Toxoplasma gondii infection in pregnant women may result in abortion or in fetal teratogenesis; however, the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. In this paper, based on a murine model, we showed that maternal infection with RH strain T. gondii tachyzoites induced elevated production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), local oxidative stress, and subsequent apoptosis of placental trophoblasts. PCR array analysis of 84 oxidative stress-related genes demonstrated that 27 genes were upregulated at least 2-fold and that 9 genes were downregulated at least 2-fold in the T. gondii infection group compared with levels in the control group. The expression of NADPH oxidase 1 (Nox1) and glutathione peroxidase 6 (Gpx6) increased significantly, about 25-fold. The levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) and 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) increased significantly with T. gondii infection, and levels of glutathione (GSH) decreased rapidly. T. gondii infection increased the early expression of endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) markers, followed by cleavage of caspase-12, activation of ASK1/JNK, and increased apoptosis of trophoblasts, both in vivo and in vitro. The apoptosis of trophoblasts, the activation of caspase-12 and the ASK1/JNK pathway, and the production of peroxides were dramatically inhibited by pretreatment with N-acetylcysteine (NAC). The upregulation of Nox1 was contact dependent and preceded the increase in levels of ERS markers and the activation of the proapoptosis cascade. Thus, we concluded that apoptosis in placental trophoblasts was initiated predominantly by ROS-mediated ERS via activation of caspase-12, CHOP, and the JNK pathway in acute T. gondii infection. Elevated ROS production is the central event in T. gondii-induced apoptosis of placental trophoblasts.
Parasitic helminth infection has been shown to modulate pathological inflammatory responses in allergy and autoimmune disease. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of infection with a helminth parasite, Heligmosomoides polygyrus, on type 1 diabetes (T1D) in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice and to elucidate the mechanisms involved in this protection. H. polygyrus inoculation at 5 weeks of age protected NOD mice from T1D until 40 weeks of age and also inhibited the more aggressive cyclophosphamide-induced T1D. Moreover, H. polygyrus inoculation as late as 12 weeks of age reduced the onset of T1D in NOD mice. Following H. polygyrus inoculation of NOD mice, pancreatic insulitis was markedly inhibited. Interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-10, and IL-13 expression and the frequency of CD4+ CD25+ FoxP3+ regulatory T cells were elevated in mesenteric and pancreatic lymph nodes. Depletion of CD4+ CD25+ T cells in vivo did not abrogate H. polygyrus-induced T1D protection, nor did anti-IL-10 receptor blocking antibody. These findings suggest that infection with H. polygyrus significantly inhibits T1D in NOD mice through CD25- and IL-10-independent mechanisms and also reduces the severity of T1D when administered late after the onset of insulitis.
α-2,3-Sialyltransferase (Lst) is expressed on the outer membrane of Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis and sialylates surface lipooligosaccharide (LOS), facilitating resistance to complement-mediated killing. The enzyme is constitutively expressed from a single gene (lst) and does not undergo antigenic or phase variation. We observed that Triton X-100 extracts of N. gonorrhoeae strain F62 contain about fivefold more sialyltransferase (Stase) activity than extracts of N. meningitidis strain MC58 ⊄3 a serogroup B acapsulate mutant. We confirmed and expanded upon this observation by showing that extracts of 16 random N. gonorrhoeae isolates contain various amounts of Stase activity, but, on average, 2.2-fold-more Stase activity than extracts of 16 N. meningitidis clinical isolates, representing several serogroups and nongroupable strains. Northern and real-time reverse transcription-PCR analysis of lst transcript levels in N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis revealed that N. gonorrhoeae strains express more lst transcript than N. meningitidis strains. Although transcript levels correlate with average Stase activity observed in the two species, there was not a direct correlation between lst transcript levels and Stase activity among individual isolates of each species. Comparison of lst upstream (5′lst) regions of N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis revealed striking sequence differences characteristic of the two pathogens. N. gonorrhoeae 5′lst regions possess 30-bp and 13-bp elements present as single elements or as tandem repeats that exist only as single elements in the 5′lst regions of N. meningitidis isolates. In addition, the 5′lst regions of N. meningitidis strains have 105-bp transposon-like Correia elements which are absent in N. gonorrhoeae. Chromosomal N. gonorrhoeae 5′lst::lacZ translational fusions expressed 4.75 ± 0.09-fold (n = 4) higher β-galactosidase (β-gal) activity than N. meningitidis 5′lst::lacZ fusions in a host-independent manner, indicating differential expression is governed at least in part by sequence variations in the 5′lst regions. Reporter fusion assays and promoter-mapping analysis revealed that N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis use different promoters with different strengths to transcribe lst. In N. gonorrhoeae, a strong sigma 70 promoter 80 bp upstream of the translational start site is used to transcribe lst, whereas this promoter is inactive in N. meningitidis. In N. meningitidis, a weak sigma 70 promoter at the 3′ terminus of a 105-bp Correia repeat-enclosed element 99 bp upstream of the translational start site is used to transcribe lst. We conclude that differential Stase expression between N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis is due at least in part to differential lst gene transcription.
