Type III secretion is a tightly controlled virulence mechanism utilized by many gram negative bacteria to colonize their eukaryotic hosts. To infect their host, human pathogenic Yersinia spp. translocate protein toxins into the host cell cytosol through a preassembled Ysc-Yop type III secretion device. Several of the Ysc-Yop components are known for their roles in controlling substrate secretion and translocation. Particularly important in this role is the YopN and TyeA heterodimer. In this study, we confirm that Y. pseudotuberculosis naturally produce a 42 kDa YopN-TyeA hybrid protein as a result of a +1 frame shift near the 3 prime of yopN mRNA, as has been previously reported for the closely related Y. pestis. To assess the biological role of this YopN-TyeA hybrid in T3SS by Y. pseudotuberculosis, we used in cis site-directed mutagenesis to engineer bacteria to either produce predominately the YopN-TyeA hybrid by introducing +1 frame shifts to yopN after codon 278 or 287, or to produce only singular YopN and TyeA polypeptides by introducing yopN sequence from Y. enterocolitica, which is known not to produce the hybrid. Significantly, the engineered 42 kDa YopN-TyeA fusions were abundantly produced, stable, and were efficiently secreted by bacteria in vitro. Moreover, these bacteria could all maintain functionally competent needle structures and controlled Yops secretion in vitro. In the presence of host cells however, bacteria producing the most genetically altered hybrids (+1 frameshift after 278 codon) had diminished control of polarized Yop translocation. This corresponded to significant attenuation in competitive survival assays in orally infected mice, although not at all to the same extent as Yersinia lacking both YopN and TyeA proteins. Based on these studies with engineered polypeptides, most likely a naturally occurring YopN-TyeA hybrid protein has the potential to influence T3S control and activity when produced during Yersinia-host cell contact.
To date, the role of transcription factors (TFs) in the progression of disease for many pathogens is yet to be studied in detail. This is probably due to transient, and generally low expression levels of TFs, which are the central components controlling the expression of many genes during the course of infection. However, a small change in the expression or specificity of a TF can radically alter gene expression. In this study, we combined a number of quality-based selection strategies including structural prediction of modulated genes, gene ontology and network analysis, to predict the regulatory mechanisms underlying pathogenesis of Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus). We have identified two TFs (SP_0676 and SP_0927 [SmrC]) that might control tissue-specific gene expression during pneumococcal translocation from the nasopharynx to lungs, to blood and then to brain of mice. Targeted mutagenesis and mouse models of infection confirmed the role of SP_0927 in pathogenesis and virulence, and suggests that SP_0676 might be essential to pneumococcal viability. These findings provide fundamental new insights into virulence gene expression and regulation during pathogenesis.
Streptococcussuis is an important zoonotic agent causing severe diseases in pigs and humans. To date, 33 serotypes of S. suis have been identified based on antigenic differences in the capsular polysaccharide. The capsular polysaccharide synthesis (cps) locus encodes proteins/enzymes that are responsible for capsular production and variation in the capsule structures are the basis of S. suis serotyping. Multiplex and/or simplex PCR assays have been developed for 15 serotypes based on serotype-specific genes in the cps gene cluster. In this study, we developed a set of multiplex PCR (mPCR) assays to identify the 33 currently known S. suis serotypes. To identify serotype-specific genes for mPCR, the entire genomes of reference strains for the 33 serotypes were sequenced using whole genome high-throughput sequencing, and the cps gene clusters from these strains were identified and compared. We developed a set of 4 mPCR assays based on the polysaccharide polymerase gene wzy, one of the serotype-specific genes. The assays can identify all serotypes except for two pairs of serotypes: 1 and 14, and 2 and 1/2, which have no serotype-specific genes between them. The first assay identifies 12 serotypes (serotypes 1 to 10, 1/2, and 14) that are the most frequently isolated from diseased pigs and patients; the second identifies 10 serotypes (serotypes 11 to 21 except 14); the third identifies the remaining 11 serotypes (serotypes 22 to 31, and 33); and the fourth identifies a new cps cluster of S. suis discovered in this study in 16 isolates that agglutinated with antisera for serotypes 29 and 21. The multiplex PCR assays developed in this study provide a rapid and specific method for molecular serotyping of S. suis.
