Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (39)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

Year of Publication
more »
1.  Potassium availability triggers Mycobacterium tuberculosis transition to, and resuscitation from, non-culturable (dormant) states 
Open Biology  2014;4(10):140106.
Dormancy in non-sporulating bacteria is an interesting and underexplored phenomenon with significant medical implications. In particular, latent tuberculosis may result from the maintenance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacilli in non-replicating states in infected individuals. Uniquely, growth of M. tuberculosis in aerobic conditions in potassium-deficient media resulted in the generation of bacilli that were non-culturable (NC) on solid media but detectable in liquid media. These bacilli were morphologically distinct and tolerant to cell-wall-targeting antimicrobials. Bacterial counts on solid media quickly recovered after washing and incubating bacilli in fresh resuscitation media containing potassium. This resuscitation of growth occurred too quickly to be attributed to M. tuberculosis replication. Transcriptomic and proteomic profiling through adaptation to, and resuscitation from, this NC state revealed a switch to anaerobic respiration and a shift to lipid and amino acid metabolism. High concordance with mRNA signatures derived from M. tuberculosis infection models suggests that analogous NC mycobacterial phenotypes may exist during disease and may represent unrecognized populations in vivo. Resuscitation of NC bacilli in potassium-sufficient media was characterized by time-dependent activation of metabolic pathways in a programmed series of processes that probably transit bacilli through challenging microenvironments during infection.
PMCID: PMC4221891  PMID: 25320096
tuberculosis; dormancy; latency; transcriptional profiling; resuscitation; potassium
2.  Oleoyl Coenzyme A Regulates Interaction of Transcriptional Regulator RaaS (Rv1219c) with DNA in Mycobacteria* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2014;289(36):25241-25249.
Background: RaaS mediates mycobacterial survival in nonpermissive growth conditions by controlling expression of ATP-dependent efflux pumps.
Results: Oleoyl-CoA regulates binding of the RaaS transcription factor to DNA and thus expression of the RaaS regulon and RaaS-mediated persistence.
Conclusion: The activity of bacterial efflux is regulated by metabolites that are produced during active growth.
Significance: Dysregulation of efflux pumps results in killing of persisting mycobacteria with low metabolic activity.
We have recently shown that RaaS (regulator of antimicrobial-assisted survival), encoded by Rv1219c in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and by bcg_1279c in Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin, plays an important role in mycobacterial survival in prolonged stationary phase and during murine infection. Here, we demonstrate that long chain acyl-CoA derivatives (oleoyl-CoA and, to lesser extent, palmitoyl-CoA) modulate RaaS binding to DNA and expression of the downstream genes that encode ATP-dependent efflux pumps. Moreover, exogenously added oleic acid influences RaaS-mediated mycobacterial improvement of survival and expression of the RaaS regulon. Our data suggest that long chain acyl-CoA derivatives serve as biological indicators of the bacterial metabolic state. Dysregulation of efflux pumps can be used to eliminate non-growing mycobacteria.
PMCID: PMC4155686  PMID: 25012658
ABC Transporter; Antibiotics; Fatty Acid; Ligand-binding Protein; Mycobacteria; Transcription Repressor
3.  Antimicrobial Treatment Improves Mycobacterial Survival in Nonpermissive Growth Conditions 
Antimicrobials targeting cell wall biosynthesis are generally considered inactive against nonreplicating bacteria. Paradoxically, we found that under nonpermissive growth conditions, exposure of Mycobacterium bovis BCG bacilli to such antimicrobials enhanced their survival. We identified a transcriptional regulator, RaaS (for regulator of antimicrobial-assisted survival), encoded by bcg1279 (rv1219c) as being responsible for the observed phenomenon. Induction of this transcriptional regulator resulted in reduced expression of specific ATP-dependent efflux pumps and promoted long-term survival of mycobacteria, while its deletion accelerated bacterial death under nonpermissive growth conditions in vitro and during macrophage or mouse infection. These findings have implications for the design of antimicrobial drug combination therapies for persistent infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3993263  PMID: 24590482
4.  Evidence for a Role for Interleukin-17, Th17 Cells and Iron Homeostasis in Protective Immunity against Tuberculosis in Cynomolgus Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88149.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains a major global public health problem. The only vaccine, BCG, gives variable protection, especially in adults, so several new vaccines are in clinical trials. There are no correlates of protective immunity to TB; therefore vaccines progress through lengthy and expensive pre-clinical assessments and human trials. Correlates of protection could act as early end-points during clinical trials, accelerating vaccine development and reducing costs. A genome-wide microarray was utilised to identify potential correlates of protection and biomarkers of disease induced post-BCG vaccination and post-Mycobacterium tuberculosis challenge in PPD-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from cynomolgus macaques where the outcome of infection was known. Gene expression post BCG-vaccination and post challenge was compared with gene expression when the animals were naïve. Differentially expressed genes were identified using a moderated T test with Benjamini Hochberg multiple testing correction. After BCG vaccination and six weeks post-M. tuberculosis challenge, up-regulation of genes related to a Th1 and Th17 response was observed in disease controllers. At post-mortem, RT-PCR revealed an up-regulation of iron regulatory genes in animals that developed TB and down-regulation of these genes in disease controllers, indicating the ability to successfully withhold iron may be important in the control of TB disease. The induction of a balanced Th1 and Th17 response, together with expression of effector cytokines, such as IFNG, IL2, IL17, IL21 and IL22, could be used as correlates of a protective host response.
