Streptococcus pneumoniae of serotype 3 possess a mucoid capsule and cause disease associated with high mortality rates relative to other pneumococci. Phylogenetic analysis of a complete reference genome and 81 draft sequences from clonal complex 180, the predominant serotype 3 clone in much of the world, found most sampled isolates belonged to a clade affected by few diversifying recombinations. However, other isolates indicate significant genetic variation has accumulated over the clonal complex's entire history. Two closely related genomes, one from the blood and another from the cerebrospinal fluid, were obtained from a patient with meningitis. The pair differed in their behaviour in a mouse model of disease and in their susceptibility to antimicrobials, with at least some of these changes attributable to a mutation that up-regulated the patAB efflux pump. This indicates clinically important phenotypic variation can accumulate rapidly through small alterations to the genotype.
Streptococcus pneumoniae (‘the pneumococcus’) is a bacterium commonly found asymptomatically in the human nasopharynx that represents a common cause of diseases such as pneumonia, bacteraemia and meningitis. Some strains have been found to exchange DNA with other bacteria at a high rate. However, serotype 3 pneumococci are unusual both in not exhibiting much genetic variation and causing disease with a comparatively high relative rate of mortality. Here we used whole genome sequencing to characterise 82 serotype 3 pneumococci, finding that the majority of the population accumulate variation very slowly. However, comparing two isolates from a single case of disease revealed a small number of mutations had occurred over a short period of time. These resulted in differences in the activity of several genes, including two encoding a drug efflux pump. The pair of isolates was found to differ in their tolerance of different antimicrobial compounds and their behaviour in a mouse model of disease. However, moving the mutation that caused the change in resistance into a distantly-related pneumococcus failed to fully replicate the other changes in behaviour, which indicates that interpretation of the impact of mutations in different strains of diverse bacterial species will be difficult.
Background. Pneumococci could evade pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) by modifying, mutating, or deleting vaccine-serotype capsule genes or by downregulating capsule production. We sought to assess whether pneumococci that are nontypeable (NT) by the Quellung reaction truly lack capsule genes or are failing to produce capsule in vitro.
Methods. We applied multilocus sequence typing and a microarray for detection of pneumococcal polysaccharide capsule biosynthesis genes to NT carriage (children aged <5 years; years 1997–2000, 2006–2008) and NT invasive disease (IPD) (all ages; years 1994–2007) isolates from Native American communities.
Results. Twenty-seven of 28 (96.4%) NT IPD isolates had sequence types (STs) typically found among typeable IPD isolates and contained whole or fragments of capsule genes that matched known serotypes; 1 NT-IPD isolate had a profile resembling NT carriage isolates. Forty-nine of 76 (64.5%) NT carriage isolates had STs that typically lack capsule genes and were similar to NT carriage isolates found globally.
Conclusions. This is the first documentation of IPD from an NT strain confirmed to lack all known capsule genes. Most NT IPD isolates have or had the capacity to produce capsule, whereas a majority of NT carriage isolates lack this capacity. We found no evidence of pneumococcal adaptation to PCV7 via downregulation or deletion of vaccine-serotype capsule genes.
Pneumococci could evade pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) by modifying, mutating, or deleting vaccine-serotype capsule genes or by downregulating capsule production. We sought to assess whether pneumococci that are nontypeable (NT) by the Quellung reaction truly lack capsule genes or are failing to produce capsule in vitro.
We applied multilocus sequence typing and a microarray for detection of pneumococcal polysaccharide capsule biosynthesis genes to NT carriage (children aged <5 years; years 1997–2000, 2006–2008) and NT invasive disease (IPD) (all ages; years 1994–2007) isolates from Native American communities.
Twenty-seven of 28 (96.4%) NT IPD isolates had sequence types (STs) typically found among typeable IPD isolates and contained whole or fragments of capsule genes that matched known serotypes; 1 NT-IPD isolate had a profile resembling NT carriage isolates. Forty-nine of 76 (64.5%) NT carriage isolates had STs that typically lack capsule genes and were similar to NT carriage isolates found globally.
