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1.  Population structure of the Yersinia pseudotuberculosis complex according to multilocus sequence typing 
Environmental microbiology  2011;13(12):3114-3127.
Multilocus sequence analysis of 417 strains of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis revealed that it is a complex of four populations, three of which have been previously assigned species status [Y. pseudotuberculosis sensu stricto (s.s.), Yersinia pestis and Yersinia similis] and a fourth population, which we refer to as the Korean group, which may be in the process of speciation. We detected clear signs of recombination within Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s. as well as imports from Y. similis and the Korean group. The sources of genetic diversification within Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s. were approximately equally divided between recombination and mutation, whereas recombination has not yet been demonstrated in Y. pestis, which is also much more genetically monomorphic than is Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s. Most Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s. belong to a diffuse group of sequence types lacking clear population structure, although this species contains a melibiose-negative clade that is present globally in domesticated animals. Yersinia similis corresponds to the previously identified Y. pseudotuberculosis genetic type G4, which is probably not pathogenic because it lacks the virulence factors that are typical for Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s. In contrast, Y. pseudotuberculosis s.s., the Korean group and Y. pestis can all cause disease in humans.
PMCID: PMC3988354  PMID: 21951486
2.  Characterization of the Genome, Proteome, and Structure of Yersiniophage ϕR1-37 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(23):12625-12642.
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.
PMCID: PMC3497697  PMID: 22973030
3.  Clinical isolates of Yersinia enterocolitica Biotype 1A represent two phylogenetic lineages with differing pathogenicity-related properties 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:208.
Y. enterocolitica biotype (BT) 1A strains are often isolated from human clinical samples but their contribution to disease has remained a controversial topic. Variation and the population structure among the clinical Y. enterocolitica BT 1A isolates have been poorly characterized. We used multi-locus sequence typing (MLST), 16S rRNA gene sequencing, PCR for ystA and ystB, lipopolysaccharide analysis, phage typing, human serum complement killing assay and analysis of the symptoms of the patients to characterize 298 clinical Y. enterocolitica BT 1A isolates in order to evaluate their relatedness and pathogenic potential.
A subset of 71 BT 1A strains, selected based on their varying LPS patterns, were subjected to detailed genetic analyses. The MLST on seven house-keeping genes (adk, argA, aroA, glnA, gyrB, thrA, trpE) conducted on 43 of the strains discriminated them into 39 MLST-types. By Bayesian analysis of the population structure (BAPS) the strains clustered conclusively into two distinct lineages, i.e. Genetic groups 1 and 2. The strains of Genetic group 1 were more closely related (97% similarity) to the pathogenic bio/serotype 4/O:3 strains than Genetic group 2 strains (95% similarity). Further comparison of the 16S rRNA genes of the BT 1A strains indicated that altogether 17 of the 71 strains belong to Genetic group 2. On the 16S rRNA analysis, these 17 strains were only 98% similar to the previously identified subspecies of Y. enterocolitica. The strains of Genetic group 2 were uniform in their pathogenecity-related properties: they lacked the ystB gene, belonged to the same LPS subtype or were of rough type, were all resistant to the five tested yersiniophages, were largely resistant to serum complement and did not ferment fucose. The 54 strains in Genetic group 1 showed much more variation in these properties. The most commonly detected LPS types were similar to the LPS types of reference strains with serotypes O:6,30 and O:6,31 (37%), O:7,8 (19%) and O:5 (15%).
The results of the present study strengthen the assertion that strains classified as Y. enterocolitica BT 1A represent more than one subspecies. Especially the BT 1A strains in our Genetic group 2 commonly showed resistance to human serum complement killing, which may indicate pathogenic potential for these strains. However, their virulence mechanisms remain unknown.
PMCID: PMC3512526  PMID: 22985268
Yersinia enterocolitica biotype 1A; MLST; 16S rRNA gene; yst genes; LPS; Phage typing; Human serum complement killing; Bayesian analysis of population structure; Pathogenicity
4.  Identification of the Lipopolysaccharide Core of Yersinia pestis and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as the Receptor for Bacteriophage φA1122 ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(18):4963-4972.
