Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) relies on a homeostasis of macrophages and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). The small heat shock protein, Mtb Hsp16.3 (also known as latency-associated antigen), plays an important role in Mtb persistence within macrophages. However, the mechanism of LTBI remains elusive. The aim of this study was to delineate LTBI-related miRNA expression in U937 macrophages expressing Mtb Hsp16.3 protein. U937 macrophages were infected with an integrase-deficient Lentivirus vector to transiently express Mtb Hsp16.3, and green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a control. We used a microRNA (miRNA) microarray chip containing more than 1000 probes to identify the significant differentially expressed miRNAs in the infected U937 cells, and employed real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) for validation. Furthermore, we confirmed these candidate LTBI-related miRNAs in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from subjects with LTBI and in healthy control individuals. Functional annotation prediction of miRNA target genes and pathway enrichment analyses were used to explore the putative links between these miRNAs and LTBI.
Analysis of the miRNA expression profile identified 149 miRNAs that were differentially expressed in U937 macrophages expressing Mtb Hsp16.3 compared with the control expressing GFP. The expression level of seven miRNAs (miR-424-5p, miR-493-5p, miR-296-5p, miR-27b-3p, miR-377-5p, miR-3680-5p, miR-191-5p) were validated by qRT-PCR. The expression level of four miRNAs (miR-424-5p, miR-27b-3p, miR-377-5p, miR-3680-5p) in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells samples from LTBI and healthy participants reflected the altered patterns observed in the microarray profile. The bioinformatic analyses suggest that the miRNAs may regulate Mtb latent infection by affecting the development of macrophage cells.
The results suggest that miRNA expression may play a considerable role in the pathogenesis of LTBI, and this would increase our understanding of the molecular basis of Hsp16.3-facilitated Mtb survival in macrophages.
microRNAs; Macrophages; Mycobacterium; Tuberculosis; Small heat shock protein; Latent tuberculosis infection
For a long time, Enterococcus faecium was considered a harmless commensal of the mammalian gastrointestinal (GI) tract and was used as a probiotic in fermented foods. In recent decades, E. faecium has been recognised as an opportunistic pathogen that causes diseases such as neonatal meningitis, urinary tract infections, bacteremia, bacterial endocarditis and diverticulitis. E. faecium could be taken into space with astronauts and exposed to the space environment. Thus, it is necessary to observe the phenotypic and molecular changes of E. faecium after spaceflight.
An E. faecium mutant with biochemical features that are different from those of the wild-type strain was obtained from subculture after flight on the SHENZHOU-8 spacecraft. To understand the underlying mechanism causing these changes, the whole genomes of both the mutant and the WT strains were sequenced using Illumina technology. The genomic comparison revealed that dprA, a recombination-mediator gene, and arpU, a gene associated with cell wall growth, were mutated. Comparative transcriptomic and proteomic analyses showed that differentially expressed genes or proteins were involved with replication, recombination, repair, cell wall biogenesis, glycometabolism, lipid metabolism, amino acid metabolism, predicted general function and energy production/conversion.
This study analysed the comprehensive genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic changes of an E. faecium mutant from subcultures that were loaded on the SHENZHOU-8 spacecraft. The implications of these gene mutations and expression changes and their underlying mechanisms should be investigated in the future. We hope that the current exploration of multiple “-omics” analyses of this E. faecium mutant will provide clues for future studies on this opportunistic pathogen.
E. faecium; Genome; Transcriptome; Proteome; Multi-omics
Klebsiella pneumoniae displaying the hypermucoviscosity (HV) phenotype are considered more virulent than HV-negative strains. Nevertheless, the emergence of tissue-abscesses-associated HV-negative isolates motivated us to re-evaluate the role of HV-phenotype.
Instead of genetically manipulating the HV-phenotype of K. pneumoniae, we selected two clinically isolated K1 strains, 1112 (HV-positive) and 1084 (HV-negative), to avoid possible interference from defects in the capsule. These well-encapsulated strains with similar genetic backgrounds were used for comparative analysis of bacterial virulence in a pneumoniae or a liver abscess model generated in either naïve or diabetic mice. In the pneumonia model, the HV-positive strain 1112 proliferated to higher loads in the lungs and blood of naïve mice, but was less prone to disseminate into the blood of diabetic mice compared to the HV-negative strain 1084. In the liver abscess model, 1084 was as potent as 1112 in inducing liver abscesses in both the naïve and diabetic mice. The 1084-infected diabetic mice were more inclined to develop bacteremia and had a higher mortality rate than those infected by 1112. A mini-Tn5 mutant of 1112, isolated due to its loss of HV-phenotype, was avirulent to mice.
These results indicate that the HV-phenotype is required for the virulence of the clinically isolated HV-positive strain 1112. The superior ability of the HV-negative stain 1084 over 1112 to cause bacteremia in diabetic mice suggests that factors other than the HV phenotype were required for the systemic dissemination of K. pneumoniae in an immunocompromised setting.
