Functional characterization of Burkholderia pseudomallei trimeric autotransporters.
ABSTRACT: Burkholderia pseudomallei is a tier 1 select agent and the causative agent of melioidosis, a severe and often fatal disease with symptoms ranging from acute pneumonia and septic shock to a chronic infection characterized by abscess formation in the lungs, liver, and spleen. Autotransporters (ATs) are exoproteins belonging to the type V secretion system family, with many playing roles in pathogenesis. The genome of B. pseudomallei strain 1026b encodes nine putative trimeric AT proteins, of which only four have been described. Using a bioinformatic approach, we annotated putative domains within each trimeric AT protein, excluding the well-studied BimA protein, and found short repeated sequences unique to Burkholderia species, as well as an unexpectedly large proportion of ATs with extended signal peptide regions (ESPRs). To characterize the role of trimeric ATs in pathogenesis, we constructed disruption or deletion mutations in each of eight AT-encoding genes and evaluated the resulting strains for adherence to, invasion of, and plaque formation in A549 cells. The majority of the ATs (and/or the proteins encoded downstream) contributed to adherence to and efficient invasion of A549 cells. Using a BALB/c mouse model of infection, we determined the contributions of each AT to bacterial burdens in the lungs, liver, and spleen. At 48 h postinoculation, only one strain, Bp340::pDbpaC, demonstrated a defect in dissemination and/or survival in the liver, indicating that BpaC is required for wild-type virulence in this model.
Project description:Burkholderia pseudomallei is the causative agent of the severe tropical disease melioidosis, which commonly presents as sepsis. The B. pseudomallei K96243 genome encodes eleven predicted autotransporters, a diverse family of secreted and outer membrane proteins often associated with virulence. In a systematic study of these autotransporters, we constructed insertion mutants in each gene predicted to encode an autotransporter and assessed them for three pathogenesis-associated phenotypes: virulence in the BALB/c intra-peritoneal mouse melioidosis model, net intracellular replication in J774.2 murine macrophage-like cells and survival in 45% (v/v) normal human serum. From the complete repertoire of eleven autotransporter mutants, we identified eight mutants which exhibited an increase in median lethal dose of 1 to 2-log10 compared to the isogenic parent strain (bcaA, boaA, boaB, bpaA, bpaC, bpaE, bpaF and bimA). Four mutants, all demonstrating attenuation for virulence, exhibited reduced net intracellular replication in J774.2 macrophage-like cells (bimA, boaB, bpaC and bpaE). A single mutant (bpaC) was identified that exhibited significantly reduced serum survival compared to wild-type. The bpaC mutant, which demonstrated attenuation for virulence and net intracellular replication, was sensitive to complement-mediated killing via the classical and/or lectin pathway. Serum resistance was rescued by in trans complementation. Subsequently, we expressed recombinant proteins of the passenger domain of four predicted autotransporters representing each of the phenotypic groups identified: those attenuated for virulence (BcaA), those attenuated for virulence and net intracellular replication (BpaE), the BpaC mutant with defects in virulence, net intracellular replication and serum resistance and those displaying wild-type phenotypes (BatA). Only BcaA and BpaE elicited a strong IFN-? response in a restimulation assay using whole blood from seropositive donors and were recognised by seropositive human sera from the endemic area. To conclude, several predicted autotransporters contribute to B. pseudomallei virulence and BpaC may do so by conferring resistance against complement-mediated killing.
Project description:Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. mallei are bacterial pathogens that cause melioidosis and glanders, whereas their close relative B. thailandensis is non-pathogenic. All use the trimeric autotransporter BimA to facilitate actin-based motility, host cell fusion, and dissemination. Here, we show that BimA orthologs mimic different host actin-polymerizing proteins. B. thailandensis BimA activates the host Arp2/3 complex. In contrast, B. pseudomallei and B. mallei BimA mimic host Ena/VASP actin polymerases in their ability to nucleate, elongate, and bundle filaments by associating with barbed ends, as well as in their use of WH2 motifs and oligomerization for activity. Mechanistic differences among BimA orthologs resulted in distinct actin filament organization and motility parameters, which affected the efficiency of cell fusion during infection. Our results identify bacterial Ena/VASP mimics and reveal that pathogens imitate the full spectrum of host actin-polymerizing pathways, suggesting that mimicry of different polymerization mechanisms influences key parameters of infection.
Project description:Recently we identified a bacterial factor (BimA) required for actin-based motility of Burkholderia pseudomallei. Here we report that Burkholderia mallei and Burkholderia thailandensis are capable of actin-based motility in J774.2 cells and that BimA homologs of these bacteria can restore the actin-based motility defect of a B. pseudomallei bimA mutant. While the BimA homologs differ in their amino-terminal sequence, they interact directly with actin in vitro and vary in their ability to bind Arp3.