φA1122 is a T7-related bacteriophage infecting most isolates of Yersinia pestis, the etiologic agent of plague, and used by the CDC in the identification of Y. pestis. φA1122 infects Y. pestis grown both at 20°C and at 37°C. Wild-type Yersinia pseudotuberculosis strains are also infected but only when grown at 37°C. Since Y. pestis expresses rough lipopolysaccharide (LPS) missing the O-polysaccharide (O-PS) and expression of Y. pseudotuberculosis O-PS is largely suppressed at temperatures above 30°C, it has been assumed that the phage receptor is rough LPS. We present here several lines of evidence to support this. First, a rough derivative of Y. pseudotuberculosis was also φA1122 sensitive when grown at 22°C. Second, periodate treatment of bacteria, but not proteinase K treatment, inhibited the phage binding. Third, spontaneous φA1122 receptor mutants of Y. pestis and rough Y. pseudotuberculosis could not be isolated, indicating that the receptor was essential for bacterial growth under the applied experimental conditions. Fourth, heterologous expression of the Yersinia enterocolitica O:3 LPS outer core hexasaccharide in both Y. pestis and rough Y. pseudotuberculosis effectively blocked the phage adsorption. Fifth, a gradual truncation of the core oligosaccharide into the Hep/Glc (l-glycero-d-manno-heptose/d-glucopyranose)-Kdo/Ko (3-deoxy-d-manno-oct-2-ulopyranosonic acid/d-glycero-d-talo-oct-2-ulopyranosonic acid) region in a series of LPS mutants was accompanied by a decrease in phage adsorption, and finally, a waaA mutant expressing only lipid A, i.e., also missing the Kdo/Ko region, was fully φA1122 resistant. Our data thus conclusively demonstrated that the φA1122 receptor is the Hep/Glc-Kdo/Ko region of the LPS core, a common structure in Y. pestis and Y. pseudotuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3165662  PMID: 21764935
5.  Unique Cell Adhesion and Invasion Properties of Yersinia enterocolitica O:3, the Most Frequent Cause of Human Yersiniosis 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(7):e1002117.
Many enteric pathogens are equipped with multiple cell adhesion factors which are important for host tissue colonization and virulence. Y. enterocolitica, a common food-borne pathogen with invasive properties, uses the surface proteins invasin and YadA for host cell binding and entry. In this study, we demonstrate unique cell adhesion and invasion properties of Y. enterocolitica serotype O:3 strains, the most frequent cause of human yersiniosis, and show that these differences are mainly attributable to variations affecting the function and expression of invasin in response to temperature. In contrast to other enteric Yersinia strains, invasin production in O:3 strains is constitutive and largely enhanced compared to other Y. enterocolitica serotypes, in which invA expression is temperature-regulated and significantly reduced at 37°C. Increase of invasin levels is caused by (i) an IS1667 insertion into the invA promoter region, which includes an additional promoter and RovA and H-NS binding sites, and (ii) a P98S substitution in the invA activator protein RovA rendering the regulator less susceptible to proteolysis. Both variations were shown to influence bacterial colonization in a murine infection model. Furthermore, we found that co-expression of YadA and down-regulation of the O-antigen at 37°C is required to allow efficient internalization by the InvA protein. We conclude that even small variations in the expression of virulence factors can provoke a major difference in the virulence properties of closely related pathogens which may confer better survival or a higher pathogenic potential in a certain host or host environment.
Author Summary
Bacterial infections are generally initiated by molecular interactions that occur between the pathogen and its host cell. These interactions are usually mediated by adhesion and invasion factors exposed from the surface of the bacteria which are necessary for the colonization of host tissues and fundamental to pathogenesis. It is well known that many bacterial species contain several different adhesin determinants, which often vary between bacteria of the same species, reflecting the fact that each microbe has adapted to a distinct ecological niche. Here, we show that also small alterations changing the expression pattern of adhesins and virulence gene regulators in response to environmental factors (e.g. temperature) lead to fundamental differences in pathogen-host cell interactions and pathogenesis. Modulation of virulence gene expression constitutes an ideal mechanism to adjust virulence-associated processes of pathogens to different hosts (e.g. with varying body temperature) as it allows the bacteria to readjust expression of certain gene subsets of regulatory networks controlling virulence, stress and metabolic adaptation to their demands in individual hosts.
PMCID: PMC3131269  PMID: 21750675
6.  Multilocus Variable-Number Tandem-Repeat Analysis, Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis, and Antimicrobial Susceptibility Patterns in Discrimination of Sporadic and Outbreak-Related Strains of Yersinia enterocolitica 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:42.
We assessed the potential of multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and antimicrobial susceptibility testing for discriminating 104 sporadic and outbreak-related Yersinia enterocolitica (YE) bio/serotype 3-4/O:3 and 2/O:9 isolates. MLVA using six VNTR markers was performed in two separate multiplex PCRs, and the fluorescently labeled PCR products were accurately sized on an automated DNA sequencer.
