CPAF is a conserved and secreted protease from obligate intracellular bacteria of the order Chlamydiae. Recently, it was demonstrated that most of its host targets are an artifact of inaccurate methods. This review aims to summarize key features of CPAF and propose new approaches for evaluating its role in chlamydial pathogenesis.
CPAF; Substrates; Chlamydial virulence factors and pathogenesis
A better understanding of mucosal immunity is required to develop more protective vaccines against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We developed a murine aerosol challenge model to investigate responses capable of protecting against mucosal infection. Mice received vaccinations intranasally with CpG-adjuvanted antigen 85B (Ag85B/CpG) and/or Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG). Protection against aerosol challenge with a recombinant GFP- expressing BCG was assessed. Mucosal prime/boost vaccinations with Ag85B/CpG and BCG were protective, but did not prevent lung infection indicating more efficacious mucosal vaccines are needed. Our novel finding that protection correlated with increased airway dendritic cells early post-challenge could help guide the development of enhanced mucosal vaccines.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb); BCG; Vaccination; Mucosal Specific Immunity
Regulatory T cells produce TGF-β that contributes to IgA induction by intestinal commensal bacteria but their importance in IgA responses to pathogens has not been determined. Immunity against the enteropathogen, rotavirus, is dependent on intestinal IgA, but whether FoxP3+ regulatory T cells contribute to this IgA is unknown. Infection with rotavirus increased the numbers of intestinal FoxP3+ regulatory T cells. Depletion of FoxP3+ regulatory T cells altered leukocyte activation but did not significantly alter rotavirus clearance or specific antibody levels. These data suggest FoxP3+ regulatory T cells are not critical for the early antibody response to rotavirus infection.
rotavirus; regulatory T cells; IgA; FoxP3
Ehrlichia chaffeensis is an obligately intracellular gram negative bacterium with a small genome that thrives in mammalian mononuclear phagoctyes by exploiting eukaryotic processes. Herein, we discuss the latest findings on moonlighting tandem repeat protein effectors and their secretion mechanisms, and novel molecular interkingdom interactions that provide insight into the intracellular pathobiology of ehrlichiae.
Ehrlichia; human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis; zoonosis; effector; nucleomodulin; tandem repeat protein; moonlighting protein; type 1 secretion system; post translational modification
Anaplasma phagocytophilum invades neutrophils to cause the emerging infection, human granulocytic anaplasmosis. Here, we provide a focused review of the A. phagocytophilum invasin-host cell receptor interactions that promote bacterial entry and the degradative and membrane traffic pathways that the organism exploits to route nutrients to the organelle in which it resides. Because its obligatory intracellular nature hinders knock out-complementation approaches, we also discuss current methods used to study A. phagocytophilum gene function and the potential benefit of applying novel tools that have advanced studies of other obligate intracellular bacterial pathogens.
We previously reported that 5 Chlamydia muridarum antigens reacted with antisera from >90% mice urogenitally infected with C. muridarum and they are TC0660 (ABC transporter or ArtJ), TC0727 (outer membrane complex protein B or OmcB), TC0828 (macrophage infectivity potentiator or MIP), TC0726 (inclusion membrane protein or Inc) & TC0268 (hypothetical protein or HP). The orthologs of these antigens in Chlamydia trachomatis were also highly reactive with antisera from women urogenitally infected with C. trachomatis. In the current study, we evaluated these C. muridarum antigens for their ability to induce protection against a C. muridarum intravaginal challenge infection in mice. We found that only MIP induced the most pronounced protection against C. muridarum infection. The protection correlated well with robust C. muridarum MIP-specific antibody and Th1-dominant T cell responses. The MIP-immunized mice displayed significantly reduced live organism shedding from the lower genital tract and highly attenuated inflammatory pathologies in the upper genital tissues. These results demonstrate that MIP, an immunodominant antigen identified by both human and mouse antisera, may be considered a component of a multi-subunit chlamydial vaccine for inducing protective immunity.
