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1.  Effect of vinyl sulfone inhibitors of cysteine proteinases on Tritrichomonas foetus infection 
Tritrichomonas foetus is a sexually transmitted protozoon that causes genital inflammation and adverse pregnancy outcomes in cattle. Cysteine proteinases (CPs) released by T. foetus degrade immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, complement component 3 and matrix proteins as well as inducing apoptosis of bovine genital epithelial cells. In this study, the efficacies of the vinyl sulfone CP inhibitors K11777 and WRR-483 were tested against CPs of T. foetus. The activity of secreted T. foetus CPs in culture supernatants was decreased in the presence of vinyl sulfone inhibitors. Inhibitor K11777 reduced the in vitro cytopathogenic effects of T. foetus in bovine foetal trophoblast cells, which are relevant target cells since this pathogen interferes with pregnancy. Pre-treatment of T. foetus prior to intravaginal inoculation diminished genital infection in a murine model. Therefore, vinyl sulfone CP inhibitors reduce several effects of T. foetus-secreted CPs, including cytotoxicity on relevant target host cells and genital infection in a murine model. These inhibitors have potential as chemotherapeutic agents against bovine trichomoniasis. Generalisation to human trichomoniasis requires further study.
PMCID: PMC3279618  PMID: 22104282
Tritrichomonas foetus; Trichomonad cysteine proteinase; Cysteine proteinase inhibitors
2.  Molecular diversity in mechanisms of carbapenem resistance in paediatric Enterobacteriaceae 
Development of carbapenem resistance in Enterobacteriaceae has impacted Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) guidelines, infection control approaches and treatment strategies. The clinical, phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections at paediatric referral centres are not well described. CRE were identified through the clinical microbiology laboratory at Seattle Children’s Hospital (Seattle, WA). Clinical data were retrieved from medical records. Resistance testing, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for resistance determinants, and Escherichia coli transformation were carried out for each isolate. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) were used to characterise strain relatedness. PCR amplification and sequencing as well as sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) were used to investigate porin alterations. Six CRE isolates were identified between 2002 and 2010. Significant molecular diversity was documented in their mechanisms of resistance, including plasmid-mediated serine carbapenemase (KPC) and metallo-β-lactamase (IMP), chromosomally-encoded β-lactamase (SME) and porin alterations with extended-spectrum β-lactamases. Patients had underlying health conditions and were from geographically diverse regions. In one case, PFGE of serial isolates documented the development of resistance in a previously susceptible strain. Molecular investigation of this strain identified insertion of the genetic mobile element insertion sequence ISEcp1 in the ompK36 gene, conferring a functional porin alteration as demonstrated by SDS-PAGE. This is the first description of porin disruption by ISEcp1 in a CTX-M-15-positive isolate. This is the largest report of paediatric CRE to date. This diverse description of demographic, phenotypic and molecular characteristics highlights the challenge of CRE infections in high-risk paediatric patients and that attention to emerging resistance mechanisms (including membrane alteration) at paediatric referral centres is essential.
PMCID: PMC3237943  PMID: 22055532
Carbapenem resistance; Enterobacteriaceae; Porin; ISEcp1
3.  Bioactivity of WLBU2 peptide antibiotic in combination with bioerodible polymer 
WLBU2 is a peptide antibiotic designed for broad antimicrobial activity, including bacteria associated with periodontal disease. Although periodontitis is associated with various systemic conditions, ranging from cardiovascular disease to preterm birth, local therapy is needed to treat the source of infection. Biodegradable polymers are often used to control locally the amount and rate of delivery of drugs. In the present study, a bioerodible association polymer comprising cellulose acetate phthalate (CAP) and Pluronic® F-127 (PF-127) was explored for its interaction with WLBU2. The intrinsic antimicrobial activity of CAP/PF-127 and the combined effects of the polymer and WLBU2 were examined using Streptococcus gordonii, a species involved in early colonisation of tooth surfaces. The polymer blend alone had dose-dependent bacteriostatic properties, resulting in a ≥2 log decrease in colonies at the highest concentrations tested, possibly due to the hydrophobicity of CAP disrupting the surface of bacteria. When WLBU2 was combined with CAP/PF-127, an apparent binding of peptide to polymer significantly decreased the activity compared with free WLBU2, which functions like other cationic peptides by destabilising the bacterial membrane. Formulation with sucrose as an excipient, which reduced the interaction between WLBU2 and polymer, restored the bactericidal activity of the peptide antibiotic as reflected by a >3 log decrease in S. gordonii. WLBU2 can be locally delivered using CAP/PF-127 as a release vehicle, with the peptide’s bactericidal activity dominating the polymer’s bacteriostatic effect.
