Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive, facultative intracellular pathogen capable of causing severe invasive disease with high mortality rates in humans. While previous studies have largely elucidated the bacterial and host cell mechanisms necessary for invasion, vacuolar escape, and subsequent cell-to-cell spread, the L. monocytogenes factors required for rapid replication within the restrictive environment of the host cell cytosol are poorly understood. In this report, we describe a differential fluorescence-based genetic screen utilizing fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and high-throughput microscopy to identify L. monocytogenes mutants defective in optimal intracellular replication. Bacteria harboring deletions within the identified gene menD or pepP were defective for growth in primary murine macrophages and plaque formation in monolayers of L2 fibroblasts, thus validating the ability of the screening method to identify intracellular replication-defective mutants. Genetic complementation of the menD and pepP deletion strains rescued the in vitro intracellular infection defects. Furthermore, the menD deletion strain displayed a general extracellular replication defect that could be complemented by growth under anaerobic conditions, while the intracellular growth defect of this strain could be complemented by the addition of exogenous menaquinone. As prior studies have indicated the importance of aerobic metabolism for L. monocytogenes infection, these findings provide further evidence for the importance of menaquinone and aerobic metabolism for L. monocytogenes pathogenesis. Lastly, both the menD and pepP deletion strains were attenuated during in vivo infection of mice. These findings demonstrate that the differential fluorescence-based screening approach provides a powerful tool for the identification of intracellular replication determinants in multiple bacterial systems.
Listeria monocytogenes is an intracellular bacterial pathogen that causes life-threatening disease. The mechanisms used by L. monocytogenes to invade non-professional phagocytic cells are not fully understood. In addition to the requirement of bacterial determinants, host cell conditions profoundly influence infection. Here, we have shown that inhibition of the RhoA/ROCK pathway by pharmacological inhibitors or RNA interference (RNAi) results in increased L. monocytogenes invasion of murine fibroblasts and hepatocytes. InlF, a member of the internalin multigene family with no known function, was identified as a L. monocytogenes-specific factor mediating increased host cell binding and entry. Conversely, activation of RhoA/ROCK activity resulted in decreased L. monocytogenes adhesion and invasion. Furthermore, virulence of wild-type bacteria during infection of mice was significantly increased upon inhibition of ROCK activity, whereas colonization and virulence of an inlF deletion mutant was not affected, thus supporting a role for InlF as a functional virulence determinant in vivo under specific conditions. In addition, inhibition of ROCK activity in human-derived cells enhanced either bacterial adhesion or adhesion and entry in an InlF-independent manner, further suggesting a host species or cell type specific role for InlF and that additional bacterial determinants are involved in mediating ROCK-regulated invasion of human cells.
Listeria monocytogenes; ROCK; InlF; invasion; virulence
Listeria monocytogenes is an intracellular bacterial pathogen that can replicate in the cytosol of host cells. These bacteria undergo actin-based motility in the cytosol via expression of ActA, which recruits host actin-regulatory proteins to the bacterial surface. L. monocytogenes is thought to evade killing by autophagy using ActA-dependent mechanisms. ActA-independent mechanisms of autophagy evasion have also been proposed, but remain poorly understood. Here we examined autophagy of non-motile (ΔactA) mutants of L. monocytogenes strains 10403S and EGD-e, two commonly studied strains of this pathogen. The ΔactA mutants displayed accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins and p62/SQSTM1 on their surface. However, only strain EGD-e ΔactA displayed colocalization with the autophagy marker LC3 at 8 hours post infection. A bacteriostatic agent (chloramphenicol) was required for LC3 recruitment to 10403S ΔactA, suggesting that these bacteria produce a factor for autophagy evasion. Internalin K was proposed to block autophagy of L. monocytogenes in the cytosol of host cells. However, deletion of inlK in either the wild-type or ΔactA background of strain 10403S had no impact on autophagy evasion by bacteria, indicating it does not play an essential role in evading autophagy. Replication of ΔactA mutants of strain EGD-e and 10403S was comparable to their parent wild-type strain in macrophages. Thus, ΔactA mutants of L. monocytogenes can block killing by autophagy at a step downstream of protein ubiquitination and, in the case of strain EGD-e, downstream of LC3 recruitment to bacteria. Our findings highlight the strain-specific differences in the mechanisms that L. monocytogenes uses to evade killing by autophagy in host cells.
Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive, food-borne pathogen of humans and animals. L. monocytogenes is considered to be a potential public health risk by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as this bacterium can easily contaminate ready-to-eat (RTE) foods and cause an invasive, life-threatening disease (listeriosis). Bacteria can adhere and grow on multiple surfaces and persist within biofilms in food processing plants, providing resistance to sanitizers and other antimicrobial agents. While whole genome sequencing has led to the identification of biofilm synthesis gene clusters in many bacterial species, bioinformatics has not identified the biofilm synthesis genes within the L. monocytogenes genome. To identify genes necessary for L. monocytogenes biofilm formation, we performed a transposon mutagenesis library screen using a recently constructed Himar1 mariner transposon. Approximately 10,000 transposon mutants within L. monocytogenes strain 10403S were screened for biofilm formation in 96-well polyvinyl chloride (PVC) microtiter plates with 70 Himar1 insertion mutants identified that produced significantly less biofilms. DNA sequencing of the transposon insertion sites within the isolated mutants revealed transposon insertions within 38 distinct genetic loci. The identification of mutants bearing insertions within several flagellar motility genes previously known to be required for the initial stages of biofilm formation validated the ability of the mutagenesis screen to identify L. monocytogenes biofilm-defective mutants. Two newly identified genetic loci, dltABCD and phoPR, were selected for deletion analysis and both ΔdltABCD and ΔphoPR bacterial strains displayed biofilm formation defects in the PVC microtiter plate assay, confirming these loci contribute to biofilm formation by L. monocytogenes.
Efferocytosis, the process by which dying/dead cells are removed by phagocytosis, plays an important role in development, tissue homeostasis and innate immunity1. Efferocytosis is mediated, in part, by receptors that bind to exofacial phosphatidylserine (PS) on cells or cellular debris after loss of plasma membrane asymmetry. Here we show that a bacterial pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes (Lm), can exploit efferocytosis to promote cell-to-cell spread during infection. These bacteria can escape the phagosome in host cells using the pore-forming toxin Listeriolysin O (LLO) and two phospholipases C2. Expression of the cell surface protein ActA allows Lm to activate host actin regulatory factors and undergo actin-based motility in the cytosol, eventually leading to formation of actin-rich protrusions at the cell surface. We show that protrusion formation is associated with plasma membrane damage due to LLO’s pore-forming activity. LLO also promotes the release of bacteria-containing protrusions from the host cell, generating membrane-derived vesicles with exofacial PS. The PS-binding receptor TIM-4 contributes to efficient cell-to-cell spread by Lm in macrophages in vitro and growth of these bacteria is impaired in TIM-4−/− mice. Thus, Lm promotes its dissemination in a host by exploiting efferocytosis. Our study suggests that PS-targeted therapeutics may be useful in the fight against infections by Lm and other bacteria that utilize similar strategies of cell-to-cell spread during infection.
Carcinoembryonic antigen cell adhesion molecule like I (CEACAM1) is expressed on activated T cells and signals through either a long (L) cytoplasmic tail containing immune receptor tyrosine based inhibitory motifs, which provide inhibitory function, or a short (S) cytoplasmic tail with an unknown role. Previous studies on peripheral T cells show that CEACAM1-L isoforms predominate with little to no detectable CEACAM1-S isoforms in mouse and human. We show here that this was not the case in tissue resident T cells of intestines and gut associated lymphoid tissues which demonstrated predominant expression of CEACAM1-S isoforms relative to CEACAM1-L isoforms in human and mouse. This tissue resident predominance of CEACAM1-S expression was determined by the intestinal environment where it served a stimulatory function leading to the regulation of T cell subsets associated with generation of secretory IgA immunity, the regulation of mucosal commensalism, and defense of the barrier against enteropathogens.
Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterial pathogen that can escape the phagosome and replicate in the cytosol of host cells during infection. We previously observed that a population (up to 35%) of L. monocytogenes strain 10403S colocalize with the macroautophagy marker LC3 at 1 h postinfection. This is thought to give rise to spacious Listeria-containing phagosomes (SLAPs), a membrane-bound compartment harboring slow-growing bacteria that is associated with persistent infection. Here, we examined the host and bacterial factors that mediate LC3 recruitment to bacteria at 1 h postinfection. At this early time point, LC3+ bacteria were present within single-membrane phagosomes that are LAMP1+. Protein ubiquitination is known to play a role in targeting cytosolic L. monocytogenes to macroautophagy. However, we found that neither protein ubiquitination nor the ubiquitin-binding adaptor SQSTM1/p62 are associated with LC3+ bacteria at 1 h postinfection. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production by the CYBB/NOX2 NADPH oxidase was also required for LC3 recruitment to bacteria at 1 h postinfection and for subsequent SLAP formation. Diacylglycerol is an upstream activator of the CYBB/NOX2 NADPH oxidase, and its production by both bacterial and host phospholipases was required for LC3 recruitment to bacteria. Our data suggest that the LC3-associated phagocytosis (LAP) pathway, which is distinct from macroautophagy, targets L. monocytogenes during the early stage of infection within host macrophages and allows establishment of an intracellular niche (SLAPs) associated with persistent infection.
autophagy; diacylglycerol; innate immunity; LC3; LC3-associated phagocytosis; Listeria monocytogenes; reactive oxygen species; ubiquitin
The intracellular bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes produces phospholipases C (PI-PLC and PC-PLC) and the pore-forming cytolysin listeriolysin O (LLO) to escape the phagosome and replicate within the host cytosol. We found that PLCs can also activate the phagocyte NADPH oxidase during L. monocytogenes infection, a response that would adversely affect pathogen survival. However, secretion of LLO inhibits the NADPH oxidase by preventing its localization to phagosomes. LLO-deficient bacteria can be complemented by perfringolysin O, a related cytolysin, suggesting that other pathogens may also use pore-forming cytolysins to inhibit the NADPH oxidase. Our studies demonstrate that while the PLCs induce antimicrobial NADPH oxidase activity, this effect is alleviated by the pore-forming activity of LLO. Therefore, the combined activities of PLCs and LLO on membrane lysis and the inhibitory effects of LLO on NADPH oxidase activity allows L. monocytogenes to efficiently escape the phagosome while avoiding the microbicidal respiratory burst.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading cause of mortality in young children. While successful conjugate polysaccharide vaccines exist, a less expensive serotype-independent protein-based pneumococcal vaccine offers a major advancement for preventing life-threatening pneumococcal infections, particularly in developing nations. IL-17A-secreting CD4+ T cells (TH17) mediate resistance to mucosal colonization by multiple pathogens including S. pneumoniae. Screening an expression library containing >96% of predicted pneumococcal proteins, we identified antigens recognized by TH17 cells from mice immune to pneumococcal colonization. The identified antigens also elicited IL-17A secretion from colonized mouse splenocytes and human PBMCs suggesting that similar responses are primed during natural exposure. Immunization of two mouse strains with identified antigens provided protection from pneumococcal colonization that was significantly diminished in animals treated with blocking CD4 or IL-17A antibodies. This work demonstrates the potential of proteomic screening approaches to identify specific antigens for the design of subunit vaccines against mucosal pathogens via harnessing TH17-mediated immunity.
Facultative bacterial pathogens must adapt to multiple stimuli to persist in the environment or establish infection within a host. Temperature is often utilized as a signal to control expression of virulence genes necessary for infection or genes required for persistence in the environment. However, very little is known about the molecular mechanisms that allow bacteria to adapt and respond to temperature fluctuations. Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) is a food-borne, facultative intracellular pathogen that uses flagellar motility to survive in the extracellular environment and to enhance initial invasion of host cells during infection. Upon entering the host, Lm represses transcription of flagellar motility genes in response to mammalian physiological temperature (37°C) with a concomitant temperature-dependent up-regulation of virulence genes. We previously determined that down-regulation of flagellar motility is required for virulence and is governed by the reciprocal activities of the MogR transcriptional repressor and the bifunctional flagellar anti-repressor/glycosyltransferase, GmaR. In this study, we determined that GmaR is also a protein thermometer that controls temperature-dependent transcription of flagellar motility genes. Two-hybrid and gel mobility shift analyses indicated that the interaction between MogR and GmaR is temperature sensitive. Using circular dichroism and limited proteolysis, we determined that GmaR undergoes a temperature-dependent conformational change as temperature is elevated. Quantitative analysis of GmaR in Lm revealed that GmaR is degraded in the absence of MogR and at 37°C (when the MogR:GmaR complex is less stable). Since MogR represses transcription of all flagellar motility genes, including transcription of gmaR, changes in the stability of the MogR:GmaR anti-repression complex, due to conformational changes in GmaR, mediates repression or de-repression of flagellar motility genes in Lm. Thus, GmaR functions as a thermo-sensing anti-repressor that incorporates temperature signals into transcriptional control of flagellar motility. To our knowledge, this is the first example of a protein thermometer that functions as an anti-repressor to control a developmental process in bacteria.