Chlamydia muridarum; Protective immunity; Macrophage infectivity potentiator; Vaccine
Vaccines formulated with the Chlamydia muridarum native major outer membrane protein (nMOMP) have so far been shown to elicit the most robust protection against this pathogen. nMOMP is a membrane protein and therefore, detergents are used to keep it in solution. Detergents however, have toxic effects. To address this limitation, we tested a nMOMP proteosome vaccine and compared it for its ability to elicit protection against nMOMP solubilized in the detergent Z3-14. The two preparations were formulated with or without CpG + Montanide (C/M). As a control antigen we used ovalbumin. Mice vaccinated with nMOMP developed strong humoral and cell mediated Chlamydia-specific immune responses. Based on the IgG2a/IgG1 levels in serum and amounts of IFN-γ in splenocytes supernatants the immune responses were predominantly Th1-biased. The animals were subsequently challenged intranasally with 2×103 Chlamydia inclusion forming units (IFU) and the course of the infection was followed for 10 days when the mice were euthanized. Based on changes in body weight, weight of the lungs and number of IFU recovered from the lungs, mice immunized with nMOMP-Ps and nMOMP+Z3-14 adjuvanted with C/M showed the most robust protection. In summary, nMOMP-Ps should be considered as Chlamydia vaccine candidates.
Chlamydia; vaccine; proteosomes; major outer membrane protein; detergents; mouse model
The insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling (IIS) cascade is highly conserved and regulates diverse physiological processes such as metabolism, lifespan, reproduction and immunity. Transgenic overexpression of Akt, a critical regulator of IIS, was previously shown to shorten mosquito lifespan and increase resistance to the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. To further understand how IIS controls mosquito physiology and resistance to malaria parasite infection, we overexpressed an inhibitor of IIS, phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), in the Anopheles stephensi midgut. PTEN overexpression inhibited phosphorylation of the IIS protein FOXO, an expected target for PTEN, in the midgut of A. stephensi. Further, PTEN overexpression extended mosquito lifespan and increased resistance to P. falciparum development. The reduction in parasite development did not appear to be due to alterations in an innate immune response, but rather was associated with increased expression of genes regulating autophagy and stem cell maintenance in the midgut and with enhanced midgut barrier integrity. In light of previous success in genetically targeting the IIS pathway to alter mosquito lifespan and malaria parasite transmission, these data confirm that multiple strategies to genetically manipulate IIS can be leveraged to generate fit, resistant mosquitoes for malaria control.
phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN); Plasmodium falciparum; mosquito; insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling (IIS); malaria; Anopheles stephensi
Pathogenic gut bacteria, such as those comprising the Enterobacteriaceae family, have evolved sophisticated virulence mechanisms, including nutrient and chemical sensing, to escape host defense strategies and produce disease. In this review we describe the mechanisms utilized by the enteric pathogen enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O157:H7 to achieve successful colonization of its mammalian host.
Enterobacteriaceae; Signals; Type-III secretion; Two-component system
NLRs play fundamental roles in host-defense and inflammatory disorders. NLRP6 is a newly characterized member of this family that inhibits NF-κB and MAP-kinase dependent immune signaling to hamper anti-microbial defense. Further, NLRP6 regulates intestinal inflammation by maintaining gut microbiota composition. In this review, we examine the recent studies and emphasize the key functions regulated by NLRP6.