Campylobacter species.are phenotypically diverse in many aspects including host habitats and pathogenicities, which demands comprehensive characterization of the entire Campylobacter genus to study their underlying genetic diversification. Up to now, 34 Campylobacter strains have been sequenced and published in public databases, providing good opportunity to systemically analyze their genomic diversities. In this study, we first conducted genomic characterization, which includes genome-wide alignments, pan-genome analysis, and phylogenetic identification, to depict the genetic diversity of Campylobacter genus. Afterward, we improved the tetranucleotide usage pattern-based naïve Bayesian classifier to identify the abnormal composition fragments (ACFs, fragments with significantly different tetranucleotide frequency profiles from its genomic tetranucleotide frequency profiles) including horizontal gene transfers (HGTs) to explore the mechanisms for the genetic diversity of this organism. Finally, we analyzed the HGTs transferred via bacteriophage transductions. To our knowledge, this study is the first to use single nucleotide polymorphism information to construct liable microevolution phylogeny of 21 Campylobacter jejuni strains. Combined with the phylogeny of all the collected Campylobacter species based on genome-wide core gene information, comprehensive phylogenetic inference of all 34 Campylobacter organisms was determined. It was found that C. jejuni harbors a high fraction of ACFs possibly through intraspecies recombination, whereas other Campylobacter members possess numerous ACFs possibly via intragenus recombination. Furthermore, some Campylobacter strains have undergone significant ancient viral integration during their evolution process. The improved method is a powerful tool for bacterial genomic analysis. Moreover, the findings would provide useful information for future research on Campylobacter genus.
Shigella flexneri is the major cause of bacterial shigellosis in developing countries. S. flexneri is divided into at least 19 serotypes, the majority of which are modifications of the same basic O-antigen by glucosylation and/or O-acetylation of its sugar residues by phage encoded serotype-converting genes. Recently, a plasmid encoded phosphoethanolamine (PEtN) modification of the O-antigen has been reported, which is responsible for the presence of the MASF IV-1 determinant and results in conversion of traditional serotypes X, 4a and Y to novel serotypes Xv, 4av and Yv, respectively. In this study, we characterized 19 serotype Yv strains isolated in China. A variant of the O-antigen phosphoethanolamine transferase gene opt (formerly called lpt-O) carried by a pSFxv_2-like plasmid was found in serotype Yv strains, which specifies the phosphorylation pattern on the O-antigen of this serotype. For the majority of the O-antigen units, the PEtN modification occurs on RhaIII, while for a minority, modifications occur on both RhaII and RhaIII. Serotype-specific gene detection and PFGE analysis suggested that these serotype Yv isolates were originated from serotypes Y, Xv and 2a by acquisition of an opt-carrying plasmid and/or inactivation of serotype-specific gene gtrII or gtrX. These data, combined with those of serotypes Xv and 4av reported earlier, demonstrate that the plasmid-encoded PEtN modification is an important serotype conversion mechanism in S. flexneri, in addition to glucosylation and O-acetylation.
Host-specificity is an intrinsic feature of many bacterial pathogens, resulting from a long history of co-adaptation between bacteria and their hosts. Alpha-proteobacteria belonging to the genus Bartonella infect the erythrocytes of a wide range of mammal orders, including rodents. In this study, we performed genetic analysis of Bartonella colonizing a rodent community dominated by bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) in a French suburban forest to evaluate their diversity, their capacity to recombine and their level of host specificity. Following the analysis of 550 rodents, we detected 63 distinct genotypes related to B. taylorii, B. grahamii, B. doshiae and a new B. rochalimae-like species. Investigating the most highly represented species, we showed that B. taylorii strain diversity was markedly higher than that of B. grahamii, suggesting a possible severe bottleneck for the latter species. The majority of recovered genotypes presented a strong association with either bank voles or wood mice, with the exception of three B. taylorii genotypes which had a broader host range. Despite the physical barriers created by host specificity, we observed lateral gene transfer between Bartonella genotypes associated with wood mice and Bartonella adapted to bank voles, suggesting that those genotypes might co-habit during their life cycle.
