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1.  A Novel Serine Protease Secreted by Medicinal Maggots Enhances Plasminogen Activator-Induced Fibrinolysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92096.
Maggots of the blowfly Lucilia sericata are used for the treatment of chronic wounds. As haemostatic processes play an important role in wound healing, this study focused on the effects of maggot secretions on coagulation and fibrinolysis. The results showed that maggot secretions enhance plasminogen activator-induced formation of plasmin and fibrinolysis in a dose- and time-dependent manner. By contrast, coagulation was not affected by secretions. Biochemical studies indicated that a novel serine protease within secretions, designated Sericase, cleaved plasminogen to several fragments. Recombinant Sericase degraded plasminogen leading amongst others to the formation of the mini-plasminogen like fragment Val454-plasminogen. In addition, the presence of a non-proteolytic cofactor in secretions was discovered, which plays a role in the enhancement of plasminogen activator-induced fibrinolysis by Sericase. We conclude from our in vitro studies that the novel serine protease Sericase, with the aid of a non-proteolytic cofactor, enhances plasminogen activator-induced fibrinolysis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092096
PMCID: PMC3960166  PMID: 24647546
2.  Role of Klebsiella pneumoniae Type 1 and Type 3 Fimbriae in Colonizing Silicone Tubes Implanted into the Bladders of Mice as a Model of Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(8):3009-3017.
Catheter-associated urinary tract infections are biofilm-mediated infections that cause a significant economic and health burden in nosocomial environments. Using a newly developed murine model of this type of infection, we investigated the role of fimbriae in implant-associated urinary tract infections by the Gram-negative bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae, which is a proficient biofilm former and a commonly isolated nosocomial pathogen. Studies have shown that type 1 and type 3 fimbriae are involved in attachment and biofilm formation in vitro, and these fimbrial types are suspected to be important virulence factors during infection. To test this hypothesis, the virulence of fimbrial mutants was assessed in independent challenges in which mouse bladders were inoculated with the wild type or a fimbrial mutant and in coinfection studies in which the wild type and fimbrial mutants were inoculated together to assess the results of a direct competition in the urinary tract. Using these experiments, we were able to show that both fimbrial types serve to enhance colonization and persistence. Additionally, a double mutant had an additive colonization defect under some conditions, indicating that both fimbrial types have unique roles in the attachment and persistence in the bladder and on the implant itself. All of these mutants were outcompeted by the wild type in coinfection experiments. Using these methods, we are able to show that type 1 and type 3 fimbriae are important colonization factors in the murine urinary tract when an implanted silicone tube is present.
doi:10.1128/IAI.00348-13
PMCID: PMC3719564  PMID: 23753626
3.  The murine lung microbiome in relation to the intestinal and vaginal bacterial communities 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:303.
Background
This work provides the first description of the bacterial population of the lung microbiota in mice. The aim of this study was to examine the lung microbiome in mice, the most used animal model for inflammatory lung diseases such as COPD, cystic fibrosis and asthma.
Bacterial communities from broncho-alveolar lavage fluids and lung tissue were compared to samples taken from fecal matter (caecum) and vaginal lavage fluid from female BALB/cJ mice.
Results
Using a customized 16S rRNA sequencing protocol amplifying the V3-V4 region our study shows that the mice have a lung microbiome that cluster separately from mouse intestinal microbiome (caecum). The mouse lung microbiome is dominated by Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Cyanobacteria overlapping the vaginal microbiome. We also show that removal of host tissue or cells from lung fluid during the DNA extraction step has an impact on the resulting bacterial community profile. Sample preparation needs to be considered when choosing an extraction method and interpreting data.
Conclusions
We have consistently amplified bacterial DNA from mouse lungs that is distinct from the intestinal microbiome in these mice. The gut microbiome has been extensively studied for its links to development of disease. Here we suggest that also the lung microbiome could be important in relation to inflammatory lung diseases. Further research is needed to understand the contribution of the lung microbiome and the gut-lung axis to the development of lung diseases such as COPD and asthma.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-303
PMCID: PMC3878784  PMID: 24373613
4.  Prevalence and Predictors of Antibiotic Administration during Pregnancy and Birth 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82932.
Background
Antibiotic treatment during pregnancy and birth is very common. In this study, we describe the estimated prevalence of antibiotic administration during pregnancy and birth in the COPSAC2010 pregnancy cohort, and analyze dependence on social and lifestyle-related factors.
Methods
706 pregnant women from the novel unselected Copenhagen Prospective Study on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC2010) pregnancy cohort participated in this analysis. Detailed information on oral antibiotic prescriptions during pregnancy filled at the pharmacy was obtained and verified longitudinally. Information on intrapartum antibiotics, social, and lifestyle-factors was obtained by personal interviews.