MLVA discriminated 82 sporadic YE 3-4/O:3 and 2/O:9 strains into 77 types, whereas PFGE with the restriction enzyme NotI discriminated the strains into 23 different PFGE pulsotypes. The discriminatory index for a sporadic strain was 0.862 for PFGE and 0.999 for MLVA. MLVA confirmed that a foodborne outbreak in the city of Kotka, Finland in 2003 had been caused by a multiresistant YE 4/O:3 strain that was distinctly different from those of epidemiologically unrelated strains with an identical PFGE pulsotype. The multiresistance of Y. enterocolitica strains (19% of the sporadic strains) correlated significantly (p = 0.002) with travel abroad. All of the multiresistant Y. enterocolitica strains belonged to four PFGE pulsotypes that did not contain any susceptible strains. Resistance to nalidixic acid was related to changes in codons 83 or 87 that stemmed from mutations in the gyrA gene. The conjugation experiments demonstrated that resistance to CHL, STR, and SUL was carried by a conjugative plasmid.
MLVA using six loci had better discriminatory power than PFGE with the NotI enzyme. MLVA was also a less labor-intensive method than PFGE and the results were easier to analyze. The conjugation experiments demonstrated that a resistance plasmid can easily be transferred between Y. enterocolitica strains. Antimicrobial multiresistance of Y. enterocolitica strains was significantly associated with travel abroad.
PMCID: PMC3053224  PMID: 21349206
7.  First Analysis of a Bacterial Collagen-Binding Protein with Collagen Toolkits: Promiscuous Binding of YadA to Collagens May Explain How YadA Interferes with Host Processes▿ †  
Infection and Immunity  2010;78(7):3226-3236.
The Yersinia adhesin YadA mediates the adhesion of the human enteropathogen Yersinia enterocolitica to collagens and other components of the extracellular matrix. Though YadA has been proposed to bind to a specific site in collagens, the exact binding determinants for YadA in native collagen have not previously been elucidated. We investigated the binding of YadA to collagen Toolkits, which are libraries of triple-helical peptides spanning the sequences of type II and III human collagens. YadA bound to many of them, in particular to peptides rich in hydroxyproline but with few charged residues. We were able to block the binding of YadA to collagen type IV with the triple-helical peptide (Pro-Hyp-Gly)10, suggesting that the same site in YadA binds to triple-helical regions in network-forming collagens as well. We showed that a single Gly-Pro-Hyp triplet in a triple-helical peptide was sufficient to support YadA binding, but more than six triplets were required to form a tight YadA binding site. This is significantly longer than the case for eukaryotic collagen-binding proteins. YadA-expressing bacteria bound promiscuously to Toolkit peptides. Promiscuous binding could be advantageous for pathogenicity in Y. enterocolitica and, indeed, for other pathogenic bacteria. Many of the tightly binding peptides are also targets for eukaryotic collagen-binding proteins, and YadA was able to inhibit the interaction between selected Toolkit peptides and platelets. This leads to the intriguing possibility that YadA may interfere in vivo with host processes mediated by endogenous collagen-binding proteins.
PMCID: PMC2897373  PMID: 20439473
8.  ECA-immunogenicity of Proteus mirabilis strains 
Bacteria of the genus Proteus are opportunistic pathogens and cause mainly urinary tract infections. They also play a role in the pathogenesis of reactive arthritis (RA). Patients suffering from Yersinia-triggered RA often carry high titers of antibodies specific to enterobacterial common antigen (ECA). The immunogenicity of ECA has not received much attention thus far and studies have focused mainly on the ECA of Escherichia coli and Yersinia enterocolitica. In this paper the ECA-immunogenicity of Proteus mirabilis is elucidated using two wild-type strains (S1959 and O28) as well as their rough (R) derivative strains R110/1959, which expresses lipopolysaccharide (LPS) with a full core, and R4/O28, which expresses LPS with only an inner core.
Materials and Methods
Rabbit polyclonal antisera were produced by immunization with boiled suspensions of the four P. mirabilis strains. The antisera were tested for the presence of antibodies specific to ECA by Western blotting using glycerophospholipid- linked ECA (ECAPG) of Salmonella montevideo as antigen. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was isolated from the four strains by the hot phenol/water procedure in which ECAPG is co-extracted with LPS and by the phenol/chloroform/petroleum ether extraction that results in the isolation of LPS and/or LPS-linked ECA (ECALPS) free of ECAPG. The LPS preparations were tested for the presence of ECA by Western blotting using ECA-specific antibodies.
The results demonstrated that all four P. mirabilis strains were ECA immunogenic. The rabbit antisera immunized by the four strains all contained ECA-specific antibodies. Analysis of the LPS preparations demonstrated that the P. mirabilis wild-type strains O28 and S1959 and the Ra mutant strain R110/1959 expressed ECALPS, suggesting that it induced the anti-ECA antibody responses. Only the presence of ECAPG could be demonstrated in the Rc mutant strain R4/O28.