NLRP6; NLR; Innate Immunity; Infection; Microbiota; Intestinal Homeostasis
Herpes simplex virus 1 infection of the eye can result in stromal keratitis, a chronic immunoinflammatory lesion that is a significant cause of human blindness. A key to controlling the severity of lesions is to identify cellular and molecular events responsible for tissue damage. This report evaluates the role of lymphotoxin-α, a proinflammatory cytokine that could be involved during stromal keratitis. We demonstrate that after infection, both lymphotoxin-α and lymphotoxin-β transcripts are detectable at high levels 48 hours postinfection, suggesting roles for the secreted homotrimer lymphotoxin-α3 and the membrane-bound lymphotoxin-α1β2 heterotrimer in stromal keratitis. Using a corneal stromal fibroblast cell line, lymphotoxin-α3 and lymphotoxin-α1β2 were found to have proinflammatory roles by stimulating production of chemokines. Treatment of mice with a depleting anti-lymphotoxin-α mAb during the clinical phase of the disease significantly attenuated stromal keratitis lesions. In treated mice, expression of proinflammatory molecules and chemokines was reduced, as were numbers of cornea-infiltrating proinflammatory cells, particularly Th1 cells. The protective effect of anti-lymphotoxin-α mAb was highly reduced with a mutant version of the mAb that lacks Fc receptor binding activity, indicating that depletion of lymphotoxin-expressing cells was mainly responsible for efficacy, with LT-α3 contributing minimally to inflammation. These data demonstrate that lymphotoxin-expressing cells, such as Th1 cells, mediate stromal keratitis.
HSV-1; SK; Th1; lymphotoxin alpha; CD4+ T cells
La7, an immunogenic outer membrane lipoprotein of Borrelia burgdorferi, produced during infection, has been shown to play a redundant role in mammalian infectivity. Here we show that La7 facilitates pathogen survival in all tested phases of the vector-specific spirochete life cycle, including tick-to-host transmission. Unlike wild type or la7-complemented isolates, isogenic La7-deficient spirochetes are severely impaired in their ability to persist within feeding ticks during acquisition from mice, in quiescent ticks during larval-nymphal inter-molt, and in subsequent pathogen transmission from ticks to naïve hosts. Analysis of gene expression during the major stages of the tick-rodent infection cycle showed increased expression of la7 in the vector and a swift downregulation in the mammalian hosts. Co-immunoprecipitation studies coupled with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis further suggested that La7, a highly conserved and abundant inner membrane protein, is involved in protein-protein interaction with a discrete set of borrelial ligands although biological significance of such interactions remains unclear. Further characterization of vector-induced membrane antigens like La7 and its interacting partners will likely aid in our understanding of the molecular details of B. burgdorferi persistence and transmission through a complex enzootic cycle.
Borrelia burgdorferi; Lyme disease; La7 protein; transmission; tick-borne
Food-borne Campylobacter jejuni (Cj) is an important cause of enteritis. We showed that C57BL/6 and congenic interleukin (IL)-10−/−mice serve as models of Cj colonization and enteritis, respectively. Thus, C57BL/6 mice are resistant to Cj induced disease. Because dendritic cells (DCs) are central to regulating adaptive immune responses, we investigated the interaction of Cj with murine bone marrow-derived DCs (BM-DCs) to assess bacterial killing, DC activation, and the ability of Cj-infected BM-DCs to stimulate Campylobacter-specific T cell responses in vitro. BM-DCs challenged with Cj efficiently internalized and killed Cj 11168 and significantly upregulated surface MHC-II, CD40, CD80 and CD86 demonstrating a mature phenotype. Infected BM-DCs secreted significant amounts of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), IL-6 and IL-12p70. Formalin-killed Cj also induced maturation of BM-DCs with similar cytokine production but at a significantly lower magnitude than live bacteria. Maximal activation of murine BM-DCs required internalization of Cj; attachment alone was not sufficient to elicit significant responses. Also, various strains of Cj elicited different magnitudes of cytokine production from BM-DCs. Finally, in a coculture system, Cj-infected BM-DCs induced high level interferon-γ (INF-γ) production from CD4+T cells indicating Th1 polarization. Thus, DCs from resistant C57BL/6 mice initiate T cell responses against Cj.
