Hepatitis B virus (HBV), because of its error-prone viral polymerase, has a high mutation rate leading to widespread substitutions, deletions, and insertions in the HBV genome. Deletions may significantly change viral biological features complicating the progression of liver diseases. However, the clinical conditions correlating to the accumulation of deleted mutants remain unclear. In this study, we explored HBV deletion patterns and their association with disease status and antiviral treatment by performing whole genome sequencing on samples from 51 hepatitis B patients and by monitoring changes in deletion variants during treatment. Clone sequencing was used to analyze preS regions in another cohort of 52 patients.
Among the core, preS, and basic core promoter (BCP) deletion hotspots, we identified preS to have the highest frequency and the most complex deletion pattern using whole genome sequencing. Further clone sequencing analysis on preS identified 70 deletions which were classified into 4 types, the most common being preS2. Also, in contrast to the core and BCP regions, most preS deletions were in-frame. Most deletions interrupted viral surface epitopes, and are possibly involved in evading immuno-surveillance. Among various clinical factors examined, logistic regression showed that antiviral medication affected the accumulation of deletion mutants (OR = 6.81, 95% CI = 1.296 ~ 35.817, P = 0.023). In chronic carriers of the virus, and individuals with chronic hepatitis, the deletion rate was significantly higher in the antiviral treatment group (Fisher exact test, P = 0.007). Particularly, preS2 deletions were associated with the usage of nucleos(t)ide analog therapy (Fisher exact test, P = 0.023). Dynamic increases in preS1 or preS2 deletions were also observed in quasispecies from samples taken from patients before and after three months of ADV therapy. In vitro experiments demonstrated that preS2 deletions alone were not responsible for antiviral resistance, implying the coordination between wild type and mutant strains during viral survival and disease development.
We present the HBV deletion distribution patterns and preS deletion substructures in viral genomes that are prevalent in northern China. The accumulation of preS deletion mutants during nucleos(t)ide analog therapy may be due to viral escape from host immuno-surveillance.
HBV; Deletion; PreS; Chronic hepatitis; Antiviral therapy; Nucleotide analog
The identification of new virus strains is important for the study of infectious disease, but current (or existing) molecular biology methods are limited since the target sequence must be known to design genome-specific PCR primers. Thus, we developed a new method for the discovery of unknown viruses based on the cDNA - random amplified polymorphic DNA (cDNA-RAPD) technique. Getah virus, belonging to the family Togaviridae in the genus Alphavirus, is a mosquito-borne enveloped RNA virus that was identified using the Virus-Discovery-cDNA RAPD (VIDISCR) method.
A novel Getah virus was identified by VIDISCR from suckling mice exposed to mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus) collected in Yunnan Province, China. The non-structural protein gene, nsP3, the structural protein gene, the capsid protein gene, and the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of the novel Getah virus isolate were cloned and sequenced. Nucleotide sequence identities of each gene were determined to be 97.1–99.3%, 94.9–99.4%, and 93.6–99.9%, respectively, when compared with the genomes of 10 other representative strains of Getah virus.
The VIDISCR method was able to identify known virus isolates and a novel isolate of Getah virus from infected mice. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the YN08 isolate was more closely related to the Hebei HB0234 strain than the YN0540 strain, and more genetically distinct from the MM2021 Malaysia primitive strain.
Getah virus; Identification; Virus-Discovery; cDNA RAPD
In molecular microbial ecology, massive sequencing is gradually replacing classical fingerprinting techniques such as terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) combined with cloning-sequencing for the characterization of microbiomes. Here, a bioinformatics methodology for pyrosequencing-based T-RF identification (PyroTRF-ID) was developed to combine pyrosequencing and T-RFLP approaches for the description of microbial communities. The strength of this methodology relies on the identification of T-RFs by comparison of experimental and digital T-RFLP profiles obtained from the same samples. DNA extracts were subjected to amplification of the 16S rRNA gene pool, T-RFLP with the HaeIII restriction enzyme, 454 tag encoded FLX amplicon pyrosequencing, and PyroTRF-ID analysis. Digital T-RFLP profiles were generated from the denoised full pyrosequencing datasets, and the sequences contributing to each digital T-RF were classified to taxonomic bins using the Greengenes reference database. The method was tested both on bacterial communities found in chloroethene-contaminated groundwater samples and in aerobic granular sludge biofilms originating from wastewater treatment systems.
PyroTRF-ID was efficient for high-throughput mapping and digital T-RFLP profiling of pyrosequencing datasets. After denoising, a dataset comprising ca. 10′000 reads of 300 to 500 bp was typically processed within ca. 20 minutes on a high-performance computing cluster, running on a Linux-related CentOS 5.5 operating system, enabling parallel processing of multiple samples. Both digital and experimental T-RFLP profiles were aligned with maximum cross-correlation coefficients of 0.71 and 0.92 for high- and low-complexity environments, respectively. On average, 63±18% of all experimental T-RFs (30 to 93 peaks per sample) were affiliated to phylotypes.