These results therefore suggest that, similar to E. coli, LPS with a full core is also required as the acceptor of ECA for P. mirabilis strains to produce ECALPS. Since ECAPG is not immunogenic unless combined with some proteins, it is likely that ECAPG-protein complexes formed during the intravenous immunization with the Rc mutant strain R4/O28.
PMCID: PMC2771144  PMID: 19333729
Proteus mirabilis; S and R strains; enterobacterial common antigen; lipopolysaccharide; ECA immunogenicity
9.  The Yersinia adhesin YadA binds to a collagenous triple-helical conformation but without sequence specificity 
The Yersinia adhesin A (YadA) is a collagen-binding trimeric autotransporter of Yersinia enterocolitica, an enteropathogen that causes a range of gastroenteric and systemic diseases, and YadA is essential for Y. enterocolitica virulence. Although previous studies suggest a specific binding site in collagen for YadA, we found that recombinant YadA binds to both major cyanogen bromide fragments of collagen type II and the collagen-like model peptide (Pro-Hyp-Gly)10 [(POG)10]. To further characterise the YadA–collagen interaction, we investigated the binding of YadA to (POG)10 and three other model peptides, (Pro-Pro-Gly)10 which lacks the hydroxyl groups of (POG)10, T3-785 which contains a stretch of the collagen type III sequence and Gly− which is similar to (POG)10 but lacks the central glycine. All the peptides except Gly− adopt a collagen-like triple-helical conformation at room temperature. All three triple-helical peptides bound to YadA, with (POG)10 being the tightest, whereas binding of Gly− was hardly detectable. The affinity of (POG)10 for YadA was 0.28 µM by isothermal titration calorimetry and 0.17 µM by surface plasmon resonance (SPR), similar to that of collagen type I. Our results show that a collagen-like triple-helical conformation, strengthened by the presence of hydroxyproline residues, is both necessary and sufficient for YadA binding.
PMCID: PMC3254170  PMID: 18467342
adhesion; collagen; triple-helical peptide; YadA; Yersinia enterocolitica
10.  Functional Mapping of YadA- and Ail-Mediated Binding of Human Factor H to Yersinia enterocolitica Serotype O:3▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(11):5016-5027.
Yersinia enterocolitica is an enteric pathogen that exploits diverse means to survive in the human host. Upon Y. enterocolitica entry into the human host, bacteria sense and respond to variety of signals, one of which is the temperature. Temperature in particular has a profound impact on Y. enterocolitica gene expression, as most of its virulence factors are expressed exclusively at 37°C. These include two outer membrane proteins, YadA and Ail, that function as adhesins and complement resistance (CR) factors. Both YadA and Ail bind the functionally active complement alternative pathway regulator factor H (FH). In this study, we characterized regions on both proteins involved in CR and the interaction with FH. Twenty-eight mutants having short (7 to 41 amino acids) internal deletions within the neck and stalk of YadA and two complement-sensitive site-directed Ail mutants were constructed to map the CR and FH binding regions of YadA and Ail. Functional analysis of the YadA mutants revealed that the stalk of YadA is required for both CR and FH binding and that FH appears to target several conformational and discontinuous sites of the YadA stalk. On the other hand, the complement-sensitive Ail mutants were not affected in FH binding. Our results also suggested that Ail- and YadA-mediated CR does not depend solely on FH binding.
PMCID: PMC2573320  PMID: 18765735
11.  Characterization of Complement Factor H Binding to Yersinia enterocolitica Serotype O:3▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(9):4100-4109.
A number of bacteria bind factor H (FH), the negative regulator of the alternative complement pathway, to avoid complement-mediated killing. Here we show that a gram-negative enteric pathogen, Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O:3, uses two virulence-related outer membrane (OM) proteins to bind FH. With Y. enterocolitica O:3 mutant strains displaying different combinations of surface factors relevant to complement resistance, we demonstrated that the major receptor for FH is the OM protein YadA. Another OM protein, Ail, also contributes to FH binding provided that it is not blocked by distal parts of the lipopolysaccharide (i.e., the O antigen and the outer core hexasaccharide). Importantly, we demonstrated that surface-bound FH was functional; both YadA- and Ail-bound FH displayed cofactor activity for factor I-mediated cleavage of C3b. With truncated recombinant FH constructs, we located the binding site of Ail specifically to short consensus repeats 6 and 7 of FH, while YadA showed a novel type of FH-binding pattern and appears to bind FH throughout the entire FH molecule. We thus conclude that Y. enterocolitica, via YadA and Ail, recruits functionally active FH to its surface. FH binding appears to be an important mechanism of the complement resistance of this pathogen.
PMCID: PMC2519436  PMID: 18625735
12.  Human Dendritic Cell-Specific Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-Grabbing Nonintegrin (CD209) Is a Receptor for Yersinia pestis That Promotes Phagocytosis by Dendritic Cells▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(5):2070-2079.