PMCID: PMC3913765  PMID: 24505407
5.  High Prevalence of Antibiotic-Resistant Mycoplasma genitalium in Nongonococcal Urethritis: The Need for Routine Testing and the Inadequacy of Current Treatment Options 
Mycoplasma genitalium infections were as frequent a cause of nongonococcal urethritis as Chlamydia trachomatis, had high rates of macrolide-associated genotypic resistance, and were nonclonal, suggesting an established community infection. Detection of genotypic resistance to fluoroquinolones is cause for concern.
Background. Empirical antibiotic therapy for nongonococcal urethritis (NGU) and cervicitis is aimed at Chlamydia trachomatis, but Mycoplasma genitalium, which also commonly causes undiagnosed NGU, necessitates treatment with macrolides or fluoroquinolones rather than doxycycline, the preferred chlamydia treatment. Prevalence of M. genitalium and associated genotypic markers of macrolide and fluoroquinolone resistance among men symptomatic of urethritis were investigated. Genetic diversity of M. genitalium populations was determined to infer whether findings were applicable beyond our setting.
Methods. Mycoplasma genitalium and other NGU pathogens were detected using nucleic acid amplification methods, and DNA sequencing was used to detect genotypic resistance markers of macrolide and fluoroquinolone antibiotics in 23S ribosomal RNA, gyrA, gyrB, and parC genes. MG191 single-nucleotide polymorphism typing and MG309 variable number tandem analysis were combined to assign a dual locus sequence type (DLST) to each positive sample.
Results. Among 217 men, M. genitalium prevalence was 16.7% (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.5%–24.0%) and C. trachomatis prevalence was 14.7% (95% CI, 7.8%–21.6%) in NGU cases. Nine of 22 (41%; 95% CI, 20%–62%) patients with M. genitalium were infected with DLSTs possessing genotypic macrolide resistance and 1 patient was infected with a DLST having genotypic fluoroquinolone resistance. Typing assigned M. genitalium DLSTs to 2 major clusters, broadly distributed among previously typed international strains. Genotypic macrolide resistance was spread within these 2 clusters.
Conclusions. Mycoplasma genitalium is a frequent undiagnosed cause of NGU in this population with rates of macrolide resistance higher than those previously documented. Current guidelines for routine testing and empirical treatment of NGU should be modified to reduce treatment failure of NGU and the development of further resistance.
PMCID: PMC3922211  PMID: 24280088
Mycoplasma genitalium; antimicrobial resistance; nongonococcal urethritis; sequence typing
6.  Correction: Characterisation of Bovine Leukocyte Ig-like Receptors 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):10.1371/annotation/cfb0e8b5-3815-46c1-997b-c6267ba4856b.
PMCID: PMC3414627
7.  Methionine Sulfoximine Resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Is Due to a Single Nucleotide Deletion Resulting in Increased Expression of the Major Glutamine Synthetase, GlnA1 
Microbial Drug Resistance  2011;17(3):351-355.
We investigated the effect of methionine sulfoximine (MetSox), a potent inhibitor of glutamine synthetase, on Mycobacterium tuberculosis. M. tuberculosis encodes four glutamine synthetases, of which MetSox targets the type I enzyme encoded by glnA1. Trancriptional profiling revealed that glutamate synthetase (gltB) and a type II glutamine synthetase (glnA3) were induced after exposure to MetSox. In addition, we observed a high rate (10−5) of spontaneous resistance to MetSox. All resistant strains had a single-nucleotide deletion in the 5′ region of glnA1, and Western analysis revealed that GlnA1 expression was increased in resistant as compared with sensitive strains. These data show that M. tuberculosis can respond to the effect of MetSox inhibition either by up-regulation of GlnA3 or by GlnA1. The high frequency of resistance suggests that MetSox and other compounds specifically targeting GlnA1 are not likely to become successful anti-mycobacterial agents.
