Humoral immune mechanisms are an important component of protective immunity to Ehrlichia species. However, the molecular basis of antibody mediated immunity is not completely defined, and the role of other molecularly characterized major immunoreactive proteins is unknown. In previous studies, we mapped major species-specific continuous epitopes in three surface exposed and secreted tandem repeat proteins (TRP32, TRP47 and TRP120). In this study, we report that protection is provided by antibodies against these molecularly defined TRP epitopes using in vitro and in vivo models. Protection was demonstrated in vitro after prophylactic and therapeutic administration of epitope-specific anti-TRP antibodies, suggesting that the protective mechanisms involve extracellular and intracellular antibody-mediated effects. In vivo passive transfer of individual epitope-specific TRP sera significantly reduced the ehrlichial load and splenomegaly, and protected mice against lethal infection. Moreover, the combination of antibodies to all three TRPs provided enhanced reduction in ehrlichial load similar to that of E. chaffeensis immune sera. IgG1 was the predominant antibody isotype in the epitope-specific TRP mouse sera. These results demonstrate that antibodies against linear epitopes in TRP32, TRP47 and TRP120 are protective during E. chaffeensis infection and involves extracellular and intracellular antibody-mediated mechanisms.
EHRLICHIA CHAFFEENSIS; TANDEM REPEAT PROTEINS; IMMUNOREACTIVE PROTEINS; EPITOPE; ANTIBODY
Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococci) adhere to human nasopharyngeal (NP) epithelial cells as a first step in pathogenesis and adherence of pneumococci to lung epithelia may be required to establish pneumonia. We sought to determine if PcpA can serve as an adhesin to human NP (D562) and lung (A549) epithelial cells and whether PcpA mediated adherence can be inhibited by human anti-PcpA antibodies. A PcpA isogenic mutant was prepared on a wild type pneumococcal TIGR4 background. When the mutant and wild type strains were compared for adherence to D562 and A549 cell lines a reduction in adherence by the mutant was observed (p= 0.0001 for both cell types). PcpA was ectopically expressed on the surface of minimally-adherent heterologous host E coli resulting in augmented adherence to D562 (p= 0.002) and A549 (p= 0.015) cells. Total IgG was purified from a pool of 6 human sera having high IgG titers of anti-pneumococcal proteins. The purified IgG reduced TIGR4 adherence to D562 cells but we determined that this effect was largely due to bacterial cell aggregation as determined by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. Fab fragments were prepared from pooled IgG sera. Inhibition of TIGR4 adherence to D562 cells was observed using the Fab fragments without causing bacterial aggregation (p=0.0001). Depletion of PcpA-specific Fab fragments resulted in an increase in adherence of TIGR4 to D562 cells (p=0.028). We conclude that PcpA can mediate adherence of pneumococci to human NP and lung epithelial cells and PcpA mediated adherence can be inhibited by human anti-PcpA antibodies.
Rabbits, mice, rats, non-human primates, sheep and cattle have been used to study the effect of Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin (CPE). CPE produces mostly necrosis of the small intestinal epithelium along with fluid accumulation in rabbits and mice. In the latter, CPE can bind to internal organs such as the liver, which induces lethal potassium levels in blood.
animal models; calf; Clostridium perfringens; enterotoxin; lamb; mouse; non-human primate; rabbit; rat
The use of iron as an enzymatic cofactor is pervasive in biological systems. Consequently most living organisms, including pathogenic bacteria, require iron to survive and replicate. To combat infection vertebrates have evolved sophisticated iron sequestration systems against which, pathogenic bacteria have concomitantly evolved equally elaborate iron acquisition mechanisms.
Bacterial pathogenesis; Staphylococcus aureus; Isd system; nutritional immunity; Staphylococcal iron acquisition
Staphylococcus aureus is a highly virulent bacterial pathogen capable of causing a variety of ailments throughout the human body. It is a major public health concern due to the continued emergence of highly pathogenic methicillin resistant strains (MRSA) both within hospitals and in the community. Virulence in S. aureus is mediated by an array of secreted and cell wall associated virulence factors, including toxins, hemolysins and proteases. In this work we identify a leucine aminopeptidase (LAP, pepZ) that strongly impacts the pathogenic abilities of S. aureus. Disruption of the pepZ gene in either Newman or USA300 resulted in a dramatic attenuation of virulence in both localized and systemic models of infection. LAP is required for survival inside human macrophages and gene expression analysis shows that pepZ expression is highest in the intracellular environment. We examine the cellular location of LAP and demonstrate that it is localized to the bacterial cytosol. These results identify for the first time an intracellular leucine aminopeptidase that influences disease causation in a Gram-positive bacterium.
