Identification of human T-cell responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis resuscitation-promoting factors in long-term latently infected individuals.
ABSTRACT: The Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccine is the only tuberculosis (TB) vaccine available, yet it provides limited protection against pulmonary TB in adults and fails to protect against TB reactivation. We hypothesized that immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis "resuscitation-promoting factors" (Rpfs), which are small bacterial proteins that promote proliferation of dormant mycobacteria, may be relevant in the human immune response to M. tuberculosis. In previous unpublished work, we found that Rpfs Rv0867c and Rv2389c induced gamma interferon (IFN-?) production in the blood of TB patients' healthy household contacts in several different African populations. Here we examine these two dominant Rpf antigens in more detail and define the nature of the responding T-cell subsets. Multiparameter cytokine profiling showed that Rv2389c and, to a lesser extent, Rv0867c were recognized by mycobacterium-responsive healthy Dutch individuals; peptide-scanning revealed several epitopes, including a single immunodominant epitope in Rv2389c. Rv0867c and, to a lesser extent, Rv2389c Rpf-specific T-cell responses were maintained for decades in long-term M. tuberculosis nonprogressors. Prominent Rv0867c-specific double- and single-cytokine-producing CD8(+) T-cell subset responses were found, including a large population of CD8(+) effector memory and effector T-cell subsets. We conclude that M. tuberculosis Rpf antigens are important targets in the human immune response to M. tuberculosis and represent interesting TB vaccine candidate antigens.
Project description:Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), is an extraordinarily successful pathogen of humankind. It has been estimated that up to one-third of the world's population is infected with M. tuberculosis, and this population is an important reservoir for disease reactivation. Resuscitation promoting factor (Rpf) is a secretory protein, which was first reported in Micrococcus luteus. There are five functionally redundant Rpf-like proteins found in M. tuberculosis. Rpf promotes the resuscitation of dormant bacilli to yield normal, viable colony forming bacteria. All Rpfs share a conserved domain of about 70 amino acids and possess a lysozyme-like activity. The structural studies of the conserved domain suggest that Rpfs could be considered as a c-type lysozyme and lytic transglycosylases. Recently a novel class of nitrophenylthiocyanates (NPT) inhibitors of the muralytic activity of Rpf were reported which opens a new approach in the study of cell-wall hydrolyzing enzymes. This review describes molecular and structural studies conducted on Rpf proteins, their role in the resuscitation of dormant bacteria, in the reactivation of latent infection and identification of low molecular weight inhibitors of resuscitation promoting factors.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Confirming tuberculosis (TB) disease in suspects in resource limited settings is challenging and calls for the development of more suitable diagnostic tools. Different Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection phase-dependent antigens may be differentially recognized in infected and diseased individuals and therefore useful as diagnostic tools for differentiating between M.tb infection states. In this study, we assessed the diagnostic potential of 118 different M.tb infection phase-dependent antigens in TB patients and household contacts (HHCs) in a high-burden setting. METHODS: Antigens were evaluated using the 7-day whole blood culture technique in 23 pulmonary TB patients and in 19 to 21 HHCs (total n = 101), who were recruited from a high-TB incidence community in Cape Town, South Africa. Interferon-gamma (IFN-?) levels in culture supernatants were determined by ELISA. RESULTS: Eight classical TB vaccine candidate antigens, 51 DosR regulon encoded antigens, 23 TB reactivation antigens, 5 TB resuscitation promoting factors (rpfs), 6 starvation and 24 other stress response-associated TB antigens were evaluated in the study. The most promising antigens for ascertaining active TB were the rpfs (Rv0867c, Rv2389c, Rv2450c, Rv1009 and Rv1884c), with Areas under the receiver operating characteristics curves (AUCs) between 0.72 and 0.80. A combination of M.tb specific ESAT-6/CFP-10 fusion protein, Rv2624c and Rv0867c accurately predicted 73% of the TB patients and 80% of the non-TB cases after cross validation. CONCLUSIONS: IFN-? responses to TB rpfs show promise as TB diagnostic candidates and should be evaluated further for discrimination between M.tb infection states.