Yersinia pestis is the etiologic agent of bubonic and pneumonic plagues. It is speculated that Y. pestis hijacks antigen-presenting cells (APCs), such as dendritic cells (DCs) and alveolar macrophages, in order to be delivered to lymph nodes. However, how APCs initially capture the bacterium remains uncharacterized. It is well known that HIV-1 uses human DC-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-grabbing nonintegrin (DC-SIGN) (CD209) receptor, expressed by APCs, to be captured and delivered to target cell, such as CD4+ lymphocytes. Several gram-negative bacteria utilize their core lipopolysaccharides (LPS) as ligands to interact with the human DC-SIGN. Therefore, it is possible that Y. pestis, whose core LPS is naturally exposed, might exploit DC-SIGN to invade APCs. We demonstrate in this study that Y. pestis directly interacts with DC-SIGN and invades both DCs and alveolar macrophages. In contrast, when engineered to cover the core LPS, Y. pestis loses its ability to invade DCs, alveolar macrophages, and DC-SIGN-expressing transfectants. The interaction between Y. pestis and human DCs can be reduced by a combination treatment with anti-CD209 and anti-CD207 antibodies. This study shows that human DC-SIGN is a receptor for Y. pestis that promotes phagocytosis by DCs in vitro.
PMCID: PMC2346686  PMID: 18285492
13.  Yersinia enterocolitica Serum Resistance Proteins YadA and Ail Bind the Complement Regulator C4b-Binding Protein 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(8):e1000140.
Many pathogens are equipped with factors providing resistance against the bactericidal action of complement. Yersinia enterocolitica, a Gram-negative enteric pathogen with invasive properties, efficiently resists the deleterious action of human complement. The major Y. enterocolitica serum resistance determinants include outer membrane proteins YadA and Ail. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) O-antigen (O-ag) and outer core (OC) do not contribute directly to complement resistance. The aim of this study was to analyze a possible mechanism whereby Y. enterocolitica could inhibit the antibody-mediated classical pathway of complement activation. We show that Y. enterocolitica serotypes O:3, O:8, and O:9 bind C4b-binding protein (C4bp), an inhibitor of both the classical and lectin pathways of complement. To identify the C4bp receptors on Y. enterocolitica serotype O:3 surface, a set of mutants expressing YadA, Ail, O-ag, and OC in different combinations was tested for the ability to bind C4bp. The studies showed that both YadA and Ail acted as C4bp receptors. Ail-mediated C4bp binding, however, was blocked by the O-ag and OC, and could be observed only with mutants lacking these LPS structures. C4bp bound to Y. enterocolitica was functionally active and participated in the factor I-mediated degradation of C4b. These findings show that Y. enterocolitica uses two proteins, YadA and Ail, to bind C4bp. Binding of C4bp could help Y. enterocolitica to evade complement-mediated clearance in the human host.
Author Summary
To cause disease in humans, pathogenic bacteria have to evade the versatile immune system of the host. An important part of innate immunity is the complement system that is composed of over 30 proteins on host cells and in blood able to detect and destroy foreign material. To survive, bacteria can bind complement regulator proteins onto their surfaces and thus inhibit the activation of complement. Previously, it has been shown that food-borne diarrhoea-causing Yersinia enterocolitica can survive in human serum because of two bacterial surface proteins, YadA and Ail. These proteins have been shown to bind a complement alternative pathway regulator, factor H. Here, we show that both proteins also bind the classical and lectin pathway inhibitor, C4b-binding protein. These results together explain the serum resistance of Y. enterocolitica. The ability to evade complement attack is apparently important for the pathogenicity of Yersinia enterocolitica.
PMCID: PMC2516929  PMID: 18769718
14.  Characterization and Biological Role of the O-Polysaccharide Gene Cluster of Yersinia enterocolitica Serotype O:9▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(20):7244-7253.
Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O:9 is a gram-negative enteropathogen that infects animals and humans. The role of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in Y. enterocolitica O:9 pathogenesis, however, remains unclear. The O:9 LPS consists of lipid A to which is linked the inner core oligosaccharide, serving as an attachment site for both the outer core (OC) hexasaccharide and the O-polysaccharide (OPS; a homopolymer of N-formylperosamine). In this work, we cloned the OPS gene cluster of O:9 and identified 12 genes organized into four operons upstream of the gnd gene. Ten genes were predicted to encode glycosyltransferases, the ATP-binding cassette polysaccharide translocators, or enzymes required for the biosynthesis of GDP-N-formylperosamine. The two remaining genes within the OPS gene cluster, galF and galU, were not ascribed a clear function in OPS biosynthesis; however, the latter gene appeared to be essential for O:9. The biological functions of O:9 OPS and OC were studied using isogenic mutants lacking one or both of these LPS parts. We showed that OPS and OC confer resistance to human complement and polymyxin B; the OPS effect on polymyxin B resistance could be observed only in the absence of OC.