This is the first documentation of IPD from an NT strain confirmed to lack all known capsule genes. Most NT IPD isolates have or had the capacity to produce capsule, whereas a majority of NT carriage isolates lack this capacity. We found no evidence of pneumococcal adaptation to PCV7 via downregulation or deletion of vaccine-serotype capsule genes.
We applied comparative phylogenomics (whole genome comparisons of microbes using DNA microarrays combined with Bayesian-based phylogenies) to investigate S. pneumoniae isolates from West Africa, with the aim of providing insights into the pathogenicity and other features related to the biology of the organism. The strains investigated comprised a well defined collection of 58 invasive and carriage isolates that were sequenced typed and included eight different S. pneumoniae serotypes (1, 3, 5, 6A, 11, 14, 19 F and 23 F) of varying invasive disease potential.
The core genome of the isolates was estimated to be 38% and was mainly represented by gene functional categories associated with housekeeping functions. Comparison of the gene content of invasive and carriage isolates identified at least eleven potential genes that may be important in virulence including surface proteins, transport proteins, transcription factors and hypothetical proteins. Thirteen accessory regions (ARs) were also identified and did not show any loci association with the eleven virulence genes. Intraclonal diversity (isolates of the same serotype and MLST but expressing different patterns of ARs) was observed among some clones including ST 1233 (serotype 5), ST 3404 (serotype 5) and ST 3321 (serotype 14). A constructed phylogenetic tree of the isolates showed a high level of heterogeneity consistent with the frequent S. pneumoniae recombination. Despite this, a homogeneous clustering of all the serotype 1 strains was observed.
Comparative phylogenomics of invasive and carriage S. pneumoniae isolates identified a number of putative virulence determinants that may be important in the progression of S. pneumoniae from the carriage phase to invasive disease. Virulence determinants that contribute to S. pneumoniae pathogenicity are likely to be distributed randomly throughout its genome rather than being clustered in dedicated loci or islands. Compared to other S. pneumoniae serotypes, serotype 1 appears most genetically uniform.
Understanding the epidemiology of pneumococcal co-colonization is important for monitoring vaccine effectiveness and the occurrence of horizontal gene transfer between pneumococcal strains. In this study we aimed to evaluate the impact of the seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) on pneumococcal co-colonization among Portuguese children. Nasopharyngeal samples from children up to 6 years old yielding a pneumococcal culture were clustered into three groups: pre-vaccine era (n = 173), unvaccinated children of the vaccine era (n = 169), and fully vaccinated children (4 doses; n = 150). Co-colonization, serotype identification, and relative serotype abundance were detected by analysis of DNA of the total bacterial growth of the primary culture plate using the plyNCR-RFLP method and a molecular serotyping microarray-based strategy. The plyNCR-RFLP method detected an overall co-colonization rate of 20.1%. Microarray analysis confirmed the plyNCR-RFLP results. Vaccination status was the only factor found to be significantly associated with co-colonization: co-colonization rates were significantly lower (p = 0.004; Fisher's exact test) among fully vaccinated children (8.0%) than among children from the pre-PCV7 era (17.3%) or unvaccinated children of the PCV7 era (18.3%). In the PCV7 era there were significantly less non-vaccine type (NVT) co-colonization events than would be expected based on the NVT distribution observed in the pre-PCV7 era (p = 0.024). In conclusion, vaccination with PCV7 resulted in a lower co-colonization rate due to an asymmetric distribution between NVTs found in single and co-colonized samples. We propose that some NVTs prevalent in the PCV7 era are more competitive than others, hampering their co-existence in the same niche. This result may have important implications since a decrease in co-colonization events is expected to translate in decreased opportunities for horizontal gene transfer, hindering pneumococcal evolution events such as acquisition of antibiotic resistance determinants or capsular switch. This might represent a novel potential benefit of conjugate vaccines.
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.
