Functional analysis of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG pili in relation to adhesion and immunomodulatory interactions with intestinal epithelial cells.
ABSTRACT: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, a probiotic with good survival capacity in the human gut, has well-documented adhesion properties and health effects. Recently, spaCBA-encoded pili that bind to human intestinal mucus were identified on its cell surface. Here, we report on the phenotypic analysis of a spaCBA pilus knockout mutant in comparison with the wild type and other adhesin mutants. The SpaCBA pilus of L. rhamnosus GG showed to be key for efficient adherence to the Caco-2 intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) line and biofilm formation. Moreover, the spaCBA mutant induces an elevated level of interleukin-8 (IL-8) mRNA in Caco-2 cells compared to the wild type, possibly involving an interaction of lipoteichoic acid with Toll-like receptor 2. In contrast, an L. rhamnosus GG mutant without exopolysaccharides but with an increased exposure of pili leads to the reduced expression of IL-8. Using Transwells to partition bacteria from Caco-2 cells, IL-8 induction is blocked completely regardless of whether wild-type or mutant L. rhamnosus GG cells are used. Taken together, our data suggest that L. rhamnosus GG SpaCBA pili, while promoting strong adhesive interactions with IECs, have a functional role in balancing IL-8 mRNA expression induced by surface molecules such as lipoteichoic acid.
Project description:Recently, spaCBA-encoded pili on the cell surface of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG were identified to be key molecules for binding to human intestinal mucus and Caco-2 intestinal epithelial cells. Here, we investigated the role of the SpaCBA pilus of L. rhamnosus GG in the interaction with macrophages in vitro by comparing the wild type with surface mutants. Our results show that SpaCBA pili play a significant role in the capacity for adhesion to macrophages and also promote bacterial uptake by these phagocytic cells. Interestingly, our data suggest that SpaCBA pili also mediate anti-inflammatory effects by induction of interleukin-10 (IL-10) mRNA and reduction of interleukin-6 (IL-6) mRNA in a murine RAW 264.7 macrophage cell line. These pili appear to mediate these effects indirectly by promoting close contact with the macrophages, facilitating the exertion of anti-inflammatory effects by other surface molecules via yet unknown mechanisms. Blockage of complement receptor 3 (CR3), previously identified to be a receptor for streptococcal pili, significantly decreased the uptake of pilus-expressing strains in RAW 264.7 cells, while the expression of IL-10 and IL-6 mRNA by these macrophages was not affected by this blocking. On the other hand, blockage of Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) significantly reduced the expression of IL-6 mRNA irrespective of the presence of pili.
Project description:Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is one of the best-characterized lactic acid bacteria and can be considered a probiotic paradigm. Comparative and functional genome analysis showed that L. rhamnosus GG harbors a genomic island including the spaCBA-srtC1 gene cluster, encoding the cell surface-decorating host-interacting pili. Here, induced mutagenesis was used to study pilus biogenesis in L. rhamnosus GG. A combination of two powerful approaches, mutation selection and next-generation sequencing, was applied to L. rhamnosus GG for the selection of pilus-deficient mutants from an enriched population. The isolated mutants were first screened by immuno-dot blot analysis using antiserum against pilin proteins. Relevant mutants were selected, and the lack of pili was confirmed by immunoelectron microscopy. The pilosotype of 10 mutant strains was further characterized by analyzing pilin expression using Western blot, dot blot, and immunofluorescence methods. A mucus binding assay showed that the mutants did not adhere to porcine intestinal mucus. Comparative genome sequence analysis using the Illumina MiSeq platform allowed us to determine the nature of the mutations in the obtained pilus-deficient derivatives. Three major classes of mutants with unique genotypes were observed: class I, with mutations in the srtC1 gene; class II, with a deletion containing the spaCBA-srtC1 gene cluster; and class III, with mutations in the spaA gene. Only a limited number of collateral mutations were observed, and one of the pilus-deficient derivatives with a deficient srtC1 gene contained 24 other mutations. This strain, PB12, can be considered a candidate for human trials addressing the impact of the absence of pili.
