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1.  An Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 Missense Mutant Colonizes the Streptomycin-Treated Mouse Intestine Better than the Wild Type but Is Not a Better Probiotic 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(2):670-682.
Previously we reported that the streptomycin-treated mouse intestine selected for two different Escherichia coli MG1655 mutants with improved colonizing ability: nonmotile E. coli MG1655 flhDC deletion mutants that grew 15% faster in vitro in mouse cecal mucus and motile E. coli MG1655 envZ missense mutants that grew slower in vitro in mouse cecal mucus yet were able to cocolonize with the faster-growing flhDC mutants. The E. coli MG1655 envZ gene encodes a histidine kinase that is a member of the envZ-ompR two-component signal transduction system, which regulates outer membrane protein profiles. In the present investigation, the envZP41L gene was transferred from the intestinally selected E. coli MG1655 mutant to E. coli Nissle 1917, a human probiotic strain used to treat gastrointestinal infections. Both the E. coli MG1655 and E. coli Nissle 1917 strains containing envZP41L produced more phosphorylated OmpR than their parents. The E. coli Nissle 1917 strain containing envZP41L also became more resistant to bile salts and colicin V and grew 50% slower in vitro in mucus and 15% to 30% slower on several sugars present in mucus, yet it was a 10-fold better colonizer than E. coli Nissle 1917. However, E. coli Nissle 1917 envZP41L was not better at preventing colonization by enterohemorrhagic E. coli EDL933. The data can be explained according to our “restaurant” hypothesis for commensal E. coli strains, i.e., that they colonize the intestine as sessile members of mixed biofilms, obtaining the sugars they need for growth locally, but compete for sugars with invading E. coli pathogens planktonically.
PMCID: PMC3911375  PMID: 24478082
2.  Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli Promotes Transepithelial Migration of Neutrophils Through a Conserved 12-Lipoxygenase Pathway 
Cellular microbiology  2011;14(1):120-132.
Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) induces release of pro-inflammatory markers and disruption of intestinal epithelial barriers in vitro suggesting an inflammatory aspect to EAEC infection. However, the mechanisms underlying EAEC-induced mucosal inflammatory responses and the extent to which these events contribute to pathogenesis is not well characterized. Employing an established in vitro model we demonstrated that EAEC prototype strain 042 induces migration of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) across polarized T84 cell monolayers. This event was mediated through a conserved host cell signaling cascade involving the 12/15-LOX pathway and led to apical secretion of an arachidonic acid-derived lipid PMN chemoattractant, guiding PMNs across the epithelia to the site of infection. Moreover, supporting the hypothesis that inflammatory responses may contribute to EAEC pathogenesis, we found that PMN transepithelial migration promoted enhanced attachment of EAEC 042 to T84 cells. These findings suggest that EAEC-induced PMN infiltration may favor colonization and thus pathogenesis of EAEC.
PMCID: PMC4089036  PMID: 21951973
Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli; host-pathogen interactions; inflammatory responses; neutrophils; 12-lipoxygenase
3.  Structural and Population Characterization of MrkD, the Adhesive Subunit of Type 3 Fimbriae 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(24):5602-5613.
Type 3 fimbriae are adhesive organelles found in enterobacterial pathogens. The fimbriae promote biofilm formation on biotic and abiotic surfaces; however, the exact identity of the receptor for the type 3 fimbriae adhesin, MrkD, remains elusive. We analyzed naturally occurring structural and functional variabilities of the MrkD adhesin from Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli isolates of diverse origins. We identified a total of 33 allelic variants of mrkD among 90 K. pneumoniae isolates and 10 allelic variants among 608 E. coli isolates, encoding 11 and 9 protein variants, respectively. Based on the level of accumulated silent variability between the alleles, mrkD was acquired a relatively long time ago in K. pneumoniae but recently in E. coli. However, unlike K. pneumoniae, mrkD in E. coli is actively evolving under a strong positive selection by accumulation of mutations, often targeting the same positions in the protein. Several naturally occurring MrkD protein variants from E. coli were found to be significantly less adherent when tested in a mannan-binding assay and showed reduced biofilm-forming capacity. Functional examination of the MrkD adhesin in flow chamber experiments determined that it interacts with Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells in a shear-dependent manner, i.e., the binding is catch-bond-like and enhanced under increasing shear conditions. Homology modeling strongly suggested that MrkD has a two-domain structure, comprising a pilin domain anchoring the adhesin to the fimbrial shaft and a lectin domain containing the binding pocket; this is similar to structures found in other catch-bond-forming fimbrial adhesins in enterobacteria.
PMCID: PMC3889607  PMID: 24123820
4.  Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes and Coxiella burnetii Antibodies in Pregnant Women, Denmark 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(6):925-931.
Q fever may be associated with complications, but overall risk is low.
A high risk for obstetric complications has been reported among women infected with Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever, but recent studies have failed to confirm these findings. We reviewed national data collected in Denmark during 2007–2011 and found 19 pregnancies in 12 women during which the mother had a positive or equivocal test for antibodies to C. burnetii (IgM phase I and II titers >64, IgG phase I and II titers >128). Of these 12 women, 4 experienced obstetric complications (miscarriage, preterm delivery, infant small for gestational age, oligohydramnion, fetal growth restriction, or perinatal death); these complications occurred in 9 pregnancies (47% of the 19 total pregnancies identified). Our findings suggest an association between Q fever and adverse pregnancy outcomes, but complications were identified in only 9 pregnancies during the study’s 5-year period, indicating that the overall risk is low.