The effects of enterolignans, e.g., enterodiol (END) and particularly its oxidation product, enterolactone (ENL), on prevention of hormone-dependent diseases, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, hyperlipemia, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and menopausal syndrome, have attracted much attention. To date, the main way to obtain END and ENL is chemical synthesis, which is expensive and inevitably leads to environmental pollution. To explore a more economic and eco-friendly production method, we explored biotransformation of enterolignans from precursors contained in defatted flaxseeds by human intestinal bacteria.
We cultured fecal specimens from healthy young adults in media containing defatted flaxseeds and detected END from the culture supernatant. Following selection through successive subcultures of the fecal microbiota with defatted flaxseeds as the only carbon source, we obtained a bacterial consortium, designated as END-49, which contained the smallest number of bacterial types still capable of metabolizing defatted flaxseeds to produce END. Based on analysis with pulsed field gel electrophoresis, END-49 was found to consist of five genomically distinct bacterial lineages, designated Group I-V, with Group I strains dominating the culture. None of the individual Group I-V strains produced END, demonstrating that the biotransformation of substrates in defatted flaxseeds into END is a joint work by different members of the END-49 bacterial consortium. Interestingly, Group I strains produced secoisolariciresinol, an important intermediate of END production; 16S rRNA analysis of one Group I strain established its close relatedness with Klebsiella. Genomic analysis is under way to identify all members in END-49 involved in the biotransformation and the actual pathway leading to END-production.
Biotransformation is a very economic, efficient and environmentally friendly way of mass-producing enterodiol from defatted flaxseeds.
Bacteriocins are antimicrobial proteins and peptides ribosomally synthesized by some bacteria which can effect both intraspecies and interspecies killing.
Moraxella catarrhalis strain E22 containing plasmid pLQ510 was shown to inhibit the growth of M. catarrhalis strain O35E. Two genes (mcbA and mcbB) in pLQ510 encoded proteins predicted to be involved in the secretion of a bacteriocin. Immediately downstream from these two genes, a very short ORF (mcbC) encoded a protein which had some homology to double-glycine bacteriocins produced by other bacteria. A second very short ORF (mcbI) immediately downstream from mcbC encoded a protein which had no significant similarity to other proteins in the databases. Cloning and expression of the mcbI gene in M. catarrhalis O35E indicated that this gene encoded the cognate immunity factor. Reverse transcriptase-PCR was used to show that the mcbA, mcbB, mcbC, and mcbI ORFs were transcriptionally linked. This four-gene cluster was subsequently shown to be present in the chromosome of several M. catarrhalis strains including O12E. Inactivation of the mcbA, mcbB, or mcbC ORFs in M. catarrhalis O12E eliminated the ability of this strain to inhibit the growth of M. catarrhalis O35E. In co-culture experiments involving a M. catarrhalis strain containing the mcbABCI locus and one which lacked this locus, the former strain became the predominant member of the culture after overnight growth in broth.
This is the first description of a bacteriocin and its cognate immunity factor produced by M. catarrhalis. The killing activity of the McbC protein raises the possibility that it might serve to lyse other M. catarrhalis strains that lack the mcbABCI locus, thereby making their DNA available for lateral gene transfer.
Iron is recognized as an important trace element, essential for most organisms including pathogenic bacteria. HugZ, a protein related to heme iron utilization, is involved in bacterial acquisition of iron from the host. We previously observed that a hugZ homologue is correlated with the adaptive colonization of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a major gastro-enteric pathogen. However, its exact physiological role remains unclear.
A gene homologous to hugZ, designated hp0318, identified in H. pylori ATCC 26695, exhibits 66% similarity to cj1613c of Campylobacter jejuni NCTC 11168. Soluble 6 × His fused-HugZ protein was expressed in vitro. Hemin-agrose affinity analysis indicated that the recombinant HugZ protein can bind to hemin. Absorption spectroscopy at 411 nm further revealed a heme:HugZ binding ratio of 1:1. Enzymatic assays showed that purified recombinant HugZ protein can degrade hemin into biliverdin and carbon monoxide in the presence of either ascorbic acid or NADPH and cytochrome P450 reductase. The biochemical and enzymatic characteristics agreed closely with those of Campylobacter jejuni Cj1613c protein, implying that hp0318 is a functional member of the HugZ family. A hugZ deletion mutant was obtained by homologous recombination. This mutant strain showed poor growth when hemoglobin was provided as the source of iron, partly because of its failure to utilize hemoglobin efficiently. Real-time quantitative PCR also confirmed that the expression of hugZ was regulated by iron levels.
These findings provide biochemical and genetic evidence that hugZ (hp0318) encodes a heme oxygenase involved in iron release/uptake in H. pylori.
Community acquired (CA) methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) increasingly causes disease worldwide. USA300 has emerged as the predominant clone causing superficial and invasive infections in children and adults in the USA. Epidemiological studies suggest that USA300 is more virulent than other CA-MRSA. The genetic determinants that render virulence and dominance to USA300 remain unclear.
