Global transcriptome of CFA/I expressing ETEC H10407 under in vitro growth and water stress
ABSTRACT: Enterotoxigeneic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a leading cause of diarrhoeal infections in young children living in endemic regions in low and middle-income countries and adults travelling to these destinations. CFA/I fimbriae have been identified as the predominant colonisation factor associated with human ETEC infections. Here we used used Transposon-directed insertion-site sequencing (TraDIS) and transcriptomic analysis to identify the essential genome of the prototypical CFA/I expressing ETEC strain H10407 and uncover the survival mechanisms that enhance persistence of ETEC isolates in water and within mammalian hosts. RNA transcription profiles of H10407 were identified under different in vitro growth conditions including aerobic growth in neutral LB media (pH7); aerobic growth in acidic media (pH5); aerobic growth in alkaline media (pH9); anaerobic growth in neutral LB media (pH7); and survival in fresh water. Research work including RNA preparation and bioinformatics and statistical analyses were conducted at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI) and the Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR), the University of Sydney. The sequencing data was generated in the Bioscience Core Laboratory at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
Project description:Enterotoxigeneic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a leading cause of diarrhoeal infections in young children living in endemic regions in low and middle-income countries and adults travelling to these destinations. CFA/I fimbriae have been identified as the predominant colonisation factor associated with human ETEC infections. Here we used used Transposon-directed insertion-site sequencing (TraDIS) and transcriptomic analysis to identify the essential genome of the prototypical CFA/I expressing ETEC strain H10407 and uncover the survival mechanisms that enhance persistence of ETEC isolates in water and within mammalian hosts. RNA transcription profiles of H10407 were identified under different in vitro growth conditions including aerobic growth in neutral LB media (pH7); aerobic growth in acidic media (pH5); aerobic growth in alkaline media (pH9); anaerobic growth in neutral LB media (pH7); and survival in fresh water. Research work including RNA preparation and bioinformatics and statistical analyses were conducted at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI) and the Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR), the University of Sydney. The sequencing data was generated in the Bioscience Core Laboratory at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
Project description:Colonization factors (CFs) mediate early adhesion of Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) in the small intestine. Environmental signals including bile, glucose, and contact with epithelial cells have previously been shown to modulate CF expression in a strain dependent manner. To identify novel components modulating CF surface expression, 20 components relevant to the intestinal environment were selected for evaluation. These included mucin, bicarbonate, norepinephrine, lincomycin, carbon sources, and cations. Effects of individual components on surface expression of the archetype CF, CFA/I, were screened using a fractional factorial Hadamard matrix incorporating 24 growth conditions. As most CFs agglutinate erythrocytes, surface expression was evaluated by mannose resistant hemagglutination. Seven components, including porcine gastric mucin, lincomycin, glutamine, and glucose were found to induce CFA/I surface expression in vitro in a minimal media while five others were inhibitory, including leucine and 1,10-phenanthroline. To further explore the effect of components positively influencing CFA/I surface expression, a response surface methodology (RSM) was designed incorporating 36 growth conditions. The optimum concentration for each component was identified, thereby generating a novel culture media, SP1, for CFA/I expression. CFs closely related to CFA/I, including CS4 and CS14 were similarly induced in SP1 media. Other epidemiologically relevant CFs were also induced when compared to the level obtained in minimal media. These results indicate that although CF surface expression is complex and highly variable among strains, the CF response can be predicted for closely related strains. A novel culture media inducing CFs in the CF5a group was successfully identified. In addition, mucin was found to positively influence CF expression in strains expressing either CFA/I or CS1 and CS3, and may function as a common environmental cue.