PMCID: PMC3161625  PMID: 21875360
8.  Characterisation of Bovine Leukocyte Ig-like Receptors 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34291.
Leukocyte Immunoglobulin-like receptors (LILR) are innate immune receptors involved in regulating both innate and adaptive immune functions. LILR show more interspecies conservation than the closely related Killer Ig-like receptors, and homologues have been identified in rodents, primates, seals and chickens. The murine equivalents, paired Ig-like receptors (PIR), contain two additional immunoglobulin domains, but show strong sequence and functional similarities to human LILR. The bovine genome was recently sequenced, with preliminary annotations indicating that LILR were present in this species. We therefore sought to identify and characterize novel LILR within the Bos taurus genome, compare these phylogenetically with LILR from other species and determine whether they were expressed in vivo. Twenty six potential bovine LILR were initially identified using BLAST and BLAT software. Phylogenetic analysis constructed using the neighbour-joining method, incorporating pairwise deletion and confidence limits estimated from 1000 replicates using bootstrapping, indicated that 16 of these represent novel bovine LILR. Protein structures defined using protein BLAST predict that the bovine LILR family comprises seven putative inhibitory, four activating and five soluble receptors. Preliminary expression analysis was performed by mapping the predicted sequences with raw data from total transcript sequence generated using Genome Analyzer IIx (Illumina) to provide evidence that all 16 of these receptors are expressed in vivo. The bovine receptor family appears to contain receptors which resemble the six domain rodent PIR as well as the four domain LILR found in other species.
PMCID: PMC3317502  PMID: 22485161
9.  Stationary phase gene expression of Mycobacterium tuberculosis following a progressive nutrient depletion: a model for persistent organisms?,  
Tuberculosis (Edinburgh, Scotland)  2004;84(3-4):228-238.
The majority of individuals infected with TB develop a latent infection, in which organisms survive within the body while evading the host immune system. Such persistent bacilli are capable of surviving several months of combinatorial antibiotic treatment. Evidence suggests that stationary phase bacteria adapt to increase their tolerance to environmental stresses. We have developed a unique in vitro model of dormancy based on the characterization of a single, large volume fermenter culture of M. tuberculosis, as it adapts to stationary phase. Cells are maintained in controlled and defined aerobic conditions (50% dissolved oxygen tension), using probes that measure dissolved oxygen tension, temperature, and pH. Microarray analysis has been used in conjunction with viability and nutrient depletion assays to dissect differential gene expression. Following exponential phase growth the gradual depletion of glucose/glycerol resulted in a small population of survivors that were characterized for periods in excess of 100 days. Bacilli adapting to nutrient depletion displayed characteristics associated with persistence in vivo, including entry into a non-replicative state and the up-regulation of genes involved in β-oxidation of fatty acids and virulence. A reduced population of non-replicating bacilli went on to adapt sufficiently to re-initiate cellular division.
PMCID: PMC3195342  PMID: 15207492
Tuberculosis; Persistence; Metabolism; Microarray; Stationary phase
10.  BμG@Sbase—a microbial gene expression and comparative genomic database 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(Database issue):D605-D609.
The reducing cost of high-throughput functional genomic technologies is creating a deluge of high volume, complex data, placing the burden on bioinformatics resources and tool development. The Bacterial Microarray Group at St George's (BμG@S) has been at the forefront of bacterial microarray design and analysis for over a decade and while serving as a hub of a global network of microbial research groups has developed BμG@Sbase, a microbial gene expression and comparative genomic database. BμG@Sbase ( is a web-browsable, expertly curated, MIAME-compliant database that stores comprehensive experimental annotation and multiple raw and analysed data formats. Consistent annotation is enabled through a structured set of web forms, which guide the user through the process following a set of best practices and controlled vocabulary. The database currently contains 86 expertly curated publicly available data sets (with a further 124 not yet published) and full annotation information for 59 bacterial microarray designs. The data can be browsed and queried using an explorer-like interface; integrating intuitive tree diagrams to present complex experimental details clearly and concisely. Furthermore the modular design of the database will provide a robust platform for integrating other data types beyond microarrays into a more Systems analysis based future.
PMCID: PMC3245117  PMID: 21948792
11.  Mycobacterial P1-Type ATPases Mediate Resistance to Zinc Poisoning in Human Macrophages 
Cell Host & Microbe  2011;10(3):248-259.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis thrives within macrophages by residing in phagosomes and preventing them from maturing and fusing with lysosomes. A parallel transcriptional survey of intracellular mycobacteria and their host macrophages revealed signatures of heavy metal poisoning. In particular, mycobacterial genes encoding heavy metal efflux P-type ATPases CtpC, CtpG, and CtpV, and host cell metallothioneins and zinc exporter ZnT1, were induced during infection. Consistent with this pattern of gene modulation, we observed a burst of free zinc inside macrophages, and intraphagosomal zinc accumulation within a few hours postinfection. Zinc exposure led to rapid CtpC induction, and ctpC deficiency caused zinc retention within the mycobacterial cytoplasm, leading to impaired intracellular growth of the bacilli. Thus, the use of P1-type ATPases represents a M. tuberculosis strategy to neutralize the toxic effects of zinc in macrophages. We propose that heavy metal toxicity and its counteraction might represent yet another chapter in the host-microbe arms race.
