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1.  Novel screening assay for in vivo selection of Klebsiella pneumoniae genes promoting gastrointestinal colonisation 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:201.
Klebsiella pneumoniae is an important opportunistic pathogen causing pneumonia, sepsis and urinary tract infections. Colonisation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is a key step in the development of infections; yet the specific factors important for K. pneumoniae to colonize and reside in the GI tract of the host are largely unknown. To identify K. pneumoniae genes promoting GI colonisation, a novel genomic-library-based approach was employed.
Screening of a K. pneumoniae C3091 genomic library, expressed in E. coli strain EPI100, in a mouse model of GI colonisation led to the positive selection of five clones containing genes promoting persistent colonisation of the mouse GI tract. These included genes encoding the global response regulator ArcA; GalET of the galactose operon; and a cluster of two putative membrane-associated proteins of unknown function. Both ArcA and GalET are known to be involved in metabolic pathways in Klebsiella but may have additional biological actions beneficial to the pathogen. In support of this, GalET was found to confer decreased bile salt sensitivity to EPI100.
The present work establishes the use of genomic-library-based in vivo screening assays as a valuable tool for identification and characterization of virulence factors in K. pneumoniae and other bacterial pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3463446  PMID: 22967317
Klebsiella pneumoniae; Genomic library; Mouse model of gastrointestinal colonisation
2.  Characterization of a novel chaperone/usher fimbrial operon present on KpGI-5, a methionine tRNA gene-associated genomic island in Klebsiella pneumoniae 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:59.
Several strain-specific Klebsiella pneumoniae virulence determinants have been described, though these have almost exclusively been linked with hypervirulent liver abscess-associated strains. Through PCR interrogation of integration hotspots, chromosome walking, island-tagging and fosmid-based marker rescue we captured and sequenced KpGI-5, a novel genomic island integrated into the met56 tRNA gene of K. pneumoniae KR116, a bloodstream isolate from a patient with pneumonia and neutropenic sepsis.
The 14.0 kb KpGI-5 island exhibited a genome-anomalous G + C content, possessed near-perfect 46 bp direct repeats, encoded a γ1-chaperone/usher fimbrial cluster (fim2) and harboured seven other predicted genes of unknown function. Transcriptional analysis demonstrated expression of three fim2 genes, and suggested that the fim2A-fim2K cluster comprised an operon. As fimbrial systems are frequently implicated in pathogenesis, we examined the role of fim2 by analysing KR2107, a streptomycin-resistant derivative of KR116, and three isogenic mutants (Δfim, Δfim2 and ΔfimΔfim2) using biofilm assays, human cell adhesion assays and pair-wise competition-based murine models of intestinal colonization, lung infection and ascending urinary tract infection. Although no statistically significant role for fim2 was demonstrable, liver and kidney CFU counts for lung and urinary tract infection models, respectively, hinted at an ordered gradation of virulence: KR2107 (most virulent), KR2107∆fim2, KR2107∆fim and KR2107∆fim∆fim2 (least virulent). Thus, despite lack of statistical evidence there was a suggestion that fim and fim2 contribute additively to virulence in these murine infection models. However, further studies would be necessary to substantiate this hypothesis.
Although fim2 was present in 13% of Klebsiella spp. strains investigated, no obvious in vitro or in vivo role for the locus was identified, although there were subtle hints of involvement in urovirulence and bacterial dissemination from the respiratory tract. Based on our findings and on parallels with other fimbrial systems, we propose that fim2 has the potential to contribute beneficially to pathogenesis and/or environmental persistence of Klebsiella strains, at least under specific yet-to-be identified conditions.
PMCID: PMC3419637  PMID: 22520965
3.  Detection of Legionella by quantitative-polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) for monitoring and risk assessment 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:254.
Culture and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays for the detection of Legionella were compared on samples from a residential area before and after two interventions. A total of 84 samples were collected from shower hoses and taps as first flush samples and at constant temperature. Samples were grouped according to the origin of the sample, a) circulation water b) water from empty apartments c) water from shower hoses. The aims were to investigate the usefulness of qPCR compared to culture for monitoring remedial actions for elimination of Legionella bacteria and as a tool for risk assessment.
In water collected from the apartments Legionella spp were detected by qPCR in the concentration range from LOQ to 9.6*105GU/L while L. pneumophila were detected in a range from LOQ to 6.8*105 GU/L. By culturing, the legionellae were detected in the range from below detection limit (> 10 CFU/L) to 1.6*106 CFU/L. In circulating water and in first flush water from shower hoses, culture and qPCR showed the same tendencies. The overall correlation between the bacteria number detected by culture and the two developed qPCR assays (L. spp and L. pneumophila) was relatively poor (r2 = 0.31 for culture and Legionella spp. assay, r2 = 0.20 for culture and L. pneumophila assay).
Detection by qPCR was suitable for monitoring changes in the concentration of Legionella but the precise determination of bacteria is difficult. Risk assessment by qPCR only on samples without any background information regarding treatment, timing, etc is dubious. However, the rapid detection by qPCR of high concentrations of Legionella - especially Legionella pneumophila - is valuable as an indicator of risk, although it may be false positive compared to culture results. On the other hand, the detection of a low number of bacteria by qPCR is a strong indication for the absence of risk.