Results
The prevalence of antibiotic use was 37% during pregnancy and 33% intrapartum. Lower maternal age at birth; adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.94, 95% CI, [0.90-0.98], p = 0.003 and maternal smoking; aOR 1.97, 95% CI, [1.07-3.63], p = 0.030 were associated with use of antibiotics for urinary tract infection during pregnancy. Maternal educational level (low vs. high), aOR 2.32, 95% CI, [1.24-4.35], p = 0.011, maternal asthma; aOR 1.99, 95% CI, [1.33-2.98], p < 0.001 and previous childbirth; aOR 1.80, 95% CI, [1.21-2.66], p = 0.004 were associated with use of antibiotics for respiratory tract infection during pregnancy. Lower gestational age; aOR 0.72, 95% CI, [0.61-0.85], p < 0.001, maternal smoking; aOR 2.84, 95% CI, [1.33-6.06], p = 0.007, and nulliparity; aOR 1.79, 95% CI, [1.06-3.02], p = 0.030 were associated with administration of intrapartum antibiotics in women giving birth vaginally.
Conclusion
Antibiotic administration during pregnancy and birth may be influenced by social and lifestyle-factors. Understanding such risk factors may guide preventive strategies in order to avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082932
PMCID: PMC3858309  PMID: 24340068
5.  Prevalence and Characteristics of the Epidemic Multiresistant Escherichia coli ST131 Clonal Group among Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamase-Producing E. coli Isolates in Copenhagen, Denmark 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(6):1779-1785.
We report the characteristics of 115 extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli clinical isolates, from 115 unique Danish patients, over a 1-year study interval (1 October 2008 to 30 September 2009). Forty-four (38%) of the ESBL isolates represented sequence type 131 (ST13)1, from phylogenetic group B2. The remaining 71 isolates were from phylogenetic groups D (27%), A (22%), B1 (10%), and B2 (3%). Serogroup O25 ST131 isolates (n = 42; 95% of ST131) comprised 7 different K antigens, whereas two ST131 isolates were O16:K100:H5. Compared to non-ST131 isolates, ST131 isolates were associated positively with CTX-M-15 and negatively with CTX-M-1 and CTX-M-14. They also were associated positively with 11 virulence genes, including afa and dra (Dr family adhesins), the F10 papA allele (P fimbria variant), fimH (type 1 fimbriae), fyuA (yersiniabactin receptor), iha (adhesin siderophore), iutA (aerobactin receptor), kpsM II (group 2 capsules), malX (pathogenicity island marker), ompT (outer membrane protease), sat (secreted autotransporter toxin), and usp (uropathogenicity-specific protein) and negatively with hra (heat-resistant agglutinin) and iroN (salmochelin receptor). The consensus virulence gene profile (>90% prevalence) of the ST131 isolates included fimH, fyuA, malX, and usp (100% each), ompT and the F10 papA allele (95% each), and kpsM II and iutA (93% each). ST131 isolates were also positively associated with community acquisition, extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC) status, and the O25, K100, and H4 antigens. Thus, among ESBL E. coli isolates in Copenhagen, ST131 was the most prevalent clonal group, was community associated, and exhibited distinctive and comparatively extensive virulence profiles, plus a greater variety of capsular antigens than reported previously.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00346-13
PMCID: PMC3716056  PMID: 23554186
6.  High Levels of Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamases in a Major Teaching Hospital in Ghana: The Need for Regular Monitoring and Evaluation of Antibiotic Resistance 
Infections with bacteria producing extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs) are increasing across Africa. This study reports on ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae as significant causes of infections and antibiotic resistance at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana. Of 300 isolates examined, 49.3% produced ESBLs. The prevalence of ESBLs was significantly high among isolates from neonates (28 of 43, 65.1%; relative risk = 1.62, 95% confidence interval = 1.33–2.13, P = 0.002) and adult patients > 65 years of age (36 of 51, 70.5%; relative risk = 1.89, 95% confidence interval = 1.41–2.40, P = 0.001). A marked increase in minimum inhibitory concentrations of ESBL-positive species was noticed compared with those for the other strains. Using these concentrations, we found that 26 (17%) ESBL producers were resistant to two or more antibiotics (aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones, sulfonamide, and carbapenems) whereas 5 (3.2%) non–ESBL producers were multidrug resistant. Regular ESBL detection and evaluation of antibiotic resistance may help reduce the spread of ESBLs and antibiotic resistance in Ghana.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.12-0642
PMCID: PMC3820343  PMID: 24043693
7.  Role of Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli Virulence Factors in Uropathogenesis 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(4):1164-1171.
A multiresistant clonal Escherichia coli O78:H10 strain qualifying molecularly as enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) was recently shown to be the cause of a community-acquired outbreak of urinary tract infection (UTI) in greater Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1991. This marks the first time EAEC has been associated with an extraintestinal disease outbreak. Importantly, the outbreak isolates were recovered from the urine of patients with symptomatic UTI, strongly implying urovirulence. Here, we sought to determine the uropathogenic properties of the Copenhagen outbreak strain and whether these properties are conferred by the EAEC-specific virulence factors. We demonstrated that through expression of aggregative adherence fimbriae, the principal adhesins of EAEC, the outbreak strain exhibited pronouncedly increased adherence to human bladder epithelial cells compared to prototype uropathogenic strains. Moreover, the strain was able to produce distinct biofilms on abiotic surfaces, including urethral catheters. These findings suggest that EAEC-specific virulence factors increase uropathogenicity and may have played a significant role in the ability of the strain to cause a community-acquired outbreak of UTI. Thus, inclusion of EAEC-specific virulence factors is warranted in future detection and characterization of uropathogenic E. coli.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01376-12
PMCID: PMC3639612  PMID: 23357383
8.  The Fimbriae of Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli Induce Epithelial Inflammation In Vitro and in a Human Intestinal Xenograft Model  
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(5):714-722.