We report the cloning and expression of Ac-GST-1, a novel glutathione S-transferase from the adult hookworm Ancylostoma caninum, and its possible role in parasite blood feeding and as a vaccine target. The predicted Ac-GST-1 open reading frame contains 207 amino acids (mass, 24 kDa) and exhibited up to 65% amino acid identity with other nematode GSTs. mRNA encoding Ac-GST-1 was detected in adults, eggs, and larval stages, but the protein was detected only in adult hookworm somatic extracts and excretory/secretory products. Using antiserum to the recombinant protein, Ac-GST-1 was immunolocalized to the parasite hypodermis and muscle tissue and weakly to the intestine. Recombinant Ac-GST-1 was enzymatically active, as determined by conjugation of glutathione to a model substrate, and exhibited a novel high-affinity binding site for hematin. The possible role of Ac-GST-1 in parasite heme detoxification during hemoglobin digestion or heme uptake prompted interest in evaluating it as a potential vaccine antigen. Vaccination of dogs with Ac-GST-1 resulted in a 39.4% reduction in the mean worm burden and 32.3% reduction in egg counts compared to control dogs following larval challenge, although the reductions were not statistically significant. However, hamsters vaccinated with Ac-GST-1 exhibited statistically significant worm reduction (53.7%) following challenge with heterologous Necator americanus larvae. These studies suggest that Ac-GST-1 is a possible drug and vaccine target for hookworm infection.
A mouse lacking CD28, a T-cell costimulatory molecule, and STAT6, a transcription factor that mediates interleukin-4 (IL-4) signaling, was developed from parental CD28- and STAT6-deficient mice. STAT6/CD28−/− BALB/c mice that were 8 weeks old had a normal phenotype, and IL-4 production was induced following infection with nematode parasites. Unexpectedly, when they were between 4 and 8 months old, all mice examined spontaneously developed severe chronic dermatitis associated with pronounced numbers of Demodex ectoparasites. In addition, pronounced CD4 and CD8 T-cell infiltrates in the dermis and subcutaneous fat, increased serum immunoglobulin G2a levels, and lymphadenopathy associated with increased gamma interferon and IL-12 expression were observed. Single-knockout siblings lacking either CD28 or STAT6 had a phenotype similar to that of BALB/c wild-type controls. To distinguish whether the ectoparasite Demodex or the Th1 immunity was the proximal cause of the inflammatory skin disease, STAT6/CD28−/− mice were treated with a miticide that eliminated the ectoparasites. This treatment markedly reduced the severity of the dermatitis and the associated lymphoid infiltrates. These findings suggest that ubiquitous ectoparasites, which are generally considered to be commensal, may contribute to disease when specific molecules required for an effective Th2 response are blocked.
