Growth of Acinetobacter baumannii in pellicle enhanced the expression of potential virulence factors.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Interestingly, Acinetobacter baumannii presents an enhanced capacity to form biofilms (also named pellicles) at the air-liquid interface as compared to the other Acinetobacter species. This characteristic questions the contribution of this phenotype to an increased risk of clinical infections by this pathogen. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: By a proteomic approach using 2-D gel electrophoresis-LC-MS/MS mass spectrometry, we compared the membrane protein patterns of A. baumannii 77, a pellicle-forming clinical isolate, grown in planktonic and in sessile modes. We identified 52 proteins with a differential expression, including 32 up-regulated and 20 down-regulated in the pellicle state. Several proteins, differentially expressed during pellicle development, were of particular interest. We determined the over-expression of four siderophore iron uptake systems including the acinetobactin and enterobactin receptors and confirmed that the development of this type of biofilm is promoted by ferric ions. Two over-expressed proteins, CarO and an OprD-homologue, putative carbapenem-resistance associated porins, would be involved in the transport of specific compounds, like ornithine, a biosynthesis precursor of a siderophore from the hydroxamate family. We evidenced the overexpression of a lipase and a transporter of LCFA that may be involved in the recycling of lipids inside the pellicle matrix. Finally, we demonstrated both by proteomic and by AFM studies that this particular type of biofilm required multiple pili systems to maintain this cohesive structure at the air-liquid interface; two of these systems have never been described in A. baumannii. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our study demonstrated that several proteins, overexpressed at a late state of pellicle development, could be potentially involved in virulence processes. Therefore, regarding the number of potential virulence factors that are over-expressed in this growth mode, the pellicle-forming clinical isolates should be kept under survey.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii causes severe infections in compromised patients, who present an iron-limited environment that controls bacterial growth. This pathogen has responded to this restriction by expressing high-affinity iron acquisition systems including that mediated by the siderophore acinetobactin. Gene cloning, functional assays and biochemical tests showed that the A. baumannii genome contains a single functional copy of an entA ortholog. This gene, which is essential for the biosynthesis of the acinetobactin precursor 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid (DHBA), locates outside of the acinetobactin gene cluster, which otherwise harbors all genes needed for acinetobactin biosynthesis, export and transport. In silico analyses and genetic complementation tests showed that entA locates next to an entB ortholog, which codes for a putative protein that contains the isochorismatase lyase domain, which is needed for DHBA biosynthesis from isochorismic acid, but lacks the aryl carrier protein domain, which is needed for tethering activated DHBA and completion of siderophore biosynthesis. Thus, basF, which locates within the acinetobactin gene cluster, is the only fully functional entB ortholog present in ATCC 19606(T). The differences in amino acid length and sequences between these two EntB orthologs and the differences in the genetic context within which the entA and entB genes are found in different A. baumannii isolates indicate that they were acquired from different sources by horizontal transfer. Interestingly, the AYE strain proved to be a natural entA mutant capable of acquiring iron via an uncharacterized siderophore-mediated system, an observation that underlines the ability of different A. baumannii isolates to acquire iron using different systems. Finally, experimental infections using in vivo and ex vivo models demonstrate the role of DHBA and acinetobactin intermediates in the virulence of the ATCC 19606(T) cells, although to a lesser extent when compared to the responses obtained with bacteria producing and using fully matured acinetobactin to acquire iron.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is an emerging pathogen that poses a global health threat due to a lack of therapeutic options for treating drug-resistant strains. In addition to acquiring resistance to last-resort antibiotics, the success of A. baumannii is partially due to its ability to effectively compete with the host for essential metals. Iron is fundamental in shaping host-pathogen interactions, where the host restricts availability of this nutrient in an effort to curtail bacterial proliferation. To circumvent restriction, pathogens possess numerous mechanisms to obtain iron, including through the use of iron-scavenging siderophores. A. baumannii elaborates up to ten distinct siderophores, encoded from three different loci: acinetobactin and pre-acinetobactin (collectively, acinetobactin), baumannoferrins A and B, and fimsbactins A-F. The expression of multiple siderophores is common amongst bacterial pathogens and often linked to virulence, yet the collective contribution of these siderophores to A. baumannii survival and pathogenesis has not been investigated. Here we begin dissecting functional redundancy in the siderophore-based iron acquisition pathways of A. baumannii. Excess iron inhibits overall siderophore production by the bacterium, and the siderophore-associated loci are uniformly upregulated during iron restriction in vitro and in vivo. Further, disrupting all of the siderophore biosynthetic pathways is necessary to drastically reduce total siderophore production by A. baumannii, together suggesting a high degree of functional redundancy between the metabolites. By contrast, inactivation of acinetobactin biosynthesis alone impairs growth on human serum, transferrin, and lactoferrin, and severely attenuates survival of A. baumannii in a murine bacteremia model. These results suggest that whilst A. baumannii synthesizes multiple iron chelators, acinetobactin is critical to supporting growth of the pathogen on host iron sources. Given the acinetobactin locus is highly conserved and required for virulence of A. baumannii, designing therapeutics targeting the biosynthesis and/or transport of this siderophore may represent an effective means of combating this pathogen.
