Redox pathways play a key role in pathogenesis. Glutathione, a central molecule in redox homeostasis in yeasts, is an essential metabolite, but its requirements can be met either from endogenous biosynthesis or from the extracellular milieu. In this report we have examined the importance of glutathione biosynthesis in two major human opportunistic fungal pathogens, Candida albicans and Candida glabrata. As the genome sequence of C. glabrata had suggested the absence of glutathione transporters, we initially investigated exogenous glutathione utilization in C. glabrata by disruption of the MET15 gene, involved in methionine biosynthesis. We observed an organic sulphur auxotrophy in a C. glabrata met15Δ strain; however, unlike its Saccharomyces cerevisiae counterpart, the C. glabrata met15Δ strain was unable to grow on exogenous glutathione. This inability to grow on exogenous glutathione was demonstrated to be due to the lack of a functional glutathione transporter, despite the presence of a functional glutathione degradation machinery (the Dug pathway). In the absence of the ability to obtain glutathione from the extracellular medium, we examined and could demonstrate that γ-glutamyl cysteine synthase, the first enzyme of glutathione biosynthesis, was essential in C. glabrata. Further, although γ-glutamyl cysteine synthase has been reported to be non-essential in C. albicans, we report here for what is believed to be the first time that the enzyme is required for survival in human macrophages in vitro, as well as for virulence in a murine model of disseminated candidiasis. The essentiality of γ-glutamyl cysteine synthase in C. glabrata, and its essentiality for virulence in C. albicans, make the enzyme a strong candidate for antifungal development.
In a collection of 110 clinical isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae, a single strain, Kp593, was found to exhibit a mutator phenotype with a rifampicin mutation frequency 100-fold higher than the modal value for this species. Complementation experiments with the wild-type MutL, one of the main components of the methyl-directed mismatch repair system, allowed the mutator phenotype to be reversed. Sequencing revealed substitution of the conserved residue Lys307 to Arg and site-directed mutagenesis followed by complementation experiments confirmed the critical role of this mutation. The patient infected with Kp593 relapsed a month later and the strain isolated then, Kp869, was identical to Kp593, as verified by PFGE analysis. Phenotypically, Kp869 colonies were more mucoid than those of Kp593, probably due to increased capsule synthesis as shown by electron microscopy. In addition, Kp869 exhibited a 16-fold higher amoxicillin resistance level related to a 36.4 kb tandem duplication encompassing the chromosomal bla SHV-11 gene, which was unstable in vitro. These data suggest that the mutator phenotype found in Kp593/Kp869 is associated with beneficial mutations conferring a selective advantage, such as increased virulence factor production and antibiotic resistance. The latter was due to resistance gene duplication, an event rarely described in natural isolates. This is the first description of the in vivo occurrence of gene duplication in a mutator background.
Polyamines such as cadaverine, putrescine and spermidine are polycationic molecules that have pleiotropic effects on cells via their interaction with nucleic acids. Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is a Gram-positive pathogen capable of causing pneumonia, septicaemia, otitis media and meningitis. Pneumococci have a polyamine transport operon (potABCD) responsible for the binding and transport of putrescine and spermidine, and can synthesize cadaverine and spermidine using their lysine decarboxylase (cad) and spermidine synthase (speE) enzymes. Previous studies from our laboratory have shown that an increase in PotD expression is seen following exposure to various stresses, while during infection, potD inactivation significantly attenuates pneumococcal virulence, and anti-PotD immune responses are protective in mice. In spite of their relative importance, not much is known about the global contribution of polyamine biosynthesis and transport pathways to pneumococcal disease. Mutants deficient in polyamine biosynthesis (ΔspeE or Δcad) or transport genes (ΔpotABCD) were constructed and were found to be attenuated in murine models of pneumococcal colonization and pneumonia, either alone or in competition with the wild-type strain. The ΔspeE mutant was also attenuated during invasive disease, while the potABCD and cad genes seemed to be dispensable. HPLC analyses showed reduced intracellular polyamine levels in all mutant strains compared with wild-type bacteria. High-throughput proteomic analyses indicated reduced expression of growth, replication and virulence factors in mutant strains. Thus, polyamine biosynthesis and transport mechanisms are intricately linked to the fitness, survival and pathogenesis of the pneumococcus in host microenvironments, and may represent important targets for prophylactic and therapeutic interventions.
