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1.  Role of the K2 Capsule in Escherichia coli Urinary Tract Infection and Serum Resistance 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;199(11):10.1086/598524.
Capsule expression may be important during ascending Escherichia coli urinary tract infections (UTIs).
An isogenic ksl(k2)ABCDE mutant of extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC) strain CFT073 that could not synthesize the K2 capsule was compared with wild-type CFT073, to determine virulence in a murine model of ascending UTI and in vitro killing assays.
No significant differences were observed regarding the abilities of the mutant and the wild-type CFT073 strains to colonize the murine urinary tract in single-challenge infection experiments. However, in competitive-colonization experiments, the mutant was significantly outcompeted by the wild-type strain in urine and the kidneys. The mutant strain was also more susceptible to human serum. Complementation of the mutant with a plasmid containing the ksl(k2)ABCDE genes restored capsule expression, enhanced survival in the murine urinary tract, and restored serum resistance.
These results indicate that expression of the K2 capsule is important for the pathogenesis of UTI and provides protection against complement-mediated killing. To our knowledge, this is the first study in which the E. coli capsule has been proven to play a role in infection by use of isogenic mutants and genetic complementation.
PMCID: PMC3872369  PMID: 19432551
2.  BarA-UvrY Two-Component System Regulates Virulence of Uropathogenic E. coli CFT073 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31348.
Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), a member of extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli, cause ∼80% of community-acquired urinary tract infections (UTI) in humans. UPEC initiates its colonization in epithelial cells lining the urinary tract with a complicated life cycle, replicating and persisting in intracellular and extracellular niches. Consequently, UPEC causes cystitis and more severe form of pyelonephritis. To further understand the virulence characteristics of UPEC, we investigated the roles of BarA-UvrY two-component system (TCS) in regulating UPEC virulence. Our results showed that mutation of BarA-UvrY TCS significantly decreased the virulence of UPEC CFT073, as assessed by mouse urinary tract infection, chicken embryo killing assay, and cytotoxicity assay on human kidney and uroepithelial cell lines. Furthermore, mutation of either barA or uvrY gene reduced the production of hemolysin, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α and IL-6) and chemokine (IL-8). The virulence phenotype was restored similar to that of wild-type by complementation of either barA or uvrY gene in trans. In addition, we discussed a possible link between the BarA-UvrY TCS and CsrA in positively and negatively controlling virulence in UPEC. Overall, this study provides the evidences for BarA-UvrY TCS regulates the virulence of UPEC CFT073 and may point to mechanisms by which virulence regulations are observed in different ways may control the long-term survival of UPEC in the urinary tract.
PMCID: PMC3283629  PMID: 22363626
3.  Adaptation to flooding during emergence and seedling growth in rice and weeds, and implications for crop establishment 
AoB Plants  2012;2012:pls019.
Direct seeding is replacing transplanting in rice. Early flooding suppresses weeds but selective action is compromised by the sharing of flood-tolerance traits. Understanding adaptive traits in both species is therefore a prerequisite for developing direct seeding systems that control weeds while leaving rice seedlings relatively unharmed.
Background and aims
Direct seeding of rice is being adopted in rainfed and irrigated lowland ecosystems because it reduces labour costs in addition to other benefits. However, early flooding due to uneven fields or rainfall slows down seed germination and hinders crop establishment. Conversely, early flooding helps suppress weeds and reduces the costs of manual weeding and/or dependence on herbicides; however, numerous weed species are adapted to lowlands and present challenges for the use of flooding to control weeds. Advancing knowledge on the mechanisms of tolerance of flooding during germination and early growth in rice and weeds could facilitate the development of improved rice varieties and effective weed management practices for direct-seeded rice.
Principal results
Rice genotypes with a greater ability to germinate and establish in flooded soils were identified, providing opportunities to develop varieties suitable for direct seeding in flooded soils. Tolerance of flooding in these genotypes was mostly attributed to traits associated with better ability to mobilize stored carbohydrates and anaerobic metabolism. Limited studies were undertaken in weeds associated with lowland rice systems. Remaining studies compared rice and weeds and related weed species such as Echinochloa crus-galli and E. colona or compared ecotypes of the same species of Cyperus rotundus adapted to either aerobic or flooded soils.
Tolerant weeds and rice genotypes mostly developed similar adaptive traits that allow them to establish in flooded fields, including the ability to germinate and elongate faster under hypoxia, mobilize stored starch reserves and generate energy through fermentation pathways. Remarkably, some weeds developed additional traits such as larger storage tubers that enlarge further in deeper flooded soils (C. rotundus). Unravelling the mechanisms involved in adaptation to flooding will help design management options that will allow tolerant rice genotypes to adequately establish in flooded soils while simultaneously suppressing weeds.
PMCID: PMC3434364  PMID: 22957137
4.  Adaptation to flooding in upland and lowland ecotypes of Cyperus rotundus, a troublesome sedge weed of rice: tuber morphology and carbohydrate metabolism 
Annals of Botany  2008;103(2):295-302.
