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1.  Rearrangement of a Large Novel Pseudomonas aeruginosa Gene Island in Strains Isolated from a Patient Developing Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(7):2430-2438.
Bacterial gene islands add to the genetic repertoire of opportunistic pathogens. Here, we perform comparative analyses of three Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains isolated sequentially over a 3-week period from a patient with ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) who received clindamycin and piperacillin-tazobactam as part of their treatment regime. While all three strains appeared to be clonal by standard pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, whole-genome sequencing revealed subtle alterations in the chromosomal organization of the last two strains; specifically, an inversion event within a novel 124-kb gene island (PAGI 12) composed of 137 open reading frames [ORFs]. Predicted ORFs in the island included metabolism and virulence genes. Overexpression of a gene island-borne putative β-lactamase gene was observed following piperacillin-tazobactam exposure and only in those strains that had undergone the inversion event, indicating altered gene regulation following genomic remodeling. Examination of a separate cohort of 76 patients with VAP for integration at this tRNAlys recombination site demonstrated that patients exhibiting evidence of integration at this site had significantly higher 28-day mortality. These findings provide evidence that P. aeruginosa can integrate, rapidly remodel, and express exogenous genes, which likely contributes to its fitness in a clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC4097748  PMID: 24789195
2.  Differences in biofilm formation and antimicrobial resistance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolated from airways of mechanically ventilated patients and cystic fibrosis patients 
Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms exhibit increased antimicrobial resistance compared with planktonic isolates and are implicated in the pathogenesis of both acute and chronic lung infections. Whilst antibiotic choices for both infections are based on planktonic antibiotic susceptibility results, differences in biofilm-forming ability between the two diseases have not previously been explored. The aim of this study was to compare differences in biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance of P. aeruginosa isolated from intubated patients and from patients with chronic pulmonary disease associated with cystic fibrosis (CF). The temporal evolution of antibiotic resistance in clonal P. aeruginosa strains isolated from CF patients during periods of chronic infection and acute pulmonary exacerbation was also evaluated. Biofilm formation and biofilm antibiotic susceptibilities were determined using a modified microtitre plate assay and were compared with antibiotic susceptibility results obtained using traditional planktonic culture. Clonality was confirmed using random amplified polymorphic DNA polymerase chain reaction (RAPD-PCR) analysis. Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates collected from intubated patients produced substantially more biofilms compared with CF isolates. There was considerable heterogeneity in biofilm-forming ability among the CF isolates and this was unrelated to pulmonary status. Biofilm antibiotic resistance developed rapidly among clonal CF isolates over time, whilst traditional antibiotic resistance determined using planktonic cultures remained stable. There was a significant positive correlation between imipenem/cilastatin and ceftazidime resistance and biofilm-forming ability. The variability in biofilm-forming ability in P. aeruginosa and the rapid evolution of biofilm resistance may require consideration when choosing antibiotic therapy for newly intubated patients and CF patients.
PMCID: PMC3176759  PMID: 21382698
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Bacterial biofilm; Antimicrobial resistance; Mechanical ventilation; Cystic fibrosis
3.  Secretion of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Type III Cytotoxins is Dependent on Pseudomonas Quinolone Signal Concentration 
Microbial pathogenesis  2010;49(4):196-203.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that can, like other bacterial species, exist in antimicrobial resistant sessile biofilms and as free-swimming, planktonic cells. Specific virulence factors are typically associated with each lifestyle and several two-component response regulators have been shown to reciprocally regulate transition between biofilm-associated chronic, and free-swimming acute infections. Quorum sensing (QS) signal molecules belonging to the las and rhl systems are known to regulate virulence gene expression by P. aeruginosa. However the impact of a recently described family of novel quorum sensing signals produced by the Pseudomonas Quinolone Signal (PQS) biosynthetic pathway, on the transition between these modes of infection is less clear. Using clonal isolates from a patient developing ventilator-associated pneumonia, we demonstrated that clinical observations were mirrored by an in vitro temporal shift in isolate phenotype from a non-secreting, to a Type III cytotoxin secreting (TTSS) phenotype and further, that this phenotypic change was PQS-dependent. While intracellular type III cytotoxin levels were unaffected by PQS concentration, cytotoxin secretion was dependent on this signal molecule. Elevated PQS concentrations were associated with inhibition of cytotoxin secretion coincident with expression of virulence factors such as elastase and pyoverdin. In contrast, low concentrations or the inability to biosynthesize PQS resulted in a reversal of this phenotype. These data suggest that expression of specific P. aeruginosa virulence factors appears to be reciprocally regulated and that an additional level of PQS-dependent posttranslational control, specifically governing type III cytotoxin secretion, exists in this species.