PyroTRF-ID profits from complementary advantages of pyrosequencing and T-RFLP and is particularly adapted for optimizing laboratory and computational efforts to describe microbial communities and their dynamics in any biological system. The high resolution of the microbial community composition is provided by pyrosequencing, which can be performed on a restricted set of selected samples, whereas T-RFLP enables simultaneous fingerprinting of numerous samples at relatively low cost and is especially adapted for routine analysis and follow-up of microbial communities on the long run.
Microbial ecology; T-RFLP; Pyrosequencing; Digital T-RFLP; Bioinformatics methodology
Currently, food regulatory authorities consider all Listeria monocytogenes isolates as equally virulent. However, an increasing number of studies demonstrate extensive variations in virulence and pathogenicity of L. monocytogenes strains. Up to now, there is no comprehensive overview of the population genetic structure of L. monocytogenes taking into account virulence level. We have previously demonstrated that different low-virulence strains exhibit the same mutations in virulence genes suggesting that they could have common evolutionary pathways. New low-virulence strains were identified and assigned to phenotypic and genotypic Groups using cluster analysis. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, virulence gene sequencing and multi-locus sequence typing analyses were performed to study the genetic relatedness and the population structure between the studied low-virulence isolates and virulent strains.
These methods showed that low-virulence strains are widely distributed in the two major lineages, but some are also clustered according to their genetic mutations. These analyses showed that low-virulence strains initially grouped according to their lineage, then to their serotypes and after which, they lost their virulence suggesting a relatively recent emergence.
Loss of virulence in lineage II strains was related to point mutation in a few virulence genes (prfA, inlA, inlB, plcA). These strains thus form a tightly clustered, monophyletic group with limited diversity. In contrast, low-virulence strains of lineage I were more dispersed among the virulence strains and the origin of their loss of virulence has not been identified yet, even if some strains exhibited different mutations in prfA or inlA.
Campylobater jejuni, a major foodborne diarrhoeal pathogen is reported to produce a number of cytotoxins of which only a cytolethal distending toxin (CDT) has been characterised so far. One or more additional cytotoxins other than CDT, including a Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell active, Vero cell inactive cytotoxin, may mediate inflammatory diarrhoea. Our objective was to develop a method to enrich and thus partially characterise this cytotoxin, as a pathway to the eventual identification and characterisation of the toxin.
A number of biochemical methods including cation- and anion-exchange chromatography were evaluated to enrich the cytotoxin from a cell lysate of a known cytotoxin-producing C. jejuni, C31. The cytotoxin in crude lysate was initially prepared by size-exclusion desalting and then subjected to high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) ion-exchange fractionation. One pooled fraction (pool B) was cytotoxic for CHO cells equivalent to crude toxin (tissue culture infectivity dose 50 [TCID50] of 1–2 μg/ml). The proteins of pool B were identified by mass spectrometry (MS) after separation by SDS-PAGE and trypsin digestion. Also, pool B was directly digested with trypsin and then subjected to liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LCMS) analysis for identification of lesser abundant proteins in the fraction. A total of 41 proteins were found in the fraction, which included enzymes involved in metabolic and transport functions. Eighteen non-cytoplasmic proteins including 2 major antigenic peptide proteins (PEB2 and PEB3) and 3 proteins of unknown function were also identified in the screen. Cytotoxicity in pool B was trypsin-sensitive indicating its protein nature. The cytotoxic activity was heat-stable to 50°C, and partially inactivated at 60-70°C. The pool B fraction also induced fluid accumulation in the adult rabbit ileal loop assay with cytotoxicity for mucosa confirming the presence of the cytotoxin.
We report the enrichment and partial purification of C. jejuni cytotoxin by HPLC ion-exchange chromatography. Further purification may be achieved using additional complementary chromatographic techniques. A short-list of six candidate cytotoxin proteins was identified using an LCMS screen of pool B. Successful isolation of the cytotoxin will initiate steps for the determination of the role of this cytotoxin in the pathogenesis of C. jejuni diarrhoea.
C. jejuni; Cytotoxin; Biochemical methods; HPLC ion-exchange chromatography
Microbial taxonomy remains a conservative discipline, relying on phenotypic information derived from growth in pure culture and techniques that are time-consuming and difficult to standardize, particularly when compared to the ease of modern high-throughput genome sequencing. Here, drawing on the genus Acinetobacter as a test case, we examine whether bacterial taxonomy could abandon phenotypic approaches and DNA-DNA hybridization and, instead, rely exclusively on analyses of genome sequence data.
In pursuit of this goal, we generated a set of thirteen new draft genome sequences, representing ten species, combined them with other publically available genome sequences and analyzed these 38 strains belonging to the genus. We found that analyses based on 16S rRNA gene sequences were not capable of delineating accepted species. However, a core genome phylogenetic tree proved consistent with the currently accepted taxonomy of the genus, while also identifying three misclassifications of strains in collections or databases. Among rapid distance-based methods, we found average-nucleotide identity (ANI) analyses delivered results consistent with traditional and phylogenetic classifications, whereas gene content based approaches appear to be too strongly influenced by the effects of horizontal gene transfer to agree with previously accepted species.
We believe a combination of core genome phylogenetic analysis and ANI provides an appropriate method for bacterial species delineation, whereby bacterial species are defined as monophyletic groups of isolates with genomes that exhibit at least 95% pair-wise ANI. The proposed method is backwards compatible; it provides a scalable and uniform approach that works for both culturable and non-culturable species; is faster and cheaper than traditional taxonomic methods; is easily replicable and transferable among research institutions; and lastly, falls in line with Darwin’s vision of classification becoming, as far as is possible, genealogical.