We sequenced the genomes of two pediatric USA300 isolates: one CA-MRSA and one CA-methicillin susceptible (MSSA), isolated at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. DNA sequencing was performed by Sanger dideoxy whole genome shotgun (WGS) and 454 Life Sciences pyrosequencing strategies. The sequence of the USA300 MRSA strain was rigorously annotated. In USA300-MRSA 2658 chromosomal open reading frames were predicted and 3.1 and 27 kilobase (kb) plasmids were identified. USA300-MSSA contained a 20 kb plasmid with some homology to the 27 kb plasmid found in USA300-MRSA. Two regions found in US300-MRSA were absent in USA300-MSSA. One of these carried the arginine deiminase operon that appears to have been acquired from S. epidermidis. The USA300 sequence was aligned with other sequenced S. aureus genomes and regions unique to USA300 MRSA were identified.
USA300-MRSA is highly similar to other MRSA strains based on whole genome alignments and gene content, indicating that the differences in pathogenesis are due to subtle changes rather than to large-scale acquisition of virulence factor genes. The USA300 Houston isolate differs from another sequenced USA300 strain isolate, derived from a patient in San Francisco, in plasmid content and a number of sequence polymorphisms. Such differences will provide new insights into the evolution of pathogens.
Although more than 100 Chlamydia pneumoniae hypothetical proteins have been predicted to be inclusion membrane proteins, only a few have been experimentally demonstrated to be in the inclusion membrane. Using antibodies raised with fusion proteins, we characterized four such hypothetical proteins encoded by two gene clusters (Cpn0146-147 and Cpn0284-285) in the C. pneumoniae genome.
Cpn0146 and 0147 were detected in the inclusion membrane while Cpn0284 and 0285 inside inclusion and mainly associated with reticulate bodies although all four proteins contain an N-terminal bi-lobed hydrophobic region, a signature motif assigned to inclusion membrane proteins. These four hypothetical proteins were only detected in cells infected with C. pneumoniae but not other chlamydial species, with Cpn0147 at 6 hours and Cpn0146, 0284 & 0285 at 24 hours after infection. Cpn0146 & 147 but not Cpn0284 and 285 co-localized with a host cell endoplasmic reticulum marker, a property known to be possessed by some chlamydial inclusion membrane proteins, when expressed in the host cell cytosol via transgenes. However, the endoplasmic reticulum localization of the C. pneumoniae inclusion membrane proteins did not result in inhibition of the subsequent C. pneumoniae infection.
The hypothetical proteins Cpn0146 & 0147 were localized in the C. pneumoniae inclusion membrane while Cpn0284 & 0285 within the inclusion although all four were predicted to be Inc proteins, suggesting the need to experimentally characterize the predicted Inc proteins.
The aim of this paper was to develop a reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) method for rapid, sensitive and inexpensive detection of astrovirus.
The detection limit of LAMP using in vitro RNA transcripts was 3.6×10 copies·μL-1, which is as sensitive as the presently used PCR assays. However, the LAMP products could be identified as different colors with the naked eye following staining with hydroxynaphthol blue dye (HNB). No cross-reactivity with other gastroenteric viruses (rotavirus and norovirus) was observed, indicating the relatively high specificity of LAMP. The RT-LAMP method with HNB was used to effectively detect astrovirus in reclaimed water samples.
The LAMP technique described in this study is a cheap, sensitive, specific and rapid method for the detection of astrovirus. The RT-LAMP method can be simply applied for the specific detection of astrovirus and has the potential to be utilized in the field as a screening test.
Astrovirus; Loop-mediated isothermal amplification; Hydroxynaphthol blue
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is recognized as an important human diarrheal pathogen. Swine plays an important role as a carrier of this pathogen. In this study we determined the prevalence and characteristics of STEC from healthy swine collected between May 2011 and August 2012 from 3 cities/provinces in China.
A total of 1003 samples, including 326 fecal, 351 small intestinal contents and 326 colon contents samples, was analyzed. Two hundred and fifty five samples were stx-positive by PCR and 93 STEC isolates were recovered from 62 stx-positive samples. Twelve O serogroups and 19 O:H serotypes including 6 serotypes (O100:H20/[H20], O143:H38/[H38], O87:H10, O172:H30/[H30], O159:H16, O9:H30/[H30]) rarely found in swine and ruminants were identified. All 93 STEC isolates harbored stx2 only, all of which were stx2e subtype including 1 isolate being a new variant of stx2e. 53.76%, 15.05% and 2.15% STEC isolates carried astA, hlyA and ehxA respectively. Four STEC isolates harbored the high-pathogenicity island. Of the 15 adherence-associated genes tested, 13 (eae, efa1, iha, lpfAO113, lpfAO157/OI-154, lpfAO157/OI-141, toxB, saa, F4, F5, F6, F17 or F41) were all absent while 2 (paa and F18) were present in 7 and 4 STEC isolates respectively. The majority of the isolates were resistant to tetracycline (79.57%), nalidixic acid (78.49%), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (73.12%) and kanamycin (55.91%). The STEC isolates were divided into 63 pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns and 21 sequence types (STs). Isolates of the same STs generally showed the same or similar drug resistance patterns. A higher proportion of STEC isolates from Chongqing showed multidrug resistance with one ST (ST3628) resistant to 14 antimicrobials.