Project description:The critical role that iron plays in many biochemical processes has led to an elaborate battle between bacterial pathogens and their hosts to acquire and withhold this critical nutrient. Exploitation of iron nutritional immunity is being increasingly appreciated as a potential antivirulence therapeutic strategy, especially against problematic multidrug resistant Gram-negative pathogens such as Acinetobacter baumannii. To facilitate iron uptake and promote growth, A. baumannii produces a nonribosomally synthesized peptide siderophore called acinetobactin. Acinetobactin is unusual in that it is first biosynthesized in an oxazoline form called preacinetobactin that spontaneously isomerizes to the final isoxazolidinone acinetobactin. Interestingly, both isomers can bind iron and both support growth of A. baumannii. To address how the two isomers chelate their ferric cargo and how the complexes are used by A. baumannii, structural studies were carried out with the ferric acinetobactin complex and its periplasmic siderophore binding protein BauB. Herein, we present the crystal structure of BauB bound to a bis-tridentate (Fe3+L2) siderophore complex. Additionally, we present binding studies that show multiple variants of acinetobactin bind BauB with no apparent change in affinity. These results are consistent with the structural model that depicts few direct polar interactions between BauB and the acinetobactin backbone. This structural and functional characterization of acinetobactin and its requisite binding protein BauB provides insight that could be exploited to target this critical iron acquisition system and provide a novel approach to treat infections caused by this important multidrug resistant pathogen.
Project description:New strategies are urgently required to develop antibiotics. The siderophore uptake system has attracted considerable attention, but rational design of siderophore antibiotic conjugates requires knowledge of recognition by the cognate outer-membrane transporter. Acinetobacter baumannii is a serious pathogen, which utilizes (pre)acinetobactin to scavenge iron from the host. We report the structure of the (pre)acinetobactin transporter BauA bound to the siderophore, identifying the structural determinants of recognition. Detailed biophysical analysis confirms that BauA recognises preacinetobactin. We show that acinetobactin is not recognised by the protein, thus preacinetobactin is essential for iron uptake. The structure shows and NMR confirms that under physiological conditions, a molecule of acinetobactin will bind to two free coordination sites on the iron preacinetobactin complex. The ability to recognise a heterotrimeric iron-preacinetobactin-acinetobactin complex may rationalize contradictory reports in the literature. These results open new avenues for the design of novel antibiotic conjugates (trojan horse) antibiotics.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is an opportunistic pathogen that causes severe nosocomial infections. Strain ATCC 19606(T) utilizes the siderophore acinetobactin to acquire iron under iron-limiting conditions encountered in the host. Accordingly, the genome of this strain has three tonB genes encoding proteins for energy transduction functions needed for the active transport of nutrients, including iron, through the outer membrane. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that these tonB genes, which are present in the genomes of all sequenced A. baumannii strains, were acquired from different sources. Two of these genes occur as components of tonB-exbB-exbD operons and one as a monocistronic copy; all are actively transcribed in ATCC 19606(T). The abilities of components of these TonB systems to complement the growth defect of Escherichia coli W3110 mutants KP1344 (tonB) and RA1051 (exbBD) under iron-chelated conditions further support the roles of these TonB systems in iron acquisition. Mutagenesis analysis of ATCC 19606(T) tonB1 (subscripted numbers represent different copies of genes or proteins) and tonB2 supports this hypothesis: their inactivation results in growth defects in iron-chelated media, without affecting acinetobactin biosynthesis or the production of the acinetobactin outer membrane receptor protein BauA. In vivo assays using Galleria mellonella show that each TonB protein is involved in, but not essential for, bacterial virulence in this infection model. Furthermore, we observed that TonB2 plays a role in the ability of bacteria to bind to fibronectin and to adhere to A549 cells by uncharacterized mechanisms. Taken together, these results indicate that A. baumannii ATCC 19606(T) produces three independent TonB proteins, which appear to provide the energy-transducing functions needed for iron acquisition and cellular processes that play a role in the virulence of this pathogen.
