CTXphi immunity: application in the development of cholera vaccines.
ABSTRACT: CTXphi is a filamentous bacteriophage that encodes cholera toxin, the principal virulence factor of Vibrio cholerae. CTXphi is unusual among filamentous phages because it encodes a repressor and forms lysogens. CTXphi can infect the existing live-attenuated V. cholerae vaccine strains derived from either the El Tor or classical V. cholerae biotypes and result in vaccine reversion to toxinogenicity. Intraintestinal CTXphi transduction assays were used to demonstrate that El Tor biotype strains of V. cholerae are immune to infection with the El Tor-derived CTXphi, whereas classical strains are not. The El Tor CTXphi repressor, RstR, was sufficient to render classical strains immune to infection with the El Tor CTXphi. The DNA sequences of the classical and El Tor CTXphi repressors and their presumed cognate operators are highly diverged, whereas the sequences that surround this "immunity" region are nearly identical. Transcriptional fusion studies revealed that the El Tor RstR mediated repression of an El Tor rstA-lacZ fusion but did not repress a classical rstA-lacZ fusion. Likewise, the classical RstR only repressed a classical rstA-lacZ fusion. Thus, similar to the mechanistic basis for heteroimmunity among lambdoid phages, the specificity of CTXphi immunity is based on the divergence of the sequences of repressors and their operators. Expression of the El Tor rstR in either El Tor or classical live-attenuated V. cholerae vaccine strains effectively protected these vaccines from CTXphi infection. Introduction of rstR into V. cholerae vaccine strains should enhance their biosafety.
Project description:CTXphi is a lysogenic, filamentous bacteriophage. Its genome includes the genes encoding cholera toxin (ctxAB), one of the principal virulence factors of Vibrio cholerae; consequently, nonpathogenic strains of V. cholerae can be converted into toxigenic strains by CTXphi infection. O139 Calcutta strains of V. cholerae, which were linked to cholera outbreaks in Calcutta, India, in 1996, are novel pathogenic strains that carry two distinct CTX prophages integrated in tandem: CTX(ET), the prophage previously characterized within El Tor strains, and a new CTX Calcutta prophage (CTX(calc)). We found that the CTX(calc) prophage gives rise to infectious virions; thus, CTX(ET)phi is no longer the only known vector for transmission of ctxAB. The most functionally significant differences between the nucleotide sequences of CTX(calc)phi and CTX(ET)phi are located within the phages' repressor genes (rstR(calc) and rstR(ET), respectively) and their RstR operators. RstR(calc) is a novel, allele-specific repressor that regulates replication of CTX(calc)phi by inhibiting the activity of the rstA(calc) promoter. RstR(calc) has no inhibitory effect upon the classical and El Tor rstA promoters, which are instead regulated by their cognate RstRs. Consequently, production of RstR(calc) renders a CTX(calc) lysogen immune to superinfection by CTX(calc)phi but susceptible (heteroimmune) to infection by CTX(ET)phi. Analysis of the prophage arrays generated by sequentially integrated CTX phages revealed that pathogenic V. cholerae O139 Calcutta probably arose via infection of an O139 CTX(ET)phi lysogen by CTX(calc)phi.