The ability to sense and respond to environmental changes is essential for the survival of all living organisms. Thermosensors are cellular components that can transform temperature changes into significant cellular responses necessary for adaptation and survival. In this study, we identify a protein thermosensor, GmaR, in the human bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes that senses the transition from ambient to human body temperature and transforms this temperature signal into changes that affect bacterial motility and pathogenesis. Bacterial motility is mediated by the production and rotation of long tail-like structures known as flagella that are found on the surface of bacterial cells. Flagellar motility is important for bacterial survival in the environment, but inside a human host, flagella are recognized as a danger signal by the human immune defense system. Temperature-dependent conformational changes in GmaR control the temperature-responsive ON/OFF switch for gene expression required for flagellar motility. This thermo-sensing mechanism aids L. monocytogenes pathogenesis by turning OFF flagellar motility genes upon entering a mammalian host, and is important for bacterial survival in the external environment by turning ON flagellar motility in response to ambient temperatures where flagellar motility is needed for nutrient acquisition and colonization of surfaces.
To gain insights into the cellular processes required for intracellular bacterial pathogenesis, we previously developed a generalisable screening approach to identify small molecule compounds that alter Listeria monocytogenes infection. In this report, a small molecule library enriched for compounds affecting neurological functions was screened and 68 compounds that disrupted L. monocytogenes infection of macrophages were identified. Many of these compounds were known antimicrobial agents, however 26 compounds were novel inhibitors of intracellular infection. Two of the compounds chosen for further study, the antipsychotic drug thioridazine and the calcium channel blocker bepridil, exhibited dose-dependent inhibition of vacuolar escape and intracellular replication of L. monocytogenes during infection of murine macrophages. These results suggest that clinically approved neurological drugs may provide a novel source of anti-infective agents that are suitable for development as therapeutics against intracellular bacterial infections.
Listeria monocytogenes; Small molecule screen; Intracellular infection; Bepridil; Neurological compounds; Thioridazine
Flagellar motility in Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) is restricted to temperatures below 37°C due to the opposing activities of the MogR transcriptional repressor and the GmaR anti-repressor. Previous studies have suggested that both the DegU response regulator and MogR regulate expression of GmaR. In this report, we further define the role of DegU for GmaR production and flagellar motility. We demonstrate that deletion of the receiver domain of DegU has no effect on flagellar motility in Lm. Using transcriptional reporter fusions, we determined that gmaR is co-transcribed within an operon initiating with fliN. Furthermore, the fliN-gmaR promoter (pfliN-gmaR) is transcriptionally activated by DegU and is also MogR-repressed. DNA affinity purification, gel mobility shift, and footprinting analyses revealed that both DegU and MogR directly bind fliN-gmaR promoter region DNA and that the binding sites do not overlap. Quantitative analysis of gmaR transcripts in ΔmogR bacteria indicated that transcriptional activation of pfliN-gmaR by DegU is not inherently temperature-dependent. However, GmaR protein was not detectable at 37°C in ΔmogR bacteria, indicating that a temperature-dependent, post-transcriptional mechanism limits GmaR production to temperatures below 37°C. Our findings reveal that flagellar motility in Lm is governed by both temperature-dependent transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of the GmaR anti-repressor.
