The signal that directs newly synthesized mitochondrial β-barrel proteins from the cytosol to the organelle is poorly defined. The findings of this study demonstrate that, rather than a linear sequence, the structural information in four β-strands is sufficient for the mitochondria to recognize and assemble β-barrel protein.
β-barrel proteins are found in the outer membranes of eukaryotic organelles of endosymbiotic origin as well as in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Precursors of mitochondrial β-barrel proteins are synthesized in the cytosol and have to be targeted to the organelle. Currently, the signal that assures their specific targeting to mitochondria is poorly defined. To characterize the structural features needed for specific mitochondrial targeting and to test whether a full β-barrel structure is required, we expressed in yeast cells the β-barrel domain of the trimeric autotransporter Yersinia adhesin A (YadA). Trimeric autotransporters are found only in prokaryotes, where they are anchored to the outer membrane by a single 12-stranded β-barrel structure to which each monomer is contributing four β-strands. Importantly, we found that YadA is solely localized to the mitochondrial outer membrane, where it exists in a native trimeric conformation. These findings demonstrate that, rather than a linear sequence or a complete β-barrel structure, four β-strands are sufficient for the mitochondria to recognize and assemble a β-barrel protein. Remarkably, the evolutionary origin of mitochondria from bacteria enables them to import and assemble even proteins belonging to a class that is absent in eukaryotes.
Probiotics are viable microorganisms that are increasingly used for treatment of a variety of diseases. Occasionally, however, probiotics may have adverse clinical effects, including septicemia. Here we examined the role of the intestinal microbiota and the adaptive immune system in preventing translocation of probiotics (e.g., Escherichia coli Nissle). We challenged C57BL/6J mice raised under germfree conditions (GF-raised C57BL/6J mice) and Rag1−/− mice raised under germfree conditions (GF-raised Rag1−/− mice) and under specific-pathogen-free conditions (SPF-raised Rag1−/− mice) with probiotic E. coli strain Nissle 1917, strain Nissle 1917 mutants, the commensal strain E. coli mpk, or Bacteroides vulgatus mpk. Additionally, we reconstituted Rag1−/− mice with CD4+ T cells. E. coli translocation and dissemination and the mortality of mice were assessed. In GF-raised Rag1−/− mice, but not in SPF-raised Rag1−/− mice or GF-raised C57BL/6J mice, oral challenge with E. coli strain Nissle 1917, but not oral challenge with E. coli mpk, resulted in translocation and dissemination. The mortality rate was significantly higher for E. coli strain Nissle 1917-challenged GF-raised Rag1−/− mice (100%; P < 0.001) than for E. coli strain Nissle 1917-challenged SPF-raised Rag1−/− mice (0%) and GF-raised C57BL/6J mice (0%). Translocation of and mortality due to strain E. coli Nissle 1917 in GF-raised Rag1−/− mice were prevented when mice were reconstituted with T cells prior to strain E. coli Nissle 1917 challenge, but not when mice were reconstituted with T cells after E. coli strain Nissle 1917 challenge. Cocolonization experiments revealed that E. coli mpk could not prevent translocation of strain E. coli Nissle 1917. Moreover, we demonstrated that neither lipopolysaccharide structure nor flagella play a role in E. coli strain Nissle 1917 translocation and dissemination. Our results suggest that if both the microbiota and adaptive immunity are defective, translocation across the intestinal epithelium and dissemination of the probiotic E. coli strain Nissle 1917 may occur and have potentially severe adverse effects. Future work should define the possibly related molecular factors that promote probiotic functions, fitness, and facultative pathogenicity.
