The Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 thiol peroxidase homolog (Tpx) belongs to a family of enzymes implicated in the removal of toxic peroxides. We have shown the expression of tpx to be highly inducible with redox cycling/superoxide generators and diamide and weakly inducible with organic hydroperoxides and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The PAO1 tpx pattern is unlike the patterns for other peroxide-scavenging genes in P. aeruginosa. Analysis of the tpx promoter reveals the presence of a putative IscR binding site located near the promoter. The tpx expression profiles in PAO1 and the iscR mutant, together with results from gel mobility shift assays showing that purified IscR specifically binds the tpx promoter, support the role of IscR as a transcriptional repressor of tpx that also regulates the oxidant-inducible expression of the gene. Recombinant Tpx has been purified and biochemically characterized. The enzyme catalyzes thioredoxin-dependent peroxidation and can utilize organic hydroperoxides and H2O2 as substrates. The Δtpx mutant demonstrates differential sensitivity to H2O2 only at moderate concentrations (0.5 mM) and not at high (20 mM) concentrations, suggesting a novel protective role of tpx against H2O2 in P. aeruginosa. Altogether, P. aeruginosa tpx is a novel member of the IscR regulon and plays a primary role in protecting the bacteria from submillimolar concentrations of H2O2.
Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. mallei are closely related Category B Select Agents of bioterrorism and the causative agents of the diseases melioidosis and glanders, respectively. Rapid phage-based diagnostic tools would greatly benefit early recognition and treatment of these diseases. There is extensive strain-to-strain variation in B. pseudomallei genome content due in part to the presence or absence of integrated prophages. Several phages have previously been isolated from B. pseudomallei lysogens, for example φK96243, φ1026b and φ52237.
We have isolated a P2-like bacteriophage, φX216, which infects 78% of all B. pseudomallei strains tested. φX216 also infects B. mallei, but not other Burkholderia species, including the closely related B. thailandensis and B. oklahomensis. The nature of the φX216 host receptor remains unclear but evidence indicates that in B. mallei φX216 uses lipopolysaccharide O-antigen but a different receptor in B. pseudomallei. The 37,637 bp genome of φX216 encodes 47 predicted open reading frames and shares 99.8% pairwise identity and an identical strain host range with bacteriophage φ52237. Closely related P2-like prophages appear to be widely distributed among B. pseudomallei strains but both φX216 and φ52237 readily infect prophage carrying strains.
The broad strain infectivity and high specificity for B. pseudomallei and B. mallei indicate that φX216 will provide a good platform for the development of phage-based diagnostics for these bacteria.
Bacteriophage; Burkholderia pseudomallei; B. mallei; P2; Prophage distribution; Phage-based diagnostics
The US Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise convened subject matter experts at the 2010 HHS Burkholderia Workshop to develop consensus recommendations for postexposure prophylaxis against and treatment for Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. mallei infections, which cause melioidosis and glanders, respectively. Drugs recommended by consensus of the participants are ceftazidime or meropenem for initial intensive therapy, and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole or amoxicillin/clavulanic acid for eradication therapy. For postexposure prophylaxis, recommended drugs are trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole or co-amoxiclav. To improve the timely diagnosis of melioidosis and glanders, further development and wide distribution of rapid diagnostic assays were also recommended. Standardized animal models and B. pseudomallei strains are needed for further development of therapeutic options. Training for laboratory technicians and physicians would facilitate better diagnosis and treatment options.
