Drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) is a major health problem in both developed and developing countries. Mutations in the Mycobacterium (M.) tuberculosis bacterial genome, such as those to the rpoB gene and mabA-inhA promoter region, have been linked to TB drug resistance in against rifampicin and isoniazid, respectively. The rapid, accurate, and inexpensive identification of these and other mutations leading to TB drug resistance is an essential tool for improving human health. Capillary electrophoresis (CE) single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) can be a highly sensitive technique for the detection of genetic mutation that has not been previously explored for drug resistance mutations in M. tuberculosis. This work explores the potential of CE-SSCP through the optimization of variables such as polymer separation matrix concentration, capillary wall coating, electric field strength, and temperature on resolution of mutation detection. The successful detection of an rpoB gene mutation and two mabA-inhA promoter region mutations while simultaneously differentiating a TB-causing mycobacteria from a non-TB bacteria was accomplished using the optimum conditions of 4.5% (w/v) PDMA in a PDMA coated capillary at 20°C using a separation voltage of 278 V/cm. This multiplexed analysis that can be completed in a few hours demonstrates the potential of CE-SSCP to be an inexpensive and rapid analysis method.
capillary electrophoresis; mabA-inhA; mutation detection; rpoB; SSCP; tuberculosis
Improvements to oligonucleotide fingerprinting of rRNA genes (OFRG) were obtained by implementing polony microarray technology. OFRG is an array-based method for analyzing microbial community composition. Polonies are discrete clusters of DNA, produced by solid-phase PCR in hydrogels, and derived from individual, spatially isolated DNA molecules. The advantages of a polony-based OFRG method include higher throughput and reductions in the PCR-induced errors and compositional skew inherent in all other PCR-based community composition methods, including high throughput sequencing of rRNA genes. Given the similarities between polony microarrays and certain aspects of sequencing methods such as the Illumina platform, we suggest that if concepts presented in this study were implemented in high throughput sequencing protocols, a reduction of PCR-induced errors and compositional skew may be realized.
Oligonucleotide fingerprinting of rRNA genes; OFRG; Polony; Polonies; PCR-induced errors; High throughput sequencing
The aim of this study was to develop a methodology to rapidly detect viable Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) in clinical blood samples. MAP cells spiked into commercially available blood were recovered using optimised peptide-mediated magnetic separation (PMMS) and detected using a phage-based method, and the identity of the cells detected confirmed using nested-PCR amplification of MAP signature sequences (IS900). The limit of detection was determined to be 10 MAP cells per ml of blood and was used to detect MAP present in clinical bovine blood samples. Using the PMMS-phage method there was no difference when detecting MAP from whole blood or from isolated buffy coat. MAP was detected in animals that were milk-ELISA positive (15 animals) by PMMS-phage and no MAP was detected in blood samples from an accredited Johne's disease free herd (5 animals). In a set of samples from one herd (10 animals) that came from animals with variable milk ELISA status, the PMMS-phage results agreed with the positive milk-ELISA results in all but one case. These results show that the PMMS-phage method can detect MAP present in naturally infected blood. Total assay time is 48 h and, unlike PCR-based detection tests, only viable cells are detected. A rapid method for detecting MAP in blood could further the understanding of disseminated infection in animals with Johne's disease.
•Optimisation of efficient MAP cell capture in blood using magnetic separation•Found a limit of detection of 101 pfu ml− 1 in spiked blood•Optimised a PCR to detect signature MAP DNA sequences from just one plaque•We successfully detected viable MAP in naturally infected animals within 48 h
PMMS, Peptide mediated magnetic separation; FPTB, FASTplaqueTB assay; MP, Media Plus; Bacteriophage; Johne's disease; Magnetic separation; Paratuberculosis; Rapid detection
The rapid identification and antibiotic susceptibility testing of Yersinia pestis is paramount for a positive prognosis. We previously engineered a Y. pestis-specific ‘bioluminescent’ reporter phage for the identification of Y. pestis. In this study, we generated an improved reporter phage and evaluated the ability of this phage to provide direct and rapid susceptibility testing. Compared to the first generation reporter, the second generation reporter exhibited a 100-fold increase in signal strength, leading to a 10-fold increase in assay sensitivity. Y. pestis antimicrobial testing in the presence of the reporter elicited bioluminescent signals that were drug concentration-dependent, and produced susceptibility profiles that mirrored the standard CLSI method. The phage-generated susceptibility profiles, however, were obtained within hours in contrast to days with the conventional method.