Background and aims
In recent years, Cyperus rotundus has become a problem weed in lowland rice (Oryza sativa) grown in rotation with vegetables in the Philippines. As the growth of C. rotundus is commonly suppressed by prolonged flooding, the ability of the weed to grow vigorously in flooded as well as upland conditions suggests that adapted ecotypes occur in these rotations. Studies were conducted to elucidate the mechanisms that permit C. rotundus to tolerate flooded soil conditions.
Upland and lowland ecotypes of C. rotundus were compared in terms of growth habit, carbohydrate reserves and metabolism, and activities of enzymes involved in alcoholic fermentation – alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and pyruvate decarboxylase (PDC).
Key Results
The lowland ecotype has much larger tubers than the upland ecotype. Prior to germination, the amylase activity and total non-structural carbohydrate content in the form of soluble sugars were greater in the tubers of lowland plants than in those of upland C. rotundus. At 24 h after germination in hypoxic conditions, PDC and ADH activities in the lowland plants increased, before decreasing at 48 h following germination. In contrast, ADH and PDC activities in the upland plants increased from 24 to 48 h after germination.
Tolerance of lowland C. rotundus of flooding may be attributed to large carbohydrate content and amylase activity, and the ability to maintain high levels of soluble sugars in the tubers during germination and early growth. This is coupled with the modulation of ADH and PDC activities during germination, possibly to control the use of carbohydrate reserves and sustain substrate supply in order to avoid starvation and death of seedlings with prolonged flooding.
PMCID: PMC2707299  PMID: 18515404
Anoxia; ethanol fermentation; flooding tolerance; nutsedge; Cyperus rotundus; Pasteur effect; weed ecology
5.  Morphological and physiological responses of lowland purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus L.) to flooding 
AoB Plants  2010;2010:plq010.
Comparing a lowland and an upland ecotype of Cyperus rotundus, the former had greater carbohydrate reserves in tubers, thicker roots and stems with larger air spaces and, under hypoxia, it maintained relatively lower activities of alcohol dehydrogenase and lactate dehydrogenase.
Background and aims
Purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus L.) is a major weed of upland crops and vegetables. Recently, a flood-tolerant ecotype evolved as a serious weed in lowland rice. This study attempted to establish the putative growth and physiological features that led to this shift in adaptation.
Tubers of upland C. rotundus (ULCR) and lowland C. rotundus (LLCR) ecotypes were collected from their native habitats and maintained under the respective growth conditions in a greenhouse. Five experiments were conducted to assess the variation between the two ecotypes in germination, growth and tuber morphology when grown in their native or ‘switched’ conditions. Carbohydrate storage and mobilization, and variation in anaerobic respiration under hypoxia were compared.
Principal results
Tubers of LLCR were larger than those of ULCR, with higher carbohydrate content, and larger tubers developed with increasing floodwater depth. Stems of LLCR had larger diameter and proportionally larger air spaces than those of ULCR: a method of aerating submerged plant parts. The LLCR ecotype can also mobilize and use carbohydrate reserves under hypoxia, and it maintained relatively lower and steadier activity of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) as a measure of sustained anaerobic respiration. In contrast, ADH activity in ULCR increased faster upon a shift to hypoxia and then sharply decreased, suggesting depletion of available soluble sugar substrates. The LLCR ecotype also maintained lower lactate dehydrogenase activity under flooded conditions, which could reduce chances of cellular acidosis.
These adaptive traits in the LLCR ecotype were expressed constitutively, but some of them, such as tuber growth and aerenchyma development, are enhanced with stress severity. The LLCR ecotype attained numerous adaptive traits that could have evolved as a consequence of natural evolution or repeated management practices, and alternative strategies are necessary because flooding is no longer a feasible management option.
PMCID: PMC3000701  PMID: 22476068
6.  Role of Phase Variation of Type 1 Fimbriae in a Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Cystitis Isolate during Urinary Tract Infection†  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(2):1387-1393.
Type 1 fimbrial phase-locked mutants of uropathogenic Escherichia coli cystitis isolate F11 were used to assess the role of the invertible element during urinary tract infection. Compared to the wild type, the phase-locked off mutant was attenuated, and constitutive production of type 1 fimbriae by the phase-locked on mutant did not provide a competitive advantage.
PMCID: PMC1360342  PMID: 16428790
7.  Coordinate Expression of Fimbriae in Uropathogenic Escherichia coli  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(11):7588-7596.
Uropathogenic Escherichia coli is the most common etiological agent of urinary tract infections. Bacteria can often express multiple adhesins during infection in order to favor attachment to specific niches within the urinary tract. We have recently demonstrated that type 1 fimbria, a phase-variable virulence factor involved in adherence, was the most highly expressed adhesin during urinary tract infection. Here, we examine whether the expression of type 1 fimbriae can affect the expression of other adhesins. Type 1 fimbrial phase-locked mutants of E. coli strain CFT073, which harbors genes for numerous adhesins, were employed in this study. CFT073-specific DNA microarray analysis of these strains demonstrates that the expression of type 1 fimbriae coordinately affects the expression of P fimbriae in an inverse manner. This represents evidence for direct communication between genes relating to pathogenesis, perhaps to aid the sequential occupation of different urinary tract tissues. While the role of type 1 fimbriae during infection has been clear, the role of P fimbriae must be further defined to assert the relevance of coordinated regulation in vivo. Therefore, we examined the ability of P fimbrial isogenic mutants, constructed in a type 1 fimbrial-negative background, to compete in the murine urinary tract over a period of 168 h. No differences in the colonization of these mutants were observed. However, comparison of these results with previous studies suggests that inversely coordinated expression of adhesin gene clusters does occur in vivo. Interestingly, the mutant that was incapable of expressing either type 1 or P fimbriae compensated by synthesizing F1C fimbriae.
