Molecular characterization of the fragilysin pathogenicity islet of enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis.
ABSTRACT: Enterotoxigenic strains of Bacteroides fragilis produce an extracellular metalloprotease toxin (termed fragilysin) which is cytopathic to intestinal epithelial cells and induces fluid secretion and tissue damage in ligated intestinal loops. We report here that the fragilysin gene is contained within a small genetic element termed the fragilysin pathogenicity islet. The pathogenicity islet of B. fragilis VPI 13784 was defined as 6,033 bp in length and contained nearly perfect 12-bp direct repeats near its ends. Sequencing across the ends of the pathogenicity islet from two additional enterotoxigenic strains, along with PCR analysis of 20 additional enterotoxigenic strains, revealed that the islet is inserted at a specific site on the B. fragilis chromosome. The site of integration in three nontoxigenic strains contained a 17-bp GC-rich sequence which was not present in toxigenic strains and may represent a target sequence for chromosomal integration. In addition to the fragilysin gene, we identified an open reading frame encoding a predicted protein with a size and structural features similar to those of fragilysin. The deduced amino acid sequence was 28.5% identical and 56.3% similar to fragilysin and contained a nearly identical zinc-binding motif and methionine-turn region.
Project description:Bacteroides fragilis is a valuable anaerobic commensal and an essential component of the gut microbiome in humans. The presence of a short pathogenicity island in the genome is predominantly associated with the enterotoxigenic strains of B. fragilis. Metallopro-teinase II (MPII) and fragilysin (FRA) are the structurally related enzymes encoded by the pathogenicity island in the enterotoxigenic strains. Accordingly, there is a significant overlap between the cleavage preferences of MPII and FRA. These proteinases, however, are counter-transcribed in the bacterial genome suggesting their distinct and specialized functions in the course of infection. It is well established that FRA directly cleaves E-cadherin, a key protein of the cell-to-cell adhesion junctions in the intestinal epithelium. Counterintuitively, MPII directly binds to, rather than cleaves, E-cadherin. Structural modeling suggested that a potential E-cadherin binding site involves the C-terminal -helical region of the MPII catalytic domain. The sequence of this region is different in MPII and FRA. Here, we employed substitution mutagenesis of this C-terminal -helical region to isolate the MPII mutants with the potentially inactivated E-cadherin binding site. Overall, as a result of our modeling, mutagenesis and binding studies, we determined that the C-terminal ten residue segment is essential for the binding of MPII, but not of FRA3, to E-cadherin, and that the resulting MPII•E-cadherin complex does not impair E-cadherin-dependent cell-to-cell contacts. It is possible to envision that the putative cleavage targets of MPII should be explored not only on the host cell surface but also in B. fragilis.
Project description:Bacteroides fragilis causes the majority of anaerobic infections in humans. The presence of a pathogenicity island in the genome discriminates pathogenic and commensal B. fragilis strains. The island encodes metalloproteinase II (MPII), a potential virulence protein, and one of three homologous fragilysin isozymes (FRA; also termed B. fragilis toxin or BFT). Here, we report biochemical data on the structural-functional characteristics of the B. fragilis pathogenicity island proteases by reporting the crystal structure of MPII at 2.13 Å resolution, combined with detailed characterization of the cleavage preferences of MPII and FRA3 (as a representative of the FRA isoforms), identified using a high-throughput peptide cleavage assay with 18 583 substrate peptides. We suggest that the evolution of the MPII catalytic domain can be traced to human and archaebacterial proteinases, whereas the prodomain fold is a feature specific to MPII and FRA. We conclude that the catalytic domain of both MPII and FRA3 evolved differently relative to the prodomain, and that the prodomain evolved specifically to fit the B. fragilis pathogenicity. Overall, our data provide insights into the evolution of cleavage specificity and activation mechanisms in the virulent metalloproteinases.
Project description:Enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF) strains are associated with diarrheal disease in children. These strains produce a zinc metalloprotease enterotoxin, or fragilysin, that can be detected by a cytotoxicity assay with HT-29 cells. Recently, three different isoforms or variants of the enterotoxin gene, designated bft-1, bft-2, and bft-3, have been identified and sequenced. We used restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the PCR-amplified enterotoxin gene to detect the isoforms bft-1 and bft-2 or bft-3 borne by ETBF. By sequencing the portion of the bft gene corresponding to the mature toxin in some strains and applying allele-specific PCR for strains categorized as bft-2 or bft-3, we found in our collection two strains harboring bft-3, a variant that had been described for isolates from East Asia. Analysis of 66 ETBF strains from different sources showed that bft-1 is the most frequent allele, being present in 65% of isolates; it is largely predominant in isolates from feces of adults, while bft-2 is present in isolates from feces of children. This association is statistically significant (P, 0.0064). Sixteen strains were examined by Southern hybridization using, as probes, the bft and second metalloprotease genes, both included in a pathogenicity islet. Five strains were found to harbor double copies of both genes, suggesting that the whole islet was duplicated. Four of these strains, harboring bft-1 (three strains) or bft-2 (one strain), were found to produce a large amount of biologically active toxin, as determined by a cytotoxicity assay with HT-29 cells. The strains harboring bft-3, either in a single copy or in double copies, produced the smallest amount of toxin in our collection.
