. M. suis interacted directly with endothelial cells in vitro and in vivo. Endothelial activation, widespread endothelial damage, and adherence of red blood cells to the endothelium were evident in M. suis-infected pigs. These alterations of the endothelium were accompanied by hemorrhage, intravascular coagulation, vascular occlusion, and massive morphological changes within the parenchyma. M. suis biofilm-like microcolonies formed on the surface of endothelial cells, and may represent a putative persistence mechanism of M. suis. In vitro analysis demonstrated that M. suis interacted with the endothelial cytoskeletal protein actin, and induced actin condensation and activation of endothelial cells, as determined by the up-regulation of ICAM, PECAM, E-selectin, and P-selectin. These findings demonstrate an additional cell tropism of HM for endothelial cells and suggest that M. suis interferes with the protective function of the endothelium, resulting in hemorrhagic diathesis.
PMCID: PMC3575358  PMID: 23398879
3.  Complete Genome Sequence of the Hemotrophic Mycoplasma suis Strain KI3806▿ 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(9):2369-2370.
Mycoplasma suis, a member of the hemotrophic mycoplasma (HM) group, parasitize erythrocytes of pigs. Increasing evidence suggests that M. suis is also a zoonotic agent. Highly pathogenic strains of M. suis (e.g., M. suis KI3806) have been demonstrated to invade erythrocytes. This complete sequenced and manually annotated genome of M. suis KI3806 is the first available from this species and from the HM group. The DNA was isolated from blood samples of experimentally infected pigs due to the lack of an in vitro cultivation system. The small circular chromosome of 709,270 bp, encoding an unexpectedly high number of hypothetical proteins and limited transport and metabolic capacities, could reflect the unique lifestyle of HM on the surface of erythrocytes.
PMCID: PMC3133081  PMID: 21398558
4.  In vivo transmission studies of ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’ in the domestic cat 
Veterinary Research  2009;40(5):45.
The natural transmission routes of the three feline haemotropic mycoplasmas – Mycoplasma haemofelis, ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’, and ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’ (CMt) – are largely unknown. Since CMt has been detected in the saliva of infected cats using PCR, we hypothesised that direct transmission via social or aggressive contact may occur. The aim of this study was to evaluate this transmission route. CMt-positive saliva and blood samples were obtained from three prednisolone-treated specific pathogen-free (SPF) cats that were infected intraperitoneally with CMt. Five SPF cats were inoculated with CMt-positive saliva or blood subcutaneously to mimic cat bites, and five cats were inoculated orally with blood or oronasally with saliva to mimic social contact. Blood samples were monitored for CMt infection using quantitative real-time PCR and for seroconversion using a novel western blot assay. Neither oronasal nor subcutaneous inoculation with CMt-positive saliva led to CMt infection in the recipient cats, as determined by PCR, independent of prior prednisolone treatment. However, when blood containing the same CMt dose was given subcutaneously, 4 of the 5 cats became PCR-positive, while none of the 5 cats inoculated orally with up to 500 μL of CMt-positive blood became PCR-positive. Subsequently, the latter cats were successfully subcutaneously infected with blood. All 13 CMt-exposed cats seroconverted. In conclusion, CMt transmission by social contact seems less likely than transmission by aggressive interaction. The latter transmission may occur if the recipient cat is exposed to blood from an infected cat.
PMCID: PMC2701178  PMID: 19505421
haemotropic mycoplasma; transmission; ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’; real-time TaqMan PCR; seroconversion
5.  Inorganic pyrophosphatase in uncultivable hemotrophic mycoplasmas: identification and properties of the enzyme from Mycoplasma suis 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:194.
Mycoplasma suis belongs to a group of highly specialized hemotrophic bacteria that attach to the surface of host erythrocytes. Hemotrophic mycoplasmas are uncultivable and the genomes are not sequenced so far. Therefore, there is a need for the clarification of essential metabolic pathways which could be crucial barriers for the establishment of an in vitro cultivation system for these veterinary significant bacteria.
Inorganic pyrophosphatases (PPase) are important enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of inorganic pyrophosphate PPi to inorganic phosphate Pi. PPases are essential and ubiquitous metal-dependent enzymes providing a thermodynamic pull for many biosynthetic reactions. Here, we describe the identification, recombinant production and characterization of the soluble (s)PPase of Mycoplasma suis.
Screening of genomic M. suis libraries was used to identify a gene encoding the M. suis inorganic pyrophosphatase (sPPase). The M. suis sPPase consists of 164 amino acids with a molecular mass of 20 kDa. The highest identity of 63.7% was found to the M. penetrans sPPase. The typical 13 active site residues as well as the cation binding signature could be also identified in the M. suis sPPase. The activity of the M. suis enzyme was strongly dependent on Mg2+ and significantly lower in the presence of Mn2+ and Zn2+. Addition of Ca2+ and EDTA inhibited the M. suis sPPase activity. These characteristics confirmed the affiliation of the M. suis PPase to family I soluble PPases. The highest activity was determined at pH 9.0. In M. suis the sPPase builds tetramers of 80 kDa which were detected by convalescent sera from experimentally M. suis infected pigs.
The identification and characterization of the sPPase of M. suis is an additional step towards the clarification of the metabolism of hemotrophic mycoplasmas and, thus, important for the establishment of an in vitro cultivation system. As an antigenic and conserved protein the M. suis sPPase could in future be further analyzed as a diagnostic antigen.
