Current understanding of resistance and susceptibility to vulvovaginal candidiasis challenges existing paradigms of host defence against fungal infection. While abiotic biofilm formation has a clearly established role during systemic Candida infections, it is not known whether C. albicans forms biofilms on the vaginal mucosa and the possible role of biofilms in disease. In vivo and ex vivo murine vaginitis models were employed to examine biofilm formation by scanning electron and confocal microscopy. C. albicans strains included 3153A (lab strain), DAY185 (parental control strain), and mutants defective in morphogenesis and/or biofilm formation in vitro (efg1/efg1 and bcr1/bcr1). Both 3153A and DAY815 formed biofilms on the vaginal mucosa in vivo and ex vivo as indicated by high fungal burden and microscopic analysis demonstrating typical biofilm architecture and presence of extracellular matrix (ECM) co-localized with the presence of fungi. In contrast, efg1/efg1 and bcr1/bcr1 mutant strains exhibited weak or no biofilm formation/ECM production in both models compared to wild-type strains and complemented mutants despite comparable colonization levels. These data show for the first time that C. albicans forms biofilms in vivo on vaginal epithelium, and that in vivo biotic biofilm formation requires regulators of biofilm formation (BCR1) and morphogenesis (EFG1).
Despite an abundance of data describing expression of genes in the Candida albicans ALS (agglutinin-like sequence) gene family, little is known about the production of Als proteins on individual cells, their spatial localization or stability. Als proteins are most commonly discussed with respect to function in adhesion of C. albicans to host and abiotic surfaces. Development of a mAb specific for Als1, one of the eight large glycoproteins encoded by the ALS family, provided the opportunity to detect Als1 during growth of yeast and hyphae, both in vitro and in vivo, and to demonstrate the utility of the mAb in blocking C. albicans adhesion to host cells. Although most C. albicans yeast cells in a saturated culture are Als1-negative by indirect immunofluorescence, Als1 is detected on the surface of nearly all cells shortly after transfer into fresh growth medium. Als1 covers the yeast cell surface, with the exception of bud scars. Daughters of the inoculum cells, and sometimes granddaughters, also have detectable Als1, but Als1 is not detectable on cells from subsequent generations. On germ tubes and hyphae, most Als1 is localized proximal to the mother yeast. Once deposited on yeasts or hyphae, Als1 persists long after the culture has reached saturation. Growth stage-dependent production of Als1, coupled with its persistence on the cell surface, results in a heterogeneous population of cells within a C. albicans culture. Anti-Als1 immunolabelling patterns vary depending on the source of the C. albicans cells, with obvious differences between cells recovered from culture and those from a murine model of disseminated candidiasis. Results from this work highlight the temporal parallels for ALS1 expression and Als1 production in yeasts and germ tubes, the specialized spatial localization and persistence of Als1 on the C. albicans cell surface, and the differences in Als1 localization that occur in vitro and in vivo.
Since the late 1980s, a worldwide increase of severe Streptococcus pyogenes infections has been associated with strains of the M1 serotype, strains which all secrete the streptococcal inhibitor of complement-mediated lysis (SIC). Previous work has shown that SIC blocks complement-mediated haemolysis, inhibits the activity of antibacterial peptides and has affinity for the human plasma proteins clusterin and histidine-rich glycoprotein; the latter is a member of the cystatin protein family. The present work demonstrates that SIC binds to cystatin C, high-molecular-mass kininogen (HK) and low-molecular-mass kininogen, which are additional members of this protein family. The binding sites in HK are located in the cystatin-like domain D3 and the endothelial cell-binding domain D5. Immobilization of HK to cellular structures plays a central role in activation of the human contact system. SIC was found to inhibit the binding of HK to endothelial cells, and to reduce contact activation as measured by prolonged blood clotting time and impaired release of bradykinin. These results suggest that SIC modifies host defence systems, which may contribute to the virulence of S. pyogenes strains of the M1 serotype.
