Genotyping of environmental and clinical Stenotrophomonas maltophilia isolates and their pathogenic potential.
ABSTRACT: Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a highly versatile species with useful biotechnological potential but also with pathogenic properties. In light of possible differences in virulence characteristics, knowledge about genomic subgroups is therefore desirable. Two different genotyping methods, rep-PCR fingerprinting and partial gyrB gene sequencing were used to elucidate S. maltophilia intraspecies diversity. Rep-PCR fingerprinting revealed the presence of 12 large subgroups, while gyrB gene sequencing distinguished 10 subgroups. For 8 of them, the same strain composition was shown with both typing methods. A subset of 59 isolates representative for the gyrB groups was further investigated with regards to their pathogenic properties in a virulence model using Dictyostelium discoideum and Acanthamoeba castellanii as host organisms. A clear tendency towards accumulation of virulent strains could be observed for one group with A. castellanii and for two groups with D. discoideum. Several virulent strains did not cluster in any of the genetic groups, while other groups displayed no virulence properties at all. The amoeba pathogenicity model proved suitable in showing differences in S. maltophilia virulence. However, the model is still not sufficient to completely elucidate virulence as critical for a human host, since several strains involved in human infections did not show any virulence against amoeba.
Project description:Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is found ubiquitously in the environment and is an important emerging nosocomial pathogen. S. maltophilia has been recently described as an Amoebae-Resistant Bacteria (ARB) that exists as part of the microbiome of various free-living amoebae (FLA) from waters. Co-culture approaches with Vermamoeba vermiformis demonstrated the ability of this bacterium to resist amoebal digestion. In the present study, we assessed the survival and growth of six environmental and one clinical S. maltophilia strains within two amoebal species: Acanthamoeba castellanii and Willaertia magna. We also evaluated bacterial virulence properties using the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. A co-culture approach was carried out over 96 hours and the abundance of S. maltophilia cells was measured using quantitative PCR and culture approach. The presence of bacteria inside the amoeba was confirmed using confocal microscopy. Our results showed that some S. maltophilia strains were able to multiply within both amoebae and exhibited multiplication rates up to 17.5 and 1166 for A. castellanii and W. magna, respectively. In contrast, some strains were unable to multiply in either amoeba. Out of the six environmental S. maltophilia strains tested, one was found to be virulent. Surprisingly, this strain previously isolated from a soil amoeba, Micriamoeba, was unable to infect both amoebal species tested. We further performed an assay with a mutant strain of S. maltophilia BurA1 lacking the efflux pump ebyCAB gene and found the mutant to be more virulent and more efficient for intra-amoebal multiplication. Overall, the results obtained strongly indicated that free-living amoebae could be an important ecological niche for S. maltophilia.
Project description:Tubercular Mycobacteria and Legionella pneumophila are the causative agents of potentially fatal respiratory diseases due to their intrinsic pathogenesis but also due to the emergence of antibiotic resistance that limits treatment options. The aim of our study was to explore the antimicrobial activity of a small ligand-based chemical library of 1255 structurally diverse compounds. These compounds were screened in a combination of three assays, two monitoring the intracellular growth of the pathogenic bacteria, Mycobacterium marinum and L. pneumophila, and one assessing virulence of M. marinum. We set up these assays using two amoeba strains, the genetically tractable social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum and the free-living amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii. In summary, 64 (5.1%) compounds showed anti-infective/anti-virulence activity in at least one of the three assays. The intracellular assays hit rate varied between 1.7% (n = 22) for M. marinum and 2.8% (n = 35) for L. pneumophila with seven compounds in common for both pathogens. In parallel, 1.2% (n = 15) of the tested compounds were able to restore D. discoideum growth in the presence of M. marinum spiked in a lawn of food bacteria. We also validated the generality of the hits identified in the A. castellanii-M. marinum anti-infective screen using the D. discoideum-M. marinum host-pathogen model. The characterization of anti-infective and antibacterial hits in the latter infection model revealed compounds able to reduce intracellular growth more than 50% at 30 ?M. Moreover, the chemical space and physico-chemical properties of the anti-M. marinum hits were compared to standard and candidate Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) drugs using ChemGPS-NP. A principle component analysis identified separate clusters for anti-M. marinum and anti-L. pneumophila hits unveiling the potentially new physico-chemical properties of these hits compared to standard and candidate M. tuberculosis drugs. Our studies underscore the relevance of using a combination of low-cost and low-complexity assays with full 3R compliance in concert with a rationalized focused library of compounds to identify new chemical scaffolds and to dissect some of their properties prior to taking further steps toward compound development.