Background.Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) are increasingly recognized as an important agent of inflammatory and often persistent diarrhea. Although previous studies report on the inflammatory aspects of EAEC pathogenesis, the mechanisms by which EAEC trigger these events are not well understood.
Methods.EAEC strains harboring mutations in known EAEC virulence determinants were tested in an in vitro model of transepithelial migration of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) and in human intestinal xenografts in severe-combined immunodeficient (SCID-HU-INT) mice, a novel model for studying EAEC disease in vivo.
Results.Expression of aggregative adherence fimbriae (AAFs), the principal adhesins of EAEC, was required for EAEC-induced PMN transepithelial migration in vitro. Moreover, constructed plasmids encoding AAF gene clusters demonstrated that the AAF adhesins are sufficient for triggering this event in a nonpathogenic E. coli background. Furthermore, with use of the SCID-HU-INT mouse model, severe tissue damage and infiltration of inflammatory cells was observed in the human tissue after EAEC infection. These pathological marks were strongly related to AAF expression, thus clearly confirming our in vitro findings.
Conclusions.The present work establishes EAEC as an important inflammatory pathogen and the AAF adhesins as inducers of potentially detrimental immune responses.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jis417
PMCID: PMC3491746  PMID: 22723643
9.  Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis Analysis of Bordetella pertussis Isolates Circulating in Europe from 1998 to 2009 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(2):422-428.
Between 1998 and 2009, Bordetella pertussis clinical isolates were collected during three periods, i.e., 1998 to 2001 (n = 102), 2004 to 2005 (n = 154), and 2007 to 2009 (n = 140), from nine countries with distinct vaccination programs, i.e., Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis was performed according to standardized recommendations for epidemiological typing of B. pertussis. There were 81 different PFGE profiles, five of which (BpSR3, BpSR5, BpSR10, BpSR11, and BpSR12) were observed in 61% of the 396 isolates and shown to be predominant in almost all countries. The major profile, BpSR11, showed a decreasing trend from 25% to 30% in 1998 to 2005 to 13% in 2007 to 2009, and there were increases in BpSR3 and BpSR10 from 0% and 8% to 21% and 22%, respectively. One difference between these profiles is that BpSR11 contains isolates harboring the fim3-2 allele and BpSR3 and BpSR10 contain isolates harboring the fim3-1 allele. The total proportion of the five predominant profiles increased from 44% in 1998 to 2001 to 63% in 2004 to 2005 to 70% in 2007 to 2009. In conclusion, common PFGE profiles were identified in B. pertussis populations circulating in European countries with different vaccination programs and different vaccine coverages. These prevalent isolates contain the novel pertussis toxin promoter ptxP3 allele. However, there is evidence for diversifying selection between ptxP3 strains characterized by distinct PFGE profiles. This work shows that, even within a relatively short time span of 10 years, successful isolates which spread through Europe and cause large shifts in B. pertussis populations may emerge.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02036-12
PMCID: PMC3553888  PMID: 23175253
10.  Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli O78:H10, the Cause of an Outbreak of Urinary Tract Infection 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(11):3703-3711.
In 1991, multiresistant Escherichia coli O78:H10 strains caused an outbreak of urinary tract infections in Copenhagen, Denmark. The phylogenetic origin, clonal background, and virulence characteristics of the outbreak isolates, and their relationship to nonoutbreak O78:H10 strains according to these traits and resistance profiles, are unknown. Accordingly, we extensively characterized 51 archived E. coli O78:H10 isolates (48 human isolates from seven countries, including 19 Copenhagen outbreak isolates, and 1 each of calf, avian, and unknown-source isolates), collected from 1956 through 2000. E. coli O78:H10 was clonally heterogeneous, comprising one dominant clonal group (61% of isolates, including all 19 outbreak isolates) from ST10 (phylogenetic group A) plus several minor clonal groups (phylogenetic groups A and D). All ST10 isolates, versus 25% of non-ST10 isolates, were identified by molecular methods as enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) (P < 0.001). Genes present in >90% of outbreak isolates included fimH (type 1 fimbriae; ubiquitous in E. coli); fyuA, traT, and iutA (associated with extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli [ExPEC]); and sat, pic, aatA, aggR, aggA, ORF61, aaiC, aap, and ORF3 (associated with EAEC). An outbreak isolate was lethal in a murine subcutaneous sepsis model and exhibited characteristic EAEC “stacked brick” adherence to cultured epithelial cells. Thus, the 1991 Copenhagen outbreak was caused by a tight, non-animal-associated subset within a broadly disseminated O78:H10 clonal group (ST10; phylogenetic group A), members of which exhibit both ExPEC and EAEC characteristics, whereas O78:H10 isolates overall are phylogenetically diverse. Whether ST10 O78:H10 EAEC strains are both uropathogenic and diarrheagenic warrants further investigation.
doi:10.1128/JCM.01909-12
PMCID: PMC3486220  PMID: 22972830
11.  The Alkaloid Compound Harmane Increases the Lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans during Bacterial Infection, by Modulating the Nematode’s Innate Immune Response 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e60519.