Vibrio cholerae is a human diarrhoeal pathogen that is a major cause of gastrointestinal disease and death worldwide. Pathogenic V. cholerae strains are characterized by the presence of a Vibrio pathogenicity island (VPI) that encodes virulence factors, including the toxin co-regulated pilus (TCP). TagA is encoded within the VPI and is positively co-regulated with cholera toxin and TCP. TagA is a sequelogue of the StcE mucinase of Escherichia coli O157 : H7. We investigated whether this sequence homology reflected a conserved enzymic substrate profile. TagA exhibited metalloprotease activity toward crude purified mucins, salivary mucin and LS174T goblet cell surface mucin. Like StcE, TagA did not cleave general protease substrates, but unlike StcE, TagA did not cleave the mucin-like serpin C1 esterase inhibitor. Both proteins cleaved the immune cell surface mucin CD43, but TagA demonstrated reduced enzymic efficiency relative to StcE. TagA was expressed and secreted by V. cholerae under ToxR-dependent conditions. A tagA-deficient V. cholerae strain showed no defect in a model of in vitro attachment to the HEp-2 cell line; however, overexpression of a proteolytically inactive mutant, TagA(E433D), caused a significant increase in attachment. The increased attachment was reduced by pretreatment of epithelial monolayers with active TagA. Our results indicate that TagA is a mucinase and suggest that TagA may directly modify host cell surface molecules during V. cholerae infection.
Coxiella burnetii is a Gram-negative obligate intracellular pathogen and the causative agent of Q fever in humans. Q fever causes acute flu-like symptoms and may develop into a chronic disease leading to endocarditis. Its potential as a bioweapon has led to its classification as a category B select agent. An effective inactivated whole-cell vaccine (WCV) currently exists but causes severe granulomatous/necrotizing reactions in individuals with prior exposure, and is not licensed for use in most countries. Current efforts to reduce or eliminate the deleterious reactions associated with WCVs have focused on identifying potential subunit vaccine candidates. Both humoral and T cell-mediated responses are required for protection in animal models. In this study, nine novel immunogenic C. burnetii proteins were identified in extracted whole-cell lysates using 2D electrophoresis, immunoblotting with immune guinea pig sera, and tandem MS. The immunogenic C. burnetii proteins elicited antigen-specific IgG in guinea pigs vaccinated with whole-cell killed Nine Mile phase I vaccine, suggesting a T cell-dependent response. Eleven additional proteins previously shown to react with immune human sera were also antigenic in guinea pigs, showing the relevance of the guinea pig immunization model for antigen discovery. The antigens described here warrant further investigation to validate their potential use as subunit vaccine candidates.
Brachyspira pilosicoli is an anaerobic intestinal spirochaete that colonizes the large intestine of a variety of species of birds and mammals, including human beings. Colonization may result in a mild colitis and diarrhoea in a condition known as ‘intestinal spirochaetosis’. The catecholamine norepinephrine (NE), which is known to influence the behaviour of many bacterial species, may be present in the colon. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether exposure of B. pilosicoli to NE would influence its in vitro behaviour in assays that may reflect in vivo colonization potential. B. pilosicoli strain 95/1000 was used in all the assays. Addition of NE at a concentration of 0.05 mM to B. pilosicoli growing in anaerobic broth significantly increased spirochaete numbers after 4 days incubation. The effect of higher concentrations of NE was not significant. Exposure to 0.05 mM NE, but not to higher concentrations, also resulted in significantly more spirochaete cells entering capillary tubes containing 4 % porcine gastric mucin than occurred with untreated cultures. When NE was added to chemotaxis buffer in capillary tubes, significantly more spirochaetes were attracted to the buffer containing NE at 0.1, 0.5 and 1.0 mM than to buffer containing 0.05 mM NE, or when no NE was added. Exposure of B. pilosicoli cultures to 0.05 mM NE prior to incubation with Caco-2 monolayers resulted in more attachment to the monolayer than occurred with non-exposed cultures. These results show that at higher concentrations, NE acts as a chemoattractant for B. pilosicoli, and at 0.05 mM it increases the spirochaete's growth rate, attraction to mucin and rate of attachment to cultured enterocytes. These activities are likely to enhance the ability of B. pilosicoli to colonize, and may be induced by conditions that increase NE concentrations in the intestinal tract, such as the stresses associated with crowding.
