Acinetobacter baumannii is recognized as an emerging bacterial pathogen because of traits such as prolonged survival in a desiccated state, effective nosocomial transmission, and an inherent ability to acquire antibiotic resistance genes. A pressing need in the field of A. baumannii research is a suitable model strain that is representative of current clinical isolates, is highly virulent in established animal models, and can be genetically manipulated. To identify a suitable strain, a genetically diverse set of recent U.S. military clinical isolates was assessed. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and multiplex PCR determined the genetic diversity of 33 A. baumannii isolates. Subsequently, five representative isolates were tested in murine pulmonary and Galleria mellonella models of infection. Infections with one strain, AB5075, were considerably more severe in both animal models than those with other isolates, as there was a significant decrease in survival rates. AB5075 also caused osteomyelitis in a rat open fracture model, while another isolate did not. Additionally, a Tn5 transposon library was successfully generated in AB5075, and the insertion of exogenous genes into the AB5075 chromosome via Tn7 was completed, suggesting that this isolate may be genetically amenable for research purposes. Finally, proof-of-concept experiments with the antibiotic rifampin showed that this strain can be used in animal models to assess therapies under numerous parameters, including survival rates and lung bacterial burden. We propose that AB5075 can serve as a model strain for A. baumannii pathogenesis due to its relatively recent isolation, multidrug resistance, reproducible virulence in animal models, and genetic tractability.
The incidence of A. baumannii infections has increased over the last decade, and unfortunately, so has antibiotic resistance in this bacterial species. A. baumannii is now responsible for more than 10% of all hospital-acquired infections in the United States and has a >50% mortality rate in patients with sepsis and pneumonia. Most research on the pathogenicity of A. baumannii focused on isolates that are not truly representative of current multidrug-resistant strains isolated from patients. After screening of a panel of isolates in different in vitro and in vivo assays, the strain AB5075 was selected as more suitable for research because of its antibiotic resistance profile and increased virulence in animal models. Moreover, AB5075 is susceptible to tetracycline and hygromycin, which makes it amenable to genetic manipulation. Taken together, these traits make AB5075 a good candidate for use in studying virulence and pathogenicity of this species and testing novel antimicrobials.
Acinetobacter baumannii is an opportunistic pathogen that causes severe nosocomial infections. Strain ATCC 19606T utilizes the siderophore acinetobactin to acquire iron under iron-limiting conditions encountered in the host. Accordingly, the genome of this strain has three tonB genes encoding proteins for energy transduction functions needed for the active transport of nutrients, including iron, through the outer membrane. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that these tonB genes, which are present in the genomes of all sequenced A. baumannii strains, were acquired from different sources. Two of these genes occur as components of tonB-exbB-exbD operons and one as a monocistronic copy; all are actively transcribed in ATCC 19606T. The abilities of components of these TonB systems to complement the growth defect of Escherichia coli W3110 mutants KP1344 (tonB) and RA1051 (exbBD) under iron-chelated conditions further support the roles of these TonB systems in iron acquisition. Mutagenesis analysis of ATCC 19606T
tonB1 (subscripted numbers represent different copies of genes or proteins) and tonB2 supports this hypothesis: their inactivation results in growth defects in iron-chelated media, without affecting acinetobactin biosynthesis or the production of the acinetobactin outer membrane receptor protein BauA. In vivo assays using Galleria mellonella show that each TonB protein is involved in, but not essential for, bacterial virulence in this infection model. Furthermore, we observed that TonB2 plays a role in the ability of bacteria to bind to fibronectin and to adhere to A549 cells by uncharacterized mechanisms. Taken together, these results indicate that A. baumannii ATCC 19606T produces three independent TonB proteins, which appear to provide the energy-transducing functions needed for iron acquisition and cellular processes that play a role in the virulence of this pathogen.