Burkholderia pseudomallei; melioidosis; Burkholderia mallei; glanders; drug therapy; postexposure prophylaxis; ceftazidime; carbapenems; trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole; combination; amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate; clavulanic acid bacteria; antibiotic; antibacterial drugs; antimicrobial drugs; bacteria; Suggested citation for this article: Lipsitz R; Garges S; Aurigemma R; Baccam P; Blaney DD; Cheng AC; et al. Workshop on treatment of and postexposure prophylaxis for Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. mallei infection; 2010. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2012 Dec [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1812.120638
d-boroAla was previously characterized as an inhibitor of bacterial alanine racemase and d-Ala-d-Ala ligase enzymes [Duncan, K., et al Biochemistry 1989, 28:3541–9]. In the present study, d-boroAla was identified and characterized as an antibacterial agent. d-boroAla has activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative organisms, with MICs down to 8 µg/mL. A structure-function study on the alkyl side chain (NH2-CHR-B(OR’)2) revealed that d-boroAla is the most effective agent in a series including boroGly, d-boroHomoAla, and d-boroVal. l-boroAla was much less active, and N-acetylation completely abolished activity. An LC-MS/MS assay was used to demonstrate that d-boroAla exerts its antibacterial activity by inhibition of d-Ala-d-Ala ligase (DDL). d-boroAla is bactericidal at 1× MIC against Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis – which each encode one copy of DDL, and at 4× MIC against Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium – which each encode two copies of DDL. d-boroAla demonstrated a frequency of resistance of 8×10−8 at 4× MIC in S. aureus. These results demonstrate that d-boroAla has promising antibacterial activity, and could serve as the lead agent in a new class of DDL targeted antibacterial agents. This study also demonstrates d-boroAla as a possible probe for DDL function.
antibacterial; cell wall; alanine branch; broad spectrum; d-Ala-d-Ala ligase
The FabAB pathway is one of the unsaturated fatty acid (UFA) synthesis pathways for Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It was previously noted that this operon was upregulated in biofilms and repressed by exogenous UFAs. Deletion of a 30 nt fabA upstream sequence, which is conserved in P. aeruginosa, P. putida, and P. syringae, led to a significant decrease in fabA transcription, suggesting positive regulation by an unknown positive regulatory mechanism.
Here, genetic and biochemical approaches were employed to identify a potential fabAB activator. Deletion of candidate genes such as PA1611 or PA1627 was performed to determine if any of these gene products act as a fabAB activator. However, none of these genes were involved in the regulation of fabAB transcription. Use of mariner-based random mutagenesis to screen for fabA activator(s) showed that several genes encoding unknown functions, rpoN and DesA may be involved in fabA regulation, but probably via indirect mechanisms. Biochemical attempts performed did fail to isolate an activator of fabAB operon.
The data suggest that fabA expression might not be regulated by protein-binding, but by a distinct mechanism such as a regulatory RNA-based mechanism.
Genetic research into these select agents is hampered by lack of permitted markers.
Genetic research into the select agents Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. mallei is currently hampered by a paucity of approved antimicrobial drug–selection markers. The strict regulations imposed on researchers in the United States but not in other parts of the world lead to discrepancies in practice, hinder distribution of genetically modified strains, and impede progress in the field. Deliberation and decisions regarding alternative selection markers (antimicrobial and nonantimicrobial drugs) by the international community, regulatory authorities, and funding agencies are needed.
antimicrobial drug–selection markers; select agents; Burkholderia pseudomallei; Burkholderia mallei; melioidosis; glanders; perspective
The type II secretion (T2S) system in Gram-negative bacteria is comprised of the Sec and Tat pathways for translocating proteins into the periplasm and an outer membrane secretin for transporting proteins into the extracellular space. To discover Sec/Tat/T2S pathway inhibitors as potential new therapeutics, we used a Pseudomonas aeruginosa bioluminescent reporter strain responsive to SecA depletion and inhibition to screen compound libraries and characterize the hits. The reporter strain placed a luxCDABE operon under regulation of a SecA depletion-responsive up-regulated promoter in a secA deletion background complemented with an ectopic lac-regulated secA copy. Bioluminescence was indirectly proportional to the IPTG concentration and stimulated by azide, a known SecA ATPase inhibitor. A total of 96 compounds (0.1% of 73,000) were detected as primary hits due to stimulation of luminescence with a z-score ≥5. Direct secretion assays of the 9 most potent hits, representing 5 chemical scaffolds, revealed that they do not inhibit SecA-mediated secretion of β-lactamase into the periplasm, but do inhibit T2S-mediated extracellular secretion of elastase with IC50 values from 5 – 25 μM. In addition, 7 of the 9 compounds also inhibited the T2S-mediated extracellular secretion of phospholipases C by P. aeruginosa and of protease activity by Burkholderia pseudomallei.