PMCID: PMC1273908  PMID: 16239562
8.  Role of Motility in the Colonization of Uropathogenic Escherichia coli in the Urinary Tract  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(11):7644-7656.
Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) causes most uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) in humans. Flagellum-mediated motility and chemotaxis have been suggested to contribute to virulence by enabling UPEC to escape host immune responses and disperse to new sites within the urinary tract. To evaluate their contribution to virulence, six separate flagellar mutations were constructed in UPEC strain CFT073. The mutants constructed were shown to have four different flagellar phenotypes: fliA and fliC mutants do not produce flagella; the flgM mutant has similar levels of extracellular flagellin as the wild type but exhibits less motility than the wild type; the motAB mutant is nonmotile; and the cheW and cheY mutants are motile but nonchemotactic. Virulence was assessed by transurethral independent challenges and cochallenges of CBA mice with the wild type and each mutant. CFU/ml of urine or CFU/g bladder or kidney was determined 3 days postinoculation for the independent challenges and at 6, 16, 48, 60, and 72 h postinoculation for the cochallenges. While these mutants colonized the urinary tract during independent challenge, each of the mutants was outcompeted by the wild-type strain to various degrees at specific time points during cochallenge. Altogether, these results suggest that flagella and flagellum-mediated motility/chemotaxis may not be absolutely required for virulence but that these traits contribute to the fitness of UPEC and therefore significantly enhance the pathogenesis of UTIs caused by UPEC.
PMCID: PMC1273871  PMID: 16239569
9.  Use of Translational Fusion of the MrpH Fimbrial Adhesin-Binding Domain with the Cholera Toxin A2 Domain, Coexpressed with the Cholera Toxin B Subunit, as an Intranasal Vaccine To Prevent Experimental Urinary Tract Infection by Proteus mirabilis  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(12):7306-7310.
This is a follow-up to our previous study using an intranasal vaccine composed of MrpH, the tip adhesin of the MR/P fimbria, and cholera toxin to prevent urinary tract infection by Proteus mirabilis (X. Li, C. V. Lockatell, D. E. Johnson, M. C. Lane, J. W. Warren, and H. L. Mobley, Infect. Immun. 72:66-75, 2004). Here, we have expressed a cholera toxin-like chimera in which the MrpH adhesin-binding domain (residues 23 to 157) replaces the cholera toxin A1 ADP-ribosyltransferase domain. This chimera, when administered intranasally without additional adjuvant, is sufficient to induce protective immunity in mice.
PMCID: PMC529142  PMID: 15557656
10.  Mannose-Resistant Proteus-Like Fimbriae Are Produced by Most Proteus mirabilis Strains Infecting the Urinary Tract, Dictate the In Vivo Localization of Bacteria, and Contribute to Biofilm Formation  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(12):7294-7305.
Proteus mirabilis, an etiologic agent of complicated urinary tract infections, expresses mannose-resistant Proteus-like (MR/P) fimbriae whose expression is phase variable. Here we examine the role of these fimbriae in biofilm formation and colonization of the urinary tract. The majority of wild-type P. mirabilis cells in transurethrally infected mice produced MR/P fimbriae. Mutants that were phase-locked for either constitutive expression (MR/P ON) or the inability to express MR/P fimbriae (MR/P OFF) were phenotypically distinct and swarmed at different rates. The number of P. mirabilis cells adhering to bladder tissue did not appear to be affected by MR/P fimbriation. However, the pattern of adherence to the bladder surface was strikingly different. MR/P OFF colonized the lamina propria underlying exfoliated uroepithelium, while MR/P ON colonized the luminal surfaces of bladder umbrella cells and not the exfoliated regions. Wild-type P. mirabilis was usually found colonizing intact uroepithelium, but it occasionally adhered to exfoliated areas. MR/P ON formed significantly more biofilm than either P. mirabilis HI4320 (P = 0.03) or MR/P OFF (P = 0.05). MR/P OFF was able to form a biofilm similar to that of the wild type. MR/P ON formed a three-dimensional biofilm structure as early as 18 h after the initiation of the biofilm, while MR/P OFF and the wild type did not. After 7 days, however, P. mirabilis HI4320 formed a 65-μm-thick biofilm, while the thickest MR/P ON and MR/P OFF biofilms were only 12 μm thick. We concluded that MR/P fimbriae are expressed by most P. mirabilis cells infecting the urinary tract, dictate the localization of bacteria in the bladder, and contribute to biofilm formation.