Bordetella pertussis, the whooping cough pathogen, secretes several virulence factors among which adenylate cyclase toxin (ACT) is essential for establishment of the disease in the respiratory tract. ACT weakens host defenses by suppressing important bactericidal activities of the phagocytic cells. Up to now, it was believed that cell intoxication by ACT was a consequence of the accumulation of abnormally high levels of cAMP, generated exclusively beneath the host plasma membrane by the toxin N-terminal catalytic adenylate cyclase (AC) domain, upon its direct translocation across the lipid bilayer. Here we show that host calpain, a calcium-dependent Cys-protease, is activated into the phagocytes by a toxin-triggered calcium rise, resulting in the proteolytic cleavage of the toxin N-terminal domain that releases a catalytically active “soluble AC”. The calpain-mediated ACT processing allows trafficking of the “soluble AC” domain into subcellular organella. At least two strategic advantages arise from this singular toxin cleavage, enhancing the specificity of action, and simultaneously preventing an indiscriminate activation of cAMP effectors throughout the cell. The present study provides novel insights into the toxin mechanism of action, as the calpain-mediated toxin processing would confer ACT the capacity for a space- and time-coordinated production of different cAMP “pools”, which would play different roles in the cell pathophysiology.
In this study, we tested the hypothesis that milk oligosaccharides may contribute not only to selective growth of bifidobacteria, but also to their specific adhesive ability. Human milk oligosaccharides (3′sialyllactose and 6′sialyllactose) and a commercial prebiotic (Beneo Orafti P95; oligofructose) were assayed for their ability to promote adhesion of Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis ATCC 15697 to HT-29 and Caco-2 human intestinal cells. Treatment with the commercial prebiotic or 3′sialyllactose did not enhance adhesion. However, treatment with 6′sialyllactose resulted in increased adhesion (4.7 fold), while treatment with a mixture of 3′- and 6′-sialyllactose substantially increased adhesion (9.8 fold) to HT-29 intestinal cells. Microarray analyses were subsequently employed to investigate the transcriptional response of B. longum subsp. infantis to the different oligosaccharide treatments. This data correlated strongly with the observed changes in adhesion to HT-29 cells. The combination of 3′- and 6′-sialyllactose resulted in the greatest response at the genetic level (both in diversity and magnitude) followed by 6′sialyllactose, and 3′sialyllactose alone. The microarray data was further validated by means of real-time PCR. The current findings suggest that the increased adherence phenotype of Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis resulting from exposure to milk oligosaccharides is multi-faceted, involving transcription factors, chaperone proteins, adhesion-related proteins, and a glycoside hydrolase. This study gives additional insight into the role of milk oligosaccharides within the human intestine and the molecular mechanisms underpinning host-microbe interactions.
We have undertaken an extensive survey of a group of epimerases originally named Gne, that were thought to be responsible for inter-conversion of UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) and UDP-N-acetylgalactosamine (UDP-GalNAc). The analysis builds on recent work clarifying the specificity of some of these epimerases. We find three well defined clades responsible for inter-conversion of the gluco- and galacto-configuration at C4 of different N-acetylhexosamines. Their major biological roles are the formation of UDP-GalNAc, UDP-N-acetylgalactosaminuronic acid (UDP-GalNAcA) and undecaprenyl pyrophosphate-N-acetylgalactosamine (UndPP-GalNAc) from the corresponding glucose forms. We propose that the clade of UDP-GlcNAcA epimerase genes be named gnaB and the clade of UndPP-GlcNAc epimerase genes be named gnu, while the UDP-GlcNAc epimerase genes retain the name gne. The Gne epimerases, as now defined after exclusion of those to be named GnaB or Gnu, are in the same clade as the GalE 4-epimerases for inter-conversion of UDP-glucose (UDP-Glc) and UDP-galactose (UDP-Gal). This work brings clarity to an area that had become quite confusing. The identification of distinct enzymes for epimerisation of UDP-GlcNAc, UDP-GlcNAcA and UndPP-GlcNAc will greatly facilitate allocation of gene function in polysaccharide gene clusters, including those found in bacterial genome sequences. A table of the accession numbers for the 295 proteins used in the analysis is provided to enable the major tree to be regenerated with the inclusion of additional proteins of interest. This and other suggestions for annotation of 4-epimerase genes will facilitate annotation.