Leucine aminopeptidase; LAP; virulence; peptidase; staphylococcus
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) mostly owes its success to its ability to evade host immune responses. Understanding viral immune escape mechanisms is prerequisite to improve future HIV-1 vaccine design. This review focuses on the strategies that HIV-1 has evolved to evade recognition by natural killer (NK) cells.
HIV-1; NK cells; escape; innate immunity; vaccine
The cell-mediated adaptive immune response depends upon the activation of T cells via recognition of antigen in the context of a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule. Although studies have shown that alterations in T cell receptor glycosylation reduces the activation threshold, the data on MHC is far less definitive. Here, we discuss the data on MHC glycosylation and the role the glycans might play during the adaptive host response.
glycosylation; MHC class I; MHC class II; HLA; N-glycan; antigen presentation
The anthrax toxins lethal toxin (LT) and edema toxin (ET), are essential virulence factors produced by B. anthracis. These toxins act during two distinct phases of anthrax infection. During the first, prodromal phase, which is often asymptomatic, anthrax toxins act on cells of the immune system to help the pathogen establish infection. Then, during the rapidly progressing (or fulminant) stage of the disease bacteria disseminate via a hematological route to various target tissues and organs, which are typically highly vascularized. As bacteria proliferate in the bloodstream LT and ET begin to accumulate rapidly reaching a critical threshold level that will cause death even when the bacterial proliferation is curtailed by antibiotics. During this final phase of infection the toxins cause an increase in vascular permeability and a decrease in function of target organs including the heart, spleen, kidney, adrenal gland, and brain. In this review, we examine the various biological effects of anthrax toxins, focusing on the fulminant stage of the disease and on mechanisms by which the two toxins may collaborate to cause cardiovascular collapse. We discuss normal mechanisms involved in maintaining vascular integrity and based on recent studies indicating that LT and ET cooperatively inhibit membrane trafficking to cell-cell junctions we explore several potential mechanisms by which the toxins may achieve their lethal effects. We also summarize the effects of other potential virulence factors secreted by B. anthracis and consider the role of toxic factors in the evolutionarily recent emergence of this devastating disease.
Anthrax; B. anthracis; B. cereus; Lethal Factor (LF); Edema Factor (EF); Macrophage; Dendritic Cell; Myeloid cells; Neutrophil; Vascular endothelium; Mural cells; Cardiac; Exocyst; Rab11; Sec15; Cadherin; Notch; cAMP; MAPKK/MKK/MEK; PKA; EPAC
Increases in colonization with serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae not contained within the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) have been reported among children following introduction. Serotype 6C has emerged as prevalent in nasopharyngeal colonization and acute otitis media (AOM), though it is uncommonly recovered from children with invasive pneumococcal disease. Vaccine serotypes within PCV7 have been replaced by nonvaccine serotypes without significant changes in the overall carriage rate. We hypothesize 1) that serotypes vary in their ability to evade host defenses and establish AOM following colonization and 2) the observed reduction in pneumococcal otitis results from a reduced disease potential by some ‘replacement serotypes’. We compared the capacity of S. pneumoniae serotypes 6C and 19A to produce experimental otitis media (EOM) in a chinchilla model. The proportion of chinchillas that developed culture positive EOM and density of middle ear infection was evaluated. EOM was found in 28/82 (34%) ears challenged with 6C compared to 13/18(72.2%) with 19A [p=0.0003]. When disease due to 6C did occur, it was characterized by lowdensity infection. Our findings demonstrate that challenge with serotype 6C results in EOM less frequently than 19A. These data support the need for greater knowledge regarding differences among serotypes to produce AOM.
Streptococcus pneumoniae; complement; virulence
Brucella spp. infect hosts primarily by adhering and penetrating mucosal surfaces, however the initial molecular phenomena of this host:pathogen interaction remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that characterizing the epithelial-like human HeLa cell line molecular response to wild type Brucella melitensis infection would help to understand the role of the mucosal epithelium at the onset of the Brucella pathogenesis. RNA samples from B. melitensis-infected HeLa cells were taken at 4 and 12 h of infection and hybridized in a cDNA microarray. The analysis using a dynamic Bayesian network modeling approach (DBN) identified several pathways, biological processes, cellular components and molecular functions altered due to infection at 4 h p.i., but almost none at 12 h p.i. The in silico modeling results were experimentally tested by knocking down the expression of MAPK1 by siRNA technology. MAPK1-siRNA transfected cell cultures decreased the internalization and impaired the intracellular replication of the pathogen in HeLa cells after 4 h p.i. DBN analysis provides important insights into the role of the epithelial cells response to Brucella infection and guide research to novel mechanisms identification.