PMCID: PMC529131  PMID: 15557655
11.  Transcriptome of Uropathogenic Escherichia coli during Urinary Tract Infection  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(11):6373-6381.
A uropathogenic Escherichia coli strain CFT073-specific DNA microarray that includes each open reading frame was used to analyze the transcriptome of CFT073 bacteria isolated directly from the urine of infected CBA/J mice. The in vivo expression profiles were compared to that of E. coli CFT073 grown statically to exponential phase in rich medium, revealing the strategies this pathogen uses in vivo for colonization, growth, and survival in the urinary tract environment. The most highly expressed genes overall in vivo encoded translational machinery, indicating that the bacteria were in a rapid growth state despite specific nutrient limitations. Expression of type 1 fimbriae, a virulence factor involved in adherence, was highly upregulated in vivo. Five iron acquisition systems were all highly upregulated during urinary tract infection, as were genes responsible for capsular polysaccharide and lipopolysaccharide synthesis, drug resistance, and microcin secretion. Surprisingly, other fimbrial genes, such as pap and foc/sfa, and genes involved in motility and chemotaxis were downregulated in vivo. E. coli CFT073 grown in human urine resulted in the upregulation of iron acquisition, capsule, and microcin secretion genes, thus partially mimicking growth in vivo. On the basis of gene expression levels, the urinary tract appears to be nitrogen and iron limiting, of high osmolarity, and of moderate oxygenation. This study represents the first assessment of any E. coli pathotype's transcriptome in vivo and provides specific insights into the mechanisms necessary for urinary tract pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC523057  PMID: 15501767
12.  Identification and Characterization of a Novel Uropathogenic Escherichia coli-Associated Fimbrial Gene Cluster  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(7):3890-3901.
Recently, we identified a fimbrial usher gene in uropathogenic Escherichia coli strain CFT073 that is absent from an E. coli laboratory strain. Analysis of the CFT073 genome indicates that this fimbrial usher gene is part of a novel fimbrial gene cluster, aufABCDEFG. Analysis of a collection of pathogenic and commensal strains of E. coli and related species revealed that the auf gene cluster was significantly associated with uropathogenic E. coli isolates. For in vitro expression analysis of the auf gene cluster, RNA was isolated from CFT073 bacteria grown to the exponential or stationary phase in Luria-Bertani broth and reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) with oligonucleotide primers specific to the major subunit, aufA, was performed. We found that aufA is expressed in CFT073 only during the exponential growth phase; however, no expression of AufA protein was observed by Western blotting, indicating that under these conditions, the expression of the auf gene cluster is low. To determine if the auf gene cluster is expressed in vivo, RT-PCR was performed on bacteria from urine samples of mice infected with CFT073. Out of three independent experiments, we were able to detect expression of aufA at least once at 4, 24, and 48 h of infection, indicating that the auf gene cluster is expressed in the murine urinary tract. Furthermore, antisera from mice infected with CFT073 reacted with recombinant AufA in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. To identify the structure encoded by the auf gene cluster, a recombinant plasmid containing the auf gene cluster under the T7 promoter was introduced into the E. coli BL-21 (AI) strain. Immunogold labeling using AufA antiserum revealed the presence of amorphous material extending from the surface of BL-21 cells. No hemagglutination or cellular adherence properties were detected in association with expression of AufA. Deletion of the entire auf gene cluster had no effect on the ability of CFT073 to colonize the kidney, bladder, or urine of mice. In addition, no significant histological differences between the parent and aufC mutant strain were observed. Therefore, Auf is a uropathogenic E. coli-associated structure that plays an uncertain role in the pathogenesis of urinary tract infections.
PMCID: PMC427398  PMID: 15213132
13.  Proteus mirabilis Genes That Contribute to Pathogenesis of Urinary Tract Infection: Identification of 25 Signature-Tagged Mutants Attenuated at Least 100-Fold  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(5):2922-2938.
Proteus mirabilis, a common cause of urinary tract infections (UTI) in individuals with functional or structural abnormalities or with long-term catheterization, forms bladder and kidney stones as a consequence of urease-mediated urea hydrolysis. Known virulence factors, besides urease, are hemolysin, fimbriae, metalloproteases, and flagella. In this study we utilized the CBA mouse model of ascending UTI to evaluate the colonization of mutants of P. mirabilis HI4320 that were generated by signature-tagged mutagenesis. By performing primary screening of 2,088 P. mirabilis transposon mutants, we identified 502 mutants that ranged from slightly attenuated to unrecoverable. Secondary screening of these mutants revealed that 114 transposon mutants were reproducibly attenuated. Cochallenge of 84 of these single mutants with the parent strain in the mouse model resulted in identification of 37 consistently out-competed P. mirabilis transposon mutants, 25 of which were out-competed >100-fold for colonization of the bladder and/or kidneys by the parent strain. We determined the sequence flanking the site of transposon insertion in 29 attenuated mutants and identified genes affecting motility, iron acquisition, transcriptional regulation, phosphate transport, urease activity, cell surface structure, and key metabolic pathways as requirements for P. mirabilis infection of the urinary tract. Two mutations localized to a ∼42-kb plasmid present in the parent strain, suggesting that the plasmid is important for colonization. Isolation of disrupted genes encoding proteins with homologies to known bacterial virulence factors, especially the urease accessory protein UreF and the disulfide formation protein DsbA, showed that the CBA mouse model and mutant pools are a reliable source of attenuated mutants with mutations in virulence genes.