The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has in recent years been proven to be a powerful in vivo model for testing antimicrobial compounds. We report here that the alkaloid compound Harmane (2-methyl-β-carboline) increases the lifespan of nematodes infected with a human pathogen, the Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 strain EDL933 and several other bacterial pathogens. This was shown to be unrelated to the weak antibiotic effect of Harmane. Using GFP-expressing E. coli EDL933, we showed that Harmane does not lower the colonization burden in the nematodes. We also found that the expression of the putative immune effector gene F35E12.5 was up-regulated in response to Harmane treatment. This indicates that Harmane stimulates the innate immune response of the nematode; thereby increasing its lifespan during bacterial infection. Expression of F35E12.5 is predominantly regulated through the p38 MAPK pathway; however, intriguingly the lifespan extension resulting from Harmane was higher in p38 MAPK-deficient nematodes. This indicates that Harmane has a complex effect on the innate immune system of C. elegans. Harmane could therefore be a useful tool in the further research into C. elegans immunity. Since the innate immunity of C. elegans has a high degree of evolutionary conservation, drugs such as Harmane could also be possible alternatives to classic antibiotics. The C. elegans model could prove to be useful for selection and development of such drugs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060519
PMCID: PMC3609739  PMID: 23544153
12.  No excess risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes among women with serological markers of previous infection with Coxiella burnetii: evidence from the Danish National Birth Cohort 
Background
Q fever caused by Coxiella burnetii is transmitted to humans by inhalation of aerosols from animal birth products. Q fever in pregnancy is suspected to be a potential cause of fetal and maternal morbidity and fetal mortality but the pathogenesis is poorly understood, and even in Q fever endemic areas, the magnitude of a potential association is not established.
We aimed to examine if presence of antibodies to C. burnetii during pregnancy or seroconversion were associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Methods
The Danish National Birth Cohort collected blood samples and interview data from 100,418 pregnant women (1996–2002). We sampled 397 pregnant women with occupational or domestic exposure to cattle or sheep and a random sample of 459 women with no animal exposure. Outcome measures were spontaneous abortion, preterm birth, birth weight and Small for Gestational Age (SGA).
Blood samples collected in pregnancy were screened for antibodies against C. burnetii by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Samples positive for IgG or IgM antibodies in the ELISA were confirmed by immunofluorescence antibody test (IFA).
Results
Among the 856 women, 169 (19.7%) women were IFA positive; 147 (87%) of these had occupational or domestic contact with livestock (IFA cutoff > =1:128).
Two abortions were IFA positive vs. 6 IFA negative (OR: 1.5; 95%CI: 0.3-7.6). Three preterm births were IFA positive vs. 38 IFA negative (OR: 0.4; 95% CI: 0.1-1.1). There was a significant difference in birth weight of 168 g (95% CI: 70-267 g) with IFA positive being heavier, and the risk of being SGA was not increased in the newborns of IFA positive women (OR: 0.4; 95%CI: 0.8-1.0).
Most seropositive women were IgG positive indicating previous exposure. Seroconversion during pregnancy was found in 10 women; they all delivered live babies at term, but two were SGA.
Conclusion
We found no increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcome in women with verified exposure to C. burnetii.
To our knowledge, this is the first population-based seroepidemiologic study evaluating pregnancy outcome in women with serologically verified exposure to C. burnetii against a comparable reference group of seronegative women.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-87
PMCID: PMC3585700  PMID: 23413787
Q fever; Coxiella burnetii; Infection; Human; Pregnancy; Spontaneous abortion; Preterm birth
13.  Cross-contamination: Comparison of Nasal and Chronic Leg Ulcer Staphylococcus aureus Strains Isolated from the Same Patient 
The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of bacterial cross-contamination between the nasal cavity and leg ulcers. Sixteen patients were included in the study. Staphylococcus aureus was isolated from the leg ulcer of 13 patients and 6 of these patients also harboured S. aureus in the nasal cavity. Klebsiella oxytoca was found in the ulcer and the nasal cavity of one patient. PFGE analysis revealed that patients harbouring S. aureus both in the nasal cavity and the leg ulcer had the same bacterial type at both sites. None of the S. aureus isolates were methicillin resistant.
doi:10.2174/1874285801307010006
PMCID: PMC3580757  PMID: 23459213
Staphylococcus aureus; nasal carriage; chronic leg ulcers; cross-contamination; Klebsiella oxytoca.
14.  The Streptomycin-Treated Mouse Intestine Selects Escherichia coli envZ Missense Mutants That Interact with Dense and Diverse Intestinal Microbiota 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(5):1716-1727.