► Zinc accumulates in the M. tuberculosis (Mtb) phagosome in macrophages (Mϕ) ► Mtb P1-type ATPases, including CtpC, are induced upon exposure to zinc inside Mϕ ► CtpC enables Mtb resistance to zinc poisoning and intracellular survival in Mϕ ► P1-type zinc efflux ATPase ZntA null E. coli is highly susceptible to Mϕ killing
PMCID: PMC3221041  PMID: 21925112
12.  Advanced significance analysis of microarray data based on weighted resampling: a comparative study and application to gene deletions in Mycobacterium bovis 
Bioinformatics (Oxford, England)  2004;20(3):357-363.
When analyzing microarray data, non-biological variation introduces uncertainty in the analysis and interpretation. In this paper we focus on the validation of significant differences in gene expression levels, or normalized channel intensity levels with respect to different experimental conditions and with replicated measurements. A myriad of methods have been proposed to study differences in gene expression levels and to assign significance values as a measure of confidence. In this paper we compare several methods, including SAM, regularized t-test, mixture modeling, Wilk’s lambda score and variance stabilization. From this comparison we developed a weighted resampling approach and applied it to gene deletions in Mycobacterium bovis.
We discuss the assumptions, model structure, computational complexity and applicability to microarray data. The results of our study justified the theoretical basis of the weighted resampling approach, which clearly outperforms the others.
Algorithms were implemented using the statistical programming language R and available on the author’s web-page.
PMCID: PMC3128991  PMID: 14960462
13.  Benzothiazinones Kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis by Blocking Arabinan Synthesis 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2009;324(5928):801-804.
New drugs are required to counter the tuberculosis (TB) pandemic. Here, we describe the synthesis and characterization of 1,3-benzothiazin-4-ones (BTZs), a new class of antimycobacterial agents that kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis in vitro, ex vivo, and in mouse models of TB. Using genetics and biochemistry, we identified the enzyme decaprenylphosphoryl-β-d-ribose 2′-epimerase as a major BTZ target. Inhibition of this enzymatic activity abolishes the formation of decaprenylphosphoryl arabinose, a key precursor that is required for the synthesis of the cell-wall arabinans, thus provoking cell lysis and bacterial death. The most advanced compound, BTZ043, is a candidate for inclusion in combination therapies for both drug-sensitive and extensively drug-resistant TB.
PMCID: PMC3128490  PMID: 19299584
14.  RNA profiling in host–pathogen interactions 
Current opinion in microbiology  2007;10(3):297-302.
The development of novel anti-bacterial treatment strategies will be aided by an increased understanding of the interactions that take place between bacteria and host cells during infection. Global expression profiling using microarray technologies can help to describe and define the mechanisms required by bacterial pathogens to cause disease, and the host responses required to defeat bacterial infection.
PMCID: PMC3128493  PMID: 17574903
15.  Lipid composition and transcriptional response of Mycobacterium tuberculosis grown under iron-limitation in continuous culture: identification of a novel wax ester 
Microbiology (Reading, England)  2007;153(Pt 5):1435-1444.
The low level of available iron in vivo is a major obstacle for microbial pathogens and is a stimulus for the expression of virulence genes. In this study, Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv was grown aerobically in the presence of limited iron availability in chemostat culture to determine the physiological response of the organism to iron-limitation. A previously unidentified wax ester accumulated under iron-limited growth, and changes in the abundance of triacylglycerol and menaquinone were also observed between iron-replete and iron-limited chemostat cultures. DNA microarray analysis revealed differential expression of genes involved in glycerolipid metabolism and isoprenoid quinone biosynthesis, providing some insight into the underlying genetic changes that correlate with cell-wall lipid profiles of M. tuberculosis growing in an iron-limited environment.
PMCID: PMC3123377  PMID: 17464057
16.  Microarray Analysis of Whole Genome Expression of Intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Current molecular medicine  2007;7(3):287-296.
Analysis of the changing mRNA expression profile of Mycobacterium tuberculosis though the course of infection promises to advance our understanding of how mycobacteria are able to survive the host immune response. The difficulties of sample extraction from distinct mycobacterial populations, and of measuring mRNA expression profiles of multiple genes has limited the impact of gene expression studies on our interpretation of this dynamic infection process. The development of whole genome microarray technology together with advances in sample collection have allowed the expression pattern of the whole M. tuberculosis genome to be compared across a number of different in vitro conditions, murine and human tissue culture models and in vivo infection samples. This review attempts to produce a summative model of the M. tuberculosis response to infection derived from or reflected in these gene expression datasets. The mycobacterial response to the intracellular environment is characterised by the utilisation of lipids as a carbon source and the switch from aerobic/microaerophilic to anaerobic respiratory pathways. Other genes induced in the macrophage phagosome include those likely to be involved in the maintenance of the cell wall and genes related to DNA damage, heat shock, iron sequestration and nutrient limitation. The comparison of transcriptional data from in vitro models of infection with complex in vivo samples, together with the use of bacterial RNA amplification strategies to sample defined populations of bacilli, should allow us to make conclusions about M. tuberculosis physiology and host microenvironments during natural infection.