The bacteriophage vB_YecM-ϕR1-37 (ϕR1-37) is a lytic yersiniophage that can propagate naturally in different Yersinia species carrying the correct lipopolysaccharide receptor. This large-tailed phage has deoxyuridine (dU) instead of thymidine in its DNA. In this study, we determined the genomic sequence of phage ϕR1-37, mapped parts of the phage transcriptome, characterized the phage particle proteome, and characterized the virion structure by cryo-electron microscopy and image reconstruction. The 262,391-bp genome of ϕR1-37 is one of the largest sequenced phage genomes, and it contains 367 putative open reading frames (ORFs) and 5 tRNA genes. Mass-spectrometric analysis identified 69 phage particle structural proteins with the genes scattered throughout the genome. A total of 269 of the ORFs (73%) lack homologues in sequence databases. Based on terminator and promoter sequences identified from the intergenic regions, the phage genome was predicted to consist of 40 to 60 transcriptional units. Image reconstruction revealed that the ϕR1-37 capsid consists of hexameric capsomers arranged on a T=27 lattice similar to the bacteriophage ϕKZ. The tail of ϕR1-37 has a contractile sheath. We conclude that phage ϕR1-37 is a representative of a novel phage type that carries the dU-containing genome in a ϕKZ-like head.
The fatty acid (FA) degradation pathway of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogen, was recently shown to be involved in nutrient acquisition during BALB/c mouse lung infection model. The source of FA in the lung is believed to be phosphatidylcholine, the major component of lung surfactant. Previous research indicated that P. aeruginosa has more than two fatty acyl-CoA synthetase genes (fadD; PA3299 and PA3300), which are responsible for activation of FAs using ATP and coenzyme A. Through a bioinformatics approach, 11 candidate genes were identified by their homology to the Escherichia coli FadD in the present study. Four new homologues of fadD (PA1617, PA2893, PA3860, and PA3924) were functionally confirmed by their ability to complement the E. coli fadD mutant on FA-containing media. Growth phenotypes of 17 combinatorial fadD mutants on different FAs, as sole carbon sources, indicated that the four new fadD homologues are involved in FA degradation, bringing the total number of P. aeruginosa fadD genes to six. Of the four new homologues, fadD4 (PA1617) contributed the most to the degradation of different chain length FAs. Growth patterns of various fadD mutants on plant-based perfumery substances, citronellic and geranic acids, as sole carbon and energy sources indicated that fadD4 is also involved in the degradation of these plant-derived compounds. A decrease in fitness of the sextuple fadD mutant, relative to the ΔfadD1D2 mutant, was only observed during BALB/c mouse lung infection at 24 h.
Superoxide dismutases (SODs) cause dismutation of superoxide radicals to hydrogen peroxide and oxygen. Besides protecting the cells against oxidative damage by endogenously generated oxygen radicals, SODs play an important role in intraphagocytic survival of pathogenic bacteria. The complete genome sequences of Yersinia enterocolitica strains show presence of three different sod genes. However, not much is known about the types of SODs present in Y. enterocolitica, their characteristics and role in virulence and intraphagocytic survival of this organism.
This study reports detection and distribution of the three superoxide dismutase (sodA, sodB and sodC) genes in 59 strains of Y. enterocolitica and related species. The majority (94%) of the strains carried all three genes and constitutive expression of sodA and sodB was detected in 88% of the strains. Expression of sodC was not observed in any of the strains. The sodA, sodB and sodC genes of Y. enterocolitica were cloned in pET28a (+) vector. Recombinant SodA (82 kDa) and SodB (21 kDa) were expressed as homotetramer and monomer respectively, and showed activity over a broad range of pH (3.0–8.0) and temperature (4–70°C). SodA and SodB showed optimal activity at 4°C under acidic pH of 6.0 and 4.0 respectively. The secondary structures of recombinant SodA and SodB were studied using circular dichroism. Production of YeSodC was not observed even after cloning and expression in E. coli BL21(DE3) cells. A SodA− SodB−
Escherichia coli strain which was unable to grow in medium supplemented with paraquat showed normal growth after complementation with Y. enterocolitica SodA or SodB.
