Campylobacter jejuni is a highly prevalent yet fastidious bacterial pathogen that poses a significant health burden worldwide. Lacking many hallmark virulence factors, it is becoming increasingly clear that C. jejuni pathogenesis involves different strategies compared with other well-characterized enteric organisms. This includes the involvement of basic biological processes and cell envelope glycans in a number of aspects related to pathogenesis. The past few years have seen significant progress in the understanding of these pathways and how they relate to C. jejuni fundamental biology, stress survival, colonization, and virulence attributes. This review focuses on recent studies in three general areas where “pathogenesis” and “basic biology” overlap: physiology, stress responses and glycobiology.
Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli are the most common bacterial causes of foodborne gastroenteritis which is occasionally followed by a debilitating neuropathy known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. Rapid and specific detection of these pathogens is very important for effective control and quick treatment of infection. Most of the diagnostics available for these organisms are time consuming and require technical expertise with expensive instruments and reagents to perform. Bacteriophages bind to their host specifically through their receptor binding proteins (RBPs), which can be exploited for pathogen detection. We recently sequenced the genome of C. jejuni phage NCTC12673 and identified its putative host receptor binding protein, Gp047. In the current study, we localized the receptor binding domain to the C-terminal quarter of Gp047. CC-Gp047 could be produced recombinantly and was capable of agglutinating both C. jejuni and C. coli cells unlike the host range of the parent phage which is limited to a subset of C. jejuni isolates. The agglutination procedure could be performed within minutes on a glass slide at room temperature and was not hindered by the presence of buffers or nutrient media. This agglutination assay showed 100% specificity and the sensitivity was 95% for C. jejuni (n = 40) and 90% for C. coli (n = 19). CC-Gp047 was also expressed as a fusion with enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP). Chimeric EGFP_CC-Gp047 was able to specifically label C. jejuni and C. coli cells in mixed cultures allowing for the detection of these pathogens by fluorescent microscopy. This study describes a simple and rapid method for the detection of C. jejuni and C. coli using engineered phage RBPs and offers a promising new diagnostics platform for healthcare and surveillance laboratories.
Increasingly, experimental data on biological systems are obtained from several sources and computational approaches are required to integrate this information and derive models for the function of the system. Here, we demonstrate the power of a logic-based machine learning approach to propose hypotheses for gene function integrating information from two diverse experimental approaches. Specifically, we use inductive logic programming that automatically proposes hypotheses explaining the empirical data with respect to logically encoded background knowledge. We study the capsular polysaccharide biosynthetic pathway of the major human gastrointestinal pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. We consider several key steps in the formation of capsular polysaccharide consisting of 15 genes of which 8 have assigned function, and we explore the extent to which functions can be hypothesised for the remaining 7. Two sources of experimental data provide the information for learning—the results of knockout experiments on the genes involved in capsule formation and the absence/presence of capsule genes in a multitude of strains of different serotypes. The machine learning uses the pathway structure as background knowledge. We propose assignments of specific genes to five previously unassigned reaction steps. For four of these steps, there was an unambiguous optimal assignment of gene to reaction, and to the fifth, there were three candidate genes. Several of these assignments were consistent with additional experimental results. We therefore show that the logic-based methodology provides a robust strategy to integrate results from different experimental approaches and propose hypotheses for the behaviour of a biological system.
► A challenge in systems biology modelling is to integrate different data sources. ► A logic-based approach was used to hypothesise gene function for the C. jejuni glycome. ► Gene knockout and serotype strain data were integrated with pathway information. ► Functions were hypothesised for capsule polysaccharide biosynthetic pathway genes. ► Logic-based learning proposed hypotheses for the behaviour of a biological system.
ILP, inductive logic programming; CPS, capsular polysaccharide; HR-MAS, high-resolution magic angle spinning; CE-ESMS, capillary electrophoresis coupled to electrospray mass spectrometry; BBSRC, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; systems biology; Campylobacter jejuni; machine learning; capsular polysaccharide; pathway modelling
N-Glycosylation of proteins is recognized as one of the most common post translational modifications. Until recently it was believed that N-glycosylation occurred exclusively in eukaryotes until the discovery of the general protein glycosylation pathway (Pgl) in Campylobacter jejuni. To date most techniques to analyze lipid-linked oligosaccharides (LLOs) of these pathways involves the use of radiolabels and chromatographic separation. Technologies capable of characterizing eukaryotic and the newly described bacterial N-glycosylation systems from biologically relevant samples in an accurate, rapid, and cost effective manner are needed. In this paper a new glycomics strategy based on lectin-affinity capture was devised and validated on the C. jejuni N-glycan pathway and with engineered Escherichia coli strains expressing the functional C. jejuni pathway. The lipid-linked oligosaccharide intermediates of the Pgl pathway were then enriched using SBA-agarose affinity-capture and examined by capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry (CE-MS). We demonstrate that this method is capable of detecting low levels of LLOs, the sugars are indeed assembled on undecaprenylpyrophosphate, and structural information for expected and unexpected LLOs can be obtained without further sample manipulation. Furthermore, CE-MS analyses of C. jejuni and the E. coli “glyco-factories” showed striking differences in the assembly and control of N-glycan biosynthesis.