Previously, we reported that the streptomycin-treated mouse intestine selected nonmotile Escherichia coli MG1655 flhDC deletion mutants of E. coli MG1655 with improved colonizing ability that grow 15% faster in vitro in mouse cecal mucus and 15 to 30% faster on sugars present in mucus (M. P. Leatham et al., Infect. Immun. 73:8039–8049, 2005). Here, we report that the 10 to 20% remaining motile E. coli MG1655 are envZ missense mutants that are also better colonizers of the mouse intestine than E. coli MG1655. One of the flhDC mutants, E. coli MG1655 ΔflhD, and one of the envZ missense mutants, E. coli MG1655 mot-1, were studied further. E. coli MG1655 mot-1 is more resistant to bile salts and colicin V than E. coli MG1655 ΔflhD and grows ca. 15% slower in vitro in mouse cecal mucus and on several sugars present in mucus compared to E. coli MG1655 ΔflhD but grows 30% faster on galactose. Moreover, E. coli MG1655 mot-1 and E. coli MG1655 ΔflhD appear to colonize equally well in one intestinal niche, but E. coli MG1655 mot-1 appears to use galactose to colonize a second, smaller intestinal niche either not colonized or colonized poorly by E. coli MG1655 ΔflhD. Evidence is also presented that E. coli MG1655 is a minority member of mixed bacterial biofilms in the mucus layer of the streptomycin-treated mouse intestine. We offer a hypothesis, which we call the “Restaurant” hypothesis, that explains how nutrient acquisition in different biofilms comprised of different anaerobes can account for our results.
doi:10.1128/IAI.06193-11
PMCID: PMC3347456  PMID: 22392928
15.  Living with Cat and Dog Increases Vaginal Colonization with E. coli in Pregnant Women 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46226.
Background
Furred pets in the household are known reservoirs for pathogenic bacteria, but it is not known if transmission of bacteria between pet and owner leads to significantly increased rate of infections. We studied whether cats and dogs living in the household of pregnant women affect the commensal vaginal flora, and furthermore the need for oral antibiotics and rate of urinary tract infections during pregnancy.
Methods
The novel unselected Copenhagen Prospective Study on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC2010) pregnancy cohort of 709 women participated in this analysis. Detailed information on pet exposure, oral antibiotic prescriptions filled at pharmacy and urinary tract infection during pregnancy was obtained and verified prospectively during clinic visits. Vaginal cultures were obtained at pregnancy week 36.
Results
Women, who had cat or dog in the home during pregnancy, had a different vaginal flora, in particular with increased Escherichia coli (E. coli) colonization; odds ratio after adjustment for lifestyle confounders and antibiotics 2.20, 95% CI, [1.27–3.80], p = 0.005. 43% of women living with cat and/or dog in the home used oral antibiotics compared to 33% of women with no cat or dog; adjusted odds ratio 1.51, 95% CI, [1.08–2.12], p = 0.016. Women living with cat had increased frequency of self-reported urinary tract infection; adjusted odds ratio 1.57, 95% CI, [1.02–2.43], p = 0.042.
Conclusions
The increased vaginal E. coli colonization in women living with cat or dog suggests a clinically important transmission of pathogenic bacteria from pet to owner substantiated by increased rate of antibiotic use and urinary tract infections which, which is of particular concern during pregnancy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046226
PMCID: PMC3458003  PMID: 23049986
16.  Novel screening assay for in vivo selection of Klebsiella pneumoniae genes promoting gastrointestinal colonisation 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:201.
Background
Klebsiella pneumoniae is an important opportunistic pathogen causing pneumonia, sepsis and urinary tract infections. Colonisation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is a key step in the development of infections; yet the specific factors important for K. pneumoniae to colonize and reside in the GI tract of the host are largely unknown. To identify K. pneumoniae genes promoting GI colonisation, a novel genomic-library-based approach was employed.
Results
Screening of a K. pneumoniae C3091 genomic library, expressed in E. coli strain EPI100, in a mouse model of GI colonisation led to the positive selection of five clones containing genes promoting persistent colonisation of the mouse GI tract. These included genes encoding the global response regulator ArcA; GalET of the galactose operon; and a cluster of two putative membrane-associated proteins of unknown function. Both ArcA and GalET are known to be involved in metabolic pathways in Klebsiella but may have additional biological actions beneficial to the pathogen. In support of this, GalET was found to confer decreased bile salt sensitivity to EPI100.
Conclusions
The present work establishes the use of genomic-library-based in vivo screening assays as a valuable tool for identification and characterization of virulence factors in K. pneumoniae and other bacterial pathogens.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-201
PMCID: PMC3463446  PMID: 22967317
Klebsiella pneumoniae; Genomic library; Mouse model of gastrointestinal colonisation
17.  Identification of Immunogenic and Virulence-Associated Campylobacter jejuni Proteins 
With the aim of identifying proteins important for host interaction and virulence, we have screened an expression library of NCTC 11168 Campylobacter jejuni genes for highly immunogenic proteins. A commercial C. jejuni open reading frame (ORF) library consisting of more than 1,600 genes was transformed into the Escherichia coli expression strain BL21(DE3), resulting in 2,304 clones. This library was subsequently screened for immunogenic proteins using antibodies raised in rabbit against a clinical isolate of C. jejuni; this resulted in 52 highly reactive clones representing 25 different genes after sequencing. Selected candidate genes were inactivated in C. jejuni NCTC 11168, and the virulence was examined using INT 407 epithelial cell line and motility, biofilm, autoagglutination, and serum resistance assays. These investigations revealed C. jejuni antigen 0034c (Cj0034c) to be a novel virulence factor and support the usefulness of the method. Further, several antigens were tested as vaccine candidates in two mouse models, in which Cj0034c, Cj0404, and Cj0525c resulted in a reduction of invasion in spleen and liver after challenge.