Studies were undertaken to examine hepatocyte CD14 expression during endotoxemia. Our results show that lipopolysaccharide (LPS) treatment in vivo caused a marked upregulation in CD14 mRNA and protein levels in rat hepatocytes. Detectable increases in mRNA were seen as early as 1.5 h after LPS treatment; these increases peaked at 20-fold by 3 h and returned to baseline levels by 24 h. In situ hybridization localized the CD14 mRNA expression to hepatocytes both in vitro and in vivo. Increases in hepatic CD14 protein levels were detectable by 3 h and peaked at 12 h. Hepatocytes from LPS-treated animals expressed greater amounts of cell-associated CD14 protein, and more of the soluble CD14 was released by hepatocytes from LPS-treated rats in vitro. The increases in hepatocyte CD14 expression during endotoxemia occurred in parallel to increases of CD14 levels in plasma. To provide molecular identification of the hepatocyte CD14, we cloned the rat liver CD14 cDNA. The longest clone consists of a 1,591-bp insert containing a 1,116-bp open reading frame. The deduced amino acid sequence is 372 amino acids long, has 81.8 and 62.8% homology to the amino acid sequences of mouse and human CD14, respectively, and is identical to the rat macrophage CD14. The expressed CD14 protein from this clone was functional, as indicated by NF-κB activation in response to LPS and fluorescein isothiocyanate-LPS binding in CHO cells stably transfected with rat CD14. A nuclear run-on assay showed that CD14 transcription rates were significantly increased in hepatocytes from LPS-treated animals, indicating that the upregulation in CD14 mRNA levels observed in rat hepatocytes after LPS treatment is dependent, in part, on increased transcription. In vitro and in vivo experiments indicated that interleukin-1β and/or tumor necrosis factor α participate in the upregulation of CD14 mRNA levels in hepatocytes. Our data indicate that hepatocytes express CD14 and that hepatocyte CD14 mRNA and protein levels increase rapidly during endotoxemia. Our observations also support the idea that soluble CD14 is an acute-phase protein and that hepatocytes could be a source for soluble CD14 production.
Fimbriae were removed from Bordetella pertussis (serotype 1.3.6) by mechanical shearing and purified by precipitation with ammonium sulfate, pH-dependent precipitation at pH 7.4, followed by two successive extractions of the precipitated fimbriae with 4 M urea. By electron microscopy, the precipitated fimbriae appeared as aggregated bundles of long, relatively straight filaments which were disaggregated to individual flexuous filaments at pH 10.5. These purified fimbriae were identified as serotype 6 agglutinogens, since antibody to the purified fimbriae agglutinated B. pertussis strains serotyped as 1.3.6, 220.127.116.11, or 18.104.22.168.6 but did not agglutinate strains of serotype 22.214.171.124, 1.2.3, or 1.3. In contrast, antibody to serotype 2 fimbriae only agglutinated B. pertussis strains containing serotype 2 agglutinogen. Purified type 6 and 2 fimbriae were found to be weakly cross-reactive by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, using polyclonal antibody to each type of fimbria. In an immunoblot assay, polyclonal antibodies to a 22,000-dalton subunit of fimbriae from B. bronchiseptica reacted strongly with the type 2 fimbrial subunit of B. pertussis, but only weakly with the type 6 subunit. When subjected to sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, the protein subunit of the type 6 fimbriae migrated with a molecular weight of 21,500, whereas the type 2 fimbrial subunit had a molecular weight of 22,000. The two types of subunits had similar amino acid compositions and showed amino-terminal sequence homology in 15 of 21 amino acids. The amino-terminal amino acid sequences of the B. pertussis fimbriae were distinct from those reported for fimbriae from other gram-negative bacteria. Neither the type 6 nor the type 2 fimbriae caused hemagglutination when assayed with several types of erythrocytes.
Candida albicans causes both mucosal and disseminated infections, and its capacity to grow as both yeast and hyphae is a key virulence factor. Hyphal formation is a type of polarized growth, and members of the SR (serine-arginine) family of RNA-binding proteins influence polarized growth of both Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Aspergillus nidulans. Therefore, we investigated whether SR-like proteins affect filamentous growth and virulence of C. albicans. BLAST searches with S. cerevisiae SR-like protein Npl3 (ScNpl3) identified two C. albicans proteins: CaNpl3, an apparent ScNpl3 ortholog, and Slr1, another SR-like RNA-binding protein with no close S. cerevisiae ortholog. Whereas ScNpl3 was critical for growth, deletion of NPL3 in C. albicans resulted in few phenotypic changes. In contrast, the slr1Δ/Δ mutant had a reduced growth rate in vitro, decreased filamentation, and impaired capacity to damage epithelial and endothelial cells in vitro. Mice infected intravenously with the slr1Δ/Δ mutant strain had significantly prolonged survival compared to that of mice infected with the wild-type or slr1Δ/Δ mutant complemented with SLR1 (slr1Δ/Δ+SLR1) strain, without a concomitant decrease in kidney fungal burden. Histopathology, however, revealed differential localization of slr1Δ/Δ hyphal and yeast morphologies within the kidney. Mice infected with slr1Δ/Δ cells also had an increased brain fungal burden, which correlated with increased invasion of brain, but not umbilical vein, endothelial cells in vitro. The enhanced brain endothelial cell invasion was likely due to the increased surface exposure of the Als3 adhesin on slr1Δ/Δ cells. Our results indicate that Slr1 is an SR-like protein that influences C. albicans growth, filamentation, host cell interactions, and virulence.