PMCID: PMC3206138  PMID: 21920706
Anti-infectives; Antimicrobial peptide; Periodontitis; Polymeric drug carrier; Streptococcus gordonii; WLBU2
4.  Effect of colistin exposure and growth phase on the surface properties of live Acinetobacter baumannii cells examined by atomic force microscopy 
The diminishing antimicrobial development pipeline has forced the revival of colistin as a last line of defence against infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative ‘superbugs’ such as Acinetobacter baumannii. The complete loss of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) mediates colistin resistance in some A. baumannii strains. Atomic force microscopy was used to examine the surface properties of colistin-susceptible and -resistant A. baumannii strains at mid-logarithmic and stationary growth phases in liquid and in response to colistin treatment. The contribution of LPS to surface properties was investigated using A. baumannii strains constructed with and without the lpxA gene. Bacterial spring constant measurements revealed that colistin-susceptible cells were significantly stiffer than colistin-resistant cells at both growth phases (P < 0.01), whilst colistin treatment at high concentrations (32 mg/L) resulted in more rigid surfaces for both phenotypes. Multiple, large adhesive peaks frequently noted in force curves captured on colistin-susceptible cells were not evident for colistin-resistant cells. Adhesion events were markedly reduced following colistin exposure. The cell membranes of strains of both phenotypes remained intact following colistin treatment, although fine topographical details were illustrated. These studies, conducted for the first time on live A. baumannii cells in liquid, have contributed to our understanding of the action of colistin in this problematic pathogen.
PMCID: PMC3433558  PMID: 21925844
Atomic force microscopy; Colistin; Acinetobacter baumannii; Morphology; Surface properties
5.  Will new generations of modified antimicrobial peptides improve their potential as pharmaceuticals? 
The concept of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as potent pharmaceuticals is firmly established in the literature, and most research articles on this topic conclude by stating that AMPs represent promising therapeutic agents against bacterial and fungal agents. Indeed, early research in this field showed that AMPs were diverse in nature, had high activities with low minimal inhibitory concentrations, had broad spectrums of activity against bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens, and could easily be manipulated to alter their specificities, reduce their cytotoxicities and increase their antimicrobial activities. Unfortunately, commercial development of these peptides, for even the simplest of applications, has been very limited. With some peptides there are obstacles with their manufacture, in vivo efficacy and in vivo retention. More recently, the focus has shifted. Contemporary research now uses a more sophisticated approach to develop AMPs that surmount many of these prior obstacles. AMP mimetics, hybrid AMPs, AMP congeners, cyclotides and stabilised AMPs, AMP conjugates and immobilised AMPs have all emerged with selective or ‘targeted’ antimicrobial activities, improved retention, or unique abilities that allow them to bind to medical or industrial surfaces. These groups of new peptides have creative medical and industrial application potentials to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections and septic shock, to preserve food or to sanitise surfaces both in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3159164  PMID: 21733662
Antimicrobial peptide mimotopes; Hybrid antimicrobial peptides; Antimicrobial peptide congeners; Stabilised antimicrobial peptides; Antimicrobial peptide conjugates; Immobilised antimicrobial peptides; Cyclotides
6.  Differences in biofilm formation and antimicrobial resistance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolated from airways of mechanically ventilated patients and cystic fibrosis patients 
Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms exhibit increased antimicrobial resistance compared with planktonic isolates and are implicated in the pathogenesis of both acute and chronic lung infections. Whilst antibiotic choices for both infections are based on planktonic antibiotic susceptibility results, differences in biofilm-forming ability between the two diseases have not previously been explored. The aim of this study was to compare differences in biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance of P. aeruginosa isolated from intubated patients and from patients with chronic pulmonary disease associated with cystic fibrosis (CF). The temporal evolution of antibiotic resistance in clonal P. aeruginosa strains isolated from CF patients during periods of chronic infection and acute pulmonary exacerbation was also evaluated. Biofilm formation and biofilm antibiotic susceptibilities were determined using a modified microtitre plate assay and were compared with antibiotic susceptibility results obtained using traditional planktonic culture. Clonality was confirmed using random amplified polymorphic DNA polymerase chain reaction (RAPD-PCR) analysis. Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates collected from intubated patients produced substantially more biofilms compared with CF isolates. There was considerable heterogeneity in biofilm-forming ability among the CF isolates and this was unrelated to pulmonary status. Biofilm antibiotic resistance developed rapidly among clonal CF isolates over time, whilst traditional antibiotic resistance determined using planktonic cultures remained stable. There was a significant positive correlation between imipenem/cilastatin and ceftazidime resistance and biofilm-forming ability. The variability in biofilm-forming ability in P. aeruginosa and the rapid evolution of biofilm resistance may require consideration when choosing antibiotic therapy for newly intubated patients and CF patients.