P. aeruginosa; type II secretion; high throughput screening; inhibitors
Burkholderia pseudomallei, the cause of serious and life-threatening diseases in humans, is of national biodefense concern because of its potential use as a bioterrorism agent. This microbe is listed as a select agent by the CDC; therefore, development of vaccines is of significant importance. Here, we further investigated the growth characteristics of a recently created B. pseudomallei 1026b Δasd mutant in vitro, in a cell model, and in an animal model of infection. The mutant was typified by an inability to grow in the absence of exogenous diaminopimelate (DAP); upon single-copy complementation with a wild-type copy of the asd gene, growth was restored to wild-type levels. Further characterization of the B. pseudomallei Δasd mutant revealed a marked decrease in RAW264.7 murine macrophage cytotoxicity compared to the wild type and the complemented Δasd mutant. RAW264.7 cells infected by the Δasd mutant did not exhibit signs of cytopathology or multinucleated giant cell (MNGC) formation, which were observed in wild-type B. pseudomallei cell infections. The Δasd mutant was found to be avirulent in BALB/c mice, and mice vaccinated with the mutant were protected against acute inhalation melioidosis. Thus, the B. pseudomallei Δasd mutant may be a promising live attenuated vaccine strain and a biosafe strain for consideration of exclusion from the select agent list.
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.
► 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.
Melioidosis; Burkholderia pseudomallei; Arginine deiminase system; Proteomic analysis; Colony variation
Most Burkholderia pseudomallei strains are intrinsically resistant to macrolides, mainly due to AmrAB-OprA- and/or BpeAB-OprB-mediated efflux. We assessed the in vitro anti-B. pseudomallei efficacy of cethromycin, a novel ketolide with broad-spectrum activity against Gram-negative and Gram-positive pathogens.
The 2-fold broth microdilution technique was used to assess the in vitro cethromycin susceptibility of a prototype strain, efflux mutants, and a panel of 60 clinical and environmental strains. Time–kill curves were used to assess the mode of action. Spontaneous resistant mutants were isolated and AmrAB-OprA efflux pump expression assessed by quantitative real-time PCR. Deletion and complementation analyses were performed to demonstrate AmrAB-OprA efflux pump mutant involvement in high-level cethromycin resistance.
In contrast to macrolides, cethromycin was a weak substrate of AmrAB-OprA and BpeAB-OprB. Cethromycin was bactericidal at high concentrations and bacteriostatic at MIC levels. The ketolide showed efficacy against clinical and environmental strains of B. pseudomallei, with MIC values ranging from 4 to 64 mg/L. Environmental isolates were consistently more susceptible than clinical isolates. High-level cethromycin resistance (MIC 128 mg/L) was due to constitutive AmrAB-OprA efflux pump overexpression, but other mechanisms also seem to contribute.
In contrast to macrolides, which are readily effluxed, cethromycin is weakly extruded in wild-type strains and thus demonstrates significant in vitro anti-B. pseudomallei activity against diverse strains. Acquired high-level cethromycin resistance is caused by constitutive AmrAB-OprA efflux pump overexpression and other, probably non-efflux, mechanisms may also contribute to lower-level acquired resistance.
melioidosis; therapy; ketolides; efflux
Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei, the etiologic agents of melioidosis and glanders, respectively, cause severe disease in humans and animals and are considered potential agents of biological warfare and terrorism. Diagnosis and treatment of infections caused by these pathogens can be challenging and, in the absence of chemotherapeutic intervention, acute disease is frequently fatal. At present, there are no human or veterinary vaccines available for immunization against these emerging/re-emerging infectious diseases. One of the long term objectives of our research, therefore, is to identify and characterize protective antigens expressed by B. pseudomallei and B. mallei and use them to develop efficacious vaccine candidates. Previous studies have demonstrated that the 6-deoxy-heptan capsular polysaccharide (CPS) expressed by these bacterial pathogens is both a virulence determinant and a protective antigen. Consequently, this carbohydrate moiety has become an important component of the various subunit vaccines that we are currently developing in our laboratory. In the present study, we describe a reliable method for isolating CPS antigens from O-polysaccharide (OPS) deficient strains of B. pseudomallei; including a derivative of the select agent excluded strain Bp82. Utilizing these purified CPS samples, we also describe a simple procedure for covalently linking these T-cell independent antigens to carrier proteins. In addition, we demonstrate that high titer IgG responses can be raised against the CPS component of such constructs. Collectively, these approaches provide a tangible starting point for the development of novel CPS-based glycoconjugates for immunization against melioidosis and glanders.