Project description:A noticeable genomic feature of many piliated Gram-positive bacterial species is the presence of more than one pilus-encoding operon. Paradigmatically, the gut-adapted Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain contains two different fimbrial operons in its genome. However, whereas one of these operons (called spaCBA) is encoding for the functionally mucus-/collagen-binding SpaCBA pilus, for the other operon (called spaFED) any native expression of the SpaFED-called pili is still the subject of some uncertainty. Irrespective of such considerations, we decided it would be of relevance or interest to decipher the gross structure of this pilus type, and as well assess its functional capabilities for cellular adhesion and immunostimulation. For this, and by following the approach we had used previously to explicate the immuno-properties of SpaCBA pili, we constructed nisin-inducible expression clones producing either wild-type or SpaF pilin-deleted surface-assembled L. rhamnosus GG SpaFED pili on Lactococcus lactis cells. Using these piliated lactococcal constructs, we found that the pilin-polymerized architecture of a recombinant-produced SpaFED pilus coincides with sequence-based functional predictions of the related pilins, and in fact is prototypical of those other sortase-dependent pilus-like structures thus far characterized for piliated Gram-positive bacteria. Moreover, we confirmed that among the different pilin subunits encompassing spaFED operon-encoded pili, the SpaF pilin is a main adhesion determinant, and when present in the assembled structure can mediate pilus binding to mucus, certain extracellular matrix proteins, and different gut epithelial cell lines. However, somewhat unexpectedly, when recombinant SpaFED pili are surface-attached, we found that they could not potentiate the existing lactococcal cell-induced immune responses so elicited from intestinal- and immune-related cells, but rather instead, they could dampen them. Accordingly, we have now provided the first phenotypical description of a spaFED pilus operon, and with that furthered the functional understanding of surface piliation for a particular gut-commensalic genre of piliated Gram-positive bacteria.
Project description:Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is one of the most widely marketed and studied probiotic strains. In L. rhamnosus GG, the spaCBA-srtC1 gene cluster encodes pili, which are important for some of the probiotic properties of the strain. A previous study showed that the DNA sequence of the spaCBA-srtC1 gene cluster was not present in some L. rhamnosus GG variants isolated from liquid dairy products. To examine the stability of the L. rhamnosus GG genome in an industrial production process, we sequenced the genome of samples of L. rhamnosus GG (DSM 33156) collected at specific steps of the industrial production process, including the culture collection stock, intermediate fermentations, and final freeze-dried products. We found that the L. rhamnosus GG genome sequence was unchanged throughout the production process. Consequently, the spaCBA-srtC1 gene locus was intact and fully conserved in all 31 samples examined. In addition, different production batches of L. rhamnosus GG exhibited consistent phenotypes, including the presence of pili in final freeze-dried products, and consistent characteristics in in vitro assays of probiotic properties. Our data show that L. rhamnosus GG is highly stable in this industrial production process.IMPORTANCE Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is one of the best-studied probiotic strains. One of the well-characterized features of the strain is the pili encoded by the spaCBA-srtC1 gene cluster. These pili are involved in persistence in the gastrointestinal tract and are important for the probiotic properties of L. rhamnosus GG. Previous studies demonstrated that the L. rhamnosus GG genome can be unstable under certain conditions and can lose the spaCBA-srtC1 gene cluster. Since in vitro studies have shown that the loss of the spaCBA-srtC1 gene cluster decreases certain L. rhamnosus GG probiotic properties, we assessed both the genomic stability and phenotypic properties of L. rhamnosus GG throughout an industrial production process. We found that neither genomic nor phenotypic changes occurred in the samples. Therefore, we demonstrate that L. rhamnosus GG retains the spaCBA-srtC1 cluster and exhibits excellent genomic and phenotypic stability in the specific industrial process examined here.
