A novel C5a-derived immunobiotic peptide reduces Streptococcus agalactiae colonization through targeted bacterial killing.
ABSTRACT: Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus [GBS]) is a Gram-positive bacterium that colonizes the cervicovaginal tract in approximately 25% of healthy women. Although colonization is asymptomatic, GBS can be vertically transmitted to newborns peripartum, causing severe disease such as pneumonia and meningitis. Current prophylaxis, consisting of late gestation screening and intrapartum antibiotics, has failed to completely prevent transmission, and GBS remains a leading cause of neonatal sepsis and meningitis in the United States. Lack of an effective vaccine and emerging antibiotic resistance necessitate exploring novel therapeutic strategies. We have employed a host-directed immunomodulatory therapy using a novel peptide, known as EP67, derived from the C-terminal region of human complement component C5a. Previously, we have demonstrated in vivo that EP67 engagement of the C5a receptor (CD88) effectively limits staphylococcal infection by promoting cytokine release and neutrophil infiltration. Here, using our established mouse model of GBS vaginal colonization, we observed that EP67 treatment results in rapid clearance of GBS from the murine vagina. However, this was not dependent on functional neutrophil recruitment or CD88 signaling, as EP67 treatment reduced the vaginal bacterial load in mice lacking CD88 or the major neutrophil receptor CXCr2. Interestingly, we found that EP67 inhibits GBS growth in vitro and in vivo and that antibacterial activity was specific to Streptococcus species. Our work establishes that EP67-mediated clearance of GBS is likely due to direct bacterial killing rather than to enhanced immune stimulation. We conclude that EP67 may have potential as a therapeutic to control GBS vaginal colonization.
Project description:EP67 is a second-generation, human C5a-derived decapeptide agonist of C5a receptor 1 (C5aR1/CD88) that selectively activates mononuclear phagocytes over neutrophils to potentiate protective innate and adaptive immune responses while potentially minimizing neutrophil-mediated toxicity. Pro7 and N-methyl-Leu8 (Me-Leu8) amino acid residues within EP67 likely induce backbone structural changes that increase potency and selective activation of mononuclear phagocytes over neutrophils versus first-generation EP54. The low coupling efficiency between Pro7 and Me-Leu8 and challenging purification by HPLC, however, greatly increase scale-up costs of EP67 for clinical use. Thus, the goal of this study was to determine whether replacing Pro7 and/or Me-Leu8 with large-scale amenable amino acid residues predicted to induce similar structural changes (cyclohexylalanine7 and/or leucine8) sufficiently preserves EP67 activity in primary human mononuclear phagocytes and neutrophils. We found that EP67 analogues had similar potency, efficacy, and selective activation of mononuclear phagocytes over neutrophils. Thus, replacing Pro7 and/or Me-Leu8 with large-scale amenable amino acid residues predicted to induce similar structural changes is a suitable strategy to overcome scale-up challenges with EP67.
Project description:Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus [GBS]) is often a commensal bacterium that colonizes healthy adults asymptomatically and is a frequent inhabitant of the vaginal tract in women. However, in immunocompromised individuals, particularly the newborn, GBS may transition to an invasive pathogen and cause serious disease. Despite the use of the currently recommended intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis for GBS-positive mothers, GBS remains a leading cause of neonatal septicemia and meningitis. To adapt to the various host environments encountered during its disease cycle, GBS possesses multiple two-component regulatory systems (TCSs). Here we investigated the contribution of a transcriptional regulator containing a LytTR domain, LtdR, to GBS pathogenesis. Disruption of the ltdR gene in the GBS chromosome resulted in a significant increase in bacterial invasion into human cerebral microvascular endothelial cells (hCMEC) in vitro as well as the greater penetration of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the development of meningitis in vivo Correspondingly, infection of hCMEC with the ΔltdR mutant resulted in increased secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-8 (IL-8), CXCL-1, and IL-6. Further, using a mouse model of GBS vaginal colonization, we observed that the ΔltdR mutant was cleared more readily from the vaginal tract and also that infection with the ΔltdR mutant resulted in increased cytokine production from human vaginal epithelial cells. RNA sequencing revealed global transcriptional differences between the ΔltdR mutant and the parental wild-type GBS strain. These results suggest that LtdR regulates many bacterial processes that can influence GBS-host interactions to promote both bacterial persistence and disease progression.