Acinetobacter baumannii causes a wide range of severe infections among compromised and injured patients worldwide. The relevance of these infections are, in part, due to the ability of this pathogen to sense and react to environmental and host stress signals, allowing it to persist and disseminate in medical settings and the human host. This review summarizes current knowledge on the roles that environmental and cellular stressors play in the ability of A. baumannii to resist nutrient deprivation, oxidative and nitrosative injury, and even the presence of the commonly used antiseptic ethanol, which could serve as a nutrient- and virulence-enhancing signal rather than just being a convenient disinfectant. Emerging experimental evidence supports the role of some of these responses in the pathogenesis of the infections A. baumannii causes in humans and its capacity to resist antibiotics and host response effectors.
antibiotics; ethanol; indole-3-acetic acid; iron; motility; proteomics; reactive species; transcriptomics
2-aminoimidazoles (2AIs) have been documented to disrupt bacterial protection mechanisms, including biofilm formation and genetically-encoded antibiotic resistance traits. Using Acinetobacter baumannii, we provide initial insight into the mechanism of action of a 2AI-based antibiofilm agent. Confocal microscopy confirmed that the 2AI is cell permeable, while pull-down assays identified BfmR, a response regulator that is the master controller of biofilm formation, as a target for this compound. Binding assays demonstrated specificity of the 2AI for response regulators, while computational docking provided models for 2AI/BfmR interactions. The 2AI compound studied here represents a unique small molecule scaffold that targets bacterial response regulators.
Acinetobacter baumannii is a Gram-negative, opportunistic pathogen. Recently, multiple A. baumannii genomes have been sequenced; these data have led to the identification of many genes predicted to encode proteins required for the biogenesis of type IV pili (TFP). However, there is no experimental evidence demonstrating that A. baumannii strains actually produce functional TFP. Here, we demonstrated that A. baumannii strain M2 is naturally transformable and capable of twitching motility, two classical TFP-associated phenotypes. Strains were constructed with mutations in pilA, pilD, and pilT, genes whose products have been well characterized in other systems. These mutants were no longer naturally transformable and did not exhibit twitching motility. These TFP-associated phenotypes were restored when these mutations were complemented. More PilA was detected on the surface of the pilT mutant than the parental strain, and TFP were visualized on the pilT mutant by transmission electron microscopy. Thus, A. baumannii produces functional TFP and utilizes TFP for both natural transformation and twitching motility. Several investigators have hypothesized that TFP might be responsible, in part, for the flagellum-independent surface-associated motility exhibited by many A. baumannii clinical isolates. We demonstrated that surface-associated motility was not dependent on the products of the pilA, pilD, and pilT genes and, by correlation, TFP. The identification of functional TFP in A. baumannii lays the foundation for future work determining the role of TFP in models of virulence that partially recapitulate human disease.
IMPORTANCE Several investigators have documented the presence of genes predicted to encode proteins required for the biogenesis of TFP in many A. baumannii genomes. Furthermore, some have speculated that TFP may play a role in the unique surface-associated motility phenotype exhibited by many A. baumannii clinical isolates, yet there has been no experimental evidence to prove this. Unfortunately, progress in understanding the biology and virulence of A. baumannii has been slowed by the difficulty of constructing and complementing mutations in this species. Strain M2, a recently characterized clinical isolate, is amenable to genetic manipulation. We have established a reproducible system for the generation of marked and/or unmarked mutations using a modified recombineering strategy as well as a genetic complementation system utilizing a modified mini-Tn7 element in strain M2. Using this strategy, we demonstrated that strain M2 produces TFP and that TFP are not required for surface-associated motility exhibited by strain M2.
Several investigators have documented the presence of genes predicted to encode proteins required for the biogenesis of TFP in many A. baumannii genomes. Furthermore, some have speculated that TFP may play a role in the unique surface-associated motility phenotype exhibited by many A. baumannii clinical isolates, yet there has been no experimental evidence to prove this. Unfortunately, progress in understanding the biology and virulence of A. baumannii has been slowed by the difficulty of constructing and complementing mutations in this species. Strain M2, a recently characterized clinical isolate, is amenable to genetic manipulation. We have established a reproducible system for the generation of marked and/or unmarked mutations using a modified recombineering strategy as well as a genetic complementation system utilizing a modified mini-Tn7 element in strain M2. Using this strategy, we demonstrated that strain M2 produces TFP and that TFP are not required for surface-associated motility exhibited by strain M2.