PMCID: PMC3176759  PMID: 21382698
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Bacterial biofilm; Antimicrobial resistance; Mechanical ventilation; Cystic fibrosis
7.  In vitro activity of BAL30072 against Burkholderia pseudomallei 
Burkholderia pseudomallei is an intrinsically antibiotic-resistant Category B priority pathogen and the aetiological agent of melioidosis. Treatment of B. pseudomallei infection is biphasic and lengthy in order to combat the acute and chronic phases of the disease. Acute-phase treatment preferably involves an intravenous cephalosporin (ceftazidime) or a carbapenem (imipenem or meropenem). In this study, the anti-B. pseudomallei efficacy of a new monosulfactam, BAL30072, was tested against laboratory strains 1026b and 1710b and several isogenic mutant derivatives as well as a collection of clinical and environmental B. pseudomallei strains from Thailand. More than 93% of the isolates had minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) in the range 0.004–0.016 μg/mL. For the laboratory strain 1026b, the MIC of BAL30072 was 0.008 μg/mL, comparable with the MICs of 1.5 μg/mL for ceftazidime, 0.5 μg/mL for imipenem and 1 μg/mL for meropenem. Time–kill curves revealed that BAL30072 was rapidly bactericidal, killing >99% of bacteria in 2 h. BAL30072 activity was not significantly affected by efflux, it was only a marginal substrate of PenA β-lactamase, and activity was independent of malleobactin production and transport and the ability to transport pyochelin. In summary, BAL30072 has superior in vitro activity against B. pseudomallei compared with ceftazidime, meropenem or imipenem and it is rapidly bactericidal.
PMCID: PMC3124586  PMID: 21596528
Burkholderia pseudomallei; Melioidosis; Therapy; Monosulfactam; Efflux; Siderophore
8.  Genetic regulation of the ramA locus and its expression in clinical isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae 
Tigecycline resistance has been attributed to ramA overexpression and subsequent acrA upregulation. The ramA locus, originally identified in Klebsiella pneumoniae, has homologues in Enterobacter and Salmonella spp. In this study, we identify in silico that the ramR binding site is also present in Citrobacter spp. and that Enterobacter, Citrobacter and Klebsiella spp. share key regulatory elements in the control of the romA–ramA locus. RACE (rapid amplification of cDNA ends) mapping indicated that there are two promoters from which romA–ramA expression can be regulated in K. pneumoniae. Correspondingly, electrophoretic binding studies clearly showed that purified RamA and RamR proteins bind to both of these promoters. Hence, there appear to be two RamR binding sites within the Klebsiella romA–ramA locus. Like MarA, RamA binds the promoter region, implying that it might be subject to autoregulation. We have identified changes within ramR in geographically distinct clinical isolates of K. pneumoniae. Intriguingly, levels of romA and ramA expression were not uniformly affected by changes within the ramR gene, thereby supporting the dual promoter finding. Furthermore, a subset of strains sustained no changes within the ramR gene but which still overexpressed the romA–ramA genes, strongly suggesting that a secondary regulator may control ramA expression.
PMCID: PMC3117140  PMID: 21514798
Klebsiella pneumoniae; romA; ramA; ramR; acrA; Tigecycline
9.  In vitro activity of N-chlorotaurine (NCT) in combination with NH4Cl against Trichomonas vaginalis 
Trichomoniasis, caused by the protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis, is usually treated with metronidazole, however resistance is on the rise. In this study, N-chlorotaurine (NCT), a new endogenous mild active chlorine compound for topical use, killed T. vaginalis in vitro within 15 min of treatment at a concentration of 55 mM (1%), which is well tolerated by human tissue. The activity of NCT was further enhanced by addition of ammonium chloride (NH4Cl). A combination of 5.5 mM (0.1%) NCT plus 19 mM (0.1%) NH4Cl killed 100% of trichomonads within 5 min.
PMCID: PMC3030749  PMID: 21074373
Trichomonas vaginalis; Susceptible; N-Chlorotaurine; Oxidant; In vitro

Results 1-9 (9)