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1.  Genomes of Two Clinical Isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from Odisha, India 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(2):e00199-14.
We report whole-genome sequences of two clinical isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolated from patients in Odisha, India. The sequence analysis revealed that these isolates are of an ancestral type and might represent some of the “pristine” isolates in India that have not admixed with other lineages.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.00199-14
PMCID: PMC3961728  PMID: 24652981
2.  Phenotypic Microarrays Suggest Escherichia coli ST131 Is Not a Metabolically Distinct Lineage of Extra-Intestinal Pathogenic E. coli 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88374.
Extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC) are the major aetiological agent of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in humans. The emergence of the CTX-M producing clone E. coli ST131 represents a major challenge to public health worldwide. A recent study on the metabolic potential of E. coli isolates demonstrated an association between the E. coli ST131 clone and enhanced utilisation of a panel of metabolic substrates. The studies presented here investigated the metabolic potential of ST131 and other major ExPEC ST isolates using 120 API test reagents and found that ST131 isolates demonstrated a lower metabolic activity for 5 of 120 biochemical tests in comparison to non-ST131 ExPEC isolates. Furthermore, comparative phenotypic microarray analysis showed a lack of specific metabolic profile for ST131 isolates countering the suggestion that these bacteria are metabolically fitter and therefore more successful human pathogens.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088374
PMCID: PMC3917908  PMID: 24516644
3.  In Silico Analysis of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in the Gut Microflora of Individuals from Diverse Geographies and Age-Groups 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83823.
The spread of antibiotic resistance, originating from the rampant and unrestrictive use of antibiotics in humans and livestock over the past few decades has emerged as a global health problem. This problem has been further compounded by recent reports implicating the gut microbial communities to act as reservoirs of antibiotic resistance. We have profiled the presence of probable antibiotic resistance genes in the gut flora of 275 individuals from eight different nationalities. For this purpose, available metagenomic data sets corresponding to 275 gut microbiomes were analyzed. Sequence similarity searches of the genomic fragments constituting each of these metagenomes were performed against genes conferring resistance to around 240 antibiotics. Potential antibiotic resistance genes conferring resistance against 53 different antibiotics were detected in the human gut microflora analysed in this study. In addition to several geography/country-specific patterns, four distinct clusters of gut microbiomes, referred to as ‘Resistotypes’, exhibiting similarities in their antibiotic resistance profiles, were identified. Groups of antibiotics having similarities in their resistance patterns within each of these clusters were also detected. Apart from this, mobile multi-drug resistance gene operons were detected in certain gut microbiomes. The study highlighted an alarmingly high abundance of antibiotic resistance genes in two infant gut microbiomes. The results obtained in the present study presents a holistic ‘big picture’ on the spectra of antibiotic resistance within our gut microbiota across different geographies. Such insights may help in implementation of new regulations and stringency on the existing ones.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083823
PMCID: PMC3877126  PMID: 24391833
4.  Helicobacter pylori Genomic Microevolution during Naturally Occurring Transmission between Adults 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82187.
The human gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori is usually acquired during childhood and, in the absence of treatment, chronic infection persists through most of the host's life. However, the frequency and importance of H. pylori transmission between adults is underestimated. Here we sequenced the complete genomes of H. pylori strains that were transmitted between spouses and analysed the genomic changes. Similar to H. pylori from chronic infection, a significantly high proportion of the determined 31 SNPs and 10 recombinant DNA fragments affected genes of the hop family of outer membrane proteins, some of which are known to be adhesins. In addition, changes in a fucosyltransferase gene modified the LPS component of the bacterial cell surface, suggesting strong diversifying selection. In contrast, virulence factor genes were not affected by the genomic changes. We propose a model of the genomic changes that are associated with the transmission and adaptation of H. pylori to a new human host.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082187
PMCID: PMC3858298  PMID: 24340004
5.  Inactivation of Metabolic Genes Causes Short- and Long-Range dys-Regulation in Escherichia coli Metabolic Network 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e78360.