Our results indicate that swine is a significant reservoir of STEC strains in China. Based on comparison by serotypes and sequence types with human strains and presence of virulence genes, the swine STEC may have a low potential to cause human disease.
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC); Shiga toxin; Multilocus sequence typing; Adhesin genes; Putative virulence genes; Antibiotic resistance; Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis; Swine
Host cell autophagy is implicated in the control of intracellular pathogen. Escherichia coli (E.coli) is the most common organism caused single-germ enterobacterial peritonitis during peritoneal dialysis. In this study, we investigated autophagy of peritoneal mesothelial cells and its role in defense against E.coli.
Autophagy in human peritoneal mesothelial cell line (HMrSV5) was induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in a dose-dependent and time-dependent way, which was demonstrated by increased expression of Beclin-1 and light chain 3 (LC3)-II, the accumulation of punctate green fluorescent protein-LC3, and a higher number of monodansylcadaverine-labeled autophagic vacuoles. After incubation of HMrSV5 cells with E.coli following LPS stimulation, both the intracellular bactericidal activity and the co-localization of E.coli (K12-strain) with autophagosomes were enhanced. Conversely, blockade of autophagy with 3-methyladenine, wortmannin or Beclin-1 small-interfering RNA (siRNA) led to a significant reduction in autophagy-associated protein expression, attenuation of intracellular bactericidal activity, and reduced co-localization of E.coli with monodansylcadaverine-labeled autophagosomes. In addition, treatment of HMrSV5 cells with LPS caused a dose-dependent and time-dependent increase in Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) expression. Both knockdown of TLR4 with siRNA and pharmacological inhibition of TLR4 with Polymyxin B significantly decreased LPS-induced autophagy. Furthermore, TLR4 siRNA attenuated remarkably LPS-induced intracellular bactericidal activity.
Our findings demonstrated for the first time that LPS-induced autophagy in peritoneal mesothelial cells could enhance the intracellular bactericidal activity and the co-localization of E.coli with autophagosomes. The activation of TLR4 signaling was involved in this process. These results indicate that LPS-induced autophagy may be a cell-autonomous defense mechanism triggered in peritoneal mesothelial cells in response to E.coli infection.
Autophagy; Escherichia coli; Cell defense; Lipopolysaccharide (LPS); Toll-like receptors (TLR); Peritoneal mesothelial cell
Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (MDRAB) is associated with nosocomial infections worldwide. To date, the use of a phage to prevent infections caused by MDRAB has not been demonstrated.
The MDRAB-specific phage ϕAB2 was stable at 4°C and pH 7 in 0.5% chloroform solution, and showed a slight decrease in plaque-forming units (PFU)/ml of 0.3–0.9 log after 330 days of storage. The addition of ϕAB2 at a concentration of at least 105 PFU/ml to an A. baumannii M3237 suspension killed >99.9% of A. baumannii M3237 after 5 min, regardless of A. baumannii M3237 concentration (104, 105, or 106 colony-forming units (CFU)/ml). The addition of ϕAB2 at a concentration of 108 PFU/slide (>107 PFU/cm2) to glass slides containing A. baumannii M3237 at 104, 105, or 106 CFU/slide, significantly reduced bacterial numbers by 93%, 97%, and 99%, respectively. Thus, this concentration is recommended for decontamination of glass surfaces. Moreover, infusion of ϕAB2 into 10% glycerol exhibited strong anti-MDRAB activity (99.9% reduction), even after 90 days of storage. Treatment of a 10% paraffin oil-based lotion with ϕAB2 significantly reduced (99%) A. baumannii M3237 after 1 day of storage. However, ϕAB2 had no activity in the lotion after 1 month of storage.
Phages may be useful for reducing MDRAB contamination in liquid suspensions or on hard surfaces. Phages may also be inoculated into a solution to produce an antiseptic hand wash. However, the phage concentration and incubation time (the duration of phage contact with bacteria) should be carefully considered to reduce the risk of MDRAB contamination.
Bacteriophage; Biocontrol; MDRAB
Sika deer (Cervus nippon) have different dietary preferences to other ruminants and are tolerant to tannin-rich plants. Because the rumen bacteria in domestic Sika deer have not been comprehensively studied, it is important to investigate its rumen bacterial population in order to understand its gut health and to improve the productivity of domestic Sika deer.