Project description:Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a major opportunistic pathogen in certain adult populations, including pregnant women, and remains a leading etiologic agent of newborn disease. During pregnancy, GBS asymptomatically colonizes the vaginal tract of 20-30% of healthy women, but can be transmitted to the neonate in utero or during birth resulting in neonatal pneumonia, sepsis, meningitis, and subsequently 10-15% mortality regardless of antibiotic treatment. While various GBS virulence factors have been implicated in vaginal colonization and invasive disease, the regulation of many of these factors remains unclear. Recently, CRISPR-associated protein-9 (Cas9), an endonuclease known for its role in CRISPR/Cas immunity, has also been observed to modulate virulence in a number of bacterial pathogens. However, the role of Cas9 in GBS colonization and disease pathogenesis has not been well-studied. We performed allelic replacement of cas9 in GBS human clinical isolates of the hypervirulent sequence-type 17 strain lineage to generate isogenic ?cas9 mutants. Compared to parental strains, ?cas9 mutants were attenuated in murine models of hematogenous meningitis and vaginal colonization and exhibited significantly decreased invasion of human brain endothelium and adherence to vaginal epithelium. To determine if Cas9 alters transcription in GBS, we performed RNA-Seq analysis and found that 353 genes (>17% of the GBS genome) were differentially expressed between the parental WT and ?cas9 mutant strain. Significantly dysregulated genes included those encoding predicted virulence factors, metabolic factors, two-component systems (TCS), and factors important for cell wall formation. These findings were confirmed by qRT-PCR and suggest that Cas9 may regulate a significant portion of the GBS genome. We studied one of the TCS regulators, CiaR, that was significantly downregulated in the ?cas9 mutant strain. RNA-Seq analysis of the WT and ?ciaR strains demonstrated that almost all CiaR-regulated genes were also significantly regulated by Cas9, suggesting that Cas9 may modulate GBS gene expression through other regulators. Further we show that CiaR contributes to GBS vaginal colonization and persistence. Altogether, these data highlight the potential complexity and importance of the non-canonical function of Cas9 in GBS colonization and disease.
Project description:Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the primary etiological agent of sepsis and meningitis in newborns and is associated with premature birth and stillbirth. The development of a licensed vaccine is one of the pending challenges for the World Health Organization. Previously, we showed that oral immunization with surface immune protein (SIP) decreases vaginal colonization of GBS and generates functional opsonizing antibodies, which was determined by opsonophagocytic assays (OPA) in vitro. We also showed that the protein has an adjuvant vaccine profile. Therefore, an oral vaccine based on SIP may be an attractive alternative to employ in the development of new vaccines against GBS. Lactococcus lactis is a highlighted oral vaccine probiotic inducer of the mucosal immune response. This bacterium could serve as an antigen-delivering vehicle for the development of an edible vaccine and has been used in clinical trials. In this study, we showed that an oral vaccine with a recombinant L. lactis strain secreting SIP from GBS (rL. lactis-SIP) can induce protective humoral and cellular immunity in an experimental model of GBS vaginal colonization in C57BL/6 mice. Mice immunized with rL. lactis-SIP were protected against clinical symptoms and bacterial colonization after GBS vaginal colonization. Our rL. lactis-SIP vaccine also induces an increase of immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin A (IgA) specifically against SIP. The adoptive transfer of serum from vaccinated mice to naïve mice generated protection against GBS vaginal colonization. Moreover, the rL. lactis-SIP strain induces the activation of SIP-specific T cells, which could decrease GBS vaginal colonization and generate protective antibodies when transferred to other mice. Our experimental observations strongly support the notion that rL. lactis-SIP induces protective humoral and cellular immunity and could be considered as a novel alternative in the development of vaccines for GBS.