Genome-based taxonomy; Bacteria; Sequence-based analysis; Whole-genome data
Gardnerella vaginalis is identified as the predominant colonist of the vaginal tracts of women diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis (BV). G. vaginalis can be isolated from healthy women, and an asymptomatic BV state is also recognised. The association of G. vaginalis with different clinical phenotypes could be explained by different cytotoxicity of the strains, presumably based on disparate gene content. The contribution of horizontal gene transfer to shaping the genomes of G. vaginalis is acknowledged. The CRISPR loci of the recently discovered CRISPR/Cas microbial defence system provide a historical view of the exposure of prokaryotes to a variety of foreign genetic elements.
The CRISPR/Cas loci were analysed using available sequence data from three G. vaginalis complete genomes and 18 G. vaginalis draft genomes in the NCBI database, as well as PCR amplicons of the genomic DNA of 17 clinical isolates. The cas genes in the CRISPR/Cas loci of G. vaginalis belong to the E. coli subtype. Approximately 20% of the spacers had matches in the GenBank database. Sequence analysis of the CRISPR arrays revealed that nearly half of the spacers matched G. vaginalis chromosomal sequences. The spacers that matched G. vaginalis chromosomal sequences were determined to not be self-targeting and were presumably neither constituents of mobile-element-associated genes nor derived from plasmids/viruses. The protospacers targeted by these spacers displayed conserved protospacer-adjacent motifs.
The CRISPR/Cas system has been identified in about one half of the analysed G. vaginalis strains. Our analysis of CRISPR sequences did not reveal a potential link between their presence and the virulence of the G. vaginalis strains. Based on the origins of the spacers found in the G. vaginalis CRISPR arrays, we hypothesise that the transfer of genetic material among G. vaginalis strains could be regulated by the CRISPR/Cas mechanism. The present study is the first attempt to determine and analyse the CRISPR loci of bacteria isolated from the human vaginal tract.
Gardnerella vaginalis; Bacterial vaginosis; CRISPR/Cas; Spacer; Repeat; PAM
Studies with the nematode model Caenorhabditis elegans have identified conserved biochemical pathways that act to modulate life span. Life span can also be influenced by the composition of the intestinal microbiome, and C. elegans life span can be dramatically influenced by its diet of Escherichia coli. Although C. elegans is typically fed the standard OP50 strain of E. coli, nematodes fed E. coli strains rendered respiratory deficient, either due to a lack coenzyme Q or the absence of ATP synthase, show significant life span extension. Here we explore the mechanisms accounting for the enhanced nematode life span in response to these diets.
The intestinal load of E. coli was monitored by determination of worm-associated colony forming units (cfu/worm or coliform counts) as a function of age. The presence of GFP-expressing E. coli in the worm intestine was also monitored by fluorescence microscopy. Worms fed the standard OP50 E. coli strain have high cfu and GFP-labeled bacteria in their guts at the L4 larval stage, and show saturated coliform counts by day five of adulthood. In contrast, nematodes fed diets of respiratory deficient E. coli lacking coenzyme Q lived significantly longer and failed to accumulate bacteria within the lumen at early ages. Animals fed bacteria deficient in complex V showed intermediate coliform numbers and were not quite as long-lived. The results indicate that respiratory deficient Q-less E. coli are effectively degraded in the early adult worm, either at the pharynx or within the intestine, and do not accumulate in the intestinal tract until day ten of adulthood.
The findings of this study suggest that the nematodes fed the respiratory deficient E. coli diet live longer because the delay in bacterial colonization of the gut subjects the worms to less stress compared to worms fed the OP50 E. coli diet. This work suggests that bacterial respiration can act as a virulence factor, influencing the ability of bacteria to colonize and subsequently harm the animal host. Respiratory deficient bacteria may pose a useful model for probing probiotic relationships within the gut microbiome in higher organisms.
Aging; Bacterial colonization; Coenzyme Q; Gut microbiome; Intestine; Life span; Pharynx; Probiotic; Respiration
Endolysins produced by bacteriophages lyse bacteria, and are thus considered a novel type of antimicrobial agent. Several endolysins from Bacillus phages or prophages have previously been characterized and used to target Bacillus strains that cause disease in animals and humans. B. thuringiensis phage BtCS33 is a Siphoviridae family phage and its genome has been sequenced and analyzed. In the BtCS33 genome, orf18 was found to encode an endolysin protein (PlyBt33).
Bioinformatic analyses showed that endolysin PlyBt33 was composed of two functional domains, the N-terminal catalytic domain and the C-terminal cell wall binding domain. In this study, the entire endolysin PlyBt33, and both the N- and C-termini,were expressed in Escherichia coli and then purified. The lytic activities of PlyBt33 and its N-terminus were tested on bacteria. Both regions exhibited lytic activity, although PlyBt33 showed a higher lytic activity than the N-terminus. PlyBt33 exhibited activity against all Bacillus strains tested from five different species, but was not active against Gram-negative bacteria. Optimal conditions for PlyBt33 reactivity were pH 9.0 and 50°C. PlyBt33 showed high thermostability, with 40% of initial activity remaining following 1 h of treatment at 60°C. The C-terminus of PlyBt33 bound to B. thuringiensis strain HD-73 and Bacillus subtilis strain 168. This cell wall binding domain might be novel, as its amino acid sequence showed little similarity to previously reported endolysins.