The metabolic network in E. coli can be severely affected by the inactivation of metabolic genes that are required to catabolize a nutrient (D-galactose). We hypothesized that the resulting accumulation of small molecules can yield local as well as systemic effects on the metabolic network. Analysis of metabolomics data in wild-type and D-galactose non-utilizing mutants, galT, galU and galE, reveal the large metabolic differences between the wild-type and the mutants when the strains were grown in D-galactose. Network mapping suggested that the enzymatic defects affected the metabolic modules located both at short- and long-ranges from the D-galactose metabolic module. These modules suggested alterations in glutathione, energy, nucleotide and lipid metabolism and disturbed carbon to nitrogen ratio in mutant strains. The altered modules are required for normal cell growth for the wild-type strain, explaining why the cell growth is inhibited in the mutants in the presence of D-galactose. Identification of these distance-based dys-regulations would enhance the systems level understanding of metabolic networks of microorganisms having importance in biomedical and biotechnological research.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078360
PMCID: PMC3868466  PMID: 24363806
6.  Host Response to Respiratory Bacterial Pathogens as Identified by Integrated Analysis of Human Gene Expression Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75607.
Respiratory bacterial pathogens are one of the leading causes of infectious death in the world and a major health concern complicated by the rise of multi-antibiotic resistant strains. Therapeutics that modulate host genes essential for pathogen infectivity could potentially avoid multi-drug resistance and provide a wider scope of treatment options. Here, we perform an integrative analysis of published human gene expression data generated under challenges from the gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria pathogens, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus pneumoniae, respectively. We applied a previously described differential gene and pathway enrichment analysis pipeline to publicly available host mRNA GEO datasets resulting from exposure to bacterial infection. We found 72 canonical human pathways common between four GEO datasets, representing P. aeruginosa and S. pneumoniae. Although the majority of these pathways are known to be involved with immune response, we found several interesting new interactions such as the SUMO1 pathway that might have a role in bacterial infections. Furthermore, 36 host-bacterial pathways were also shared with our previous results for respiratory virus host gene expression. Based on our pathway analysis we propose several drug-repurposing opportunities supported by the literature.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075607
PMCID: PMC3785471  PMID: 24086587
7.  Gastric Antimicrobial Peptides Fail to Eradicate Helicobacter pylori Infection Due to Selective Induction and Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73867.
Background
Although antimicrobial peptides protect mucus and mucosa from bacteria, Helicobacter pylori is able to colonize the gastric mucus. To clarify in which extend Helicobacter escapes the antimicrobial defense, we systematically assessed susceptibility and expression levels of different antimicrobial host factors in gastric mucosa with and without H. pylori infection.
Materials and Methods
We investigated the expression levels of HBD1 (gene name DEFB1), HBD2 (DEFB4A), HBD3 (DEFB103A), HBD4 (DEFB104A), LL37 (CAMP) and elafin (PI3) by real time PCR in gastric biopsy samples in a total of 20 controls versus 12 patients colonized with H. pylori. Immunostaining was performed for HBD2 and HBD3. We assessed antimicrobial susceptibility by flow cytometry, growth on blood agar, radial diffusion assay and electron microscopy.
Results
H. pylori infection was associated with increased gastric levels of the inducible defensin HBD2 and of the antiprotease elafin, whereas the expression levels of the constitutive defensin HBD1, inducible HBD3 and LL37 remained unchanged. HBD4 was not expressed in significant levels in gastric mucosa. H. pylori strains were resistant to the defensins HBD1 as well as to elafin, and strain specific minimally susceptible to HBD2, whereas HBD3 and LL37 killed all H. pylori strains effectively. We demonstrated the binding of HBD2 and LL37 on the surface of H. pylori cells. Comparing the antibacterial activity of extracts from H. pylori negative and positive biopsies, we found only a minimal killing against H. pylori that was not increased by the induction of HBD2 in H. pylori positive samples.
Conclusion
These data support the hypothesis that gastric H. pylori evades the host defense shield to allow colonization.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073867
PMCID: PMC3770654  PMID: 24040100
8.  Bile Salts Affect Expression of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Genes for Virulence and Iron Acquisition, and Promote Growth under Iron Limiting Conditions 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74647.