plague; reporter phage; detection; bioluminescence; antibiotic susceptibility testing
Bacterial transcription and translation have proven to be effective targets for broad-spectrum antimicrobial therapies owing to the critical role they play in bacterial propagation and the overall conservation of the associated machinery involved. Escherichia coli is the most common source of S30 extract used in bacterial in vitro coupled transcription-translation assays, however, transcription-translation assays in other important pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae have been described (Murray et al., 2001; Dandliker et al., 2003). Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important and difficult-to-treat Gram-negative pathogen. In a drug discovery program, to de-risk any potential species specificity of novel inhibitors, we developed and optimized a robust method for the preparation of S30 extract from P. aeruginosa strain PAO1. Further, a P. aeruginosa transcription-translation assay using a firefly luciferase reporter plasmid was validated and compared to an E. coli S30-based system using a wide range of antibiotics encompassing multiple classes of translation inhibitors. Results showed a similar ranking of the activities of known inhibitors, illustrative of the high degree of conservation between the transcription-translation pathways in both organisms.
coupled transcription-translation assay; translation antibiotics; S30 extract; Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Enterococcus faecalis, a gram-positive opportunistic pathogen, has become one of the leading causes of nosocomial infections. Normally a resident of the gastrointestinal tract, extensive use of antibiotics has resulted in the rise of E. faecalis strains that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. This, compounded with the ability to easily exchange antibiotic determinants with other bacteria, has made certain E. faecalis infections difficult to treat medically. The genetic toolbox for the study of E. faecalis has expanded greatly in recent years, but has lacked methodology to stably introduce a gene in single copy in a non-disruptive manner for complementation or expression of non-native genes. In this study, we identified a specific site in the genome of E. faecalis OG1RF that can serve as an expression site for a gene of interest. This site is well conserved in most of the sequenced E. faecalis genomes. A vector has also been developed to integrate genes into this site by allelic exchange. Using this system, we complemented an in-frame deletion in eutV, demonstrating that the mutation does not cause polar effects. We also generated an E. faecalis OG1RF strain that stably expresses the green fluorescent protein and is comparable to the parent strain in terms of in vitro growth and pathogenicity in C. elegans and mice. Another major advantage of this new methodology is the ability to express integrated genes without the need for maintaining antibiotic selection, making this an ideal tool for functional studies of genes in infection models and co-culture systems.
Enterococcus faecalis; genomic integration; complementation; green fluorescent protein
Non-equilibrium dissociation curves (NEDCs) have the potential to identify non-specific hybridizations on high throughput, diagnostic microarrays. We report a simple method for identification of non-specific signals by using a new parameter that does not rely on comparison of perfect match and mismatch dissociations. The parameter is the ratio of specific dissociation temperature (Td-w) to theoretical melting temperature (Tm) and can be obtained by automated fitting of a four-parameter, sigmoid, empirical equation to the thousands of curves generated in a typical experiment. The curves fit perfect match NEDCs from an initial experiment with an R2 of 0.998±0.006 and root mean square of 108±91 fluorescent units. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed low temperature hybridization signals (20–48 °C) to be as effective as area under the curve as primary data filters. Evaluation of three datasets that target 16S rRNA and functional genes with varying degrees of target sequence similarity showed that filtering out hybridizations with Td-w/Tm < 0.78 greatly reduced false positive results. In conclusion, Td-w/Tm successfully screened many non-specific hybridizations that could not be identified using single temperature signal intensities alone, while the empirical modeling allowed a simplified approach to the high throughput analysis of thousands of NEDCs.
Non-equilibrium dissociation curve; specific dissociation temperature; functional gene; hybridization; microarrays
Polymerase chain assembly (PCA) is a technique used to synthesize genes ranging from a few hundred base pairs to many kilobase pairs in length. In traditional PCA, equimolar concentrations of single stranded DNA oligonucleotides are repeatedly hybridized and extended by a polymerase enzyme into longer dsDNA constructs, with relatively few full-length sequences being assembled. Thus, traditional PCA is followed by a second primer-mediated PCR reaction to amplify the desired full-length sequence to useful, detectable quantities. Integration of assembly and primer-mediated amplification steps into a single reaction using a high-speed thermocycler is shown to produce similar results. For the integrated technique, the effects of oligo concentration, primer concentration, and number of oligonucleotides are explored. The technique is successfully demonstrated for the synthesis of two genes encoding EPCR-1 (653 bp) and pUC19 β-lactamase (929 bp) in under 20 min. However, rapid integrated PCA–PCR was found to be problematic when attempted with the TM-1 gene (1509 bp). Partial oligonucleotide sets of TM-1 could be assembled and amplified simultaneously, indicating that the technique may be limited to a maximum number of oligonucleotides due to competitive annealing and competition for primers.