Many Vibrio anguillarum serotype O1 strains carry 65-kb pJM1-type plasmids harboring genes involved in siderophore anguibactin biosynthesis and transport. The anguibactin system is an essential factor for V. anguillarum to survive under iron-limiting conditions, and as a consequence, it is a very important virulence factor of this bacterium. Our comparative analysis of genomic data identified a cluster harboring homologs of anguibactin biosynthesis and transport genes in the chromosome of Vibrio harveyi. We have purified the putative anguibactin siderophore and demonstrated that it is indeed anguibactin by mass spectrometry and specific bioassays. Furthermore, we characterized two genes, angR and fatA, in this chromosome cluster that, respectively, participate in anguibactin biosynthesis and transport as determined by mutagenesis analysis. Furthermore, we found that the V. harveyi FatA protein is located in the outer membrane fractions as previously demonstrated in V. anguillarum. Based on our data, we propose that the anguibactin biosynthesis and transport cluster in the V. anguillarum pJM1 plasmid have likely evolved from the chromosome cluster of V. harveyi or vice versa.
Anguibactin; iron transport; siderophore; Vibrio anguillarum; Vibrio harveyi
We previously showed that the opportunistic nosocomial pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii is able to sense and respond to light via BlsA, a BLUF (Blue-Light-sensing Using FAD)-domain photoreceptor protein. Here, we extend our previous studies showing that light regulation is not restricted to A. baumannii, but rather widespread within the genus Acinetobacter. First, we found that blue light modulates motility and biofilm formation in many species of the genus, including members of the Acinetobacter calcoaceticus-A. baumannii complex. In many of these species blue light acts as a key factor guiding the decision between motility or sessility at 24°C, whereas in A. baumannii, light inhibits both motility and biofilm formation. We also show that light regulation of motility occurred not only at 24°C but also at 37°C in non-A. baumannii species, contrasting the situation of A. baumannii which only shows photoregulation at 24°C. Second, we show that Acinetobacter baylyi (strain ADP1) BLUF-photoreceptors can functionally replace in vivo the A. baumannii 17978 BlsA protein and that the pathways leading to biofilm formation are inversely regulated at 24°C between these two microorganisms. Finally, we found the presence of predicted genes coding BLUF-containing proteins in all Acinetobacter sequenced genomes, even though the copy number is variable among them. Phylogenetic analysis suggests a common origin for all BLUF domains present in members of this genus, and could distinguish well-differentiated clusters that group together BLUF homologs from different species, a situation particularly clear for members of the ACB complex. Despite a role played by these BLUF domain-containing proteins in the photoregulation observed in the members of the genus Acinetobacter is a likely scenario given our findings in A. baumannii and A. baylyi, further research will contribute to confirm this possibility.
Acinetobacter baumannii persists in the medical environment and causes severe human nosocomial infections. Previous studies showed that low-level ethanol exposure increases the virulence of A. baumannii ATCC 17978. To better understand the mechanisms involved in this response, 2-D gel electrophoresis combined with mass spectrometry was used to investigate differential protein production in bacteria cultured in the presence or absence of ethanol. This approach showed that the presence of ethanol significantly induces and represses the production of 22 and 12 proteins, respectively. Although over 25% of the ethanol-induced proteins were stress-response related, the overall bacterial viability was uncompromised when cultured under these conditions. Production of proteins involved in lipid and carbohydrate anabolism was increased in the presence of ethanol, a response that correlates with increased carbohydrate biofilm content, enhanced biofilm formation on abiotic surfaces and decrease bacterial motility on semi-solid surfaces. The presence of ethanol also induced the acidification of bacterial cultures and the production of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), a ubiquitous plant hormone that signals bacterial stress-tolerance and promotes plant-bacteria interactions. These responses could be responsible for the significantly enhanced virulence of A. baumannii ATCC 17978 cells cultured in the presence of ethanol when tested with the Galleria mellonella experimental infection model. Taken together, these observations provide new insights into the effect of ethanol in bacterial virulence. This alcohol predisposes the human host to infections by A. baumannii and could favor the survival and adaptation of this pathogen to medical settings and adverse host environments.
