Parallel Evolution in Streptococcus pneumoniae Biofilms.
ABSTRACT: Streptococcus pneumoniae is a commensal human pathogen and the causative agent of various invasive and noninvasive diseases. Carriage of the pneumococcus in the nasopharynx is thought to be mediated by biofilm formation, an environment where isogenic populations frequently give rise to morphological colony variants, including small colony variant (SCV) phenotypes. We employed metabolic characterization and whole-genome sequencing of biofilm-derived S. pneumoniae serotype 22F pneumococcal SCVs to investigate diversification during biofilm formation. Phenotypic profiling revealed that SCVs exhibit reduced growth rates, reduced capsule expression, altered metabolic profiles, and increased biofilm formation compared to the ancestral strain. Whole-genome sequencing of 12 SCVs from independent biofilm experiments revealed that all SCVs studied had mutations within the DNA-directed RNA polymerase delta subunit (RpoE). Mutations included four large-scale deletions ranging from 51 to 264 bp, one insertion resulting in a coding frameshift, and seven nonsense single-nucleotide substitutions that result in a truncated gene product. This work links mutations in the rpoE gene to SCV formation and enhanced biofilm development in S. pneumoniae and therefore may have important implications for colonization, carriage, and persistence of the organism. Furthermore, recurrent mutation of the pneumococcal rpoE gene presents an unprecedented level of parallel evolution in pneumococcal biofilm development.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus small-colony variants (SCVs) are persistent pathogenic bacteria characterized by slow growth and, for many of these strains, an increased ability to form biofilms and to persist within host cells. The virulence-associated gene expression profile of SCVs clearly differs from that of prototypical strains and is often influenced by SigB rather than by the agr system. One objective of this work was to confirm the role of SigB in the control of the expression of virulence factors involved in biofilm formation and intracellular persistence of SCVs. This study shows that extracellular proteins are involved in the formation of biofilm by three SCV strains, which, additionally, have a low biofilm-dispersing activity. It was determined that SigB activity modulates biofilm formation by strain SCV CF07-S and is dominant over that of the agr system without being solely responsible for the repression of proteolytic activity. On the other hand, the expression of fnbA and the control of nuclease activity contributed to the SigB-dependent formation of biofilm of this SCV strain. SigB was also required for the replication of CF07-S within epithelial cells and may be involved in the colonization of lungs by SCVs in a mouse infection model. This study methodically investigated SigB activity and associated mechanisms in the various aspects of SCV pathogenesis. Results confirm that SigB activity importantly influences the production of virulence factors, biofilm formation and intracellular persistence for some clinical SCV strains.
Project description:In this study, we report the isolation of colony morphology variants from Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 3 biofilms. The colony variants differed in colony size (large, medium, and small) and their mucoid appearance on blood agar. The small nonmucoid variant (SCV) emerged during the initial attachment stage of S. pneumoniae biofilm formation and dominated over the course of biofilm growth. Mucoid variants appeared at later biofilm developmental stages. The reduction in colony size/mucoidy correlated with a decrease in capsule production and an increase in initial attachment. The large mucoid variant formed flat unstructured biofilms, failed to aggregate in liquid culture, and adhered poorly to solid surfaces. In contrast, SCVs autoaggregated in liquid culture, hyperadhered to solid surfaces, and formed biofilms with significant three-dimensional structure, mainly in the form of microcolonies. The variants showed similar antibiotic resistance/susceptibility based on a modified Kirby-Bauer test and when grown as biofilms. However, antimicrobial treatment of S. pneumoniae biofilms altered the colony variant's distribution and mainly affected the most interior areas of biofilm microcolonies. To further explore the nature of the variants, the capsule biosynthetic operon (cps3DSUM) was explored in greater detail. The genetic analysis indicated that the emergence of nonmucoid variants was due to a deletion comprising cps3DSU as well as additional genes upstream of the cps3 operon. Overall, our findings suggest that in vitro biofilm formation of S. pneumoniae serotype 3 coincides with the emergence of colony variants with distinct genotypic and phenotypic characteristics.