Hypervirulent invasive group A streptococcus (GAS) isolates inhibit neutrophil infiltration more than pharyngitis isolates do, and the molecular basis of this difference is not well understood. This study was designed to first determine whether natural null mutation of the two-component regulatory system CovRS is responsible for the enhancement of the inhibition of neutrophil recruitment seen in hypervirulent GAS. Next, we examined the role of CovRS-regulated interleukin-8/CXC chemokine peptidase (SpyCEP), C5a peptidase (ScpA), and platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase (SsE) in the enhanced innate immune evasion. Invasive isolate MGAS5005 induces less neutrophil infiltration and produced a greater lesion area than pharyngitis isolate MGAS2221 in subcutaneous infections of mice. It is known that MGAS5005, but not MGAS2221, has a natural 1-bp deletion in the covS gene. Replacement of covSΔ1bp in MGAS5005 with wild-type covS resulted in the MGAS2221 phenotype. Deletion of covS from MGAS2221 resulted in the MGAS5005 phenotype. Tests of single, double, and triple deletion mutants of the MGAS5005 sse, spyCEP, and scpA genes found that SsE plays a more important role than SpyCEP and ScpA in the inhibition of neutrophil recruitment and that SsE, SpyCEP, and ScpA do not have synergistic effects on innate immune evasion by MGAS5005. Deletion of sse, but not spyCEP or scpA, of MGAS2221 enhances neutrophil recruitment. Thus, covS null mutations can cause substantial inhibition of neutrophil recruitment by enhancing the expression of the chemoattractant-degrading virulence factors, and SsE, but not SpyCEP or ScpA, is required for CovRS-regulated GAS inhibition of neutrophil infiltration.
CD98 is a type II transmembrane glycoprotein whose expression increases in intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) during intestinal inflammation. Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) is a food-borne human pathogen that attaches to IECs and injects effector proteins directly into the host cells, thus provoking an inflammatory response. In the present study, we investigated CD98 and EPEC interactions in vitro and ex vivo and examined FVB wild-type (WT) and villin-CD98 transgenic mice overexpressing human CD98 in IECs (hCD98 Tg mice) and infected with Citrobacter rodentium as an in vivo model. In vivo studies indicated that CD98 overexpression, localized to the apical domain of colonic cells, increased the attachment of C. rodentium in mouse colons and resulted in increased expression of proinflammatory markers and decreased expression of anti-inflammatory markers. The proliferative markers Ki-67 and cyclin D1 were significantly increased in the colonic tissue of C. rodentium-infected hCD98 Tg mice compared to that of WT mice. Ex vivo studies correlate with the in vivo data. Small interfering RNA (siRNA) studies with Caco2-BBE cells showed a decrease in adherence of EPEC to Caco2 cells in which CD98 expression was knocked down. In vitro surface plasmon resonance (SPR) experiments showed direct binding between recombinant hCD98 and EPEC/C. rodentium proteins. We also demonstrated that the partial extracellular loop of hCD98 was sufficient for direct binding to EPEC/C. rodentium. These findings demonstrate the importance of the extracellular loop of CD98 in the innate host defense response to intestinal infection by attaching and effacing (A/E) pathogens.
Iron availability is a key regulator of virulence factor elaboration in Cryptococcus neoformans, the causative agent of fungal meningoencephalitis in HIV/AIDS patients. In addition, iron is an essential nutrient for pathogen proliferation in mammalian hosts but little is known about the mechanisms of iron sensing and uptake in fungal pathogens that attack humans. In this study, we mutagenized C. neoformans by Agrobacterium-mediated T-DNA insertion and screened for mutants with reduced growth on heme as the sole iron source. Among 34 mutants, we identified a subset with insertions in the gene for the ESCRT-I (endosomal sorting complex required for transport) protein Vps23 that resulted in a growth defect on heme, presumably due to a defect in uptake via endocytosis or misregulation of iron acquisition from heme. Remarkably, vps23 mutants were also defective in the elaboration of the cell-associated capsular polysaccharide that is a major virulence factor, while overexpression of Vps23 resulted in cells with a slightly enlarged capsule. These phenotypes were mirrored by a virulence defect in the vps23 mutant in a mouse model of cryptococcosis and by hypervirulence of the overexpression strain. Overall, these results reveal an important role for trafficking via ESCRT functions in both heme uptake and capsule formation, and they further reinforce the connection between iron and virulence factor deployment in C. neoformans.