Gene synthesis; PCA; Polymerase chain assembly
Broad-host-range plasmids can facilitate dissemination of antibiotic resistance determinants among diverse bacterial populations. We evaluated hollow-fiber ultrafiltration for increases in detection efficiency of broad-host-range plasmids and Escherichia coli DNA in wastewater. Ultrafiltration followed by PCR showed limited increases in DNA detection and quantification in effluent compared with membrane filtration alone.
ultrafiltration; qPCR; Escherichia coli; plasmid; wastewater
To date, metagenomic studies have relied on the utilization and analysis of reads obtained using 454 pyrosequencing to replace conventional Sanger sequencing. After extensively scanning the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene, we identified the V5 hypervariable region as a short region providing reliable identification of bacterial sequences available in public databases such as the Human Oral Microbiome Database. We amplified samples from the oral cavity of three healthy individuals using primers covering an ~82-base segment of the V5 loop, and sequenced using the Illumina technology in a single orientation. We identified 135 genera or higher taxonomic ranks from the resulting 1,373,824 sequences. While the abundances of the most common phyla (Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Fusobacteria and TM7) are largely comparable to previous studies, Bacteroidetes were less present. Potential sources for this difference include classification bias in this region of the 16S rRNA gene, human sample variation, sample preparation and primer bias. Using an Illumina sequencing approach, we achieved a much greater depth of coverage than previous oral microbiota studies, allowing us to identify several taxa not yet discovered in these types of samples, and to assess that at least 30,000 additional reads would be required to identify only one additional phylotype. The evolution of high-throughput sequencing technologies, and their subsequent improvements in read length enable the utilization of different platforms for studying communities of complex flora. Access to large amounts of data is already leading to a better representation of sample diversity at a reasonable cost.
Metagenomics; Oral cavity; Flora composition; Microbiome; High-throughput sequencer
The development of topical microbicides for intravaginal use to prevent HIV infection requires that the drugs and formulated products be nontoxic to the endogenous vaginal Lactobacillus. In 30 min exposure tests we found dapivirine, tenofovir and UC781 (reverse transcriptase inhibitor anti-HIV drugs) as pure drugs or formulated as film or gel products were not deleterious to Lactobacillus species; however, PSC-RANTES (a synthetic CCR5 antagonist) killed 2 strains of Lactobacillus jensenii. To demonstrate the toxicity of formulated products a new assay was developed for use with viscous and non-viscous samples that we have termed the Lactobacillus toxicity test. We found that the vortex mixing of vaginal Lactobacillus species can lead to reductions in bacterial viability. Lactobacillus can survive brief, about 2 sec, but viability declines with increased vortex mixing. The addition of heat inactivated serum or bovine serum albumin, but not glycerol, prevented the decrease in bacterial viability. Bacillus atrophaeus spores also demonstrated loss of viability upon extended mixing. We observed that many of the excipients used in film formulation and the films themselves also afford protection from the killing during vortex mixing. This method is of relevance for toxicity for cidal activities of viscous products.
HIV; Microbicide; Lactobacillus; Vortex mixing; bacterial quantitation
Optimising DNA extraction from clinical samples for Burkholderia pseudomallei Type III secretion system real-time PCR in suspected melioidosis patients confirmed that urine and sputum are useful diagnostic samples. Direct testing on blood remains problematic; testing DNA extracted from plasma was superior to DNA from whole blood or buffy coat.
Currently, standard protocols for microbial DNA extraction from intestinal tissues do not exist. We assessed the efficiency of a commercial kit with and without mechanical disruption. Better quality DNA was obtained without mechanical disruption. Thus, it appears that bead-beating is not required for efficient microbial DNA extraction from intestinal biopsies.
Intestinal mucosa; DNA extraction; Bead-beating; Quantitative PCR
An improved method has been developed for RNA interference in Cryptococcus neoformans, using opposing promoters to facilitate cloning and RNA interference targeting URA5 to allow selection of cells in which silencing is most effective. These advances significantly reduce the variability of silencing and the effort required for interference plasmid construction.
