Staphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen of humans, causing a range of superficial and potentially life-threatening diseases. Infection of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster with S. aureus results in systemic infection followed by death. Screening of defined S. aureus mutants for components important in pathogenesis identified perR and pheP, with fly death up to threefold slower after infection with the respective mutants compared to the wild-type. Infection of D. melanogaster with reporter gene fusion strains demonstrated the in vivo expression levels of the accessory gene regulator, agr, α-toxin, hla, and a manganese transporter, mntA. The use of the green fluorescent protein as a reporter under the control of the agr promoter (P3) showed S. aureus microcolony formation in vivo. The disease model also allowed the effect of antibiotic treatment on the flies to be determined. D. melanogaster is a genetically tractable model host for high-throughput analysis of S. aureus virulence determinants.
Enteropathogenic and enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EPEC and EHEC, respectively) genomes contain a pathogenicity island, termed the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE), which encodes genes involved in the formation of attaching and effacing lesions on epithelial cells. To elucidate the regulatory mechanism of the LEE genes in EHEC, an EHEC O157 genomic library was screened for clones which modulated expression of the LEE genes. From more than 5000 clones, a DNA fragment was obtained containing a perC homologue as a positive regulator for the LEE genes. In EPEC, perC is known to be part of the per operon, along with perA and perB, located on the EPEC adherence factor plasmid, which is not found in EHEC. However, the complete genome sequence of EHEC O157 Sakai strain reveals that there are five perC-like sequences, but no perA and perB, on the chromosome. These five perC homologues were characterized, and it was found that three of the homologues (renamed perC homologue pchA, pchB and pchC) encoded 104 aa proteins, and when expressed on a multicopy plasmid enhanced the expression of LEE genes. In contrast, perC homologues encoding proteins of 89 and 90 aa, renamed pchD and pchE, respectively, had no significant effect. Deletion mutants of the pch genes were constructed, and the effect on the expression of LEE-encoded type III effector proteins, such as EspA, B and D, and adhesion phenotype to HEp-2 cells was examined. Deletion of pchA or pchB, but not pchC, decreased the expression of Esp proteins and adhesion to HEp-2 cells. Such effects were more apparent with mutants carrying double deletions of pchA/pchB or pchA/pchC, suggesting that pchA/B/C are all necessary for full expression of the LEE genes and adhesion to HEp-2 cells. Further study demonstrated that the positive effect of pchA/B/C was caused by enhanced transcription of the LEE-encoded regulatory gene, ler. Introduction of a multicopy plasmid carrying each pchA/B/C gene significantly induced microcolony formation by EHEC O157 on HEp-2 cells. These results suggest that the pchABC genes are necessary for full virulence of EHEC O157.
Fusobacterium nucleatum can bind to saliva-coated tooth surfaces. However, the nature of the domains of salivary protein that interact with F. nucleatum remains unclear. The ability of individual proteins in human submandibular-sublingual saliva (HSMSL) to bind F. nucleatum cells was examined by dot blot assay; statherin displayed the strongest binding activity. Statherin binding sites were determined based on binding of 125I-labelled F. nucleatum to statherin-coated hydroxyapatite (sHAP) beads via inhibition assays using synthetic analogous peptide fragments of whole statherin. Analogous peptides corresponding to residues 19–26 and 32–39 of statherin inhibited binding by 77 % and 68 %, respectively. Synthetic peptides were also prepared by serial deletions of individual residues from N- and C-termini of the peptides GPYQPVPE (aa 19–26) and QPYQPQYQ (aa 32–39). The inhibitory effects of peptides YQPVPE (aa 21–26) and PYQPQYQ (aa 33–39) were very similar to those of GPYQPVPE and QPYQPQYQ, respectively. However, additional deletion of residues resulted in significant reduction of the inhibitory effect. Alanine-scan analysis of YQPVPE revealed that all tested peptides retained inhibitory activity; only YAPVPE exhibited significantly decreased inhibitory activity. These findings suggest that YQPVPE and PYQPQYQ may represent the minimal active segments of statherin for binding to F. nucleatum; moreover, Gln may be a key amino acid in the active segment.
Paenibacillus larvae subsp. larvae (P. l. larvae) is the aetiological agent of American foulbrood (AFB), the most virulent bacterial disease of honey bee brood worldwide. In many countries AFB is a notifiable disease since it is highly contagious, in most cases incurable and able to kill affected colonies. Genotyping of field isolates of P. l. larvae revealed at least four genotypes (AB, Ab, ab and α B) present in Germany which are genotypically different from the reference strain DSM 7030. Therefore, based on these data, five different genotypes of P. l. larvae are now identified with genotype AB standing out with a characteristic brown-orange and circled two-coloured colony morphology. Analysing the metabolic profiles of three German genotypes (AB, Ab and ab) as well as of the reference strain using the Biolog system, a characteristic biochemical fingerprint could be obtained for each strain. Cluster analysis showed that while genotypes Ab, ab and the reference strain DSM 7030 are rather similar, genotype AB is clearly different from the others. Analysis of all isolates for plasmid DNA revealed two different plasmids present only in isolates belonging to genotype AB. Therefore, genotype AB is remarkable in all aspects analysed so far. Future analysis will show whether or not these differences will expand to differences in virulence.
Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae serotype 1 adhered to immobilized swine-lung collagen. Bacteria bound to collagen type I, III, IV and V. At 5 min incubation, 30 % of bacteria adhered to collagen, reaching saturation in around 90 min. Treatment of bacteria with divalent-metal chelators diminished their attachment to collagen, and Ca2+ but not Mg2+ increased it, suggesting Ca2+ dependence for adherence. Proteolytic enzymes drastically reduced bacterial adherence to collagen, showing that binding involved bacterial surface proteins. Porcine fibrinogen, haemoglobin and gelatin partially reduced collagen adhesion. A 60 kDa outer-membrane protein of A. pleuropneumoniae recognized the swine collagens by overlay. This membrane protein was apparently involved in adhesion to collagen and fibrinogen, but not to fibronectin and laminin. Antibodies against the 60 kDa protein inhibited the adhesion to collagen by 70 %, whereas pig convalescent-phase antibodies inhibited it by only 40 %. Serotypes 1 and 7 were the most adherent to pig collagen (taken as 100 %); serotypes 6 and 11 were the lowest (∼50 %), and neither showed the 60 kDa adhesin to biotinylated collagens. By negative staining, cells were observed initially to associate with collagen fibres in a polar manner, and the adhesin was detected on the bacterial surface. The results suggest that swine-lung collagen is an important target for A. pleuropneumoniae colonization and spreading, and that the attachment to this protein could play a relevant role in pathogenesis.
Treponema denticola is a major aetiological organism implicated in periodontal disease. The interaction of T. denticola with other oral bacteria, in particular Porphyromonas gingivalis, in biofilm formation is thought to be an important step in the onset of periodontal disease. The interaction between T. denticola and P. gingivalis has been examined using a panel of T. denticola mutants and their effects on mixed biofilm formation tested in a static biofilm model. T. denticola ATCC 35405 did not form detectable biofilms on various inert surfaces. However, the spirochaete was demonstrated to form a biofilm with preattached P. gingivalis 381. T. denticola cfpA, which lacks the cytoplasmic filament, was unable to produce a mixed biofilm with P. gingivalis. A T. denticola flgE mutant which lacks the flagella hook protein and is therefore non-motile displayed a reduced, but readily detectable, ability to form a mixed biofilm as did the T. denticola mutant which does not possess the major outer sheath protein (Msp). The T. denticola lrrA mutant was only moderately defective in forming mixed biofilms with P. gingivalis. However, the T. denticola methyl-accepting chemotaxis protein (DmcA) did not appear to play a major role in mixed biofilm formation. In contrast, T. denticola lacking the PrtP protein for prolyl-phenylalanine-specific protease, showed an increased ability to form mixed biofilms and a prolonged viability in the biofilm.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a human pathogen that is naturally transformable. In this study a major component of the homologous recombination pathway, the RexAB exonuclease/helicase, was characterized. rexA and rexB insertional mutants were constructed using mariner mutagenesis and found to have identical phenotypes. Both rexAB mutants displayed poor cell viability, reduced double-strand exonuclease activity, UV sensitivity and a reduced level of gene conversion compared to the wild-type strain. No effect was observed on plasmid and chromosomal transformation efficiencies. These results indicate that in S. pneumoniae, RexAB is required for DNA repair, but not for chromosomal transformation and plasmid establishment.
The ALS (agglutinin-like sequence) gene family of Candida albicans encodes eight cell-surface glycoproteins, some of which are involved in adherence to host surfaces. A mutational analysis of each ALS gene is currently being performed to deduce the functions of the encoded proteins and to better understand the role of these proteins in C. albicans biology and pathogenesis. This paper describes construction of an als3/als3 mutant and comparison of its phenotype to an als1/als1 strain. Efforts to disrupt ALS3 indicated that the gene could be deleted in two transformation steps, suggesting that the gene is encoded by a single locus and that the ALS3-like locus, ALS8, does not exist. Strains lacking ALS3 or ALS1 did not exhibit a defect in germ tube formation when grown in RPMI 1640 medium, but the als1/als1 mutant formed significantly fewer germ tubes in Lee medium. Analysis of ALS3 and ALS1 promoter activity using green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter strains and flow cytometry showed that when cells are placed into medium that promotes germ tube formation, ALS1 is transcribed prior to ALS3. Comparison of the mutant strains in adhesion assays showed that the als3/als3 strain was defective in adhesion to both human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and buccal epithelial cells (BEC), but not to fibronectin-coated plastic plates. In contrast, the als1/als1 strain showed decreased adherence to HUVEC, but adherence to BEC and fibronectin were the same as wild-type controls. Inoculation of the buccal reconstituted human epithelium (RHE) model of oral candidiasis with the mutant strains showed nearly a total lack of adhesion and epithelial destruction by the als3/als3 mutant while the als1/als1 strain showed only a slightly reduced degree of epithelial destruction compared to the wild-type control. Adhesion data presented here suggest that, in the assays performed, loss of Als3p affects C. albicans adhesion more than loss of Als1p. Collectively, these results demonstrate functional similarities and differences between Als1p and Als3p, and suggest the potential for more complex interrelationships between the ALS genes and their encoded proteins.