PMCID: PMC387873  PMID: 15102805
14.  Autotransporter Genes pic and tsh Are Associated with Escherichia coli Strains That Cause Acute Pyelonephritis and Are Expressed during Urinary Tract Infection  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(1):593-597.
We have identified two chromosomal open reading frames in uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) strain CFT073 which are highly homologous to serine protease autotransporters Pic and Tsh. Both cloned determinants were correlated with the presence of 105- to 110-kDa proteins in the culture supernatants. Furthermore, in cellular fractionation experiments, 30-kDa polypeptides were identified in the outer membrane; we speculated that these proteins are the β-barrel portions of the autotransporter homologues. Furthermore, Pic-containing culture supernatants have serine protease activity. In reverse transcription-PCR analyses, the expression of the pic and tsh genes in E. coli CFT073 was higher in broth cultures grown at 37°C than at 25°C. Moreover, pic and tsh were expressed by bacteria isolated from urine of transurethrally infected mice. The tsh determinant was identified in 63% of our clinical UPEC strain isolates (n = 87) and in 33% of fecal strains (n = 27), whereas pic was present in 31% of the pyelonephritis (n = 67) and 7% of the fecal strains. There was no significant correlation between cystitis strains (n = 20) and the pic determinant.
PMCID: PMC343984  PMID: 14688142
15.  Development of an Intranasal Vaccine To Prevent Urinary Tract Infection by Proteus mirabilis  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(1):66-75.
Proteus mirabilis commonly infects the complicated urinary tract and is associated with urolithiasis. Stone formation is caused by bacterial urease, which hydrolyzes urea to ammonia, causing local pH to rise, and leads to the subsequent precipitation of magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite) and calcium phosphate (apatite) crystals. To prevent these infections, we vaccinated CBA mice with formalin-killed bacteria or purified mannose-resistant, Proteus-like (MR/P) fimbriae, a surface antigen expressed by P. mirabilis during experimental urinary tract infection, via four routes of immunization: subcutaneous, intranasal, transurethral, and oral. We assessed the efficacy of vaccination using the CBA mouse model of ascending urinary tract infection. Subcutaneous or intranasal immunization with formalin-killed bacteria and intranasal or transurethral immunization with purified MR/P fimbriae significantly protected CBA mice from ascending urinary tract infection by P. mirabilis (P < 0.05). To investigate the potential of MrpH, the MR/P fimbrial tip adhesin, as a vaccine, the mature MrpH peptide (residues 23 to 275, excluding the signal peptide), and the N-terminal receptor-binding domain of MrpH (residues 23 to 157) were overexpressed as C-terminal fusions to maltose-binding protein (MBP) and purified on amylose resins. Intranasal immunization of CBA mice with MBP-MrpH (residues 23 to 157) conferred effective protection against urinary tract infection by P. mirabilis (P < 0.002).
PMCID: PMC343968  PMID: 14688082
16.  Visualization of Proteus mirabilis Morphotypes in the Urinary Tract: the Elongated Swarmer Cell Is Rarely Observed in Ascending Urinary Tract Infection  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(6):3607-3613.
Proteus mirabilis, a common cause of nosocomial and catheter-associated urinary tract infection, colonizes the bladder and ascends the ureters to the proximal tubules of the kidneys, leading to the development of acute pyelonephritis. P. mirabilis is capable of swarming, a form of multicellular behavior in which bacteria differentiate from the short rod typical of members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, termed the swimmer cell, into hyperflagellated elongated bacteria capable of rapid and coordinated population migration across surfaces, called the swarmer cell. There has been considerable debate as to which morphotype predominates during urinary tract infection. P. mirabilis(pBAC001), which expresses green fluorescent protein in both swimming and swarming morphotypes, was constructed to quantify the prevalence of each morphotype in ascending urinary tract infection. Transurethral inoculation of P. mirabilis(pBAC001) resulted in ascending urinary tract infection and kidney pathology in mice examined at both 2 and 4 days postinoculation. Using confocal microscopy, we were able to investigate the morphotypes of the bacteria in the urinary tract. Of 5,087 bacteria measured in bladders, ureters, and kidneys, only 7 (0.14%) were identified as swarmers. MR/P fimbria expression, which correlates with the swimmer phenotype, is prevalent on bacteria in the ureters and bladder. We conclude that, by far, the predominant morphotype present in the urinary tract during ascending infection is the short rod-the swimmer cell.
PMCID: PMC155743  PMID: 12761147
17.  UreR, the Transcriptional Activator of the Proteus mirabilis Urease Gene Cluster, Is Required for Urease Activity and Virulence in Experimental Urinary Tract Infections  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(2):1026-1030.