Brucella melitensis; HeLa cells; Microarray; Bayesian; Modeling; MAPK1 gene
Mycobacterium ulcerans causes Buruli ulcer in humans, a progressive ulcerative epidermal lesion due to the mycolactone toxin produced by the bacterium. Molecular analysis of M. ulcerans reveals it is closely related to M. marinum, a pathogen of both fish and man. Molecular evidence from diagnostic PCR assays for the insertion sequence IS2404 suggests an association of M. ulcerans with fish. However, fish infections by M. ulcerans have not been well documented and IS2404 has been found in other mycobacteria. We have thus, employed two experimental approaches to test for M. ulcerans in fish. We show here for the first time that M. ulcerans with or without the toxin does not mount acute or chronic infections in Japanese Medaka “Oryzias latipes” even at high doses. Moreover, M. ulcerans-infected medaka do not exhibit any visible signs of infection nor disease and the bacteria do not appear to replicate over time. In contrast, similar high doses of the wild-type M. marinum or a mycolactone producing M. marinum “DL” strain are able to mount an acute disease with mortality in medaka. Although these results would suggest that M. ulcerans does not mount infections in fish we have evidence that CLC macrophages from goldfish are susceptible to mycolactones.
Mycobacterium ulcerans; fish; medaka; mycolactone
Hemoglobin (Hb) variants are associated with reduced risk of life-threatening Plasmodium falciparum malaria syndromes, including cerebral malaria and severe malarial anemia. Despite decades of research, the mechanisms by which common Hb variants – sickle HbS, HbC, α-thalassemia, fetal HbF – protect African children against severe and fatal malaria have not been fully elucidated. In vitro experimental and epidemiological data have long suggested that Hb variants do not confer malaria protection by restricting the growth of parasites in red blood cells (RBCs). Recently, four Hb variants were found to impair cytoadherence, the binding of P. falciparum-infected RBCs (PfRBCs) to microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs), a centrally important event in both parasite survival and malaria pathogenesis in humans. Impaired cytoadherence is associated with abnormal display of P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1), the parasite’s major cytoadherence ligand and virulence factor, on the surface of host RBCs. We propose a model in which Hb variants allow parasites to display relatively low levels of PfEMP1, sufficient for sequestering PfRBCs in microvessels and avoiding their clearance from the bloodstream by the spleen. By preventing the display of high levels of PfEMP1, Hb variants may weaken the binding of PfRBCs to MVECs, compromising their ability to activate endothelium and initiate the downstream microvascular events that drive the pathogenesis of malaria.
Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; PfEMP1; cytoadherence; hemoglobinopathy; sickle; pathogenesis
BK polyomavirus (BKPyV) is a small double-stranded DNA virus that is an emerging pathogen in immunocompromised individuals. BKPyV is widespread in the general population, but primarily causes disease when immune suppression leads to reactivation of latent virus. Polyomavirus-associated nephropathy and hemorrhagic cystitis in renal and bone marrow transplant patients, respectively, are the most common diseases associated with BKPyV reactivation and lytic infection. In this review, we discuss the clinical relevance, effects on the host, virus life cycle, and current treatment protocols.
BKPyV; Polyomavirus; Transplantation
To identify immunodominant antigens and MHC-restricted antibody responses, seven different strains of mice were intravaginally infected with Chlamydia muridarum and compared for antibody responses to 257 C. muridarum proteins. The 7 strains of mice recognized a total of 109 proteins as antigens, of which, 5 antigens (TC0660, TC0727, TC0828, TC0726 & TC0268) were each recognized by 60% or more mice from each mouse strain and thus designated as immunodominant antigens. Furthermore, antibody responses to 19 other antigens displayed strong associations with mouse H-2 haplotypes, including 6 antigens (TC0480, TC0912, TC0229, TCA04, TC0289 & TC0892) whose antibody responses were linked to H-2b, 8 (TC0035, TC0387, TC0052, TC0781, TC0373, TC0117, TC0066 & TC0396) to H-2d and 5 (TC0512, TC0177, TC0589, TC0794 & TC0596) to H-2k haplotypes respectively. Interestingly, H-2b was negatively associated with antibody responses to most of the antigens that were positively linked to H-2d or H-2k haplotypes. These results by mapping C. trachomatis antigens commonly recognized by mice with different strain background and H-2 genes and revealing antigen association with H-2 haplotypes have provided important information for developing chlamydial subunit vaccines and understanding chlamydial pathogenesis.