Yersinia enterocolitica (Ye) evades the immune system of the host by injection of Yersinia outer proteins (Yops) via a type three secretion system into host cells. In this study, a reporter system comprising a YopE-β-lactamase hybrid protein and a fluorescent staining sensitive to β-lactamase cleavage was used to track Yop injection in cell culture and in an experimental Ye mouse infection model. Experiments with GD25, GD25-β1A, and HeLa cells demonstrated that β1-integrins and RhoGTPases play a role for Yop injection. As demonstrated by infection of splenocyte suspensions in vitro, injection of Yops appears to occur randomly into all types of leukocytes. In contrast, upon infection of mice, Yop injection was detected in 13% of F4/80+, 11% of CD11c+, 7% of CD49b+, 5% of Gr1+ cells, 2.3% of CD19+, and 2.6% of CD3+ cells. Taking the different abundance of these cell types in the spleen into account, the highest total number of Yop-injected cells represents B cells, particularly CD19+CD21+CD23+ follicular B cells, followed by neutrophils, dendritic cells, and macrophages, suggesting a distinct cellular tropism of Ye. Yop-injected B cells displayed a significantly increased expression of CD69 compared to non-Yop-injected B cells, indicating activation of these cells by Ye. Infection of IFN-γR (receptor)- and TNFRp55-deficient mice resulted in increased numbers of Yop-injected spleen cells for yet unknown reasons. The YopE-β-lactamase hybrid protein reporter system provides new insights into the modulation of host cell and immune responses by Ye Yops.
An important strategy of Yersinia enterocolitica (Ye) to suppress the immune defense is to inject bacterial proteins (Yersinia outer proteins, Yops) after cell contact directly into host cells, which affects their functions. However, tracking of cells in which Yop injection occurred has only been described for Yersinia pestis thus far. We adapted the described reporter system specifically for the use of infections with Ye and report the usefulness and limitations of this system. Using cell culture experiments, we demonstrated that β1-integrins and the RhoGTPases RhoA and Rac1 are involved in Yop injection. Since cell culture experiments also revealed that Yop injection is detectable in a similar manner into all subpopulations of the spleen, the system can be used to detect interaction of bacteria with host cells in vivo. In a mouse infection model we found that follicular B cells, granulocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells are the main targets of Yop injection. Interestingly, Yop-injected B cells displayed an increased activation as indicated by increased CD69 expression. In contrast, interaction of bacteria with T cells seems to be rather a rare event. In immunocompromised gene-targeted mice we found increased frequencies of Yop-injected host cells for yet unknown reasons. Taken together, this novel reporter system represents a powerful tool to further study interaction of host cells with Ye.
Interferon induced tetratricopeptide repeat protein 2 (IFIT-2, P54) belongs to the type I interferon response genes and is highly induced after stimulation with LPS. The biological function of this protein is so far unclear. Previous studies indicated that IFIT-2 binds to the initiation factor subunit eIF-3c, affects translation initiation and inhibits protein synthesis. The aim of the study was to further characterize the function of IFIT-2.
Stimulation of RAW264.7 macrophages with LPS or IFN-γ leads to the expression of IFIT-2 in a type I interferon dependent manner. By using stably transfected RAW264.7 macrophages overexpressing IFIT-2 we found that IFIT-2 inhibits selectively LPS induced expression of TNF-α, IL-6, and MIP-2 but not of IFIT-1 or EGR-1. In IFIT-2 overexpressing cells TNF-α mRNA expression was lower after LPS stimulation due to reduced mRNA stability. Further experiments suggest that characteristics of the 3'UTR of transcripts discriminate whether IFIT-2 has a strong impact on protein expression or not.
Our data suggest that IFIT-2 may affect selectively LPS induced protein expression probably by regulation at different posttranscriptional levels.
Together with animal experiments, organotypical cell cultures are important models for analyzing cellular interactions of the mucosal epithelium and pathogenic mechanisms in the gastrointestinal tract. Here, we introduce a three-dimensional culture model from the adult mouse colon for cell biological investigations in an in vivo-like environment. These explant cultures were cultured for up to 2 weeks and maintained typical characteristics of the intestinal mucosa, including a high-prismatic epithelium with specific epithelial cell-to-cell connections, a basal lamina and various connective tissue cell types, as analyzed with immunohistological and electron microscopic methods. The function of the epithelium was tested by treating the cultures with dexamethasone, which resulted in a strong upregulation of the serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase 1 similar to that found in vivo. The culture system was investigated in infection experiments with the fungal pathogen Candida albicans. Wildtype but not Δcph1/Δefg1-knockout Candida adhered to, penetrated and infiltrated the epithelial barrier. The results demonstrate the potential usefulness of this intestinal in vitro model for studying epithelial cell-cell interactions, cellular signaling and microbiological infections in a three-dimensional cell arrangement.