Campylobacter; N-glycan; metabolomics; lipid-linked oligosaccharide; mass spectrometry; affinity-capture; glycoengineering
Bacteriophages infecting the food-borne human pathogen Campylobacter jejuni could potentially be exploited to reduce bacterial counts in poultry prior to slaughter. This bacterium colonizes the intestinal tract of poultry in high numbers, and contaminated poultry meat is regarded as the major source of human campylobacteriosis. In this study, we used phage F336 belonging to the Myoviridae family to select a C. jejuni NCTC11168 phage-resistant strain, called 11168R, with the aim of investigating the mechanisms of phage resistance. We found that phage F336 has reduced adsorption to 11168R, thus indicating that the receptor is altered. While proteinase K-treated C. jejuni cells did not affect adsorption, periodate treatment resulted in reduced adsorption, suggesting that the phage binds to a carbohydrate moiety. Using high-resolution magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, we found that 11168R lacks an O-methyl phosphoramidate (MeOPN) moiety attached to the GalfNAc on the capsular polysaccharide (CPS), which was further confirmed by mass spectroscopy. Sequence analysis of 11168R showed that the potentially hypervariable gene cj1421, which encodes the GalfNAc MeOPN transferase, contains a tract of 10 Gs, resulting in a nonfunctional gene product. However, when 11168R reverted back to phage sensitive, cj1421 contained 9 Gs, and the GalfNAc MeOPN was regained in this strain. In summary, we have identified the phase-variable MeOPN moiety, a common component of the diverse capsular polysaccharides of C. jejuni, as a novel receptor of phages infecting this bacterium.
Campylobacter jejuni continues to be the leading cause of bacterial food-borne illness worldwide, so improvements to current methods used for bacterial detection and disease prevention are needed. We describe here the genome and proteome of C. jejuni bacteriophage NCTC 12673 and the exploitation of its receptor-binding protein for specific bacterial detection. Remarkably, the 135-kb Myoviridae genome of NCTC 12673 differs greatly from any other proteobacterial phage genome described (including C. jejuni phages CP220 and CPt10) and instead shows closest homology to the cyanobacterial T4-related myophages. The phage genome contains 172 putative open reading frames, including 12 homing endonucleases, no visible means of packaging, and a putative trans-splicing intein. The phage DNA appears to be strongly associated with a protein that interfered with PCR amplification and estimation of the phage genome mass by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Identification and analyses of the receptor-binding protein (Gp48) revealed features common to the Salmonella enterica P22 phage tailspike protein, including the ability to specifically recognize a host organism. Bacteriophage receptor-binding proteins may offer promising alternatives for use in pathogen detection platforms.
Bacteriophages offer interesting alternatives to antibodies for the specific capture and detection of pathogenic bacteria onto biosensing surfaces. Procedures for the optimal chemical immobilization of lytic bacteriophages onto surfaces are presented. More specifically, the removal of lysate contaminants from bacteriophage suspensions by size exclusion chromatography significantly increases the resultant planar surface density of immobilized bacteriophages. E. coli T4 and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium P22 phage systems seem to undergo highly heterogeneous adsorption to the surface, possibly explaining the observed phage clustering at higher surface densities. The T4 phage and its E. coli host were initially employed as a model system where we discovered an optimal planar surface density of phages for best bacterial capture: 18.9 ± 0.8 phages/μm2 capturing 18.0 ± 0.3 bacteria/100 μm2. Phage surface clustering ultimately limits the T4 phage-immobilized surface’s ability to specifically capture its host bacteria. Nevertheless, this is to our knowledge the largest surface capture density of E. coli reported using intact T4 bacteriophages. Two additional purified bacteriophage systems (P22 and Campylobacter jejuni phage NCTC 12673) were then similarly studied for their ability to capture their corresponding host bacteria (Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and Campylobacter jejuni respectively) on a surface.