Tuberculosis; Persistence; Metabolism; Microarray; Stationary phase
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 (http://bugs.sgul.ac.uk/bugsbase/) 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.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus clonal complex (CC) 398 has emerged from pigs to cause human infections in Europe and North America. We used a new 62-strain S. aureus microarray (SAM-62) to compare genomes of isolates from three geographical areas (Belgium, Denmark, and Netherlands) to understand how CC398 colonizes different mammalian hosts. The core genomes of 44 pig isolates and 32 isolates from humans did not vary. However, mobile genetic element (MGE) distribution was variable including SCCmec. φ3 bacteriophage and human specificity genes (chp, sak, scn) were found in invasive human but not pig isolates. SaPI5 and putative ruminant specificity gene variants (vwb and scn) were common but not pig specific. Virulence and resistance gene carriage was host associated but country specific. We conclude MGE exchange is frequent in CC398 and greatest among populations in close contact. This feature may help determine epidemiological associations among isolates of the same lineage.
methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; host specificity; mobile genetic elements; zoonoses; bacteriophages
Genome sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex members has accelerated the search for new disease-control tools. Antigen mining is one area that has benefited enormously from access to genome data. As part of an ongoing antigen mining programme, we screened genes that were previously identified by transcriptome analysis as upregulated in response to an in vitro acid shock for their in vivo expression profile and antigenicity. We show that the genes encoding two methyltransferases, Mb1438c/Rv1403c and Mb1440c/Rv1404c, were highly upregulated in a mouse model of infection, and were antigenic in M. bovis-infected cattle. As the genes encoding these antigens were highly upregulated in vivo, we sought to define their genetic regulation. A mutant was constructed that was deleted for their putative regulator, Mb1439/Rv1404; loss of the regulator led to increased expression of the flanking methyltransferases and a defined set of distal genes. This work has therefore generated both applied and fundamental outputs, with the description of novel mycobacterial antigens that can now be moved into field trials, but also with the description of a regulatory network that is responsive to both in vivo and in vitro stimuli.
A novel ArsR-SmtB family transcriptional repressor, KmtR, has been characterized from mycobacteria. Mutants of Mycobacterium tuberculosis lacking kmtR show elevated expression of Rv2025c encoding a deduced CDF-family metal exporter. KmtR-dependent repression of the cdf and kmtR operator-promoters was alleviated by nickel and cobalt in minimal medium. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays and fluorescence anisotropy show binding of purified KmtR to nucleotide sequences containing a region of dyad symmetry from the cdf and kmtR operator-promoters. Incubation of KmtR with cobalt inhibits DNA complex assembly and metal-protein binding was confirmed. KmtR is the second, to NmtR, characterized ArsR-SmtB sensor of nickel and cobalt from M. tuberculosis suggesting special significance for these ions in this pathogen. KmtR-dependent expression is elevated in complete medium with no increase in response to metals, whereas NmtR retains a response to nickel and cobalt under these conditions. KmtR has tighter affinities for nickel and cobalt than NmtR consistent with basal levels of these metals being sensed by KmtR but not NmtR in complete medium. More than a thousand genes encoding ArsR-SmtB-related proteins are listed in databases. KmtR has none of the previously defined metal-sensing sites. Substitution of His88, Glu101, His102, His110, or His111 with Gln generated KmtR variants that repress the cdf and kmtR operator-promoters even in elevated nickel and cobalt, revealing a new sensory site. Importantly, ArsR-SmtB sequence groupings do not correspond with the different sensory motifs revealing that only the latter should be used to predict metal sensing.
Helicobacter pylori is a motile Gram-negative bacterium that colonizes and persists in the human gastric mucosa. The flagellum gene regulatory circuitry of H. pylori is unique in many aspects compared with the Salmonella/Escherichia coli paradigms, and some regulatory checkpoints remain unclear. FliK controls the hook length during flagellar assembly. Microarray analysis of a fliK-null mutant revealed increased transcription of genes under the control of the σ54 sigma factor RpoN. This sigma factor has been shown to be responsible for transcription of the class II flagellar genes, including flgE and flaB. No genes higher in the flagellar hierarchy had altered expression, suggesting specific and localized FliK-dependent feedback on the RpoN regulon. FliK thus appears to be involved in three processes: hook-length control, export substrate specificity and control of RpoN transcriptional activity.
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.
Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen and strains resistant to existing treatments continue to emerge. Development of novel treatments is therefore important. Antimicrobial peptides represent a source of potential novel antibiotics to combat resistant bacteria such as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). A promising antimicrobial peptide is ranalexin, which has potent activity against Gram-positive bacteria, and particularly S. aureus. Understanding mode of action is a key component of drug discovery and network biology approaches enable a global, integrated view of microbial physiology, including mechanisms of antibiotic killing. We developed a systems-wide functional association network approach to integrate proteome and transcriptome profiles, enabling study of drug resistance and mode of action.
The functional association network was constructed by Bayesian logistic regression, providing a framework for identification of antimicrobial peptide (ranalexin) response modules from S. aureus MRSA-252 transcriptome and proteome profiling. These signatures of ranalexin treatment revealed multiple killing mechanisms, including cell wall activity. Cell wall effects were supported by gene disruption and osmotic fragility experiments. Furthermore, twenty-two novel virulence factors were inferred, while the VraRS two-component system and PhoU-mediated persister formation were implicated in MRSA tolerance to cationic antimicrobial peptides.
This work demonstrates a powerful integrative approach to study drug resistance and mode of action. Our findings are informative to the development of novel therapeutic strategies against Staphylococcus aureus and particularly MRSA.
Identification of Streptococcus pneumoniae in the nasopharynx is critical for an understanding of transmission, estimates of vaccine efficacy, and possible replacement disease. Conventional nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) culture and serotyping (the WHO protocol) is likely to underestimate multiple-serotype carriage. We compared the WHO protocol with methods aimed at improving cocolonization detection. One hundred twenty-five NPSs from an infant pneumococcal-carriage study, containing ≥1 serotype by WHO culture, were recultured in duplicate. A sweep of colonies from one plate culture was serotyped by latex agglutination. DNA extracted from the second plate was analyzed by S. pneumoniae molecular-serotyping microarray. Multiple serotypes were detected in 11.2% of the swabs by WHO culture, 43.2% by sweep serotyping, and 48.8% by microarray. Sweep and microarray were more likely to detect multiple serotypes than WHO culture (P < 0.0001). Cocolonization detection rates were similar between microarray and sweep, but the microarray identified the greatest number of serotypes. A common serogroup type was identified in 95.2% of swabs by all methods. WHO methodology significantly underestimates multiple-serotype carriage compared to these alternate methods. Sweep serotyping is cost-effective and field deployable but may fail to detect serotypes at low abundance, whereas microarray serotyping is more costly and technology dependent but may detect these additional minor carried serotypes.
Microarrays offer great potential as a platform for molecular diagnostics, testing clinical samples for the presence of numerous biomarkers in highly multiplexed assays. In this study applied to infectious diseases, data from a microarray designed for molecular serotyping of Streptococcus pneumoniae was used, identifying the presence of any one of 91 known pneumococcal serotypes from DNA extracts. This microarray incorporated oligonucleotide probes for all known capsular polysaccharide synthesis genes and required a statistical analysis of the microarray intensity data to determine which serotype, or combination of serotypes, were present within a sample based on the combination of genes detected.
We propose an empirical Bayesian model for calculating the probabilities of combinations of serotypes from the microarray data. The model takes into consideration the dependencies between serotypes, induced by genes they have in common, and by homologous genes which, although not identical, are similar to each other in sequence. For serotypes which are very similar in capsular gene composition, extra probes are included on the microarray, providing additional information which is integrated into the Bayesian model. For each serotype combination with high probability, a second model, a Bayesian random effects model is applied to determine the relative abundance of each serotype.
To assess the accuracy of the proposed analysis we applied our methods to experimental data from samples containing individual serotypes and samples containing combinations of serotypes with known levels of abundance. All but two of the known serotypes of S. pneumoniae that were tested as individual samples could be uniquely determined by the Bayesian model. The model also enabled the presence of combinations of serotypes within samples to be determined. Serotypes with very low abundance within a combination of serotypes can be detected (down to 2% abundance in this study). As well as detecting the presence of serotype combinations, an approximate measure of the percentage abundance of the serotypes within the combination can be obtained.