Project description:Four Lactobacillus strains were isolated from marketed probiotic products, including L. rhamnosus strains from Vifit (Friesland Campina) and Idoform (Ferrosan) and L. casei strains from Actimel (Danone) and Yakult (Yakult Honsa Co.). Their genomes and phenotypes were characterized and compared in detail with L. casei strain BL23 and L. rhamnosus strain GG. Phenotypic analysis of the new isolates indicated differences in carbohydrate utilization between L. casei and L. rhamnosus strains, which could be linked to their genotypes. The two isolated L. rhamnosus strains had genomes that were virtually identical to that of L. rhamnosus GG, testifying to their genomic stability and integrity in food products. The L. casei strains showed much greater genomic heterogeneity. Remarkably, all strains contained an intact spaCBA pilus gene cluster. However, only the L. rhamnosus strains produced mucus-binding SpaCBA pili under the conditions tested. Transcription initiation mapping demonstrated that the insertion of an iso-IS30 element upstream of the pilus gene cluster in L. rhamnosus strains but absent in L. casei strains had constituted a functional promoter driving pilus gene expression. All L. rhamnosus strains triggered an NF-?B response via Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) in a reporter cell line, whereas the L. casei strains did not or did so to a much lesser extent. This study demonstrates that the two L. rhamnosus strains isolated from probiotic products are virtually identical to L. rhamnosus GG and further highlights the differences between these and L. casei strains widely marketed as probiotics, in terms of genome content, mucus-binding and metabolic capacities, and host signaling capabilities.
Project description:Effective colonization of host cells by some Gram-positive bacteria often involves using lengthy, adhesive macromolecular structures called sortase-dependent pili. Among commensals, the gut-adapted Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain encodes the operons for two varieties of these pili (SpaCBA and SpaFED), with each structure consisting of backbone, tip, and basal pilin subunits. Although the tertiary structure was recently solved for the backbone subunit (SpaA) of the SpaCBA pilus, no structural information exists for its counterpart in the SpaFED pilus. Here, we report several crystal structures for the SpaD backbone pilin, two of which capture the N-terminal domain in either the closed (linear) or open (bent) conformation. To our knowledge, this is the first observation of the bent conformation in Gram-positive pilin structures. Based on this bent conformation, we suggest a three-stage model, which we call the expose-ligate-seal mechanism, for the docking and assembly of backbone pilins into the sortase-dependent pilus.
Project description:Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is a lactic acid bacterium widely marketed by the food industry. Its genomic analysis led to the identification of a gene cluster encoding mucus-binding SpaCBA pili, which is located in a genomic island enriched in insertion sequence (IS) elements. In the present study, we analyzed by genome-wide resequencing the genomic integrity of L. rhamnosus GG in four distinct evolutionary experiments conducted for approximately 1,000 generations under conditions of no stress or salt, bile, and repetitive-shearing stress. Under both stress-free and salt-induced stress conditions, the GG population (excluding the mutator lineage in the stress-free series [see below]) accumulated only a few single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and no frequent chromosomal rearrangements. In contrast, in the presence of bile salts or repetitive shearing stress, some IS elements were found to be activated, resulting in the deletion of large chromosomal segments that include the spaCBA-srtC1 pilus gene cluster. Remarkably, a high number of SNPs were found in three strains obtained after 900 generations of stress-free growth. Detailed analysis showed that these three strains derived from a founder mutant with an altered DNA polymerase subunit that resulted in a mutator phenotype. The present work confirms the stability of the pilus production phenotype in L. rhamnosus GG under stress-free conditions, highlights the possible evolutionary scenarios that may occur when this probiotic strain is extensively cultured, and identifies external factors that affect the chromosomal integrity of GG. The results provide mechanistic insights into the stability of GG in regard to its extensive use in probiotic and other functional food products.Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is a widely marketed probiotic strain that has been used in numerous clinical studies to assess its health-promoting properties. Hence, the stability of the probiotic functions of L. rhamnosus GG is of importance, and here we studied the impact of external stresses on the genomic integrity of L. rhamnosus GG. We studied three different stresses that are relevant for understanding its robustness and integrity under both ex vivo conditions, i.e., industrial manufacturing conditions, and in vivo conditions, i.e., intestinal tract-associated stress. Overall, our findings contribute to predicting the genomic stability of L. rhamnosus GG and its ecological performance.