doi:10.1128/CVI.05161-11
PMCID: PMC3272937  PMID: 22155767
18.  Serological cross-sectional studies on salmonella incidence in eight European countries: no correlation with incidence of reported cases 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:523.
Background
Published incidence rates of human salmonella infections are mostly based on numbers of stool culture-confirmed cases reported to public health surveillance. These cases constitute only a small fraction of all cases occurring in the community. The extent of underascertainment is influenced by health care seeking behaviour and sensitivity of surveillance systems, so that reported incidence rates from different countries are not comparable. We performed serological cross-sectional studies to compare infection risks in eight European countries independent of underascertainment.
Methods
A total of 6,393 sera from adults in Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and The Netherlands were analysed, mostly from existing serum banks collected in the years 2003 to 2008. Immunoglobulin A (IgA), IgM, and IgG against salmonella lipopolysaccharides were measured by in-house mixed ELISA. We converted antibody concentrations to estimates of infection incidence (‘sero-incidence’) using a Bayesian backcalculation model, based on previously studied antibody decay profiles in persons with culture-confirmed salmonella infections. We compared sero-incidence with incidence of cases reported through routine public health surveillance and with published incidence estimates derived from infection risks in Swedish travellers to those countries.
Results
Sero-incidence of salmonella infections ranged from 56 (95% credible interval 8–151) infections per 1,000 person-years in Finland to 547 (343–813) in Poland. Depending on country, sero-incidence was approximately 100 to 2,000 times higher than incidence of culture-confirmed cases reported through routine surveillance, with a trend for an inverse correlation. Sero-incidence was significantly correlated with incidence estimated from infection risks in Swedish travellers.
Conclusions
Sero-incidence estimation is a new method to estimate and compare the incidence of salmonella infections in human populations independent of surveillance artefacts. Our results confirm that comparison of reported incidence between countries can be grossly misleading, even within the European Union. Because sero-incidence includes asymptomatic infections, it is not a direct measure of burden of illness. But, pending further validation of this novel method, it may be a promising and cost-effective way to assess infection risks and to evaluate the effectiveness of salmonella control programmes across countries or over time.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-523
PMCID: PMC3490876  PMID: 22799896
Salmonella; Europe; Epidemiology; Serology; Modelling; Surveillance; Human
19.  Characterization of a novel chaperone/usher fimbrial operon present on KpGI-5, a methionine tRNA gene-associated genomic island in Klebsiella pneumoniae 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:59.
Background
Several strain-specific Klebsiella pneumoniae virulence determinants have been described, though these have almost exclusively been linked with hypervirulent liver abscess-associated strains. Through PCR interrogation of integration hotspots, chromosome walking, island-tagging and fosmid-based marker rescue we captured and sequenced KpGI-5, a novel genomic island integrated into the met56 tRNA gene of K. pneumoniae KR116, a bloodstream isolate from a patient with pneumonia and neutropenic sepsis.
Results
The 14.0 kb KpGI-5 island exhibited a genome-anomalous G + C content, possessed near-perfect 46 bp direct repeats, encoded a γ1-chaperone/usher fimbrial cluster (fim2) and harboured seven other predicted genes of unknown function. Transcriptional analysis demonstrated expression of three fim2 genes, and suggested that the fim2A-fim2K cluster comprised an operon. As fimbrial systems are frequently implicated in pathogenesis, we examined the role of fim2 by analysing KR2107, a streptomycin-resistant derivative of KR116, and three isogenic mutants (Δfim, Δfim2 and ΔfimΔfim2) using biofilm assays, human cell adhesion assays and pair-wise competition-based murine models of intestinal colonization, lung infection and ascending urinary tract infection. Although no statistically significant role for fim2 was demonstrable, liver and kidney CFU counts for lung and urinary tract infection models, respectively, hinted at an ordered gradation of virulence: KR2107 (most virulent), KR2107∆fim2, KR2107∆fim and KR2107∆fim∆fim2 (least virulent). Thus, despite lack of statistical evidence there was a suggestion that fim and fim2 contribute additively to virulence in these murine infection models. However, further studies would be necessary to substantiate this hypothesis.