Listeria monocytogenes; flagellar motility; GmaR; MogR; DegU; post-transcriptional regulation
Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterial pathogen that replicates within the cytosol of infected host cells. The ability to rapidly escape the phagocytic vacuole is essential for efficient intracellular replication. In the murine model of infection, the pore-forming cytolysin listeriolysin O (LLO) is absolutely required for vacuolar dissolution, as LLO-deficient (ΔLLO) mutants remain trapped within vacuoles. In contrast, in many human cell types ΔLLO L. monocytogenes are capable of vacuolar escape at moderate to high frequencies. To better characterize the mechanism of LLO-independent vacuolar escape in human cells, we conducted an RNA interference (RNAi) screen to identify vesicular trafficking factors that play a role in altering vacuolar escape efficiency of ΔLLO L. monocytogenes. RNAi knockdown of 18 vesicular trafficking factors resulted in increased LLO-independent vacuolar escape. Our results suggest that knockdown of one factor, RABEP1 (rabaptin-5), decreased the maturation of vacuoles containing ΔLLO L. monocytogenes. Thus, we provide evidence that increased vacuolar escape of ΔLLO L. monocytogenes in human cells correlates with slower vacuolar maturation. We also determined that increased LLO-independent dissolution of vacuoles during RABEP1 knockdown required the bacterial broad-range phospholipase PC-PLC. We hypothesize that slowing the kinetics of vacuolar maturation generates an environment conducive for vacuolar escape mediated by the bacterial phospholipases.
Listeria monocytogenes; listeriolysin O; vacuolar maturation; rabaptin-5; PC-PLC
The MogR transcriptional repressor of the intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes recognizes AT-rich binding sites in promoters of flagellar genes to down-regulate flagellar gene expression during infection. We describe here the 1.8Å resolution crystal structure of MogR bound to the recognition sequence 5′ ATTTTTTAAAAAAAT 3′ present within the flaA promoter region. Our structure shows that MogR binds as a dimer. Each half-site is recognized in the major groove by a helix-turn-helix motif and in the minor groove by a loop from the symmetry related molecule, resulting in a ‘cross-over’ binding mode. This oversampling through minor groove interactions is important for specificity. The MogR binding site has structural features of A-tract DNA and is bent by ~52° away from the dimer. The structure explains how MogR achieves binding specificity in the AT-rich genome of L. monocytogenes and explains the evolutionary conservation of A-tract sequence elements within promoter regions of MogR-regulated flagellar genes.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been attributed to aberrant mucosal immunity to the intestinal microbiota. The transcription factor XBP1, a key component of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response, is required for development and maintenance of secretory cells and linked to JNK activation. We report that XBP1 deletion in intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) results in spontaneous enteritis and increased susceptibility to induced colitis secondary to both Paneth cell deficiency and overactive responses of the intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) to the IBD-inducers, TNFα and flagellin. An association of XBP1 variants with human IBD was identified and replicated (rs35873774, P-value 1.6×10−5) with novel, private hypomorphic variants identified as susceptibility factors. Hence, intestinal inflammation can originate solely from XBP1 abnormalities in IEC thus linking cell-specific ER stress to the induction of organ-specific inflammation. We report the first mouse model of spontaneous intestinal inflammation arising from alterations in a genetic risk factor for human IBD.
We developed a screening procedure to identify small-molecule compounds that altered infection by Listeria monocytogenes to gain insights into bacterial/host cellular processes required for intracellular pathogenesis. A small-molecule library of 480 compounds with known biological functions was screened, and 21 compounds that altered the L. monocytogenes infection of murine bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMM) were identified. The identified compounds affected various cellular functions, such as actin polymerization, kinase/phosphatase activity, calcium signaling, and apoptosis. Pimozide, an FDA-approved drug used to treat severe Tourette's syndrome and schizophrenia, was further examined and shown to decrease the bacterial uptake and vacuole escape of L. monocytogenes in BMM. The inhibitory effect of pimozide on internalization was not specific for L. monocytogenes, as the phagocytosis of other bacterial species (Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, and Escherichia coli K12) was significantly inhibited in the presence of pimozide. The invasion and cell-to-cell spread of L. monocytogenes during the infection of nonprofessional phagocytic cells also was decreased by pimozide treatment. Although pimozide has been reported to be an antagonist of mammalian cell calcium channels, the infection of BMM in a calcium-free medium did not relieve the inhibitory effects of pimozide on L. monocytogenes infection. Our results provide a generalizable screening approach for identifying small-molecule compounds that affect cellular pathways that are required for intracellular bacterial pathogenesis. We also have identified pimozide, a clinically approved antipsychotic drug, as a compound that may be suitable for further development as a therapeutic for intracellular bacterial infections.
The bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) evades the antimicrobial mechanisms of macrophages by escaping from vacuoles to the cytosol, through the action of the cytolysin listeriolysin O (LLO). Because of heterogeneities in the timing and efficiency of escape, important questions about the contributions of LLO to Lm vacuole identity and trafficking have been inaccessible. Expression of cyan fluorescent protein (CFP)-labelled endocytic membrane markers in macrophages along with a yellow fluorescent protein (YFP)-labelled indicator of Lm entry to the cytosol identified compartments lysed by bacteria. Lm escaped from Rab5a-negative, lysosome-associated membrane protein-1 (LAMP1)-negative, Rab7-positive, phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate [PI(3)P]-positive vacuoles. Lm vacuoles did not label with YFP-Rab5a unless the bacteria were first opsonized with IgG. Wild-type Lm delayed vacuole fusion with LAMP1-positive lysosomes, relative to LLO-deficient Lm. Bacteria prevented from expressing LLO until their arrival into LAMP1-positive lysosomes escaped inefficiently. Thus, the LLO-dependent delay of Lm vacuole fusion with lysosomes affords Lm a competitive edge against macrophage defences by providing bacteria more time in organelles they can penetrate.
The food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes attaches to environmental surfaces and forms biofilms that can be a source of food contamination, yet little is known about the molecular mechanisms of its biofilm development. We observed that nonmotile mutants were defective in biofilm formation. To investigate how flagella might function during biofilm formation, we compared the wild type with flagellum-minus and paralyzed-flagellum mutants. Both nonmotile mutants were defective in biofilm development, presumably at an early stage, as they were also defective in attachment to glass during the first few hours of surface exposure. This attachment defect could be significantly overcome by providing exogenous movement toward the surface via centrifugation. However, this centrifugation did not restore mature biofilm formation. Our results indicate that it is flagellum-mediated motility that is critical for both initial surface attachment and subsequent biofilm formation. Also, any role for L. monocytogenes flagella as adhesins on abiotic surfaces appears to be either minimal or motility dependent under the conditions we examined.
The neonatal Fc receptor for IgG (FcRn) plays a major role in regulating host IgG levels and transporting IgG and associated antigens across polarized epithelial barriers. Selective expression of FcRn in the epithelium is shown here to be associated with secretion of IgG into the lumen that allows for defense against an epithelium-associated pathogen (Citrobacter rodentium). This pathway of host resistance to a bacterial pathogen as mediated by FcRn involves retrieval of bacterial antigens from the lumen and initiation of adaptive immune responses in regional lymphoid structures. Epithelial-associated FcRn, through its ability to secrete and absorb IgG, may thus integrate luminal antigen encounters with systemic immune compartments and as such provide essential host defense and immunoregulatory functions at the mucosal surfaces.
Flagella are surface structures critical for motility and virulence of many bacterial species. In Listeria monocytogenes, MogR tightly represses expression of flagellin (FlaA) during extracellular growth at 37 °C and during intracellular infection. MogR is also required for full virulence in a murine model of infection. Using in vitro and in vivo infection models, we determined that the severe virulence defect of MogR-negative bacteria is due to overexpression of FlaA. Specifically, overproduction of FlaA in MogR-negative bacteria caused pleiotropic defects in bacterial division (chaining phenotype), intracellular spread, and virulence in mice. DNA binding and microarray analyses revealed that MogR represses transcription of all known flagellar motility genes by binding directly to a minimum of two TTTT-N5-AAAA recognition sites positioned within promoter regions such that RNA polymerase binding is occluded. Analysis of MogR protein levels demonstrated that modulation of MogR repression activity confers the temperature-specificity to flagellar motility gene expression. Epistasis analysis revealed that MogR repression of transcription is antagonized in a temperature-dependent manner by the DegU response regulator and that DegU further regulates FlaA levels through a posttranscriptional mechanism. These studies provide the first known example to our knowledge of a transcriptional repressor functioning as a master regulator controlling nonhierarchal expression of flagellar motility genes.