Campylobacter jejuni; Dendritic cells; Maturation; IL-12; IFN-γ; TH1 Response
Extracellular nucleotides are danger signals involved in recognition and control of intracellular pathogens. They are an important component of the innate immune response against intracellular pathogens, inducing the recruitment of inflammatory cells, stimulating secretion of cytokines, and producing inflammatory mediators such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO). In the case of extracellular ATP, some of the immune responses are mediated through activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome and secretion of the cytokine, interleukin-1β (IL-1β), through a mechanism dependent on ligation of the P2X7 receptor. Here we review the role of extracellular nucleotides as sensors of intracellular bacteria and protozoan parasites, and discuss how these pathogens manipulate purinergic signaling to diminish the immune response against infection.
Intracellular pathogens; Danger signals; Extracellular ATP; Purinergic receptors; Inflammasome; Inflammation
Invariant CD1d-restricted natural killer T cells play an important immunoregulatory role and can influence a broad spectrum of immunological responses including against bacterial infections. They are present at the fetal–maternal interface and although it has been reported that experimental systemic iNKT cell activation can induce mouse abortion, their role during pregnancy remain poorly understood. In the present work, using a physiological Chlamydia muridarum infection model, we have shown that, in vaginally infected pregnant mice, C. muridarum is cleared similarly in C57BL/6 wild type (WT) and CD1d−/− mice. We have also shown that infected- as well as uninfected-CD1d−/− mice have the same litter size as WT counterparts. Thus, CD1d-restricted cells are required neither for the resolution of chlamydial infection of the lower-genital tract, nor for the maintenance of reproductive capacity. However, unexpected differences in T cell populations were observed in uninfected pregnant females, as CD1d−/− placentas contained significantly higher percentages of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells than WT counterparts. However, infection triggered a significant decrease in the percentages of CD4+ T cells in CD1d−/− mice. In infected WT pregnant mice, the numbers of uterine CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, monocytes and granulocytes were greatly increased, changes not observed in infected CD1d−/− mice. An increase in the percentage of CD8+ T cells seems independent of CD1d-restricted cells as it occurred in both WT and CD1d−/− mice. Thus, in the steady state, the lack of CD1d-restricted NKT cells affects leukocyte populations only in the placenta. In Chlamydia-infected pregnant mice, the immune response against Chlamydia is dampened in the uterus. Our results suggest that CD1d-restricted NKT cells play a role in the recruitment or homeostasis of leukocyte populations at the maternal–fetal interface in the presence or absence of Chlamydia infection.
Chlamydia infection; NKT cells; Mouse models; Leukocyte populations; Pregnancy
Pneumonic tularemia is a potentially fatal disease caused by the Category A bioterrorism agent Francisella tularensis. Understanding the pulmonary immune response to this bacterium is necessary for developing effective vaccines and therapeutics. In this study, characterization of immune cell populations in the lungs of mice infected with the type A strain Schu S4 revealed a significant loss in natural killer (NK) cells over time. Since this decline in NK cells correlated with morbidity and mortality, we hypothesized these cells contribute to host defense against Schu S4 infection. Depletion of NK cells prior to Schu S4 challenge significantly reduced IFN-γ and granzyme B in the lung but had no effect on bacterial burden or disease progression. Conversely, increasing NK cell numbers with the anti-apoptotic cytokine IL-15 and soluble receptor IL-15Rα had no significant impact on Schu S4 growth in vivo. A modest decrease in median time to death, however, was observed in live vaccine strain (LVS)-vaccinated mice depleted of NK1.1+ cells and challenged with Schu S4. Therefore, NK cells do not appear to contribute to host defense against acute respiratory infection with type A F. tularensis in vivo, but they play a minor role in protection elicited by LVS vaccination.