To successfully establish an infection, Acinetobacter baumannii must overcome the iron starvation and oxidative stress imposed by the human host. Although previous studies have shown that ATCC 19606T cells acquire iron via the acinetobactin-mediated siderophore system, little is known about intracellular iron metabolism and its relation to oxidative stress in this pathogen. Screening of an insertion library resulted in the isolation of the ATCC 19606T derivative 1644, which was unable to grow in iron-chelated media. Rescue cloning and DNA sequencing showed that the insertion inactivated a gene coding for an NfuA Fe-S cluster protein ortholog, without any effect on the expression of the acinetobactin system. The nfuA mutant was also more sensitive to hydrogen peroxide and cumene hydroperoxide than the parental strain. The iron chelation- and oxidative-stress-deficient responses of this mutant were corrected when complemented with either the ATCC 19606T parental allele or the Escherichia coli MG1655 nfuA ortholog. Furthermore, electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) analyses showed that the ATCC 19606T NfuA ortholog has iron-binding properties compatible with the formation of [Fe-S] cluster protein. Ex vivo and in vivo assays using human epithelial cells and Galleria mellonella, respectively, showed that NfuA is critical for bacterial growth independent of their capacity to acquire iron or the presence of excess of free iron. Taken together, these observations indicate that the A. baumannii NfuA ortholog plays a role in intracellular iron utilization and protection from oxidative-stress responses that this pathogen could encounter during the infection of the human host.
Acinetobacter baumannii, which causes serious infections in immunocompromised patients, expresses high-affinity iron acquisition functions needed for growth under iron-limiting laboratory conditions. In this study, we determined that the initial interaction of the ATCC 19606T type strain with A549 human alveolar epithelial cells is independent of the production of BasD and BauA, proteins needed for acinetobactin biosynthesis and transport, respectively. In contrast, these proteins are required for this strain to persist within epithelial cells and cause their apoptotic death. Infection assays using Galleria mellonella larvae showed that impairment of acinetobactin biosynthesis and transport functions significantly reduces the ability of ATCC 19606T cells to persist and kill this host, a defect that was corrected by adding inorganic iron to the inocula. The results obtained with these ex vivo and in vivo approaches were validated using a mouse sepsis model, which showed that expression of the acinetobactin-mediated iron acquisition system is critical for ATCC 19606T to establish an infection and kill this vertebrate host. These observations demonstrate that the virulence of the ATCC 19606T strain depends on the expression of a fully active acinetobactin-mediated system. Interestingly, the three models also showed that impairment of BasD production results in an intermediate virulence phenotype compared to those of the parental strain and the BauA mutant. This observation suggests that acinetobactin intermediates or precursors play a virulence role, although their contribution to iron acquisition is less relevant than that of mature acinetobactin.
Acinetobacter baumannii causes severe infections in compromised patients, who present an iron-limited environment that controls bacterial growth. This pathogen has responded to this restriction by expressing high-affinity iron acquisition systems including that mediated by the siderophore acinetobactin. Gene cloning, functional assays and biochemical tests showed that the A. baumannii genome contains a single functional copy of an entA ortholog. This gene, which is essential for the biosynthesis of the acinetobactin precursor 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid (DHBA), locates outside of the acinetobactin gene cluster, which otherwise harbors all genes needed for acinetobactin biosynthesis, export and transport. In silico analyses and genetic complementation tests showed that entA locates next to an entB ortholog, which codes for a putative protein that contains the isochorismatase lyase domain, which is needed for DHBA biosynthesis from isochorismic acid, but lacks the aryl carrier protein domain, which is needed for tethering activated DHBA and completion of siderophore biosynthesis. Thus, basF, which locates within the acinetobactin gene cluster, is the only fully functional entB ortholog present in ATCC 19606T. The differences in amino acid length and sequences between these two EntB orthologs and the differences in the genetic context within which the entA and entB genes are found in different A. baumannii isolates indicate that they were acquired from different sources by horizontal transfer. Interestingly, the AYE strain proved to be a natural entA mutant capable of acquiring iron via an uncharacterized siderophore-mediated system, an observation that underlines the ability of different A. baumannii isolates to acquire iron using different systems. Finally, experimental infections using in vivo and ex vivo models demonstrate the role of DHBA and acinetobactin intermediates in the virulence of the ATCC 19606T cells, although to a lesser extent when compared to the responses obtained with bacteria producing and using fully matured acinetobactin to acquire iron.