PMCID: PMC2935322  PMID: 20570614
Pseudomonas quinolone signal; Type III secretion; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; ventilator-associated pneumonia; endotrachael aspirate
4.  Novel Strategies to Combat Bacterial Virulence 
Current opinion in critical care  2008;14(5):593-599.
Purpose of review
Incidences of antimicrobial resistant infections have increased dramatically over the past several decades and are associated with adverse patient outcomes. Alternative approaches to combat infection are critical, and have led to the development of more specific drugs targeted at particular bacterial virulence systems or essential regulatory pathways. The purpose of this review is to highlight the recent developments in anti-bacterial therapy and the novel approaches toward increasing our therapeutic armory against bacterial infection.
Recent findings
Although classic antibiotic development is not occurring rapidly, alternative therapeutics that target specific bacterial virulence systems are progressing from the discovery stage through the FDA approval process. Here we review novel antibodies that target specific virulence systems as well as a variety of newly discovered small molecules that block bacterial attachment, communication systems (quorum sensing) or important regulatory processes associated with virulence gene expression.
The success of novel therapeutics could significantly change clinical practice. Furthermore, the complications of collateral damage due to antibiotic administration e.g. suprainfections or decreased host immunity due to loss of synergistic bacterial communities, may be minimized using therapeutics that specifically target pathogenic behavior.
PMCID: PMC2859961  PMID: 18787455
Bacterial virulence; antimicrobial therapy; Quorum sensing; type III secretion system; novel therapeutics
5.  Loss of Bacterial Diversity during Antibiotic Treatment of Intubated Patients Colonized with Pseudomonas aeruginosa▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;45(6):1954-1962.
Management of airway infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a serious clinical challenge, but little is known about the microbial ecology of airway infections in intubated patients. We analyzed bacterial diversity in endotracheal aspirates obtained from intubated patients colonized by P. aeruginosa by using 16S rRNA clone libraries and microarrays (PhyloChip) to determine changes in bacterial community compositions during antibiotic treatment. Bacterial 16S rRNA genes were absent from aspirates obtained from patients briefly intubated for elective surgery but were detected by PCR in samples from all patients intubated for longer periods. Sequencing of 16S rRNA clone libraries demonstrated the presence of many orally, nasally, and gastrointestinally associated bacteria, including known pathogens, in the lungs of patients colonized with P. aeruginosa. PhyloChip analysis detected the same organisms and many additional bacterial groups present at low abundance that were not detected in clone libraries. For each patient, both culture-independent methods showed that bacterial diversity decreased following the administration of antibiotics, and communities became dominated by a pulmonary pathogen. P. aeruginosa became the dominant species in six of seven patients studied, despite treatment of five of these six with antibiotics to which it was sensitive in vitro. Our data demonstrate that the loss of bacterial diversity under antibiotic selection is highly associated with the development of pneumonia in ventilated patients colonized with P. aeruginosa. Interestingly, PhyloChip analysis demonstrated reciprocal changes in abundance between P. aeruginosa and the class Bacilli, suggesting that these groups may compete for a similar ecological niche and suggesting possible mechanisms through which the loss of microbial diversity may directly contribute to pathogen selection and persistence.