Conclusion
Although fim2 was present in 13% of Klebsiella spp. strains investigated, no obvious in vitro or in vivo role for the locus was identified, although there were subtle hints of involvement in urovirulence and bacterial dissemination from the respiratory tract. Based on our findings and on parallels with other fimbrial systems, we propose that fim2 has the potential to contribute beneficially to pathogenesis and/or environmental persistence of Klebsiella strains, at least under specific yet-to-be identified conditions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-59
PMCID: PMC3419637  PMID: 22520965
20.  Origins of the E. coli Strain Causing an Outbreak of Hemolytic–Uremic Syndrome in Germany 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;365(8):709-717.
BACKGROUND
A large outbreak of diarrhea and the hemolytic–uremic syndrome caused by an unusual serotype of Shiga-toxin–producing Escherichia coli (O104:H4) began in Germany in May 2011. As of July 22, a large number of cases of diarrhea caused by Shiga-toxin–producing E. coli have been reported — 3167 without the hemolytic–uremic syndrome (16 deaths) and 908 with the hemolytic–uremic syndrome (34 deaths) — indicating that this strain is notably more virulent than most of the Shiga-toxin–producing E. coli strains. Preliminary genetic characterization of the outbreak strain suggested that, unlike most of these strains, it should be classified within the enteroaggregative pathotype of E. coli.
METHODS
We used third-generation, single-molecule, real-time DNA sequencing to determine the complete genome sequence of the German outbreak strain, as well as the genome sequences of seven diarrhea-associated enteroaggregative E. coli serotype O104:H4 strains from Africa and four enteroaggregative E. coli reference strains belonging to other serotypes. Genomewide comparisons were performed with the use of these enteroaggregative E. coli genomes, as well as those of 40 previously sequenced E. coli isolates.
RESULTS
The enteroaggregative E. coli O104:H4 strains are closely related and form a distinct clade among E. coli and enteroaggregative E. coli strains. However, the genome of the German outbreak strain can be distinguished from those of other O104:H4 strains because it contains a prophage encoding Shiga toxin 2 and a distinct set of additional virulence and antibiotic-resistance factors.
CONCLUSIONS
Our findings suggest that horizontal genetic exchange allowed for the emergence of the highly virulent Shiga-toxin–producing enteroaggregative E. coli O104:H4 strain that caused the German outbreak. More broadly, these findings highlight the way in which the plasticity of bacterial genomes facilitates the emergence of new pathogens.
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1106920
PMCID: PMC3168948  PMID: 21793740
21.  Presence of Antibodies Against Coxiella burnetii and Risk of Spontaneous Abortion: A Nested Case-Control Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31909.
Background and Aims
Q fever is a bacterial zoonosis caused by infection with Coxiella burnetii. It is well established that Q fever causes fetal loss in small ruminants. The suspicion has been raised that pregnant women may also experience adverse pregnancy outcome when the infection is acquired or reactivated during pregnancy. The purpose of this study was to assess the potential association between serologic markers of infection with C.burnetii and spontaneous abortion.
Methods
A nested case-control study within the Danish National Birth Cohort, a cohort of 100,418 pregnancies recruited from 1996–2002. Women were recruited in first trimester of pregnancy and followed prospectively. Median gestational age at enrolment was 8 weeks (25 and 75 percentiles: 7 weeks; 10 weeks). During pregnancy, a blood sample was collected at gestational week 6–12 and stored in a bio bank. For this study, a case sample of 218 pregnancies was drawn randomly among the pregnancies in the cohort which ended with a miscarriage before 22 gestational weeks, and a reference group of 482 pregnancies was selected in a random fashion among all pregnancies in the cohort. From these pregnancies, serum samples were screened for antibodies against C. burnetii in a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Samples that proved IgG or IgM antibody positive were subsequently confirmatory tested by an immunofluorescence (IFA) test.
Results
Among cases, 11 (5%) were C. burnetii positive in ELISA of which one was confirmed in the IFA assay compared to 29 (6%) ELISA positive and 3 IFA confirmed in the random sample.
Conclusions
We found no evidence of a higher prevalence of C.burnetii antibodies in serum samples from women who later miscarried and the present study does not indicate a major association between Q fever infection and spontaneous abortion in humans. Very early first trimester abortions were, however, not included in the study.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031909
PMCID: PMC3283715  PMID: 22363769
22.  Genomic Characterization of Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli From Children in Mali 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;205(3):431-444.
Background. Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) is a cause of epidemic and sporadic diarrhea, yet its role as an enteric pathogen is not fully understood.
Methods. We characterized 121 EAEC strains isolated in 2008 as part of a case-control study of moderate to severe acute diarrhea among children 0–59 months of age in Bamako, Mali. We applied multiplex polymerase chain reaction and comparative genome hybridization to identify potential virulence factors among the EAEC strains, coupled with classification and regression tree modeling to reveal combinations of factors most strongly associated with illness.
Results. The gene encoding the autotransporter protease SepA, originally described in Shigella species, was most strongly associated with diarrhea among the EAEC strains tested (odds ratio, 5.6 [95% confidence interval, 1.92–16.17]; P = .0006). In addition, we identified 3 gene combinations correlated with diarrhea: (1) a clonal group positive for sepA and a putative hemolysin; (2) a group harboring the EAST-1 enterotoxin and the flagellar type H33 but no other previously identified EAEC virulence factor; and (3) a group carrying several of the typical EAEC virulence genes.