PMCID: PMC3123378  PMID: 17504113
Intracellular; expression; microarray; transcriptomics; mycobacterium; macrophage; host pathogen interactions
17.  Contrasting Transcriptional Responses of a Virulent and an Attenuated Strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infecting Macrophages 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11066.
H37Rv and H37Ra are well-described laboratory strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis derived from the same parental strain, H37, that show dramatically different pathogenic phenotypes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, the transcriptomes of the two strains during axenic growth in broth and during intracellular growth within murine bone-marrow macrophages were compared by whole genome expression profiling. We identified and compared adaptations of either strain upon encountering an intracellular environment, and also contrasted the transcriptomes of the two strains while inside macrophages. In the former comparison, both strains induced genes that would facilitate intracellular survival including those involved in mycobactin synthesis and fatty acid metabolism. However, this response was stronger and more extensive for H37Rv than for H37Ra. This was manifested as the differential expression of a greater number of genes and an increased magnitude of expression for these genes in H37Rv. In comparing intracellular transcriptional signatures, fifty genes were found to be differentially expressed between the strains. Of these fifty, twelve were under control of the PhoPR regulon. Further differences between strains included genes whose products were members of the ESAT-6 family of proteins, or were associated with their secretion.
Along with the recent identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms in H37Ra when compared to H37Rv, our demonstration of differential expression of PhoP-regulated and ESX-1 region-related genes during macrophage infection further highlights the significance of these genes in the attenuation of H37Ra.
PMCID: PMC2883559  PMID: 20548782
18.  Variation in Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhi IncHI1 Plasmids during the Global Spread of Resistant Typhoid Fever▿ † 
A global collection of plasmids of the IncHI1 incompatibility group from Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi were analyzed by using a combination of DNA sequencing, DNA sequence analysis, PCR, and microarrays. The IncHI1 resistance plasmids of serovar Typhi display a backbone of conserved gene content and arrangement, within which are embedded preferred acquisition sites for horizontal DNA transfer events. The variable regions appear to be preferred acquisition sites for DNA, most likely through composite transposition, which is presumably driven by the acquisition of resistance genes. Plasmid multilocus sequence typing, a molecular typing method for IncHI1 plasmids, was developed using variation in six conserved loci to trace the spread of these plasmids and to elucidate their evolutionary relationships. The application of this method to a collection of 36 IncHI1 plasmids revealed a chronological clustering of plasmids despite their difference in geographical origins. Our findings suggest that the predominant plasmid types present after 1993 have not evolved directly from the earlier predominant plasmid type but have displaced them. We propose that antibiotic selection acts to maintain resistance genes on the plasmid, but there is also competition between plasmids encoding the same resistance phenotype.
PMCID: PMC2630618  PMID: 19015365
19.  Genomic Diversity among Beijing and non-Beijing Mycobacterium tuberculosis Isolates from Myanmar 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(4):e1973.
The Beijing family of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is dominant in countries in East Asia. Genomic polymorphisms are a source of diversity within the M. tuberculosis genome and may account for the variation of virulence among M. tuberculosis isolates. Till date there are no studies that have examined the genomic composition of M. tuberculosis isolates from the high TB-burden country, Myanmar.
Methodology/Principle Findings
Twenty-two M. tuberculosis isolates from Myanmar were screened on whole-genome arrays containing genes from M. tuberculosis H37Rv, M. tuberculosis CDC1551 and M. bovis AF22197. Screening identified 198 deletions or extra regions in the clinical isolates compared to H37Rv. Twenty-two regions differentiated between Beijing and non-Beijing isolates and were verified by PCR on an additional 40 isolates. Six regions (Rv0071-0074 [RD105], Rv1572-1576c [RD149], Rv1585c-1587c [RD149], MT1798-Rv1755c [RD152], Rv1761c [RD152] and Rv0279c) were deleted in Beijing isolates, of which 4 (Rv1572-1576c, Rv1585c-1587c, MT1798-Rv1755c and Rv1761c) were variably deleted among ST42 isolates, indicating a closer relationship between the Beijing and ST42 lineages. The TbD1 region, Mb1582-Mb1583 was deleted in Beijing and ST42 isolates. One M. bovis gene of unknown function, Mb3184c was present in all isolates, except 11 of 13 ST42 isolates. The CDC1551 gene, MT1360 coding for a putative adenylate cyclase, was present in all Beijing and ST42 isolates (except 1). The pks15/1 gene, coding for a putative virulence factor, was intact in all Beijing and non-Beijing isolates, except in ST42 and ST53 isolates.