Bile salts exhibit potent antibacterial properties, acting as detergents to disrupt cell membranes and as DNA-damaging agents. Although bacteria inhabiting the intestinal tract are able to resist bile’s antimicrobial effects, relatively little is known about how bile influences virulence of enteric pathogens. Escherichia coli O157:H7 is an important pathogen of humans, capable of causing severe diarrhea and more serious sequelae. In this study, the transcriptome response of E. coli O157:H7 to bile was determined. Bile exposure induced significant changes in mRNA levels of genes related to virulence potential, including a reduction of mRNA for the 41 genes making up the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) pathogenicity island. Bile treatment had an unusual effect on mRNA levels for the entire flagella-chemotaxis regulon, resulting in two- to four-fold increases in mRNA levels for genes associated with the flagella hook-basal body structure, but a two-fold decrease for “late” flagella genes associated with the flagella filament, stator motor, and chemotaxis. Bile salts also caused increased mRNA levels for seventeen genes associated with iron scavenging and metabolism, and counteracted the inhibitory effect of the iron chelating agent 2,2’-dipyridyl on growth of E. coli O157:H7. These findings suggest that E. coli O157:H7 may use bile as an environmental signal to adapt to changing conditions associated with the small intestine, including adaptation to an iron-scarce environment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074647
PMCID: PMC3769235  PMID: 24058617
9.  Integration Host Factor of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, mIHF, Compacts DNA by a Bending Mechanism 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69985.
The bacterial chromosomal DNA is folded into a compact structure called as ‘nucleoid’ so that the bacterial genome can be accommodated inside the cell. The shape and size of the nucleoid are determined by several factors including DNA supercoiling, macromolecular crowding and nucleoid associated proteins (NAPs). NAPs bind to different sites of the genome in sequence specific or non-sequence specific manner and play an important role in DNA compaction as well as regulation. Until recently, few NAPs have been discovered in mycobacteria owing to poor sequence similarities with other histone-like proteins of eubacteria. Several putative NAPs have now been identified in Mycobacteria on the basis of enriched basic residues or histone-like “PAKK” motifs. Here, we investigate mycobacterial Integration Host Factor (mIHF) for its architectural roles as a NAP using atomic force microscopy and DNA compaction experiments. We demonstrate that mIHF binds DNA in a non-sequence specific manner and compacts it by a DNA bending mechanism. AFM experiments also indicate a dual architectural role for mIHF in DNA compaction as well as relaxation. These results suggest a convergent evolution in the mechanism of E. coli and mycobacterial IHF in DNA compaction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069985
PMCID: PMC3724605  PMID: 23922883
10.  Pro-Inflammatory Flagellin Proteins of Prevalent Motile Commensal Bacteria Are Variably Abundant in the Intestinal Microbiome of Elderly Humans 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68919.
Some Eubacterium and Roseburia species are among the most prevalent motile bacteria present in the intestinal microbiota of healthy adults. These flagellate species contribute “cell motility” category genes to the intestinal microbiome and flagellin proteins to the intestinal proteome. We reviewed and revised the annotation of motility genes in the genomes of six Eubacterium and Roseburia species that occur in the human intestinal microbiota and examined their respective locus organization by comparative genomics. Motility gene order was generally conserved across these loci. Five of these species harbored multiple genes for predicted flagellins. Flagellin proteins were isolated from R. inulinivorans strain A2-194 and from E. rectale strains A1-86 and M104/1. The amino-termini sequences of the R. inulinivorans and E. rectale A1-86 proteins were almost identical. These protein preparations stimulated secretion of interleukin-8 (IL-8) from human intestinal epithelial cell lines, suggesting that these flagellins were pro-inflammatory. Flagellins from the other four species were predicted to be pro-inflammatory on the basis of alignment to the consensus sequence of pro-inflammatory flagellins from the β- and γ- proteobacteria. Many fliC genes were deduced to be under the control of σ28. The relative abundance of the target Eubacterium and Roseburia species varied across shotgun metagenomes from 27 elderly individuals. Genes involved in the flagellum biogenesis pathways of these species were variably abundant in these metagenomes, suggesting that the current depth of coverage used for metagenomic sequencing (3.13–4.79 Gb total sequence in our study) insufficiently captures the functional diversity of genomes present at low (≤1%) relative abundance. E. rectale and R. inulinivorans thus appear to synthesize complex flagella composed of flagellin proteins that stimulate IL-8 production. A greater depth of sequencing, improved evenness of sequencing and improved metagenome assembly from short reads will be required to facilitate in silico analyses of complete complex biochemical pathways for low-abundance target species from shotgun metagenomes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068919
PMCID: PMC3720852  PMID: 23935906
11.  Multiresistant Uropathogenic Escherichia coli from a Region in India Where Urinary Tract Infections Are Endemic: Genotypic and Phenotypic Characteristics of Sequence Type 131 Isolates of the CTX-M-15 Extended-Spectrum-β-Lactamase-Producing Lineage 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2012;56(12):6358-6365.
