AB5075, a Highly Virulent Isolate of Acinetobacter baumannii, as a Model Strain for the Evaluation of Pathogenesis and Antimicrobial Treatments.
ABSTRACT: Acinetobacter baumannii is recognized as an emerging bacterial pathogen because of traits such as prolonged survival in a desiccated state, effective nosocomial transmission, and an inherent ability to acquire antibiotic resistance genes. A pressing need in the field of A. baumannii research is a suitable model strain that is representative of current clinical isolates, is highly virulent in established animal models, and can be genetically manipulated. To identify a suitable strain, a genetically diverse set of recent U.S. military clinical isolates was assessed. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and multiplex PCR determined the genetic diversity of 33 A. baumannii isolates. Subsequently, five representative isolates were tested in murine pulmonary and Galleria mellonella models of infection. Infections with one strain, AB5075, were considerably more severe in both animal models than those with other isolates, as there was a significant decrease in survival rates. AB5075 also caused osteomyelitis in a rat open fracture model, while another isolate did not. Additionally, a Tn5 transposon library was successfully generated in AB5075, and the insertion of exogenous genes into the AB5075 chromosome via Tn7 was completed, suggesting that this isolate may be genetically amenable for research purposes. Finally, proof-of-concept experiments with the antibiotic rifampin showed that this strain can be used in animal models to assess therapies under numerous parameters, including survival rates and lung bacterial burden. We propose that AB5075 can serve as a model strain for A. baumannii pathogenesis due to its relatively recent isolation, multidrug resistance, reproducible virulence in animal models, and genetic tractability.The incidence of A. baumannii infections has increased over the last decade, and unfortunately, so has antibiotic resistance in this bacterial species. A. baumannii is now responsible for more than 10% of all hospital-acquired infections in the United States and has a >50% mortality rate in patients with sepsis and pneumonia. Most research on the pathogenicity of A. baumannii focused on isolates that are not truly representative of current multidrug-resistant strains isolated from patients. After screening of a panel of isolates in different in vitro and in vivo assays, the strain AB5075 was selected as more suitable for research because of its antibiotic resistance profile and increased virulence in animal models. Moreover, AB5075 is susceptible to tetracycline and hygromycin, which makes it amenable to genetic manipulation. Taken together, these traits make AB5075 a good candidate for use in studying virulence and pathogenicity of this species and testing novel antimicrobials.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is a Gram-negative bacterial pathogen notorious for causing serious nosocomial infections that resist antibiotic therapy. Research to identify factors responsible for the pathogen's success has been limited by the resources available for genome-scale experimental studies. This report describes the development of several such resources for A. baumannii strain AB5075, a recently characterized wound isolate that is multidrug resistant and displays robust virulence in animal models. We report the completion and annotation of the genome sequence, the construction of a comprehensive ordered transposon mutant library, the extension of high-coverage transposon mutant pool sequencing (Tn-seq) to the strain, and the identification of the genes essential for growth on nutrient-rich agar. These resources should facilitate large-scale genetic analysis of virulence, resistance, and other clinically relevant traits that make A. baumannii a formidable public health threat.Acinetobacter baumannii is one of six bacterial pathogens primarily responsible for antibiotic-resistant infections that have become the scourge of health care facilities worldwide. Eliminating such infections requires a deeper understanding of the factors that enable the pathogen to persist in hospital environments, establish infections, and resist antibiotics. We present a set of resources that should accelerate genome-scale genetic characterization of these traits for a reference isolate of A. baumannii that is highly virulent and representative of current outbreak strains.
Project description:The emergence of Acinetobacter baumannii strains, with broad multidrug-resistance phenotypes and novel virulence factors unique to hypervirulent strains, presents a major threat to human health worldwide. Although a number of studies have described virulence-affecting entities for this organism, very few have identified regulatory elements controlling their expression. Previously, our group has documented the global identification and curation of regulatory RNAs in A. baumannii. As such, in the present study, we detail an extension of this work, the performance of an extensive bioinformatic analysis to identify regulatory proteins in the recently annotated genome of the highly virulent AB5075 strain. In so doing, 243 transcription factors, 14 two-component systems (TCSs), 2 orphan response regulators, 1 hybrid TCS and 5 ? factors were found. A comparison of these elements between AB5075 and other clinical isolates, as well as a laboratory strain, led to the identification of several conserved regulatory elements, whilst at the same time uncovering regulators unique to hypervirulent strains. Lastly, by comparing regulatory elements compiled in this study to genes shown to be essential for AB5075 infection, we were able to highlight elements with a specific importance for pathogenic behaviour. Collectively, our work offers a unique insight into the regulatory network of A. baumannii strains, and provides insight into the evolution of hypervirulent lineages.