This study describes previously unreported deletions/extra regions in Beijing and non-Beijing M. tuberculosis isolates. The modern and highly frequent ST42 lineage showed a closer relationship to the hypervirulent Beijing lineage than to the ancient non-Beijing lineages. The pks15/1 gene was disrupted only in modern non-Beijing isolates. This is the first report of an in-depth analysis on the genomic diversity of M. tuberculosis isolates from Myanmar.
PMCID: PMC2276860  PMID: 18398483
20.  Cytological and Transcript Analyses Reveal Fat and Lazy Persister-Like Bacilli in Tuberculous Sputum 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(4):e75.
Tuberculous sputum provides a sample of bacilli that must be eliminated by chemotherapy and that may go on to transmit infection. A preliminary observation that Mycobacterium tuberculosis cells contain triacylglycerol lipid bodies in sputum, but not when growing in vitro, led us to investigate the extent of this phenomenon and its physiological basis.
Methods and Findings
Microscopy-positive sputum samples from the UK and The Gambia were investigated for their content of lipid body–positive mycobacteria by combined Nile red and auramine staining. All samples contained a lipid body–positive population varying from 3% to 86% of the acid-fast bacilli present. The recent finding that triacylglycerol synthase is expressed by mycobacteria when they enter in vitro nonreplicating persistence led us to investigate whether this state was also associated with lipid body formation. We found that, when placed in laboratory conditions inducing nonreplicating persistence, two M. tuberculosis strains had lipid body levels comparable to those found in sputum. We investigated these physiological findings further by comparing the M. tuberculosis transcriptome of growing and nonreplicating persistence cultures with that obtained directly from sputum samples. Although sputum has traditionally been thought to contain actively growing tubercle bacilli, our transcript analyses refute the hypothesis that these cells predominate. Rather, they reinforce the results of the lipid body analyses by revealing transcriptional signatures that can be clearly attributed to slowly replicating or nonreplicating mycobacteria. Finally, the lipid body count was highly correlated (R2 = 0.64, p < 0.03) with time to positivity in diagnostic liquid cultures, thereby establishing a direct link between this cytological feature and the size of a potential nonreplicating population.
As nonreplicating tubercle bacilli are tolerant to the cidal action of antibiotics and resistant to multiple stresses, identification of this persister-like population of tubercle bacilli in sputum presents exciting and tractable new opportunities to investigate both responses to chemotherapy and the transmission of tuberculosis.
Studying sputum from humans with pulmonary tuberculosis, Michael Barer and colleagues detect mycobacteria containing lipid bodies. Analyses linking this cytological feature to a slow-growing phenotype sheds light on persistence.
Editors' Summary
Every year, nearly nine million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious infection usually of the lungs—and about two million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that are spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. The symptoms of tuberculosis include a persistent cough, weight loss, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests include chest X-rays, the tuberculin skin test, and sputum analysis. For the last of these tests, a sample of sputum (mucus and other matter brought up from the lungs by coughing) is collected and then taken to a laboratory where bacteriologists look for M. tuberculosis using special stains—tuberculosis-positive sputum contains “acid-fast bacilli”—and also try to grow bacteria from the sample. Tuberculosis can be cured by taking several powerful antibiotics for several months. It is very important that this treatment is completed to ensure that all the M. tuberculosis bacteria in the body are killed and to prevent the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria.
Why Was This Study Done?
Strenuous efforts are being made to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis but with limited success so far for many reasons. One barrier to success is the efficiency with which M. tuberculosis spreads from one person to another. Very little is known about this part of the bacteria's life cycle. If scientists could understand more about the transmission of M. tuberculosis between people, they might identify new therapeutic and preventative targets. In the study, therefore, the researchers examine the acid-fast bacilli in tuberculosis-positive sputum samples to get a snapshot of M. tuberculosis at the point of its transmission to a new person and ask how the characteristics of these bacilli compare with those of M. tuberculosis growing in the laboratory.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected sputum samples from patients with tuberculosis in the UK and The Gambia before they received any treatment, and looked for the presence of acid-fast bacilli containing “lipid bodies.” These small structures contain a fat called triacylglycerol. M. tuberculosis accumulates triacylglycerol when it is exposed to several stresses present during infection (for example, reduced oxygen or hypoxia) and the researchers suggest that the presence of this fat may help the bacteria survive during transmission and establish a new infection. They found that all the samples contained some lipid body–positive acid-fast bacilli. Next, the researchers showed that M. tuberculosis grown in the laboratory under hypoxic conditions, which induce the bacteria to enter an antibiotic-tolerant condition called a “nonreplicating persistent” (NRP) state, also accumulated lipid bodies. This result suggests that the lipid body–positive acid-fast bacilli in sputum might be in an NRP state. To test this idea, the researchers compared the pattern of mRNAs (the templates from which proteins are produced; the pattern of mRNAs is called the transcriptome and gives an idea of which proteins a cell is making under given conditions) made by growing cultures of M. tuberculosis, by M. tuberculosis maintained in the NRP state, and by the acid-fast bacilli in several sputum samples. The transcriptome of the sputum sample revealed production of many proteins made in the NRP state. Finally, the researchers showed that the time needed to grow M. tuberculosis from sputum samples increased as the proportion of lipid body–positive acid-fast bacilli in the sputum increased, just as one would suspect if the presence of lipid bodies signifies nongrowing cells.