We described previously the presence in Acinetobacter baumannii of a novel outer membrane (OM) protein, CarO, which functions as an l-ornithine OM channel and whose loss was concomitant with increased carbapenem resistance among clonally related nosocomial isolates of this opportunistic pathogen. Here, we describe the existence of extensive genetic diversity at the carO gene within the A. baumannii clinical population. The systematic analysis of carO sequences from A. baumannii isolates obtained from public hospitals in Argentina revealed the existence of four highly polymorphic carO variants among them. Sequence polymorphism between the different A. baumannii CarO variants was concentrated in three well-defined protein regions that superimposed mostly to predicted surface-exposed loops. Polymorphism among A. baumannii CarO variants was manifested in differential electrophoretic mobilities, antigenic properties, abilities to form stable oligomeric structures, and l-ornithine influx abilities through the A. baumannii OM under in vivo conditions. Incongruence between the phylogenies of the clinical A. baumannii isolates analyzed and those of the carO variants they harbor suggests the existence of assortative (entire-gene) carO recombinational exchange within the A. baumannii population. Exchange of carO variants possessing differential characteristics mediated by horizontal gene transfer may constitute an A. baumannii population strategy to survive radically changing environmental conditions, such as the leap from inanimate sources to human hosts and vice versa, persistence in a compromised host, and/or survival in health care facilities.
Iron is an essential nutrient that plays a role in bacterial differential gene expression and protein production. Accordingly, the comparative analysis of total lysate and outer membrane fractions isolated from A. baumannii ATCC 19606T cells cultured under iron-rich and -chelated conditions using 2-D gel electrophoresis-mass spectrometry resulted in the identification of 58 protein spots differentially produced. While 19 and 35 of them represent iron-repressed and iron-induced protein spots, respectively, four other spots represent a metal chelation response unrelated to iron. Most of the iron-repressed protein spots represent outer membrane siderophore receptors, some of which could be involved in the utilization of siderophores produced by other bacteria. The iron-induced protein spots represent a wide range of proteins including those involved in iron storage, such as Bfr, metabolic and energy processes, such as AcnA, AcnB, GlyA, SdhA, and SodB, as well as lipid biosynthesis. The detection of an iron-regulated Hfq ortholog indicates that iron regulation in this bacterium could be mediated by Fur and small RNAs as described in other bacteria. The iron-induced production of OmpA suggests this protein plays a role in iron metabolism as shown by the diminished ability of an OmpA isogenic deficient derivative to grow under iron-chelated conditions.
A. baumannii; iron; iron regulation; total cell proteins; outer membrane proteins
Light is a ubiquitous environmental signal that many organisms sense and respond to by modulating their physiological responses accordingly. While this is an expected response among phototrophic microorganisms, the ability of chemotrophic prokaryotes to sense and react to light has become a puzzling and novel issue in bacterial physiology, particularly among bacterial pathogens. In this work, we show that the opportunistic pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii senses and responds to blue light. Motility and formation of biofilms and pellicles were observed only when bacterial cells were incubated in darkness. In contrast, the killing of Candida albicans filaments was enhanced when they were cocultured with bacteria under light. These bacterial responses depend on the expression of the A. baumannii ATCC 17978 A1S_2225 gene, which codes for an 18.6-kDa protein that contains an N-terminal blue-light-sensing-using flavin (BLUF) domain and lacks a detectable output domain(s). Spectral analyses of the purified recombinant protein showed its ability to sense light by a red shift upon illumination. Therefore, the A1S_2225 gene, which is present in several members of the Acinetobacter genus, was named blue-light-sensing A (blsA). Interestingly, temperature plays a role in the ability of A. baumannii to sense and respond to light via the BlsA photoreceptor protein.
The ability of Acinetobacter baumannii to adhere to and persist on surfaces as biofilms could be central to its pathogenicity. The production of pili and a biofilm-associated protein and the expression of antibiotic resistance are needed for robust biofilm formation on abiotic and biotic surfaces. This multistep process also depends on the expression of transcriptional regulatory functions, some of which could sense nutrients available to cells. This report extends previous observations by showing that although outer membrane protein A (OmpA) of A. baumannii 19606 plays a partial role in the development of robust biofilms on plastic, it is essential for bacterial attachment to Candida albicans filaments and A549 human alveolar epithelial cells. In contrast to abiotic surfaces, the interaction with biotic surfaces is independent of the CsuA/BABCDE-mediated pili. The interaction of A. baumannii 19606 with fungal and epithelial cells also results in their apoptotic death, a response that depends on the direct contact of bacteria with these two types of eukaryotic cells. Furthermore, the bacterial adhesion phenotype correlates with the ability of bacteria to invade A549 epithelial cells. Interestingly, the killing activity of cell-free culture supernatants proved to be protease and temperature sensitive, suggesting that its cytotoxic activity is due to secreted proteins, some of which are different from OmpA.