Francisella tularensis; NK cells; Interleukin-15; Innate Immunity; Vaccination
Streptococcus pneumoniae (SP) and nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) are common commensals of the human airway and major bacterial pathogens of otitis media (OM) and other upper airway infections. The interaction between them may play an important role in the pathogenesis of polymicrobial infections. Although previous studies suggested NTHi could promote pneumococcal survival and biofilm formation, how NTHi affects pneumococcal activities has not been defined. Our data in the present studies indicated that the outcome of the interaction between SP and NTHi was in a cell-density-dependent manner and the enhancement of pneumococcal survival happened at the later stages of culturing. Using quantitative PCR, we found that the expression of pneumococcal genes regulating autolysis and fratricide, lytA and cbpD, were significantly down-regulated in co-culture with NTHi. We further observed that influence of NTHi was not on direct cell-to-cell contact, but that this contact may contribute to the interaction between these two microorganisms. These results suggest that pneumococcal survival and biofilm formation can be enhanced by down-regulating pneumococcal cell wall hydrolase production thereby inhibiting pneumococcal autolysis and fratricide in the presence of NTHi.
Streptococcus pneumoniae; nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae; survival; inhibit; autolysis; fratricide
Host defense requires the maturation and release of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18 and the induction of pyroptotic cell death, which depends on the activation of inflammatory Caspases within inflammasomes by innate immune cells. Several cytosolic Pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) have been implicated in this process in response to infectious and sterile agonists. Here we summarize the current knowledge on inflammasome-organizing PRRs, emphasizing the recently described NLRP7, and their implications in human disease.
inflammasome; pattern recognition receptor; PAMP; DAMP; Nod-like receptor; AIM2-like receptor; innate immunity; inflammation; caspase-1; hydatidiform mole; molar pregnancy
Chlamydia trachomatis infections represent the leading cause of bacterial sexually-transmitted disease in the United States and can cause serious tissue damage leading to infertility and ectopic pregnancies in women. Inflammation and hence the innate immune response to chlamydial infection contributes significantly to tissue damage, particularly by secreting proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-1β from monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells. Here we demonstrate that C. trachomatis or Chlamydia muridarum infection of a monocytic cell line leads to caspase-1 activation and IL-1β secretion through a process requiring the NLRP3 inflammasome. Thus, secretion of IL-1β decreased significantly when cells were depleted of NLRP3 or treated with the anti-inflammatory inhibitors parthenolide or Bay 11-7082, which inhibit inflammasomes and the transcription factor NF-κB. As for other infections causing NRLP3 inflammasome assembly, caspase-1 activation in monocytes is triggered by potassium efflux and reactive oxygen species production. However, anti-oxidants inhibited IL-1β secretion only partially. Atypically for a bacterial infection, caspase-1 activation during chlamydial infection also involves partially the spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk), which is usually associated with a pathogen recognition receptor for fungal pathogens. Secretion of IL-1β during infection by many bacteria requires both microbial products from the pathogen and an exogenous danger signal, but chlamydial infection provides both the pathogen-associated molecular patterns and danger signals necessary for IL-1β synthesis and its secretion from human monocytes. Use of inhibitors that target the inflammasome in animals should therefore dampen inflammation during chlamydial infection.
Inflammasome; Nod-like receptor; Innate immunity; Monocytes; Chlamydia
Chlamydiaspecies are obligate intracellular pathogens that proliferate only within infected cells. Currently, there are no known techniques or systems that can probe the spatial distribution of metabolites of interest within intact Chlamydia-infected cells. Here we investigate the ability of Raman microscopy to probe the chemical composition of different compartments (nucleus, inclusion, and cytoplasm) of C. trachomatis-infected epithelial cells. The overall intensity of the Raman spectrum is greatest in the inclusions and lowest in the cytoplasm in fixed cells. Difference spectra generated by normalizing to the intensity of the strong 1004 cm−1 phenylalanine line show distinct differences among the three compartments. Most notably, the concentrations of adenine are greater in both the inclusions and the nucleus than in the cytoplasm, as seen by Raman microscopy. The source of the adenine was explored through a complementary approach, using two-photon microscopy imaging. Autofluorescence measurements of living, infected cells show that the adenine-containing molecules, NAD(P)H and FAD, are present mainly in the cytoplasm, suggesting that these molecules are not the source of the additional adenine signal in the nucleus and inclusions. Experiments of infected cells stained with a DNA-binding dye, Hoechst 33258, reveal that most of the DNA is present in the nucleus and the inclusions, suggesting that DNA/RNA is the main source of the additional Raman adenine signal in the nucleus and inclusions. Thus, Raman and two-photon microscopy are among the few non-invasive methods available to investigate cells infected with Chlamydia and, together, should also be useful for studying infection by other intracellular pathogens that survive within intracellular vacuoles.