Project description:Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, a widely used Gram-positive probiotic strain, is clinically well known for its perceived health-promoting effects. It has recently been shown to display proteinaceous pilus fibres (called SpaCBA) on its cell surface. Structurally, SpaCBA pili possess a characteristic three-pilin polymerized architecture, with repeating SpaA major pilins that form the backbone and two types of minor subunits (SpaB and SpaC). In this study, recombinant SpaA protein was purified, characterized and crystallized. The crystals diffracted to a resolution of 2.0?Å and belonged to space group C2, with unit-cell parameters a=227.9, b=63.2, c=104.3?Å, ?=95.1°.
Project description:To unravel the biological function of the widely used probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, we compared its 3.0-Mbp genome sequence with the similarly sized genome of L. rhamnosus LC705, an adjunct starter culture exhibiting reduced binding to mucus. Both genomes demonstrated high sequence identity and synteny. However, for both strains, genomic islands, 5 in GG and 4 in LC705, punctuated the colinearity. A significant number of strain-specific genes were predicted in these islands (80 in GG and 72 in LC705). The GG-specific islands included genes coding for bacteriophage components, sugar metabolism and transport, and exopolysaccharide biosynthesis. One island only found in L. rhamnosus GG contained genes for 3 secreted LPXTG-like pilins (spaCBA) and a pilin-dedicated sortase. Using anti-SpaC antibodies, the physical presence of cell wall-bound pili was confirmed by immunoblotting. Immunogold electron microscopy showed that the SpaC pilin is located at the pilus tip but also sporadically throughout the structure. Moreover, the adherence of strain GG to human intestinal mucus was blocked by SpaC antiserum and abolished in a mutant carrying an inactivated spaC gene. Similarly, binding to mucus was demonstrated for the purified SpaC protein. We conclude that the presence of SpaC is essential for the mucus interaction of L. rhamnosus GG and likely explains its ability to persist in the human intestinal tract longer than LC705 during an intervention trial. The presence of mucus-binding pili on the surface of a nonpathogenic Gram-positive bacterial strain reveals a previously undescribed mechanism for the interaction of selected probiotic lactobacilli with host tissues.
Project description:Here, we report the extensive bioinformatic and functional analyses of the unusual pLOCK 0919, a plasmid originating from the probiotic Lactobacillus casei LOCK 0919 strain. This plasmid is atypical because it harbors the spaCBA-srtC gene cluster encoding SpaCBA pili. We show that all other spaCBA-srtC sequences of the Lactobacillus genus that have been previously described and deposited in GenBank are present in the chromosomal DNA. Another important observation for pLOCK 0919 is that the spaCBA-srtC gene cluster and its surrounding genes are highly similar to the respective DNA region that is present in the most well-known and active SpaCBA pili producer, the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain. Our results demonstrate that the spaCBA-srtC clusters of pLOCK 0919 and L. rhamnosus GG are genealogically similar, located in DNA regions that are rich in transposase genes and are poorly conserved among the publicly available sequences of Lactobacillus sp. In contrast to chromosomally localized pilus gene clusters from L. casei and Lactobacillus paracasei, the plasmidic spaC of L. casei LOCK 0919 is expressed and undergoes a slight glucose-induced repression. Moreover, results of series of in vitro tests demonstrate that L. casei LOCK 0919 has an adhesion potential, which is largely determined by the presence of the pLOCK 0919 plasmid. In particular, the plasmid occurrence positively influenced the hydrophobicity and aggregation abilities of L. casei LOCK 0919. Moreover, in vivo studies indicate that among the three Lactobacillus strains used to colonize the gastrointestinal tract of germ-free mice, already after 2 days of colonization, L. casei LOCK 0919 became the dominant strain and persisted there for at least 48 days.