The rumen bacterial diversity in domestic Sika deer (Cervus nippon) fed oak leaves- (OL group) and corn stalks-based diets (CS group) were elucidated using 16S rRNA gene libraries and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Overall, 239 sequences were examined from the two groups, 139 clones from the OL group were assigned to 57 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and 100 sequences from the CS group were divided into 50 OTUs. Prevotella-like sequences belonging to the phylum Bacteroidetes were the dominant bacteria in both groups (97.2% OL and 77% CS), and sequences related to Prevotella brevis were present in both groups. However, Prevotella shahii-like, Prevotella veroralis-like, Prevotella albensis-like, and Prevotella salivae-like sequences were abundant in the OL group compared to those in the CS group, while Succinivibrio dextrinosolvens-like and Prevotella ruminicola-like sequences were prevalent in the CS group. PCR-DGGE showed that bacterial communities clustered with respect to diets and the genus Prevotella was the dominant bacteria in the rumen of domestic Sika deer. However, the distribution of genus Prevotella from two groups was apparent. In addition, other fibrolytic bacteria, such as Clostridium populeti and Eubacterium cellulosolvens were found in the rumen of domestic Sika deer.
The rumen of domestic Sika deer harbored unique bacteria which may represent novel species. The bacterial composition appeared to be affected by diet, and sequences related to Prevotella spp. may represent new species that may be related to the degradation of fiber biomass or tannins. Moreover, the mechanism and biological functions of Prevotella spp. in the rumen ecosystem, and synergistic interactions with other microorganisms should be noticed.
Ecology; Prevotella; Fiber; Tannin
Macrolide is the drug of choice to treat human campylobacteriosis, but Campylobacter resistance to this antibiotic is rising. The mechanisms employed by Campylobacter jejuni to adapt to erythromycin treatment remain unknown and are examined in this study. The transcriptomic response of C. jejuni NCTC 11168 to erythromycin (Ery) treatment was determined by competitive microarray hybridizations. Representative genes identified to be differentially expressed were further characterized by constructing mutants and assessing their involvement in antimicrobial susceptibility, oxidative stress tolerance, and chicken colonization.
Following the treatment with an inhibitory dose of Ery, 139 genes were up-regulated and 119 were down-regulated. Many genes associated with flagellar biosynthesis and motility was up-regulated, while many genes involved in tricarboxylic acid cycle, electron transport, and ribonucleotide biosynthesis were down-regulated. Exposure to a sub-inhibitory dose of Ery resulted in differential expression of much fewer genes. Interestingly, two putative drug efflux operons (cj0309c-cj0310c and cj1173-cj1174) were up-regulated. Although mutation of the two operons did not alter the susceptibility of C. jejuni to antimicrobials, it reduced Campylobacter growth under high-level oxygen. Another notable finding is the consistent up-regulation of cj1169c-cj1170c, of which cj1170c encodes a known phosphokinase, an important regulatory protein in C. jejuni. Mutation of the cj1169c-cj1170c rendered C. jejuni less tolerant to atmospheric oxygen and reduced Campylobacter colonization and transmission in chickens.
These findings indicate that Ery treatment elicits a range of changes in C. jejuni transcriptome and affects the expression of genes important for in vitro and in vivo adaptation. Up-regulation of motility and down-regulation of energy metabolism likely facilitate Campylobacter to survive during Ery treatment. These findings provide new insight into Campylobacter adaptive response to antibiotic treatment and may help to understand the mechanisms underlying antibiotic resistance development.
Adaptation; Microarray; Transcriptome; Macrolide; Campylobacter
GeoChip 3.0, a microbial functional gene array, containing ~28,000 oligonucleotide probes and targeting ~57,000 sequences from 292 functional gene families, provided a powerful tool for researching microbial community structure in natural environments. The alpine meadow is a dominant plant community in the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, hence it is important to profile the unique geographical flora and assess the response of the microbial communities to environmental variables. In this study, Geochip 3.0 was employed to understand the microbial functional gene diversity and structure, and metabolic potential and the major environmental factors in shaping microbial communities structure of alpine meadow soil in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.
A total of 6143 microbial functional genes involved in carbon degradation, carbon fixation, methane oxidation and production, nitrogen cycling, phosphorus utilization, sulphur cycling, organic remediation, metal resistance, energy process and other category were detected in six soil samples and high diversity was observed. Interestingly, most of the detected genes associated with carbon degradation were derived from cultivated organisms. To identify major environmental factors in shaping microbial communities, Mantel test and CCA Statistical analyses were performed. The results indicated that altitude, C/N, pH and soil organic carbon were significantly (P < 0.05) correlated with the microbial functional structure and a total of 80.97% of the variation was significantly explained by altitude, C/N and pH. The C/N contributed 38.2% to microbial functional gene variation, which is in accordance with the hierarchical clustering of overall microbial functional genes.
High overall functional genes and phylogenetic diversity of the alpine meadow soil microbial communities existed in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Most of the genes involved in carbon degradation were derived from characterized microbial groups. Microbial composition and structures variation were significantly impacted by local environmental conditions, and soil C/N is the most important factor to impact the microbial structure in alpine meadow in Qinghai-Tibetan plateau.
Alpine meadow; Geochip 3.0; Microbial functional gene diversity; Environmental variable; Climate change
Fungal load quantification is a critical component of fungal community analyses. Limitation of current approaches for quantifying the fungal component in the human microbiome suggests the need for new broad-coverage techniques.