Project description:The nosocomial pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii is a frequent cause of hospital-acquired infections worldwide and is a challenge for treatment due to its evolved resistance to antibiotics, including carbapenems. Here, to gain insight on A. baumannii antibiotic resistance mechanisms, we analyse the protein interaction network of a multidrug-resistant A. baumannii clinical strain (AB5075). Using in vivo chemical cross-linking and mass spectrometry, we identify 2,068 non-redundant cross-linked peptide pairs containing 245 intra- and 398 inter-molecular interactions. Outer membrane proteins OmpA and YiaD, and carbapenemase Oxa-23 are hubs of the identified interaction network. Eighteen novel interactors of Oxa-23 are identified. Interactions of Oxa-23 with outer membrane porins OmpA and CarO are verified with co-immunoprecipitation analysis. Furthermore, transposon mutagenesis of oxa-23 or interactors of Oxa-23 demonstrates changes in meropenem or imipenem sensitivity in strain AB5075. These results provide a view of porin-localized antibiotic inactivation and increase understanding of bacterial antibiotic resistance mechanisms.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>The increasing emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens represents a serious risk to human health and the entire health care system. Many currently circulating strains of Acinetobacter baumannii exhibit resistance to multiple antibiotics. A key limitation in combating A. baumannii is that our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of A. baumannii is lacking. To identify potential virulence determinants of a contemporary multidrug-resistant isolate of A. baumannii, we used transposon insertion sequencing (TnSeq) of strain AB5075. A collection of 250,000 A. baumannii transposon mutants was analyzed for growth within Galleria mellonella larvae, an insect-based infection model. The screen identified 300 genes that were specifically required for survival and/or growth of A. baumannii inside G. mellonella larvae. These genes encompass both known, established virulence factors and several novel genes. Among these were more than 30 transcription factors required for growth in G. mellonella. A subset of the transcription factors was also found to be required for resistance to antibiotics and environmental stress. This work thus establishes a novel connection between virulence and resistance to both antibiotics and environmental stress in A. baumannii.<h4>Importance</h4>Acinetobacter baumannii is rapidly emerging as a significant human pathogen, largely because of disinfectant and antibiotic resistance, causing lethal infection in fragile hosts. Despite the increasing prevalence of infections with multidrug-resistant A. baumannii strains, little is known regarding not only the molecular mechanisms that allow A. baumannii to resist environmental stresses (i.e., antibiotics and disinfectants) but also how these pathogens survive within an infected host to cause disease. We employed a large-scale genetic screen to identify genes required for A. baumannii to survive and grow in an insect disease model. While we identified many known virulence factors harbored by A. baumannii, we also discovered many novel genes that likely play key roles in A. baumannii survival of exposure to antibiotics and other stress-inducing chemicals. These results suggest that selection for increased resistance to antibiotics and environmental stress may inadvertently select for increased virulence in A. baumannii.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is responsible for 10% of all nosocomial infections and has >50% mortality rates when causing ventilator-associated pneumonia. In this proof-of-concept study, we evaluated SPR741, an antibiotic adjuvant that permeabilizes the Gram-negative membrane, in combination with rifampin against AB5075, an extensively drug-resistant (XDR) A. baumannii strain. In standard in vitro assays and in a murine pulmonary model, we found that this drug combination can significantly reduce bacterial burden and promote animal survival despite an aggressive infection.