Burkholderia pseudomallei; Burkholderia mallei; capsular polysaccharide; glycoconjugate; vaccine; immunization
Bioluminescent imaging (BLI) technology is a powerful tool for monitoring infectious disease progression and treatment approaches. BLI is particularly useful for tracking fastidious intracellular pathogens that might be difficult to recover from certain organs. Burkholderia mallei, the causative agent of glanders, is a facultative intracellular pathogen and has been classified by the CDC as a Category B select agent due to its highly infectious nature and potential use as a biological weapon. Very little is known regarding pathogenesis or treatment of glanders. We investigated the use of bioluminescent reporter constructs to monitor the dynamics of infection as well as the efficacy of therapeutics for B. mallei in real-time. A stable luminescent reporter B. mallei strain was created using the pUTmini-Tn5::luxKm2 plasmid and used to monitor glanders in the BALB/c murine model. Mice were infected via the intranasal route with 5 × 103 bacteria and monitored by BLI at 24, 48, and 72 h. We verified that our reporter construct maintained similar virulence and growth kinetics compared to wild-type B. mallei and confirmed that it maintains luminescent stability in the presence or absence of antibiotic selection. The luminescent signal was initially seen in the lungs, and progressed to the liver and spleen over the course of infection. We demonstrated that antibiotic treatment 24 h post-infection resulted in reduction of bioluminescence that can be attributed to decreased bacterial burden in target organs. These findings suggest that BLI can be used to monitor disease progression and efficacy of therapeutics during glanders infections. Finally, we report an alternative method to mini-Tn5::luxKm2 transposon using mini-Tn7-lux elements that insert site-specifically at known genomic attachment sites and that can also be used to tag bacteria.
bioluminescence; Burkholderia mallei; in vivo imaging; antibiotic
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.
Burkholderia pseudomallei; Melioidosis; Therapy; Monosulfactam; Efflux; Siderophore
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.
Burkholderia pseudomallei; melioidosis; antibiotic resistance; β-lactams; β-lactamase; TAT secretion
Most Burkholderia pseudomallei strains are intrinsically aminoglycoside resistant, mainly due to AmrAB-OprA-mediated efflux. Rare naturally occurring or genetically engineered mutants lacking this pump are aminoglycoside susceptible despite the fact that they also encode and express BpeAB-OprB, which was reported to mediate efflux of aminoglycosides in the Singapore strain KHW. To reassess the role of BpeAB-OprB in B. pseudomallei aminoglycoside resistance, we used mutants overexpressing or lacking this pump in either AmrAB-OprA-proficient or -deficient strain 1026b backgrounds. Our data show that BpeAB-OprB does not mediate efflux of aminoglycosides but is a multidrug efflux system which extrudes macrolides, fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines, acriflavine, and, to a lesser extent, chloramphenicol. Phylogenetically, BpeAB-OprB is closely related to Pseudomonas aeruginosa MexAB-OprM, which has a similar substrate spectrum. AmrAB-OprA is most closely related to MexXY, the only P. aeruginosa efflux pump known to extrude aminoglycosides. Since BpeAB-OprB in strain KHW was also implicated in playing a major role in export of acylated homoserine lactone (AHL) quorum-sensing molecules and in expression of diverse virulence factors, we explored whether this was also true in the strain 1026b background. The results showed that BpeAB-OprB was not required for AHL export, and mutants lacking this efflux system exhibited normal swimming motility and siderophore production, which were severely impaired in KHW bpeAB-oprB mutants. Biofilm formation was impaired in 1026b Δ(amrRAB-oprA) and Δ(amrRAB-oprA) Δ(bpeAB-oprB) mutants. At present, we do not know why our BpeAB-OprB susceptibility and virulence factor expression results with 1026b and its derivatives are different from those previously published for Singapore strain KHW.
Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei are the causative agents of melioidosis and glanders, respectively. Both Gram-negative pathogens are endemic in many parts of the world. Although natural acquisition of these pathogens is rare in the majority of countries, these bacteria have recently gained much interest because of their potential as bioterrorism agents. In modern times, their potential destructive impact on public health has escalated owing to the ability of these pathogens to cause opportunistic infections in diabetic and perhaps otherwise immunocompromised people, two growing populations worldwide. For both pathogens, severe infection in humans carries a high mortality rate, both species are recalcitrant to antibiotic therapy – B. pseudomallei more so than B. mallei – and no licensed vaccine exists for either prophylactic or therapeutic use. The potential malicious use of these organisms has accelerated the investigation of new ways to prevent and to treat the diseases. The availability of several B. pseudomallei and B. mallei genome sequences has greatly facilitated target identifcation and development of new therapeutics. This review provides a compilation of literature covering studies in antimelioidosis and antiglanders antimicrobial drug discovery, with a particular focus on potential novel therapeutic approaches to combat these diseases.
antibiotics; antimicrobial compounds; Burkholderia mallei; Burkholderia pseudomallei
Burkholderia pseudomallei causes the disease melioidosis in humans and is classified as a category B select agent. Research utilizing this pathogen is highly regulated in the United States, and even basic studies must be conducted in biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) facilities. There is currently no attenuated B. pseudomallei strain available that is excluded from select-agent regulations and can be safely handled at BSL-2 facilities. To address this need, we created Bp82 and Bp190, which are ΔpurM derivatives of B. pseudomallei strains 1026b and K96243 that are deficient in adenine and thiamine biosynthesis but replication competent in vitro in rich medium. A series of animal challenge studies was conducted to ensure that these strains were fully attenuated. Whereas the parental strains 1026b and K96243 and the complemented mutants Bp410 and Bp454 were virulent in BALB/c mice following intranasal inoculation, the ΔpurM mutants Bp82 and Bp190 were avirulent even when they were administered at doses 4 logs higher than the doses used for the parental strains. Animals challenged with high doses of the ΔpurM mutants rapidly cleared the bacterium from tissues (lung, liver, and spleen) and remained free of culturable bacteria for the duration of the experiments (up to 60 days postinfection). Moreover, highly susceptible 129/SvEv mice and immune incompetent mice (IFN-γ−/−, SCID) were resistant to challenges with ΔpurM mutant Bp82. This strain was also avirulent in the Syrian hamster challenge model. We concluded that ΔpurM mutant Bp82 is fully attenuated and safe for use under BSL-2 laboratory conditions and thus is a candidate for exclusion from the select-agent list.
Burkholderia gladioli pathovar cocovenenans (BGC) is responsible for sporadic food-poisoning outbreaks with high morbidity and mortality in Asian countries. Little is known about the regulation of virulence factor and toxin production in BGC, and studies in this bacterium have been hampered by lack of genetic tools.
Establishment of a comprehensive antibiotic susceptibility profile showed that BGC strain ATCC33664 is susceptible to a number of antibiotics including aminoglycosides, carbapenems, fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines and trimethoprim. In this study, we established that gentamicin, kanamycin and trimethoprim are good selection markers for use in BGC. Using a 10 min method for preparation of electrocompetent cells, the bacterium could be transformed by electroporation at high frequencies with replicative plasmids containing the pRO1600-derived origin of replication. These plasmids exhibited a copy number of > 100 in BGC. When co-conjugated with a transposase expressing helper plasmid, mini-Tn7 vectors inserted site- and orientation-specifically at a single glmS-associated insertion site in the BGC genome. Lastly, a Himar1 transposon was used for random transposon mutagenesis of BGC.
A series of genetic tools previously developed for other Gram-negative bacteria was adapted for use in BGC. These tools now facilitate genetic studies of this pathogen and allow establishment of toxin biosynthetic pathways and their genetic regulation.
Burkholderia pseudomallei is a soil bacterium that is endemic in southeast Asia and northern Australia and that can cause both acutely lethal pneumonia and chronic systemic infections in humans. The effective treatment of infection with B. pseudomallei requires rapid diagnosis and prolonged treatment with high doses of antimicrobials, and even with appropriate antibiotic therapy, patient relapses are common. Thus, new approaches to the treatment of B. pseudomallei infections are needed. In the present study, we asked whether active immunotherapy with gamma interferon (IFN-γ), a key cytokine regulating the intracellular replication of B. pseudomallei, could increase the effectiveness of conventional antimicrobial therapy for B. pseudomallei infection. Macrophage infection assays and in vivo pulmonary challenge models were used to assess the inhibitory effects of combined treatment with IFN-γ and ceftazidime on B. pseudomallei infection. We found that treatment with even very low doses of IFN-γ and ceftazidime elicited strong synergistic inhibition of B. pseudomallei growth within infected macrophages. In vivo, active immunotherapy markedly potentiated the effectiveness of low-dose ceftazidime therapy for the treatment of infected mice in a pulmonary challenge model of B. pseudomallei. Combined treatment was associated with a significant reduction in the bacterial burden and a significant lessening of bacterial dissemination. We concluded, therefore, that immunotherapy with either endogenous or exogenous IFN-γ could significantly increase the effectiveness of conventional antimicrobial therapy for the treatment of acute B. pseudomallei infection.