Project description:Streptococcus agalactiae, also known as Group B Streptococcus (GBS), is a Gram-positive bacterium isolated from the vaginal tract of approximately 25% of women. GBS colonization of the female reproductive tract is of particular concern during pregnancy as the bacteria can invade gestational tissues or be transmitted to the newborn during passage through the birth canal. Infection of the neonate can result in life-threatening pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis. Thus, surveillance of GBS strains and corresponding virulence potential during colonization is warranted. Here we describe a panel of GBS isolates from the vaginal tracts of a cohort of pregnant women in Michigan, USA. We determined that capsular serotypes III and V were the most abundant across the strain panel, with only one isolate belonging to serotype IV. Further, 12.8% of strains belonged to the hyper-virulent serotype III, sequence type 17 (ST-17) and 15.4% expressed the serine rich repeat glycoprotein-encoding gene srr2. Functional assessment of the colonizing isolates revealed that almost all strains exhibited some level of ?-hemolytic activity and that ST-17 strains, which express Srr2, exhibited increased bacterial adherence to vaginal epithelium. Finally, analysis of strain antibiotic susceptibility revealed the presence of antibiotic resistance to penicillin (15.4%), clindamycin (30.8%), erythromycin (43.6%), vancomycin (30.8%), and tetracycline (94.9%), which has significant implications for treatment options. Collectively, these data provide important information on vaginal GBS carriage isolate virulence potential and highlight the value of continued surveillance.
Project description:Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B?Streptococcus, GBS) is a frequent commensal organism of the vaginal tract of healthy women. However, GBS can transition to a pathogen in susceptible hosts, but host and microbial factors that contribute to this conversion are not well understood. GBS CovR/S (CsrR/S) is a two component regulatory system that regulates key virulence elements including adherence and toxin production. We performed global transcription profiling of human vaginal epithelial cells exposed to WT, CovR deficient, and toxin deficient strains, and observed that insufficient regulation by CovR and subsequent increased toxin production results in a drastic increase in host inflammatory responses, particularly in cytokine signalling pathways promoted by IL-8 and CXCL2. Additionally, we observed that CovR regulation impacts epithelial cell attachment and intracellular invasion. In our mouse model of GBS vaginal colonization, we further demonstrated that CovR regulation promotes vaginal persistence, as infection with a CovR deficient strainresulted in a heightened host immune response as measured by cytokine production and neutrophil activation. Using CXCr2 KO mice, we determined that this immune alteration occurs, at least in part, via signalling through the CXCL2 receptor. Taken together, we conclude that CovR is an important regulator of GBS vaginal colonization and loss of this regulatory function may contribute to the inflammatory havoc seen during the course of infection.
Project description:Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Streptococcus, GBS) can colonize the human vaginal tract leading to both superficial and serious infections in adults and neonates. To study bacterial colonization of the reproductive tract in a mammalian system, we employed a murine vaginal carriage model. Using RNASeq, the transcriptome of GBS growing in vivo during vaginal carriage was determined. Over one-quarter of the genes in GBS were found to be differentially regulated during in vivo colonization as compared to laboratory cultures. A two-component system (TCS) homologous to the staphylococcal virulence regulator SaeRS was identified as being up-regulated in vivo. One of the SaeRS targets, pbsP, a proposed GBS vaccine candidate, was shown to be important for colonization of the vaginal tract. A component of vaginal lavage fluid acted as a signal to turn on pbsP expression via SaeRS. These data demonstrate the ability to quantify RNA expression directly from the murine vaginal tract and identify novel genes involved in vaginal colonization by GBS. They also provide more information about the regulation of an important virulence and colonization factor of GBS, pbsP, by the TCS SaeRS. Overall design: RNASeq data from WT and mutant GBS samples taken from liquid culture or the murine vaginal tract