Cryptococcus neoformans; RNA interference; pathogenic fungus
The ability of Francisella tularensis to replicate in macrophages is critical for its pathogenesis, therefore intracellular growth assays are important tools for assessing virulence. We show that two lysis solutions commonly used in these assays, deionized water and deoxycholate in PBS, lead to highly inaccurate measurements of intracellular bacterial survival.
Francisella tularensis; intracellular growth; lysis
Toxoplasma gondii is an excellent model organism for studies on the biology of the Apicomplexa due to its ease of in vitro cultivation and genetic manipulation. Large-scale reverse genetic studies in T. gondii have, however, been difficult due to the low frequency of homologous recombination. Efforts to ensure homologous recombination have necessitated engineering long flanking regions in the targeting construct. This requirement makes it difficult to engineer chromosomally targeted epitope tags or gene knock out constructs only by restriction enzyme mediated cloning steps. To address this issue we employed multisite Gateway® recombination techniques to generate chromosomal gene manipulation targeting constructs. Incorporation of 1.5 to 2.0 kb flanking homologous sequences in PCR generated targeting constructs resulted in 90% homologous recombination events in wild type T. gondii (RH strain) as determined by epitope tagging and target gene deletion experiments. Furthermore, we report that split marker constructs were equally efficient for targeted gene disruptions using the T. gondii UPRT gene locus as a test case. The methods described in this paper represent an improved strategy for efficient epitope tagging and gene disruptions in T. gondii.
Toxoplasma gondii; epitope tagging; PCR product mediated transfection; Gateway vectors; gene deletion; UPRT knock out
Biochemical studies of the outermost spore layers of the Bacillus cereus family are hindered by difficulties in efficient dispersal of the external spore layers and difficulties in dissociating protein complexes that comprise the exosporium layer. Detergent and physical methods have been utilized to disrupt the exosporium layer. Herein we compare commonly used SDS extraction buffers used to extract spore proteins and demonstrate the incomplete extractability of the exosporium layer by these methods. Sonication and bead beating methods for exosporium layer removal were also examined. A combination of genetic and physical methods is the most effective for isolating proteins found in the spore exosporium.
Bacillus anthracis; spores; exosporium; extraction; anthrax
We report a powerful method to replace wild type genes on the chromosome of Escherichia coli. Employing a unique form of PCR, we generate easily constructible gene fusions bearing single point mutations. Used in conjunction with homologous recombination, this method eliminates cloning procedures previously used for this purpose.
SOE PCR; Transformation; E. coli; dinB; Lambda Red; Point Mutation
Two frequently applied genetic Bacteroidetes markers for total fecal pollution (AllBac and BacUni) were found in high numbers in pristine soil samples of two alpine catchment areas casting doubt on their value as fecal indicators. This finding underlines the necessity to evaluate assays locally and against non-intestinal samples before application.
Water quality; Fecal pollution indicators; Genetic markers; Bacteroidetes; AllBac; BacUni
Helicobacter pylori is a Gram -negative bacterium that colonizes the human stomach and is responsible for causing gastric ulcers. H. pylori is known to become stressed and nonculturable after exposure to unfavorable conditions. In this study, we enhanced previously published resuscitation procedures, characterized conditions under which stressed H. pylori can be recovered, and formulated a selective and differential resuscitation medium. Results showed that a specialized broth supplemented with trace minerals and lysed human erythrocytes and serum is required for the recovery of nonculturable H. pylori. The type of stress was an important factor in the efficacy of resuscitation, with cells exposed to atmospheric oxygen more readily resuscitated than nutrient deprived cells. After resuscitation, culturable cells were recovered from previously nonculturable oxygen stressed cells (24 and 72 hours of exposure) and nonculturable nutrient deprived cells (24 hours of exposure). The length of time the cells were exposed to the stress was also an important factor in the recovery of stressed H. pylori. RNA levels were quantified and transcription of the cell division related gene, cdrA (HP0066), was assessed by qRT-PCR. The low levels of RNA detected in stressed cells, after resuscitation, support the idea that a small population of viable cells may be responsible for the colonies recovered on solid agar. The modification of the resuscitation broth into a selective and differential slant culture medium also allowed the recovery of stressed H. pylori. The methods presented here highlight the benefits and limitations of using human blood products for recovering nonculturable H. pylori.
