Campylobacter jejuni is a major cause of bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide, and the capsular polysaccharide (CPS) of this organism is required for persistence and disease. C. jejuni produces over 47 different capsular structures, including a unique O-methyl phosphoramidate (MeOPN) modification present on most C. jejuni isolates. Although the MeOPN structure is rare in nature it has structural similarity to some synthetic pesticides. In this study, we have demonstrated, by whole genome comparisons and high resolution magic angle spinning NMR, that MeOPN modifications are common to several Campylobacter species. Using MeOPN biosynthesis and transferase mutants generated in C. jejuni strain 81–176, we observed that loss of MeOPN from the cell surface correlated with increased invasion of Caco-2 epithelial cells and reduced resistance to killing by human serum. In C. jejuni, the observed serum mediated killing was determined to result primarily from activation of the classical complement pathway. The C. jejuni MeOPN transferase mutant showed similar levels of colonization relative to the wild-type in chickens, but showed a five-fold drop in colonization when co-infected with the wild-type in piglets. In Galleria mellonella waxmoth larvae, the MeOPN transferase mutant was able to kill the insects at wild-type levels. Furthermore, injection of the larvae with MeOPN-linked monosaccharides or CPS purified from the wild-type strain did not result in larval killing, indicating that MeOPN does not have inherent insecticidal activity.
Cronobacter sakazakii could form yellow-pigmented colonies. However, the chemical structure and the biosynthetic pathway of the yellow pigments have not been identified. In this study, the yellow pigments of C. sakazakii BAA894 were purified and analyzed. The major components of the yellow pigments were confirmed as zeaxanthin-monoglycoside and zeaxanthin-diglycoside. A gene cluster containing seven genes responsible for the yellow pigmentation in C. sakazakii BAA894 was identified. The seven genes of C. sakazakii BAA894 or parts of them were reconstructed in a heterologous host Escherichia coli DH5α. The pigments formed in these E. coli strains were isolated and analyzed by thin layer chromatography, UV-visible spectroscopy, high performance liquid chromatography, and electron spray ionization-mass spectrometry. These redesigned E. coli strains could produce different carotenoids. E. coli strain expressing all the seven genes could produce zeaxanthin-monoglycoside and zeaxanthin-diglycoside; E. coli strains expressing parts of the seven genes could produce lycopene, β-carotene, cryptoxanthin or zeaxanthin. This study identified the gene cluster responsible for the yellow pigmentation in C. sakazakii BAA894.
Source tracing of pathogens is critical for the control and prevention of infectious diseases. Genome sequencing by high throughput technologies is currently feasible and popular, leading to the burst of deciphered bacterial genome sequences. Utilizing the flooding genomic data for source tracing of pathogens in outbreaks is promising, and challenging as well. Here, we employed Yersinia pestis genomes from a plague outbreak at Xinghai county of China in 2009 as an example, to develop a simple two-step strategy for rapid source tracing of the outbreak. The first step was to define the phylogenetic position of the outbreak strains in a whole species tree, and the next step was to provide a detailed relationship across the outbreak strains and their suspected relatives. Through this strategy, we observed that the Xinghai plague outbreak was caused by Y. pestis that circulated in the local plague focus, where the majority of historical plague epidemics in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau may originate from. The analytical strategy developed here will be of great help in fighting against the outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases, by pinpointing the source of pathogens rapidly with genomic epidemiological data and microbial forensics information.
With the aim to decipher the molecular dialogue and cross talk between Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lycopersci and its host during infection and to understand the molecular bases that govern fungal pathogenicity, we analysed genes presumably encoding N-acetylglucosaminyl transferases, involved in glycosylation of glycoproteins, glycolipids, proteoglycans or small molecule acceptors in other microorganisms. In silico analysis revealed the existence of seven putative N-glycosyl transferase encoding genes (named gnt) in F. oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici genome. gnt2 deletion mutants showed a dramatic reduction in virulence on both plant and animal hosts. Δgnt2 mutants had αalterations in cell wall properties related to terminal αor β-linked N-acetyl glucosamine. Mutant conidia and germlings also showed differences in structure and physicochemical surface properties. Conidial and hyphal aggregation differed between the mutant and wild type strains, in a pH independent manner. Transmission electron micrographs of germlings showed strong cell-to-cell adherence and the presence of an extracellular chemical matrix. Δgnt2 cell walls presented a significant reduction in N-linked oligosaccharides, suggesting the involvement of Gnt2 in N-glycosylation of cell wall proteins. Gnt2 was localized in Golgi-like sub-cellular compartments as determined by fluorescence microscopy of GFP::Gnt2 fusion protein after treatment with the antibiotic brefeldin A or by staining with fluorescent sphingolipid BODIPY-TR ceramide. Furthermore, density gradient ultracentrifugation allowed co-localization of GFP::Gnt2 fusion protein and Vps10p in subcellular fractions enriched in Golgi specific enzymatic activities. Our results suggest that N-acetylglucosaminyl transferases are key components for cell wall structure and influence interactions of F. oxysporum with both plant and animal hosts during pathogenicity.
Clostridium difficile is a major cause of infectious diarrhea worldwide. Although the cell surface proteins are recognized to be important in clostridial pathogenesis, biological functions of only a few are known. Also, apart from the toxins, proteins exported by C. difficile into the extracellular milieu have been poorly studied. In order to identify novel extracellular factors of C. difficile, we analyzed bacterial culture supernatants prepared from clinical isolates, 630 and R20291, using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The majority of the proteins identified were non-canonical extracellular proteins. These could be largely classified into proteins associated to the cell wall (including CWPs and extracellular hydrolases), transporters and flagellar proteins. Seven unknown hypothetical proteins were also identified. One of these proteins, CD630_28300, shared sequence similarity with the anthrax lethal factor, a known zinc metallopeptidase. We demonstrated that CD630_28300 (named Zmp1) binds zinc and is able to cleave fibronectin and fibrinogen in vitro in a zinc-dependent manner. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we identified residues important in zinc binding and enzymatic activity. Furthermore, we demonstrated that Zmp1 destabilizes the fibronectin network produced by human fibroblasts. Thus, by analyzing the exoproteome of C. difficile, we identified a novel extracellular metalloprotease that may be important in key steps of clostridial pathogenesis.
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.