Strategy for identification of Bacillus cereus and Bacillus thuringiensis strains closely related to Bacillus anthracis.
ABSTRACT: Bacillus cereus strains that are genetically closely related to B. anthracis can display anthrax-like virulence traits (A. R. Hoffmaster et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101:8449-8454, 2004). Hence, approaches that rapidly identify these "near neighbors" are of great interest for the study of B. anthracis virulence mechanisms, as well as to prevent the use of such strains for B. anthracis-based bioweapon development. Here, a strategy is proposed for the identification of near neighbors of B. anthracis based on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in the 16S-23S rRNA intergenic spacer (ITS) containing tRNA genes, characteristic of B. anthracis. By using restriction site insertion-PCR (RSI-PCR) the presence of two SNP typical of B. anthracis was screened in 126 B. cereus group strains of different origin. Two B. cereus strains and one B. thuringiensis strain showed RSI-PCR profiles identical to that of B. anthracis. The sequencing of the entire ITS containing tRNA genes revealed two of the strains to be identical to B. anthracis. The strict relationship with B. anthracis was confirmed by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) of four other independent loci: cerA, plcR, AC-390, and SG-749. The relationship to B. anthracis of the three strains described by MLST was comparable and even higher to that of four B. cereus strains associated with periodontitis in humans and previously reported as the closest known strains to B. anthracis. SNP in ITS containing tRNA genes combined with RSI-PCR provide a very efficient tool for the identification of strains closely related to B. anthracis.
Project description:The aim of the study was to carry out a CGH study utilizing a set of 39 diverse Bacillus isolates. Thirty four B. cereus and five B. anthracis strains and isolates were chosen so as to represent different lineages based on previous characterizations, including MLEE and MLST (Helgason, Okstad et al. 2000; Helgason, Tourasse et al. 2004). They represent the spectrum of B. cereus phenotypic diversity by including soil, dairy and periodontal isolates in addition to virulent B. anthracis strains. Overall design: 39 diverse Bacillus isolates were chosen for the study.Thirty four B. cereus and five B. anthracis strains. Dye swap experiments were performed yielding 2 hybridizations per query strain. Each 70mer oligo spotted on the B. cereus species microarray is spotted once. Positive controls on the array consist of oligos designed from the sequenced reference genome, STERNE, and negative controls on the array consist of oligos designed from the thale cress plant, Arabidopsis thaliana.
Project description:Mung bean nuclease treatment of 16S-23S ribosomal DNA intergenic transcribed spacers (ITS) amplified from several strains of the six species of the Bacillus cereus group showed that B. anthracis Davis TE702 and B. mycoides G2 have other intermediate fragments in addition to the 220- and 550-bp homoduplex fragments typical of the B. cereus group. Long and intermediate homoduplex ITS fragments from strains Davis TE702 and G2 and from another 19 strains of the six species were sequenced. Two main types of ITS were found, either with two tRNA genes (tRNA(Ile) and tRNA(Ala)) or without any at all. Strain Davis TE702 harbors an additional ITS with a single tRNA gene, a hybrid between the tRNA(Ile) and tRNA(Ala) genes, suggesting that a recombination event rather than a deletion generated the single tDNA-containing ITS. Strain G2 showed an additional ITS of intermediate length with no tDNA and no similarity to other known sequences. Neighbor-joining analysis of tDNA-containing long ITS indicated that B. cereus and B. thuringiensis represent a single clade. Three signature sequences discriminated B. anthracis from B. cereus and B. thuringiensis, indicating that the anthrax agent started evolving separately from the related clades of the B. cereus group. B. mycoides and B. weienstephanensis were very closely related, while B. pseudomycoides appeared the most distant species.
Project description:In this study we developed a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme for bacteria of the Bacillus cereus group. This group, which includes the species B. cereus, B. thuringiensis, B. weihenstephanensis, and B. anthracis, is known to be genetically very diverse. It is also very important because it comprises pathogenic organisms as well as bacteria with industrial applications. The MLST system was established by using 77 strains having various origins, including humans, animals, food, and soil. A total of 67 of these strains had been analyzed previously by multilocus enzyme electrophoresis, and they were selected to represent the genetic diversity of this group of bacteria. Primers were designed for conserved regions of housekeeping genes, and 330- to 504-bp internal fragments of seven such genes, adk, ccpA, ftsA, glpT, pyrE, recF, and sucC, were sequenced for all strains. The number of alleles at individual loci ranged from 25 to 40, and a total of 53 allelic profiles or sequence types (STs) were distinguished. Analysis of the sequence data showed that the population structure of the B. cereus group is weakly clonal. In particular, all five B. anthracis isolates analyzed had the same ST. The MLST scheme which we developed has a high level of resolution and should be an excellent tool for studying the population structure and epidemiology of the B. cereus group.