Escherichia coli sequence type 131 (O25b:H4), associated with the CTX-M-15 extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs) and linked predominantly to the community-onset antimicrobial-resistant infections, has globally emerged as a public health concern. However, scant attention is given to the understanding of the molecular epidemiology of these strains in high-burden countries such as India. Of the 100 clinical E. coli isolates obtained by us from a setting where urinary tract infections are endemic, 16 ST131 E. coli isolates were identified by multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Further, genotyping and phenotyping methods were employed to characterize their virulence and drug resistance patterns. All the 16 ST131 isolates harbored the CTX-M-15 gene, and half of them also carried TEM-1; 11 of these were positive for blaOXA groups 1 and 12 for aac(6′)-Ib-cr. At least 12 isolates were refractory to four non-beta-lactam antibiotics: ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim, and tetracycline. Nine isolates carried the class 1 integron. Plasmid analysis indicated a large pool of up to six plasmids per strain with a mean of approximately three plasmids. Conjugation and PCR-based replicon typing (PBRT) revealed that the spread of resistance was associated with the FIA incompatibility group of plasmids. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and genotyping of the virulence genes showed a low level of diversity among these strains. The association of ESBL-encoding plasmid with virulence was demonstrated in transconjugants by serum assay. None of the 16 ST131 ESBL-producing E. coli strains were known to synthesize carbapenemase enzymes. In conclusion, our study reports a snapshot of the highly virulent/multiresistant clone ST131 of uropathogenic E. coli from India. This study suggests that the ST131 genotypes from this region are clonally evolved and are strongly associated with the CTX-M-15 enzyme, carry a high antibiotic resistance background, and have emerged as an important cause of community-acquired urinary tract infections.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01099-12
PMCID: PMC3497203  PMID: 23045357
12.  Genome Sequence and Comparative Pathogenomics Analysis of a Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhi Strain Associated with a Typhoid Carrier in Malaysia 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(21):5970-5971.
Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi is a human pathogen that causes typhoid fever predominantly in developing countries. In this article, we describe the whole genome sequence of the S. Typhi strain CR0044 isolated from a typhoid fever carrier in Kelantan, Malaysia. These data will further enhance the understanding of its host persistence and adaptive mechanism.
doi:10.1128/JB.01416-12
PMCID: PMC3486090  PMID: 23045488
13.  Next-Generation Sequencing and De Novo Assembly, Genome Organization, and Comparative Genomic Analyses of the Genomes of Two Helicobacter pylori Isolates from Duodenal Ulcer Patients in India 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(21):5963-5964.
The prevalence of different H. pylori genotypes in various geographical regions indicates region-specific adaptations during the course of evolution. Complete genomes of H. pylori from countries with high infection burdens, such as India, have not yet been described. Herein we present genome sequences of two H. pylori strains, NAB47 and NAD1, from India. In this report, we briefly mention the sequencing and finishing approaches, genome assembly with downstream statistics, and important features of the two draft genomes, including their phylogenetic status. We believe that these genome sequences and the comparative genomics emanating thereupon will help us to clearly understand the ancestry and biology of the Indian H. pylori genotypes, and this will be helpful in solving the so-called Indian enigma, by which high infection rates do not corroborate the minuscule number of serious outcomes observed, including gastric cancer.
doi:10.1128/JB.01371-12
PMCID: PMC3486096  PMID: 23045484
14.  The Detection and Sequencing of a Broad-Host-Range Conjugative IncP-1β Plasmid in an Epidemic Strain of Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. bolletii 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60746.
Background
An extended outbreak of mycobacterial surgical infections occurred in Brazil during 2004–2008. Most infections were caused by a single strain of Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. bolletii, which was characterized by a specific rpoB sequevar and two highly similar pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns differentiated by the presence of a ∼50 kb band. The nature of this band was investigated.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genomic sequencing of the prototype outbreak isolate INCQS 00594 using the SOLiD platform demonstrated the presence of a 56,264-bp circular plasmid, designated pMAB01. Identity matrices, genetic distances and phylogeny analyses indicated that pMAB01 belongs to the broad-host-range plasmid subgroup IncP-1β and is highly related to BRA100, pJP4, pAKD33 and pB10. The presence of pMAB01-derived sequences in 41 M. abscessus subsp. bolletii isolates was evaluated using PCR, PFGE and Southern blot hybridization. Sixteen of the 41 isolates showed the presence of the plasmid. The plasmid was visualized as a ∼50-kb band using PFGE and Southern blot hybridization in 12 isolates. The remaining 25 isolates did not exhibit any evidence of this plasmid. The plasmid was successfully transferred to Escherichia coli by conjugation and transformation. Lateral transfer of pMAB01 to the high efficient plasmid transformation strain Mycobacterium smegmatis mc2155 could not be demonstrated.
