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1.  The Burkholderia pseudomallei Enoyl-Acyl Carrier Protein Reductase FabI1 Is Essential for In Vivo Growth and Is the Target of a Novel Chemotherapeutic with Efficacy 
The bacterial fatty acid biosynthesis pathway is a validated target for the development of novel chemotherapeutics. However, since Burkholderia pseudomallei carries genes that encode both FabI and FabV enoyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) reductase homologues, the enoyl-ACP reductase that is essential for in vivo growth needs to be defined so that the correct drug target can be chosen for development. Accordingly, ΔfabI1, ΔfabI2, and ΔfabV knockout strains were constructed and tested in a mouse model of infection. Mice infected with a ΔfabI1 strain did not show signs of morbidity, mortality, or dissemination after 30 days of infection compared to the wild-type and ΔfabI2 and ΔfabV mutant strains that had times to mortality of 60 to 84 h. Although signs of morbidity and mortality of ΔfabI2 and ΔfabV strains were not significantly different from those of the wild-type strain, a slight delay was observed. A FabI1-specific inhibitor was used to confirm that inhibition of FabI1 results in reduced bacterial burden and efficacy in an acute B. pseudomallei murine model of infection. This work establishes that FabI1 is required for growth of Burkholderia pseudomallei in vivo and is a potential molecular target for drug development.
PMCID: PMC3910854  PMID: 24277048
2.  An Improved Selective Culture Medium Enhances the Isolation of Burkholderia pseudomallei from Contaminated Specimens 
Burkholderia pseudomallei is a Gram-negative environmental bacterium found in tropical climates that causes melioidosis. Culture remains the diagnostic gold standard, but isolation of B. pseudomallei from heavily contaminated sites, such as fecal specimens, can be difficult. We recently reported that B. pseudomallei is capable of infecting the gastrointestinal tract of mice and suggested that the same may be true in humans. Thus, there is a strong need for new culture techniques to allow for efficient detection of B. pseudomallei in fecal and other specimens. We found that the addition of norfloxacin, ampicillin, and polymyxin B to Ashdown's medium (NAP-A) resulted in increased specificity without affecting the growth of 25 B. pseudomallei strains. Furthermore, recovery of B. pseudomallei from human clinical specimens was not affected by the three additional antibiotics. Therefore, we conclude that NAP-A medium provides a new tool for more sensitive isolation of B. pseudomallei from heavily contaminated sites.
PMCID: PMC3820346  PMID: 24062483
3.  Proteomic analysis of colony morphology variants of Burkholderia pseudomallei defines a role for the arginine deiminase system in bacterial survival 
Journal of Proteomics  2012;75(3):1031-1042.
Colony morphology variation of Burkholderia pseudomallei is a notable feature of a proportion of primary clinical cultures from patients with melioidosis. Here, we examined the hypothesis that colony morphology switching results in phenotypic changes associated with enhanced survival under adverse conditions. We generated isogenic colony morphology types II and III from B. pseudomallei strain 153 type I, and compared their protein expression profiles using 2D gel electrophoresis. Numerous proteins were differentially expressed, the most prominent of which were flagellin, arginine deiminase (AD) and carbamate kinase (CK), which were over-expressed in isogenic types II and III compared with parental type I. AD and CK (encoded by arcA and arcC) are components of the arginine deiminase system (ADS) which facilitates acid tolerance. Reverse transcriptase PCR of arcA and arcC mRNA expression confirmed the proteomic results. Transcripts of parental type I strain 153 arcA and arcC were increased in the presence of arginine, in a low oxygen concentration and in acid. Comparison of wild type with arcA and arcC defective mutants demonstrated that the B. pseudomallei ADS was associated with survival in acid, but did not appear to play a role in intracellular survival or replication within the mouse macrophage cell line J774A.1. These data provide novel insights into proteomic alterations that occur during the complex process of morphotype switching, and lend support to the idea that this is associated with a fitness advantage in vivo.
Graphical abstract
► B. pseudomallei undergoes morphotypic switching in response to stress. ► Numerous proteins were differentially expressed by isogenic morphotypes. ► Types II and III over-expressed arginine deiminase (ArcA) and carbamate kinase (ArcC). ► Exposure of parental type I to acid led to increased transcription of arcA and arcC. ► arcA and arcC defective mutants had reduced survival in acid.