Acinetobacter baumannii is a Gram-negative opportunistic nosocomial pathogen. This microorganism survives in hospital environments despite unfavorable conditions such as desiccation, nutrient starvation and antimicrobial treatments. It is hypothesized that its ability to persist in these environments, as well as its virulence, is a result of its capacity to form biofilms. A. baumannii forms biofilms on abiotic surfaces such as polystyrene and glass as well as biotic surfaces such as epithelial cells and fungal filaments. Pili assembly and production of the Bap surface-adhesion protein play a role in biofilm initiation and maturation after initial attachment to abiotic surfaces. Furthermore, the adhesion and biofilm phenotypes of some clinical isolates seem to be related to the presence of broad-spectrum antibiotic resistance. The regulation of the formation and development of these biofilms is as diverse as the surfaces on which this bacterium persists and as the cellular components that participate in this programmed multistep process. The regulatory processes associated with biofilm formation include sensing of bacterial cell density, the presence of different nutrients and the concentration of free cations available to bacterial cells. Some of these extracellular signals may be sensed by two-component regulatory systems such as BfmRS. This transcriptional regulatory system activates the expression of the usher-chaperone assembly system responsible for the production of pili, needed for cell attachment and biofilm formation on polystyrene surfaces. However, such a system is not required for biofilm formation on abiotic surfaces when cells are cultured in chemically defined media. Interestingly, the BfmRS system also controls cell morphology under particular culture conditions.
abiotic surface; Acinetobacter; biofilm; biotic surface; pili production; quorum sensing; signal transduction; transcriptional regulation
Dissemination of antimicrobial resistance genes has become an important public health and biodefense threat. Plasmids are important contributors to the rapid acquisition of antibiotic resistance by pathogenic bacteria.
The nucleotide sequence of the Klebsiella pneumoniae multiresistance plasmid pMET1 comprises 41,723 bp and includes Tn1331.2, a transposon that carries the blaTEM-1 gene and a perfect duplication of a 3-kbp region including the aac(6′)-Ib, aadA1, and blaOXA-9 genes. The replication region of pMET1 has been identified. Replication is independent of DNA polymerase I, and the replication region is highly related to that of the cryptic Yersinia pestis 91001 plasmid pCRY. The potential partition region has the general organization known as the parFG locus. The self-transmissible pMET1 plasmid includes a type IV secretion system consisting of proteins that make up the mating pair formation complex (Mpf) and the DNA transfer (Dtr) system. The Mpf is highly related to those in the plasmid pCRY, the mobilizable high-pathogenicity island from E. coli ECOR31 (HPIECOR31), which has been proposed to be an integrative conjugative element (ICE) progenitor of high-pathogenicity islands in other Enterobacteriaceae including Yersinia species, and ICEKp1, an ICE found in a K. pneumoniae strain causing primary liver abscess. The Dtr MobB and MobC proteins are highly related to those of pCRY, but the endonuclease is related to that of plasmid pK245 and has no significant homology with the protein of similar function in pCRY. The region upstream of mobB includes the putative oriT and shares 90% identity with the same region in the HPIECOR31.
The comparative analyses of pMET1 with pCRY, HPIECOR31, and ICEKp1 show a very active rate of genetic exchanges between Enterobacteriaceae including Yersinia species, which represents a high public health and biodefense threat due to transfer of multiple resistance genes to pathogenic Yersinia strains.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans causes periodontitis, a costly chronic infection that affects a large number of patients. The pathogenesis of this dental infection is a multifactorial process that results in a serious degenerative disease of the periodontium. Although significant progress has been achieved after the identification of this gram-negative bacterium as the etiological agent of this infection, much remains to be done to understand in detail the bacterial factors and host-pathogen interactions involved in the pathogenesis of this disease. Classical research approaches have resulted in the identification of important virulence factors and cellular processes, although they have provided a rather narrow picture of some of steps of this complex process. In contrast, a much wider picture could be obtained with the application of tools such as bioinformatics and genomics. These tools will provide global information regarding the differential expression of genes encoding factors and processes that lead to the pathogenesis of this disease. Furthermore, comparative genomics has the potential of helping to understand the emergence and evolution of this human pathogen. This genome-wide approach should provide a more complete picture of the pathogenesis process of this disease, and will facilitate the development of efficient diagnostic, preventive, and therapeutic measures for this disease.