Project description:The rhizosphere-colonizing bacterium Pseudomonas chlororaphis 30-84 is an effective biological control agent against take-all disease of wheat. In this study, we characterize a small-colony variant (SCV) isolated from a P. chlororaphis 30-84 biofilm. The SCV exhibited pleiotropic phenotypes, including small cell size, slow growth and motility, low levels of phenazine production, and increased biofilm formation and resistance to antimicrobials. To better understand the genetic alterations underlying these phenotypes, RNA and whole-genome sequencing analyses were conducted comparing an SCV to the wild-type strain. Of the genome's 5,971 genes, transcriptomic profiling indicated that 1,098 (18.4%) have undergone substantial reprograming of gene expression in the SCV. Whole-genome sequence analysis revealed multiple alterations in the SCV, including mutations in yfiR (cyclic-di-GMP production), fusA (elongation factor), and cyoE (heme synthesis) and a 70-kb deletion. Genetic analysis revealed that the yfiR locus plays a major role in controlling SCV phenotypes, including colony size, growth, motility, and biofilm formation. Moreover, a point mutation in the fusA gene contributed to kanamycin resistance. Interestingly, the SCV can partially switch back to wild-type morphologies under specific conditions. Our data also support the idea that phenotypic switching in P. chlororaphis is not due to simple genetic reversions but may involve multiple secondary mutations. The emergence of these highly adherent and antibiotic-resistant SCVs within the biofilm might play key roles in P. chlororaphis natural persistence.
Project description:In this report, we show that biofilm formation by Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 19 gives rise to variants (the small mucoid variant [SMV] and the acapsular small-colony variant [SCV]) differing in capsule production, attachment, and biofilm formation compared to wild-type strains. All biofilm-derived variants harbored SNPs in cps19F. SCVs reverted to SMV, but no reversion to the wild-type phenotype was noted, indicating that these variants were distinct from opaque- and transparent-phase variants. The SCV-SMV reversion frequency was dependent on growth conditions and treatment with tetracycline. Increased reversion rates were coincident with antibiotic treatment, implicating oxidative stress as a trigger for the SCV-SMV switch. We, therefore, evaluated the role played by hydrogen peroxide, the oxidizing chemical, in the reversion and emergence of variants. Biofilms of S. pneumoniae TIGR4-DeltaspxB, defective in hydrogen peroxide production, showed a significant reduction in variant formation. Similarly, supplementing the medium with catalase or sodium thiosulfate yielded a significant reduction in variants formed by wild-type biofilms. Resistance to rifampin, an indicator for mutation frequency, was found to increase approximately 55-fold in biofilms compared to planktonic cells for each of the three wild-type strains examined. In contrast, TIGR4-DeltaspxB grown as a biofilm showed no increase in rifampin resistance compared to the same cells grown planktonically. Furthermore, addition of 2.5 and 10 mM hydrogen peroxide to planktonic cells resulted in a 12- and 160-fold increase in mutation frequency, respectively, and gave rise to variants similar in appearance, biofilm-related phenotypes, and distribution of biofilm-derived variants. The results suggest that hydrogen peroxide and environmental conditions specific to biofilms are responsible for the development of non-phase-variable colony variants.
Project description:A current question in biofilm research is whether biofilm-specific genetic processes can lead to differentiation in physiology and function among biofilm cells. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, phenotypic variants which exhibit a small-colony phenotype on agar media and a markedly accelerated pattern of biofilm development compared to that of the parental strain are often isolated from biofilms. We grew P. aeruginosa biofilms in glass flow cell reactors and observed that the emergence of small-colony variants (SCVs) in the effluent runoff from the biofilms correlated with the emergence of plaque-forming Pf1-like filamentous phage (designated Pf4) from the biofilm. Because several recent studies have shown that bacteriophage genes are among the most highly upregulated groups of genes during biofilm development, we investigated whether Pf4 plays a role in SCV formation during P. aeruginosa biofilm development. We carried out immunoelectron microscopy using anti-Pf4 antibodies and observed that SCV cells, but not parental-type cells, exhibited high densities of Pf4 filaments on the cell surface and that these filaments were often tightly interwoven into complex latticeworks surrounding the cells. Moreover, infection of P. aeruginosa planktonic cultures with Pf4 caused the emergence of SCVs within the culture. These SCVs exhibited enhanced attachment, accelerated biofilm development, and large regions of dead and lysed cells inside microcolonies in a manner identical to that of SCVs obtained from biofilms. We concluded that Pf4 can mediate phenotypic variation in P. aeruginosa biofilms. We also performed partial sequencing and analysis of the Pf4 replicative form and identified a number of open reading frames not previously recognized in the genome of P. aeruginosa, including a putative postsegregational killing operon.