Proteus mirabilis, a cause of complicated urinary tract infection, produces urease, an essential virulence factor for this species. UreR, a member of the AraC/XylS family of transcriptional regulators, positively activates expression of the ure gene cluster in the presence of urea. To specifically evaluate the contribution of UreR to urease activity and virulence in the urinary tract, a ureR mutation was introduced into P. mirabilis HI4320 by homologous recombination. The isogenic ureR::aphA mutant, deficient in UreR production, lacked measurable urease activity. Expression was not detected in the UreR-deficient strain by Western blotting with monoclonal antibodies raised against UreD. Urease activity and UreD expression were restored by complementation of the mutant strain with ureR expressed from a low-copy-number plasmid. Virulence was assessed by transurethral cochallenge of CBA mice with wild-type and mutant strains. The isogenic ureR::aphA mutant of HI4320 was outcompeted in the urine (P = 0.004), bladder (P = 0.016), and kidneys (P ≤ 0.001) 7 days after inoculation. Thus, UreR is required for basal urease activity in the absence of urea, for induction of urease by urea, and for virulence of P. mirabilis in the urinary tract.
PMCID: PMC145398  PMID: 12540589
18.  Assessment of Virulence of Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Type 1 Fimbrial Mutants in Which the Invertible Element Is Phase-Locked On or Off  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(7):3344-3354.
Type 1 fimbria is a proven virulence factor of uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), causing urinary tract infections. Expression of the fimbria is regulated at the transcriptional level by a promoter situated on an invertible element, which can exist in one of two different orientations. The orientation of the invertible element that allows the expression of type 1 fimbriae is defined as “on,” and the opposite orientation, in which no transcription occurs, is defined as “off.” During the course of a urinary tract infection, we have observed that the infecting E. coli population alternates between fimbriated and nonfimbriated states, with the fimbriated on orientation peaking at 24 h. We propose that the ability of the invertible element to switch orientations during infection is itself a virulence trait. To test this hypothesis, nucleotide sequence changes were introduced in the left inverted repeat of the invertible element of UPEC pyelonephritis strain CFT073 that locked the invertible elements permanently in either the on or the off orientation. The virulence of these mutants was assessed in the CBA mouse model of ascending urinary tract infection at 4, 24, 48, and 72 h postinoculation (hpi). We conducted independent challenges, in which bladders of mice were inoculated with either a single mutant or the wild type, and cochallenges, in which a mutant and the wild type were inoculated together to allow direct competition in the urinary tract. In both sets of experimental infections, the locked-off mutant was recovered from the urine, bladder, and kidneys in significantly lower numbers than the wild type at 24 hpi (P ≤ 0.05), demonstrating its attenuation. Conversely, the locked-on mutant was recovered in higher numbers than the wild type at 24 hpi (P ≤ 0.05), showing enhanced virulence of this mutant. No significant differences were seen between the mutants and wild type in the urine or the bladder at 48 or 72 hpi. However, the wild type outcompeted the locked-off mutant in the kidneys during the cochallenge experiment at 72 hpi (P = 0.009). Overall, these data suggest that the ability of the invertible element controlling type 1 fimbria expression to phase vary contributes significantly to virulence early (24 hpi) in the course of a urinary tract infection by UPEC and most profoundly influences colonization of the bladder.
PMCID: PMC128061  PMID: 12065472
19.  Visualization of Proteus mirabilis within the Matrix of Urease-Induced Bladder Stones during Experimental Urinary Tract Infection  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(1):389-394.
The virulence of a urease-negative mutant of uropathogenic Proteus mirabilis and its wild-type parent strain was assessed by using a CBA mouse model of catheterized urinary tract infection. Overall, catheterized mice were significantly more susceptible than uncatheterized mice to infection by wild-type P. mirabilis. At a high inoculum, the urease-negative mutant successfully colonized bladders of catheterized mice but did not cause urolithiasis and was still severely attenuated in its ability to ascend to kidneys. Using confocal laser scanning microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, we demonstrated the presence of P. mirabilis within the urease-induced stone matrix. Alizarin red S staining was used to detect calcium-containing deposits in bladder and kidney tissues of P. mirabilis-infected mice.
PMCID: PMC127628  PMID: 11748205
20.  Role of Enterococcus faecalis Surface Protein Esp in the Pathogenesis of Ascending Urinary Tract Infection 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(7):4366-4372.
Enterococcus faecalis bacteria isolated from patients with bacteremia, endocarditis, and urinary tract infections more frequently express the surface protein Esp than do fecal isolates. To assess the role of Esp in colonization and persistence of E. faecalis in an animal model of ascending urinary tract infection, we compared an Esp+ strain of E. faecalis to its isogenic Esp-deficient mutant. Groups of CBA/J mice were challenged transurethrally with 108 CFU of either the parent or mutant strain, and bacteria in the urine, bladder, and kidneys were enumerated 5 days postinfection. Significantly higher numbers of bacteria were recovered from the bladder and urine of mice challenged with the parent strain than from the bladder and urine of mice challenged with the mutant. Colonization of the kidney, however, was not significantly different between the parent and mutant strains. Histopathological evaluations of kidney and bladder tissue done at 5 days postinfection did not show marked histopathological changes consistent with inflammation, mucosal hyperplasia, or apoptosis, and there was no observable difference between the mice challenged with the parent and those challenged with the mutant. We conclude that, while Esp does not influence histopathological changes associated with acute urinary tract infections, it contributes to colonization and persistence of E. faecalis at this site.