PlyBt33 showed potential as a novel antimicrobial agent at a relatively high temperature and had a broad lytic spectrum within the Bacillus genus. The C-terminus of PlyBt33 might be a novel kind of cell wall binding domain.
Bacillus thuringinesis; Bacteriophage; Endolysin; N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase
The use of food-grade Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) as DNA delivery vehicles represents an attractive strategy to deliver DNA vaccines at the mucosal surfaces as they are generally regarded as safe (GRAS). We previously showed that either native Lactococcus lactis (LL) or recombinant invasive LL expressing Fibronectin Binding Protein A of Staphylococcus aureus (LL-FnBPA+) or Internalin A of Listeria monocytogenes (LL-InlA+), were able to deliver and trigger DNA expression by epithelial cells, either in vitro or in vivo. InlA does not bind to its receptor, the murine E-cadherin, thus limiting the use of LL-InlA+ in in vivo murine models. Moreover, FnBPA binds to its receptors, integrins, via fibronectin introducing another limiting factor. In order to avoid the limitations of LL-InlA+ and LL-FnBPA+, a new L. lactis strain was engineered to produce a previously described mutated form of InlA (LL-mInlA+) allowing the binding of mInlA on murine E-cadherin.
After showing the expression of mInLA at the surface of LL-mInlA+ strain, in vitro gentamycin survival assay in Caco-2 cells showed that LL-mInlA+ is 1000 times more invasive than LL. LL-mInlA+ invasivity was also validated by fluorescence microscopy. LL and LL-mInlA+ were transformed with pValacBLG, a plasmid containing the cDNA of bovine β-Lactoglobulin (BLG), resulting in strains LL-BLG and LL-mInlA+BLG. The plasmid transfer in vitro using LL-mInlA+BLG was increased 10 times compared to LL-BLG. Moreover, the number of mice producing BLG in isolated enterocytes after oral administration of LL-mInlA+BLG in vivo was slightly higher than after oral administration of LL-BLG.
We confirmed in this study that the production of mInlA at the surface of L. lactis is a promising strategy for plasmid transfer in vitro and in vivo.
Lactococcus lactis; Listeria monocytogenes; Mutated internalin A; Internalization; DNA delivery
In eukaryotic cells, dynamin and flotillin are involved in processes such as endocytosis and lipid raft formation, respectively. Dynamin is a GTPase that exerts motor-like activity during the pinching off of vesicles, while flotillins are coiled coil rich membrane proteins with no known enzymatic activity. Bacteria also possess orthologs of both classes of proteins, but their function has been unclear.
We show that deletion of the single dynA or floT genes lead to no phenotype or a mild defect in septum formation in the case of the dynA gene, while dynA floT double mutant cells were highly elongated and irregularly shaped, although the MreB cytoskeleton appeared to be normal. DynA colocalizes with FtsZ, and the dynA deletion strain shows aberrant FtsZ rings in a subpopulation of cells. The mild division defect of the dynA deletion is exacerbated by an additional deletion in ezrA, which affects FtsZ ring formation, and also by the deletion of a late division gene (divIB), indicating that DynA affects several steps in cell division. DynA and mreB deletions generated a synthetic defect in cell shape maintenance, showing that MreB and DynA play non-epistatic functions in cell shape maintenance. TIRF microscopy revealed that FloT forms many dynamic membrane assemblies that frequently colocalize with the division septum. The deletion of dynA did not change the pattern of localization of FloT, and vice versa, showing that the two proteins play non redundant roles in a variety of cellular processes. Expression of dynamin or flotillin T in eukaryotic S2 cells revealed that both proteins assemble at the cell membrane. While FloT formed patch structures, DynA built up tubulated structures extending away from the cells.
Bacillus subtilis dynamin ortholog DynA plays a role during cell division and in cell shape maintenance. It shows a genetic link with flotillin T, with both proteins playing non-redundant functions at the cell membrane, where they assemble even in the absence of any bacterial cofactor.
To derive post-genomic, neutral insight into the peptidoglycan (PG) distribution among organisms, we mined 1,644 genomes listed in the Carbohydrate-Active Enzymes database for the presence of a minimal 3-gene set that is necessary for PG metabolism. This gene set consists of one gene from the glycosyltransferase family GT28, one from family GT51 and at least one gene belonging to one of five glycoside hydrolase families (GH23, GH73, GH102, GH103 and GH104).
None of the 103 Viruses or 101 Archaea examined possessed the minimal 3-gene set, but this set was detected in 1/42 of the Eukarya members (Micromonas sp., coding for GT28, GT51 and GH103) and in 1,260/1,398 (90.1%) of Bacteria, with a 100% positive predictive value for the presence of PG. Pearson correlation test showed that GT51 family genes were significantly associated with PG with a value of 0.963 and a p value less than 10-3. This result was confirmed by a phylogenetic comparative analysis showing that the GT51-encoding gene was significantly associated with PG with a Pagel’s score of 60 and 51 (percentage of error close to 0%). Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the GT51 gene history comprised eight loss and one gain events, and suggested a dynamic on-going process.