The bacterial pathogen group A Streptococcus (GAS) causes human diseases ranging from self-limiting pharyngitis (also known as strep throat) to severely invasive necrotizing fasciitis (also known as the flesh-eating syndrome). To control virulence factor expression, GAS utilizes both protein- and RNA-based mechanisms of regulation. Here we report that the transcription factor RivR (RofA-like protein IV) negatively regulates the abundance of mRNAs encoding the hyaluronic acid capsule biosynthesis proteins (hasABC; ∼7-fold) and the protein G-related α2-macroglobulin-binding protein (grab; ∼29-fold). Our data differ significantly from those of a previous study of the RivR regulon. Given that grab and hasABC are also negatively regulated by the two-component system CovR/S (control of virulence), we tested whether RivR functions through CovR/S. A comparison of riv and cov single and double mutant strains showed that RivR requires CovR activity for grab and hasABC regulation. Analysis of the upstream region of rivR identified a novel promoter the deletion of which reduced rivR mRNA abundance by 70%. A rivR mutant strain had a reduced ability to adhere to human keratinocytes relative to that of the parental and complemented strains, a phenotype that was abolished upon GAS pretreatment with hyaluronidase, highlighting the importance of capsule regulation by RivR during colonization. The rivR mutant strain was also attenuated for virulence in a murine model of bacteremia infection. Thus, we identify RivR as an important regulator of GAS virulence and provide new insight into the regulatory networks controlling virulence factor production in this pathogen.
Clostridium difficile, a major cause of hospital-acquired diarrhea, triggers disease through the release of two toxins, toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB). These toxins disrupt the cytoskeleton of the intestinal epithelial cell, increasing intestinal permeability and triggering the release of inflammatory mediators resulting in intestinal injury and inflammation. The most prevalent animal model to study TcdA/TcdB-induced intestinal injury involves injecting toxin into the lumen of a surgically generated “ileal loop.” This model is time-consuming and exhibits variability depending on the expertise of the surgeon. Furthermore, the target organ of C. difficile infection (CDI) in humans is the colon, not the ileum. In the current study, we describe a new model of CDI that involves intrarectal instillation of TcdA/TcdB into the mouse colon. The administration of TcdA/TcdB triggered colonic inflammation and neutrophil and macrophage infiltration as well as increased epithelial barrier permeability and intestinal epithelial cell death. The damage and inflammation triggered by TcdA/TcdB isolates from the VPI and 630 strains correlated with the concentration of TcdA and TcdB produced. TcdA/TcdB exposure increased the expression of a number of inflammatory mediators associated with human CDI, including interleukin-6 (IL-6), gamma interferon (IFN-γ), and IL-1β. Finally, we were able to demonstrate that TcdA was much more potent at inducing colonic injury than was TcdB but TcdB could act synergistically with TcdA to exacerbate injury. Taken together, our data indicate that the intrarectal murine model provides a robust and efficient system to examine the effects of TcdA/TcdB on the induction of inflammation and colonic tissue damage in the context of human CDI.