Chlamydia muridarum; Immunodominant antigens; H-2-restricted antibody responses; Mouse urogenital tract infection
Streptococcus pneumoniae (Spn) is the predominant causative organism of acute otitis media in children. To better understand the genes that are regulated at the onset of AOM caused by Spn infection in the middle ear, the transcriptome profile of peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from children prior to and during an AOM event was evaluated by microarray. We found that 1903 (6.2%) of 29,187 genes were differentially regulated greater than 2 fold at the onset of AOM compared to the pre-infection stage of the same children. The ontology of differentially regulated genes was dominated by those involved with the immune response. At onset of infection, genes associated with bacterial defenses were significantly up-regulated, including beta-defensin123, S100 protein A12, Toll-like receptor 5, IL-10, and those involved in the classical and alternative complement pathways. Genes associated with inhibition of bacterial entry through clathrin-dependent endocytosis were also up-regulated. In contrast, genes associated with cell-mediated immune responses were broadly down regulated. The results provide the first human transcriptome data identifying genes differentially regulated at the onset of AOM in children.
STREPTOCOCCUS PNEUMONIAE; ACUTE OTITIS MEDIA; TRANSCRIPTOME PROFILE
The Mycobacterium smegmatis genome contains six operons designated mce (mammalian cell entry). These operons, which encode membrane and exported proteins, are highly conserved in pathogenic and non-pathogenic mycobacteria. Although the function of the Mce protein family has not yet been established in Mycobacterium smegmatis, the requirement of the mce4 operon for cholesterol utilization and uptake by Mycobacterium tuberculosis has recently been demonstrated. In this study, we report the construction of an M. smegmatis knock-out mutant deficient in the expression of all six mce operons. The consequences of these mutations were studied by analyzing physiological parameters and phenotypic traits. Differences in colony morphology, biofilm formation and aggregation in liquid cultures were observed, indicating that mce operons of M. smegmatis are implicated in the maintenance of the surface properties of the cell. Importantly, the mutant strain showed reduced cholesterol uptake when compared to the parental strain. Further cholesterol uptake studies using single mce mutant strains showed that the mutation of operon mce4 was reponsible for the cholesterol uptake failure detected in the sextuple mce mutant. This finding demonstrates that mce4 operon is involved in cholesterol transport in M. smegmatis.
Cell envelope; Mce operons; Mycobacterium smegmatis; Mycobacterium tuberculosis attenuation
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a common condition seen in premenopausal women, is associated with preterm labor, pelvic inflammatory disease, and delivery of low birth weight infants. Gardnerella vaginalis is the predominant bacterial species associated with BV, although its exact role in the pathology of BV is unknown. Using immunofluorescence, confocal and transmission electron microscopy, we found that VK2 vaginal epithelial cells take up G. vaginalis after exposure to the bacteria. Confocal microscopy also indicated the presence of internalized G. vaginalis within vaginal epithelial cells obtained from a subject with BV. Using VK2 cells and 35S labeled bacteria in an invasion assay, we found that a 1 h uptake of G. vaginalis was 21.8-fold higher than heat-killed G. vaginalis, 84-fold compared to Lactobacillus acidophilus and 6.6-fold compared to Lactobacillus crispatus. Internalization was inhibited by pre-exposure of cells to cytochalasin-D. In addition, the cytoskeletal protein vimentin was upregulated in VK2 cells exposed to G. vaginalis, but there was no change in actin cytoskeletal polymerization/rearrangements or vimentin subcellular relocalization post exposure. Cytoskeletal protein modifications could represent a potential mechanism for G. vaginalis mediated internalization by vaginal epithelial cells. Finally, understanding vaginal bacteria/host interactions will allow us to better understand the underlying mechanisms of BV pathogenesis.
Bacterial vaginosis; Gardnerella vaginalis; Internalization; Cytochalasin-D
Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II are crucial for the function of the human adaptive immune system. An NLR protein, CIITA (MHC class II transactivator), is a master regulator of MHC class II gene expression as well as of some of the genes involved in MHC class II antigen presentation. It has recently been discovered that another member of the NLR protein family, NLRC5, transcriptionally activates MHC class I genes, and thus acts as “CITA” (MHC class I transactivator), a counterpart to CIITA. In addition to MHC class I genes, NLRC5 can induce the expression of β2M, TAP1 and LMP2, essential components of MHC class I antigen presentation. These findings indicate that NLRC5 and CIITA are transcriptional regulators that orchestrate the concerted expression of critical components in the MHC class I and MHC class II pathways, respectively.