Project description:One-third of the world population is infected by <i>Mycobacterium tuberculosis,</i> which may persist in the latent or dormant state. Bacteria can shift to dormancy when encountering harsh conditions such as low oxygen, nutrient starvation, high acidity and host immune defenses<i>.</i> Genes related to the dormancy survival regulator (DosR) regulon are responsible for the inhibition of aerobic respiration and replication, which is required to enter dormancy. Conversely, resuscitation-promoting factor (rpf) proteins participate in reactivation from dormancy and the development of active tuberculosis (TB). Many DosR regulon and rpf proteins are immunodominant T cell antigens that are highly expressed in latent TB infection. They could serve as TB vaccine candidates and be used for diagnostic development. We explored the genetic polymorphisms of 50 DosR-related genes and 5 <i>rpf</i> genes among 1,170 previously sequenced clinical <i>M. tuberculosis</i> genomes. Forty-three lineage- or sublineage-specific nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (nsSNPs) were identified. Ten nsSNPs were specific to all Mtb isolates belonging to lineage 1 (L1). Two common sublineages, the Beijing family (L2.2) and EAI2 (L1.2.1), differed at as many as 26 lineage- or sublineage-specific SNPs. DosR regulon genes related to membrane proteins and the <i>rpf</i> family possessed mean dN/dS ratios greater than one, suggesting that they are under positive selection. Although the T cell epitope regions of DosR-related and rpf antigens were quite conserved, we found that the epitopes in L1 had higher rates of genetic polymorphisms than the other lineages. Some mutations in immunogenic epitopes of the antigens were specific to particular <i>M. tuberculosis</i> lineages. Therefore, the genetic diversity of the DosR regulon and rpf proteins might impact the adaptation of <i>M. tuberculosis</i> to the dormant state and the immunogenicity of latency antigens, which warrants further investigation.
Project description:A quarter of the global human population is estimated to be latently infected by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB). TB remains the global leading cause of death by a single pathogen and ranks among the top-10 causes of overall global mortality. Current immunodiagnostic tests cannot discriminate between latent, active and past TB, nor predict progression of latent infection to active disease. The only registered TB vaccine, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), does not adequately prevent pulmonary TB in adolescents and adults, thus permitting continued TB-transmission. Several Mtb proteins, mostly discovered through IFN-? centered approaches, have been proposed as targets for new TB-diagnostic tests or -vaccines. Recently, however, we identified novel Mtb antigens capable of eliciting multiple cytokines, including antigens that did not induce IFN-? but several other cytokines. These antigens had been selected based on high Mtb gene-expression in the lung in vivo, and have been termed in vivo expressed (IVE-TB) antigens. Here, we extend and validate our previous findings in an independent Southern European cohort, consisting of adults and adolescents with either LTBI or TB. Our results confirm that responses to IVE-TB antigens, and also DosR-regulon and Rpf stage-specific Mtb antigens are marked by multiple cytokines, including strong responses, such as for TNF-?, in the absence of detectable IFN-? production. Except for TNF-?, the magnitude of those responses were significantly higher in LTBI subjects. Additional unbiased analyses of high dimensional flow-cytometry data revealed that TNF-?+ cells responding to Mtb antigens comprised 17 highly heterogeneous cell types. Among these 17 TNF-?+ cells clusters identified, those with CD8+TEMRA or CD8+CD4+ phenotypes, defined by the expression of multiple intracellular markers, were the most prominent in adult LTBI, while CD14+ TNF-?+ myeloid-like clusters were mostly abundant in adolescent LTBI. Our findings, although limited to a small cohort, stress the importance of assessing broader immune responses than IFN-? alone in Mtb antigen discovery as well as the importance of screening individuals of different age groups. In addition, our results provide proof of concept showing how unbiased multidimensional multiparametric cell subset analysis can identify unanticipated blood cell subsets that could play a role in the immune response against Mtb.