Project description:Francisella tularensis is the etiological agent of tularemia, or rabbit fever. Although F. tularensis is a recognized biothreat agent with broad and expanding geographical range, its mechanism of infection and environmental persistence remain poorly understood. Previously, we identified seven F. tularensis proteins that induce a rapid encystment phenotype (REP) in the free-living amoeba, Acanthamoeba castellanii. Encystment is essential to the pathogen's long term intracellular survival in the amoeba. Here, we characterize the cellular and molecular function of REP34, a REP protein with a mass of 34 kDa. A REP34 knock-out strain of F. tularensis has a reduced ability to both induce encystment in A. castellanii and invade human macrophages. We determined the crystal structure of REP34 to 2.05-Å resolution and demonstrate robust carboxypeptidase B-like activity for the enzyme. REP34 is a zinc-containing monomeric protein with close structural homology to the metallocarboxypeptidase family of peptidases. REP34 possesses a novel topology and substrate binding pocket that deviates from the canonical funnelin structure of carboxypeptidases, putatively resulting in a catalytic role for a conserved tyrosine and distinct S1' recognition site. Taken together, these results identify REP34 as an active carboxypeptidase, implicate the enzyme as a potential key F. tularensis effector protein, and may help elucidate a mechanistic understanding of F. tularensis infection of phagocytic cells.
Project description:The Amoebozoa represent a clade of unicellular amoeboid organisms that display a wide variety of lifestyles, including free-living and parasitic species. For example, the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum has the ability to aggregate into a multicellular fruiting body upon starvation, while the pathogenic amoeba Entamoeba histolytica is a parasite of humans. Globins are small heme proteins that are present in almost all extant organisms. Although several genomes of amoebozoan species have been sequenced, little is known about the phyletic distribution of globin genes within this phylum. Only two flavohemoglobins (FHbs) of D. discoideum have been reported and characterized previously while the genomes of Entamoeba species are apparently devoid of globin genes. We investigated eleven amoebozoan species for the presence of globin genes by genomic and phylogenetic in silico analyses. Additional FHb genes were identified in the genomes of four social amoebas and the true slime mold Physarum polycephalum. Moreover, a single-domain globin (SDFgb) of Hartmannella vermiformis, as well as two truncated hemoglobins (trHbs) of Acanthamoeba castellanii were identified. Phylogenetic evidence suggests that these globin genes were independently acquired via horizontal gene transfer from some ancestral bacteria. Furthermore, the phylogenetic tree of amoebozoan FHbs indicates that they do not share a common ancestry and that a transfer of FHbs from bacteria to amoeba occurred multiple times.
Project description:Inorganic polyphosphate (polyP) deficiency in enteric bacterial pathogens reduces their ability to invade and establish systemic infections in different hosts. For instance, inactivation of the polyP kinase gene (ppk) encoding the enzyme responsible for polyP biosynthesis reduces invasiveness and intracellular survival of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) in epithelial cells and macrophages in vitro. In addition, the virulence in vivo of a S. Typhimurium ?ppk mutant is significantly reduced in a murine infection model. In spite of these observations, the role played by polyP during the Salmonella-host interaction is not well understood. The social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum has proven to be a useful model for studying relevant aspects of the host-pathogen interaction. In fact, many intracellular pathogens can survive within D. discoideum cells using molecular mechanisms also required to survive within macrophages. Recently, we established that S. Typhimurium is able to survive intracellularly in D. discoideum and identified relevant genes linked to virulence that are crucial for this process. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of a polyP deficiency in S. Typhimurium during its interaction with D. discoideum. To do this, we evaluated the intracellular survival of wild-type and ?ppk strains of S. Typhimurium in D. discoideum and the ability of these strains to delay the social development of the amoeba. In contrast to the wild-type strain, the ?ppk mutant was unable to survive intracellularly in D. discoideum and enabled the social development of the amoeba. Both phenotypes were complemented using a plasmid carrying a copy of the ppk gene. Next, we simultaneously evaluated the proteomic response of both S. Typhimurium and D. discoideum during host-pathogen interaction via global proteomic profiling. The analysis of our results allowed the identification of novel molecular signatures that give insight into Salmonella-Dictyostelium interaction. Altogether, our results indicate that inorganic polyP is essential for S. Typhimurium virulence and survival in D. discoideum. In addition, we have validated the use of global proteomic analyses to simultaneously evaluate the host-pathogen interaction of S. Typhimurium and D. discoideum. Furthermore, our infection assays using these organisms can be exploited to screen for novel anti-virulence molecules targeting inorganic polyP biosynthesis.