What Do These Findings Mean?
It has been generally assumed that the acid-fast bacilli in sputum collected from patients with tuberculosis are rapidly replicating M. tuberculosis released from infected areas of the lungs. By identifying a population of bacteria that contain lipid bodies and that are in an NRP-like state in all the samples of sputum examined from two geographical sites, this study strongly challenges this assumption. The characteristics of this population of bacteria, the researchers suggest, might help them survive the adverse conditions that M. tuberculosis encounters during transmission between people and might partly explain why complete clearance of M. tuberculosis requires extended treatment with antibiotics. To establish the clinical significance of these findings, future studies will need to examine whether antibiotic treatment affects the frequency of lipid body–positive M. tuberculosis bacteria in patients' sputum and whether there is any relationship between this measurement and infectiousness, or clinical response to treatment.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains pages on tuberculosis and on sputum culture (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Tuberculosis Elimination provides several fact sheets and other information resources about tuberculosis
The World Health Organization provides information on efforts to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis
PMCID: PMC2276522  PMID: 18384229
21.  Microarray analysis of defined Mycobacterium tuberculosis populations using RNA amplification strategies 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:94.
The amplification of bacterial RNA is required if complex host-pathogen interactions are to be studied where the recovery of bacterial RNA is limited. Here, using a whole genome Mycobacterium tuberculosis microarray to measure cross-genome representation of amplified mRNA populations, we have investigated two approaches to RNA amplification using different priming strategies. The first using oligo-dT primers after polyadenylation of the bacterial RNA, the second using a set of mycobacterial amplification-directed primers both linked to T7 polymerase in vitro run off transcription.
The reproducibility, sensitivity, and the representational bias introduced by these amplification systems were examined by contrasting expression profiles of the amplified products from inputs of 500, 50 and 5 ng total M. tuberculosis RNA with unamplified RNA from the same source. In addition, as a direct measure of the effectiveness of bacterial amplification for identifying biologically relevant changes in gene expression, a model M. tuberculosis system of microaerophilic growth and non-replicating persistence was used to assess the capability of amplified RNA microarray comparisons. Mycobacterial RNA was reproducibly amplified using both methods from as little as 5 ng total RNA (~equivalent to 2 × 105 bacilli). Differential gene expression patterns observed with unamplified RNA in the switch from aerobic to microaerophilic growth were also reflected in the amplified expression profiles using both methods.
Here we describe two reproducible methods of bacterial RNA amplification that will allow previously intractable host-pathogen interactions during bacterial infection to be explored at the whole genome level by RNA profiling.
PMCID: PMC2276497  PMID: 18298834
22.  Probing Host Pathogen Cross-Talk by Transcriptional Profiling of Both Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Infected Human Dendritic Cells and Macrophages 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(1):e1403.
Transcriptional profiling using microarrays provides a unique opportunity to decipher host pathogen cross-talk on the global level. Here, for the first time, we have been able to investigate gene expression changes in both Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a major human pathogen, and its human host cells, macrophages and dendritic cells.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In addition to common responses, we could identify eukaryotic and microbial transcriptional signatures that are specific to the cell type involved in the infection process. In particular M. tuberculosis shows a marked stress response when inside dendritic cells, which is in accordance with the low permissivity of these specialized phagocytes to the tubercle bacillus and to other pathogens. In contrast, the mycobacterial transcriptome inside macrophages reflects that of replicating bacteria. On the host cell side, differential responses to infection in macrophages and dendritic cells were identified in genes involved in oxidative stress, intracellular vesicle trafficking and phagosome acidification.
This study provides the proof of principle that probing the host and the microbe transcriptomes simultaneously is a valuable means to accessing unique information on host pathogen interactions. Our results also underline the extraordinary plasticity of host cell and pathogen responses to infection, and provide a solid framework to further understand the complex mechanisms involved in immunity to M. tuberculosis and in mycobacterial adaptation to different intracellular environments.