PMCID: PMC98508  PMID: 11401975
21.  In Vivo Dynamics of Type 1 Fimbria Regulation in Uropathogenic Escherichia coli during Experimental Urinary Tract Infection 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(5):2838-2846.
Escherichia coli is the primary cause of uncomplicated infections of the urinary tract including cystitis. More serious infections, characterized as acute pyelonephritis, can also develop. Type 1 fimbriae of E. coli contribute to virulence in the urinary tract; however, only recently has the expression of the type 1 fimbriae been investigated in vivo using molecular techniques. Transcription of type 1 fimbrial genes is controlled by a promoter that resides on a 314-bp invertible element capable of two orientations. One places the promoter in the ON orientation, allowing for transcription; the other places the promoter in the OFF orientation, preventing transcription. A PCR-based assay was developed to measure the orientation of the invertible element during an experimental urinary tract infection in mice. Using this assay, it was found that the percentage of the population ON in urine samples correlated with the respective CFU per gram of bladder (P = 0.0006) but not with CFU per gram of kidney (P > 0.069). Cystitis isolates present in the urine of mice during the course of infection had a higher percentage of their invertible elements in the ON orientation than did pyelonephritis isolates (85 and 34%, respectively, at 24 h; P < 0.0001). In general, cystitis isolates, unlike pyelonephritis isolates, were more likely to maintain their invertible elements in the ON orientation for the entire period of infection. E. coli cells expressing type 1 fimbriae, expelled in urine, were shown by scanning electron microscopy to be densely packed on the surface of uroepithelial cells. These results suggest that expression of type 1 fimbriae is more critical for cystitis strains than for pyelonephritis strains in the early stages of an infection during bladder colonization.
PMCID: PMC98232  PMID: 11292696
22.  Serum Immunoglobulin Response and Protection from Homologous Challenge by Proteus mirabilis in a Mouse Model of Ascending Urinary Tract Infection 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(12):6683-6687.
We tested the hypothesis that experimental Proteus mirabilis urinary tract infection in mice would protect against homologous bladder rechallenge. Despite production of serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgM (median titers of 1:320 and 1:80, respectively), vaccinated (infected and antibiotic-cured) mice did not show a decrease in mortality upon rechallenge; the survivors experienced only modest protection from infection (mean log10 number of CFU of P. mirabilis Nalr HI4320 per milliliter or gram in vaccinated mice versus sham-vaccinated mice: urine, 100-fold less [3.5 versus 5.5; P = 0.13]; bladder, 100-fold less [3.1 versus 5.1; P = 0.066]; kidneys, 40-fold less [2.7 versus 4.3; P = 0.016]). Western blots using protein from the wild-type strain and isogenic mutants demonstrated antibody responses to MR/P and PMF fimbriae and flagella. There was no correlation between serum IgG or IgM levels and protection from mortality or infection. There was a trend toward elevated serum IgA titers and protection from subsequent challenge (P ≥ 0.09), although only a few mice developed significant serum IgA levels. We conclude that prior infection with P. mirabilis does not protect significantly against homologous challenge.
PMCID: PMC97083  PMID: 10569791
23.  Requirement of MrpH for Mannose-Resistant Proteus-Like Fimbria-Mediated Hemagglutination by Proteus mirabilis 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(6):2822-2833.
Two new genes, mrpH and mrpJ, were identified downstream of mrpG in the mrp gene cluster encoding mannose-resistant Proteus-like (MR/P) fimbriae of uropathogenic Proteus mirabilis. Since the predicted MrpH has 30% amino acid sequence identity to PapG, the Galα(1-4)Gal-binding adhesin of Escherichia coli P fimbriae, we hypothesized that mrpH encodes the functional MR/P hemagglutinin. MR/P fimbriae, expressed in E. coli DH5α, conferred on bacteria both the ability to cause mannose-resistant hemagglutination and the ability to aggregate to form pellicles on the broth surface. Both a ΔmrpH mutant expressed in E. coli DH5α and an isogenic mrpH::aphA mutant of P. mirabilis were unable to produce normal MR/P fimbriae efficiently, suggesting that MrpH was involved in fimbrial assembly. Amino acid residue substitution of the N-terminal cysteine residues (C66S and C128S) of MrpH abolished the receptor-binding activity (hemagglutinating ability) of MrpH but allowed normal fimbrial assembly, supporting the notion that MrpH was the functional MR/P hemagglutinin. Immunogold electron microscopy of P. mirabilis HI4320 revealed that MrpH was located at the tip of MR/P fimbriae, also consistent with its role in receptor binding. The isogenic mrpH::aphA mutant of HI4320 was less able to colonize the urine, bladder, and kidneys in a mouse model of ascending urinary tract infection (P < 0.01), and therefore MR/P fimbriae contribute significantly to bacterial colonization in mice. While there are similarities between P. mirabilis MR/P and E. coli P fimbriae, there are more notable differences: (i) synthesis of the MrpH adhesin is required to initiate fimbrial assembly, (ii) MR/P fimbriae confer an aggregation phenotype, (iii) site-directed mutation of specific residues can abolish receptor binding but allows fimbrial assembly, and (iv) mutation of the adhesin gene abolishes virulence in a mouse model of ascending urinary tract infection.