PMCID: PMC2168460  PMID: 17693522
15.  Expression of the Yersinia enterocolitica pYV-Encoded Type III Secretion System Is Modulated by Lipopolysaccharide O-Antigen Status▿  
Infection and Immunity  2006;75(3):1512-1516.
We show that the expression of a Yersinia enterocolitica O:8 pYV-encoded type III secretion system was altered in a rough mutant (YeO8-R) due to elevated levels of FlhDC. H-NS might underlie flhDC upregulation in YeO8-R, and the data suggest a relationship between the absence of O antigen and the expression of H-NS.
PMCID: PMC1828576  PMID: 17178779
16.  Role of YadA, Ail, and Lipopolysaccharide in Serum Resistance of Yersinia enterocolitica Serotype O:3  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(4):2232-2244.
Complement attack is a host strategy leading to elimination of pathogens. Yersinia enterocolitica expresses several potential complement resistance factors: the outer membrane proteins YadA and Ail as well as lipopolysaccharide (LPS). To study the contribution of these factors to the survival of Y. enterocolitica serotype O:3 in nonimmune human serum, we constructed 23 mutant strains of Y. enterocolitica O:3 expressing different combinations of YadA, Ail, LPS O antigen, and LPS outer core. Survival of bacteria was analyzed in normal serum (with functional classical, lectin, and alternative complement activation pathways) and EGTA-Mg-treated serum (only alternative pathway functional). Kinetic killing tests revealed that the most potent single-serum resistance factor needed for long-term survival was YadA; Ail was also indispensable, but it provided short-term survival and delayed the bacterial killing. On the contrary, the LPS O antigen and outer core, when in combination with YadA, Ail, or both, had a minor and often negative effect on serum resistance. Bacteria in the exponential phase of growth were more resistant to serum killing than stationary-phase bacteria. After exposing bacteria to EGTA-Mg-treated serum, O antigen could prevent deposition of covalently bound C3b on bacteria at 3 min of incubation, even as a single factor. At later time points (15 and 30 min) it had to be accompanied by YadA, Ail, and outer core. In normal serum, the bacteria were less resistant to C3b deposition. However, no direct correlation between the C3 deposition pattern and bacterial resistance was observed.
PMCID: PMC1087390  PMID: 15784567
17.  Nonessential Genes of Phage φYeO3-12 Include Genes Involved in Adaptation to Growth on Yersinia enterocolitica Serotype O:3 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(4):1405-1414.
Bacteriophage φYeO3-12 is a T7/T3-related lytic phage that naturally infects Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O:3 strains by using the lipopolysaccharide O polysaccharide (O antigen) as its receptor. The phage genome is a 39,600-bp-long linear, double-stranded DNA molecule that contains 58 genes. The roles of many of the genes are currently unknown. To identify nonessential genes, the isolated phage DNA was subjected to MuA transposase-catalyzed in vitro transposon insertion mutagenesis with a lacZ′ gene-containing reporter transposon. Following electroporation into Escherichia coli DH10B and subsequent infection of E. coli JM109/pAY100, a strain that expresses the Y. enterocolitica O:3 O antigen on its surface, mutant phage clones were identified by their β-galactosidase activity, manifested as a blue color on indicator plates. Transposon insertions were mapped in a total of 11 genes located in the early and middle regions of the phage genome. All of the mutants had efficiencies of plating (EOPs) and fitnesses identical to those of the wild-type phage when grown on E. coli JM109/pAY100. However, certain mutants exhibited altered phenotypes when grown on Y. enterocolitica O:3. Transposon insertions in genes 0.3 to 0.7 decreased the EOP on Y. enterocolitica O:3, while the corresponding deletions did not, suggesting that the low EOP was not caused by inactivation of the genes per se. Instead, it was shown that in these mutants the low EOP was due to the delayed expression of gene 1, coding for RNA polymerase. On the other hand, inactivation of gene 1.3 or 3.5 by either transposon insertion or deletion decreased phage fitness when grown on Y. enterocolitica. These results indicate that φYeO3-12 has adapted to utilize Y. enterocolitica as its host and that these adaptations include the products of genes 1.3 and 3.5, DNA ligase and lysozyme, respectively.
PMCID: PMC545605  PMID: 15687205
18.  Yersinia enterocolitica Adhesin A Induces Production of Interleukin-8 in Epithelial Cells  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(12):6780-6789.