PMCID: PMC3269093  PMID: 22062159
Melioidosis; Burkholderia pseudomallei; Arginine deiminase system; Proteomic analysis; Colony variation
4.  In vitro activity of BAL30072 against Burkholderia pseudomallei 
Burkholderia pseudomallei is an intrinsically antibiotic-resistant Category B priority pathogen and the aetiological agent of melioidosis. Treatment of B. pseudomallei infection is biphasic and lengthy in order to combat the acute and chronic phases of the disease. Acute-phase treatment preferably involves an intravenous cephalosporin (ceftazidime) or a carbapenem (imipenem or meropenem). In this study, the anti-B. pseudomallei efficacy of a new monosulfactam, BAL30072, was tested against laboratory strains 1026b and 1710b and several isogenic mutant derivatives as well as a collection of clinical and environmental B. pseudomallei strains from Thailand. More than 93% of the isolates had minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) in the range 0.004–0.016 μg/mL. For the laboratory strain 1026b, the MIC of BAL30072 was 0.008 μg/mL, comparable with the MICs of 1.5 μg/mL for ceftazidime, 0.5 μg/mL for imipenem and 1 μg/mL for meropenem. Time–kill curves revealed that BAL30072 was rapidly bactericidal, killing >99% of bacteria in 2 h. BAL30072 activity was not significantly affected by efflux, it was only a marginal substrate of PenA β-lactamase, and activity was independent of malleobactin production and transport and the ability to transport pyochelin. In summary, BAL30072 has superior in vitro activity against B. pseudomallei compared with ceftazidime, meropenem or imipenem and it is rapidly bactericidal.
PMCID: PMC3124586  PMID: 21596528
Burkholderia pseudomallei; Melioidosis; Therapy; Monosulfactam; Efflux; Siderophore
5.  Molecular Investigations of PenA-mediated β-lactam Resistance in Burkholderia pseudomallei 
Burkholderia pseudomallei is the etiological agent of melioidosis. Because of the bacterium’s intrinsic resistance and propensity to establish latent infections, melioidosis therapy is complicated and prolonged. Newer generation β-lactams, specifically ceftazidime, are used for acute phase therapy, but resistance to this cephalosporin has been observed. The chromosomally encoded penA gene encodes a putative twin arginine translocase (TAT)-secreted β-lactamase, and penA mutations have been implicated in ceftazidime resistance in clinical isolates. However, the role of PenA in resistance has not yet been systematically studied in isogenetic B. pseudomallei mutant backgrounds. We investigated the effects of penA deletion, point mutations, and up-regulation, as well as tat operon deletion and PenA TAT-signal sequence mutations. These experiments were made possible by employing a B. pseudomallei strain that is excluded from Select Agent regulations. Deletion of penA significantly (>4-fold) reduced the susceptibility to six of the nine β-lactams tested and ≥16-fold for ampicillin, amoxicillin, and carbenicillin. Overexpression of penA by single-copy, chromosomal expression of the gene under control of the inducible Ptac promoter, increased resistance levels for all β-lactams tested 2- to 10-fold. Recreation of the C69Y and P167S PenA amino acid substitutions previously observed in resistant clinical isolates increased resistance to ceftazidime by ≥85- and 5- to 8-fold, respectively. Similarly, a S72F substitution resulted in a 4-fold increase in resistance to amoxicillin and clavulanic acid. Susceptibility assays with PenA TAT-signal sequence and ΔtatABC mutants, as well as Western blot analysis, confirmed that PenA is a TAT secreted enzyme and not periplasmic but associated with the spheroplastic cell fraction. Lastly, we determined that two LysR-family regulators encoded by genes adjacent to penA do not play a role in transcriptional regulation of penA expression.
PMCID: PMC3129521  PMID: 21747814
Burkholderia pseudomallei; melioidosis; antibiotic resistance; β-lactams; β-lactamase; TAT secretion
6.  Kinetics of the Immune Response Profile in Guinea Pigs after Vaccination with Mycobacterium bovis BCG and Infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;77(11):4837-4846.
The guinea pig model of tuberculosis is used extensively in assessing novel vaccines, since Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccination effectively prolongs survival after low-dose aerosol infection with virulent M. tuberculosis. To better understand how BCG extends time to death after pulmonary infection with M. tuberculosis, we examined cytokine responses postvaccination and recruitment of activated T cells and cytokine response postinfection. At 10 weeks postvaccination, splenic gamma interferon (IFN-γ) mRNA was significantly elevated compared to the levels at 5 weeks in ex vivo stimulation assays. At 15, 40, 60, and 120 days postinfection, T-cell activation (CD4+ CD62Llow and CD8+ CD62Llow) and mRNA expression of IFN-γ, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-10, IL-12, and eomesodermin were assessed. Our data show that at day 40, BCG-vaccinated guinea pigs had significantly increased levels of IFN-γ mRNA expression but decreased TNF-α mRNA expression in their lungs compared to the levels in nonvaccinated animals. At day 120, a time when nonvaccinated guinea pigs succumbed to infection, low levels of IFN-γ mRNA were observed even though there were increasing levels of IL-1, IL-12, and IL-10, and the numbers of activated T cells did not differ from those in BCG-vaccinated animals. BCG vaccination conferred the advantage of recruiting greater numbers of CD4+ CD62Llow T cells at day 40, although the numbers of CD8+ CD62Llow T cells were not elevated compared to the numbers in nonvaccinated animals. Our data suggest that day 40 postinfection may be a pivotal time point in determining vaccine efficacy and prolonged survival and that BCG promotes the capacity of T cells in the lungs to respond to infection.
PMCID: PMC2772515  PMID: 19737892
7.  Versatile Dual-Technology System for Markerless Allele Replacement in Burkholderia pseudomallei▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(20):6496-6503.