The interaction of the immune system with Neisseria commensals remains poorly understood. We have previously shown that phosphoethanolamine on the lipid A portion of lipooligosaccharide (LOS) plays an important role in Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling. For pathogenic Neisseria, phosphoethanolamine is added to lipid A by the phosphoethanolamine transferase specific for lipid A, which is encoded by lptA. Here, we report that Southern hybridizations and bioinformatics analyses of genomic sequences from all eight commensal Neisseria species confirmed that lptA was absent in 15 of 17 strains examined but was present in N. lactamica. Mass spectrometry of lipid A and intact LOS revealed the lack of both pyrophosphorylation and phosphoethanolaminylation in lipid A of commensal species lacking lptA. Inflammatory signaling in human THP-1 monocytic cells was much greater with pathogenic than with commensal Neisseria strains that lacked lptA, and greater sensitivity to polymyxin B was consistent with the absence of phosphoethanolamine. Unlike the other commensals, whole bacteria of two N. lactamica commensal strains had low inflammatory potential, whereas their lipid A had high-level pyrophosphorylation and phosphoethanolaminylation and induced high-level inflammatory signaling, supporting previous studies indicating that this species uses mechanisms other than altering lipid A to support commensalism. A meningococcal lptA deletion mutant had reduced inflammatory potential, further illustrating the importance of lipid A pyrophosphorylation and phosphoethanolaminylation in the bioactivity of LOS. Overall, our results indicate that lack of pyrophosphorylation and phosphoethanolaminylation of lipid A contributes to the immune privilege of most commensal Neisseria strains by reducing the inflammatory potential of LOS.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a major role in host mucosal and systemic defense mechanisms by recognizing a diverse array of conserved pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). TLR2, with TLR1 and TLR6, recognizes structurally diverse bacterial products such as lipidated factors (lipoproteins and peptidoglycans) and nonlipidated proteins, i.e., bacterial porins. PorB is a pan-neisserial porin expressed regardless of organisms' pathogenicity. However, commensal Neisseria lactamica organisms and purified N. lactamica PorB (published elsewhere as Nlac PorB) induce TLR2-dependent proinflammatory responses of lower magnitude than N. meningitidis organisms and N. meningitidis PorB (published elsewhere as Nme PorB). Both PorB types bind to TLR2 in vitro but with different apparent specificities. The structural and molecular details of PorB-TLR2 interaction are only beginning to be unraveled and may be due to electrostatic attraction. PorB molecules have significant strain-specific sequence variability within surface-exposed regions (loops) putatively involved in TLR2 interaction. By constructing chimeric recombinant PorB loop mutants in which surface-exposed loop residues have been switched between N. lactamica PorB and N. meningitidis PorB, we identified residues in loop 5 and loop 7 that influence TLR2-dependent cell activation using HEK cells and BEAS-2B cells. These loops are not uniquely responsible for PorB interaction with TLR2, but NF-κB and MAP kinases signaling downstream of TLR2 recognition are likely influenced by a hypothetical “TLR2-binding signature” within the sequence of PorB surface-exposed loops. Consistent with the effect of purified PorB in vitro, a chimeric N. meningitidis strain expressing N. lactamica PorB induces lower levels of interleukin 8 (IL-8) secretion than wild-type N. meningitidis, suggesting a role for PorB in induction of host cell activation by whole bacteria.
Clostridium difficile can infect the large intestine and cause colitis when the normal intestinal microbiota is altered by antibiotic administration. Little is known about the innate immune signaling pathways that marshal inflammatory responses to C. difficile infection and whether protective and pathogenic inflammatory responses can be dissociated. Toll-like receptors predominantly signal via the MyD88 adaptor protein and are important mediators of innate immune signaling in the intestinal mucosa. Here, we demonstrate that MyD88-mediated signals trigger neutrophil and CCR2-dependent Ly6Chi monocyte recruitment to the colonic lamina propria (cLP) during infection, which prevent dissemination of bystander bacteria to deeper tissues. Mortality is markedly increased in MyD88-deficient mice following C. difficile infection, as are parameters of mucosal tissue damage and inflammation. Antibody-mediated depletion of neutrophils markedly increases mortality, while attenuated recruitment of Ly6Chi monocytes in CCR2-deficient mice does not alter the course of C. difficile infection. Expression of CXCL1, a neutrophil-recruiting chemokine, is impaired in the cLP of MyD88−/− mice. Our studies suggest that MyD88-mediated signals promote neutrophil recruitment by inducing expression of CXCL1, thereby providing critical early defense against C. difficile-mediated colitis.
Lipid A is a key component of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria and stimulates proinflammatory responses via the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)-MD2-CD14 pathway. Its endotoxic activity depends on the number and length of acyl chains and its phosphorylation state. In Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, removal of the secondary laurate or myristate chain in lipid A results in bacterial attenuation and growth defects in vitro. However, the roles of the two lipid A phosphate groups in bacterial virulence and immunogenicity remain unknown. Here, we used an S. Typhimurium msbB pagL pagP lpxR mutant, carrying penta-acylated lipid A, as the parent strain to construct a series of mutants synthesizing 1-dephosphorylated, 4′-dephosphorylated, or nonphosphorylated penta-acylated lipid A. Dephosphorylated mutants exhibited increased sensitivity to deoxycholate and showed increased resistance to polymyxin B. Removal of both phosphate groups severely attenuated the mutants when administered orally to BALB/c mice, but the mutants colonized the lymphatic tissues and were sufficiently immunogenic to protect the host from challenge with wild-type S. Typhimurium. Mice receiving S. Typhimurium with 1-dephosphorylated or nonphosphorylated penta-acylated lipid A exhibited reduced levels of cytokines. Attenuated and dephosphorylated Salmonella vaccines were able to induce adaptive immunity against heterologous (PspA of Streptococcus pneumoniae) and homologous antigens (lipopolysaccharide [LPS] and outer membrane proteins [OMPs]).