We analyzed 2,085 18S rRNA gene sequences from the SILVA database for assay design. We generated and quantified plasmid standards using a qPCR-based approach. We evaluated assay coverage against 4,968 sequences and performed assay validation following the Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments (MIQE) guidelines.
We designed FungiQuant, a TaqMan® qPCR assay targeting a 351 bp region in the fungal 18S rRNA gene. Our in silico analysis showed that FungiQuant is a perfect sequence match to 90.0% of the 2,617 fungal species analyzed. We showed that FungiQuant’s is 100% sensitive and its amplification efficiencies ranged from 76.3% to 114.5%, with r2-values of >0.99 against the 69 fungal species tested. Additionally, FungiQuant inter- and intra-run coefficients of variance ranged from <10% and <20%, respectively. We further showed that FungiQuant has a limit of quantification 25 copies and a limit of detection at 5 copies. Lastly, by comparing results from human-only background DNA with low-level fungal DNA, we showed that amplification in two or three of a FungiQuant performed in triplicate is statistically significant for true positive fungal detection.
FungiQuant has comprehensive coverage against diverse fungi and is a robust quantification and detection tool for delineating between true fungal detection and non-target human DNA.
Pelgipeptin, a potent antibacterial and antifungal agent, is a non-ribosomally synthesised lipopeptide antibiotic. This compound consists of a β-hydroxy fatty acid and nine amino acids. To date, there is no information about its biosynthetic pathway.
A potential pelgipeptin synthetase gene cluster (plp) was identified from Paenibacillus elgii B69 through genome analysis. The gene cluster spans 40.8 kb with eight open reading frames. Among the genes in this cluster, three large genes, plpD, plpE, and plpF, were shown to encode non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs), with one, seven, and one module(s), respectively. Bioinformatic analysis of the substrate specificity of all nine adenylation domains indicated that the sequence of the NRPS modules is well collinear with the order of amino acids in pelgipeptin. Additional biochemical analysis of four recombinant adenylation domains (PlpD A1, PlpE A1, PlpE A3, and PlpF A1) provided further evidence that the plp gene cluster involved in pelgipeptin biosynthesis.
In this study, a gene cluster (plp) responsible for the biosynthesis of pelgipeptin was identified from the genome sequence of Paenibacillus elgii B69. The identification of the plp gene cluster provides an opportunity to develop novel lipopeptide antibiotics by genetic engineering.
Non-ribosomal peptide; Biosynthesis; Gene cluster; Antimicrobial agent
Two important plant pathogenic bacteria Acidovorax oryzae and Acidovorax citrulli are closely related and often not easy to be differentiated from each other, which often resulted in a false identification between them based on traditional methods such as carbon source utilization profile, fatty acid methyl esters, and ELISA detection tests. MALDI-TOF MS and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra have recently been successfully applied in bacterial identification and classification, which provide an alternate method for differentiating the two species.
Characterization and comparison of the 10 A. oryzae strains and 10 A. citrulli strains were performed based on traditional bacteriological methods, MALDI-TOF MS, and FTIR spectroscopy. Our results showed that the identity of the two closely related plant pathogenic bacteria A. oryzae and A. citrulli was able to be confirmed by both pathogenicity tests and species-specific PCR, but the two species were difficult to be differentiated based on Biolog and FAME profile as well as 16 S rRNA sequence analysis. However, there were significant differences in MALDI-TOF MS and FTIR spectra between the two species of Acidovorax. MALDI-TOF MS revealed that 22 and 18 peaks were specific to A. oryzae and A. citrulli, respectively, while FTIR spectra of the two species of Acidovorax have the specific peaks at 1738, 1311, 1128, 1078, 989 cm-1 and at 1337, 968, 933, 916, 786 cm-1, respectively.
This study indicated that MALDI-TOF MS and FTIR spectra may give a new strategy for rapid bacterial identification and differentiation of the two closely related species of Acidovorax.
B. bronchiseptica infections are usually associated with wild or domesticated animals, but infrequently with humans. A recent phylogenetic analysis distinguished two distinct B. bronchiseptica subpopulations, designated complexes I and IV. Complex IV isolates appear to have a bias for infecting humans; however, little is known regarding their epidemiology, virulence properties, or comparative genomics.
Here we report a characterization of the virulence of human-associated complex IV B. bronchiseptica strains. In in vitro cytotoxicity assays, complex IV strains showed increased cytotoxicity in comparison to a panel of complex I strains. Some complex IV isolates were remarkably cytotoxic, resulting in LDH release levels in A549 cells that were 10- to 20-fold greater than complex I strains. In vivo, a subset of complex IV strains was found to be hypervirulent, with an increased ability to cause lethal pulmonary infections in mice. Hypercytotoxicity in vitro and hypervirulence in vivo were both dependent on the activity of the bsc T3SS and the BteA effector. To clarify differences between lineages, representative complex IV isolates were sequenced and their genomes were compared to complex I isolates. Although our analysis showed there were no genomic sequences that can be considered unique to complex IV strains, there were several loci that were predominantly found in complex IV isolates.