Project description:The novel epidemic strain Vibrio cholerae O139 Bengal originated from a seventh-pandemic O1 El Tor strain by antigenic shift resulting from homologous recombination-mediated exchange of O-antigen biosynthesis (wb*) clusters. Conservation of the genetic organization of wb* regions seen in other serogroups raised the possibility of the existence of pathogenic non-O1 and non-O139 V. cholerae strains that emerged by similar events. To test this hypothesis, 300 V. cholerae isolates of non-O1 and non-O139 serogroups were screened for the presence of virulence genes and an epidemic genetic background by DNA dot blotting, IS1004 fingerprinting, and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. We found four non-O1 strains (serogroups O27, O37, O53, and O65) with an O1 genetic backbone suggesting exchange of wb* clusters. DNA sequence analysis of the O37 wb* region revealed that a novel approximately 23.4-kb gene cluster had replaced all but the approximately 4.2-kb right junction of the 22-kb O1 wbe region. In sharp contrast to the backbones, the virulence regions of the four strains were quite heterogeneous; the O53 and O65 strains had the El Tor vibrio pathogenicity island (VPI) cluster, the O37 strain had the classical VPI cluster, and the O27 strain had a novel VPI cluster. Two of the four strains carried CTXphi; the O27 strain possessed a CTXphi with a recently reported immune specificity (rstR-4** allele) and a novel ctxB allele, and the O37 strain had an El Tor CTXphi (rstR(ET) allele) and novel ctxAB alleles. Although the O53 and O65 strains lacked the ctxAB genes, they carried a pre-CTXphi (i.e., rstR(cla)). Identification of non-O1 and non-O139 serogroups with pathogenic potential in epidemic genetic backgrounds means that attention should be paid to possible future epidemics caused by these serogroups and to the need for new, rapid vaccine development strategies.
Project description:CTXphi is a filamentous, lysogenic bacteriophage whose genome encodes cholera toxin, the primary virulence factor produced by Vibrio cholerae. CTX prophages in O1 El Tor and O139 strains of V. cholerae are found within arrays of genetically related elements integrated at a single locus within the V. cholerae large chromosome. The prophages of O1 El Tor and O139 strains generally yield infectious CTXphi. In contrast, O1 classical strains of V. cholerae do not produce CTXphi, although they produce cholera toxin and they contain CTX prophages integrated at two sites. We have identified the second site of CTX prophage integration in O1 classical strains and characterized the classical prophage arrays genetically and functionally. The genes of classical prophages encode functional forms of all of the proteins needed for production of CTXphi. Classical CTX prophages are present either as solitary prophages or as arrays of two truncated, fused prophages. RS1, a genetic element that is closely related to CTXphi and is often interspersed with CTX prophages in El Tor strains, was not detected in classical V. cholerae. Our model for CTXphi production predicts that the CTX prophage arrangements in classical strains will not yield extrachromosomal CTX DNA and thus will not yield virions, and our experimental results confirm this prediction. Thus, failure of O1 classical strains of V. cholerae to produce CTXphi is due to overall deficiencies in the structures of the arrays of classical prophages, rather than to mutations affecting individual CTX prophage genes.
Project description:We initially attempted to isolate a Vibrio cholerae O1 El Tor biotype that carries a novel variant of the cholera toxin gene (ctxAB) from environmental waters of Indonesia, where the seventh cholera pandemic by V. cholerae O1 El Tor biotype began. Nested PCR targeting the gene revealed that a total of eight strains were found to carry ctxAB. However, sequencing of the 16S rRNA genes of these isolates showed they were not V. cholerae but were either Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Pantoea, or Aeromonas. Subsequent nested PCR assays targeting all genes known to be encoded on the CTX phage (i.e., zot, ace, orfU, cep, rstB, rstA, and rstR) showed that one isolate belonged to the Enterobacter genus carried all the genes tested, while the other isolates lacked either 2, 3, or 5 of the genes. This evidence suggests that phages with ctxAB are genetically diverse and can infect not only V. cholerae and V. mimicus but also other species and genera in the form of a pseudolysogen.
Project description:The genomes of Vibrio cholerae O1 Matlab variant MJ-1236, Mozambique O1 El Tor variant B33, and altered O1 El Tor CIRS101 were sequenced. All three strains were found to belong to the phylocore group 1 clade of V. cholerae, which includes the 7th-pandemic O1 El Tor and serogroup O139 isolates, despite displaying certain characteristics of the classical biotype. All three strains were found to harbor a hybrid variant of CTXPhi and an integrative conjugative element (ICE), leading to their establishment as successful clinical clones and the displacement of prototypical O1 El Tor. The absence of strain- and group-specific genomic islands, some of which appear to be prophages and phage-like elements, seems to be the most likely factor in the recent establishment of dominance of V. cholerae CIRS101 over the other two hybrid strains.