Project description:A TaqMan-minor groove binding assay designed around a nonsense mutation in the plcR gene was used to genotype Bacillus anthracis, B. cereus, and B. thuringiensis isolates. The assay differentiated B. anthracis from these genetic near-neighbors and determined that the nonsense mutation is ubiquitous across 89 globally and genetically diverse B. anthracis strains.
Project description:Anthrax is an important zoonotic disease worldwide that is caused by Bacillus anthracis, a spore-forming pathogenic bacterium. A rapid and sensitive method to detect B. anthracis is important for anthrax risk management and control in animal cases to address public health issues. However, it has recently become difficult to identify B. anthracis by using previously reported molecular-based methods because of the emergence of B. cereus, which causes severe extra-intestinal infection, as well as the human pathogenic B. thuringiensis, both of which are genetically related to B. anthracis. The close genetic relation of chromosomal backgrounds has led to complexity of molecular-based diagnosis. In this study, we established a B. anthracis multiplex PCR that can screen for the presence of B. anthracis virulent plasmids and differentiate B. anthracis and its genetically related strains from other B. cereus group species. Six sets of primers targeting a chromosome of B. anthracis and B. anthracis-like strains, two virulent plasmids, pXO1 and pXO2, a bacterial gene, 16S rRNA gene, and a mammalian gene, actin-beta gene, were designed. The multiplex PCR detected approximately 3.0 CFU of B. anthracis DNA per PCR reaction and was sensitive to B. anthracis. The internal control primers also detected all bacterial and mammalian DNAs examined, indicating the practical applicability of this assay as it enables monitoring of appropriate amplification. The assay was also applied for detection of clinical strains genetically related to B. anthracis, which were B. cereus strains isolated from outbreaks of hospital infections in Japan, and field strains isolated in Zambia, and the assay differentiated B. anthracis and its genetically related strains from other B. cereus group strains. Taken together, the results indicate that the newly developed multiplex PCR is a sensitive and practical method for detecting B. anthracis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Bacillus anthracis is considered to be a recently emerged clone within the Bacillus cereus sensu lato group. The B. anthracis genome sequence contains four putative lambdoid prophages. We undertook this study in order to understand whether the four prophages are unique to B. anthracis and whether they produce active phages. RESULTS: More than 300 geographically and temporally divergent isolates of B. anthracis and its near neighbors were screened by PCR for the presence of specific DNA sequences from each prophage region. Every isolate of B. anthracis screened by PCR was found to produce all four phage-specific amplicons whereas none of the non-B. anthracis isolates, produced more than one phage-specific amplicon. Excision of prophages could be detected by a PCR based assay for attP sites on extra-chromosomal phage circles and for attB sites on phage-excised chromosomes. SYBR-green real-time PCR assays indicated that prophage excision occurs at very low frequencies (2 x 10(-5) - 8 x 10(-8)/cell). Induction with mitomycin C increased the frequency of excision of one of the prophages by approximately 250 fold. All four prophages appear to be defective since, mitomycin C induced culture did not release any viable phage particle or lyse the cells or reveal any phage particle under electron microscopic examination. CONCLUSION: The retention of all four putative prophage regions across all tested strains of B. anthracis is further evidence of the very recent emergence of this lineage and the prophage regions may be useful for differentiating the B. anthracis chromosome from that of its neighbors. All four prophages can excise at low frequencies, but are apparently defective in phage production.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The complete genome sequences of 44 Bacillus cereus group isolates collected from diverse sources in Japan were analyzed to determine their genetic backgrounds and diversity levels in Japan. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and core-genome single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) typing data from whole-genome sequences were analyzed to determine genetic diversity levels. Virulence-associated gene profiles were also used to evaluate the genetic backgrounds and relationships among the isolates. RESULTS:The 44 B. cereus group isolates, including soil- and animal-derived isolates and isolates recovered from hospitalized patients and food poisoning cases, were genotyped by MLST and core-genome SNP typing. Genetic variation among the isolates was identified by the MLST and core-genome SNP phylogeny comparison against reference strains from countries outside of Japan. Exploratory principal component analysis and nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) analyses were used to assess the genetic similarities among the isolates using gene presence and absence information and isolate origins as the metadata. A significant correlation was seen between the principal components and the presence of genes encoding hemolysin BL and emetic genetic determinants in B. cereus, and the capsule proteins in B. anthracis. NMDS showed that the cluster of soil isolates overlapped with the cluster comprising animal-derived and clinical isolates. CONCLUSIONS:Molecular and epidemiological analyses of B. cereus group isolates in Japan suggest that the soil- and animal-derived bacteria from our study are not a significant risk to human health. However, because several of the clinical isolates share close genetic relationships with the environmental isolates, both molecular and epidemiological surveillance studies could be used effectively to estimate virulence in these important pathogens.