PMCID: PMC4036770  PMID: 24856281
Q fever; Coxiella burnetii; Denmark; pregnancy; fetus; infant; mother; bacteria; zoonoses; infertility; seropositivity; antibodies; miscarriage
5.  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.
PMCID: PMC3960166  PMID: 24647546
6.  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.
PMCID: PMC3719564  PMID: 23753626
7.  Microbial diversity in fecal samples depends on DNA extraction method: easyMag DNA extraction compared to QIAamp DNA stool mini kit extraction 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:50.
There are challenges, when extracting bacterial DNA from specimens for molecular diagnostics, since fecal samples also contain DNA from human cells and many different substances derived from food, cell residues and medication that can inhibit downstream PCR. The purpose of the study was to evaluate two different DNA extraction methods in order to choose the most efficient method for studying intestinal bacterial diversity using Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE).
In this study, a semi-automatic DNA extraction system (easyMag®, BioMérieux, Marcy I’Etoile, France) and a manual one (QIAamp DNA Stool Mini Kit, Qiagen, Hilden, Germany) were tested on stool samples collected from 3 patients with Inflammatory Bowel disease (IBD) and 5 healthy individuals.
DNA extracts obtained by the QIAamp DNA Stool Mini Kit yield a higher amount of DNA compared to DNA extracts obtained by easyMag® from the same fecal samples. Furthermore, DNA extracts obtained using easyMag® seemed to contain inhibitory compounds, since in order to perform a successful PCR-analysis, the sample should be diluted at least 10 times. DGGE performed on PCR from DNA extracted by QIAamp DNA Stool Mini Kit DNA was very successful.
QIAamp DNA Stool Mini Kit DNA extracts are optimal for DGGE runs and this extraction method yields a higher amount of DNA compared to easyMag®.
PMCID: PMC4015497  PMID: 24447346
Fecal DNA extraction; DNA measurement; Inflammatory bowel disease; Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis; easyMag®; QIAamp DNA stool mini kit; NanoDrop®; Qubit® system
8.  The murine lung microbiome in relation to the intestinal and vaginal bacterial communities 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:303.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3878784  PMID: 24373613
9.  Prevalence and Predictors of Antibiotic Administration during Pregnancy and Birth 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82932.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3858309  PMID: 24340068
10.  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.
PMCID: PMC3716056  PMID: 23554186
11.  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.
PMCID: PMC3820343  PMID: 24043693
12.  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.
PMCID: PMC3639612  PMID: 23357383
13.  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.
PMCID: PMC3491746  PMID: 22723643
14.  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.
PMCID: PMC3553888  PMID: 23175253
15.  Use of Tetravalent Galabiose for Inhibition of Streptococcus Suis Serotype 2 Infection in a Mouse Model 
Biology  2013;2(2):702-718.
Streptococcus suis is an important swine pathogen associated with a variety of infections such as meningitis, arthritis and septicemia. The bacterium is zoonotic and has been found to cause meningitis especially in humans occupationally exposed to infected pigs. Since adhesion is a prerequisite for colonization and subsequent infection, anti-adhesion treatment seems a natural alternative to traditional treatment with antibiotics. In order to optimize the inhibitory potency a multivalency approach was taken in the inhibitor design. A synthetic tetravalent galabiose compound was chosen which had previously shown promising anti-adhesion effects with S. suis in vitro. The aim of this study was to evaluate the in vivo effects of the compound using an infection peritonitis mouse model. As such S. suis serotype 2 infection and treatment were tested in vivo and the effects were compared to the effect of treatment with penicillin.
PMCID: PMC3960886  PMID: 24832804
tetravalent galabiose; Streptococcus suis; adhesion inhibition; mouse model
16.  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.
PMCID: PMC3486220  PMID: 22972830
17.  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.
PMCID: PMC3609739  PMID: 23544153
18.  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 
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.
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).
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3585700  PMID: 23413787
Q fever; Coxiella burnetii; Infection; Human; Pregnancy; Spontaneous abortion; Preterm birth
19.  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.
PMCID: PMC3580757  PMID: 23459213
Staphylococcus aureus; nasal carriage; chronic leg ulcers; cross-contamination; Klebsiella oxytoca.
20.  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.
PMCID: PMC3347456  PMID: 22392928
21.  Living with Cat and Dog Increases Vaginal Colonization with E. coli in Pregnant Women 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46226.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3458003  PMID: 23049986
22.  Novel screening assay for in vivo selection of Klebsiella pneumoniae genes promoting gastrointestinal colonisation 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:201.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3463446  PMID: 22967317
Klebsiella pneumoniae; Genomic library; Mouse model of gastrointestinal colonisation
23.  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.
PMCID: PMC3272937  PMID: 22155767
24.  Serological cross-sectional studies on salmonella incidence in eight European countries: no correlation with incidence of reported cases 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:523.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3490876  PMID: 22799896
Salmonella; Europe; Epidemiology; Serology; Modelling; Surveillance; Human
25.  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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3419637  PMID: 22520965

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