Project description:Analysis of 1,180 diarrheal stool samples in Zanzibar detected 247 Vibrio cholerae O1, Ogawa strains in 2009. Phenotypic traits and PCR-based detection of rstR, rtxC, and tcpA alleles showed that they belonged to the El Tor biotype. Genetic analysis of ctxB of these strains revealed that they were classical type, and production of classical cholera toxin B (CTB) was confirmed by Western blotting. These strains produced more CT than the prototype El Tor and formed a separate cluster by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis.
Project description:Cholera, an acute diarrheal disease, is caused by pathogenic strains of Vibrio cholerae generated by the lysogenization of the filamentous cholera toxin phage CTXΦ. Although CTXΦ phage in the classical biotype are usually integrated solitarily or with a truncated copy, those in El Tor biotypes are generally found in tandem and/or with related genetic elements. Due to this structural difference in the CTXΦ prophage array, the prophage in the classical biotype strains does not yield extrachromosomal CTXΦ DNA and does not produce virions, whereas the El Tor biotype strains can replicate the CTXΦ genome and secrete infectious CTXΦ phage particles. However, information on the CTXΦ prophage array structure of pathogenic V. cholerae is limited. Therefore, we investigated the complete genomic sequences of five clinical V. cholerae isolates obtained in Kolkata (India) during 2007 to 2011. The analysis revealed that recent isolates possessed an altered CTXΦ prophage array of the prototype El Tor strain. These strains were defective in replicating the CTXΦ genome. All recent isolates possessed identical <i>rstA</i> and intergenic sequence 1 (Ig-1) sequences and comparable <i>rstA</i> expression in the prototype El Tor strain, suggesting that the altered CTXΦ array was responsible for the defective replication of the prophage. Therefore, CTXΦ structures available in the database and literatures can be classified as replicative and nonreplicative. Furthermore, V. cholerae epidemic strains became capable of producing CTXΦ phage particles since the 1970s. However, V. cholerae epidemic strains again lost the capacity for CTXΦ production around the year 2010, suggesting that a significant change in the dissemination pattern of the current cholera pandemic occurred. <b>IMPORTANCE</b> Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease caused by pathogenic strains of V. cholerae generated by lysogenization of the filamentous cholera toxin phage CTXΦ. The analysis revealed that recent isolates possessed altered CTXΦ prophage array of prototype El Tor strain and were defective in replicating the CTXΦ genome. Classification of CTXΦ structures in isolated years suggested that V. cholerae epidemic strains became capable of producing CTXΦ phage particles since the 1970s. However, V. cholerae epidemic strains again lost the capacity for CTXΦ production around the year 2010, suggesting that a critical change had occurred in the dissemination pattern of the current cholera pandemic.
Project description:The El Tor biotype of Vibrio cholerae O1, causing the current seventh pandemic of cholera, has replaced the classical biotype, which caused the sixth pandemic. The CTX prophages encoding cholera toxin in the two biotypes have distinct repressor (rstR) genes. Recently, new variants of El Tor strains that carry the classical type (CTX(class)) prophage have emerged. These "hybrid" strains apparently originate through lateral gene transfer and recombination events. To explore possible donors of the CTX(class) prophage and its mode of transfer, we tested environmental V. cholerae isolates for the presence of CTX(class) prophage and mobility of the phage genome. Of the 272 environmental V. cholerae isolates tested, 6 were found to carry the CTX(class) prophage; all of these belonged to the O141 serogroup. These O141 strains were unable to produce infectious CTX(class) phage or to transmit the prophage to recipient strains in the mouse model of infection; however, the CTX(class) prophage was acquired by El Tor strains when cultured with the O141 strains in microcosms composed of filtered environmental water, a chitin substrate, and a V. cholerae O141-specific bacteriophage. The CTX(class) prophage either coexisted with or replaced the resident CTX(ET) prophage, resulting in El Tor strains with CTX genotypes similar to those of the naturally occurring hybrid strains. Our results support a model involving phages and natural chitin substrate in the emergence of new variants of pathogenic V. cholerae. Furthermore, the O141 strains apparently represent an alternative reservoir of the CTX(class) phage genome, because the classical V. cholerae O1 strains are possibly extinct.