Project description:The Bacillus cereus group includes three closely related species, B. anthracis, B. cereus, and B. thuringiensis, which form a highly homogeneous subdivision of the genus Bacillus. One of these species, B. anthracis, has been identified as one of the most probable bacterial biowarfare agents. Here, we evaluate the sequence and length polymorphisms of the Bacillus collagen-like protein bcl genes as a basis for B. anthracis detection and fingerprinting. Five genes, designated bclA to bclE, are present in B. anthracis strains. Examination of bclABCDE sequences identified polymorphisms in bclB alleles of the B. cereus group organisms. These sequence polymorphisms allowed specific detection of B. anthracis strains by PCR using both genomic DNA and purified Bacillus spores in reactions. By exploiting the length variation of the bcl alleles it was demonstrated that the combined bclABCDE PCR products generate markedly different fingerprints for the B. anthracis Ames and Sterne strains. Moreover, we predict that bclABCDE length polymorphism creates unique signatures for B. anthracis strains, which facilitates identification of strains with specificity and confidence. Thus, we present a new diagnostic concept for B. anthracis detection and fingerprinting, which can be used alone or in combination with previously established typing platforms.
Project description:Comparative sequence analysis was performed upon Bacillus anthracis and its closest relatives, B. cereus and B. thuringiensis. Portions of rpoB DNA from 10 strains of B. anthracis, 16 of B. cereus, 10 of B. thuringiensis, 1 of B. mycoides, and 1 of B. megaterium were amplified and sequenced. The determined rpoB sequences (318 bp) of the 10 B. anthracis strains, including five Korean isolates, were identical to those of Ames, Florida, Kruger B, and Western NA strains. Strains of the "B. cereus group" were separated into two subgroups, in which the B. anthracis strains formed a separate clade in the phylogenetic tree. However, B. cereus and B. thuringiensis could not be differentiated. Sequence analysis confirmed the five Korean isolates as B. anthracis. Based on the rpoB sequences determined in the present study, multiplex PCR generating either B. anthracis-specific amplicons (359 and 208 bp) or cap DNA (291 bp) in a virulence plasmid could be used for the rapid differential detection and identification of virulent B. anthracis.
Project description:Bacillus anthracis, Bacillus cereus, and Bacillus thuringiensis are closely related gram-positive, spore-forming bacteria of the B. cereus sensu lato group. While independently derived strains of B. anthracis reveal conspicuous sequence homogeneity, environmental isolates of B. cereus and B. thuringiensis exhibit extensive genetic diversity. Here we report the sequencing and comparative analysis of the genomes of two members of the B. cereus group, B. thuringiensis 97-27 subsp. konkukian serotype H34, isolated from a necrotic human wound, and B. cereus E33L, which was isolated from a swab of a zebra carcass in Namibia. These two strains, when analyzed by amplified fragment length polymorphism within a collection of over 300 of B. cereus, B. thuringiensis, and B. anthracis isolates, appear closely related to B. anthracis. The B. cereus E33L isolate appears to be the nearest relative to B. anthracis identified thus far. Whole-genome sequencing of B. thuringiensis 97-27and B. cereus E33L was undertaken to identify shared and unique genes among these isolates in comparison to the genomes of pathogenic strains B. anthracis Ames and B. cereus G9241 and nonpathogenic strains B. cereus ATCC 10987 and B. cereus ATCC 14579. Comparison of these genomes revealed differences in terms of virulence, metabolic competence, structural components, and regulatory mechanisms.