PMCID: PMC1933106  PMID: 17409203
6.  Presence or Absence of Lipopolysaccharide O Antigens Affects Type III Secretion by Pseudomonas aeruginosa▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(6):2203-2209.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the major causative agents of mortality and morbidity in hospitalized patients due to a multiplicity of virulence factors associated with both chronic and acute infections. Acute P. aeruginosa infection is primarily mediated by planktonic bacteria expressing the type III secretion system (TTSS), a surface-attached needle-like complex that injects cytotoxins directly into eukaryotic cells, causing cellular damage. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is the principal surface-associated virulence factor of P. aeruginosa. This molecule is known to undergo structural modification (primarily alterations in the A- and B-band O antigen) in response to changes in the mode of life (e.g., from biofilm to planktonic). Given that LPS exhibits structural plasticity, we hypothesized that the presence of LPS lacking O antigen would facilitate eukaryotic intoxication and that a correlation between the LPS O-antigen serotype and TTSS-mediated cytotoxicity would exist. Therefore, strain PAO1 (A+ B+ O-antigen serotype) and isogenic mutants with specific O-antigen defects (A+ B−, A− B+, and A− B−) were examined for TTSS expression and cytotoxicity. A strong association existed in vitro between the absence of the large, structured B-band O antigen and increased cytotoxicity of these strains. In vivo, all three LPS mutant strains demonstrated significantly increased lung injury compared to PAO1. Clinical strains lacking the B-band O antigen also demonstrated increased TTSS secretion. These results suggest the existence of a cooperative association between LPS O-antigen structure and the TTSS in both laboratory and clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa.
PMCID: PMC1899375  PMID: 17209027
7.  Differential responses of the endothelial and epithelial barriers of the lung in sheep to Escherichia coli endotoxin. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1991;88(3):864-875.
Although intravenous Escherichia coli endotoxin has been used extensively in experimental studies to increase lung endothelial permeability, the effect of E. coli endotoxin on lung epithelial permeability has not been well studied. To examine this issue in sheep, bidirectional movement of protein across the lung epithelial barrier was studied by labeling the vascular space with 131I-albumin and by instilling 3 ml/kg of an isosmolar protein solution with 125I-albumin into the alveoli. E. coli endotoxin was administered according to one of three protocols: intravenous alone (5-500 micrograms/kg), intravenous (5 micrograms/kg) plus low-dose alveolar endotoxin (10 micrograms/kg), and high-dose alveolar endotoxin alone (50-100 micrograms/kg). Alveolar liquid clearance was estimated based on the concentration of the instilled native protein. Sheep were studied for either 4 or 24 h. Although intravenous E. coli endotoxin produced a marked increase in transvascular protein flux and interstitial pulmonary edema, there was no effect on the clearance of either the vascular (131I-albumin) or the alveolar (125I-albumin) protein tracer across the epithelial barrier. High-dose alveolar E. coli endotoxin caused a 10-fold increase in the number of leukocytes, particularly neutrophils, that accumulated in the air spaces. In spite of the marked chemotactic effect of alveolar endotoxin, there was no change in the permeability of the epithelial barrier to the vascular or alveolar protein tracers. Also, alveolar epithelial liquid clearance was normal. Morphologic studies confirmed that the alveolar epithelial barrier was not injured by either intravenous or alveolar E. coli endotoxin. Thus, the alveolar epithelium in sheep is significantly more resistant than the lung endothelium to the injurious effects of E. coli endotoxin.
PMCID: PMC295473  PMID: 1885774
8.  Relationship of pleural effusions to increased permeability pulmonary edema in anesthetized sheep. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1988;82(4):1422-1429.
We studied anesthetized sheep to determine the relationship between increased permeability pulmonary edema and the development and mechanism of pleural effusion formation. In 12 sheep with intact, closed thoraces, we studied the time course of pleural liquid formation after 0.12 ml/kg i.v. oleic acid. After 1 h, there were no pleural effusions, even though extravascular lung water increased 50% to 6.0 +/- 0.7 g/g dry lung. By 3 h pleural effusions had formed, they reached a maximum at 5 h (48.5 +/- 16.9 ml/thorax), and at 8 h there was no additional accumulation of pleural liquid (45.5 +/- 16.9 ml). Morphologic studies by light and electron microscopy demonstrated subpleural edema but no detectable injury to the visceral pleura, suggesting that the pleural liquid originated from the lung and not the pleura. In nine sheep, we quantified the rate of formation of pleural liquid by enclosing one lung in a plastic bag. By comparing in the same sheep the volume of pleural liquid collected from the enclosed lung to the volume found in the opposite intact chest, we estimated the rate of liquid absorption from the intact chest to be 0.32 ml/(kg.h); we had previously reported a liquid absorption rate of 0.28 ml/(kg.h) in normal sheep. These studies also supported the conclusion that the majority of the pleural liquid originated from the lung because we could account for all of the pleural liquid that was formed and cleared. The volume of pleural liquid collected from the enclosed lungs was equal to 21% of the excess lung liquid that formed after oleic acid-induced lung injury. Thus, the pleural space and parietal pleural lymphatic pathways are important pathways for the clearance of pulmonary edema liquid after experimentally induced increased permeability pulmonary edema.