In vitro model; Intestine; Serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase 1; Dexamethasone; Infection; Candida albicans
Yersinia outer protein (Yop) H is a secreted virulence factor of Yersinia enterocolitica (Ye), which inhibits phagocytosis of Ye and contributes to the virulence of Ye in mice. The aim of this study was to address whether and how YopH affects the innate immune response to Ye in mice.
For this purpose, mice were infected with wild type Ye (pYV+) or a YopH-deficient Ye mutant strain (ΔyopH). CD11b+ cells were isolated from the infected spleen and subjected to gene expression analysis using microarrays. Despite the attenuation of ΔyopH in vivo, by variation of infection doses we were able to achieve conditions that allow comparison of gene expression in pYV+ and ΔyopH infection, using either comparable infection courses or splenic bacterial burden. Gene expression analysis provided evidence that expression levels of several immune response genes, including IFN-γ and IL-6, are high after pYV+ infection but low after sublethal ΔyopH infection. In line with these findings, infection of IFN-γR-/- and IL-6-/- mice with pYV+ or ΔyopH revealed that these cytokines are not necessarily required for control of ΔyopH, but are essential for defense against infection with the more virulent pYV+. Consistently, IFN-γ pretreatment of bone marrow derived macrophages (BMDM) strongly enhanced their ability in killing intracellular Ye bacteria.
In conclusion, this data suggests that IFN-γ-mediated effector mechanisms can partially compensate virulence exerted by YopH. These results shed new light on the protective role of IFN-γ in Ye wild type infections.
IL-2 deficient (IL-2−/−) mice mono-colonized with E. coli mpk develop colitis whereas IL-2−/−-mice mono-colonized with B. vulgatus mpk do not and are even protected from E. coli mpk induced colitis.
We investigated if mono-colonization with E. coli mpk or B. vulgatus mpk differentially modulates distribution, activation and maturation of intestinal lamina propria (LP) dendritic cells (DC). LP DC in mice mono-colonized with protective B. vulgatus mpk or co-colonized with E. coli mpk/B. vulgatus mpk featured a semi-mature LP DC phenotype (CD40loCD80loMHC-IIhi) whereas mono-colonization with colitogenic E. coli mpk induced LP DC activation and maturation prior to onset of colitis. Accordingly, chemokine receptor (CCR) 7 surface expression was more strikingly enhanced in mesenteric lymph node DC from E. coli mpk than B. vulgatus mpk mono- or co-colonized mice. Mature but not semi-mature LP DC promoted Th1 polarization. As B. vulgatus mpk promotes differentiation of semi-mature DC presumably by IL-6, mRNA and protein expression of IL-6 was investigated in LP DC. The data demonstrated that IL-6 mRNA and protein was increased in LP DC of B. vulgatus mpk as compared to E. coli mpk mono-colonized IL-2−/−-mice. The B. vulgatus mpk mediated suppression of CCR7 expression and DC migration was abolished in IL-6−/−-DC in vitro.
From this data we conclude that the B. vulgatus triggered IL-6 secretion by LP DC in absence of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-12 or TNF-α induces a semi-mature LP DC phenotype, which might prevent T-cell activation and thereby the induction of colitis in IL-2−/−-mice. The data provide new evidence that IL-6 might act as an immune regulatory cytokine in the mucosa by targeting intestinal DC.