bacteriophage; biosensor; food contamination; pathogenic bacteria; purification; surface adsorption; virus immobilization
As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Campylobacter, Helicobacter, and Related Organisms (CHRO) workshops with this special Frontiers edition, we look back upon three decades of research and provide some highlights from the 16th International CHRO meeting. Although Theodor Escherich himself provided drawings of campylobacters back in the 1880s, Campylobacter jejuni was not identified until the 1950s. Helicobacter pylori was first described to be the causative agent of stomach ulcers at a CHRO meeting by Barry Marshall and Robin Warren—who later received the Nobel Prize for their findings that bacteria could cause diseases previously believed to be caused by human factors. Now, several genome sequences for campylobacters, helicobacters, and related organisms are available and we have moved into an era examining the intersection between host microbial ecology and pathogen infection. Both pioneers and new investigators in the CHRO research field continue to obtain “unexpected results” demonstrating that campylobacters and helicobacters do not follow classic paradigms of other well-characterized gastrointestinal pathogens and we are learning that there is a plethora of interesting related organisms beyond C. jejuni and H. pylori. This review summarizes recent discoveries in CHRO research and the exciting directions ahead.
campylobacter; helicobacter; related organisms; genome diversity; control measures; fundamental biology; host responses; pathogenesis
Bacteriophages are estimated to be the most abundant entities on earth and can be found in every niche where their bacterial hosts reside. The initial interaction between phages and Campylobacter jejuni, a common colonizer of poultry intestines and a major source of foodborne bacterial gastroenteritis in humans, is not well understood. Recently, we isolated and characterized a phage F336 resistant variant of C. jejuni NCTC11168 called 11168R. Comparisons of 11168R with the wildtype lead to the identification of a novel phage receptor, the phase variable O-methyl phosphoramidate (MeOPN) moiety of the C. jejuni capsular polysaccharide (CPS). In this study we demonstrate that the 11168R strain has gained cross-resistance to four other phages in our collection (F198, F287, F303, and F326). The reduced plaquing efficiencies suggested that MeOPN is recognized as a receptor by several phages infecting C. jejuni. To further explore the role of CPS modifications in C. jejuni phage recognition and infectivity, we tested the ability of F198, F287, F303, F326, and F336 to infect different CPS variants of NCTC11168, including defined CPS mutants. These strains were characterized by high-resolution magic angle spinning NMR spectroscopy. We found that in addition to MeOPN, the phase variable 3-O-Me and 6-O-Me groups of the NCTC11168 CPS structure may influence the plaquing efficiencies of the phages. Furthermore, co-infection of chickens with both C. jejuni NCTC11168 and phage F336 resulted in selection of resistant C. jejuni bacteria, which either lack MeOPN or gain 6-O-Me groups on their surface, demonstrating that resistance can be acquired in vivo. In summary, we have shown that phase variable CPS structures modulate phage infectivity in C. jejuni and suggest that the constant phage predation in the avian gut selects for changes in these structures leading to a continuing phage–host co-evolution.
bacteriophage; Campylobacter jejuni; capsular polysaccharide; phase variation; phosphoramidate; methylation
One of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in man and economically important animals is bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The emergence of difficult-to-treat infections, primarily caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria, demands for alternatives to antibiotic therapy. Currently, one of the emerging therapeutic alternatives is the use of lytic bacteriophages. In an effort to exploit the target specificity and therapeutic potential of bacteriophages, we examined the utility of bacteriophage tailspike proteins (Tsps). Among the best-characterized Tsps is that from the Podoviridae P22 bacteriophage, which recognizes the lipopolysaccharides of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. In this study, we utilized a truncated, functionally equivalent version of the P22 tailspike protein, P22sTsp, as a prototype to demonstrate the therapeutic potential of Tsps in the GI tract of chickens. Bacterial agglutination assays showed that P22sTsp was capable of agglutinating S. Typhimurium at levels similar to antibodies and incubating the Tsp with chicken GI fluids showed no proteolytic activity against the Tsp. Testing P22sTsp against the three major GI proteases showed that P22sTsp was resistant to trypsin and partially to chymotrypsin, but sensitive to pepsin. However, in formulated form for oral administration, P22sTsp was resistant to all three proteases. When administered orally to chickens, P22sTsp significantly reduced Salmonella colonization in the gut and its further penetration into internal organs. In in vitro assays, P22sTsp effectively retarded Salmonella motility, a factor implicated in bacterial colonization and invasion, suggesting that the in vivo decolonization ability of P22sTsp may, at least in part, be due to its ability to interfere with motility… Our findings show promise in terms of opening novel Tsp-based oral therapeutic approaches against bacterial infections in production animals and potentially in humans.