Project description:Multiple lines of evidence suggest that Bordetella species have a significant life stage outside of the mammalian respiratory tract that has yet to be defined. The Bordetella virulence gene (BvgAS) two-component system, a paradigm for a global virulence regulon, controls the expression of many "virulence factors" expressed in the Bvg positive (Bvg+) phase that are necessary for successful respiratory tract infection. A similarly large set of highly conserved genes are expressed under Bvg negative (Bvg-) phase growth conditions; however, these appear to be primarily expressed outside of the host and are thus hypothesized to be important in an undefined extrahost reservoir. Here, we show that Bvg- phase genes are involved in the ability of Bordetella bronchiseptica to grow and disseminate via the complex life cycle of the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. Unlike bacteria that serve as an amoeba food source, B. bronchiseptica evades amoeba predation, survives within the amoeba for extended periods of time, incorporates itself into the amoeba sori, and disseminates along with the amoeba. Remarkably, B. bronchiseptica continues to be transferred with the amoeba for months, through multiple life cycles of amoebae grown on the lawns of other bacteria, thus demonstrating a stable relationship that allows B. bronchiseptica to expand and disperse geographically via the D. discoideum life cycle. Furthermore, B. bronchiseptica within the sori can efficiently infect mice, indicating that amoebae may represent an environmental vector within which pathogenic bordetellae expand and disseminate to encounter new mammalian hosts. These data identify amoebae as potential environmental reservoirs as well as amplifying and disseminating vectors for B. bronchiseptica and reveal an important role for the Bvg- phase in these interactions.
Project description:In our previous report, we had shown that the free-living amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii influenced the abundance, competiveness, and virulence of Mesorhizobium loti NZP2213, the microsymbiont of agriculturally important plants of the genus Lotus. The molecular basis of this phenomenon; however, had not been explored. In the present study, we demonstrated that oatB, the O-acetyltransferase encoding gene located in the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) synthesis cluster of M. loti, was responsible for maintaining the protective capacity of the bacterial cell envelope, necessary for the bacteria to fight environmental stress and survive inside amoeba cells. Using co-culture assays combined with fluorescence and electron microscopy, we showed that an oatB mutant, unlike the parental strain, was efficiently destroyed after rapid internalization by amoebae. Sensitivity and permeability studies of the oatB mutant, together with topography and nanomechanical investigations with the use of atomic force microscopy (AFM), indicated that the incomplete substitution of lipid A-core moieties with O-polysaccharide (O-PS) residues rendered the mutant more sensitive to hydrophobic compounds. Likewise, the truncated LPS moieties, rather than the lack of O-acetyl groups, made the oatB mutant susceptible to the bactericidal mechanisms (nitrosative stress and the action of lytic enzymes) of A. castellanii.
Project description:The twin-arginine translocation (Tat) system is a specialized secretion pathway required for bacteria to export fully folded proteins through the cytoplasmic membrane. This system is crucial during Salmonella infection of animal hosts. In this study, we show that Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) requires the Tat system to survive and proliferate intracellularly in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. To achieve this, we developed a new infection assay to assess intracellular bacterial loads in amoeba by direct enumeration of colony forming units (CFU) at different times of infection. Using this assay we observed that a ?tatABC mutant was internalized in higher numbers than the wild type, and was defective for intracellular survival in the amoeba at all times post infection evaluated. In addition, we assessed the effect of the ?tatABC mutant in the social development of D. discoideum. In contrast to the wild-type strain, we observed that the mutant was unable to delay the social development of the amoeba at 2 days of co-incubation. This phenotype correlated with defects in intracellular proliferation presented by the ?tatABC mutant in D. discoideum after 24 h of infection. All phenotypes described for the mutant were reverted by the presence of a plasmid carrying tatABC genes, indicating that abrogation of Tat system attenuates S. Typhimurium in this model organism. Overall, our results indicate that the Tat system is crucial for S. Typhimurium to survive and proliferate intracellularly in D. discoideum and for virulence in this host. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the relevance of the Tat system in the interaction of any bacterial pathogen with the social amoeba D. discoideum.