Project description:With a great diversity in gene composition, including multiple putative antibiotic resistance genes, AbaR islands are potential contributors to multidrug resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii However, the effective contribution of AbaR to antibiotic resistance and bacterial physiology remains elusive. To address this, we sought to accurately remove AbaR islands and restore the integrity of their insertion site. To this end, we devised a versatile scarless genome editing strategy. We performed this genetic modification in two recent A. baumannii clinical strains: the strain AB5075 and the nosocomial strain AYE, which carry AbaR11 and AbaR1 islands of 19.7 kbp and 86.2 kbp, respectively. Antibiotic susceptibilities were then compared between the parental strains and their AbaR-cured derivatives. As anticipated by the predicted function of the open reading frame (ORF) of this island, the antibiotic resistance profiles were identical between the wild type and the AbaR11-cured AB5075 strains. In contrast, AbaR1 carries 25 ORFs, with predicted resistance to several classes of antibiotics, and the AYE AbaR1-cured derivative showed restored susceptibility to multiple classes of antibiotics. Moreover, curing of AbaRs restored high levels of natural transformability. Indeed, most AbaR islands are inserted into the comM gene involved in natural transformation. Our data indicate that AbaR insertion effectively inactivates comM and that the restored comM is functional. Curing of AbaR consistently resulted in highly transformable and therefore easily genetically tractable strains. Emendation of AbaR provides insight into the functional consequences of AbaR acquisition.
Project description:Heteroresistance is a phenomenon where a subpopulation of cells exhibits higher levels of antibiotic resistance than the general population. Analysis of tobramycin resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii AB5075 using Etest strips demonstrated that colonies with increased resistance arose at high frequency within the zone of growth inhibition. The presence of a resistant subpopulation was confirmed by population analysis profiling (PAP). The tobramycin-resistant subpopulation was cross resistant to gentamicin but not amikacin. The increased tobramycin resistance phenotype was highly unstable, and cells reverted to a less resistant population at frequencies of 60 to 90% after growth on nonselective media. Furthermore, the frequency of the resistant subpopulation was not increased by preincubation with subinhibitory concentrations of tobramycin. The tobramycin-resistant subpopulation was shown to replicate during the course of antibiotic treatment, demonstrating that these were not persister cells. In A. baumannii AB5075, a large plasmid (p1AB5075) carries aadB, a 2″-nucleotidyltransferase that confers resistance to both tobramycin and gentamicin but not amikacin. The aadB gene is part of an integron and is carried adjacent to four additional resistance genes that are all flanked by copies of an integrase gene. In isolates with increased resistance, this region was highly amplified in a RecA-dependent manner. However, in a recA mutant, colonies with unstable tobramycin resistance arose by a mechanism that did not involve amplification of this region. These data indicate that tobramycin heteroresistance occurs by at least two mechanisms in A. baumannii, and future studies to determine its effect on patient outcomes are warranted.IMPORTANCEAcinetobacter baumannii has become an important pathogen in hospitals worldwide, where the incidence of these infections has been increasing. A. baumannii infections have become exceedingly difficult to treat due to a rapid increase in the frequency of multidrug- and pan-resistant isolates. This has prompted the World Health Organization to list A. baumannii as the top priority for the research and development of new antibiotics. This study reports for the first time a detailed analysis of aminoglycoside heteroresistance in A. baumannii We define the mechanistic basis for heteroresistance, where the aadB(ant2″)Ia gene encoding an aminoglycoside adenylyltransferase becomes highly amplified in a RecA-dependent manner. Remarkably, this amplification of 20 to 40 copies occurs stochastically in 1/200 cells in the absence of antibiotic selection. In addition, we provide evidence for a second RecA-independent mechanism for aminoglycoside heteroresistance. This study reveals that aminoglycoside resistance in A. baumannii is far more complex than previously realized and has important implications for the use of aminoglycosides in treating A. baumannii infections.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is a Gram-negative organism that is a cause of hospital-acquired multidrug-resistant (MDR) infections. A. baumannii has a unique cell surface compared to those of many other Gram-negative pathogens in that it can live without lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and it has a high content of cardiolipin in the outer membrane. Therefore, to better understand the cell envelope and mechanisms of MDR A. baumannii, we screened a transposon library for mutants with defective permeability barrier function, defined as a deficiency in the ability to exclude the phosphatase chromogenic substrate 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolylphosphate (XP). We identified multiple mutants with mutations in the ABUW_0982 gene, predicted to encode a permease broadly present in A. baumannii isolates with increased susceptibility to the ribosome-targeting antibiotic chloramphenicol (CHL). Moreover, compared to other known CHL resistance genes, such as chloramphenicol acyltransferase genes, we found that ABUW_0982 is the primary determinant of intrinsic CHL resistance in A. baumannii strain 5075 (Ab5075), an important isolate responsible for severe MDR infections in humans. Finally, studies measuring the efflux of chloramphenicol and expression of ABUW_0982 in CHL-susceptible Escherichia coli support the conclusion that ABUW_0982 encodes a single-component efflux protein with specificity for small, hydrophobic molecules, including CHL.