The antistaphylococcal pyrrolobenzodiazepine dimer ELB-21 forms multiple adducts with duplex DNA through covalent interactions with appropriately spaced guanine residues; it is now known to form interstrand and intrastrand adducts with oligonucleotide sequences of variable length. We determined the DNA sequence preferences of ELB-21 in relation to its capacity to exert a bactericidal effect by damaging DNA.
Formation of adducts by ELB-21 and 12- to 14-mer DNA duplexes was investigated using ion-pair reversed phase liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Drug-induced changes in gene expression were measured in prophage-free Staphylococcus aureus RN4220 by microarray analysis.
ELB-21 preferentially formed intrastrand adducts with guanines separated by three nucleotide base pairs. Interstrand and intrastrand adducts were formed with duplexes both longer and shorter than the preferred target sequences. ELB-21 elicited rapid bactericidal effects against prophage-carrying and prophage-free S. aureus strains; cell lysis occurred following activation and release of resident prophages. Killing appeared to be due to irreparable damage to bacterial DNA and susceptibility to ELB-21 was governed by the capacity of staphylococci to repair DNA lesions through induction of the SOS DNA damage response mediated by the RecA-LexA pathway.
The data support the contention that ELB-21 arrests DNA replication, eliciting formation of ssDNA-RecA filaments that inactivate LexA, the SOS repressor, and phage repressors such as Cl, resulting in activation of the DNA damage response and de-repression of resident prophages. Above the MIC threshold, DNA repair is ineffective.
antistaphylococcal activity; pyrrolobenzodiazepine dimer; DNA cross-linking; DNA adduct formation; MRSA
Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) are increasingly isolated, with USA300-0114 being the predominant clone in the USA. Comparative whole genome sequencing of USA300 isolates collected in 2002, 2003 and 2005 showed a limited number of single nucleotide polymorphisms and regions of difference. This suggests that USA300 has undergone rapid clonal expansion without great genomic diversification. However, whole genome comparison of CA-MRSA has been limited to isolates belonging to USA300. The aim of this study was to compare the genetic repertoire of different CA-MRSA clones with that of HA-MRSA from the USA and Europe through comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) to identify genetic clues that may explain the successful and rapid emergence of CA-MRSA.
Materials and Methods
Hierarchical clustering based on CGH of 48 MRSA isolates from the community and nosocomial infections from Europe and the USA revealed dispersed clustering of the 19 CA-MRSA isolates. This means that these 19 CA-MRSA isolates do not share a unique genetic make-up. Only the PVL genes were commonly present in all CA-MRSA isolates. However, 10 genes were variably present among 14 USA300 isolates. Most of these genes were present on mobile elements.
The genetic variation present among the 14 USA300 isolates is remarkable considering the fact that the isolates were recovered within one month and originated from a confined geographic area, suggesting continuous evolution of this clone.
Seven streptococcal isolates from the mitis group were analyzed for the presence of pneumococcal gene homologues by comparative genomic hybridization studies with microarrays based on open reading frames from the genomes of Streptococcus pneumoniae TIGR4 and R6. The diversity of pneumolysin (ply) and neuraminidase A (nanA) gene sequences was explored in more detail in a collection of 14 S. pseudopneumoniae and 29 mitis group isolates, respectively. The mitis group isolates used in the microarray experiments included a type strain (NCTC 12261), two S. mitis isolates from the nasopharynxes of children, one S. mitis isolate from a case of infective endocarditis, one S. mitis isolate from a dental abscess, and one S. oralis isolate and one S. pseudopneumoniae isolate from the nasopharynxes of children. The results of the microarray study showed that the 5 S. mitis isolates had homologues to between 67 and 82% of pneumococcal virulence genes, S. oralis hybridized to 83% of pneumococcal virulence genes, and S. pseudopneumoniae hybridized to 92% of identified pneumococcal virulence genes. Comparison of the pneumolysin, mitilysin (mly), and newly identified pseudopneumolysin (pply) gene sequences revealed that mly and pply genes are more closely related to each other than either is to ply. In contrast, the nanA gene sequences in the pneumococcus and streptococci from the mitis group are closely clustered together, sharing 99.4 to 99.7% sequence identity with pneumococcal nanA alleles.
