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1.  Haplotype Association Mapping Identifies a Candidate Gene Region in Mice Infected With Staphylococcus aureus 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2012;2(6):693-700.
Exposure to Staphylococcus aureus has a variety of outcomes, from asymptomatic colonization to fatal infection. Strong evidence suggests that host genetics play an important role in susceptibility, but the specific host genetic factors involved are not known. The availability of genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data for inbred Mus musculus strains means that haplotype association mapping can be used to identify candidate susceptibility genes. We applied haplotype association mapping to Perlegen SNP data and kidney bacterial counts from Staphylococcus aureus-infected mice from 13 inbred strains and detected an associated block on chromosome 7. Strong experimental evidence supports the result: a separate study demonstrated the presence of a susceptibility locus on chromosome 7 using consomic mice. The associated block contains no genes, but lies within the gene cluster of the 26-member extended kallikrein gene family, whose members have well-recognized roles in the generation of antimicrobial peptides and the regulation of inflammation. Efficient mixed-model association (EMMA) testing of all SNPs with two alleles and located within the gene cluster boundaries finds two significant associations: one of the three polymorphisms defining the associated block and one in the gene closest to the block, Klk1b11. In addition, we find that 7 of the 26 kallikrein genes are differentially expressed between susceptible and resistant mice, including the Klk1b11 gene. These genes represent a promising set of candidate genes influencing susceptibility to Staphylococcus aureus.
PMCID: PMC3362298  PMID: 22690378
host genetic susceptibility; infectious disease; kallikrein gene family
2.  Critical Role of NOD2 in Regulating the Immune Response to Staphylococcus aureus▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;77(4):1376-1382.
NOD2 (the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain containing protein 2) is known to be involved in host recognition of bacteria, although its role in the host response to Staphylococcus aureus infection is unknown. NOD2-deficient (Nod2−/−) mice and wild-type (WT) littermate controls were injected intraperitoneally with S. aureus suspension (107 bacteria/g of body weight), and their survival was monitored. Cultured bone marrow-derived neutrophils were harvested from Nod2−/− and WT mice and tested for cytokine production and phagocytosis. Compared to WT mice, Nod2−/− mice were significantly more susceptible to S. aureus infection (median survival of 1.5 days versus >5 days; P = 0.003) and had a significantly higher bacterial tissue burden. Cultured bone marrow-derived neutrophils from Nod2−/− and WT mice had similar levels of peritoneal neutrophil recruitment and intracellular killing, but bone marrow-derived neutrophils from Nod2−/− mice had significantly reduced ability to internalize fluorescein-labeled S. aureus. Nod2−/− mice had significantly higher levels of Th1-derived cytokines in serum (tumor necrosis factor alpha, gamma interferon, and interleukin-2 [IL-2]) compared to WT mice, whereas the levels of Th2-derived cytokines (IL-1β, IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10) were similar in Nod2−/− and WT mice. Thus, mice deficient in NOD2 are more susceptible to S. aureus. Increased susceptibility is due in part to defective neutrophil phagocytosis, elevated serum levels of Th1 cytokines, and a higher bacterial tissue burden.
PMCID: PMC2663139  PMID: 19139201
3.  A genome-wide association study of variants associated with acquisition of Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia in a healthcare setting 
Humans vary in their susceptibility to acquiring Staphylococcus aureus infection, and research suggests that there is a genetic basis for this variability. Several recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified variants that may affect susceptibility to infectious diseases, demonstrating the potential value of GWAS in this arena.
We conducted a GWAS to identify common variants associated with acquisition of S. aureus bacteremia (SAB) resulting from healthcare contact. We performed a logistic regression analysis to compare patients with healthcare contact who developed SAB (361 cases) to patients with healthcare contact in the same hospital who did not develop SAB (699 controls), testing 542,410 SNPs and adjusting for age (by decade), sex, and 6 significant principal components from our EIGENSTRAT analysis. Additionally, we evaluated the joint effect of the host and pathogen genomes in association with severity of SAB infection via logistic regression, including an interaction of host SNP with bacterial genotype, and adjusting for age (by decade), sex, the 6 significant principal components, and dialysis status. Bonferroni corrections were applied in both analyses to control for multiple comparisons.
Ours is the first study that has attempted to evaluate the entire human genome for variants potentially involved in the acquisition or severity of SAB. Although this study identified no common variant of large effect size to have genome-wide significance for association with either the risk of acquiring SAB or severity of SAB, the variant (rs2043436) most significantly associated with severity of infection is located in a biologically plausible candidate gene (CDON, a member of the immunoglobulin family) and may warrant further study.
The genetic architecture underlying SAB is likely to be complex. Future investigations using larger samples, narrowed phenotypes, and advances in both genotyping and analytical methodologies will be important tools for identifying causative variants for this common and serious cause of healthcare-associated infection.
PMCID: PMC3928605  PMID: 24524581
Genomics; Genome-wide association study; Case–control study; Staphylococcus aureus; Bacteremia; Gram-positive bacterial infections; Polymorphism, single-nucleotide; Infections; Nosocomial; Cross infection
4.  Host Gene Expression Profiling and In Vivo Cytokine Studies to Characterize the Role of Linezolid and Vancomycin in Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Murine Sepsis Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60463.