Conclusions/Significance
The occurrence of a broad-host-range IncP-1β plasmid in mycobacteria is reported for the first time. Thus, genetic exchange could result in the emergence of specific strains that might be better adapted to cause human disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060746
PMCID: PMC3614916  PMID: 23565273
15.  Effect of Simulated Microgravity on E. coli K12 MG1655 Growth and Gene Expression 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57860.
This study demonstrates the effects of simulated microgravity on E. coli K 12 MG1655 grown on LB medium supplemented with glycerol. Global gene expression analysis indicated that the expressions of hundred genes were significantly altered in simulated microgravity conditions compared to that of normal gravity conditions. Under these conditions genes coding for adaptation to stress are up regulated (sufE and ssrA) and simultaneously genes coding for membrane transporters (ompC, exbB, actP, mgtA, cysW and nikB) and carbohydrate catabolic processes (ldcC, ptsA, rhaD and rhaS) are down regulated. The enhanced growth in simulated gravity conditions may be because of the adequate supply of energy/reducing equivalents and up regulation of genes involved in DNA replication (srmB) and repression of the genes encoding for nucleoside metabolism (dfp, pyrD and spoT). In addition, E. coli cultured in LB medium supplemented with glycerol (so as to protect the cells from freezing temperatures) do not exhibit multiple stress responses that are normally observed when cells are exposed to microgravity in LB medium without glycerol.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057860
PMCID: PMC3589462  PMID: 23472115
16.  Insights from the Genome Sequence of a Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhi Strain Associated with a Sporadic Case of Typhoid Fever in Malaysia 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(18):5124-5125.
Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi is the causative agent of typhoid fever, which causes nearly 21.7 million illnesses and 217,000 deaths globally. Herein, we describe the whole-genome sequence of the Salmonella Typhi strain ST0208, isolated from a sporadic case of typhoid fever in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The whole-genome sequence and comparative genomics allow an in-depth understanding of the genetic diversity, and its link to pathogenicity and evolutionary dynamics, of this highly clonal pathogen that is endemic to Malaysia.
doi:10.1128/JB.01062-12
PMCID: PMC3430317  PMID: 22933756
17.  Whole-Genome Sequences and Comparative Genomics of Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhi Isolates from Patients with Fatal and Nonfatal Typhoid Fever in Papua New Guinea 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(18):5122-5123.
Many of the developing countries of the Southeast Asian region are significantly affected by endemic typhoid fever, possibly as a result of marginal living standards. It is an important public health problem in countries such as Papua New Guinea, which is geographically close to some of the foci of endemicity in Asia. The severity of the disease varies in different regions, and this may be attributable to genetic diversity among the native strains. Genome sequence data on strains from different countries are needed to clearly understand their genetic makeup and virulence potential. We describe the genomes of two Salmonella Typhi isolates from patients with fatal and nonfatal cases of typhoid fever in Papua New Guinea. We discuss in brief the underlying sequencing methodology, assembly, genome statistics, and important features of the two draft genomes, which form an essential step in our functional molecular infection epidemiology program centering on typhoid fever. The comparative genomics of these and other isolates would enable us to identify genetic rearrangements and mechanisms responsible for endemicity and the differential severity of pathogenic salmonellae in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere.
doi:10.1128/JB.01051-12
PMCID: PMC3430347  PMID: 22933755
18.  Molecular Signatures Associated with HCV-Induced Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Liver Metastasis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56153.
Hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) are a heterogeneous group of tumors that differ in risk factors and genetic alterations. In Italy, particularly Southern Italy, chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection represents the main cause of HCC. Using high-density oligoarrays, we identified consistent differences in gene-expression between HCC and normal liver tissue. Expression patterns in HCC were also readily distinguishable from those associated with liver metastases. To characterize molecular events relevant to hepatocarcinogenesis and identify biomarkers for early HCC detection, gene expression profiling of 71 liver biopsies from HCV-related primary HCC and corresponding HCV-positive non-HCC hepatic tissue, as well as gastrointestinal liver metastases paired with the apparently normal peri-tumoral liver tissue, were compared to 6 liver biopsies from healthy individuals. Characteristic gene signatures were identified when normal tissue was compared with HCV-related primary HCC, corresponding HCV-positive non-HCC as well as gastrointestinal liver metastases. Pathway analysis classified the cellular and biological functions of the genes differentially expressed as related to regulation of gene expression and post-translational modification in HCV-related primary HCC; cellular Growth and Proliferation, and Cell-To-Cell Signaling and Interaction in HCV-related non HCC samples; Cellular Growth and Proliferation and Cell Cycle in metastasis. Also characteristic gene signatures were identified of HCV-HCC progression for early HCC diagnosis.
Conclusions
A diagnostic molecular signature complementing conventional pathologic assessment was identified.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056153
PMCID: PMC3575468  PMID: 23441164
19.  Presence of Terminal EPIYA Phosphorylation Motifs in Helicobacter pylori CagA Contributes to IL-8 Secretion, Irrespective of the Number of Repeats 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56291.
CagA protein contributes to pro-inflammatory responses during H. pylori infection, following its intracellular delivery to gastric epithelial cells. Here, we report for the first time in an isogenic background, on the subtle role of CagA phosphorylation on terminal EPIYA-C motifs in the transcriptional activation and expression of IL-8. We utilized isogenic H. pylori mutants of P12 reference strain, expressing CagA with varying number of EPIYA-C motifs and the corresponding phosphorylation defective EPIFA-C motifs while preserving intact the CM multimerization motifs. These mutants had been previously closely scrutinized in terms of type IV secretion system functionality, CagA translocation and its subsequent phosphorylation. Following infection of gastric epithelial cell lines, transcriptional activation of IL-8 gene and secreted IL-8 levels were found to be strictly dependent upon the functionality of the EPIYA-C phosphorylation motifs, as EPIFA-C phosphorylation-deficient CagA expression failed to induce full IL-8 transcriptional activity. Interestingly, levels of IL-8 gene activation and of secreted IL-8 were the same, irrespective of the number of EPIYA-C terminal repeats. We monitored IkBα phosphorylation and confirmed CagA involvement in NF-kB activation. Furthermore, we observed that presence of EPIYA-C functional phosphorylation motifs contributed to NF-kB activation. NF-kB upstream signaling events, such as early ERK1/2 and AKT activation were confirmed to be independent of EPIYA-C phosphorylation. On the contrary, use of TAK1 specific inhibitor 5Z-7-Oxozeaenol resulted in complete arrest of IL-8 secretion, in a dose-dependent manner, irrespective of CagA status. H. pylori-infected TAK1-/- mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) failed to induce NF-kB activity, unlike the respective control MEFs. CagA and TAK1 were found to immunoprecipitate together, irrespective of CagA EPIYA-C status, thus confirming earlier reports of TAK1 and CagA protein interaction. Our data suggest that CagA may potentially interfere with TAK1 activity during NF-kB activation for IL-8 induction in early H. pylori infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056291
PMCID: PMC3567036  PMID: 23409168
20.  Admixed Phylogenetic Distribution of Drug Resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Saudi Arabia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55598.
Background
The phylogeographical structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is generally bimodal in low tuberculosis (TB) incidence countries, where genetic lineages of the isolates generally differ with little strain clustering between autochthonous and foreign-born TB patients. However, less is known on this structure in Saudi Arabia—the most important hub of human migration as it hosts a total population of expatriates and pilgrims from all over the world which is equal to that of its citizens.
Methodology
We explored the mycobacterial phylogenetic structure and strain molecular clustering in Saudi Arabia by genotyping 322 drug-resistant clinical isolates collected over a 12-month period in a national drug surveillance survey, using 24 locus-based MIRU-VNTR typing and spoligotyping.
Principal Findings
In contrast to the cosmopolitan population of the country, almost all the known phylogeographic lineages of M. tuberculosis complex (with noticeable exception of Mycobacterium africanum/West-African 1 and 2) were detected, with Delhi/CAS (21.1%), EAI (11.2%), Beijing (11.2%) and main branches of the Euro-American super-lineage such as Ghana (14.9%), Haarlem (10.6%) and Cameroon (7.8%) being represented. Statistically significant associations of strain lineages were observed with poly-drug resistance and multi drug resistance especially among previously treated cases (p value of < = 0.001 for both types of resistance), with relative over-representation of Beijing strains in the latter category. However, there was no significant difference among Saudi and non-Saudi TB patients regarding distribution of phylogenetic lineages (p = 0.311). Moreover, 59.5% (22/37) of the strain molecular clusters were shared between the Saudi born and immigrant TB patients.
