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1.  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
2.  Diverse modulation of spa transcription by cell wall active antibiotics in Staphylococcus aureus 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:457.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of various classes of clinically relevant antibiotics at sub-lethal concentrations on virulence gene expression and biofilm formation in Staphylococcus aureus.
LacZ promoter fusions of genes related to staphylococcal virulence were used to monitor the effects of antibiotics on gene expression in a disc diffusion assay. The selected genes were hla and spa encoding α-hemolysin and Protein A, respectively and RNAIII, the effector molecule of the agr quorum sensing system. The results were confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR. Additionally, we monitored the effect of subinhibitory concentrations of antibiotics on the ability of S. aureus to form biofilm in a microtiter plate assay. The results show that sub-lethal antibiotic concentrations diversely modulate expression of RNAIII, hla and spa. Consistently, expression of all three genes were repressed by aminoglycosides and induced by fluoroquinolones and penicillins. In contrast, the β-lactam sub-group cephalosporins enhanced expression of RNAIII and hla but diversely affected expression of spa. The compounds cefalotin, cefamandole, cefoxitin, ceftazidime and cefixine were found to up-regulate spa, while down-regulation was observed for cefuroxime, cefotaxime and cefepime. Interestingly, biofilm assays demonstrated that the spa-inducing cefalotin resulted in less biofilm formation compared to the spa-repressing cefotaxime.
We find that independently of the cephalosporin generation, cephalosporins oppositely regulate spa expression and biofilm formation. Repression of spa expression correlates with the presence of a distinct methyloxime group while induction correlates with an acidic substituted oxime group. As cephalosporines target the cell wall penicillin binding proteins we speculate that subtle differences in this interaction fine-tunes spa expression independently of agr.
PMCID: PMC3504574  PMID: 22920188
Staphylococcus aureus; Subinhibitory concentrations; Antibiotics; Virulence; Protein A (spa); Biofilm formation
3.  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

Results 1-3 (3)