Project description:Tuberculosis (TB) remains a leading killer among infectious diseases of humans worldwide. Delayed diagnosis is a crucial problem in global TB control programs. Bacteriological methods currently used to diagnose TB in endemic countries take up to 8 weeks, which poses a significant delay in starting antibiotic therapy. The presence of a heterogeneous population of <i>Mycobacterium tuberculosis</i>, the causative agent of TB, is among the reasons for delayed diagnosis by bacteriological methods. Previously, it has been shown that mycobacterial resuscitation-promoting factors (RPFs), a family of proteins secreted by actively growing bacteria into the media, are capable of activating the growth of dormant bacteria, thus enhancing the detection of bacilli in the sputum of confirmed TB cases. However, the variability in bacterial resuscitation by RPF in the sputum of suspected pulmonary TB cases that showed differential smear and/or culture positivity during diagnosis has not been fully explored. Here, we report the presence of non-replicating bacteria in the sputum of suspected TB cases that show differential growth response to RPF treatment. Using crude and recombinant RPF treatment, we show improved sensitivity and reduced time to detect bacilli in the sputum samples of smear-positive/culture-negative or smear-negative/culture-negative cases. We also report the phenotypic heterogeneity in the RPF responsiveness among Mtb strains using an <i>in vitro</i> dormancy model. Our findings have implications for improving the bacteriological diagnostic modalities currently used to diagnose TB in endemic countries.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Tuberculosis (TB) remains a global health threat with 9 million new cases and 1.4 million deaths per year. In order to develop a protective vaccine, we need to define the antigens expressed by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), which are relevant to protective immunity in high-endemic areas.<h4>Methods</h4>We analysed responses to 23 Mtb antigens in a total of 1247 subjects with different HIV and TB status across 5 geographically diverse sites in Africa (South Africa, The Gambia, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda). We used a 7-day whole blood assay followed by IFN-? ELISA on the supernatants. Antigens included PPD, ESAT-6 and Ag85B (dominant antigens) together with novel resuscitation-promoting factors (rpf), reactivation proteins, latency (Mtb DosR regulon-encoded) antigens, starvation-induced antigens and secreted antigens.<h4>Results</h4>There was variation between sites in responses to the antigens, presumably due to underlying genetic and environmental differences. When results from all sites were combined, HIV- subjects with active TB showed significantly lower responses compared to both TST(-) and TST(+) contacts to latency antigens (Rv0569, Rv1733, Rv1735, Rv1737) and the rpf Rv0867; whilst responses to ESAT-6/CFP-10 fusion protein (EC), PPD, Rv2029, TB10.3, and TB10.4 were significantly higher in TST(+) contacts (LTBI) compared to TB and TST(-) contacts fewer differences were seen in subjects with HIV co-infection, with responses to the mitogen PHA significantly lower in subjects with active TB compared to those with LTBI and no difference with any antigen.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our multi-site study design for testing novel Mtb antigens revealed promising antigens for future vaccine development. The IFN-? ELISA is a cheap and useful tool for screening potential antigenicity in subjects with different ethnic backgrounds and across a spectrum of TB and HIV infection states. Analysis of cytokines other than IFN-? is currently on-going to determine correlates of protection, which may be useful for vaccine efficacy trials.
Project description:We previously reported that Rv1860 protein from Mycobacterium tuberculosis stimulated CD4(+)and CD8(+)T cells secreting gamma interferon (IFN-?) in healthy purified protein derivative (PPD)-positive individuals and protected guinea pigs immunized with a DNA vaccine and a recombinant poxvirus expressing Rv1860 from a challenge with virulent M. tuberculosis We now show Rv1860-specific polyfunctional T (PFT) cell responses in the blood of healthy latently M. tuberculosis-infected individuals dominated by CD8(+) T cells, using a panel of 32 overlapping peptides spanning the length of Rv1860. Multiple subsets of CD8(+) PFT cells were significantly more numerous in healthy latently infected volunteers (HV) than in tuberculosis (TB) patients (PAT). The responses of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from PAT to the peptides of Rv1860 were dominated by tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-?) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) secretions, the former coming predominantly from non-T cell sources. Notably, the pattern of the T cell response to Rv1860 was distinctly different from those of the widely studied M. tuberculosis antigens ESAT-6, CFP-10, Ag85A, and Ag85B, which elicited CD4(+) T cell-dominated responses as previously reported in other cohorts. We further identified a peptide spanning amino acids 21 to 39 of the Rv1860 protein with the potential to distinguish latent TB infection from disease due to its ability to stimulate differential cytokine signatures in HV and PAT. We suggest that a TB vaccine carrying these and other CD8(+) T-cell-stimulating antigens has the potential to prevent progression of latent M. tuberculosis infection to TB disease.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Resuscitation promoting factor proteins (Rpfs) are peptidoglycan glycosidases capable of resuscitating dormant mycobacteria, and have been found to play a role in the pathogenesis of tuberculosis. However, the specific roles and localisation of each of the 5 Rpfs in Mycobacterium tuberculosis remain mostly unknown. In this work our aim was to construct fluorescent fusions of M. tuberculosis Rpf proteins as tools to investigate their function.<h4>Results</h4>We found that Rpf-fusions to the fluorescent protein mCherry are functional and able to promote cell growth under different conditions. However, fusions to Enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein (EGFP) were non-functional in the assays used and none were secreted into the extracellular medium, which suggests Rpfs may be secreted via the Sec pathway. No specific cellular localization was observed for either set of fusions using time-lapse video microscopy.<h4>Conclusions</h4>We present the validation and testing of five M. tuberculosis Rpfs fused to mCherry, which are functional in resuscitation assays, but do not show any specific cellular localisation under the conditions tested. Our results suggest that Rpfs are likely to be secreted via the Sec pathway. We propose that such mCherry fusions will be useful tools for the further study of Rpf localisation, individual expression, and function.
Project description:Resuscitation promoting factors (Rpfs) are the proteins involved in the process of reactivation of the dormant cells of mycobacteria. Recently a new class of nitrophenylthiocyanates (NPTs), capable of inhibiting the biological and enzymatic activities of Rpfs has been discovered. In the current study the inhibitory properties of the compounds containing both nitro and thiocyanate groups alongside with the compounds with the modified number and different spatial location of the substituents are compared.New benzoylphenyl thiocyanates alongside with nitrophenylthiocyanates were tested in the enzymatic assay of bacterial peptidoglycan hydrolysis as well as against strains of several actinobacteria (Mycobacterium smegmatis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis) on in-lab developed models of resuscitation of the dormant forms.Introduction of the additional nitro and thiocyanate groups to the benzophenone scaffold did not influence the inhibitory activity of the compounds. Removal of the nitro groups analogously did not impair the functional properties of the molecules. Among the tested compounds two molecules without nitro group: 3-benzoylphenyl thiocyanate and 4-benzoylphenyl thiocyanate demonstrated the maximum activity in both enzymatic assay (inhibition of the Rpf-mediated peptidoglycan hydrolysis) and in the resuscitation assay of the dormant M. tuberculosis cells.The current study demonstrates dispensability of the nitro group in the NPT's structure for inhibition of the enzymatic and biological activities of the Rpf protein molecules. These findings provide new prospects in anti-TB drug discovery especially in finding of molecular scaffolds effective for the latent infection treatment.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Resuscitation promoting factors (RPF) are secreted proteins involved in reactivation of dormant actinobacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis. They have been considered as prospective targets for the development of new anti-tuberculosis drugs preventing reactivation of dormant tubercle bacilli, generally associated with latent tuberculosis. However, no inhibitors of Rpf activity have been reported so far. The goal of this study was to find low molecular weight compounds inhibiting the enzymatic and biological activities of Rpfs.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Here we describe a novel class of 2-nitrophenylthiocyanates (NPT) compounds that inhibit muralytic activity of Rpfs with IC(50) 1-7 microg/ml. Fluorescence studies revealed interaction of active NPTs with the internal regions of the Rpf molecule. Candidate inhibitors of Rpf enzymatic activity showed a bacteriostatic effect on growth of Micrococcus luteus (in which Rpf is essential for growth protein) at concentrations close to IC(50). The candidate compounds suppressed resuscitation of dormant ("non-culturable") cells of M. smegmatis at 1 microg/ml or delayed resuscitation of dormant M. tuberculosis obtained in laboratory conditions at 10 microg/ml. However, they did not inhibit growth of active mycobacteria under these concentrations.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>NPT are the first example of low molecular weight compounds that inhibit the enzymatic and biological activities of Rpf proteins.