Project description:Biofilm infections often lead to significant morbidity due to their chronicity and recalcitrance to antibiotics. We have demonstrated that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) biofilms can evade macrophage (M?) antibacterial effector mechanisms by skewing M?s toward an alternatively activated M2 phenotype. To overcome this immune evasion, we have used two complementary approaches. In the first, a proinflammatory milieu was elicited by local administration of classically activated M1 M?s and in the second by treatment with the C5a receptor (CD88) agonist EP67, which invokes M? proinflammatory activity. Early administration of M1-activated M?s or EP67 significantly attenuated biofilm formation in a mouse model of MRSA catheter-associated infection. Several proinflammatory mediators were significantly elevated in biofilm-infected tissues from M?- and EP67-treated animals, revealing effective reprogramming of the biofilm environment to a proinflammatory milieu. A requirement for M? proinflammatory activity was demonstrated by the fact that transfer of MyD88-deficient M?s had minimal impact on biofilm growth. Likewise, neutrophil administration had no effect on biofilm formation. Treatment of established biofilm infections with M1-activated M?s also significantly reduced catheter-associated biofilm burdens compared with antibiotic treatment. Collectively, these results demonstrate that targeting M? proinflammatory activity can overcome the local immune inhibitory environment created during biofilm infections and represents a novel therapeutic strategy.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Group B Streptococcus (GBS) frequently colonizes pregnant women and can cause sepsis and meningitis in young infants. If colonization was prevented through maternal immunization, a reduction in perinatal GBS disease might be possible. A GBS type III capsular polysaccharide (CPS)-tetanus toxoid conjugate (III-TT) vaccine was evaluated for safety and efficacy in preventing acquisition of GBS colonization. METHODS:Healthy, nonpregnant women aged 18-40 years and screened to be GBS III vaginal and rectal culture negative were randomized to receive III-TT conjugate or tetanus diphtheria toxoid vaccine in a multicenter, observer-blinded trial. GBS vaginal and rectal cultures and blood were obtained bimonthly over 18 months. Serum concentrations of GBS III CPS-specific antibodies were determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RESULTS:Among 1525 women screened, 650 were eligible for the intent-to-treat analysis. For time to first acquisition of vaginal GBS III, vaccine efficacy was 36% (95% confidence interval [CI], 1%-58%; P = .044), and for first rectal acquisition efficacy was 43% (95% CI, 11% to 63%; P = .014). Two months post-immunization, geometric mean concentrations of serum GBS type III CPS-specific immunoglobulin G were 12.6 µg/mL (95% CI, 9.95 to 15.81) in GBS III-TT recipients, representing a 4-fold increase from baseline in 95% of women, which persisted. Both vaccines were well tolerated. CONCLUSIONS:GBS CPS III-TT conjugate vaccine significantly delayed acquisition of vaginal and rectal GBS III colonization. In addition to its use for maternal immunization to passively protect infants with maternally derived antibodies, a multivalent vaccine might also serve to reduce fetal and neonatal exposure to GBS. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION:NCT00128219.
Project description:Background:Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus [GBS]) asymptomatically colonizes approximately 20% of adults; however, GBS causes severe disease in susceptible populations, including newborns, pregnant women, and elderly individuals. In shifting between commensal and pathogenic states, GBS reveals multiple mechanisms of virulence factor control. Here we describe a GBS protein that we named "biofilm regulatory protein A" (BrpA) on the basis of its homology with BrpA from Streptococcus mutans. Methods:We coupled phenotypic assays, RNA sequencing, human neutrophil and whole-blood killing assays, and murine infection models to investigate the contribution of BrpA to GBS physiology and virulence. Results:Sequence analysis identified BrpA as a LytR-CpsA-Psr enzyme. Targeted mutagenesis yielded a GBS mutant (?brpA) with normal ultrastructural morphology but a 6-fold increase in chain length, a biofilm defect, and decreased acid tolerance. GBS ?brpA stimulated increased neutrophil reactive oxygen species and proved more susceptible to human and murine blood and neutrophil killing. Notably, the wild-type parent outcompeted ?brpA GBS in murine sepsis and vaginal colonization models. RNA sequencing of ?brpA uncovered multiple differences from the wild-type parent, including pathways of cell wall synthesis and cellular metabolism. Conclusions:We propose that BrpA is an important virulence regulator and potential target for design of novel antibacterial therapeutics against GBS.