Transposon mini-Tn7 vectors insert into the chromosome of several Gram-negative bacteria in a site-specific manner. Here, we demonstrated the application of mini-Tn7 as single copy site-specific integration vector system for Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris. The transposition of the mini-Tn7 into the bacterial genome was detected at a Tn7 attachment (attTn7) site located downstream of glmS1. Furthermore, using a newly constructed vector pBBR1FLP2 containing the FLP recombinase for site-specific excision of the sequence between the FLP recognition target (FRT) sites, and a sacB counter selection marker, an unmarked mini-Tn7 insertion mutant was created. Mini-Tn7 insertion did not affect bacterial virulence on the tested plant. The mini-Tn7 and FLP-FRT systems also work well in X. oryzae pv. oryzae.
Single copy number gene cloning; mini-Tn7; unmarked mutation; Xanthomonas; virulence
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.
Francisella tularensis is a fastidious Gram-negative bacterium responsible for the zoonotic disease tularemia. Investigation of the biology and molecular pathogenesis of F. tularensis has been limited by the difficulties in manipulating such a highly pathogenic organism and by a lack of genetic tools. However, recent advances have substantially improved the ability of researchers to genetically manipulate this organism. To expand the molecular toolbox we have developed two systems to stably integrate genetic elements in single-copy into the F. tularensis genome. The first system is based upon the ability of transposon Tn7 to insert in both a site- and orientation-specific manner at high frequency into the attTn7 site located downstream of the highly conserved glmS gene. The second system consists of a sacB-based suicide plasmid used for allelic exchange of unmarked elements with the blaB gene, encoding a β-lactamase, resulting in the replacement of blaB with the element and the loss of ampicillin resistance. To test these new tools we used them to complement a novel d-glutamate auxotroph of F. tularensis LVS, created using an improved sacB-based allelic exchange plasmid. These new systems will be helpful for the genetic manipulation of F. tularensis in studies of tularemia biology, especially where the use of multi-copy plasmids or antibiotic markers may not be suitable.
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.
We report the construction of a series of Escherichia-Pseudomonas broad-host-range expression vectors utilizing the PBAD promoter and the araC regulator for routine cloning, conditional expression, and analysis of tightly controlled and/or toxic genes in pseudomonads.
Although Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that does not often naturally infect alternate hosts, such as plants, the plant-P. aeruginosa model has become a widely recognized system for identifying new virulence determinants and studying the pathogenesis of the organism. Here, we examine how both host factors and P. aeruginosa PAO1 gene expression are affected in planta after infiltration into incompatible and compatible cultivars of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.). N. tabacum has a resistance gene (N) against tobacco mosaic virus, and although resistance to PAO1 infection is correlated with the presence of a dominant N gene, our data suggest that it is not a factor in resistance against PAO1. We did observe that the resistant tobacco cultivar had higher basal levels of salicylic acid and a stronger salicylic acid response upon infiltration of PAO1. Salicylic acid acts as a signal to activate defense responses in plants, limiting the spread of the pathogen and preventing access to nutrients. It has also been shown to have direct virulence-modulating effects on P. aeruginosa. We also examined host effects on the pathogen by analyzing global gene expression profiles of bacteria removed from the intracellular fluid of the two plant hosts. We discovered that the availability of micronutrients, particularly sulfate and phosphates, is important for in planta pathogenesis and that the amounts of these nutrients made available to the bacteria may in turn have an effect on virulence gene expression. Indeed, there are several reports suggesting that P. aeruginosa virulence is influenced in mammalian hosts by the availability of micronutrients, such as iron and nitrogen, and by levels of O2.