The major invasive factor of Yersinia enterocolitica, the invasin (Inv) protein, induces proinflammatory host cell responses, including interleukin-8 (IL-8) secretion from human epithelial cells, by engagement of β1 integrins. The Inv-triggered β1 integrin signaling involves the small GTPase Rac; the activation of MAP kinases, such as p38, MEK1, and JNK; and the activation of the transcription factor NF-κB. In the present study, we demonstrate that Y. enterocolitica YadA, which is a major adhesin of Y. enterocolitica with pleiotropic virulence effects, induces IL-8 secretion in epithelial cells. The abilites of YadA and Inv to promote adhesion to and invasion of HeLa cells and to induce IL-8 production by the cells were investigated by expression of YadA and Inv in Escherichia coli. While YadA mediates efficacious adhesion to HeLa cells, it mediates marginal invasion compared with Inv. Both YadA and Inv trigger comparable levels of IL-8 production. Conformational changes of the YadA head domain by mutation of NSVAIG-S motifs, which abolish collagen binding, also abolish adhesion of Yersinia to HeLa cells and YadA-mediated IL-8 secretion. Furthermore, experiments in which blocking antibodies against β1 integrins were used demonstrate that β1 integrins are crucial for YadA-mediated IL-8 secretion. Inhibitor studies demonstrate the involvement of small GTPases and MAP kinases, such as p38, MEK1, and JNK, indicating that β1 integrin-dependent signaling mediated by Inv or YadA involves similar signaling pathways. These data present YadA, in addition to Inv, YopB, and Yersinia lipopolysaccharide, as a further inducer of proinflammatory molecules by which Y. enterocolitica might promote inflammatory tissue reactions.
PMCID: PMC529134  PMID: 15557598
20.  Use of O-Antigen Gene Cluster-Specific PCRs for the Identification and O-Genotyping of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Yersinia pestis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(11):5103-5112.
Yersinia pestis is a very recently evolved clone of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis serotype O:1b. This close relationship causes potential difficulties in DNA-based diagnostic methods. Analysis of the O-antigen gene clusters in these two organisms identified two regions that were used to specifically identify Y. pestis-Y. pseudotuberculosis as a group or Y. pestis alone. Both PCR assays were found to be 100% specific when tested on a large collection of Yersinia species and other Enterobacteriaceae. Furthermore, advantage was taken of the different setups of the O-antigen gene clusters of the 21 known Y. pseudotuberculosis serotypes to develop a multiplex PCR assay to replace the conventional serotyping method of Y. pseudotuberculosis by O-genotyping. The multiplex PCR assay contained nine sets of specific PCRs in a single tube and when used on Y. pseudotuberculosis reference strains allowed the distinction of 14 individual serotypes and two duplex serotypes (O:4a-O:8 and O:12-O:13). Serotype O:7, O:9, and O:10 strains required additional PCRs for O-genotyping. Once applied to Y. pseudotuberculosis strains of various origins, a very good correlation between classical serotypes and O-genotypes was observed, although some discrepancies were found. O-genotyping also proved useful to correct misidentification of some strains and to type Y. pseudotuberculosis isolates that had lost the expression of the O-antigen. The PCR-based O-genotyping can easily be applied in conventional laboratories, without the need for tedious preparation of a large set of specific antisera.
PMCID: PMC262526  PMID: 14605146
21.  Functional Characterization of Gne (UDP-N-Acetylglucosamine- 4-Epimerase), Wzz (Chain Length Determinant), and Wzy (O-Antigen Polymerase) of Yersinia enterocolitica Serotype O:8 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(15):4277-4287.
The lipopolysaccharide (LPS) O-antigen of Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O:8 is formed by branched pentasaccharide repeat units that contain N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc), l-fucose (Fuc), d-galactose (Gal), d-mannose (Man), and 6-deoxy-d-gulose (6d-Gul). Its biosynthesis requires at least enzymes for the synthesis of each nucleoside diphosphate-activated sugar precursor; five glycosyltransferases, one for each sugar residue; a flippase (Wzx); and an O-antigen polymerase (Wzy). As this LPS shows a characteristic preferred O-antigen chain length, the presence of a chain length determinant protein (Wzz) is also expected. By targeted mutagenesis, we identify within the O-antigen gene cluster the genes encoding Wzy and Wzz. We also present genetic and biochemical evidence showing that the gene previously called galE encodes a UDP-N-acetylglucosamine-4-epimerase (EC required for the biosynthesis of the first sugar of the O-unit. Accordingly, the gene was renamed gne. Gne also has some UDP-glucose-4-epimerase (EC activity, as it restores the core production of an Escherichia coli K-12 galE mutant. The three-dimensional structure of Gne was modeled based on the crystal structure of E. coli GalE. Detailed structural comparison of the active sites of Gne and GalE revealed that additional space is required to accommodate the N-acetyl group in Gne and that this space is occupied by two Tyr residues in GalE whereas the corresponding residues present in Gne are Leu136 and Cys297. The Gne Leu136Tyr and Cys297Tyr variants completely lost the UDP-N-acetylglucosamine-4-epimerase activity while retaining the ability to complement the LPS phenotype of the E. coli galE mutant. Finally, we report that Yersinia Wzx has relaxed specificity for the translocated oligosaccharide, contrary to Wzy, which is strictly specific for the O-unit to be polymerized.