Genome analysis is a neutral approach to explore prospectively the presence of PG in uncultured, sequenced organisms with high predictive values.
Peptidoglycan; Genome; Glycoside hydrolase; Glycosyltransferase; Gram; Beta-lactamines; Glycopeptides
Streptococcus canis is an important opportunistic pathogen of dogs and cats that can also infect a wide range of additional mammals including cows where it can cause mastitis. It is also an emerging human pathogen.
Here we provide characterization of the first genome sequence for this species, strain FSL S3-227 (milk isolate from a cow with an intra-mammary infection). A diverse array of putative virulence factors was encoded by the S. canis FSL S3-227 genome. Approximately 75% of these gene sequences were homologous to known Streptococcal virulence factors involved in invasion, evasion, and colonization. Present in the genome are multiple potentially mobile genetic elements (MGEs) [plasmid, phage, integrative conjugative element (ICE)] and comparison to other species provided convincing evidence for lateral gene transfer (LGT) between S. canis and two additional bovine mastitis causing pathogens (Streptococcus agalactiae, and Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. dysgalactiae), with this transfer possibly contributing to host adaptation. Population structure among isolates obtained from Europe and USA [bovine = 56, canine = 26, and feline = 1] was explored. Ribotyping of all isolates and multi locus sequence typing (MLST) of a subset of the isolates (n = 45) detected significant differentiation between bovine and canine isolates (Fisher exact test: P = 0.0000 [ribotypes], P = 0.0030 [sequence types]), suggesting possible host adaptation of some genotypes. Concurrently, the ancestral clonal complex (54% of isolates) occurred in many tissue types, all hosts, and all geographic locations suggesting the possibility of a wide and diverse niche.
This study provides evidence highlighting the importance of LGT in the evolution of the bacteria S. canis, specifically, its possible role in host adaptation and acquisition of virulence factors. Furthermore, recent LGT detected between S. canis and human bacteria (Streptococcus urinalis) is cause for concern, as it highlights the possibility for continued acquisition of human virulence factors for this emerging zoonotic pathogen.
Streptococcus canis; Comparative genomics; Pathogen; Zoonotic; Mastitis; Lateral gene transfer; Host adaptation; Bovine; Canine
Toxin complex (Tc) family proteins were first identified as insecticidal toxins in Photorhabdus luminescens and have since been found in a wide range of bacteria. The genome of Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of bubonic plague, contains a locus that encodes the Tc protein homologues YitA, YitB, YitC, and YipA and YipB. Previous microarray data indicate that the Tc genes are highly upregulated by Y. pestis while in the flea vector; however, their role in the infection of fleas and pathogenesis in the mammalian host is unclear.
We show that the Tc proteins YitA and YipA are highly produced by Y. pestis while in the flea but not during growth in brain heart infusion (BHI) broth at the same temperature. Over-production of the LysR-type regulator YitR from an exogenous plasmid increased YitA and YipA synthesis in broth culture. The increase in production of YitA and YipA correlated with the yitR copy number and was temperature-dependent. Although highly synthesized in fleas, deletion of the Tc proteins did not alter survival of Y. pestis in the flea or prevent blockage of the proventriculus. Furthermore, YipA was found to undergo post-translational processing and YipA and YitA are localized to the outer membrane of Y. pestis. YitA was also detected by immunofluorescence microscopy on the surface of Y. pestis. Both YitA and YipA are produced maximally at low temperature but persist for several hours after transfer to 37°C.
Y. pestis Tc proteins are highly expressed in the flea but are not essential for Y. pestis to stably infect or produce a transmissible infection in the flea. However, YitA and YipA localize to the outer membrane and YitA is exposed on the surface, indicating that at least YitA is present on the surface when Y. pestis is transmitted into the mammalian host from the flea.
Yersinia pestis; Toxin complex proteins; YitA; YipA; YitR; Xenopsylla cheopis
Arcobacter spp. (family Campylobacteraceae) are ubiquitous zoonotic bacteria that are being increasingly recognised as a threat to human health. A previously published 16S rRNA-RFLP Arcobacter spp. identification method produced specific RFLP patterns for the six species described at that time, using a single endonuclease (MseI). The number of characterised Arcobacter species has since risen to 17. The aim of the present study was to update the 16S rRNA-RFLP identification method to include all currently characterised species of Arcobacter.
Digestion of the 16S rRNA gene with the endonuclease MseI produced clear, distinctive patterns for 10 of the 17 species, while the remaining species shared a common or very similar RFLP pattern. Subsequent digestion of the 16S rRNA gene from these species with the endonucleases MnlI and/or BfaI generated species-specific RFLP patterns.
16S rRNA-RFLP analysis identified 17 Arcobacter spp. using either polyacrylamide or agarose gel electrophoresis. Microheterogeneities within the 16S rRNA gene, which interfered with the RFLP identification, were also documented for the first time in this genus, particularly in strains of Arcobacter cryaerophilus isolated from animal faeces and aborted foetuses.