Project description:The outer membrane proteins responsible for the influx of carbapenem beta-lactam antibiotics in the nonfermentative gram-negative pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii are still poorly characterized. Resistance to both imipenem and meropenem in multidrug-resistant clinical strains of A. baumannii is associated with the loss of a heat-modifiable 29-kDa outer membrane protein, designated CarO. The chromosomal locus containing the carO gene was cloned and characterized from different clinical isolates. Only one carO copy, present in a single transcriptional unit, was found in the A. baumannii genome. The carO gene encodes a polypeptide of 247 amino acid residues with a typical N-terminal signal sequence and a predicted transmembrane beta-barrel topology. Its absence from different carbapenem-resistant clinical isolates of A. baumannii resulted from the disruption of carO by distinct insertion elements. The overall data thus support the notion that CarO participates in the influx of carbapenem antibiotics in A. baumannii. Moreover, database searches identified the presence of carO homologs only in species of the genera Acinetobacter, Moraxella, and Psychrobacter, disclosing the existence of a novel family of outer membrane proteins restricted to the family Moraxellaceae of the class gamma-Proteobacteria.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is a Gram-negative opportunistic nosocomial pathogen that causes pneumonia and soft tissue and systemic infections. Screening of a transposon insertion library of A. baumannii ATCC 19606T resulted in the identification of the 2010 derivative, which, although capable of growing well in iron-rich media, failed to prosper under iron chelation. Genetic, molecular, and functional assays showed that 2010's iron utilization-deficient phenotype is due to an insertion within the 3' end of secA, which results in the production of a C-terminally truncated derivative of SecA. SecA plays a critical role in protein translocation through the SecYEG membrane channel. Accordingly, the secA mutation resulted in undetectable amounts of the ferric acinetobactin outer membrane receptor protein BauA while not affecting the production of other acinetobactin membrane protein transport components, such as BauB and BauE, or the secretion of acinetobactin by 2010 cells cultured in the presence of subinhibitory concentrations of the synthetic iron chelator 2,2'-dipyridyl. Outer membrane proteins involved in nutrient transport, adherence, and biofilm formation were also reduced in 2010. The SecA truncation also increased production of 30 different proteins, including proteins involved in adaptation/tolerance responses. Although some of these protein changes could negatively affect the pathobiology of the 2010 derivative, its virulence defect is mainly due to its inability to acquire iron via the acinetobactin-mediated system. These results together indicate that although the C terminus of the A. baumannii ATCC 19606T SecA is not essential for viability, it plays a critical role in the production and translocation of different proteins and virulence.