Raman microscopy; fluorescence microscopy; metabolism; Chlamydia
Erythritol is a four-carbon sugar preferentially utilized by Brucella spp. The presence of erythritol in the placentas of goats, cows, and pigs has been used to explain the localization of Brucella to these sites and the subsequent accumulation of large amounts of bacteria, eventually leading to abortion. Here we show that B. melitensis will also localize to an artificial site of erythritol within a mouse, providing a potential model system to study the pathogenesis of Brucella abortion. Immunohistological staining of the sites of erythritol within infected mice indicated a higher than expected proportion of extracellular bacteria. Ensuing experiments suggested intracellular B. melitensis was unable to replicate within macrophages in the presence of erythritol and that erythritol was able to reach the site of intracellular bacteria. The intracellular inhibition of growth was found to encourage the bacteria to replicate extracellularly rather than intracellularly, a particularly interesting development in Brucella pathogenesis. To determine the effect of erythritol on expression of B. melitensis genes, bacteria grown either with or without erythritol were analyzed by microarray. Two major virulence pathways were up-regulated in response to exposure to erythritol (the type IV secretion system VirB and flagellar proteins), suggesting a role for erythritol in virulence.
Brucella; erythritol; flagella; virulence
To distinguish active from inactive/chronic infection in Toxoplasma gondii-seropositive individuals, we have developed an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using specific peptides derived from Toxoplasma matrix antigen MAG1. We used this assay to measure matrix specific antibodies and pilot studies with infected mice established the validity of two peptides. The immune response against MAG1 occurs in about 12 days postinfection and displays a sex difference later on in mouse model, with males producing higher antibody titers than females. Serum samples from 22 patients with clinical toxoplasmosis and from 26 patients with serological evidence of past exposure to Toxoplasma (more than one year infection history) were analyzed. Both MAG1 peptides detected antibodies significant frequently and robustly from active stage than from the chronic stage of toxoplasmosis. The results indicate that both MAG1 peptides may be used as a tool to differentiate active from inactive infection. It also may be considered in the design of potential vaccines in humans.
MAG1_4; MAG1_5; Sex-difference; Diagnostic marker; Early immune response
Infection by the human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus induces hypoxic microenvironments within the lung that can alter the course of fungal pathogenesis. How hypoxic microenvironments shape the composition and immune activating potential of the fungal cell wall remains undefined. Herein we demonstrate that hypoxic conditions increase the hyphal cell wall thickness and alter its composition particularly by augmenting total and surface-exposed β-glucan content. In addition, hypoxia-induced cell wall alterations increase macrophage and neutrophil responsiveness and antifungal activity as judged by inflammatory cytokine production and ability to induce hyphal damage. We observe that these effects are largely dependent on the mammalian β-glucan receptor dectin-1. In a corticosteroid model of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, A. fumigatus β-glucan exposure correlates with the presence of hypoxia in situ. Our data suggest that hypoxia-induced fungal cell wall changes influence the activation of innate effector cells at sites of hyphal tissue invasion, which has potential implications for therapeutic outcomes of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis.
Aspergillus fumigatus; hypoxia; beta-glucan; fungal pathogenesis; cell wall