Arcobacter; Identification; Agarose; Polyacrylamide; 16S rRNA-RFLP; 16S rRNA gene mutations
Fermentative bacteria offer the potential to convert lignocellulosic waste-streams into biofuels such as hydrogen (H2) and ethanol. Current fermentative H2 and ethanol yields, however, are below theoretical maxima, vary greatly among organisms, and depend on the extent of metabolic pathways utilized. For fermentative H2 and/or ethanol production to become practical, biofuel yields must be increased. We performed a comparative meta-analysis of (i) reported end-product yields, and (ii) genes encoding pyruvate metabolism and end-product synthesis pathways to identify suitable biomarkers for screening a microorganism’s potential of H2 and/or ethanol production, and to identify targets for metabolic engineering to improve biofuel yields. Our interest in H2 and/or ethanol optimization restricted our meta-analysis to organisms with sequenced genomes and limited branched end-product pathways. These included members of the Firmicutes, Euryarchaeota, and Thermotogae.
Bioinformatic analysis revealed that the absence of genes encoding acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and bifunctional acetaldehyde/alcohol dehydrogenase (AdhE) in Caldicellulosiruptor, Thermococcus, Pyrococcus, and Thermotoga species coincide with high H2 yields and low ethanol production. Organisms containing genes (or activities) for both ethanol and H2 synthesis pathways (i.e. Caldanaerobacter subterraneus subsp. tengcongensis, Ethanoligenens harbinense, and Clostridium species) had relatively uniform mixed product patterns. The absence of hydrogenases in Geobacillus and Bacillus species did not confer high ethanol production, but rather high lactate production. Only Thermoanaerobacter pseudethanolicus produced relatively high ethanol and low H2 yields. This may be attributed to the presence of genes encoding proteins that promote NADH production. Lactate dehydrogenase and pyruvate:formate lyase are not conducive for ethanol and/or H2 production. While the type(s) of encoded hydrogenases appear to have little impact on H2 production in organisms that do not encode ethanol producing pathways, they do influence reduced end-product yields in those that do.
Here we show that composition of genes encoding pathways involved in pyruvate catabolism and end-product synthesis pathways can be used to approximate potential end-product distribution patterns. We have identified a number of genetic biomarkers for streamlining ethanol and H2 producing capabilities. By linking genome content, reaction thermodynamics, and end-product yields, we offer potential targets for optimization of either ethanol or H2 yields through metabolic engineering.
Two entomopathogenic fungi, Isaria fumosorosea and Metarhizium anisopliae, and one bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, were tested for their ability to cause mortality of Formosan subterranean termites (FST), Coptotermes formosanus (Shiraki), after liquid exposure, and for their lack of propensity to repel FST.
The fungus Isaria fumosorosea at 108 spores/ml caused 72.5% mortality on day 7, significantly higher than the control and 106 spores/ml treatment. On day 14, the 106 and 108 concentrations caused 38.8% and 92.5% mortality, respectively, significantly higher than the control. On day 21, 82.5% and 100% of the termites were killed by the 106 and 108 treatments, respectively. I. fumosorosea did not repel termites at 106 nor 108 spores/g in sand, soil or sawdust. The fungus Metarhizium anisopliae at 108 spores/ml caused 57.5% mortality on day 7, 77.5% mortality on day 14 and 100% mortality on day 21.
On all three days the rate of mortality was significantly higher than that of the control and 106 spores/ml treatment with I. fumosorosea. Neither I. fumosorosea nor M. anisopliae caused repellency of FST in sand, soil or sawdust. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis did not cause significant mortality on days 7, 14 or 21. When termites were exposed to cells of B. thuringiensis in sawdust and when termites were exposed to a mixture of spores and cells in sand, a significantly higher number remained in the control tubes. Repellency was not seen with B. thuringiensis spores alone, nor with the above treatments in the other substrates.
Leptospires lack many of the homologs for oxidative defense present in other bacteria, but do encode homologs of the Bacteriodes aerotolerance (Bat) proteins, which have been proposed to fulfill this function. Bat homologs have been identified in all families of the phylum Spirochaetes, yet a specific function for these proteins has not been experimentally demonstrated.
We investigated the contribution of the Bat proteins in the model organism Leptospira biflexa for their potential contributions to growth rate, morphology and protection against oxidative challenges. A genetically engineered mutant strain in which all bat ORFs were deleted did not exhibit altered growth rate or morphology, relative to the wild-type strain. Nor could we demonstrate a protective role for the Bat proteins in coping with various oxidative stresses. Further, pre-exposing L. biflexa to sublethal levels of reactive oxygen species did not appear to induce a general oxidative stress response, in contrast to what has been shown in other bacterial species. Differential proteomic analysis of the wild-type and mutant strains detected changes in the abundance of a single protein only – HtpG, which is encoded by the gene immediately downstream of the bat loci.
The data presented here do not support a protective role for the Leptospira Bat proteins in directly coping with oxidative stress as previously proposed. L. biflexa is relatively sensitive to reactive oxygen species such as superoxide and H2O2, suggesting that this spirochete lacks a strong, protective defense against oxidative damage despite being a strict aerobe.
Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. mallei are closely related Category B Select Agents of bioterrorism and the causative agents of the diseases melioidosis and glanders, respectively. Rapid phage-based diagnostic tools would greatly benefit early recognition and treatment of these diseases. There is extensive strain-to-strain variation in B. pseudomallei genome content due in part to the presence or absence of integrated prophages. Several phages have previously been isolated from B. pseudomallei lysogens, for example φK96243, φ1026b and φ52237.
We have isolated a P2-like bacteriophage, φX216, which infects 78% of all B. pseudomallei strains tested. φX216 also infects B. mallei, but not other Burkholderia species, including the closely related B. thailandensis and B. oklahomensis. The nature of the φX216 host receptor remains unclear but evidence indicates that in B. mallei φX216 uses lipopolysaccharide O-antigen but a different receptor in B. pseudomallei. The 37,637 bp genome of φX216 encodes 47 predicted open reading frames and shares 99.8% pairwise identity and an identical strain host range with bacteriophage φ52237. Closely related P2-like prophages appear to be widely distributed among B. pseudomallei strains but both φX216 and φ52237 readily infect prophage carrying strains.
The broad strain infectivity and high specificity for B. pseudomallei and B. mallei indicate that φX216 will provide a good platform for the development of phage-based diagnostics for these bacteria.
Bacteriophage; Burkholderia pseudomallei; B. mallei; P2; Prophage distribution; Phage-based diagnostics
Staphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen that causes biofilm-associated infection in humans. Autoinducer 2 (AI-2), a quorum-sensing (QS) signal for interspecies communication, has a wide range of regulatory functions in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, but its exact role in biofilm formation in S. aureus remains unclear.
Here we demonstrate that mutation of the AI-2 synthase gene luxS in S. aureus RN6390B results in increased biofilm formation compared with the wild-type (WT) strain under static, flowing and anaerobic conditions and in a mouse model. Addition of the chemically synthesized AI-2 precursor in the luxS mutation strain (ΔluxS) restored the WT phenotype. Real-time RT-PCR analysis showed that AI-2 activated the transcription of icaR, a repressor of the ica operon, and subsequently a decreased level of icaA transcription, which was presumably the main reason why luxS mutation influences biofilm formation. Furthermore, we compared the roles of the agr-mediated QS system and the LuxS/AI-2 QS system in the regulation of biofilm formation using the ΔluxS strain, RN6911 and the Δagr ΔluxS strain. Our data indicate a cumulative effect of the two QS systems on the regulation of biofilm formation in S. aureus.
These findings demonstrate that AI-2 can decrease biofilm formation in S. aureus via an icaR-activation pathway. This study may provide clues for therapy in S. aureus biofilm-associated infection.
In a previous study, we demonstrated that Vibrio scophthalmi, the most abundant Vibrio species among the marine aerobic or facultatively anaerobic bacteria inhabiting the intestinal tract of healthy cultured turbot (Scophthalmus maximus), contains at least two quorum-sensing circuits involving two types of signal molecules (a 3-hydroxy-dodecanoyl-homoserine lactone and the universal autoinducer 2 encoded by luxS). The purpose of this study was to investigate the functions regulated by these quorum sensing circuits in this vibrio by constructing mutants for the genes involved in these circuits.
The presence of a homologue to the Vibrio harveyi luxR gene encoding a main transcriptional regulator, whose expression is modulated by quorum–sensing signal molecules in other vibrios, was detected and sequenced. The V. scophthalmi LuxR protein displayed a maximum amino acid identity of 82% with SmcR, the LuxR homologue found in Vibrio vulnificus. luxR and luxS null mutants were constructed and their phenotype analysed. Both mutants displayed reduced biofilm formation in vitro as well as differences in membrane protein expression by mass-spectrometry analysis. Additionally, a recombinant strain of V. scophthalmi carrying the lactonase AiiA from Bacillus cereus, which causes hydrolysis of acyl homoserine lactones, was included in the study.
V. scophthalmi shares two quorum sensing circuits, including the main transcriptional regulator luxR, with some pathogenic vibrios such as V. harveyi and V. anguillarum. However, contrary to these pathogenic vibrios no virulence factors (such as protease production) were found to be quorum sensing regulated in this bacterium. Noteworthy, biofilm formation was altered in luxS and luxR mutants. In these mutants a different expression profile of membrane proteins were observed with respect to the wild type strain suggesting that quorum sensing could play a role in the regulation of the adhesion mechanisms of this bacterium.
Vibrio scophthalmi; Biofilm formation; Quorum-sensing; AiiA; LuxS; Acyl homoserine lactone
Salmonella is often associated with gastrointestinal disease outbreaks in humans throughout the world due to the consumption of contaminated food. Our previous studies have shown that deletion of glucose-inhibited division gene (gidA) significantly attenuated Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (STM) virulence in both in vitro and in vivo models of infection. Most importantly, immunization with the gidA mutant protected mice from a lethal dose challenge of wild-type STM. In this study, we further characterize the gidA mutant STM strain for potential use in a live-attenuated vaccine.