Project description:The Acinetobacter genus includes species of opportunistic pathogens and harmless saprophytes. The type species, Acinetobacter baumannii, is a nosocomial pathogen renowned for being multidrug resistant (MDR). Despite the clinical relevance of infections caused by MDR A. baumannii and a few other Acinetobacter spp., the regulation of their pathogenicity remains elusive due to the scarcity of adequate genetic tools, including vectors for gene expression analysis. Here, we report the generation and testing of a series of Escherichia coli-Acinetobacter promoter-probe vectors suitable for gene expression analysis in Acinetobacter spp. These vectors, named pLPV1Z, pLPV2Z, and pLPV3Z, carry both gentamicin and zeocin resistance markers and contain lux, lacZ, and green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter systems downstream of an extended polylinker, respectively. The presence of a toxin-antitoxin gene system and the high copy number allow pLPV plasmids to be stably maintained even without antibiotic selection. The pLPV plasmids can easily be introduced by electroporation into MDR A. baumannii belonging to the major international lineages as well as into species of the Acinetobacter calcoaceticus-A. baumannii complex. The pLPV vectors have successfully been employed to study the regulation of stress-responsive A. baumannii promoters, including the DNA damage-inducible uvrABC promoter, the ethanol-inducible adhP and yahK promoters, and the iron-repressible promoter of the acinetobactin siderophore biosynthesis gene basA A lux-tagged A. baumannii ATCC 19606T strain, carrying the iron-responsive pLPV1Z::PbasA promoter fusion, allowed in vivo and ex vivo monitoring of the bacterial burden in the Galleria mellonella infection model.IMPORTANCE The short-term adaptive response to environmental cues greatly contributes to the ecological success of bacteria, and profound alterations in bacterial gene expression occur in response to physical, chemical, and nutritional stresses. Bacteria belonging to the Acinetobacter genus are ubiquitous inhabitants of soil and water though some species, such as Acinetobacter baumannii, are pathogenic and cause serious concern due to antibiotic resistance. Understanding A. baumannii pathobiology requires adequate genetic tools for gene expression analysis, and to this end we developed user-friendly shuttle vectors to probe the transcriptional responses to different environmental stresses. Vectors were constructed to overcome the problem of antibiotic selection in multidrug-resistant strains and were equipped with suitable reporter systems to facilitate signal detection. By means of these vectors, the transcriptional response of A. baumannii to DNA damage, ethanol exposure, and iron starvation was investigated both in vitro and in vivo, providing insights into A. baumannii adaptation during stress and infection.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is well adapted to hospital environments, and the persistence of its chronic infections is mainly due to its ability to form biofilms resistant to conventional antibiotics and host immune systems. Hence, the inhibitions of biofilm formation and virulence characteristics provide other means of addressing infections. In this study, the antibiofilm activities of twelve flavonoids were initially investigated. Three most active flavonoids, namely, fisetin, phloretin, and curcumin, dose-dependently inhibited biofilm formation by a reference A. baumannii strain and by several clinical isolates, including four multidrug-resistant isolates. Furthermore, the antibiofilm activity of curcumin (the most active flavonoid) was greater than that of the well-known biofilm inhibitor gallium nitrate. Curcumin inhibited pellicle formation and the surface motility of A. baumannii. Interestingly, curcumin also showed antibiofilm activity against Candida albicans and mixed cultures of C. albicans and A. baumannii. In silico molecular docking of the biofilm response regulator BfmR showed that the binding efficacy of flavonoids with BfmR was correlated with antibiofilm efficacy. In addition, curcumin treatment diminished A. baumannii virulence in an in vivo Caenorhabditis elegans model without cytotoxicity. The study shows curcumin and other flavonoids have potential for controlling biofilm formation by and the virulence of A. baumannii.
Project description:We analyzed the extracellular proteome of colistin-resistant Korean Acinetobacter baumannii (KAB) strains to identify proteome profiles that can be used to characterize extensively drug-resistant KAB strains. Four colistin-resistant KAB strains with colistin resistance associated with point mutations in pmrB and pmrC genes were analyzed. Analysis of the extracellular proteome of these strains revealed the presence of 506 induced common proteins, which were hence considered as the core extracellular proteome. Class C ADC-30 and class D OXA-23 ?-lactamases were abundantly induced in these strains. Porins (CarO and CarO-like porin), outer membrane proteins (OmpH and BamABDE), transport protein (AdeK), receptor (TonB), and several proteins of unknown function were among the specifically induced proteins. Based on the sequence homology analysis of proteins from the core proteome and those of other A. baumannii strains and pathogenic bacterial species as well as further in silico screening, we propose that CarO-like porin is an A. baumannii-specific protein and that two tryptic peptides that originate from CarO-like porin detected by tandem mass spectrometry are peptide makers of this protein.