Outer membrane proteins (OMPs) serve as the permeability channels for nutrients, toxins, and antibiotics. In Escherichia coli, OmpA has been shown to be involved in bacterial virulence, and OmpC is related to multidrug resistance. However, it is unclear whether OmpC also has a role in the virulence of E. coli. The aims of this study were to characterize the role of OmpC in antimicrobial resistance and bacterial virulence in E. coli. The ompC deletion mutant showed significantly decreased susceptibility to carbapenems and cefepime. To investigate the survival of E. coli exposed to the innate immune system, a human blood bactericidal assay showed that the ompC mutant increased survival in blood and serum but not in complement-inactivated serum. These effects were also demonstrated in the natural selection of OmpC mutants. Also, C1q interacted with E. coli through a complex of antibodies bound to OmpC as a major target. Bacterial survival was increased in the wild-type strain in a dose-dependent manner by adding free recombinant OmpC protein or anti-C1q antibody to human serum. These results demonstrated that the interaction of OmpC-specific antibody and C1q was the key step in initiating the antibody-dependent classical pathway for the clearance of OmpC-expressing E. coli. Anti-OmpC antibody was detected in human sera, indicating that OmpC is an immunogen. These data indicate that the loss of OmpC in E. coli is resistant to not only antibiotics, but also the serum bactericidal effect, which is mediated from the C1q and anti-OmpC antibody-dependent classical pathway.
The microdomain of the integral membrane protein (MIMP) has been shown to adhere to mucin and to antagonize the adhesion of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) to epithelial cells; however, the mechanism has not been fully elucidated. In this study, we further identified the receptor of MIMP on NCM460 cells and investigated the mechanism (the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase [MAPK] pathway) following the interaction of MIMP and its corresponding receptor, mannose receptor. We first identified the target receptor of MIMP on the surfaces of NCM460 cells using immunoprecipitation-mass spectrometry technology. We also verified the mannose receptor and examined the degradation and activation of the p38 MAPK signaling pathway. The results indicated that MIMP adhered to NCM460 cells by binding to the mannose receptor and inhibited the phosphorylation of p38 MAPK stimulated after EPEC infection via inhibition of the Toll-like receptor 5 pathway. These findings indicated that MIMPs relieve the injury of NCM460 cells after enteropathogenic E. coli infection through the mannose receptor and inhibition of the p38 MAPK signaling pathway, both of which may therefore be potential therapeutic targets for intestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Phthiocerol dimycocerosates (PDIMs) and structurally related phenolic glycolipids (PGLs) are complex cell wall lipids unique to pathogenic mycobacteria. While these lipids have been extensively studied in recent years, there are conflicting reports on some aspects of their biosynthesis and on the role of PDIMs and especially PGLs in virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This has been complicated by the natural deficiency of PGLs in many clinical strains of M. tuberculosis and the frequent loss of PDIMs in laboratory M. tuberculosis strains. In this study, we isolated seven mutants of Mycobacterium marinum deficient in PDIMs and/or PGLs in which multiple genes of the PDIM/PGL biosynthetic locus were disrupted by transposon insertion. Zebrafish infection experiments showed that M. marinum strains lacking one or both of these lipids were avirulent, suggesting that both PDIMs and PGLs are required for virulence. We also found that these strains were hypersensitive to antibiotics and exhibited increased cell wall permeability. Our studies provide new insights into the biosynthesis of PDIMs/PGLs and may help us to understand the role of PDIMs and PGLs in M. tuberculosis virulence.