PMCID: PMC442700  PMID: 3170750
9.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa-mediated cytotoxicity and invasion correlate with distinct genotypes at the loci encoding exoenzyme S. 
Infection and Immunity  1997;65(2):579-586.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogen, is capable of establishing both chronic and acute infections in compromised hosts. Previous studies indicated that P. aeruginosa displays either a cytotoxic or an invasive phenotype in corneal epithelial cells. In this study, we used polarized MDCK cells for in vitro infection studies and confirmed that P. aeruginosa isolates can be broadly differentiated into two groups, expressing either a cytotoxic or an invasive phenotype. In vivo infection studies were performed to determine if cytotoxic and invasive strains displayed differential pathology. Invasion was assayed in vivo by in situ infection of mouse tracheal tissue followed by electron microscopy. Both cytotoxic and invasive strains entered mouse tracheal cells in situ; however, more necrosis was associated with the cytotoxic strain. In an acute lung infection model in rats, cytotoxic strains were found to damage lung epithelium more than invasive strains during the short infection period of this assay. The expression of cytotoxicity requires a functional exsA allele. In the strains tested, the ability to invade epithelial cells in vitro appears to be independent of exsA expression. Since ExsA is a transcriptional regulator of the exoenzyme S regulon, chromosomal preparations from invasive and cytotoxic strains were screened for their complement of exoenzyme S structural genes, exoS, encoding the 49-kDa ADP-ribosyltransferase (ExoS), and exoT, encoding the 53-kDa form of the enzyme (Exo53). Invasive strains possess both exoS and exoT, while cytotoxic strains appear to have lost exoS and retained exoT. These data indicate that the expression of cytotoxicity may be linked to the expression of Exo53, deletion of exoS and perhaps other linked loci, or expression of other ExsA-dependent virulence determinants. In the absence of a functional cytotoxicity pathway (exsA::omega strains), invasion of eukaryotic cells is detectable.
PMCID: PMC176099  PMID: 9009316
10.  Stimulation of lung epithelial liquid clearance by endogenous release of catecholamines in septic shock in anesthetized rats. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1994;94(2):663-671.
Exogenous administration of beta-adrenergic agonists has previously been reported to increase lung liquid clearance by stimulation of active sodium transport across the alveolar epithelium. We hypothesized for this study that endogenous release of epinephrine in septic shock would stimulate liquid clearance from the airspaces in rats. Liquid clearance from the air spaces was measured by the concentration of protein over 4 h in a test solution of 5% albumin instilled into one lung. Bacteremic rats developed severe systemic hypotension and metabolic acidosis that was associated with a 100-fold rise in plasma epinephrine levels. There was a 100% increase in liquid clearance from the airspaces of the lung in the bacteremic compared with control rats. To determine the mechanisms responsible for this accelerated lung liquid clearance, amiloride (10(-3) M), a sodium transport inhibitor, was added to the air spaces. Amiloride prevented the increase in liquid clearance from the airspaces, indicating that this effect depended on increased uptake of sodium across the lung epithelium. The addition of propranolol (10(-4) or 10(-5) M) to the instillate also prevented the acceleration in alveolar liquid clearance in the bacteremic rats. We conclude that the release of endogenous catecholamines associated with septic shock markedly stimulates fluid clearance from the distal airspaces of the lung by a beta-adrenergic mediated stimulation of active sodium transport across the epithelial barrier. This data provides evidence for a previously unrecognized mechanism that can protect against or hasten the resolution of alveolar edema in pathological conditions, such as septic shock, that are associated with the endogenous release of catecholamines.
PMCID: PMC296144  PMID: 8040320
11.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa-induced lung and pleural injury in sheep. Differential protective effect of circulating versus alveolar immunoglobulin G antibody. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1993;92(3):1221-1228.