Project description:Actin-based motility of the melioidosis pathogen Burkholderia pseudomallei requires BimA. We report a high degree of conservation of bimA in 99 B. pseudomallei isolates from the area of endemicity. A geographically restricted subset of B. pseudomallei isolates harbored a B. mallei-like bimA allele (12.1%), confounding a differential diagnostic test based on amplification of species-specific bimA regions.
Project description:Background:Burkholderia pseudomallei causes melioidosis, a serious illness that can be fatal if untreated or misdiagnosed. Culture from clinical specimens remains the gold standard but has low diagnostic sensitivity. Method:In this study, we developed a rapid, sensitive and specific insulated isothermal Polymerase Chain Reaction (iiPCR) targeting bimA gene (Burkholderia Intracellular Motility A; BPSS1492) for the identification of B. pseudomallei. A pair of novel primers: BimA(F) and BimA(R) together with a probe were designed and 121 clinical B. pseudomallei strains obtained from numerous clinical sources and 10 ATCC non-targeted strains were tested with iiPCR and qPCR in parallel. Results:All 121 B. pseudomallei isolates were positive for qPCR while 118 isolates were positive for iiPCR, demonstrating satisfactory agreement (97.71%; 95% CI [93.45-99.53%]; k = 0.87). Sensitivity of the bimA iiPCR/POCKIT assay was 97.52% with the lower detection limit of 14 ng/µL of B. pseudomallei DNA. The developed iiPCR assay did not cross-react with 10 types of non-targeted strains, indicating good specificity. Conclusion:This bimA iiPCR/POCKIT assay will undoubtedly complement other methodologies used in the clinical laboratory for the rapid identification of this pathogen.
Project description:BACKGROUND:During infection, successful bacterial clearance is achieved via the host immune system acting in conjunction with appropriate antibiotic therapy. However, it still remains a tip of the iceberg as to where persistent pathogens namely, Burkholderia pseudomallei (B. pseudomallei) reside/hide to escape from host immune sensors and antimicrobial pressure. METHODS:We used transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to investigate post-mortem tissue sections of patients with clinical melioidosis to identify the localisation of a recently identified gut microbiome, B. pseudomallei within host cells. The intranuclear presence of B. pseudomallei was confirmed using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of experimentally infected guinea pig spleen tissues and Live Z-stack, and ImageJ analysis of fluorescence microscopy analysis of in vitro infection of A549 human lung epithelial cells. RESULTS:TEM investigations revealed intranuclear localization of B. pseudomallei in cells of infected human lung and guinea pig spleen tissues. We also found that B. pseudomallei induced actin polymerization following infection of A549 human lung epithelial cells. Infected A549 lung epithelial cells using 3D-Laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM) and immunofluorescence microscopy confirmed the intranuclear localization of B. pseudomallei. CONCLUSION:B. pseudomallei was found within the nuclear compartment of host cells. The nucleus may play a role as an occult or transient niche for persistence of intracellular pathogens, potentially leading to recurrrent episodes or recrudescence of infection.
Project description:Burkholderia pseudomallei, the etiologic agent of melioidosis, is a saprophytic bacterium readily isolated from wet soils of countries bordering the equator. Burkholderia mallei is a host-adapted clone of B. pseudomallei that does not persist outside of its equine reservoir and causes the zoonosis glanders, which is endemic in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America. Infection by these organisms typically occurs via percutaneous inoculation or inhalation of aerosols, and the most common manifestation is severe pneumonia leading to fatal bacteremia. Glanders and melioidosis are difficult to diagnose and require prolonged antibiotic therapy with low success rates. There are no vaccines available to protect against either Burkholderia species, and there is concern regarding their use as biological warfare agents given that B. mallei has previously been utilized in this manner. Hence, experiments were performed to establish a mouse model of aerosol infection to study the organisms and develop countermeasures. Using a hand-held aerosolizer, BALB/c mice were inoculated intratracheally with strains B. pseudomallei 1026b and B. mallei ATCC23344 and growth of the agents in the lungs, as well as dissemination to the spleen, were examined. Mice infected with 10(2), 10(3) and 10(4) organisms were unable to control growth of B. mallei in the lungs and bacteria rapidly disseminated to the spleen. Though similar results were observed in mice inoculated with 10(3) and 10(4) B. pseudomallei cells, animals infected with 10(2) organisms controlled bacterial replication in the lungs, dissemination to the spleen, and the extent of bacteremia. Analysis of sera from mice surviving acute infection revealed that animals produced antibodies against antigens known to be targets of the immune response in humans. Taken together, these data show that small volume aerosol inoculation of mice results in acute disease, dose-dependent chronic infection, and immune responses that correlate with those seen in human infections.