The Yersinia adhesin A (YadA) is a trimeric autotransporter adhesin of enteric yersiniae. It consists of three major domains: a head mediating adherence to host cells, a stalk involved in serum resistance, and an anchor that forms a membrane pore and is responsible for the autotransport function. The anchor contains a glycine residue, nearly invariant throughout trimeric autotransporter adhesins, that faces the pore lumen. To address the role of this glycine, we replaced it with polar amino acids of increasing side chain size and expressed wild-type and mutant YadA in Escherichia coli. The mutations did not impair the YadA-mediated adhesion to collagen and to host cells or the host cell cytokine production, but they decreased the expression levels and stability of YadA trimers with increasing side chain size. Likewise, autoagglutination and resistance to serum were decreased in these mutants. We found that the periplasmic protease DegP is involved in the degradation of YadA and that in an E. coli degP deletion strain, mutant versions of YadA were expressed almost to wild-type levels. We conclude that the conserved glycine residue affects both the export and the stability of YadA and consequently some of its putative functions in pathogenesis.
An increasing body of evidence suggests that probiotic bacteria are effective in the treatment of enteric infections, although the molecular basis of this activity remains elusive. To identify putative probiotics, we tested commensal bacteria in terms of their toxicity, invasiveness, inhibition of Yersinia-induced inflammation in vitro and in vivo, and modulation of dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis in mice. The commensal bacteria Escherichia coli, Bifidobacterium adolescentis, Bacteroides vulgatus, Bacteroides distasonis, and Streptococcus salivarius were screened for adhesion to, invasion of, and toxicity for host epithelial cells (EC), and the strains were tested for their ability to inhibit Y. enterocolitica-induced NF-κB activation. Additionally, B. adolescentis was administered to mice orally infected with Y. enterocolitica and to mice with mucosae impaired by DSS treatment. None of the commensal bacteria tested was toxic for or invaded the EC. B. adolescentis, B. distasonis, B. vulgatus, and S. salivarius inhibited the Y. enterocolitica-induced NF-κB activation and interleukin-8 production in EC. In line with these findings, B. adolescentis-fed mice had significantly lower results for mean pathogen burden in the visceral organs, intestinal tumor necrosis factor alpha mRNA expression, and loss of body weight upon oral infection with Y. enterocolitica. In addition, the administration of B. adolescentis decelerated inflammation upon DSS treatment in mice. We suggest that our approach might help to identify new probiotics to be used for the treatment of inflammatory and infectious gastrointestinal disorders.
In an initial period (≤4 h) Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling is required for Yersinia enterocolitica YopP-induced dendritic cell (DC) death. Later (>4 h), DC die independent of TLR4 signaling. In TLR4-deficient DC caspase 8 cleavage is delayed, indicating that TLR4 signaling accelerates caspase 8 activation, leading to DC death.
Bartonella quintana causes trench fever, endocarditis, and the vasculoproliferative disorders bacillary angiomatosis and peliosis hepatis in humans. Little is known about the interaction of this pathogen with host cells. We attempted to elucidate the interaction of B. quintana with human macrophages (THP-1) and epithelial cells (HeLa 229). Remarkably, only B. quintana strain JK-31 induced secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) from THP-1 and HeLa 229 cells upon infection similar to the secretion induced by B. henselae Marseille, whereas other strains (B. quintana 2-D70, B. quintana Toulouse, and B. quintana Munich) did not induce such secretion. Immunofluorescence testing and electron microscopy revealed that the B. quintana strains unable to induce VEGF secretion did not express the variable outer membrane proteins (Vomps) on their surfaces. Surprisingly, the increase in VEGF secretion mediated by B. quintana JK-31 was not paralleled by elevated host cell adherence rates compared with the rates for Vomp-negative B. quintana strains. Our results suggest that the Vomps play a leading role in the angiogenic reprogramming of host cells by B. quintana but not in the adherence to host cells.
Invasive fungal infections have emerged as a major cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised patients. Conventional identification of pathogenic fungi in clinical microbiology laboratories is time-consuming and, therefore, often imperfect for the early initiation of an adequate antifungal therapy. We developed a diagnostic microarray for the rapid and simultaneous identification of the 12 most common pathogenic Candida and Aspergillus species. Oligonucleotide probes were designed by exploiting the sequence variations of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of the rRNA gene cassette to identify Candida albicans, Candida dubliniensis, Candida krusei, Candida glabrata, Candida tropicalis, Candida parapsilosis, Candida guilliermondii, Candida lusitaniae, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, and Aspergillus terreus. By using universal fungal primers (ITS1 and ITS4) directed toward conserved regions of the 18S and 28S rRNA genes, respectively, the fungal ITS target regions could be simultaneously amplified and fluorescently labeled. To establish the system, 12 precharacterized fungal strains were analyzed; and the method was validated by using 21 clinical isolates as blinded samples. As the microarray was able to detect and clearly identify the fungal pathogens within 4 h after DNA extraction, this system offers an interesting potential for clinical microbiology laboratories.
Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) using peptide nucleic acid probes (PNAs) allows the identification of Staphylococcus aureus from human blood culture samples. We present data revealing that the combination of PNA FISH and flow cytometry is a possible approach for the noncultural identification of staphylococci in blood cultures.
Bartonella henselae causes vasculoproliferative disorders in humans. We identified a nonfimbrial adhesin of B. henselae designated as Bartonella adhesin A (BadA). BadA is a 340-kD outer membrane protein encoded by the 9.3-kb badA gene. It has a modular structure and contains domains homologous to the Yersinia enterocolitica nonfimbrial adhesin (Yersinia adhesin A). Expression of BadA was restored in a BadA-deficient transposon mutant by complementation in trans. BadA mediates the binding of B. henselae to extracellular matrix proteins and to endothelial cells, possibly via β1 integrins, but prevents phagocytosis. Expression of BadA is crucial for activation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 in host cells by B. henselae and secretion of proangiogenic cytokines (e.g., vascular endothelial growth factor). BadA is immunodominant in B. henselae–infected patients and rodents, indicating that it is expressed during Bartonella infections. Our results suggest that BadA, the largest characterized bacterial protein thus far, is a major pathogenicity factor of B. henselae with a potential role in the induction of vasculoproliferative disorders.
pilus; endothelial cells; HIF-1; VEGF; angiogenesis
Yersinia enterocolitica evades innate immunity by expression of a variety of pathogenicity factors. Therefore, adaptive immunity including CD4+ T cells plays an important role in defense against Y. enterocolitica. We investigated whether Y. enterocolitica might target dendritic cells (DC) involved in adaptive T-cell responses. For this purpose, murine DC were infected with Y. enterocolitica wild-type and mutant strains prior to incubation with ovalbumin (OVA) as antigen and 5-(6)-carboxyfluorescein diacetate N-succinimidyl ester-labeled OVA-specific T cells from DO11.10 mice. While T-cell proliferation was partially affected by infection of DC with plasmid-cured and YopP-deficient Yersinia mutant strains, no T-cell proliferation occurred after infection of DC with wild-type Y. enterocolitica. Infection of DC with Y. enterocolitica wild type resulted in decreased up-regulation of major histocompatibility complex class II, CD54 (intercellular adhesion molecule 1), CD 80, and CD86 expression. Experiments with plasmid-cured Y. enterocolitica or a YopP-deficient mutant strain revealed that YopP accounts for inhibition of surface molecule expression. Wild-type Y. enterocolitica suppressed the release of KC, tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-10 (IL-10), and IL-12 by DC, while infection of DC with plasmid-cured Y. enterocolitica or with the YopP-deficient mutant resulted in the production of these cytokines. Moreover, infection with wild-type Y. enterocolitica induced apoptosis in DC mediated by YopP. Apoptosis occurred despite translocation of NF-κB to the nucleus, as demonstrated by electromobility shift assays. Together, these data demonstrate that Y. enterocolitica targets functions of murine DC that are required for T-cell activation. This might contribute to evasion of adaptive immune responses by Y. enterocolitica.