Bacteria move in liquid environments using hair-like structures on their surface called flagella. Production of flagella requires more than 40 genes and a significant amount of energy. Indeed, a single flagella filament is composed of approximately 20,000 flagellin subunits. In the environment, bacteria use flagella to swim toward nutrients. Flagella are also important for disease-causing bacteria (pathogens) to initiate infections. However, once inside a person, flagellin is a potent stimulator of the human immune system. Consequently, many bacteria decrease production of flagella shortly after infection. Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogen that grows inside of human cells. In this study, the authors show that L. monocytogenes produce a unique protein (MogR) that downregulates production of all of the genes required to produce flagella. This mode of flagella regulation has not been previously observed in bacteria. The authors demonstrate that in the absence of MogR, L. monocytogenes overproduce flagellin. Misregulation of flagellin production results in bacteria that are no longer able to efficiently enter host cells and are less pathogenic. Thus, the authors demonstrate that MogR-dependent repression of flagellin production is essential for L. monocytogenes to grow inside of host cells.
Listeria monocytogenes is a gram-positive intracellular pathogen that can enter phagocytic and nonphagocytic cells and colonize their cytosols. Taking advantage of this property to generate an intracellular vaccine delivery vector, we previously described a mutant strain of L. monocytogenes, Δdal Δdat, which is unable to synthesize cell wall by virtue of deletions in two genes (dal and dat) required for d-alanine synthesis. This highly attenuated strain induced long-lived protective systemic and mucosal immune responses in mice when administered in the transient presence of d-alanine. We have now increased the usefulness of this organism as a vaccine vector by use of an inducible complementation system that obviates the need for exogenous d-alanine administration. The strain expresses a copy of the Bacillus subtilis racemase gene under the control of a tightly regulated isopropyl-β-d-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG)-inducible promoter present on a multicopy plasmid. This bacterium demonstrates strict dose-dependent growth in the presence of IPTG. After removal of inducer, bacterial growth ceased within two replication cycles. Following infection of mice in the absence of IPTG or d-alanine, the bacterium survived in vivo for less than 3 days. Nevertheless, a single immunization elicited a state of long-lasting protective immunity against wild-type L. monocytogenes and induced a subset of effector listeriolysin O-specific CD11a+ CD8+ T cells in spleen and other tissues that was strongly enhanced after secondary immunization. This improved L. monocytogenes vector system may have potential use as a live vaccine against human immunodeficiency virus, other infectious diseases, and cancer.
In this study, we investigated the requirement of the Listeria monocytogenes broad-range phospholipase C (PC-PLC) during infection of human epithelial cells. L. monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular bacterial pathogen of humans and a variety of animal species. After entering a host cell, L. monocytogenes is initially surrounded by a membrane-bound vacuole. Bacteria promote their escape from this vacuole, grow within the host cell cytosol, and spread from cell to cell via actin-based motility. Most infection studies with L. monocytogenes have been performed with mouse cells or an in vivo mouse model of infection. In all mouse-derived cells tested, the pore-forming cytolysin listeriolysin O (LLO) is absolutely required for lysis of primary vacuoles formed during host cell entry. However, L. monocytogenes can escape from primary vacuoles in the absence of LLO during infection of human epithelial cell lines Henle 407, HEp-2, and HeLa. Previous studies have shown that the broad-range phospholipase C, PC-PLC, promotes lysis of Henle 407 cell primary vacuoles in the absence of LLO. Here, we have shown that PC-PLC is also required for lysis of HEp-2 and HeLa cell primary vacuoles in the absence of LLO expression. Furthermore, our results indicated that the amount of PC-PLC activity is critical for the efficiency of vacuolar lysis. In an LLO-negative derivative of L. monocytogenes strain 10403S, expression of PC-PLC has to increase before or upon entry into human epithelial cells, compared to expression in broth culture, to allow bacterial escape from primary vacuoles. Using a system for inducible PC-PLC expression in L. monocytogenes, we provide evidence that phospholipase activity can be increased by elevated expression of PC-PLC or Mpl, the enzyme required for proteolytic activation of PC-PLC. Lastly, by using the inducible PC-PLC expression system, we demonstrate that, in the absence of LLO, PC-PLC activity is not only required for lysis of primary vacuoles in human epithelial cells but is also necessary for efficient cell-to-cell spread. We speculate that the additional requirement for PC-PLC activity is for lysis of secondary double-membrane vacuoles formed during cell-to-cell spread.