Conclusions
Specific distribution of M. tuberculosis phylogeographic lineages is not observed between the autochthonous and foreign-born populations. These observations might reflect both socially favored ongoing TB transmission between the two population groups, and historically deep-rooted, prolonged contacts and trade relations of the peninsula with other world regions. More vigorous surveillance and strict adherence to tuberculosis control policies are urgently needed in the country.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055598
PMCID: PMC3562184  PMID: 23383340
21.  Helicobacter Pylori Promotes the Expression of Krüppel-Like Factor 5, a Mediator of Carcinogenesis, In Vitro and In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54344.
Helicobacter pylori is the strongest known risk factor for the development of gastric adenocarcinoma. H. pylori expresses a repertoire of virulence factors that increase gastric cancer risk, including the cag pathogenicity island and the vacuolating cytotoxin (VacA). One host element that promotes carcinogenesis within the gastrointestinal tract is Krüppel-like factor 5 (KLF5), a transcription factor that mediates key cellular functions. To define the role of KLF5 within the context of H. pylori-induced inflammation and injury, human gastric epithelial cells were co-cultured with the wild-type cag+ H. pylori strain 60190. KLF5 expression was significantly upregulated following co-culture with H. pylori, but increased expression was independent of the cag island or VacA. To translate these findings into an in vivo model, C57BL/6 mice were challenged with the wild-type rodent-adapted cag+ H. pylori strain PMSS1 or a PMSS1 cagE− isogenic mutant. Similar to findings in vitro, KLF5 staining was significantly enhanced in gastric epithelium of H. pylori-infected compared to uninfected mice and this was independent of the cag island. Flow cytometry revealed that the majority of KLF5+ cells also stained positively for the stem cell marker, Lrig1, and KLF5+/Lrig1+ cells were significantly increased in H. pylori-infected versus uninfected tissue. To extend these results into the natural niche of this pathogen, levels of KLF5 expression were assessed in human gastric biopsies isolated from patients with or without premalignant lesions. Levels of KLF5 expression increased in parallel with advancing stages of neoplastic progression, being significantly elevated in gastritis, intestinal metaplasia, and dysplasia compared to normal gastric tissue. These results indicate that H. pylori induces expression of KLF5 in gastric epithelial cells in vitro and in vivo, and that the degree of KLF5 expression parallels the severity of premalignant lesions in human gastric carcinogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054344
PMCID: PMC3553174  PMID: 23372710
22.  Monoclonal Antibodies against Hepatitis C Genotype 3a Virus Like Particle Inhibit Virus Entry in Cell Culture System 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53619.
The envelope protein (E1–E2) of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major component of the viral structure. The glycosylated envelope protein is considered to be important for initiation of infection by binding to cellular receptor(s) and also known as one of the major antigenic targets to host immune response. The present study was aimed at identifying mouse monoclonal antibodies which inhibit binding of virus like particles of HCV to target cells. The first step in this direction was to generate recombinant HCV-like particles (HCV-LPs) specific for genotypes 3a of HCV (prevalent in India) using the genes encoding core, E1 and E2 envelop proteins in a baculovirus expression system. The purified HCV-LPs were characterized by ELISA and electron microscopy and were used to generate monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in mice. Two monoclonal antibodies (E8G9 and H1H10) specific for the E2 region of envelope protein of HCV genotype 3a, were found to reduce the virus binding to Huh7 cells. However, the mAbs generated against HCV genotype 1b (D2H3, G2C7, E1B11) were not so effective. More importantly, mAb E8G9 showed significant inhibition of the virus entry in HCV JFH1 cell culture system. Finally, the epitopic regions on E2 protein which bind to the mAbs have also been identified. Results suggest a new therapeutic strategy and provide the proof of concept that mAb against HCV-LP could be effective in preventing virus entry into liver cells to block HCV replication.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053619
PMCID: PMC3546081  PMID: 23341957
23.  Vibrio cholerae Classical Biotype Is Converted to the Viable Non-Culturable State when Cultured with the El Tor Biotype 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53504.