Our observations reveal a T3SS-dependent hypervirulence phenotype in human-associated complex IV isolates, highlighting the need for further studies on the epidemiology and evolutionary dynamics of this B. bronchiseptica lineage.
B. bronchiseptica; Hypervirulence; Cytotoxicity; Bordetella evolution; Host adaptation; Pathogenomics
Several reports have associated Staphylococcus lugdunensis with the incidence of severe infection in humans; however, the frequency and prevalence of this microorganism and thus the propensity of its antimicrobial drug resistance is unknown in China. The objective of the current study was to determine the prevalence of Staphylococcus lugdunensis among six hundred and seventy non-replicate coagulase negative Staphylococcus (CoNS) isolates collected in a 12-month period from clinical specimens in the General Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army in Beijing, China.
Five (0.7%) of the 670 isolates of CoNS were identified as S. lugdunensis. Whereas three isolates were resistant to erythromycin, clindamycin, and penicillin and carried the ermC gene and a fourth one was resistant to cefoxitin and penicillin and carried the mecA gene, one isolate was not resistant to any of the tested antimicrobials. Pulse field gel electrophoretic analysis did not reveal widespread epidemiological diversity of the different isolates.
Hence, even though S. lugdunensis may be yet unrecognized and undefined in China, it still might be the infrequent cause of infection and profound multi-drug resistance in the same population.
Staphylococcus lugdunensis; Coagulase-negative staphylococci; Antibiotic resistance; Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis; mecA; ermC
The efficacy of entomopathogenic fungi in pest control is mainly affected by various adverse environmental factors, such as heat shock and UV-B radiation, and by responses of the host insect, such as oxidative stress, osmotic stress and fever. In this study, an adenylate cyclase gene (MaAC) was cloned from the locust-specific entomopathogenic fungus, Metarhizium acridum, which is homologous to various fungal adenylate cyclase genes. RNA silencing was adapted to analyze the role of MaAC in virulence and tolerance to adverse environmental and host insect factors.
Compared with the wild type, the vegetative growth of the RNAi mutant was decreased in PD (potato dextrose medium), Czapek-dox and PDA plates, respectively, demonstrating that MaAC affected vegetative growth. The cAMP levels were also reduced in PD liquid culture, and exogenous cAMP restored the growth of RNAi mutants. These findings suggested that MaAC is involved in cAMP synthesis. The knockdown of MaAC by RNAi led to a reduction in virulence after injection or topical inoculation. Furthermore, the RNAi mutant grew much slower than the wild type in the haemolymph of locust in vitro and in vivo, thus demonstrating that MaAC affects the virulence of M. acridum via fungal growth inside the host locust. A plate assay indicated that the tolerances of the MaAC RNAi mutant under oxidative stress, osmotic stress, heat shock and UV-B radiation was decreased compared with the wild type.
MaAC is required for virulence and tolerance to oxidative stress, osmotic stress, heat shock and UV-B radiation. MaAC affects fungal virulence via vegetative growth inside the insect and tolerance against oxidative stress, osmotic stress and locust fever.
Biocontrol agents; Entomopathogenic fungi; Conidia; Virulence; Environmental stress
Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is a major causative agent of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD), and infection of EV71 to central nerve system (CNS) may result in a high mortality in children less than 2 years old. Although there are two highly glycosylated membrane proteins, SCARB2 and PSGL-1, which have been identified as the cellular and functional receptors of EV71, the role of glycosylation in EV71 infection is still unclear.
We demonstrated that the attachment of EV71 to RD and SK-N-SH cells was diminished after the removal of cell surface sialic acids by neuraminidase. Sialic acid specific lectins, Maackia amurensis (MAA) and Sambucus Nigra (SNA), could compete with EV71 and restrained the binding of EV71 significantly. Preincubation of RD cells with fetuin also reduced the binding of EV71. In addition, we found that SCARB2 was a sialylated glycoprotein and interaction between SCARB2 and EV71 was retarded after desialylation.
In this study, we demonstrated that cell surface sialic acids assist in the attachment of EV71 to host cells. Cell surface sialylation should be a key regulator that facilitates the binding and infection of EV71 to RD and SK-N-SH cells.
Enterovirus 71; Sialic acid; RD; SK-N-SH; Lectin affinity chromatography
Acinetobacter baumannii, a significant nosocomial pathogen, has evolved resistance to almost all conventional antimicrobial drugs. Bacteriophage therapy is a potential alternative treatment for multidrug-resistant bacterial infections. In this study, one lytic bacteriophage, ZZ1, which infects A. baumannii and has a broad host range, was selected for characterization.