PMCID: PMC96588  PMID: 10338487
24.  Expanded Safety and Immunogenicity of a Bivalent, Oral, Attenuated Cholera Vaccine, CVD 103-HgR Plus CVD 111, in United States Military Personnel Stationed in Panama 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(4):2030-2034.
To provide optimum protection against classical and El Tor biotypes of Vibrio cholerae O1, a single-dose, oral cholera vaccine was developed by combining two live, attenuated vaccine strains, CVD 103-HgR (classical, Inaba) and CVD 111 (El Tor, Ogawa). The vaccines were formulated in a double-chamber sachet; one chamber contained lyophilized bacteria, and the other contained buffer. A total of 170 partially-immune American soldiers stationed in Panama received one of the following five formulations: (a) CVD 103-HgR at 108 CFU plus CVD 111 at 107 CFU, (b) CVD 103-HgR at 108 CFU plus CVD 111 at 106 CFU, (c) CVD 103-HgR alone at 108 CFU, (d) CVD 111 alone at 107 CFU, or (e) inactivated Escherichia coli placebo. Among those who received CVD 111 at the high or low dose either alone or in combination with CVD 103-HgR, 8 of 103 had diarrhea, defined as three or more liquid stools. None of the 32 volunteers who received CVD 103-HgR alone or the 35 placebo recipients had diarrhea. CVD 111 was detected in the stools of 46% of the 103 volunteers who received it. About 65% of all persons who received CVD 103-HgR either alone or in combination had a fourfold rise in Inaba vibriocidal titers. The postvaccination geometric mean titers were comparable among groups, ranging from 450 to 550. Ogawa vibriocidal titers were about twice as high in persons who received CVD 111 as in those who received CVD 103-HgR alone (600 versus 300). The addition of CVD 111 improved the overall seroconversion rate and doubled the serum Ogawa vibriocidal titers, suggesting that the combination of an El Tor and a classical cholera strain is desirable. While CVD 111 was previously found to be well tolerated in semiimmune Peruvians, the adverse effects observed in this study indicate that this strain requires further attenuation before it can be safely used in nonimmune populations.
PMCID: PMC96565  PMID: 10085055
25.  In Vivo Phase Variation of Escherichia coli Type 1 Fimbrial Genes in Women with Urinary Tract Infection 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(7):3303-3310.
Type 1 fimbriae, expressed by most Escherichia coli strains, are thought to attach to human uroepithelium as an initial step in the pathogenesis of urinary tract infections (UTI). Numerous reports using both in vitro and murine models support this role for type 1 fimbriae in colonization. Unfortunately, only a limited number of studies have directly examined the expression of fimbriae in vivo. To determine whether type 1 fimbrial genes are transcribed during an acute UTI, we employed a modification of an established method. The orientation (ON or OFF) of the invertible promoter element, which drives transcription of type 1 fimbrial genes, was determined by PCR amplification using primers that flank the invertible element, followed by SnaBI digestion. The orientation of the type 1 fimbrial switch was determined under three experimental conditions. First, E. coli strains from different clinical sources (acute pyelonephritis patients, cystitis patients, and fecal controls) were tested under different in vitro culture conditions (agar versus broth; aerated versus static). The genes in the more-virulent strains (those causing acute pyelonephritis) demonstrated a resistance, in aerated broth, to switching from OFF to ON, while those in fecal strains readily switched from OFF to ON. Second, bladder and kidney tissue from CBA mice transurethrally inoculated with E. coli CFT073 (an established murine model of ascending UTI) was assayed. The switches directly amplified from infected bladder and kidney tissues were estimated to be 33 and 39% ON, respectively, by using a standard curve. Finally, bacteria present in urine samples collected from women with cystitis were tested for type 1 fimbria switch orientation. For all 11 cases, an average of only 4% of the switches in the bacteria in the urine were ON. In 7 of the 11 cases, we found that all of the visible type 1 fimbrial switches were in the OFF position (upper limit of detection of assay, 98% OFF). Strains recovered from these urine samples, however, were shown after culture in vitro to be capable of switching the fimbrial gene to the ON position and expressing mannose-sensitive hemagglutinin. The results from experimental infections and cases of cystitis in women suggest that type 1 fimbrial genes are transcribed both in the bladder and in the kidney. However, those bacteria found in the urine and not attached to the uroepithelium are not transcriptionally active for type 1 fimbrial genes.
PMCID: PMC108346  PMID: 9632599

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