A. actinomycetemcomitans; dental pathogen; genomics; bioinformatics; iron metabolism
The Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans afeABCD iron transport system, the expression of which is controlled by iron and Fur, was identified in three different isolates. The protein products of this locus are related to bacterial ABC transporters involved in metal transport. Transformation of the Escherichia coli 1017 iron acquisition mutant with a plasmid harboring afeABCD promoted cell growth under iron-chelated conditions. However, insertion disruption of each of the afeABCD coding regions abolished this growth-relieving effect. The replacement of the parental afeA allele with the derivative afeA::EZ::TN drastically reduced the ability of A. actinomycetemcomitans cells to grow under iron-chelated conditions.
A genomic island was identified in the Haemophilus influenzae biogroup aegyptius Brazilian purpuric fever (BPF) strain F3031. This island, which was also found in other BPF isolates, could not be detected in non-BPF biogroup aegyptius strains or in nontypeable or typeable H. influenzae strains, with the exception of a region present in the type b Eagan strain. This 34,378-bp island is inserted, in reference to H. influenzae Rd KW20, within a choline transport gene and contains a mosaic structure of Mu-like prophage genes, several hypothetical genes, and genes potentially encoding an Erwinia carotovora carotovoricin Er-like bacteriocin. The product of the tail fiber ORF in the bacteriocin-like region shows a hybrid structure where the C terminus is similar to an H. influenzae phage HP1 tail protein implicating this open reading frame in altering host specificity for a putative bacteriocin. Significant synteny is seen in the entire genomic island with genomic regions from Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Typhi CT18, Photorhabdus luminescens subsp. laumondii TT01, Chromobacterium violaceum, and to a lesser extent Haemophilus ducreyi 35000HP. In a previous work, we isolated several BPF-specific DNA fragments through a genome subtraction procedure, and we have found that a majority of these fragments map to this locus. In addition, several subtracted fragments generated from an independent laboratory by using different but related strains also map to this island. These findings underscore the importance of this BPF-specific chromosomal region in explaining some of the genomic differences between highly invasive BPF strains and non-BPF isolates of biogroup aegyptius.
The virulence plasmid pJM1 enables the fish pathogen Vibrio anguillarum, a gram-negative polarly flagellated comma-shaped rod bacterium, to cause a highly fatal hemorrhagic septicemic disease in salmonids and other fishes, leading to epizootics throughout the world. The pJM1 plasmid 65,009-nucleotide sequence, with an overall G+C content of 42.6%, revealed genes and open reading frames (ORFs) encoding iron transporters, nonribosomal peptide enzymes, and other proteins essential for the biosynthesis of the siderophore anguibactin. Of the 59 ORFs, approximately 32% were related to iron metabolic functions. The plasmid pJM1 confers on V. anguillarum the ability to take up ferric iron as a complex with anguibactin from a medium in which iron is chelated by transferrin, ethylenediamine-di(o-hydroxyphenyl-acetic acid), or other iron-chelating compounds. The fatDCBA-angRT operon as well as other downstream biosynthetic genes is bracketed by the homologous ISV-A1 and ISV-A2 insertion sequences. Other clusters on the plasmid also show an insertion element-flanked organization, including ORFs homologous to genes involved in the biosynthesis of 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid. Homologues of replication and partition genes are also identified on pJM1 adjacent to this region. ORFs with no known function represent approximately 30% of the pJM1 sequence. The insertion sequence elements in the composite transposon-like structures, corroborated by the G+C content of the pJM1 sequence, suggest a modular composition of plasmid pJM1, biased towards acquisition of modules containing genes related to iron metabolic functions. We also show that there is considerable microheterogeneity in pJM1-like plasmids from virulent strains of V. anguillarum isolated from different geographical sources.