Project description:Burkholderia pseudomallei is an emerging bacterial pathogen and category B biothreat. Human infections with B. pseudomallei (called melioidosis) present as a range of manifestations, including acute septicemia and pneumonia. Although melioidosis can be fatal, little is known about the molecular basis of B. pseudomallei pathogenicity, in part because of the lack of simple, genetically tractable eukaryotic models to facilitate en masse identification of virulence determinants or explore host-pathogen interactions. Two assays, one high-throughput and one quantitative, were developed to monitor levels of resistance of B. pseudomallei and the closely related nearly avirulent species Burkholderia thailandensis to predation by the phagocytic amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. The quantitative assay showed that levels of resistance to, and survival within, amoeba by these bacteria and their known virulence mutants correlate well with their published levels of virulence in animals. Using the high-throughput assay, we screened a 1,500-member B. thailandensis transposon mutant library and identified 13 genes involved in resistance to predation by D. discoideum. Orthologs of these genes were disrupted in B. pseudomallei, and nearly all mutants had similarly decreased resistance to predation by D. discoideum. For some mutants, decreased resistance also correlated with reduced survival in and cytotoxicity toward macrophages, as well as attenuated virulence in mice. These observations suggest that some factors required by B. pseudomallei for resistance to environmental phagocytes also aid in resistance to phagocytic immune cells and contribute to disease in animals. Thus, D. discoideum provides a novel, high-throughput model system for facilitating inquiry into B. pseudomallei virulence.
Project description:Among the best-studied interactions between soil phagocytic predators and a human-pathogenic fungus is that of <i>Acanthamoeba castellanii</i> and <i>Cryptococcus neoformans</i> The experimental conditions used in amoeba-fungus confrontation assays can have major effects on whether the fungus or the protozoan is ascendant in the interaction. In the presence of Mg<sup>2+</sup> and Ca<sup>2+</sup> in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), <i>C. neoformans</i> was consistently killed when incubated with <i>A. castellanii</i><i>A. castellanii</i> survived better in the presence of Mg<sup>2+</sup> and Ca<sup>2+</sup>, even when incubated with <i>C. neoformans</i> In the absence of Mg<sup>2+</sup> and Ca<sup>2+</sup>, <i>C. neoformans</i> survived when incubated with <i>A. castellanii</i>, and the percentage of dead amoebae was higher than when incubated without yeast cells. These results show that the presence of Mg<sup>2+</sup> and Ca<sup>2+</sup> can make a decisive contribution toward tilting the outcome of the interaction in favor of the amoeba. Of the two metals, Mg<sup>2+</sup> had a stronger effect than Ca<sup>2+</sup> The cations enhanced <i>A. castellanii</i> activity against <i>C. neoformans</i> via enhanced phagocytosis, which is the major mechanism by which amoebae kill fungal cells. We found no evidence that amoebae use extracellular killing mechanisms in their interactions with <i>C. neoformans</i> In summary, the presence of Mg<sup>2+</sup> and Ca<sup>2+</sup> enhanced the cell adhesion on the surfaces and the motility of the amoeba, thus increasing the chance for contact with <i>C. neoformans</i> and the frequency of phagocytosis. Our findings imply that the divalent cation concentration in soils could be an important variable for whether amoebae can control <i>C. neoformans</i> in the environment.<b>IMPORTANCE</b> The grazing of soil organisms by phagocytic predators such as amoebae is thought to select for traits that enable some of them to acquire the capacity for virulence in animals. Consequently, knowledge about the interactions between amoebae and soil microbes, such as pathogenic fungi, is important for understanding how virulence can emerge. We show that the interaction between an amoeba and the pathogenic fungus <i>C. neoformans</i> is influenced by the presence in the assay of magnesium and calcium, which potentiate amoebae. The results may also have practical applications, since enriching soils with divalent cations may reduce <i>C. neoformans</i> numbers in contaminated soils.