Pathogenic strains of mycobacteria produce copious amounts of glutamine synthetase (GS) in the culture medium. The enzyme activity is linked to synthesis of poly-α-l-glutamine (PLG) in the cell walls. This study describes a glnA-1 mutant of Mycobacterium bovis that produces reduced levels of GS. The mutant was able to grow in enriched 7H9 medium without glutamine supplementation. The glnA-1 strain contained no detectable PLG in the cell walls and showed marked sensitivity to different chemical and physical stresses such as lysozyme, SDS and sonication. The sensitivity of the mutant to two antitubercular drugs, rifampicin and d-cycloserine, was also increased. The glnA-1 strain infected THP-1 cells with reduced efficiency and was also attenuated for growth in macrophages. A Mycobacterium smegmatis strain containing the M. bovis glnA-1 gene survived longer in THP-1 cells than the wild-type strain and also produced cell wall-associated PLG. The M. bovis mutant was not able to replicate in the organs of BALB/c mice and was cleared within 4–6 weeks of infection. Disruption of the glnA-1 gene adversely affected biofilm formation on polystyrene surfaces. The results of this study demonstrate that the absence of glnA-1 not only attenuates the pathogen but also affects cell surface properties by altering the cell wall chemistry of the organism via the synthesis of PLG; this may be a target for drug development.
Recently, we reported that the type 6 secretion system (T6SS) of Aeromonas hydrophila SSU plays an important role in bacterial virulence in a mouse model, and immunization of animals with the T6SS effector haemolysin co-regulated protein (Hcp) protected them against lethal infections with wild-type bacteria. Additionally, we showed that the mutant bacteria deleted for the vasH gene within the T6SS gene cluster did not express the hcp gene, while the vasK mutant could express and translocate Hcp, but was unable to secrete it into the extracellular milieu. Both of these A. hydrophila SSU mutants were readily phagocytosed by murine macrophages, pointing to the possible role of the secreted form of Hcp in the evasion of the host innate immunity. By using the ΔvasH mutant of A. hydrophila, our in vitro data showed that the addition of exogenous recombinant Hcp (rHcp) reduced bacterial uptake by macrophages. These results were substantiated by increased bacterial virulence when rHcp was added along with the ΔvasH mutant in a septicaemic mouse model of infection. Analysis of the cytokine profiling in the intraperitoneal lavage as well as activation of host cells after 4 h of infection with the ΔvasH mutant supplemented with rHcp indicated that this T6SS effector inhibited production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and induced immunosuppressive cytokines, such as interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor-β, which could circumvent macrophage activation and maturation. This mechanism of innate immune evasion by Hcp possibly inhibited the recruitment of cellular immune components, which allowed bacterial multiplication and dissemination in animals, thereby leading to their mortality.