Linezolid (L), a potent antibiotic for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), inhibits bacterial protein synthesis. By contrast, vancomycin (V) is a cell wall active agent. Here, we used a murine sepsis model to test the hypothesis that L treatment is associated with differences in bacterial and host characteristics as compared to V. Mice were injected with S. aureus USA300, and then intravenously treated with 25 mg/kg of either L or V at 2 hours post infection (hpi). In vivo alpha-hemolysin production was reduced in both L and V-treated mice compared to untreated mice but the reduction did not reach the statistical significance [P = 0.12 for L; P = 0.70 for V). PVL was significantly reduced in L-treated mice compared to untreated mice (P = 0.02). However the reduction of in vivo PVL did not reach the statistical significance in V- treated mice compared to untreated mice (P = 0.27). Both antibiotics significantly reduced IL-1β production [P = 0.001 for L; P = 0.006 for V]. IL-6 was significantly reduced with L but not V antibiotic treatment [P<0.001 for L; P = 0.11 for V]. Neither treatment significantly reduced production of TNF-α. Whole-blood gene expression profiling showed no significant effect of L and V on uninfected mice. In S. aureus-infected mice, L altered the expression of a greater number of genes than V (95 vs. 42; P = 0.001). Pathway analysis for the differentially expressed genes identified toll-like receptor signaling pathway to be common to each S. aureus-infected comparison. Expression of immunomodulatory genes like Cxcl9, Cxcl10, Il1r2, Cd14 and Nfkbia was different among the treatment groups. Glycerolipid metabolism pathway was uniquely associated with L treatment in S. aureus infection. This study demonstrates that, as compared to V, treatment with L is associated with reduced levels of toxin production, differences in host inflammatory response, and distinct host gene expression characteristics in MRSA sepsis.
PMCID: PMC3614971  PMID: 23565251
5.  Gene Expression-Based Classifiers Identify Staphylococcus aureus Infection in Mice and Humans 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e48979.
Staphylococcus aureus causes a spectrum of human infection. Diagnostic delays and uncertainty lead to treatment delays and inappropriate antibiotic use. A growing literature suggests the host’s inflammatory response to the pathogen represents a potential tool to improve upon current diagnostics. The hypothesis of this study is that the host responds differently to S. aureus than to E. coli infection in a quantifiable way, providing a new diagnostic avenue. This study uses Bayesian sparse factor modeling and penalized binary regression to define peripheral blood gene-expression classifiers of murine and human S. aureus infection. The murine-derived classifier distinguished S. aureus infection from healthy controls and Escherichia coli-infected mice across a range of conditions (mouse and bacterial strain, time post infection) and was validated in outbred mice (AUC>0.97). A S. aureus classifier derived from a cohort of 94 human subjects distinguished S. aureus blood stream infection (BSI) from healthy subjects (AUC 0.99) and E. coli BSI (AUC 0.84). Murine and human responses to S. aureus infection share common biological pathways, allowing the murine model to classify S. aureus BSI in humans (AUC 0.84). Both murine and human S. aureus classifiers were validated in an independent human cohort (AUC 0.95 and 0.92, respectively). The approach described here lends insight into the conserved and disparate pathways utilized by mice and humans in response to these infections. Furthermore, this study advances our understanding of S. aureus infection; the host response to it; and identifies new diagnostic and therapeutic avenues.
PMCID: PMC3541361  PMID: 23326304
6.  Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Is Not the Primary Determinant of Outcome for Staphylococcus aureus Skin Infections: Evaluation from the CANVAS Studies 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37212.
The impact of Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) on the severity of complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI) caused by Staphylococcus aureus is controversial. We evaluated potential associations between clinical outcome and PVL presence in both methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) isolates from patients enrolled in two large, multinational phase three clinical trials assessing ceftaroline fosamil for the treatment of cSSSI (the CANVAS 1 and 2 programs). Isolates from all microbiologically evaluable patients with monomicrobial MRSA or MSSA infections (n = 473) were genotyped by PCR for pvl and underwent pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Genes encoding pvl were present in 266/473 (56.2%) isolates. Infections caused by pvl-positive S. aureus were associated with younger patient age, North American acquisition, and presence of major abscesses (P<0.001 for each). Cure rates of patients infected with pvl-positive and pvl-negative S. aureus were similar overall (93.6% versus 92.8%; P = 0.72), and within MRSA-infected (94.5% vs. 93.1%; P = 0.67) and MSSA-infected patients (92.2% vs. 92.7%; P = 1.00). This finding persisted after adjustment for multiple patient characteristics. Outcomes were also similar when USA300 PVL+ and non-USA300 PVL+ infections were compared. The results of this contemporary, international study suggest that pvl presence was not the primary determinant of outcome in patients with cSSSI due to either MRSA or MSSA.
PMCID: PMC3356380  PMID: 22623995

Results 1-6 (6)