This is the first report on the distribution and characterization of superoxide dismutases from Y. enterocolitica. The low pH optima of both SodA and SodB encoded by Y. enterocolitica seem to implicate their role in acidic environments such as the intraphagocytic vesicles.
Protection provided by host bacterial microbiota against microbial pathogens is a well known but ill-understood property referred to as the barrier effect, or colonization resistance. Despite recent genome-wide analyses of host microbiota and increasing therapeutic interest, molecular analysis of colonization resistance is hampered by the complexity of direct in vivo experiments. Here we developed an in vitro-to-in vivo approach to identification of genes involved in resistance of commensal bacteria to exogenous pathogens. We analyzed genetic responses induced in commensal Escherichia coli upon entry of a diarrheagenic enteroaggregative E. coli or an unrelated Klebsiella pneumoniae pathogen into a biofilm community. We showed that pathogens trigger specific responses in commensal bacteria and we identified genes involved in limiting colonization of incoming pathogens within commensal biofilm. We tested the in vivo relevance of our findings by comparing the extent of intestinal colonization by enteroaggregative E. coli and K. pneumoniae pathogens in mice pre-colonized with E. coli wild type commensal strain, or mutants corresponding to identified colonization resistance genes. We demonstrated that the absence of yiaF and bssS (yceP) differentially alters pathogen colonization in the mouse gut. This study therefore identifies previously uncharacterized colonization resistance genes and provides new approaches to unravelling molecular aspects of commensal/pathogen competitive interactions.
Phenolic glycolipids are produced by a very limited number of slow-growing mycobacterial species, most of which are pathogen for humans. In Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the etiologic agent of tuberculosis, these molecules play a role in the pathogenicity by modulating the host immune response during infection. The major variant of phenolic glycolipids produced by M. tuberculosis, named PGL-tb, consists of a large lipid core terminated by a glycosylated aromatic nucleus. The carbohydrate part is composed of three sugar residues, two rhamnosyl units and a terminal fucosyl residue, which is per-O-methylated, and seems to be important for pathogenicity. While most of the genes responsible for the synthesis of the lipid core domain and the saccharide appendage of PGL-tb have been characterized, the enzymes involved in the O-methylation of the fucosyl residue of PGL-tb remain unknown. In this study we report the identification and characterization of the methyltransferases required for the O-methylation of the terminal fucosyl residue of PGL-tb. These enzymes are encoded by genes Rv2954c, Rv2955c and Rv2956. Mutants of M. tuberculosis harboring deletion within these genes were constructed. Purification and analysis of the phenolglycolipids produced by these strains, using a combination of mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy, revealed that Rv2954c, Rv2955c and Rv2956 encode the methyltransferases that respectively catalysed the O-methylation of the hydroxyl groups located at positions 3, 4 and 2 of the terminal fucosyl residue of PGL-tb. Our data also suggest that methylation at these positions is a sequential process, starting with position 2, followed by positions 4 and 3.
Clostridium difficile toxin B (TcdB) intoxicates target cells by glucosylating Rho GTPases. TcdB (269 kDa) consists of at least 4 functional domains including a glucosyltransferase domain (GTD), a cysteine protease domain (CPD), a translocation domain (TD), and a receptor binding domain (RBD). The function and molecular mode of action of the TD, which is the largest segment of TcdB and comprises nearly 50% of the protein, remain largely unknown. Here we show that a 97-amino-acid segment (AA1756 – 1852, designated as ?97 or D97), located in the C-terminus of the TD and adjacent to the RBD, is essential for the cellular activity of TcdB. Deletion of this segment in TcdB (designated as TxB-D97), did not adversely alter toxin enzymatic activities or its cellular binding and uptake capacity. TxB-D97 bound to and entered cells in a manner similar to TcdB holotoxin. Both wild type and mutant toxins released their GTDs similarly in the presence of inositol hexakisphosphate (InsP6), and showed a similar glucosyltransferase activity in a cell-free glucosylating assay. Despite these similarities, the cytotoxic activity of TxB-D97 was reduced by more than 5 logs compared to wild type toxin, supported by the inability of TxB-D97 to glucosylate Rac1 of target cells. Moreover, the mutant toxin failed to elicit tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) in macrophages, a process dependent on the glucosyltransferase activity of the toxin. Cellular fractionation of toxin-exposed cells revealed that TxB-D97 was unable to efficiently release the GTD into cytosol. Thereby, we conclude the 97-amino-acid region of the TD C-terminus of TcdB adjacent to the RBD, is essential for the toxicity of TcdB.