The protective efficacy of immunization with the gidA mutant was evaluated by challenging immunized mice with a lethal dose of wild-type STM. Sera levels of IgG2a and IgG1, passive transfer of sera and cells, and cytokine profiling were performed to study the induction of humoral and cellular immune responses induced by immunization with the gidA mutant strain. Additionally, a lymphocyte proliferation assay was performed to gauge the splenocyte survival in response to treatment with STM cell lysate. Mice immunized with the gidA mutant strain were fully protected from a lethal dose challenge of wild-type STM. Naïve mice receiving either cells or sera from immunized mice were partially protected from a lethal dose challenge of wild-type STM. The lymphocyte proliferation assay displayed a significant response of splenocytes from immunized mice when compared to splenocytes from non-immunized control mice. Furthermore, the immunized mice displayed significantly higher levels of IgG1 and IgG2a with a marked increase in IgG1. Additionally, immunization with the gidA mutant strain evoked higher levels of IL-2, IFN-γ, and IL-10 cytokines in splenocytes induced with STM cell lysate.
Together, the results demonstrate that immunization with the gidA mutant strain protects mice by inducing humoral and cellular immune responses with the humoral immune response potentially being the main mechanism of protection.
Salmonella; GidA; Vaccine; Immune responses; Mouse model
Controlling fish disease is one of the major concerns in contemporary aquaculture. The use of antibiotics or chemical disinfection cannot provide a healthy aquaculture system without residual effects. Water quality is also important in determining the success or failure of fish production. Several solar photocatalytic reactors have been used to treat drinking water or waste water without leaving chemical residues. This study has investigated the impact of several key aspects of water quality on the inactivation of the pathogenic bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila using a pilot-scale thin-film fixed-bed reactor (TFFBR) system.
The level of inactivation of Aeromonas hydrophila ATCC 35654 was determined using a TFFBR with a photocatalytic area of 0.47 m2 under the influence of various water quality variables (pH, conductivity, turbidity and colour) under high solar irradiance conditions (980–1100 W m-2), at a flow rate of 4.8 L h-1 through the reactor. Bacterial enumeration were obtained through conventional plate count using trypticase soy agar media, cultured in conventional aerobic conditions to detect healthy cells and under ROS-neutralised conditions to detect both healthy and sub-lethally injured (oxygen-sensitive) cells. The results showed that turbidity has a major influence on solar photocatalytic inactivation of A. hydrophila. Humic acids appear to decrease TiO2 effectiveness under full sunlight and reduce microbial inactivation. pH in the range 7–9 and salinity both have no major effect on the extent of photoinactivation or sub-lethal injury.
This study demonstrates the effectiveness of the TFFBR in the inactivation of Aeromonas hydrophila under the influence of several water quality variables at high solar irradiance, providing an opportunity for the application of solar photocatalysis in aquaculture systems, as long as turbidity remains low.
This study sought to investigate a possible correlation between the intestinal microbiota, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes, and obesity in Kazakh school children, aged 7–13 (n = 175).
Obese subjects had significantly greater systolic blood pressure, waist and hip circumference, as well as HOMA-IR as compared to normal and overweight participants. In addition, Bacteroides copy number and Bact/Firm ratios were significantly lower in the obese group as compared to the normal and overweight groups (P < 0.0167). This difference is only significant in girls, but not in boys when stratified by gender. Furthermore, a negative correlation between BMI and Bacteroidetes copy number (r = −0.18, P = 0.017) as well as Bact/Firm (r = −0.22, P = 0.003) was observed.
An association between reduced gut Bacteroidetes and Bact/Firm ratio with obesity in female Kazakh children was identified. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the mechanism behind these changes as well as the value of determining their presence for predicting obesity.
Obesity, Bacteroidetes; Firmicutes; Kazakh
Regulation of surface antigenic variation in Giardia lamblia is controlled post-transcriptionally by an RNA-interference (RNAi) pathway that includes a Dicer-like bidentate RNase III (gDicer). This enzyme, however, lacks the RNA helicase domain present in Dicer enzymes from higher eukaryotes. The participation of several RNA helicases in practically all organisms in which RNAi was studied suggests that RNA helicases are potentially involved in antigenic variation, as well as during Giardia differentiation into cysts.
An extensive in silico analysis of the Giardia genome identified 32 putative Super Family 2 RNA helicases that contain almost all the conserved RNA helicase motifs. Phylogenetic studies and sequence analysis separated them into 22 DEAD-box, 6 DEAH-box and 4 Ski2p-box RNA helicases, some of which are homologs of well-characterized helicases from higher organisms. No Giardia putative helicase was found to have significant homology to the RNA helicase domain of Dicer enzymes. Additionally a series of up- and down-regulated putative RNA helicases were found during encystation and antigenic variation by qPCR experiments. Finally, we were able to recognize 14 additional putative helicases from three different families (RecQ family, Swi2/Snf2 and Rad3 family) that could be considered DNA helicases.
This is the first comprehensive analysis of the Super Family 2 helicases from the human intestinal parasite G. lamblia. The relative and variable expression of particular RNA helicases during both antigenic variation and encystation agrees with the proposed participation of these enzymes during both adaptive processes. The putatives RNA and DNA helicases identified in this early-branching eukaryote provide initial information regarding the biological role of these enzymes in cell adaptation and differentiation.
RNA/DNA helicases; Giardia lamblia; Encystation; Antigenic variation; Cell differentiation; Gene expression; RNAi; Dicer