PMCID: PMC2916918  PMID: 20646294
6.  Development and Application of a Universal Hemoplasma Screening Assay Based on the SYBR Green PCR Principle▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(12):4049-4054.
Hemotropic mycoplasmas (hemoplasmas) are the causative agents of infectious anemia in several mammalian species. Their zoonotic potential has recently been substantiated by the identification of a feline hemoplasma isolate in an immunocompromised human patient. Although species-specific diagnostic molecular methods have been developed, their application as screening tools is limited due to the species diversity of hemoplasmas. The goals of this study were to develop a universal hemoplasma screening assay with broad specificity based on the SYBR green PCR principle, to compare the assay with hemoplasma-specific TaqMan PCR, and to analyze potential tick vectors and human blood samples to address the zoonotic potential. The newly developed PCR assay based on the 16S rRNA gene amplified feline, canine, bovine, porcine, camelid, and murine hemoplasmas, as well as Mycoplasma penetrans and Mycoplasma pneumoniae. The lower detection limit for feline and canine hemoplasmas was 1 to 10 copies/PCR. The assay exhibited 98.2% diagnostic sensitivity and 92.1% diagnostic specificity for feline hemoplasmas. All 1,950 Ixodes ticks were PCR negative, suggesting that Ixodes ticks are not relevant vectors for the above-mentioned hemoplasma species in Switzerland. None of the 414 blood samples derived from anemic or immunocompromised human patients revealed a clear positive result. The SYBR green PCR assay described here is a suitable tool to screen for known and so-far-undiscovered hemoplasma species. Positive results should be confirmed by specific TaqMan PCR or sequencing.
PMCID: PMC2786680  PMID: 19828748
7.  Antibodies to actin in autoimmune haemolytic anaemia 
In autoimmune haemolytic anaemia (AIHA), autoreactive antibodies directed against red blood cells are up-regulated, leading to erythrocyte death. Mycoplasma suis infections in pigs induce AIHA of both the warm and cold types. The aim of this study was to identify the target autoantigens of warm autoreactive IgG antibodies. Sera from experimentally M. suis-infected pigs were screened for autoreactivity.
Actin-reactive antibodies were found in the sera of 95% of all animals tested. The reactivity was species-specific, i.e. reactivity with porcine actin was significantly higher than with rabbit actin. Sera of animals previously immunised with the M. suis adhesion protein MSG1 showed reactivity with actin prior to infection with M. suis indicating that molecular mimicry is involved in the specific autoreactive mechanism. A potentially cross-reactive epitope was detected.
This is the first report of autoreactive anti-actin antibodies involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune haemolytic anaemia.
PMCID: PMC3003239  PMID: 20353574
8.  RNase P RNA Gene (rnpB) Phylogeny of Hemoplasmas and Other Mycoplasma Species▿ † 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2008;46(5):1873-1877.
Partial sequences of the RNase P RNA gene (rnpB) were obtained from a number of hemoplasmas and other Mycoplasma species. Phylogenetic analysis of these sequences showed that all hemoplasmas were present within a single clade and were most closely related to Mycoplasma fastidiosum, similar to the results found with 16S rRNA gene phylogeny.
PMCID: PMC2395117  PMID: 18337389
9.  Use of Recombinant Antigens To Detect Antibodies against Mycoplasma suis, with Correlation of Serological Results to Hematological Findings▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2007;14(12):1616-1622.
Porcine eperythrozoonosis is a disease with worldwide distribution caused by the unculturable hemotrophic bacterium Mycoplasma suis. Current serological testing utilizes crude M. suis antigens purified from the blood of experimentally infected pigs. These antigens show high variability and are restricted to specialized laboratories. We evaluated a novel serological assay based on two recombinant M. suis antigens (rMSG1 and rHspA1). Antigen specificity was proven by means of sera raised against nonhemotrophic mycoplasma and other relevant bacteria. Using experimental and convalescent-phase sera, rMSG1 and rHspA1 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) demonstrated sensitivities, specificities, and predictive values (94.0 to 100.0%) equal to or higher than those of the M. suis whole-cell ELISA. Field samples from 120 weaning piglets grouped by quantitative PCR results were used to evaluate the diagnostic capability of the new ELISA systems in comparison to that of the whole-cell ELISA. Assuming a 100.0% specificity of the PCR, the whole-cell ELISA, rHspA1 ELISA, and rMSG1 ELISA showed specificities of 84.8%, 83.8%, and 90.6% and sensitivities of 61.5%, 74.0% and 58.1%, respectively. Cohen's kappa coefficients comparing the recombinant ELISAs to the whole-cell ELISA indicate moderate to substantial agreement. The detection of anti-MSG1 and/or anti-HspA1 antibodies in pigs was significantly correlated with decreased hematocrit, erythrocyte numbers, and hemoglobin concentrations, indicating that a single seropositive result is connected with clinical and etiological significance. In conclusion, rMSG1 and rHspA1 are sensitive and specific serological and infection markers which are for the first time used independently of animal experiments. They are especially fit to be used in routine diagnosis, pathogenesis studies, and large-scale epidemiological investigations.
PMCID: PMC2168379  PMID: 17942612

Results 1-9 (9)