Shiga toxins (Stx) are the main virulence factors in enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) infections, causing diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The genes encoding for Shiga toxin-2 (Stx2) are located in a bacteriophage. The toxin is formed by a single A subunit and five B subunits, each of which has its own promoter sequence. We have previously reported the expression of the B subunit within the eukaryotic environment, probably driven by their own promoter. The aim of this work was to evaluate the ability of the eukaryotic machinery to recognize stx2 sequences as eukaryotic-like promoters. Vero cells were transfected with a plasmid encoding Stx2 under its own promoter. The cytotoxic effect on these cells was similar to that observed upon incubation with purified Stx2. In addition, we showed that Stx2 expression in Stx2-insensitive BHK eukaryotic cells induced drastic morphological and cytoskeletal changes. In order to directly evaluate the capacity of the wild promoter sequences of the A and B subunits to drive protein expression in mammalian cells, GFP was cloned under eukaryotic-like putative promoter sequences. GFP expression was observed in 293T cells transfected with these constructions. These results show a novel and alternative way to synthesize Stx2 that could contribute to the global understanding of EHEC infections with immediate impact on the development of treatments or vaccines against HUS.
Campylobacter jejuni is a major cause of bacterial diarrheal disease. Most enteropathogenic bacteria including C. jejuni can invade cultured eukaryotic cells via an actin- and/or microtubule-dependent and an energy-consuming uptake process. Recently, we identified a novel highly efficient C. jejuni invasion pathway that involves bacterial migration into the subcellular space of non-polarized epithelial cells (termed subvasion) followed by invasion from the cell basis. Here we report cellular requirements of this entry mechanism and the subsequent intracellular trafficking route of C. jejuni in polarized islands of Caco-2 intestinal epithelial cells. Advanced microscopy on infected cells revealed that C. jejuni invades the polarized intestinal cells via the subcellular invasion pathway. Remarkably, invasion was not blocked by the inhibitors of microtubule dynamics colchicine or paclitaxel, and was even enhanced after disruption of host cell actin filaments by cytochalasin D. Invasion also continued after dinitrophenol-induced cellular depletion of ATP, whereas this compound effectively inhibited the uptake of invasive Escherichia coli. Confocal microscopy demonstrated that intracellular C. jejuni resided in membrane-bound CD63-positive cellular compartments for up to 24 h. Establishment of a novel luciferase reporter-based bacterial viability assay, developed to overcome the limitations of the classical bacterial recovery assay, demonstrated that a subset of C. jejuni survived intracellularly for up to 48 h. Taken together, our results indicate that C. jejuni is able to actively invade polarized intestinal epithelial cells via a novel actin- and microtubule-independent mechanism and remains metabolically active in the intracellular niche for up to 48 hours.
The posttranscriptional regulator RsmA controls the production of plant cell wall degrading enzymes (PCWDE) and cell motility in the Pectobacterium genus of plant pathogens. In this study the physiological role of gene regulation by RsmA is under investigation. Disruption of rsmA gene of the Pectobacterium wasabiae strain, SCC3193 resulted in 3-fold decrease in growth rate and increased virulence. The comparison of mRNA levels of the rsmA− mutant and wild-type using a genome-wide microarray showed, that genes responsible for successful infection, i.e. virulence factors, motility, butanediol fermentation, various secretion systems etc. were up-regulated in the rsmA− strain. The rsmA− strain exhibited a higher propensity to swarm and produce PCWDE compared to the wild-type strain. Virulence experiments in potato tubers demonstrated that in spite of its more efficient tissue maceration, the rsmA− strain's ability to survive within the host is reduced and the infection site is taken over by resident bacteria. Taken together, in the absence of RsmA, cells revert to a constitutively infective phenotype characterized by expression of virulence factors and swarming. We hypothesize that lack of control over these costly energetic processes results in decreased growth rate and fitness. In addition, our findings suggest a relationship between swarming and virulence in plant pathogens.