PMCID: PMC2151136  PMID: 18167562
23.  Microarrays Reveal that Each of the Ten Dominant Lineages of Staphylococcus aureus Has a Unique Combination of Surface-Associated and Regulatory Genes†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(2):669-676.
Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause of hospital-acquired infection. In healthy hosts outside of the health care setting, S. aureus is a frequent colonizer of the human nose but rarely causes severe invasive infection such as bacteremia, endocarditis, or osteomyelitis. To identify genes associated with community-acquired invasive isolates, regions of genomic variability, and the S. aureus population structure, we compared 61 community-acquired invasive isolates of S. aureus and 100 nasal carriage isolates from healthy donors using a microarray spotted with PCR products representing every gene from the seven S. aureus sequencing projects. The core genes common to all strains were identified, and 10 dominant lineages of S. aureus were clearly discriminated. Each lineage carried a unique combination of hundreds of “core variable” (CV) genes scattered throughout the chromosome, suggesting a common ancestor but early evolutionary divergence. Many CV genes are regulators of virulence genes or known or predicted to be expressed on the bacterial surface and to interact with the host during nasal colonization and infection. Within each lineage, isolates showed substantial variation in the carriage of mobile genetic elements and their associated virulence and resistance genes, indicating frequent horizontal transfer. However, we were unable to identify any association between lineage or gene and invasive isolates. We suggest that the S. aureus gene combinations necessary for invasive disease may also be necessary for nasal colonization and that community-acquired invasive disease is strongly dependent on host factors.
PMCID: PMC1347281  PMID: 16385056
24.  Dissection of ESAT-6 System 1 of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Impact on Immunogenicity and Virulence  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(1):88-98.
The dedicated secretion system ESX-1 of Mycobacterium tuberculosis encoded by the extended RD1 region (extRD1) assures export of the ESAT-6 protein and its partner, the 10-kDa culture filtrate protein CFP-10, and is missing from the vaccine strains M. bovis BCG and M. microti. Here, we systematically investigated the involvement of each individual ESX-1 gene in the secretion of both antigens, specific immunogenicity, and virulence. ESX-1-complemented BCG and M. microti strains were more efficiently engulfed by bone-marrow-derived macrophages than controls, and this may account for the enhanced in vivo growth of ESX-1-carrying strains. Inactivation of gene pe35 (Rv3872) impaired expression of CFP-10 and ESAT-6, suggesting a role in regulation. Genes Rv3868, Rv3869, Rv3870, Rv3871, and Rv3877 encoding an ATP-dependent chaperone and translocon were essential for secretion of ESAT-6 and CFP-10 in contrast to ppe68 Rv3873 and Rv3876, whose inactivation did not impair secretion of ESAT-6. A strict correlation was found between ESAT-6 export and the generation of ESAT-6 specific T-cell responses in mice. Furthermore, ESAT-6 secretion and specific immunogenicity were almost always correlated with enhanced virulence in the SCID mouse model. Only loss of Rv3865 and part of Rv3866 did not affect ESAT-6 secretion or immunogenicity but led to attenuation. This suggests that Rv3865/66 represent a new virulence factor that is independent from ESAT-6 secretion. The present study has allowed us to identify new aspects of the extRD1 region of M. tuberculosis and to explore its role in the pathogenesis of tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC1346617  PMID: 16368961
25.  Design, Validation, and Application of a Seven-Strain Staphylococcus aureus PCR Product Microarray for Comparative Genomics†  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(11):7504-7514.
Bacterial comparative genomics has been revolutionized by microarrays, but the power of any microarray is dependent on the number and diversity of gene reporters it contains. Staphylococcus aureus is an important human pathogen causing a wide range of invasive and toxin-mediated diseases, and more than 20% of the genome of any isolate consists of variable genes. Seven whole-genome sequences of S. aureus are available, and we exploited this rare opportunity to design, build, and validate a comprehensive, nonredundant PCR product microarray carrying reporters that represent every predicted open reading frame (3,623 probes). Such a comprehensive microarray necessitated a novel design strategy. Validation with the seven sequenced strains showed correct identification of 93.9% of genes present or absent/divergent but was dependent on the method of analysis chosen. Microarray data were highly reproducible, reducing the need for many replicate slides. Interpretation of microarray data was enhanced by focusing on the major areas of variation—the presence or absence of mobile genetic elements (MGEs). We compiled “composite genomes” of every individual MGE and visualized their distribution. This allowed the sensitive discrimination of related isolates, including the first clear description of how isolates of the same clone of epidemic methicillin-resistant S. aureus differ substantially in their carriage of MGEs. These MGEs carry virulence and resistance genes, suggesting differences in pathogenic potential. The novel methods of design and interpretation of data generated from this microarray will enable further studies of S. aureus evolution, epidemiology, and pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC1287626  PMID: 16269792

Results 1-25 (39)