A unique event in bacterial epidemiology was the emergence of the El Tor biotype of Vibrio cholerae O1 and the subsequent rapid displacement of the existing classical biotype as the predominant cause of epidemic cholera. We demonstrate that when the El Tor and classical biotypes were cocultured in standard laboratory medium a precipitous decline in colony forming units (CFU) of the classical biotype occurred in a contact dependent manner. Several lines of evidence including DNA release, microscopy and flow cytometric analysis indicated that the drastic reduction in CFU of the classical biotype in cocultures was not accompanied by lysis, although when the classical biotype was grown individually in monocultures, lysis of the cells occurred concomitant with decrease in CFU starting from late stationary phase. Furthermore, uptake of a membrane potential sensitive dye and protection of genomic DNA from extracellular DNase strongly suggested that the classical biotype cells in cocultures retained viability in spite of loss of culturability. These results suggest that coculturing the classical biotype with the El Tor biotype protects the former from lysis allowing the cells to remain viable in spite of the loss of culturability. The stationary phase sigma factor RpoS may have a role in the loss of culturability of the classical biotype in cocultures. Although competitive exclusion of closely related strains has been reported for several bacterial species, conversion of the target bacterial population to the viable non-culturable state has not been demonstrated previously and may have important implications in the evolution of bacterial strains.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053504
PMCID: PMC3541145  PMID: 23326443
24.  Genetic Fine Structure of a Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhi Strain Associated with the 2005 Outbreak of Typhoid Fever in Kelantan, Malaysia 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(13):3565-3566.
Among enteric pathogens, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi is responsible for the largest number of food-borne outbreaks and fatalities. The ability of the pathogen to cause systemic infection for extended durations leads to a high cost of disease control. Chronic carriers play important roles in the evolution of Salmonella Typhi; therefore, identification and in-depth characterization of isolates from clinical cases and carriers, especially those from zones of endemicity where the pathogen has not been extensively studied, are necessary. Here, we describe the genome sequence of the highly virulent Salmonella Typhi strain BL196/05 isolated during the outbreak of typhoid in Kelantan, Malaysia, in 2005. The whole-genome sequence and comparative genomics of this strain should enable us to understand the virulence mechanisms and evolutionary dynamics of this pathogen in Malaysia and elsewhere.
doi:10.1128/JB.00581-12
PMCID: PMC3434757  PMID: 22689247
25.  Increased Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-α and Its Promoter Polymorphisms Correlate with Disease Progression and Higher Susceptibility towards Vitiligo 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52298.
Abstract
Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-α, is a paracrine inhibitor of melanocytes, which plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of several autoimmune diseases including vitiligo, as abnormal immune responses have frequently been observed in vitiligo patients. Moreover, vitiligo patients show higher lesion levels of TNF-α. Genetic polymorphisms in the promoter region of TNF-α are involved in the regulation of its expression. The present study explores TNF-α promoter polymorphisms and correlates them with TNF-α transcript and protein levels in vitiligo patients and controls of Gujarat along with its effect on disease onset and progression. PCR-RFLP technique was used for genotyping of these polymorphisms in 977 vitiligo patients and 990 controls. TNF-α transcript and protein levels were measured by Real time PCR and ELISA respectively. The genotype and allele frequencies for the investigated polymorphisms were significantly associated with vitiligo patients. The study revealed significant increase in TNF-α transcript and protein levels in vitiligo patients compared to controls. In particular, haplotypes: AATCC, AACCT, AGTCT, GATCT, GATCC and AGCCT were found to increase the TNF-α levels in vitiligo patients. Analysis of TNF-α levels based on the gender and disease progression suggests that female patients and patients with active vitiligo had higher levels of TNF-α. Also, the TNF-α levels were high in patients with generalized vitiligo as compared to localized vitiligo. Age of onset analysis of the disease suggests that the haplotypes: AACAT, AACCT, AATCC and AATCT had a profound effect in the early onset of the disease. Moreover, the analysis suggests that female patients had an early onset of vitiligo. Overall, our results suggest that TNF-α promoter polymorphisms may be genetic risk factors for susceptibility and progression of the disease. The up-regulation of TNF-α transcript and protein levels in individuals with susceptible haplotypes advocates the crucial role of TNF-α in autoimmune pathogenesis of vitiligo.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052298
PMCID: PMC3527546  PMID: 23284977

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