The overall objective of these studies was to determine whether IgG antibody to Pseudomonas aeruginosa would modify the acute lung and pleural injury that developed over 24 h after the instillation of 10(10) live P. aeruginosa into the distal airspaces of one lung in unanesthetized sheep. Using a quantitative experimental model to measure protein permeability across the alveolar epithelial, lung endothelial, and pleural mesothelial barriers, the effect of IgG antibody to P. aeruginosa was examined under four different experimental conditions. First, the effect of IgG antibody to P. aeruginosa in the circulation was examined by instilling 10(10) live P. aeruginosa in 5% ovine albumin in sheep that had been vaccinated. Under these conditions, the presence of circulating IgG antibody to P. aeruginosa reduced lung endothelial injury but did not modify the lung epithelial or pleural injury caused by intraalveolar P. aeruginosa. Therefore, the second experimental protocol determined the effect of instilling immune serum from a sheep that had been vaccinated so that IgG antibody to P. aeruginosa was present in both the circulation and in the airspaces along with instillation of live bacteria. Under these conditions, injury to the lung endothelium, alveolar epithelium, and pleural space was completely prevented. Therefore, the third protocol examined the protective effect of instillation of IgG antibody to P. aeruginosa in the airspaces concurrent with the live bacteria. Interestingly, intraalveolar IgG antibody to P. aeruginosa prevented all evidence of lung epithelial and pleural injury, and this effect was associated with a marked decrease in the number of viable bacteria in the lung after 24 h. Therefore, the fourth protocol examined the prophylactic effect of instillation of the specific IgG antibody to P. aeruginosa 24 h before instillation of the bacteria. With this prophylactic regimen, epithelial, endothelial, and pleural injury were prevented, and there was a significant decrease in the number of bacteria recovered from the lung. Thus, delivery of IgG antibody to P. aeruginosa the distal airspaces of the lung alone may provide a novel therapeutic approach to preventing acute pulmonary infection caused by P. aeruginosa.
PMCID: PMC288261  PMID: 8376581
13.  Novel Pseudomonas product stimulates interleukin-8 production in airway epithelial cells in vitro. 
Because high concentrations of IL-8 are found in the sputum of cystic fibrosis patients, we hypothesized that Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) induces the production of IL-8 in airway epithelial cells and in monocytes. Therefore, we incubated the supernatant from PA culture with human transformed bronchial epithelial cells (16-HBE) or with monocytes. The culture medium of 16-HBE cells that had been incubated with PA supernatant for 6 h had chemotactic activity that was inhibited by an antibody to human IL-8. The PA supernatant induced IL-8 production by primary bronchial epithelial cells, by 16-HBE cells, and by monocytes. After incubation with PA supernatant, 16-HBE cells showed a marked increase in the levels of IL-8 gene expression. The PA product responsible for IL-8 production resisted freezing, boiling, and proteolysis. This product was not lipid extractable and was present in a 1-kD filtrate. We conclude that a small molecular mass product of PA stimulates IL-8 production by 16-HBE cells and by monocytes, and that the chemotactic activity produced by 16-HBE cells after exposure to PA is due principally to IL-8.
PMCID: PMC293717  PMID: 8282796
14.  Elevated von Willebrand factor antigen is an early plasma predictor of acute lung injury in nonpulmonary sepsis syndrome. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1990;86(2):474-480.
In this prospective study of 45 patients, we tested the hypothesis that markedly elevated levels of plasma von Willebrand antigen (vWf-Ag) a marker of endothelial cell injury, might predict the development of acute lung injury in patients with nonpulmonary sepsis syndrome. Acute lung injury was quantified on a four-point scoring system. At the time of entry into the study, none of the 45 patients had evidence of lung injury. Subsequently, 15 patients developed lung injury and 30 patients did not develop lung injury. The mean plasma vWf-Ag level was markedly elevated in the 15 patients who developed lung injury compared with the 30 patients who did not develop lung injury (588 +/- 204 vs. 338 +/- 196, percentage of control, P less than 0.01). Furthermore, a plasma vWf-Ag level greater than or equal to 450 was 87% sensitive and 77% specific for predicting the development of acute lung injury in the setting of nonpulmonary sepsis. In addition, the combination of a plasma vWf-Ag greater than 450 and nonpulmonary organ failure at the time of entry into the study had a positive predictive value of 80% for acute lung injury. Also, a plasma vWf-Ag level greater than 450 had a positive predictive value of 80% for identifying nonsurvivors. Thus, in patients with nonpulmonary sepsis, an elevated level of plasma vWf-Ag is a useful, early biochemical marker of endothelial injury and it has both predictive and prognostic value.
PMCID: PMC296749  PMID: 2384595

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