Burkholderia pseudomallei is the etiologic agent of melioidosis, a rare but serious tropical disease. In the United States, genetic research with this select agent bacterium is strictly regulated. Although several select agent compliant methods have been developed for allelic replacement, all of them suffer from some drawbacks, such as a need for specific host backgrounds or use of minimal media. Here we describe a versatile select agent compliant allele replacement system for B. pseudomallei based on a mobilizable vector, pEXKm5, which contains (i) a multiple cloning site within a lacZα gene for facile cloning of recombinant DNA fragments, (ii) a constitutively expressed gusA indicator gene for visual detection of merodiploid formation and resolution, and (iii) elements required for resolution of merodiploids using either I-SceI homing endonuclease-stimulated recombination or sacB-based counterselection. The homing endonuclease-based allele replacement system is completed by pBADSce, which contains an araC-PBAD-I-sceI expression cassette for arabinose-inducible I-SceI expression and a temperature-sensitive pRO1600 replicon for facile plasmid curing. Complementing these systems is the improved Δasd Escherichia coli mobilizer strain RHO3. This strain is susceptible to commonly used antibiotics and allows nutritional counterselection on rich media because of its diaminopimelic acid auxotrophy. The versatility of the I-SceI- and sacB-based methods afforded by pEXKm5 in conjunction with E. coli RHO3 was demonstrated by isolation of diverse deletion mutants in several clinical, environmental, and laboratory B. pseudomallei strains. Finally, sacB-based counterselection was employed to isolate a defined chromosomal fabD(Ts) allele that causes synthesis of a temperature-sensitive FabD, an essential fatty acid biosynthesis enzyme.
PMCID: PMC2765137  PMID: 19700544
8.  In Vivo Himar1 Transposon Mutagenesis of Burkholderia pseudomallei▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(24):7529-7535.
Burkholderia psedudomallei is the etiologic agent of melioidosis, and the bacterium is listed as a potential agent of bioterrorism because of its low infectious dose, multiple infectious routes, and intrinsic antibiotic resistance. To further accelerate research with this understudied bacterium, we developed a Himar1-based random mutagenesis system for B. pseudomallei (HimarBP). The transposons contain a Flp recombinase-excisable, approved kanamycin resistance selection marker and an R6K origin of replication for transposon rescue. In vivo mutagenesis of virulent B. pseudomallei strain 1026b was highly efficient, with up to 44% of cells transformed with the delivery plasmid harboring chromosomal HimarBP insertions. Southern analyses revealed single insertions with no evidence of delivery plasmid maintenance. Sequence analysis of rescued HimarBP insertions revealed random insertions on both chromosomes within open reading frames and intergenic regions and that the orientation of insertions was largely unbiased. Auxotrophic mutants were obtained at a frequency of 0.72%, and nutritional supplementation experiments supported the functional assignment of genes within the respective biosynthetic pathways. HimarBP insertions were stable in the absence of selection and could be readily transferred between naturally transformable strains. Experiments with B. thailandensis suggest that the newly developed HimarBP transposons can also be used for random mutagenesis of other Burkholderia spp., especially the closely related species B. mallei. Our results demonstrate that comprehensive transposon libraries of B. pseudomallei can be generated, providing additional tools for the study of the biology, pathogenesis, and antibiotic resistance of this pathogen.
PMCID: PMC2607188  PMID: 18952878
10.  Genetic Tools for Select-Agent-Compliant Manipulation of Burkholderia pseudomallei▿  
Because of Burkholderia pseudomallei's classification as a select agent in the United States, genetic manipulation of this bacterium is strictly regulated. Only a few antibiotic selection markers, including gentamicin, kanamycin, and zeocin, are currently approved for use with this bacterium, but wild-type strains are highly resistant to these antibiotics. To facilitate routine genetic manipulations of wild-type strains, several new tools were developed. A temperature-sensitive pRO1600 broad-host-range replicon was isolated and used to construct curable plasmids where the Flp and Cre recombinase genes are expressed from the rhamnose-regulated Escherichia coli PBAD promoter and kanamycin (nptI) and zeocin (ble) selection markers from the constitutive Burkholderia thailandensis ribosomal PS12 or synthetic bacterial PEM7 promoter. Flp and Cre site-specific recombination systems allow in vivo excision and recycling of nptII and ble selection markers contained on FRT or loxP cassettes. Finally, expression of Tn7 site-specific transposase from the constitutive P1 integron promoter allowed development of an efficient site-specific chromosomal integration system for B. pseudomallei. In conjunction with a natural transformation method, the utility of these new tools was demonstrated by isolating an unmarked Δ(amrRAB-oprA) efflux pump mutant. Exploiting natural transformation, chromosomal DNA fragments carrying this mutation marked with zeocin resistance were transferred between the genomes of two different B. pseudomallei strains. Lastly, the deletion mutation was complemented by a chromosomally integrated mini-Tn7 element carrying the amrAB-oprA operon. The new tools allow routine select-agent-compliant genetic manipulations of B. pseudomallei and other Burkholderia species.
PMCID: PMC2258562  PMID: 18156318

Results 1-10 (10)