Conclusion. Our data suggest that only a subset of EAEC strains are pathogenic in Mali and suggest that sepA may serve as a valuable marker for the most virulent isolates.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jir757
PMCID: PMC3256949  PMID: 22184729
23.  Detection of Legionella by quantitative-polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) for monitoring and risk assessment 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:254.
Background
Culture and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays for the detection of Legionella were compared on samples from a residential area before and after two interventions. A total of 84 samples were collected from shower hoses and taps as first flush samples and at constant temperature. Samples were grouped according to the origin of the sample, a) circulation water b) water from empty apartments c) water from shower hoses. The aims were to investigate the usefulness of qPCR compared to culture for monitoring remedial actions for elimination of Legionella bacteria and as a tool for risk assessment.
Results
In water collected from the apartments Legionella spp were detected by qPCR in the concentration range from LOQ to 9.6*105GU/L while L. pneumophila were detected in a range from LOQ to 6.8*105 GU/L. By culturing, the legionellae were detected in the range from below detection limit (> 10 CFU/L) to 1.6*106 CFU/L. In circulating water and in first flush water from shower hoses, culture and qPCR showed the same tendencies. The overall correlation between the bacteria number detected by culture and the two developed qPCR assays (L. spp and L. pneumophila) was relatively poor (r2 = 0.31 for culture and Legionella spp. assay, r2 = 0.20 for culture and L. pneumophila assay).
Conclusion
Detection by qPCR was suitable for monitoring changes in the concentration of Legionella but the precise determination of bacteria is difficult. Risk assessment by qPCR only on samples without any background information regarding treatment, timing, etc is dubious. However, the rapid detection by qPCR of high concentrations of Legionella - especially Legionella pneumophila - is valuable as an indicator of risk, although it may be false positive compared to culture results. On the other hand, the detection of a low number of bacteria by qPCR is a strong indication for the absence of risk.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-254
PMCID: PMC3268758  PMID: 22103438
24.  Skin wound healing in diabetic ß6 integrin deficient mice 
Integrin αvβ6 is a heterodimeric cell surface receptor which is absent from normal epithelium, but expressed in wound-edge keratinocytes during re-epithelialization. However, the function of the αvβ6 integrin in wound repair remains unclear. Impaired wound healing in patients with diabetes constitutes a major clinical problem worldwide and has been associated with accumulation of advanced glycated endproducts (AGEs) in the tissues. AGEs may account for aberrant interactions between integrin receptors and their extracellular matrix ligands such as fibronectin (FN). In this study, we compared healing of experimental excisional skin wounds in wild-type (WT) and β6-knockout (β6-/-) mice with streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes. Results showed that diabetic β6-/- mice had significant delay in early wound closure rate as compared to diabetic WT mice, suggesting that the αvβ6 integrin may serve as a protective role in re-epithelialization of diabetic wounds.
To mimic glycosylated wound matrix, we generated a methylglyoxal (MG)-glycated variant of FN. Keratinocytes utilized αvβ6 and ß1 integrins for spreading on both nonglycated and MG-FN, but their spreading was reduced on MG-FN. These findings indicated that glycation of FN and possibly other integrin ligands could hamper keratinocyte interactions with the provisional matrix proteins during re-epithelialization of diabetic wounds.
doi:10.1111/j.1600-0463.2010.02654.x
PMCID: PMC2964129  PMID: 20854469
Wound healing; integrins; fibronectin (FN); diabetes mellitus; advanced glycated endproducts (AGEs)
25.  Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Associated E. coli with Ciprofloxacin and E. coli Nissle in the Streptomycin-Treated Mouse Intestine 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22823.
Background
E. coli belonging to the phylogenetic group B2 are linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Studies have shown that antimicrobials have some effect in the treatment of IBD, and it has been demonstrated that E. coli Nissle has prophylactic abilities comparable to 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) therapy in ulcerative colitis. The objective of this study was to test if ciprofloxacin and/or E. coli Nissle could eradicate IBD associated E. coli in the streptomycin-treated mouse intestine.
Results
After successful colonization with the IBD associated E. coli strains in mice the introduction of E. coli Nissle did not result in eradication of either IBD associated strains or an E. coli from a healthy control, instead, co-colonization at high levels were obtained. Treatment of mice, precolonized with IBD associated E. coli, with ciprofloxacin for three days alone apparently resulted in effective eradication of tested E. coli. However, treatment of precolonized mice with a combination of ciprofloxacin for 3 days followed by E. coli Nissle surprisingly allowed one IBD associated E. coli to re-colonize the mouse intestine, but at a level 3 logs under E. coli Nissle. A prolonged treatment with ciprofloxacin for 7 days did not change this outcome.
Conclusions
In the mouse model E. coli Nissle can not be used alone to eradicate IBD associated E. coli; rather, 3 days of ciprofloxacin are apparently efficient in eradicating these strains, but surprisingly, after ciprofloxacin treatment (3 or 7 days), the introduction of E. coli Nissle may support re-colonization with IBD associated E. coli.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022823
PMCID: PMC3154256  PMID: 21853049

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