H. pylori; nonculturable; resuscitation; culturing
Many bacterial pathogens have defined in vitro virulence inducing conditions in liquid media which lead to production of virulence factors important during an infection. Identifying mutants that no longer respond to virulence inducing conditions will increase our understanding of bacterial pathogenesis. However, traditional genetic screens require growth on solid media. Bacteria in a single colony are in every phase of the growth curve, which complicates the analysis and make screens for growth phase-specific mutants problematic. Here, we utilize fluorescence-activated cell sorting in conjunction with random transposon mutagenesis to isolate bacteria grown in liquid media that are defective in virulence activation. This method permits analysis of an entire bacterial population in real time and selection of individual bacterial mutants with the desired gene expression profile at any time point after induction. We have used this method to identify Vibrio cholerae mutants defective in virulence induction.
FACS; Genetic Screen; Transcription Regulation; Vibrio cholerae; Bacterial Pathogenesis
Clostridium perfringens is used as an indicator for persistent faecal pollution as well as to monitor the efficacy of water treatment processes. For these purposes, differentiation between C. perfringens and other Clostridia is essential and is routinely carried out by phenotypic standard tests as proposed in the ISO/CD 6461-2:2002 (ISO_LGMN: lactose fermentation, gelatine liquidation, motility and nitrate reduction). Because the ISO_LGMN procedure is time consuming and labour intensive, the acid phosphatase test was investigated as a possible and much more rapid alternative method for confirmation. The aim of our study was to evaluate and compare confirmation results obtained by these two phenotypic methods using genotypically identified strains, what to our knowledge has not been accomplished before. For this purpose, a species specific PCR method was selected based on the results received for type strains and genotypically characterised environmental strains. For the comparative investigation type strains as well as presumptive C. perfringens isolates from water and faeces samples were used. The acid phosphatase test revealed higher percentage (92%) of correctly identified environmental strains (n = 127) than the ISO_LGMN procedure (83%) and proved to be a sensitive and reliable confirmation method.
► The identification of Clostridium perfringens by routine phenotypic standard tests is very time consuming. ► We investigated acid phosphatase test as a possible and much more rapid alternative method. ► Evaluation was performed on type strains and genotypically identified isolates of water and faeces. ► The new confirmation method proved to be sensitive, reliable and feasible. ► It will help to enhance the quality of C. perfringens identification in water quality monitoring.
Acid phosphatase test; Clostridium perfringens; Faecal pollution; Genotypic confirmation; Phenotypic confirmation; Water
The primary selectable marker for genetic studies of Treponema denticola is a hybrid gene cassette containing both ermF and ermAM (ermB) genes. ErmB functions in Escherichia coli, while ErmF has been assumed to confer resistance in T. denticola. We demonstrate here that ErmB is sufficient for erythromycin selection in T. denticola and that the native ermB promoter drives ErmB expression.
spirochete; selectable marker; mutagenesis
Several methods for determining the diversity of Lactobacillus spp were evaluated with the purpose of developing a realistic approach for further studies. The patient population was comprised of young children with an oral disease called severe early childhood caries. The ultimate goal of these studies was to ascertain the role of lactobacilli in the caries process. To accomplish that goal, we evaluated several methods and approaches for determining diversity including AP-PCR, chromosomal DNA fingerprinting, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, and 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Central to these methods was the gathering and screening of isolates from cultivation medium. Using various estimates of diversity, we addressed the question as to how many isolates represent the overall diversity and how cultivation compares to non-cultivation techniques. Finally, we proposed a working approach for achieving the goals outlined framed by both practical constraints in terms of time, effort and efficacy while yielding a reliable outcome.
Oral lactobacilli; genotyping; 16S rRNA gene; DGGE; AP-PCR; CDF; dental caries
A microarray was developed to simultaneously screen Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica for multiple genetic traits. The final array included 203 60-mer oligonucleotide probes, including 117 for resistance genes, 16 for virulence genes, 25 for replicon markers, and 45 other markers. Validity of the array was tested by assessing interlaboratory agreement among four collaborating groups using a blinded study design. Internal validation indicated that the assay was reliable (area under the receiver-operator characteristic curve=0.97). Inter-laboratory agreement, however, was poor when estimated using the intraclass correlation coefficient, which ranged from 0.27 (95% confidence interval 0.24, 0.29) to 0.29 (0.23, 0.34). These findings suggest that extensive testing and procedure standardization will be needed before bacterial genotyping arrays can be readily shared between laboratories.