Project description:Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) are a major cause of diarrheal disease worldwide. Adhesion pili (or fimbriae), such as the CFA/I (colonization factor antigen I) organelles that enable ETEC to attach efficiently to the host intestinal tract epithelium, are critical virulence factors for initiation of infection. We characterized the intrinsic biomechanical properties and kinetics of individual CFA/I pili at the single-organelle level, demonstrating that weak external forces (7.5 pN) are sufficient to unwind the intact helical filament of this prototypical ETEC pilus and that it quickly regains its original structure when the force is removed. While the general relationship between exertion of force and an increase in the filament length for CFA/I pili associated with diarrheal disease is analogous to that of P pili and type 1 pili, associated with urinary tract and other infections, the biomechanical properties of these different pili differ in key quantitative details. Unique features of CFA/I pili, including the significantly lower force required for unwinding, the higher extension speed at which the pili enter a dynamic range of unwinding, and the appearance of sudden force drops during unwinding, can be attributed to morphological features of CFA/I pili including weak layer-to-layer interactions between subunits on adjacent turns of the helix and the approximately horizontal orientation of pilin subunits with respect to the filament axis. Our results indicate that ETEC CFA/I pili are flexible organelles optimized to withstand harsh motion without breaking, resulting in continued attachment to the intestinal epithelium by the pathogenic bacteria that express these pili.
Project description:Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children younger than 5 years and continues to be a major threat to global health. Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) strains are the most common bacteria causing diarrhea in developing countries. ETEC strains are able to attach to host small intestinal epithelial cells by using bacterial colonization factor antigen (CFA) adhesins. This attachment helps to initiate the diarrheal disease. Vaccines that induce antiadhesin immunity to block adherence of ETEC strains that express immunologically heterogeneous CFA adhesins are expected to protect against ETEC diarrhea. In this study, we created a CFA multiepitope fusion antigen (MEFA) carrying representative epitopes of CFA/I, CFA/II (CS1, CS2, and CS3), and CFA/IV (CS4, CS5, and CS6), examined its immunogenicity in mice, and assessed the potential of this MEFA as an antiadhesin vaccine against ETEC. Mice intraperitoneally immunized with this CFA MEFA exhibited no adverse effects and developed immune responses to CFA/I, CFA/II, and CFA/IV adhesins. Moreover, after incubation with serum of the immunized mice, ETEC or E. coli strains expressing CFA/I, CFA/II, or CFA/IV adhesins were significantly inhibited in adherence to Caco-2 cells. Our results indicated this CFA MEFA elicited antibodies that not only cross-reacted to CFA/I, CFA/II and CFA/IV adhesins but also broadly inhibited adherence of E. coli strains expressing these seven adhesins and suggested that this CFA MEFA could be a candidate to induce broad-spectrum antiadhesin protection against ETEC diarrhea. Additionally, this antigen construction approach (creating an MEFA) may be generally used in vaccine development against heterogenic pathogens.
Project description:Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a significant cause of childhood diarrhea and is a leading cause of traveler's diarrhea. ETEC strains encoding the heat-stable enterotoxin (ST) are more often associated with childhood diarrhea than ETEC strains that encode only the heat-labile enterotoxin (LT). Colonization factors (CFs) also have a demonstrated role in ETEC virulence, and two of the most prevalent CFs among ETEC that have caused diarrhea are colonization factor antigen I (CFA/I) and CS6. In the current report, we describe the genomes of 269 CS6- or CFA/I-encoding ST-only ETEC isolates that were associated with human diarrhea. While the CS6 and CFA/I ETEC were identified in at least 13 different ETEC genomic lineages, a majority (85%; 229/269) were identified in only six lineages. Complete genome sequencing of selected isolates demonstrated that a conserved plasmid contributed to the dissemination of CFA/I whereas at least five distinct plasmids were involved in the dissemination of ST and/or CS6. Additionally, there were differences in gene content between CFA/I and CS6 ETEC at the phylogroup and lineage levels and in association with their geographic location of isolation as well as lineage-related differences in ST production. Thus, we demonstrate that genomically diverse E. coli strains have acquired ST, as well as CFA/I or CS6, via one or more plasmids and that, in some cases, isolates of a particular lineage or geographic location have undergone additional modifications to their genome content. These findings will aid investigations of virulence and the development of improved diagnostics and vaccines against this important human diarrheal pathogen. IMPORTANCE Comparative genomics and functional characterization were used to analyze a global collection of CFA/I and CS6 ST-only ETEC isolates associated with human diarrhea, demonstrating differences in the genomic content of CFA/I and CS6 isolates related to CF type, lineage, and geographic location of isolation and also lineage-related differences in ST production. Complete genome sequencing of selected CFA/I and CS6 isolates enabled descriptions of a highly conserved ST-positive (ST+) CFA/I plasmid and of at least five diverse ST and/or CS6 plasmids among the CS6 ETEC isolates. There is currently no approved vaccine for ST-only ETEC, or for any ETEC for that matter, and as such, the current report provides functional verification of ST and CF production and antimicrobial susceptibility testing and an in-depth genomic characterization of a collection of isolates that could serve as representatives of CFA/I- or CS6-encoding ST-only ETEC strains for future studies of ETEC pathogenesis, vaccine studies, and/or clinical trials.