Project description:In toxigenic Vibrio cholerae, cholera toxin is encoded by the CTX prophage, which consists of a core region carrying ctxAB genes and genes required for CTXPhi morphogenesis, and an RS2 region encoding regulation, replication, and integration functions. Integrated CTXPhi is often flanked by another genetic element known as RS1 which carries all open reading frames (ORFs) found in RS2 and an additional ORF designated rstC. We identified a single-stranded circularized form of the RS1 element, in addition to the CTXPhi genome, in nucleic acids extracted from phage preparations of 32 out of 83 (38.5%) RS1-positive toxigenic V. cholerae strains analyzed. Subsequently, the corresponding double-stranded replicative form (RF) of the RS1 element was isolated from a representative strain and marked with a kanamycin resistance (Km(r)) marker in an intergenic site to construct pRS1-Km. Restriction and PCR analysis of pRS1-Km and sequencing of a 300-bp region confirmed that this RF DNA was the excised RS1 element which formed a novel junction between ig1 and rstC. Introduction of pRS1-Km into a V. cholerae O1 classical biotype strain, O395, led to the production of extracellular Km(r) transducing particles, which carried a single-stranded form of pRS1-Km, thus resembling the genome of a filamentous phage (RS1-KmPhi). Analysis of V. cholerae strains for susceptibility to RS1-KmPhi showed that classical biotype strains were more susceptible to the phage compared to El Tor and O139 strains. Nontoxigenic (CTX(-)) O1 and O139 strains which carried genes encoding the CTXPhi receptor toxin-coregulated pilus (TCP) were also more susceptible (>1,000-fold) to the phage compared to toxigenic El Tor or O139 strains. Like CTXPhi, the RS1Phi genome also integrated into the host chromosomes by using the attRS sequence. However, only transductants of RS1-KmPhi which also harbored the CTXPhi genome produced a detectable level of extracellular RS1-KmPhi. This suggested that the core genes of CTXPhi are also required for the morphogenesis of RS1Phi. The results of this study showed for the first time that RS1 element, which encodes a site-specific recombination system in V. cholerae, can propagate horizontally as a filamentous phage, exploiting the morphogenesis genes of CTXPhi.
Project description:Cholera outbreaks in subSaharan African countries are caused by strains of the El Tor biotype of toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O1. The El Tor biotype is the causative agent of the current seventh cholera pandemic, whereas the classical biotype, which was associated with the sixth pandemic, is now extinct. Besides other genetic differences the CTX prophages encoding cholera toxin in the two biotypes of V. cholerae O1 have distinct repressor (rstR) genes. However, recent incidences of cholera in Mozambique were caused by an El Tor biotype V. cholerae O1 strain that, unusually, carries a classical type (CTX(class)) prophage. We conducted genomic analysis of the Mozambique strain and its CTX prophage together with chromosomal phage integration sites to understand the origin of this atypical strain and its evolutionary relationship with the true seventh pandemic strain. These analyses showed that the Mozambique strain carries two copies of CTX(class) prophage located on the small chromosome in a tandem array that allows excision of the prophage, but the excised phage genome was deficient in replication and did not produce CTX(class) virion. Comparative genomic microarray analysis revealed that the strain shares most of its genes with the typical El Tor strain N16961 but did not carry the TLC gene cluster, and RS1 sequence, adjacent to the CTX prophage. Our data are consistent with the Mozambique strain's having evolved from a progenitor similar to the seventh pandemic strain, involving multiple recombination events and suggest a model for origination of El Tor strains carrying the classical CTX prophage.