The Acinetobacter baumannii 19606 prototype strain produces a 78-kDa iron-regulated outer membrane protein immunologically related to FatA, which is required for iron acquisition by the fish pathogen Vibrio anguillarum via the anguibactin-mediated system. This A. baumannii strain also secretes histamine, a biosynthetic precursor of the siderophore anguibactin. In contrast, the A. baumannii 8399 clinical strain isolated in Oregon produces a siderophore and a putative 73-kDa iron-regulated outer membrane (OM73) receptor that are different from those produced by V. anguillarum and A. baumannii 19606. These observations suggest that different A. baumannii clinical isolates express unrelated iron uptake systems. This hypothesis is supported by differences in outer membrane protein profiles among A. baumannii isolates obtained from Oregon and Europe. The 19606 isolate and some European isolates expressed a FatA-like protein, while neither 19606 nor any of the European isolates expressed proteins related to OM73. Some European isolates failed to express FatA- and OM73-like proteins. All but one of the Oregon isolates expressed OM73-like proteins, while none of them contained a FatA-like protein. The presence of these proteins always correlated with the presence of the om73- and fatA-like genes in the cognate strains. While 19606 and a few European isolates produced histamine, none of the Oregon isolates had this capability. Interestingly, one strain each from the Oregon and European isolates did not express any of these products involved in iron acquisition, indicating that they could acquire iron through siderophore-mediated transport systems different from those expressed by the 19606 and 8399 clinical isolates.
Acinetobacter baumannii is a metabolically versatile pathogen that causes severe infections in compromised patients. However, little is known about the genes and factors involved in its basic physiology and virulence properties. Insertion mutagenesis was used to initiate the identification and characterization of some of these factors and genes in the prototype strain 19606. The utilization of the pLOFKm suicide delivery vector, which harbors a suicide mini-Tn10 derivative, proved to be unsuccessful for this purpose. The EZ::TN 〈R6Kγori/KAN-2〉 Tnp transposome system available from Epicentre was then used in conjunction with electroporation to generate isogenic insertional derivatives of A. baumannii 19606. Replica plating showed that 2% of the colonies that grew after electroporation on agar plates without antibiotics also grew in the presence of 40 μg of kanamycin per ml. DNA hybridization proved that all of the kanamycin-resistant derivatives contained the EZ::TN 〈R6Kγori/KAN-2〉 insertion element, which was mapped to different genomic locations. Replica plating on Simmons citrate agar and microtiter plate-plastic tube assays identified growth- and biofilm-defective derivatives, respectively. The location of the insertion in several of these derivatives was determined by self-ligation of NdeI- or EcoRI-digested genomic DNA and electroporation of Escherichia coli TransforMax EC100D (pir+). Sequence analysis of the recovered plasmids showed that some of the A. baumannii 19606 growth-defective derivatives contain insertions within genes encoding activities required for the generation of energy and cell wall components and for the biosynthesis of amino acids and purines. A gene encoding a protein similar to the GacS sensor kinase was interrupted in four derivatives, while another had an insertion in a gene coding for a hypothetical sensor kinase. A. baumannii 19606 derivatives with defective attachment or biofilm phenotypes had insertions within genes that appear to be part of a chaperone-usher transport system described for other bacteria. DNA hybridization experiments showed that the presence of strain 19606 genes encoding regulatory and attachment or biofilm functions is widespread among other A. baumannii clinical isolates.
The multiresistance plasmid pJHCMW1, harbored by a clinical Klebsiella pneumoniae strain isolated from a neonate with meningitis, was sequenced. A circular sequence of 11,354 bp was generated, of which 7,993 bp make up Tn1331, a transposon including the antibiotic resistance genes aac(6′)-Ib, aadA1, blaOXA-9, and blaTEM-1. The gene aac(6′)-Ib is included in a gene cassette, and both aadA1 and blaOXA-9 are included in a single-gene cassette that may have arisen as a consequence of a recombination event involving two integrons. The pJHCMW1 plasmid replicates through a ColE1-like RNA-regulated mechanism, includes a functional oriT, and two loci with similarity to XerCD site-specific recombination target sites involved in plasmid stabilization by the resolution of multimers. One of these two loci, mwr, is active and has been the subject of previous studies, and the other, dxs, is not functional but binds the recombinase XerD with low affinity. Two additional open reading frames were identified, one with low similarity to two hypothetical membrane proteins from Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae and the other with low similarity to psiB, a gene encoding a function that facilitates the establishment of the transferring plasmid in the recipient bacterial cell during the process of conjugation.