We have constructed a lac repressor/operator-based system to tightly regulate expression of bacterial genes during intracellular infection by Listeria monocytogenes. An L. monocytogenes strain was constructed in which expression of listeriolysin O was placed under the inducible control of an isopropyl-β-d-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG)-dependent promoter. Listeriolysin O (LLO) is a pore-forming cytolysin that mediates lysis of L. monocytogenes-containing phagosomes. Using hemolytic-activity assays and Western blot analysis, we demonstrated dose-dependent IPTG induction of LLO during growth in broth culture. Moreover, intracellular growth of the inducible-LLO (iLLO) strain in the macrophage-like cell line J774 was strictly dependent upon IPTG. We have further shown that iLLO bacteria trapped within primary phagocytic vacuoles can be induced to escape into the cytosol following addition of IPTG to the cell culture medium, thus yielding the ability to control bacterial escape from the phagosome and the initiation of intracellular growth. Using the iLLO strain in plaque-forming assays, we demonstrated an additional requirement for LLO in facilitating cell-to-cell spread in L2 fibroblasts, a nonprofessional phagocytic cell line. Furthermore, the efficiency of cell-to-cell spread of iLLO bacteria in L2 cells was IPTG dose dependent. The potential use of this system for determining the temporal requirements of additional virulence determinants of intracellular pathogenesis is discussed.
Cells infected with mammalian reoviruses often contain large perinuclear inclusion bodies, or “factories,” where viral replication and assembly are thought to occur. Here, we report a viral strain difference in the morphology of these inclusions: filamentous inclusions formed in cells infected with reovirus type 1 Lang (T1L), whereas globular inclusions formed in cells infected with our laboratory's isolate of reovirus type 3 Dearing (T3D). Examination by immunofluorescence microscopy revealed the filamentous inclusions to be colinear with microtubules (MTs). The filamentous distribution was dependent on an intact MT network, as depolymerization of MTs early after infection caused globular inclusions to form. The inclusion phenotypes of T1L × T3D reassortant viruses identified the viral M1 genome segment as the primary genetic determinant of the strain difference in inclusion morphology. Filamentous inclusions were seen with 21 of 22 other reovirus strains, including an isolate of T3D obtained from another laboratory. When the μ2 proteins derived from T1L and the other laboratory's T3D isolate were expressed after transfection of their cloned M1 genes, they associated with filamentous structures that colocalized with MTs, whereas the μ2 protein derived from our laboratory's T3D isolate did not. MTs were stabilized in cells infected with the viruses that induced filamentous inclusions and after transfection with the M1 genes derived from those viruses. Evidence for MT stabilization included bundling and hyperacetylation of α-tubulin, changes characteristically seen when MT-associated proteins (MAPs) are overexpressed. Sequencing of the M1 segments from the different T1L and T3D isolates revealed that a single-amino-acid difference at position 208 correlated with the inclusion morphology. Two mutant forms of μ2 with the changes Pro-208 to Ser in a background of T1L μ2 and Ser-208 to Pro in a background of T3D μ2 had MT association phenotypes opposite to those of the respective wild-type proteins. We conclude that the μ2 protein of most reovirus strains is a viral MAP and that it plays a key role in the formation and structural organization of reovirus inclusion bodies.
Listeria monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular bacterial pathogen that escapes from a host vacuolar compartment and grows rapidly in the cytosol. Listeriolysin O (LLO) is a secreted pore-forming protein essential for the escape of L. monocytogenes from the vacuole formed upon initial internalization. However, its role in intracellular growth and cell-to-cell spread events has not been testable by a genetic approach. In this study, purified six-His-tagged LLO (HisLLO) was noncovalently coupled to the surface of nickel-treated LLO-negative mutants. Bound LLO mediated vacuolar escape in approximately 2% of the mutants. After 5.5 h of growth, cytosolic bacteria were indistinguishable from wild-type bacteria with regard to formation of pseudopod-like extensions, here termed listeriopods, and spread to adjacent cells. However, bacteria in adjacent cells failed to multiply and were found in double-membrane vacuoles. Addition of bound LLO to mutants lacking LLO and two distinct phospholipases C (PLCs) also resulted in spread to adjacent cells, but these triple mutants became trapped in multiple-membrane vacuoles that are reminiscent of autophagocytic vacuoles. These studies show that neither LLO nor the PLCs are necessary for listeriopod formation and uptake of bacteria into neighboring cells but that LLO is required for the escape of L. monocytogenes from the double-membrane vacuole that forms upon cell-to-cell spread.