The binding of cholera toxin to the ganglioside GM1 as the initial step in the process leading to diarrhea is nowadays textbook knowledge. In contrast, the knowledge about the mechanisms for attachment of Vibrio cholerae bacterial cells to the intestinal epithelium is limited. In order to clarify this issue, a large number of glycosphingolipid mixtures were screened for binding of El Tor V. cholerae. Several specific interactions with minor complex non-acid glycosphingolipids were thereby detected. After isolation of binding-active glycosphingolipids, characterization by mass spectrometry and proton NMR, and comparative binding studies, three distinct glycosphingolipid binding patterns were defined. Firstly, V. cholerae bound to complex lacto/neolacto glycosphingolipids with the GlcNAcβ3Galβ4GlcNAc sequence as the minimal binding epitope. Secondly, glycosphingolipids with a terminal Galα3Galα3Gal moiety were recognized, and the third specificity was the binding to lactosylceramide and related compounds. V. cholerae binding to lacto/neolacto glycosphingolipids, and to the other classes of binding-active compounds, remained after deletion of the chitin binding protein GbpA. Thus, the binding of V. cholerae to chitin and to lacto/neolacto containing glycosphingolipids represents two separate binding specificities.
The brucellae are Gram-negative bacteria that cause an important zoonosis. Studies with the main Brucella species have shown that the O-antigens of the Brucella smooth lipopolysaccharide are α-(1→2) and α-(1→3)-linked N-formyl-perosamine polysaccharides that carry M, A and C (A = M, A>M and AA) and M specificities. However, the biovar 2 O-antigen bound monoclonal antibodies to the Brucella A epitope, and to the C/Y epitope shared by brucellae and Yersinia enterocolitica O:9, a bacterium that carries an N-formyl-perosamine O-antigen in exclusively α-(1→2)-linkages. By 13C NMR spectroscopy, B. suis biovar 1 but not B. suis biovar 2 or Y. enterocolitica O:9 polysaccharide showed the signal characteristic of α-(1→3)-linked N-formyl-perosamine, indicating that biovar 2 may altogether lack this linkage. Taken together, the NMR spectroscopy and monoclonal antibody analyses strongly suggest a role for α-(1→3)-linked N-formyl-perosamine in the C (A = M) and C (M>A) epitopes. Moreover, they indicate that B. suis biovar 2 O-antigen lacks some lipopolysaccharide epitopes previously thought to be present in all smooth brucellae, thus representing a new brucella serovar that is M-negative, C-negative. Serologically and structurally this new serovar is more similar to Y. enterocolitica O:9 than to other brucellae.
Potential benefits of combination antibiotic therapy for the treatment of plague have never been evaluated. We compared the efficacy of a ciprofloxacin (CIN) and gentamicin (GEN) combination therapy with that of each antibiotic administered alone (i) against Yersinia pestis in vitro and (ii) in a mouse model of bubonic plague in which animals were intravenously injected with antibiotics for five days, starting at two different times after infection (44 h and 56 h). In vitro, the CIN+GEN combination was synergistic at 0.5x the individual drugs’ MICs and indifferent at 1x- or 2x MIC. In vivo, the survival rate for mice treated with CIN+GEN was similar to that observed with CIN alone and slightly higher than that observed for GEN alone 100, 100 and 85%, respectively when treatment was started 44 h post challenge. 100% of survivors were recorded in the CIN+GEN group vs 86 and 83% in the CIN and GEN groups, respectively when treatment was delayed to 56 h post-challenge. However, these differences were not statistically significant. Five days after the end of treatment, Y. pestis were observed in lymph nodes draining the inoculation site (but not in the spleen) in surviving mice in each of the three groups. The median lymph node log10 CFU recovered from persistently infected lymph nodes was significantly higher with GEN than with CIN (5.8 vs. 3.2, p = 0.04) or CIN+GEN (5.8 vs. 2.8, p = 0.01). Taken as the whole, our data show that CIN+GEN combination is as effective as CIN alone but, regimens containing CIN are more effective to eradicate Y. pestis from the draining lymph node than the recommended GEN monotherapy. Moreover, draining lymph nodes may serve as a reservoir for the continued release of Y. pestis into the blood – even after five days of intravenous antibiotic treatment.