Project description:The intracellular pathogen Burkholderia pseudomallei, the etiological agent of melioidosis in humans and various animals, is capable of survival and movement within the cytoplasm of host cells by a process known as actin-based motility. The bacterial factor BimA is required for actin-based motility through its direct interaction with actin, and by mediating actin polymerization at a single pole of the bacterium to promote movement both within and between cells. However, little is known about the other bacterial proteins required for this process. Here, we have investigated the role of the bimC gene (bpss1491) which lies immediately upstream of the bimA gene (bpss1492) on the B. pseudomallei chromosome 2. Conserved amongst all B. pseudomallei, B. mallei and B. thailandensis strains sequenced to date, this gene encodes an iron-binding protein with homology to a group of proteins known as the bacterial autotransporter heptosyltransferase (BAHT) family. We have constructed a B. pseudomallei bimC deletion mutant and demonstrate that it is defective in intracellular survival in HeLa cells, but not in J774.1 macrophage-like cells. The bimC mutant is defective in cell to cell spread as demonstrated by ablation of plaque formation in HeLa cells, and by the inability to form multi-nucleated giant cells in J774.1 cells. These phenotypes in intracellular survival and cell to cell spread are not due to the loss of expression and polar localization of the BimA protein on the surface of intracellular bacteria, however they do correlate with an inability of the bacteria to recruit and polymerize actin. Furthermore, we also establish a role for bimC in virulence of B. pseudomallei using a Galleria mellonella larvae model of infection. Taken together, our findings indicate that B. pseudomallei BimC plays an important role in intracellular behavior and virulence of this emerging pathogen.
Project description:Infection by the Gram-negative pathogen Burkholderia pseudomallei results in the disease melioidosis, acquired from the environment in parts of southeast Asia and northern Australia. Clinical symptoms of melioidosis range from acute (fever, pneumonia, septicemia, and localized infection) to chronic (abscesses in various organs and tissues, most commonly occurring in the lungs, liver, spleen, kidney, prostate and skeletal muscle), and persistent infections in humans are difficult to cure. Understanding the basic biology and genomics of B. pseudomallei is imperative for the development of new vaccines and therapeutic interventions. This formidable task is becoming more tractable due to the increasing number of B. pseudomallei genomes that are being sequenced and compared. Here, we compared three B. pseudomallei genomes, from strains MSHR668, K96243 and 1106a, to identify features that might explain why MSHR668 is more virulent than K96243 and 1106a in a mouse model of B. pseudomallei infection. Our analyses focused on metabolic, virulence and regulatory genes that were present in MSHR668 but absent from both K96243 and 1106a. We also noted features present in K96243 and 1106a but absent from MSHR668, and identified genomic differences that may contribute to variations in virulence noted among the three B. pseudomallei isolates. While this work contributes to our understanding of B. pseudomallei genomics, more detailed experiments are necessary to characterize the relevance of specific genomic features to B. pseudomallei metabolism and virulence. Functional analyses of metabolic networks, virulence and regulation shows promise for examining the effects of B. pseudomallei on host cell metabolism and will lay a foundation for future prediction of the virulence of emerging strains. Continued emphasis in this area will be critical for protection against melioidosis, as a better understanding of what constitutes a fully virulent Burkholderia isolate may provide for better diagnostic and medical countermeasure strategies.
Project description:Pulmonary Francisella tularensis and Burkholderia pseudomallei infections are highly lethal in untreated patients, and current antibiotic regimens are not always effective. Activating the innate immune system provides an alternative means of treating infection and can also complement antibiotic therapies. Several natural agonists were screened for their ability to enhance host resistance to infection, and polysaccharides derived from the Acai berry (Acai PS) were found to have potent abilities as an immunotherapeutic to treat F. tularensis and B. pseudomallei infections. In vitro, Acai PS impaired replication of Francisella in primary human macrophages co-cultured with autologous NK cells via augmentation of NK cell IFN-?. Furthermore, Acai PS administered nasally before or after infection protected mice against type A F. tularensis aerosol challenge with survival rates up to 80%, and protection was still observed, albeit reduced, when mice were treated two days post-infection. Nasal Acai PS administration augmented intracellular expression of IFN-? by NK cells in the lungs of F. tularensis-infected mice, and neutralization of IFN-? ablated the protective effect of Acai PS. Likewise, nasal Acai PS treatment conferred protection against pulmonary infection with B. pseudomallei strain 1026b. Acai PS dramatically reduced the replication of B. pseudomallei in the lung and blocked bacterial dissemination to the spleen and liver. Nasal administration of Acai PS enhanced IFN-? responses by NK and ?? T cells in the lungs, while neutralization of IFN-? totally abrogated the protective effect of Acai PS against pulmonary B. pseudomallei infection. Collectively, these results demonstrate Acai PS is a potent innate immune agonist that can resolve F. tularensis and B. pseudomallei infections, suggesting this innate immune agonist has broad-spectrum activity against virulent intracellular pathogens.