PMCID: PMC135196  PMID: 12107146
22.  Complete Genomic Sequence of the Lytic Bacteriophage φYeO3-12 of Yersinia enterocolitica Serotype O:3 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(6):1928-1937.
φYeO3-12 is a T3-related lytic bacteriophage of Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O:3. The nucleotide sequence of the 39,600-bp linear double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) genome was determined. The phage genome has direct terminal repeats of 232 bp, a GC content of 50.6%, and 54 putative genes, which are all transcribed from the same DNA strand. Functions were assigned to 30 genes based on the similarity of the predicted products to known proteins. A striking feature of the φYeO3-12 genome is its extensive similarity to the coliphage T3 and T7 genomes; most of the predicted φYeO3-12 gene products were >70% identical to those of T3, and the overall organizations of the genomes were similar. In addition to an identical promoter specificity, φYeO3-12 shares several common features with T3, nonsubjectibility to F exclusion and growth on Shigella sonnei D2371-48 (M. Pajunen, S. Kiljunen, and M. Skurnik, J. Bacteriol. 182:5114–5120, 2000). These findings indicate that φYeO3-12 is a T3-like phage that has adapted to Y. enterocolitica O:3 or vice versa. This is the first dsDNA yersiniophage genome sequence to be reported.
PMCID: PMC95087  PMID: 11222590
23.  Bacteriophage φYeO3-12, Specific for Yersinia enterocolitica Serotype O:3, Is Related to Coliphages T3 and T7 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(18):5114-5120.
Bacteriophage φYeO3-12 is a lytic phage of Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O:3. The phage receptor is the lipopolysaccharide O chain of this serotype that consists of the rare sugar 6-deoxy-l-altropyranose. A one-step growth curve of φYeO3-12 revealed eclipse and latent periods of 15 and 25 min, respectively, with a burst size of about 120 PFU per infected cell. In electron microscopy φYeO3-12 virions showed pentagonal outlines, indicating their icosahedral nature. The phage capsid was shown to be composed of at least 10 structural proteins, of which a protein of 43 kDa was predominant. N-terminal sequences of three structural proteins were determined, two of them showing strong homology to structural proteins of coliphages T3 and T7. The phage genome was found to consist of a double-stranded DNA molecule of 40 kb without cohesive ends. A physical map of the phage DNA was constructed using five restriction enzymes. The phage infection could be effectively neutralized using serum from a rabbit immunized with whole φYeO3-12 particles. The antiserum also neutralized T3 infection, although not as efficiently as that of φYeO3-12. φYeO3-12 was found to share, in addition to the N-terminal sequence homology, several common features with T3, including morphology and nonsubjectibility to F exclusion. The evidence conclusively indicated that φYeO3-12 is the first close relative of phage T3 to be described.
PMCID: PMC94659  PMID: 10960095
24.  Construction of Urease-Negative Mutants of Yersinia enterocolitica Serotypes O:3 and O:8: Role of Urease in Virulence and Arthritogenicity 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(2):942-947.
Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O:3 and O:8 urease-negative mutants unable to express the 19-kDa β subunit of urease were constructed and tested for virulence and arthritogenicity. Our results indicate that urease is needed for full virulence in oral infections and that it is not an arthritogenic factor in the rat model.
PMCID: PMC97227  PMID: 10639468
25.  Direct Amplification of rRNA Genes in Diagnosis of Bacterial Infections 
A broad-range bacterial PCR targeting rRNA genes (rDNAs) was used to directly analyze 536 clinical samples obtained from 459 hospitalized patients during a 4-year study period. The molecular diagnosis based on DNA sequencing of the PCR product was compared to that obtained by bacterial culture. The bacteriological diagnosis was concordant for 447 (83%) specimens. Broad-range rDNA PCR was the only method that yielded an etiologic diagnosis for 11 (2.4%) of 459 patients. Compared to culture and clinical assessment, the sensitivity of the PCR method combined with sequencing was 74.2%, and the specificity was between 98.7 and 99.6%. At present, the described molecular approach proved superior to bacterial culture in two clinical situations: infections caused by bacteria with unusual growth requirements and specimens taken during antimicrobial treatment of the patient.
PMCID: PMC86012  PMID: 10618059

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