MHC class I; NLR proteins; CIITA
Enhancing the virulence trait of a specific bacterium in an animal model is often performed prior to the use of the strain for ex vivo human studies, such as reactivity with complement and antibody, or with phagocytic cells. For example, in S. penumoniae mouse passage is used to enhance capsule production. While investigating an unusual serum-resistant unencapsulated H. influenzae (R2866), we found that animal passage yielded an isolate (R3392) which had decreased resistance to human serum, but increased virulence in Chang conjunctival cell monolayers, but with less invasion and transcytosis of polar H292 cells. We examined 90 colonies recovered from three infant rats for phase variants of LPS biosynthetic genes. In 88 colonies lgtC was OFF due to tetrameric-repeat mediated slipped-strand mispairing at the time of DNA replication, while there was no variation in lic1A, lic2A,lic3A,lexA and oaf A. With lgtC OFF the LPS lacks Galα1-4βGal, an epitope mimicking the human pkc blood group, and molecular mimicry is lost. Selection for strain susceptible to NHS in the infant rat was not antibody mediated. We conclude that the passage of pathogens virulent in humans and animals may select for phenotypes only relevant for the animal species used.
Animal infection; Haemophilus influenzae; phase variation
A newly discovered group of human rhinoviruses (HRVs) has been classified as the HRV-C species based on distinct genomic features. HRV-Cs circulate worldwide, and are important causes of upper and lower respiratory illnesses. Methods to culture and produce these viruses have recently been developed, and should enable identification of unique features of HRV-C replication and biology.
Human rhinovirus C; molecular detection; epidemiology; clinical outcomes; genetic diversity; recombination; replication; organ culture; reverse genetics
Extranasal colonization is increasingly recognized as an important reservoir for Staphylococcus aureus among high-risk populations. We conducted a cross-sectional study of multiple body site colonization among 173 randomly selected STD clinic patients in Baltimore, Maryland. Staphylococcal carriage at extranasal sites, including the oropharynx, groin, rectum, and genitals, was common among study subjects. The USA300 clone was particularly associated with multiple sites of colonization compared with non-USA300 strains (p = .01). Given their high burden of multi-site colonization and confluence of established staphylococcal risk factors, STD clinic patients may represent a community-based reservoir for S. aureus and be well suited for innovative infection control initiatives.
S. aureus; Community-associated MRSA; Molecular epidemiology
Bacillus anthracis is a spore-forming, soil-dwelling bacterium. This review describes the occurrence of spontaneous mutations leading to loss of sporulation and the selective pressures that can lead to their enrichment. We also discuss recognition of the associated phenotypes on solid medium, thereby allowing researchers to employ measures that either prevent or favor selection of sporulation-deficient mutants.
Bacillus anthracis; sporulation; spo0A; mutation; Amerithrax
Anthrax lethal toxin (LT), a major virulence determinant of anthrax disease, induces vascular collapse in mice and rats. LT activates the Nlrp1 inflammasome in macrophages and dendritic cells, resulting in caspase-1 activation, IL-1β and IL-18 maturation and a rapid cell death (pyroptosis). This review presents the current understanding of LT-induced activation of Nlrp1 in cells, and its consequences for toxin-mediated effects in rodent toxin and spore challenge models.
anthrax lethal toxin; inflammasome; caspase-1; Nlrp1; Nlrp1b; macrophage; interleukin-1; Bacillus anthracis
The microsporidia are emerging human and veterinary pathogens known to infect every tissue type and organ system. Their infectious spore possesses a number of peculiar organelles, including the diagnostic polar tube. In a proteomics-driven effort to find novel components of this organelle in the human-pathogenic species Encephalitozoon cuniculi, we unexpectedly discovered a protein which localizes to punctate structures consistent with the appearance of relic mitochondria, or mitosomes. However, this novel protein did not colocalize with ferredoxin, a mitochondrial iron-sulfur cluster protein which shows a similar localization pattern by light microscopy. The distribution pattern of this protein thus suggests either a novel vesicular compartment that is similar to mitosomes in size and distribution, the presence of subdomains or branching architecture within mitosomes, or heterogeneity in the protein composition of Encephalitozoon cuniculi mitosomes.
microsporidia; mitosome; mitochondria; proteomics; ferredoxin; polar vesicles