Project description:Recently, a novel phase-variable colony opacity phenotype was discovered in Acinetobacter baumannii strain AB5075, where colonies interconvert between opaque and translucent variants. Opaque colonies become mottled or sectored after 24 h of growth due to translucent variants arising within the colony. This easily distinguishable opaque-colony phenotype was used to screen for random transposon insertions that increased the frequency of sectoring at a time point when wild-type colonies were uniformly opaque. A colony was identified that contained multiple papillae of translucent variants, and the insertion in this mutant mapped to an ortholog of the two-component system response regulator ompR Subsequent investigation of in-frame deletions of ompR and the sensor kinase envZ (located adjacent to ompR) showed that the switching frequency from opaque to translucent was increased 401- and 281-fold, respectively. The ompR mutant also exhibited sensitivity to sodium chloride in growth medium, whereas the envZ mutation did not elicit sensitivity to sodium chloride. Mutation of either gene reduced motility in A. baumannii strain AB5075, but a mutation in both ompR and envZ produced a more profound effect. The ompR and envZ genes were cotranscribed but were not subject to autoregulation by OmpR. Both ompR and envZ mutant opaque variants were attenuated in virulence in the Galleria mellonella infection model, whereas mutation of ompR had no effect on the virulence of the translucent variant. IMPORTANCEAcinetobacter baumannii is a well-known antibiotic-resistant pathogen; many clinical isolates can only be treated by a very small number of antibiotics (including colistin), while some exhibit panresistance. The current antimicrobial arsenal is nearing futility in the treatment of Acinetobacter infections, and new avenues of treatment are profoundly needed. Since phase variation controls the transition between opaque (virulent) and translucent (avirulent) states in A. baumannii, this may represent an "Achilles' heel" that can be targeted via the development of small molecules that lock cells in the translucent state and allow the host immune system to clear the infection. A better understanding of how phase variation is regulated may allow for the development of methods to target this process. The ompR-envZ two-component system ortholog negatively regulates phase variation in A. baumannii, and perturbation of this system leads to the attenuation of virulence in an invertebrate infection model.
Project description:We describe a novel genetic mechanism in which tandem amplification of a plasmid-borne integron regulates virulence, opacity variation, and global gene expression by altering levels of a putative small RNA (sRNA) in Acinetobacter baumannii AB5075. Copy number of this amplified locus correlated with the rate of switching between virulent opaque (VIR-O) and avirulent translucent (AV-T) cells. We found that prototypical VIR-O colonies, which exhibit high levels of switching and visible sectoring with AV-T cells by 24 h of growth, harbor two copies of this locus. However, a subset of opaque colonies that did not form AV-T sectors within 24 h were found to harbor only one copy. The colonies with decreased sectoring to AV-T were designated low-switching opaque (LSO) variants and were found to exhibit a 3-log decrease in switching relative to that of the VIR-O. Overexpression studies revealed that the element regulating switching was localized to the 5' end of the aadB gene within the amplified locus. Northern blotting indicated that an sRNA of approximately 300?nucleotides (nt) is encoded in this region and is likely responsible for regulating switching to AV-T. Copy number of the ?300-nt sRNA was also found to affect virulence, as the LSO variant exhibited decreased virulence during murine lung infections. Global transcriptional profiling revealed that >100 genes were differentially expressed between VIR-O and LSO variants, suggesting that the ?300-nt sRNA may act as a global regulator. Several virulence genes exhibited decreased expression in LSO cells, potentially explaining their decreased virulence.IMPORTANCE Acinetobacter baumannii remains a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections. Widespread multidrug resistance in this species has prompted the WHO to name carbapenem-resistant A. baumannii as its top priority for research and development of new antibiotics. Many strains of A. baumannii undergo a high-frequency virulence switch, which is an attractive target for new therapeutics targeting this pathogen. This study reports a novel mechanism controlling the frequency of switching in strain AB5075. The rate of switching from the virulent opaque (VIR-O) to the avirulent translucent (AV-T) variant is positively influenced by the copy number of an antibiotic resistance locus encoded on a plasmid-borne composite integron. Our data suggest that this locus encodes a small RNA that regulates opacity switching. Low-switching opaque variants, which harbor a single copy of this locus, also exhibit decreased virulence. This study increases our understanding of this critical phenotypic switch, while also identifying potential targets for virulence-based A. baumannii treatments.