NAD is a necessary cofactor present in all living cells. Some bacteria cannot de novo synthesize NAD and must use the salvage pathway to import niacin or nicotinamide riboside via substrate importers NiaX and PnuC, respectively. Although homologues of these two importers and their substrates have been identified in other organisms, limited data exist in Streptococcus pneumoniae, specifically, on its effect on overall virulence. Here, we sought to characterize the substrate specificity of NiaX and PnuC in Str. pneumoniae TIGR4 and the contribution of these proteins to virulence of the pathogen. Although binding affinity of each importer for nicotinamide mononucleotide may overlap, we found NiaX to specifically import nicotinamide and nicotinic acid, and PnuC to be primarily responsible for nicotinamide riboside import. Furthermore, a pnuC mutant is completely attenuated during both intranasal and intratracheal infections in mice. Taken together, these findings underscore the importance of substrate salvage in pneumococcal pathogenesis and indicate that PnuC could potentially be a viable small-molecule therapeutic target to alleviate disease progression in the host.
Brucella abortus attenuated strain RB51 vaccine (RB51) is widely used in prevention of bovine brucellosis. Although vaccination with this strain has been shown to be effective in conferring protection against bovine brucellosis, RB51 has several drawbacks, including residual virulence for animals and humans. Therefore, a safe and efficacious vaccine is needed to overcome these disadvantages. In this study, we constructed several gene deletion mutants (ΔcydC, ΔcydD and ΔpurD single mutants, and ΔcydCΔcydD and ΔcydCΔpurD double mutants) of RB51 with the aim of increasing the safety of the possible use of these mutants as vaccine candidates. The RB51ΔcydC, RB51ΔcydD, RB51ΔpurD, RB51ΔcydCΔcydD and RB51ΔcydCΔpurD mutants exhibited significant attenuation of virulence when assayed in murine macrophages in vitro or in BALB/c mice. A single intraperitoneal immunization with RB51ΔcydC, RB51ΔcydD, RB51ΔcydCΔcydD or RB51ΔcydCΔpurD mutants was rapidly cleared from mice within 3 weeks, whereas the RB51ΔpurD mutant and RB51 were detectable in spleens until 4 and 7 weeks, respectively. Vaccination with a single dose of RB51 mutants induced lower protective immunity in mice than did parental RB51. However, a booster dose of these mutants provided significant levels of protection in mice against challenge with either the virulent homologous B. abortus strain 2308 or the heterologous Brucella canis strain 26. In addition, these mutants were found to induce a mixed but T-helper-1-biased humoral and cellular immune response in immunized mice. These data suggest that immunization with a booster dose of attenuated RB51 mutants provides an attractive strategy to protect against either bovine or canine brucellosis.
Shigella spp. are intracellular bacterial pathogens that cause diarrhoeal disease in humans. Shigella utilize the host actin cytoskeleton to enter cells, move through the cytoplasm of cells and pass into adjacent cells. Ena/VASP family proteins are highly conserved proteins that participate in actin-dependent dynamic cellular processes. We tested whether Ena/VASP family members VASP (vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein), Mena (mammalian-enabled) or EVL (Ena-VASP-like) contribute to Shigella flexneri spread through cell monolayers. VASP and EVL restricted cell-to-cell spread without significantly altering actin-based motility, whereas Mena had no effect on these processes. Phosphorylation of VASP on Ser153, Ser235 and Thr274 regulated its subcellular distribution and function. VASP derivatives that lack the Ena/VASP homology 1 (EVH1) domain or contain a phosphoablative mutation of Ser153 were defective in restricting S. flexneri spread, indicating that the EVH1 domain and phosphorylation on Ser153 are required for this process. The EVH1 domain and Ser153 of VASP were required for VASP localization to focal adhesions, and localization of VASP to focal adhesions and/or the leading edge was required for restriction of spread. The contribution of the EVH1 domain was from both the donor and the recipient cell, whereas the contribution of Ser153 phosphorylation was only from the donor cell. Thus, unlike host proteins characterized in Shigella pathogenesis that promote bacterial spread, VASP and EVL function to limit it. The ability of VASP and EVL to limit spread highlights the critical role of focal adhesion complexes and/or the leading edge in bacterial passage between cells.
The Gram-negative bacterial type VI secretion system (T6SS) delivers toxins to kill or inhibit the growth of susceptible bacteria, while other secretion systems target eukaryotic cells. Deletion of atsR, a negative regulator of virulence factors in B. cenocepacia K56-2, increases T6SS activity. Macrophages infected with a K56-2 ΔatsR mutant display dramatic alterations in their actin cytoskeleton architecture that rely on the T6SS, which is responsible for the inactivation of multiple Rho-family GTPases by an unknown mechanism. We employed a strategy to standardize the bacterial infection of macrophages and densitometrically quantify the T6SS-associated cellular phenotype, which allowed us to characterize the phenotype of systematic deletions of each gene within the T6SS cluster and ten vgrG genes in K56-2 ΔatsR. None of the genes from the T6SS core cluster nor the individual vgrG genes were directly responsible for the cytoskeletal changes in infected cells. However, a mutant strain with all vgrG genes deleted was unable to cause macrophage alterations. Despite not being able to identify a specific effector protein responsible for the cytoskeletal defects in macrophages, our strategy resulted in the identification of the critical core components and accessory proteins of the T6SS assembly machinery and provides a screening method to detect T6SS effectors targeting the actin cytoskeleton in macrophages by random mutagenesis.
Yersinia pestis, the agent of plague, requires the Ail (attachment invasion locus) outer membrane protein to survive in the blood and tissues of its mammalian hosts. Ail is important for both attachment to host cells and for resistance to complement-dependent bacteriolysis. Previous studies have shown that Ail interacts with components of the extracellular matrix, including fibronectin, laminin and heparan sulfate proteoglycans, and with the complement inhibitor C4b-binding protein. Here, we demonstrate that Ail-expressing Y. pestis strains bind vitronectin – a host protein with functions in cell attachment, fibrinolysis and inhibition of the complement system. The Ail-dependent recruitment of vitronectin resulted in efficient cleavage of vitronectin by the outer membrane Pla (plasminogen activator protease). Escherichia coli DH5α expressing Y. pestis Ail bound vitronectin, but not heat-treated vitronectin. The ability of Ail to directly bind vitronectin was demonstrated by ELISA using purified refolded Ail in nanodiscs.