The genus Aeromonas has undergone a number of taxonomic and nomenclature revisions over the past 20 years, and new (sub)species and biogroups are continuously described. Standard identification methods such as biochemical characterization have deficiencies and do not allow clarification of the taxonomic position. This report describes the development of a matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation–time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) identification database for a rapid identification of clinical and environmental Aeromonas isolates.
Invasin and intimin are major virulence factors of enteropathogenic Yersiniae and Escherichia coli, mediating invasion into and intimate adherence to host cells, respectively. Several studies have hinted that extracellular portion of these homologous proteins might be exported via an autotransport mechanism, but rigorous experimental proof has been lacking. Here, we present a topology model for invasin and intimin, consistent with the hypothesis that the N-terminal β-barrel domain acts as a translocation pore to secrete the C-terminal passenger domain. We confirmed this topology model by inserting epitope tags into the loops of the β-barrel. We further show that obstructing the pore of β-barrel hinders the export of the passenger domain. As for classical autotransport, the biogenesis of invasin and intimin is dependent on the Bam complex and the periplasmic chaperone SurA, whereas the chaperone/protease DegP is involved in quality control. However, compared to classical autotransporters (Type Va secretion), the domain structure of intimin and invasin is inverted. We conclude that proteins of the intimin and invasin family constitute a novel group of autotransported proteins, and propose that this class of autotransporters be termed Type Ve secretion.
The bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola produces phaseolotoxin in a temperature dependent manner, being optimally produced between 18°C and 20°C, while no detectable amounts are present above 28°C. Phaseolotoxin is an effective inhibitor of ornithine carbamoyltransferase (OCTase) activity from plant, mammalian and bacterial sources and causes a phenotypic requirement for arginine. To protect the cell from its own toxin, P. syringae pv. phaseolicola synthesizes a phaseolotoxin-resistant OCTase (ROCT). The ROCT is the product of the argK gene and is synthesized only under conditions leading to phaseolotoxin synthesis. The argK gene is included in a chromosomal fragment named Pht cluster, which contains genes involved in the synthesis of phaseolotoxin. The aim of the present work was to investigate the possible involvement of other genes included in the Pht cluster in the regulation of gene argK. We conducted transcriptional analyses of argK in several mutants unable to produce phaseolotoxin, transcriptional fusions and electrophoretic mobility shift assays, which allowed us to determine that genes phtABC, located within the Pht cluster, participate in the transcriptional repression of gene argK at temperatures not permissive for phaseolotoxin biosynthesis. This repression is mediated by a protein present in both toxigenic and nontoxigenic strains of P. syringae and in E. coli, and requires the coordinated participation of phtA, phtB and phtC products in order to carry out an efficient argK repression.
Rhombomys opimus (great gerbil) is a reservoir of Yersinia pestis in the natural plague foci of Central Asia. Great gerbils are highly resistant to Y. pestis infection. The coevolution of great gerbils and Y. pestis is believed to play an important role in the plague epidemics in Central Asia plague foci. However, the dynamics of Y. pestis infection and the corresponding antibody response in great gerbils have not been evaluated. In this report, animal experiments were employed to investigate the bacterial load in both the liver and spleen of infected great gerbils. The dynamics of the antibody response to the F1 capsule antigen of Y. pestis was also determined.
Captured great gerbils that tested negative for both anti-F1 antibodies and bacterial isolation were infected subcutaneously with different doses (105 to 1011 CFU) of a Y. pestis strain isolated from a live great gerbil during routine plague surveillance in the Junggar Basin, Xinjiang, China. The clinical manifestations, changes in body weight, anal temperature, and gross anatomy of the infected animals were observed. The blood cell count, bacterial load, and anti-F1 antibody titers were determined at different time points after infection using a blood analyzer, plate counts, and an indirect hemagglutination assay, respectively.
The dynamics of bacterial load and the anti-F1 antibody concentration in great gerbils are highly variable among individuals. The Y. pestis infection in great gerbils could persist as long as 15 days. They act as an appropriate reservoir for plague in the Junggar Basin, which is part of the natural plague foci in Central Asia. The dynamics of the Y. pestis susceptibility of great gerbil will improve the understanding of its variable resistance, which would facilitate the development of more effective countermeasures for controlling plague epidemics in this focus.