The major invasive factor of Yersinia enterocolitica, the invasin (Inv) protein, induces proinflammatory host cell responses, including interleukin-8 (IL-8) secretion from human epithelial cells, by engagement of β1 integrins. The Inv-triggered β1 integrin signaling involves the small GTPase Rac; the activation of MAP kinases, such as p38, MEK1, and JNK; and the activation of the transcription factor NF-κB. In the present study, we demonstrate that Y. enterocolitica YadA, which is a major adhesin of Y. enterocolitica with pleiotropic virulence effects, induces IL-8 secretion in epithelial cells. The abilites of YadA and Inv to promote adhesion to and invasion of HeLa cells and to induce IL-8 production by the cells were investigated by expression of YadA and Inv in Escherichia coli. While YadA mediates efficacious adhesion to HeLa cells, it mediates marginal invasion compared with Inv. Both YadA and Inv trigger comparable levels of IL-8 production. Conformational changes of the YadA head domain by mutation of NSVAIG-S motifs, which abolish collagen binding, also abolish adhesion of Yersinia to HeLa cells and YadA-mediated IL-8 secretion. Furthermore, experiments in which blocking antibodies against β1 integrins were used demonstrate that β1 integrins are crucial for YadA-mediated IL-8 secretion. Inhibitor studies demonstrate the involvement of small GTPases and MAP kinases, such as p38, MEK1, and JNK, indicating that β1 integrin-dependent signaling mediated by Inv or YadA involves similar signaling pathways. These data present YadA, in addition to Inv, YopB, and Yersinia lipopolysaccharide, as a further inducer of proinflammatory molecules by which Y. enterocolitica might promote inflammatory tissue reactions.
Group B streptococci (GBS) are the most frequent pathogens in neonates with sepsis. A rapid screening method is required to identify carriage of GBS in pregnant women at the time of delivery. In order to detect GBS in vaginal specimens, the efficiency of the standard culture versus fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) was investigated. In 258 examined vaginal specimens, FISH identified 58 of the 59 GBS-positive samples (98.3%), whereas by means of standard culture only 38 specimens were positive (64.4%). We recommend FISH as a rapid, specific, highly sensitive screening technique for the detection of GBS in pregnant women at delivery.
Yersinia enterocolitica mutant strains, including mutants deficient in the chaperone SycH resulting in a functional deficiency in tyrosine phosphatase (YopH), Mn-cofactored superoxide dismutase (SodA), iron-repressive protein 1 (IRP-1), and Yersinia adhesin A (YadA), were demonstrated to be highly attenuated in wild-type C57BL/6 mice. TNFRp55−/−, IL-12p40−/−, and IL-18−/− mutant mice, in which the Yersinia wild-type strain causes severe systemic infections, were used to investigate whether these Yersinia mutant strains would be attenuated in immunodeficient hosts. A plasmid-cured Yersinia mutant strain was unable to colonize any of the mutant mice tested. A SycH-deficient mutant strain colonized intestinal tissues of these mice but was attenuated for systemic infection in all of the mutant mice. Both YadA- and Irp-1-deficient Yersinia mutants were still attenuated in IL-12−/− and IL-18−/− mice but were pathogenic in TNFRp55−/− mice. By contrast, a Yersinia sodA mutant was highly pathogenic for TNFRp55−/− and IL-12p40−/− mice while interleukin-18 (IL-18) was dispensable. This finding demonstrates that certain virulence factors enable yersiniae to compete with distinct cytokine-dependent host defense mechanisms. Moreover, while gamma interferon mRNA expression did not reflect protective host responses in cytokine-deficient mice, IL-10 expression coincided with a heavy splenic bacterial load and was associated with progressive infection courses. We can thus segregate minor (SodA), intermediate (YadA and IRP-1), and major (YopH) virulence factors of Y. enterocolitica. Finally, we demonstrate that, even in immunocompromised hosts, Yersinia sycH and, with some restrictions, irp-1 mutants may be suitable for use as live carrier vaccines.