PMCID: PMC3268758  PMID: 22103438
4.  Community analysis of bacteria colonizing intestinal tissue of neonates with necrotizing enterocolitis 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:73.
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most common gastrointestinal emergency in newborn neonates. Bacteria are believed to be important in the pathogenesis of NEC but bacterial characterization has only been done on human faecal samples and experimental animal studies. The aim of this study was to investigate the microbial composition and the relative number of bacteria in inflamed intestinal tissue surgically removed from neonates diagnosed with NEC (n = 24). The bacterial populations in the specimens were characterized by laser capture microdissection and subsequent sequencing combined with fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), using bacterial rRNA-targeting oligonucleotide probes.
Bacteria were detected in 22 of the 24 specimens, 71% had moderate to high densities of bacteria. The phyla detected by 16S rRNA gene sequencing were: Proteobacteria (49.0%), Firmicutes (30.4%), Actinobacteria (17.1%) and Bacteroidetes (3.6%). A major detected class of the phylum Proteobacteria belonged to δ-proteobacteria. Surprisingly, Clostridium species were only detected in 4 of the specimens by FISH, but two of these specimens exhibited histological pneumatosis intestinalis and both specimens had a moderate to a high density of C. butyricum and C. parputrificum detected by using species specific FISH probes. A 16S rRNA gene sequence tag similar to Ralstonia species was detected in most of the neonatal tissues and members of this genus have been reported to be opportunistic pathogens but their role in NEC has still to be clarified.
In this study, in situ identification and community analysis of bacteria found in tissue specimens from neonates with NEC, were analysed for the first time. Although a large variability of bacteria was found in most of the analyzed specimens, no single or combination of known potential pathogenic bacteria species was dominating the samples suggestive NEC as non-infectious syndrome. However there was a significant correlation between the presence of C. butyricum &C. parputrificum and histological pneumatosis intestinalis. Finally this study emphasizes the possibility to examine the microbial composition directly on excised human tissues to avoid biases from faecal samples or culturing.
PMCID: PMC3094198  PMID: 21486476
FISH; laser capture microdissection; microbiota; necrotizing enterocolitis; pneumatosis intestinalis; Ralstornia
5.  Role of type 1 and type 3 fimbriae in Klebsiella pneumoniae biofilm formation 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:179.
Klebsiella pneumoniae is an important gram-negative opportunistic pathogen causing primarily urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and bacteraemia. The ability of bacteria to form biofilms on medical devices, e.g. catheters, has a major role in development of many nosocomial infections. Most clinical K. pneumoniae isolates express two types of fimbrial adhesins, type 1 fimbriae and type 3 fimbriae. In this study, we characterized the role of type 1 and type 3 fimbriae in K. pneumoniae biofilm formation.
Isogenic fimbriae mutants of the clinical K. pneumoniae isolate C3091 were constructed, and their ability to form biofilm was investigated in a flow cell system by confocal scanning laser microscopy. The wild type strain was found to form characteristic biofilm and development of K. pneumoniae biofilm occurred primarily by clonal growth, not by recruitment of planktonic cells. Type 1 fimbriae did not influence biofilm formation and the expression of type 1 fimbriae was found to be down-regulated in biofilm forming cells. In contrast, expression of type 3 fimbriae was found to strongly promote biofilm formation.
By use of well defined isogenic mutants we found that type 3 fimbriae, but not type 1 fimbriae, strongly promote biofilm formation in K. pneumoniae C3091. As the vast majority of clinical K. pneumoniae isolates express type 3 fimbriae, this fimbrial adhesin may play a significant role in development of catheter associated K. pneumoniae infections.
PMCID: PMC2911432  PMID: 20573190
6.  A phylogenetic group of Escherichia coli associated with active left-sided Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:171.
Escherichia coli have been found in increased numbers in tissues from patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and adherent-invasive E. coli have been found in resected ileum from patients with Crohn's disesae. This study aimed to characterize possible differences in phylogenetic group (triplex PCR), extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC) genes and multilocus sequence type (MLST) between E. coli strains isolated from IBD patients with past or present involvement of the left side of the colon and from controls.
Fecal samples were collected from 18 patients and from 10 healthy controls. Disease activity was evaluated by sigmoidoscopy. Interestingly, E. coli strains of the phylogenetic group B2 were cultured from 60% of patients with IBD compared to 11% of healthy controls (p < 0.05). Furthermore, when comparing the number of E. coli B2 strains with at least one positive ExPEC gene among different groups, 86% were found positive among active IBD patients, significantly more than 13% among inactive IBD patients (p < 0.05), and 11% among healthy controls (p < 0.05). The B2 phylogenetic group was found in a specific cluster based on MLST, but no further separation between E. coli strains associated with active compared to inactive IBD was achieved.
In conclusion, E. coli of the phylogenetic group B2 were isolated more frequently from IBD patients with past or present involvement of the left side of the colon compared to healthy controls, and B2 strains with ExPEC genes were found more frequently among IBD patients with active disease compared to patients with inactive disease.
PMCID: PMC2736970  PMID: 19695087

Results 1-6 (6)