Phage ZZ1 and 3 of its natural hosts, A. baumanni clinical isolates AB09V, AB0902, and AB0901, are described in this study. The 3 strains have different sensitivities to ZZ1, but they have the same sensitivity to antibiotics. They are resistant to almost all of the antibiotics tested, except for polymyxin. Several aspects of the life cycle of ZZ1 were investigated using the sensitive strain AB09V under optimal growth conditions. ZZ1 is highly infectious with a short latent period (9 min) and a large burst size (200 PFU/cell). It exhibited the most powerful antibacterial activity at temperatures ranging from 35°C to 39°C. Moreover, when ZZ1 alone was incubated at different pHs and different temperatures, the phage was stable over a wide pH range (4 to 9) and at extreme temperatures (between 50°C and 60°C). ZZ1 possesses a 100-nm icosahedral head containing double-stranded DNA with a total length of 166,682 bp and a 120-nm long contractile tail. Morphologically, it could be classified as a member of the Myoviridae family and the Caudovirales order. Bioinformatic analysis of the phage whole genome sequence further suggested that ZZ1 was more likely to be a new member of the Myoviridae phages. Most of the predicted ORFs of the phage were similar to the predicted ORFs from other Acinetobacter phages.
The phage ZZ1 has a relatively broad lytic spectrum, high pH stability, strong heat resistance, and efficient antibacterial potential at body temperature. These characteristics greatly increase the utility of this phage as an antibacterial agent; thus, it should be further investigated.
Acinetobacter baumannii ; Bacteriophage; Characterization
Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) and uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) are the two main subsets of extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC). Both types have multiple iron acquisition systems, including heme and siderophores. Although iron transport systems involved in the pathogenesis of APEC or UPEC have been documented individually in corresponding animal models, the contribution of these systems during simultaneous APEC and UPEC infection is not well described. To determine the contribution of each individual iron acquisition system to the virulence of APEC and UPEC, isogenic mutants affecting iron uptake in APEC E058 and UPEC U17 were constructed and compared in a chicken challenge model.
Salmochelin-defective mutants E058ΔiroD and U17ΔiroD showed significantly decreased pathogenicity compared to the wild-type strains. Aerobactin defective mutants E058ΔiucD and U17ΔiucD demonstrated reduced colonization in several internal organs, whereas the heme defective mutants E058ΔchuT and U17ΔchuT colonized internal organs to the same extent as their wild-type strains. The triple mutant ΔchuTΔiroDΔiucD in both E058 and U17 showed decreased pathogenicity compared to each of the single mutants. The histopathological lesions in visceral organs of birds challenged with the wild-type strains were more severe than those from birds challenged with ΔiroD, ΔiucD or the triple mutants. Conversely, chickens inoculated with the ΔchuT mutants had lesions comparable to those in chickens inoculated with the wild-type strains. However, no significant differences were observed between the mutants and the wild-type strains in resistance to serum, cellular invasion and intracellular survival in HD-11, and growth in iron-rich or iron-restricted medium.
Results indicated that APEC and UPEC utilize similar iron acquisition mechanisms in chickens. Both salmochelin and aerobactin systems appeared to be important in APEC and UPEC virulence, while salmochelin contributed more to the virulence. Heme bounded by ChuT in the periplasm appeared to be redundant in this model, indicating that other periplasmic binding proteins likely contributed to the observed no phenotype for the heme uptake mutant. No differences were observed between the mutants and their wild-type parents in other phenotypic traits, suggesting that other virulence mechanisms compensate for the effect of the mutations.
APEC, Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli; UPEC, Uropathogenic Escherichia coli; Iron acquisition system; Salmochelin; Aerobactin; Heme; Pathogenicity; Chicken challenge model
Enterococci are among the leading causes of hospital-acquired infections in the United States and Europe, with Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium being the two most common species isolated from enterococcal infections. In the last decade, the proportion of enterococcal infections caused by E. faecium has steadily increased compared to other Enterococcus species. Although the underlying mechanism for the gradual replacement of E. faecalis by E. faecium in the hospital environment is not yet understood, many studies using genotyping and phylogenetic analysis have shown the emergence of a globally dispersed polyclonal subcluster of E. faecium strains in clinical environments. Systematic study of the molecular epidemiology and pathogenesis of E. faecium has been hindered by the lack of closed, complete E. faecium genomes that can be used as references.
In this study, we report the complete genome sequence of the E. faecium strain TX16, also known as DO, which belongs to multilocus sequence type (ST) 18, and was the first E. faecium strain ever sequenced. Whole genome comparison of the TX16 genome with 21 E. faecium draft genomes confirmed that most clinical, outbreak, and hospital-associated (HA) strains (including STs 16, 17, 18, and 78), in addition to strains of non-hospital origin, group in the same clade (referred to as the HA clade) and are evolutionally considerably more closely related to each other by phylogenetic and gene content similarity analyses than to isolates in the community-associated (CA) clade with approximately a 3–4% average nucleotide sequence difference between the two clades at the core genome level. Our study also revealed that many genomic loci in the TX16 genome are unique to the HA clade. 380 ORFs in TX16 are HA-clade specific and antibiotic resistance genes are enriched in HA-clade strains. Mobile elements such as IS16 and transposons were also found almost exclusively in HA strains, as previously reported.
Our findings along with other studies show that HA clonal lineages harbor specific genetic elements as well as sequence differences in the core genome which may confer selection advantages over the more heterogeneous CA E. faecium isolates. Which of these differences are important for the success of specific E. faecium lineages in the hospital environment remain(s) to be determined.