Project description:Enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF) strains, which produce a 20-kDa zinc metalloprotease toxin (BFT), have been associated with diarrheal disease in animals and young children. Studying a collection of ETBF and nontoxigenic B. fragilis (NTBF) strains, we found that bft and a second metalloprotease gene (mpII) are contained in an approximately 6-kb pathogenicity island (termed B. fragilis pathogenicity island or BfPAI) which is present exclusively in all 113 ETBF strains tested (pattern I). Of 191 NTBF strains, 100 (52%) lack both the BfPAI and at least a 12-kb region flanking BfPAI (pattern II), and 82 of 191 NTBF strains (43%) lack the BfPAI but contain the flanking region (pattern III). The nucleotide sequence flanking the left end of the BfPAI revealed a region with the same organization as the mobilization region of the 5-nitroimidazole resistance plasmid pIP417 and the clindamycin resistance plasmid pBFTM10, that is, two mobilization genes (bfmA and bfmB) organized in one operon and a putative origin of transfer (oriT) located in a small, compact region. The region flanking the right end of the BfPAI contains a gene (bfmC) whose predicted protein shares significant identity to the TraD mobilization proteins encoded by plasmids F and R100 from Escherichia coli. Nucleotide sequence analysis of one NTBF pattern III strain (strain I-1345) revealed that bfmB and bfmC are adjacent to each other and separated by a 16-bp GC-rich sequence. Comparison of this sequence with the appropriate sequence of ETBF strain 86-5443-2-2 showed that in this ETBF strain the 16-bp sequence is replaced by the BfPAI. This result defined the BfPAI as being 6,036 bp in length and its precise integration site as being between the bfmB and bfmC stop codons. The G+C content of the BfPAI (35%) and the flanking DNA (47 to 50%) differ greatly from that reported for the B. fragilis chromosome (42%), suggesting that the BfPAI and its flanking region are two distinct genetic elements originating from very different organisms. ETBF strains may have evolved by horizontal transfer of these two genetic elements into a pattern II NTBF strain.
Project description:Bacteroides fragilis is the leading cause of anaerobic bacteremia and sepsis. Enterotoxigenic strains that produce B. fragilis toxin (BFT, fragilysin) contribute to colitis and intestinal malignancy, yet are also isolated in bloodstream infection. It is not known whether these strains harbor unique genetic determinants that confer virulence in extra-intestinal disease. We demonstrate that BFT contributes to sepsis in mice, and we identify a B. fragilis protease called fragipain (Fpn) that is required for the endogenous activation of BFT through the removal of its auto-inhibitory prodomain. Structural analysis of Fpn reveals a His-Cys catalytic dyad that is characteristic of C11-family cysteine proteases that are conserved in multiple pathogenic Bacteroides spp. and Clostridium spp. Fpn-deficient, enterotoxigenic B. fragilis has an attenuated ability to induce sepsis in mice; however, Fpn is dispensable in B. fragilis colitis, wherein host proteases mediate BFT activation. Our findings define a role for B. fragilis enterotoxin and its activating protease in the pathogenesis of bloodstream infection, which indicates a greater complexity of cellular targeting and activity of BFT than previously recognized. The expression of fpn by both toxigenic and nontoxigenic strains suggests that this protease may contribute to anaerobic sepsis in ways that extend beyond its role in toxin activation. It could thus potentially serve as a target for disease modification.
Project description:Enterotoxigenic (ETBF) strains of Bacteroides fragilis are the subset of strains that secrete a toxin called fragilysin (Bft). Although ETBF strains are known to cause diarrheal disease and have recently been associated with colorectal cancer, they have not been well characterized. By sequencing the complete genome of four ETBF strains, we found that these strains exhibit considerable variation at the genomic level. Only a small number of genes that are located primarily in the Bft pathogenicity island (BFT PAI) and the flanking CTn86 conjugative transposon are conserved in all four strains and a fifth strain whose genome was previously sequenced. Interestingly, phylogenetic analysis strongly suggests that the BFT PAI was acquired by non-toxigenic (NTBF) strains multiple times during the course of evolution. At the phenotypic level, we found that the ETBF strains were less fit than the NTBF strain NCTC 9343 and were susceptible to a growth-inhibitory protein that it produces. The ETBF strains also showed a greater tendency to form biofilms, which may promote tumor formation, than NTBF strains. Although the genomic diversity of ETBF strains raises the possibility that they vary in their pathogenicity, our experimental results also suggest that they share common properties that are conferred by different combinations of non-universal genetic elements.