Mycobacterium microti, a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, is phylogenetically closely related to M. tuberculosis, differing in a few biochemical properties. However, these species have different levels of virulence in different hosts; most notably M. microti shows lower virulence for humans than M. tuberculosis. This report presents genomic comparisons using DNA microarray analysis for an extensive study of the diversity of M. microti strains. Compared to M. tuberculosis H37Rv, 13 deletions were identified in 12 strains of M. microti, including the regions RD1 to RD10, which are also missing in Mycobacterium bovis BCG. In addition, four new deleted regions, named MiD1, RD1β, MiD2 and MiD3, were identified. DNA sequencing was used to define the extent of most of the deletions in one strain. Although RD1 of M. bovis BCG and M. microti is thought to be crucial for attenuation, in this study, three of the four M. microti strains that were isolated from immunocompetent patients had the RD1 deletion. In fact, only the RD3 deletion was present in all of the strains examined, although deletions RD7, RD8 and MiD1 were found in almost all the M. microti strains. These deletions might therefore have some relation to the different host range of M. microti. It was also noticeable that of the 12 strains studied, only three were identical; these strains were all isolated from immunocompetent humans, suggesting that they could have arisen from a single source. Thus, this study shows that it is difficult to ascribe virulence to any particular pattern of deletion in M. microti.
Deletion of gene Rv3676 in Mycobacterium tuberculosis coding for a transcription factor belonging to the cAMP receptor protein (CRP) family caused growth defects in laboratory medium, in bone marrow-derived macrophages and in a mouse model of tuberculosis. Transcript profiling of M. tuberculosis grown in vitro identified 16 genes with significantly altered expression in the mutant compared with the wild type. Analysis of the DNA sequences upstream of the corresponding open reading frames revealed that 12 possessed sequences related to a consensus CRP binding site that could represent the sites of action of Rv3676. These included rpfA, lprQ, whiB1 and ahpC among genes with enhanced expression in the wild type, and Rv3616c-Rv3613c, Rv0188 and lipQ among genes exhibiting enhanced expression in the mutant. The activity of an rpfA::lacZ promoter fusion was lowered in the Rv3676 mutant and by mutation of the predicted Rv3676 binding site. Moreover, the product of Rv3676 (isolated as a TrxA fusion protein) interacted specifically with the rpfA promoter, and binding was inhibited by mutation of the Rv3676 site. Although Rv3676 retains four of the six amino acid residues that bind cAMP in Escherichia coli CRP addition of cAMP did not enhance Rv3676 binding at the rpfA promoter in vitro. In summary, it has been shown that Rv3676 is a direct regulator of rpfA expression, and because rpfA codes for a resuscitation promoting factor this may implicate Rv3676 in reactivation of dormant M. tuberculosis infections.
We have investigated the Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain types present in the South Asian population of the UK, in which tuberculosis is particularly prevalent. In contrast to the widespread Beijing strains which have the variable number tandem repeats (VNTR) profile 42435, isolates with the VNTR profile 42235, jointly with 02335 or 42234 profiles, appear more frequently in tuberculosis patients of South Asian ethnic origin (SA-strains) in the UK than in any other ethnic group. Using microarray-based comparative genomics to distinguish total or partially deleted genes, we found that three of the common deleted regions in the SA-strains were identical to some deleted genes in the strain CH, which caused an outbreak among South Asian patients in Leicester in 2001 but were different from genomic deletions found in Beijing/W strains. Analysis of some of the deleted regions revealed differences in comparison to the strain CH including the polymorphism in some of the PE/PPE and Esat-6 genes, which may be responsible for the diversity of antigenic variation or differences in the activation of the host immune response. Interrupted genes or the replacement by insertion elements was confirmed in some of the deleted genomic regions. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the SA-strains may present common features, implying a common origin for this group of strains.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; PE/PPE; Polymorphism; VNTR 42235; South Asian community
Simultaneous carriage of more than one strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae promotes horizontal gene transfer events and may lead to capsule switch and acquisition of antibiotic resistance. We studied the epidemiology of cocolonization with S. pneumoniae before and after introduction of the seven-valent conjugated pneumococcal vaccine (PCV7).