Mycoplasma genitalium is the causative agent of non-gonococcal, chlamydia-negative urethritis in men and has been linked to reproductive tract disease syndromes in women. As with other mycoplasmas, M. genitalium lacks many regulatory genes because of its streamlined genome and total dependence on a parasitic existence. Therefore, it is important to understand how gene regulation occurs in M. genitalium, particularly in response to environmental signals likely to be encountered in vivo. In this study, we developed an oligonucleotide-based microarray to investigate transcriptional changes in M. genitalium following osmotic shock. Using a physiologically relevant osmolarity condition (0.3 M sodium chloride), we identified 39 upregulated and 72 downregulated genes. Of the upregulated genes, 21 were of unknown function and 15 encoded membrane-associated proteins. The majority of downregulated genes encoded enzymes involved in energy metabolism and components of the protein translation process. These data provide insights into the in vivo response of M. genitalium to hyperosmolarity conditions and identify candidate genes that may contribute to mycoplasma survival in the urogenital tract.
Bovine Johne's disease (paratuberculosis), caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, poses a significant economic problem to the beef and dairy industry worldwide. Despite its relevance, however, pathogenesis of Johne's disease is still only partially resolved. Since mycobacterial membrane proteins expressed during infection are likely to play an important role in pathogenesis, membrane-enriched fractions, namely mucosa-derived membranes (MDM) and culture-derived membranes (CDM), of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis from three cows with clinical paratuberculosis were investigated. An initial analysis by 2D difference gel electrophoresis (2D DIGE) and MALDI-TOF-MS analysis revealed four differentially expressed proteins with only one predicted membrane protein. Due to this limited outcome, membrane preparations were subjected to a tube–gel trypsin digestion and investigated by using nanoflow-liquid-chromatography-coupled tandem MS. Based on this approach a total of 212 proteins were detected in MDM including 32 proteins of bovine origin; 275 proteins were detected in CDM; 59 % of MDM and CDM proteins were predicted to be membrane-associated. A total of 130 of the proteins were detected in both MDM and CDM and 48 predicted membrane proteins were detected in MDM from at least two cows. Four of these proteins were not detected in CDM, implying differential expression in the host. All membrane-associated proteins, especially the four identified as being differentially expressed, might be relevant targets for further analyses into the pathogenesis of bovine paratuberculosis.
To date, various bacterial drug efflux pump inhibitors (EPIs) have been described. They exhibit variability in their activity spectrum with respect to antibiotic structural class and bacterial species. Among the various 4-alkylaminoquinazoline derivatives synthesized and studied in this work, one molecule, 1167, increased the susceptibility of important human-pathogenic, resistant, Gram-negative bacteria towards different antibiotic classes. This 4-(3-morpholinopropylamino)-quinazoline induced an increase in the activity of chloramphenicol, nalidixic acid, norfloxacin and sparfloxacin, which are substrates of the AcrAB-TolC and MexAB-OprM efflux pumps that act in these multidrug-resistant isolates. In addition, 1167 increased the intracellular concentration of chloramphenicol in efflux pump-overproducing strains. The rate of restoration depended on the structure of the antibiotic, suggesting that different sites in the efflux pumps may be involved. A molecule exhibiting a morpholine functional group and a propyl extension of the side chain was more active.