To optimize antigen delivery by Salmonella vaccine strains, a system for surface display of antigenic determinants was established by using the autotransporter secretion pathway of gram-negative bacteria. A modular system for surface display allowed effective targeting of heterologous antigens or fragments thereof to the bacterial surface by the autotransporter domain of AIDA-I, the Escherichia coli adhesin involved in diffuse adherence. A major histocompatibility complex class II-restricted epitope, comprising amino acids 74 to 86 of the Yersinia enterocolitica heat shock protein Hsp60 (Hsp6074-86), was fused to the AIDA-I autotransporter domain, and the resulting fusion protein was expressed at high levels on the cell surface of E. coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Colonization studies in mice vaccinated with Salmonella strains expressing AIDA-I fusion proteins demonstrated high genetic stability of the generated vaccine strain in vivo. Furthermore, a pronounced T-cell response against Yersinia Hsp6074-86 was induced in mice vaccinated with a Salmonella vaccine strain expressing the Hsp6074-86-AIDA-I fusion protein. This was shown by monitoring Yersinia Hsp60-stimulated IFN-γ secretion and proliferation of splenic T cells isolated from vaccinated mice. These results demonstrate that the surface display of antigenic determinants by the autotransporter pathway deserves special attention regarding the application in live attenuated Salmonella vaccine strains.
In this study, we have investigated 201 gastric biopsy specimens obtained from dyspeptic patients for the presence of Helicobacter pylori. By means of fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) with rRNA-targeted fluorescence-labeled oligonucleotide probes specific for H. pylori, this pathogen was detected in 63 biopsy specimens. By using conventional culturing, H. pylori was isolated from 49 of these 63 gastric biopsy specimens. In contrast, FISH failed to identify H. pylori in four samples from which the pathogen was cultured. The lowest sensitivity was obtained by using the urease test. H. pylori was detected indirectly by this method in 43 of 67 biopsy specimens, which were positive for the pathogen as determined by FISH and/or culturing. All 49 H. pylori isolates that were detected by FISH and culturing underwent antimicrobial susceptibility testing for clarithromycin, a macrolide drug that is a key component in the therapy of peptic ulcer disease caused by this pathogen. Clarithromycin susceptibility testing of cultured isolates was carried out by the E-test, whereas FISH was used on biopsy specimens to detect clarithromycin-resistant mutant strains. No discrepancies were found between these two methods. Thirty-seven strains were clarithromycin sensitive, and eight H. pylori isolates were resistant to the macrolide. From another four biopsy specimens, a mixture of clarithromycin-sensitive and -resistant strains was identified by both methods. Thus, FISH is a reliable technique for determining the clarithromycin susceptibility of this pathogen. Taken together, FISH is a more sensitive and rapid technique than culturing for detection of H. pylori in gastric biopsy specimens. However, in the microbiology routine diagnostic laboratory, the combination of both FISH and conventional culturing significantly increases the sensitivity in detection of H. pylori.
The iron chelator desferrioxamine (DFO) B is widely used in the therapy of patients with iron overload. As a side effect, DFO may favor the occurrence of fulminant Yersinia infections. Previous work from our laboratory showed that this might be due to a dual role of DFO: growth promotion of the pathogen and immunosuppression of the host. In this study, we sought to determine whether conjugation of DFO to hydroxyethyl starch (HES-DFO) may prevent exacerbation of Yersinia infection in mice. We found HES-DFO to promote neither growth of Yersinia enterocolitica nor mitogen-induced T-cell proliferation and gamma interferon production by T cells in vitro. Nevertheless, in vivo HES-DFO promoted growth of Y. enterocolitica possibly due to cleavage of HES and release of DFO. The pretreatment of mice with DFO resulted in death of all mice 2 to 5 days after application of a normally sublethal inoculum of Y. enterocolitica, while none of the mice pretreated with HES-DFO died within the first 7 days postinfection. However, some of the HES-DFO-treated mice died 8 to 14 days postinfection. Thus, due to the delayed in vivo effect HES-DFO failed to trigger Yersinia-induced septic shock, which accounts for early mortality in DFO-associated septicemia. Moreover, our data suggest that DFO needs to be taken up by host cells in order to exert its immunosuppressive action. These results strongly suggest that HES-DFO might be a favorable drug with fewer side effects than DFO in terms of DFO-promoted fulminant infections.