Nasopharyngeal swabs (n 1120) were collected from outpatients between 2004 and 2009 within an ongoing nationwide surveillance program. Cocolonization was detected directly from swabs by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. Serotypes were identified by agglutination, multiplex PCR and microarray.
Rate of multiple colonization remained stable up to three years after PCV7 introduction. Cocolonization was associated with serotypes of low carriage prevalence in the prevaccine era. Pneumococcal colonization density was higher in cocolonized samples and cocolonizing strains were present in a balanced ratio (median 1.38). Other characteristics of cocolonization were a higher frequency at young age, but no association with recurrent acute otitis media, recent antibiotic exposure, day care usage and PCV7 vaccination status.
Pneumococcal cocolonization is dominated by serotypes of low carriage prevalence in the prevaccine era, which coexist in the nasopharynx. Emergence of such previously rare serotypes under vaccine selection pressure may promote cocolonization in the future.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections are complicated by the ability of the organism to grow in surface-adhered biofilms on a multitude of abiotic and biological surfaces. These multicellular communities are notoriously difficult to eradicate with antimicrobial therapy. Cells within the biofilm may be exposed to a sublethal concentration of the antimicrobial due to the metabolic and phenotypic diversity of the biofilm-associated cells or the protection offered by the biofilm structure. In the present study, the influence of a sublethal concentration of tigecycline on biofilms formed by an epidemic MRSA-16 isolate was investigated by transcriptome analysis. In the presence of the drug, 309 genes were upregulated and 213 genes were downregulated by more than twofold in comparison to the levels of gene regulation detected for the controls not grown in the presence of the drug. Microarray data were validated by real-time reverse transcription-PCR and phenotypic assays. Tigecycline altered the expression of a number of genes encoding proteins considered to be crucial for the virulence of S. aureus. These included the reduced expression of icaC, which is involved in polysaccharide intercellular adhesin production and biofilm development; the upregulation of fnbA, clfB, and cna, which encode adhesins which attach to human proteins; and the downregulation of the cap genes, which mediate the synthesis of the capsule polysaccharide. The expression of tst, which encodes toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST-1), was also significantly reduced; and an assay performed to quantify TSST-1 showed that the level of toxin production by cells treated with tigecycline decreased by 10-fold (P < 0.001) compared to the level of production by untreated control cells. This study suggests that tigecycline may reduce the expression of important virulence factors in S. aureus and supports further investigation to determine whether it could be a useful adjunct to therapy for the treatment of biofilm-mediated infections.
H37Rv and H37Ra are well-described laboratory strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis derived from the same parental strain, H37, that show dramatically different pathogenic phenotypes.
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.
Phenotypic biotyping has traditionally been used to differentiate bacteria occupying distinct ecological niches such as host species. For example, the capacity of Staphylococcus aureus from sheep to coagulate ruminant plasma, reported over 60 years ago, led to the description of small ruminant and bovine S. aureus ecovars. The great majority of small ruminant isolates are represented by a single, widespread clonal complex (CC133) of S. aureus, but its evolutionary origin and the molecular basis for its host tropism remain unknown. Here, we provide evidence that the CC133 clone evolved as the result of a human to ruminant host jump followed by adaptive genome diversification. Comparative whole-genome sequencing revealed molecular evidence for host adaptation including gene decay and diversification of proteins involved in host–pathogen interactions. Importantly, several novel mobile genetic elements encoding virulence proteins with attenuated or enhanced activity in ruminants were widely distributed in CC133 isolates, suggesting a key role in its host-specific interactions. To investigate this further, we examined the activity of a novel staphylococcal pathogenicity island (SaPIov2) found in the great majority of CC133 isolates which encodes a variant of the chromosomally encoded von Willebrand-binding protein (vWbpSov2), previously demonstrated to have coagulase activity for human plasma. Remarkably, we discovered that SaPIov2 confers the ability to coagulate ruminant plasma suggesting an important role in ruminant disease pathogenesis and revealing the origin of a defining phenotype of the classical S. aureus biotyping scheme. Taken together, these data provide broad new insights into the origin and molecular basis of S. aureus ruminant host specificity.
bacteria; mobile genetic elements; genome diversification; population genetics; niche adaptation