For successful infection, Salmonella enterica secretes and injects effector proteins into host cells by two distinct type three secretion systems (T3SSs) located on Salmonella pathogenicity islands (SPIs)-1 and -2. The SPI-2 T3SS is involved in intracellular survival of S. enterica serovar Typhimurium and systemic disease. As little is known regarding the function of the SPI-2 T3SS from S. enterica serovar Typhi, the aetiological agent of typhoid fever, we investigated its role for survival in human macrophages. Mutations in the translocon (sseB), basal secretion apparatus (ssaR) and regulator (ssrB) did not result in any reduction in survival under many of the conditions tested. Similar results were obtained with another S. Typhi strain or by using human primary cells. Results were corroborated based on complete deletion of the SPI-2 T3SS. Surprisingly, the data suggest that the SPI-2 T3SS of S. Typhi is not required for survival in human macrophages.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa has long been known to produce phenotypic variants during chronic mucosal surface infections. These variants are thought to be generated to ensure bacterial survival against the diverse challenges in the mucosal environment. Studies have begun to elucidate the mechanisms by which these variants emerge in vitro; however, too little information exists on phenotypic variation in vivo to draw any links between variants generated in vitro and in vivo. Consequently, in this study, the P. aeruginosa gacS gene, which has previously been linked to the generation of small colony variants (SCVs) in vitro, was studied in an in vivo mucosal surface infection model. More specifically, the rat prostate served as a model mucosal surface to test for the appearance of SCVs in vivo following infections with P. aeruginosa gacS− strains. As in in vitro studies, deletion of the gacS gene led to SCV production in vivo. The appearance of these in vivo SCVs was important for the sustainability of a chronic infection. In the subset of rats in which P. aeruginosa gacS− did not convert to SCVs, clearance of the bacteria took place and healing of the tissue ensued. When comparing the SCVs that arose at the mucosal surface (MS-SCVs) with in vitro SCVs (IV-SCVs) from the same gacS− parent, some differences between the phenotypic variants were observed. Whereas both MS-SCVs and IV-SCVs formed dense biofilms, MS-SCVs exhibited a less diverse resistance profile to antimicrobial agents than IV-SCVs. Additionally, MS-SCVs were better suited to initiate an infection in the rat model than IV-SCVs. Together, these observations suggest that phenotypic variation in vivo can be important for maintenance of infection, and that in vivo variants may differ from in vitro variants generated from the same genetic parent.
Staphylococcus aureus is a human pathogen of growing clinical significance, owing to its increasing levels of resistance to most antibiotics. Infections range from mild wound infections to severe infections such as endocarditis, osteomyelitis and septic shock. Adherence of S. aureus to human host cells is an important step, leading to colonization and infection. Adherence is mediated by a multiplicity of proteins expressed on the bacterial surface, including clumping factor B. In this study, we aimed to identify new targets of clumping factor B in human keratinocytes by undertaking a genome-wide yeast two-hybrid screen of a human keratinocyte cDNA library. We show that clumping factor B is capable of binding cytokeratin 8 (CK8), a type II cytokeratin. Using a domain-mapping strategy we identified amino acids 437–464 as necessary for this interaction. Recombinantly expressed fragments of both proteins were used in pull-down experiments and confirmed the yeast two-hybrid studies. Analysis with S. aureus strain Newman deficient in clumping factor B showed the clumping factor B-dependence of the interaction with CK8. We postulate that the clumping factor B–CK8 interaction is a novel factor in S. aureus infections.
The GacS/GacA two-component signal transduction system regulates virulence, biofilm formation and symbiosis in Vibrio species. The present study investigated this regulatory pathway in Vibrio vulnificus, a human pathogen that causes life-threatening disease associated with the consumption of raw oysters and wound infections. Small non-coding RNAs (csrB1, csrB2, csrB3 and csrC) commonly regulated by the GacS/GacA pathway were decreased (P<0.0003) in a V. vulnificus CMCP6 ΔgacA : : aph mutant compared with the wild-type parent, and expression was restored by complementation of the gacA deletion mutation in trans. Of the 20 genes examined by RT-PCR, significant reductions in the transcript levels of the mutant in comparison with the wild-type strain were observed only for genes related to motility (flaA), stationary phase (rpoS) and protease (vvpE) (P=0.04, 0.01 and 0.002, respectively). Swimming motility, flagellation and opaque colony morphology indicative of capsular polysaccharide (CPS) were unchanged in the mutant, while cytotoxicity, protease activity, CPS phase variation and the ability to acquire iron were decreased compared with the wild-type (P<0.01). The role of gacA in virulence of V. vulnificus was also demonstrated by significant impairment in the ability of the mutant strain to cause either skin (P<0.0005) or systemic infections (P<0.02) in subcutaneously inoculated, non-iron-treated mice. However, the virulence of the mutant was equivalent to that of the wild-type in iron-treated mice, demonstrating that the GacA pathway in V. vulnificus regulates the virulence of this organism in an iron-dependent manner.