Yersinia enterocolitica infection of epithelial cells results in interleukin-8 (IL-8) mRNA expression. Herein we demonstrate that besides IL-8, increased mRNA levels of five other cytokines, IL-1α, IL-1β, monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), can be detected upon infection of HeLa cells with Yersinia. Yersinia-triggered cytokine production was not affected by blocking phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate kinase with wortmannin, which inhibited bacterial invasion. Comparable cytokine mRNA responses were triggered by Escherichia coli expressing Yersinia inv, while no response was triggered by an inv-deficient Yersinia mutant. Moreover, cytokine responses were independent from metabolic activity of the bacteria, as killed bacterial cells were sufficient for triggering cytokine responses in HeLa cells. Semiquantitative reverse transcription-PCR analysis was used to assess the kinetics of cytokine mRNA expression in infected HeLa cells. IL-8, IL-1α, IL-1β, MCP-1, GM-CSF, and TNF-α mRNA expression increased within 1 h postinfection, reached a maximum after 3 to 4 h, and then declined to preinfection levels within 3 h. IL-8, MCP-1, and GM-CSF were secreted by HeLa cells, whereas IL-1α and IL-1β were not secreted and thus were found exclusively intracellularly. TNF-α protein could not be detected in cell lysates or supernatants. Stimulation of HeLa cells with IL-1α was followed by increased IL-8 mRNA expression, whereas stimulation with IL-8 did not induce cytokine production. Likewise, MCP-1 and GM-CSF did not induce significant cytokine responses in HeLa cells. Our results implicate that the initial host response to Yersinia infection might be sustained by IL-8, MCP-1, and GM-CSF produced by epithelial cells.
Interferon consensus sequence binding protein (ICSBP)-deficient mice display enhanced susceptibility to intracellular pathogens. At least two distinct immunoregulatory defects are responsible for this phenotype. First, diminished production of reactive oxygen intermediates in macrophages results in impaired intracellular killing of microorganisms. Second, defective early interleukin-12 (IL-12) production upon microbial challenge leads to a failure in gamma interferon (IFN-γ) induction and subsequently in T helper 1 immune responses. Here, we investigated the role of ICSBP in resistance against the extracellular bacterium Yersinia enterocolitica. ICSBP−/− mice failed to produce IL-12 and IFN-γ, but also IL-4, after Yersinia challenge. In addition, granuloma formation was highly disturbed in infected ICSBP−/− mice, leading to multiple necrotic abscesses in affected organs. Consequently, ICSBP−/− mice rapidly succumbed to acute Yersinia infection. In vitro treatment of spleen cells from ICSBP−/− mice with recombinant IL-12 (rIL-12) or rIL-18 in combination with a second stimulus resulted in IFN-γ induction. In experimental therapy of infected ICSBP−/− mice, we observed that administration of rIL-12 induced IFN-γ production which was associated with improved resistance to Yersinia. In contrast, treatment with rIL-18 failed to enhance endogenous IFN-γ production but nevertheless reduced bacterial burden in ICSBP−/− mice. Although cytokine therapy with rIL-12 or rIL-18 ameliorated the course of Yersinia infection in ICSBP−/− mice, both cytokines failed to completely restore impaired immunity. Taken together, the results indicate that the transcription factor ICSBP is essential for efficient host immune defense against Yersinia. These results are important for understanding the complex host immune responses in bacterial infections.
Using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) with rRNA-targeted fluorescently labelled oligonucleotide probes, pathogens were rapidly detected and identified in positive blood culture bottles without cultivation and biotyping. In this study, 115 blood cultures with a positive growth index as determined by a continuous-reading automated blood culture system were examined by both conventional laboratory methods and FISH. For this purpose, oligonucleotide probes that allowed identification of approximately 95% of those pathogens typically associated with bacteremia were produced. The sensitivity and specificity of these probes were 100%. From all 115 blood cultures, microorganisms were grown after 1 day and identification to the family, genus, or species level was achieved after 1 to 3 days while 111 samples (96.5%) were similarly identified by FISH within 2.5 h. Staphylococci were identified in 62 of 62 samples, streptococci and enterococci were identified in 19 of 20 samples, gram-negative rods were identified in 28 of 30 samples, and fungi were identified in two of two samples. Thus, FISH is an appropriate method for identification of pathogens grown in blood cultures from septicemic patients.