The enteric pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is a highly prevalent yet fastidious bacterium. Biofilms and surface polysaccharides participate in stress survival, transmission, and virulence in C. jejuni; thus, the identification and characterization of novel genes involved in each process have important implications for pathogenesis. We found that C. jejuni reacts with calcofluor white (CFW), indicating the presence of surface polysaccharides harboring β1-3 and/or β1-4 linkages. CFW reactivity increased with extended growth, under 42°C anaerobic conditions, and in a ΔspoT mutant defective for the stringent response (SR). Conversely, two newly isolated dim mutants exhibited diminished CFW reactivity as well as growth and serum sensitivity differences from the wild type. Genetic, biochemical, and nuclear magnetic resonance analyses suggested that differences in CFW reactivity between wild-type and ΔspoT and dim mutant strains were independent of well-characterized lipooligosaccharides, capsular polysaccharides, and N-linked polysaccharides. Targeted deletion of carB downstream of the dim13 mutation also resulted in CFW hyporeactivity, implicating a possible role for carbamoylphosphate synthase in the biosynthesis of this polysaccharide. Correlations between biofilm formation and production of the CFW-reactive polymer were demonstrated by crystal violet staining, scanning electron microscopy, and confocal microscopy, with the C. jejuni ΔspoT mutant being the first SR mutant in any bacterial species identified as up-regulating biofilms. Together, these results provide new insight into genes and processes important for biofilm formation and polysaccharide production in C. jejuni.
Campylobacter jejuni remains the leading cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in developed countries, and yet little is known concerning the mechanisms by which this fastidious organism survives within its environment. We have demonstrated that C. jejuni 11168 can form biofilms on a variety of surfaces. Proteomic analyses of planktonic and biofilm-grown cells demonstrated differences in protein expression profiles between the two growth modes. Proteins involved in the motility complex, including the flagellins (FlaA, FlaB), the filament cap (FliD), the basal body (FlgG, FlgG2), and the chemotactic protein (CheA), all exhibited higher levels of expression in biofilms than found in stationary-phase planktonic cells. Additional proteins with enhanced expression included those involved in the general (GroEL, GroES) and oxidative (Tpx, Ahp) stress responses, two known adhesins (Peb1, FlaC), and proteins involved in biosynthesis, energy generation, and catabolic functions. An aflagellate flhA mutant not only lost the ability to attach to a solid matrix and form a biofilm but could no longer form a pellicle at the air-liquid interface of a liquid culture. Insertional inactivation of genes that affect the flagellar filament (fliA, flaA, flaB, flaG) or the expression of the cell adhesin (flaC) also resulted in a delay in pellicle formation. These findings demonstrate that the flagellar motility complex plays a crucial role in the initial attachment of C. jejuni 11168 to solid surfaces during biofilm formation as well as in the cell-to-cell interactions required for pellicle formation. Continued expression of the motility complex in mature biofilms is unusual and suggests a role for the flagellar apparatus in the biofilm phenotype.
In eukaryotes, N-linked protein glycosylation is a universal modification involving addition of preformed oligosaccharides to select Asn-Xaa-Ser/Thr motifs and influencing multiple biological events. We recently demonstrated that Campylobacter jejuni is the first member of the Bacteria to possess an N-linked glycan pathway. In this study, high-resolution magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance (HR-MAS NMR) was applied to probe and quantitate C. jejuni N-glycan biosynthesis in vivo. To confirm HR-MAS NMR findings, glycosylation mutants were screened for chicken colonization potential, and glycoproteins were examined by mass spectrometry and lectin blotting. Consistent with the mechanism in eukaryotes, the combined data indicate that bacterial glycans are assembled en bloc, emphasizing the evolutionary conservation of protein N glycosylation. We also show that under the conditions examined, PglG plays no role in glycan biosynthesis, PglI is the glucosyltransferase and the putative ABC transporter, and WlaB (renamed PglK) is required for glycan assembly. These studies underpin the mechanism of N-linked protein glycosylation in Bacteria and provide a simple model system for investigating protein glycosylation and for exploitation in glycoengineering.
Campylobacter jejuni 81-176 pgl mutants impaired in general protein glycosylation showed reduced ability to adhere to and invade INT407 cells and to colonize intestinal tracts of mice.
The outer cores of the lipooligosaccharides (LOS) of many strains of Campylobacter jejuni mimic human gangliosides in structure. A population of cells of C. jejuni strain 81-176 produced a mixture of LOS cores which consisted primarily of structures mimicking GM2 and GM3 gangliosides, with minor amounts of structures mimicking GD1b and GD2. Genetic analyses of genes involved in the biosynthesis of the outer core of C. jejuni 81-176 revealed the presence of a homopolymeric tract of G residues within a gene encoding CgtA, an N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase. Variation in the number of G residues within cgtA affected the length of the open reading frame, and these changes in cgtA corresponded to a change in LOS structure from GM2 to GM3 ganglioside mimicry. Site-specific mutation of cgtA in 81-176 resulted in a major LOS core structure that lacked GalNAc and resembled GM3 ganglioside. Compared to wild-type 81-176, the cgtA mutant showed a significant increase in invasion of INT407 cells. In comparison, a site-specific mutation of the neuC1 gene resulted in the loss of sialic acid in the LOS core and reduced resistance to normal human serum but had no affect on invasion of INT407 cells.