Project description:Enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis is the most frequent disease-causing anaerobe in the intestinal tract of humans and livestock and its specific virulence factor is fragilysin, also known as B. fragilis toxin. This is a 21-kDa zinc-dependent metallopeptidase existing in three closely related isoforms that hydrolyze E-cadherin and contribute to secretory diarrhea, and possibly to inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Here we studied the function and zymogenic structure of fragilysin-3 and found that its activity is repressed by a ?170-residue prodomain, which is the largest hitherto structurally characterized for a metallopeptidase. This prodomain plays a role in both the latency and folding stability of the catalytic domain and it has no significant sequence similarity to any known protein. The prodomain adopts a novel fold and inhibits the protease domain via an aspartate-switch mechanism. The catalytic fragilysin-3 moiety is active against several protein substrates and its structure reveals a new family prototype within the metzincin clan of metallopeptidases. It shows high structural similarity despite negligible sequence identity to adamalysins/ADAMs, which have only been described in eukaryotes. Because no similar protein has been found outside enterotoxigenic B. fragilis, our findings support that fragilysins derived from a mammalian adamalysin/ADAM xenolog that was co-opted by B. fragilis through a rare case of horizontal gene transfer from a eukaryotic cell to a bacterial cell. Subsequently, this co-opted peptidase was provided with a unique chaperone and latency maintainer in the time course of evolution to render a robust and dedicated toxin to compromise the intestinal epithelium of mammalian hosts.
Project description:The genetic element flanking the Bacteroides fragilis pathogenicity island (BfPAI) in enterotoxigenic B. fragilis (ETBF) strain 86-5443-2-2 and a related genetic element in NCTC 9343 were characterized. The results suggested that these genetic elements are members of a new family of conjugative transposons (CTns) not described previously. These putative CTns, designated CTn86 and CTn9343 for ETBF 86-5443-2-2 and NCTC 9343, respectively, differ from previously described Bacteroides species CTns in a number of ways. These new transposons do not carry tetQ, and the excision from the chromosome to form a circular intermediate is not regulated by tetracycline; they are predicted to differ in their mechanism of transposition; and their sequences have very limited similarity with CTnDOT or other described CTns. CTn9343 is 64,229 bp in length, contains 61 potential open reading frames, and both ends contain IS21 transposases. Colony blot hybridization, PCR, and sequence analysis indicated that CTn86 has the same structure as CTn9343 except that CTn86 lacks a approximately 7-kb region containing truncated integrase (int2) and rteA genes and it contains the BfPAI integrated between the mob region and the bfmC gene. If these putative CTns were to be demonstrated to be transmissible, this would suggest that the bft gene can be transferred from ETBF to nontoxigenic B. fragilis strains by a mechanism similar to that for the spread of antibiotic resistance genes.
Project description:Enterotoxigenic anaerobic Bacteroides fragilis is a significant source of inflammatory diarrheal disease and a risk factor for colorectal cancer. Two distinct metalloproteinase types (the homologous 1, 2, and 3 isoforms of fragilysin (FRA1, FRA2, and FRA3, respectively) and metalloproteinase II (MPII)) are encoded by the B. fragilis pathogenicity island. FRA was demonstrated to be important to pathogenesis, whereas MPII, also a potential virulence protein, remained completely uncharacterized. Here, we, for the first time, extensively characterized MPII in comparison with FRA3, a representative of the FRA isoforms. We employed a series of multiplexed peptide cleavage assays to determine substrate specificity and proteolytic characteristics of MPII and FRA. These results enabled implementation of an efficient assay of MPII activity using a fluorescence-quenched peptide and contributed to structural evidence for the distinct substrate cleavage preferences of MPII and FRA. Our data imply that MPII specificity mimics the dibasic Arg?Arg cleavage motif of furin-like proprotein convertases, whereas the cleavage motif of FRA (Pro-X-X-Leu-(Arg/Ala/Leu)?) resembles that of human matrix metalloproteinases. To the best of our knowledge, MPII is the first zinc metalloproteinase with the dibasic cleavage preferences, suggesting a high level of versatility of metalloproteinase proteolysis. Based on these data, we now suggest that the combined (rather than individual) activity of MPII and FRA is required for the overall B. fragilis virulence in vivo.
Project description:A triplex PCR method was developed to simultaneously amplify a heat-labile toxin sequence (LT) of 258 bp, a shiga-like toxin I sequence (SLT I) of 130 bp, and a shiga-like toxin II sequence (SLT II) of 346 bp from toxigenic strains of Escherichia coli. This method was used to screen 377 environmental E. coli isolates from marine waters or estuaries located in Southern California and North Carolina for enterotoxigenic or enterohemorrhagic E. coli strains. Of the 377 E. coli screened, one isolate was found to belong to the enterotoxigenic group, since it contained a LT homologous sequence, and one isolate was found to belong to the enterohemorrhagic group, since it contained a SLT I homologous sequence. None was found to contain SLT II homologous sequences. The pathogenicity of the positive environmental E. coli isolates was confirmed by standard bioassays with Y-1 adrenal cells and Vero cells to confirm toxin production. Our results suggest that toxigenic E. coli occurs infrequently in environmental waters and that there is a low public health risk from toxigenic E. coli in coastal waters.