Project description:Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is an important pathogenic variant (pathovar) of E. coli in developing countries from a human health perspective, causing significant morbidity and mortality. Previous studies have examined specific regulatory networks in ETEC, although little is known about the global effects of inter- and intrakingdom signaling on the expression of virulence and colonization factors in ETEC. In this study, an E. coli/Shigella pan-genome microarray, combined with quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR) and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), was used to quantify the expression of ETEC virulence and colonization factors. Biologically relevant chemical signals were combined with ETEC isolate E24377A during growth in either Luria broth (LB) or Dulbecco's modified Eagle medium (DMEM), and transcription was examined during different phases of the growth cycle; chemical signals examined included glucose, bile salts, and preconditioned media from E. coli/Shigella isolates. The results demonstrate that the presence of bile salts, which are found in the intestine and thought to be bactericidal, upregulates the expression of many ETEC virulence factors, including heat-stable (estA) and heat-labile (eltA) enterotoxin genes. In contrast, the ETEC colonization factors CS1 and CS3 were downregulated in the presence of bile, consistent with findings in studies of other enteric pathogens. RNA-seq analysis demonstrated that one of the most differentially expressed genes in the presence of bile is a unique plasmid-encoded AraC-like transcriptional regulator (peaR); other previously unknown genetic elements were found as well. These results provide transcriptional targets and putative mechanisms that should help improve understanding of the global regulatory networks and virulence expression in this important human pathogen.
Project description:Vaccine development often encounters the challenge of virulence heterogeneity. Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) bacteria producing immunologically heterogeneous virulence factors are a leading cause of children's diarrhea and travelers' diarrhea. Currently, we do not have licensed vaccines against ETEC bacteria. While conventional methods continue to make progress but encounter challenge, new computational and structure-based approaches are explored to accelerate ETEC vaccine development. In this study, we applied a structural vaccinology concept to construct a structure-based multiepitope fusion antigen (MEFA) to carry representing epitopes of the seven most important ETEC adhesins [CFA/I, CFA/II (CS1-CS3), CFA/IV (CS4-CS6)], simulated antigenic structure of the CFA/I/II/IV MEFA with computational atomistic modeling and simulation, characterized immunogenicity in mouse immunization, and examined the potential of structure-informed vaccine design for ETEC vaccine development. A tag-less recombinant MEFA protein (CFA/I/II/IV MEFA) was effectively expressed and extracted. Molecular dynamics simulations indicated that this MEFA immunogen maintained a stable secondary structure and presented epitopes on the protein surface. Empirical data showed that mice immunized with the tagless CFA/I/II/IV MEFA developed strong antigen-specific antibody responses, and mouse serum antibodies significantly inhibited in vitro adherence of bacteria expressing these seven adhesins. These results revealed congruence of antigen immunogenicity between computational simulation and empirical mouse immunization and indicated this tag-less CFA/I/II/IV MEFA potentially an antigen for a broadly protective ETEC vaccine, suggesting a potential application of MEFA-based structural vaccinology for vaccine design against ETEC and likely other pathogens.