Young adult chinchillas were atraumatically inoculated with Moraxella catarrhalis via the nasal route. Detailed histopathologic examination of nasopharyngeal tissues isolated from these M. catarrhalis-infected animals revealed the presence of significant inflammation within the epithelium. Absence of similar histopathologic findings in sham-inoculated animals confirmed that M. catarrhalis was exposed to significant host-derived factors in this environment. Twenty-four hours after inoculation, viable M. catarrhalis organisms were recovered from the nasal cavity and nasopharynx of the animals in numbers sufficient for DNA microarray analysis. More than 100 M. catarrhalis genes were upregulated in vivo, including open reading frames (ORFs) encoding proteins that are involved in a truncated denitrification pathway or in the oxidative stress response, as well as several putative transcriptional regulators. Additionally, 200 M. catarrhalis genes were found to be downregulated when this bacterium was introduced into the nasopharynx. These downregulated genes included ORFs encoding several well-characterized M. catarrhalis surface proteins including Hag, McaP, and MchA1. Real-time reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) was utilized as a stringent control to validate the results of in vivo gene expression patterns as measured by DNA microarray analysis. Inactivation of one of the genes (MC ORF 1550) that was upregulated in vivo resulted in a decrease in the ability of M. catarrhalis to survive in the chinchilla nasopharynx over a 3-day period. This is the first evaluation of global transcriptome expression by M. catarrhalis cells in vivo.
The anthrax edema toxin (ET) of Bacillus anthracis is composed of the receptor-binding component protective antigen (PA) and of the adenylyl cyclase catalytic moiety, edema factor (EF). Uptake of ET into cells raises intracellular concentrations of the secondary messenger cyclic AMP, thereby impairing or activating host cell functions. We report here on a new consequence of ET action in vivo. We show that in mouse models of toxemia and infection, serum PA concentrations were significantly higher in the presence of enzymatically active EF. These higher concentrations were not caused by ET-induced inhibition of PA endocytosis; on the contrary, ET induced increased PA binding and uptake of the PA oligomer in vitro and in vivo through upregulation of the PA receptors TEM8 and CMG2 in both myeloid and nonmyeloid cells. ET effects on protein clearance from circulation appeared to be global and were not limited to PA. ET also impaired the clearance of ovalbumin, green fluorescent protein, and EF itself, as well as the small molecule biotin when these molecules were coinjected with the toxin. Effects on injected protein levels were not a result of general increase in protein concentrations due to fluid loss. Functional markers for liver and kidney were altered in response to ET. Concomitantly, ET caused phosphorylation and activation of the aquaporin-2 water channel present in the principal cells of the collecting ducts of the kidneys that are responsible for fluid homeostasis. Our data suggest that in vivo, ET alters circulatory protein and small molecule pharmacokinetics by an as-yet-undefined mechanism, thereby potentially allowing a prolonged circulation of anthrax virulence factors such as EF during infection.
The proline-glutamic acid (PE) and proline-proline-glutamic acid (PPE) family proteins are prevalent in pathogenic mycobacteria and play a diverse role in mycobacterial pathogenesis. While some members have been studied, the function of most PE/PPE proteins remains unknown. In this study, we isolated a transposon-inactivated PPE38 mutant of Mycobacterium marinum and characterized its phenotype. We found that the PPE38 protein is associated with the cell wall and exposed on the cell surface. The inactivation of PPE38 altered the bacterial cell surface properties and led to deficiencies in cord formation, sliding motility, and biofilm formation. The PPE38 mutant was defective in phagocytosis by macrophages and exhibited reduced virulence in adult zebrafish. We also found that PPE38 is involved in the induction of proinflammatory cytokines in infected macrophages. Together, our results indicate that PPE38, a previously uncharacterized protein, plays a role in mycobacterial virulence, presumably by modulating the host innate immune response.
The oral bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis is a key etiological agent of human periodontitis, a prevalent chronic disease that affects up to 80% of the adult population worldwide. P. gingivalis exhibits neuraminidase activity. However, the enzyme responsible for this activity, its biochemical features, and its role in the physiology and virulence of P. gingivalis remain elusive. In this report, we found that P. gingivalis encodes a neuraminidase, PG0352 (SiaPg). Transcriptional analysis showed that PG0352 is monocistronic and is regulated by a sigma70-like promoter. Biochemical analyses demonstrated that SiaPg is an exo-α-neuraminidase that cleaves glycosidic-linked sialic acids. Cryoelectron microscopy and tomography analyses revealed that the PG0352 deletion mutant (ΔPG352) failed to produce an intact capsule layer. Compared to the wild type, in vitro studies showed that ΔPG352 formed less biofilm and was less resistant to killing by the host complement. In vivo studies showed that while the wild type caused a spreading type of infection that affected multiple organs and all infected mice were killed, ΔPG352 only caused localized infection and all animals survived. Taken together, these results demonstrate that SiaPg is an important virulence factor that contributes to the biofilm formation, capsule biosynthesis, and pathogenicity of P. gingivalis, and it can potentially serve as a new target for developing therapeutic agents against P. gingivalis infection.