Project description:Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) has consistently been the predominant bacterial cause of diarrhea in many birth cohort- and hospital-based studies conducted in Egypt. We evaluated the pathogenicity of ETEC isolates in a birth cohort of children living in a rural community in Egypt. Between 2004 and 2007, we enrolled and followed 348 children starting at birth until their second year of life. A stool sample and two rectal swabs were collected from children during twice-weekly visits when they presented with diarrhea and were collected every 2 weeks if no diarrhea was reported. From routine stool cultures, five E. coli-like colonies were screened for ETEC enterotoxins using a GM1 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The isolates were screened against a panel of 12 colonization factor antigens (CFAs) by a dot blot assay. A nested case-control study evaluated the association between initial or repeat excretion of ETEC and the occurrences of diarrhea. The pathogenicity of ETEC was estimated in symptomatic children compared to that in asymptomatic controls. ETEC was significantly associated with diarrhea (crude odds ratio, 1.37; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.24 to 1.52). The distribution of ETEC enterotoxins varied between the symptomatic children (44.2% heat-labile toxin [LT], 38.5% heat-stable toxin [ST], and 17.3% LT/ST) and asymptomatic children (55.5% LT, 34.6% ST, and 9.9% LT/ST) (P < 0.001). The CFAs CFA/I (n = 61), CS3 (n = 8), CS1 plus CS3 (n = 24), CS2 plus CS3 (n = 18), CS6 (n = 45), CS5 plus CS6 (n = 11), CS7 (n = 25), and CS14 (n = 32) were frequently detected in symptomatic children, while CS6 (n = 66), CS12 (n = 51), CFA/I (n = 43), and CS14 (n = 20) were detected at higher frequencies among asymptomatic children. While all toxin phenotypes were associated with diarrheal disease after the initial exposure, only ST and LT/ST-expressing ETEC isolates (P < 0.0001) were associated with disease in repeat infections. The role of enterotoxins and pathogenicity during repeat ETEC infections appears to be variable and dependent on the coexpression of specific CFAs.
Project description:ETEC is an important human pathogen. Although the mechanism of diarrhea is known in ETEC, the regulatory networks are less understood. This study was conducted to understand the global expression of ETEC isolate E24377A under different growth and environmental conditions. ETEC E24377A was grown in LB or LB+bile salts (3% w/v). For each condition, three biological replicates were combined into a single sample.
Project description:Iron availability functions as an environmental cue for enteropathogenic bacteria, signaling arrival within the human host. As enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a major cause of human diarrhea, the effect of iron on ETEC virulence factors was evaluated here. ETEC pathogenicity is directly linked to production of fimbrial colonization factors and secretion of heat-labile enterotoxin (LT) and/or heat-stable enterotoxin (ST). Efficient colonization of the small intestine further requires at least the flagellin binding adhesin EtpA. Under iron starvation, production of the CFA/I fimbriae was increased in the ETEC H10407 prototype strain. In contrast, LT secretion was inhibited. Furthermore, under iron starvation, gene expression of the cfa (CFA/I) and etp (EtpBAC) operons was induced, whereas transcription of toxin genes was either unchanged or repressed. Transcriptional reporter fusion experiments focusing on the cfa operon further showed that iron starvation stimulated cfaA promoter activity in ETEC, indicating that the impact of iron on CFA/I production was mediated by transcriptional regulation. Evaluation of cfaA promoter activity in heterologous E. coli single mutant knockout strains identified IscR as the regulator responsible for inducing cfa fimbrial gene expression in response to iron starvation, and this was confirmed in an ETEC ?iscR strain. The global iron response regulator, Fur, was not implicated. IscR binding sites were identified in silico within the cfaA promoter and fixation confirmed by DNase I footprinting, indicating that IscR directly binds the promoter region to induce CFA/I.Pathogenic enterobacteria modulate expression of virulence genes in response to iron availability. Although the Fur transcription factor represents the global regulator of iron homeostasis in Escherichia coli, we show that several ETEC virulence factors are modulated by iron, with expression of the major fimbriae under the control of the iron-sulfur cluster regulator, IscR. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the apo form of IscR, lacking an Fe-S cluster, is able to directly fix the corresponding promoter region. These results provide further evidence implicating IscR in bacterial virulence and suggest that IscR may represent a more general regulator mediating the iron response in enteropathogens.