Project description:Persistence phenotype and small colony variants (SCVs) can be part of a bacterial bet-hedging strategy for survival under environmental stresses, such as antimicrobial exposure. These phenotypes are of particular concern in persistent and relapsing infections, since cells resume to normal growth after cessation of the stressful condition. In this context, we found persisters and unstable SCVs as phenotypic variants of Salmonella enterica that were able to survive ciprofloxacin exposure. A high heterogeneity in persister levels was observed among S. enterica isolates grown under planktonic and biofilm conditions and exposed to ciprofloxacin or ceftazidime, which may indicate persistence as a non-multidrug-tolerant phenotype. Nevertheless, a comparable variability was not found in the formation of SCVs among the isolates. Indeed, similar proportions of SCV in relation to normal colony phenotype (NCP) were maintained even after three successive cycles of ciprofloxacin exposure testing colonies from both origins (SCV or NCP). Additionally, we found filamentous and dividing cells in the same scanning electron microscopy images from both SCV and NCP. These findings lead us to hypothesize that besides variability among isolates, a single isolate may generate distinct populations of persisters, where cells growing under distinct conditions may adopt different and perhaps complementary survival strategies.
Project description:Phage therapy involves the application of lytic bacteriophages for treatment of clinical infections but bacterial resistance may develop over time. Isolated from nosocomial infections, small colony variants (SCVs) are morphologically distinct, highly virulent bacterial strains that are resistant to conventional antibiotics. In this study, SCVs was derived from Pseudomonas aeruginosa exposed to the lytic bacteriophage PB1 and these cells were resistant to subsequent phage infection by PB1. To elucidate the mechanism of the SCV phage resistance, we performed phenotypic assays, DNA microarrays and whole-genome sequencing. Compared with wild-type P. aeruginosa, the SCV isolate showed impaired biofilm formation, decreased twitching motility, reduced elastase and pyocyanin production. The SCV is also more susceptible to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin and exhibited higher syrface hydrophobicity than the wild-type, indicative of changes to cell surface lipopolysaccharide (LPS) composition. Consistent with these results, transcriptomic studies of SCV revealed up-regulation of genes involved in O-specific antigen (OSA) biosynthesis, suggesting the regulation of surface moieties may account for phage resistance. Western blot analysis showed a difference in OSA distribution between the two strains. Simultaneously, genes involved in aromatic and branched chain amino acid catabolism were down-regulated. Whole genome sequencing of the SCV revealed multiple single nucleotide variations within the Pf1 prophage region, a genetic locus known to play a crucial role in biofilm formation and to provide survival advantage via gene transfer to a subpopulation of cells. Insights into phenotypic and genetic changes in SCV gained here should help direct future studies to elucidate mechanisms underpinning phage resistance, leading to novel counter resistance measures.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus can develop a small colony variant (SCV) phenotype in response to sub-lethal exposure to the biocide triclosan. In the current study, whole genome sequencing was performed and changes in virulence were investigated in five Staphylococcus aureus strains following repeated exposure to triclosan. Following exposure, 4/5 formed SCV and exhibited point mutations in the triclosan target gene fabI with 2/4 SCVs showing mutations in both fabI and fabD. The SCV phenotype was in all cases immediately reversed by nutritional supplementation with fatty acids or by repeated growth in the absence of triclosan, although fabI mutations persisted in 3/4 reverted SCVs. Virulence, determined using keratinocyte invasion and Galleria mellonella pathogenicity assays was significantly (p?<?0.05) attenuated in 3/4 SCVs and in the non-SCV triclosan-adapted bacterium. Proteomic analysis revealed elevated FabI in 2/3 SCV and down-regulation in a protein associated with virulence in 1/3 SCV. In summary, attenuated keratinocyte invasion and larval virulence in triclosan-induced SCVs was associated with decreases in growth rate and virulence factor expression. Mutation occurred in fabI, which encodes the main triclosan target in all SCVs and the phenotype was reversed by fatty acid supplementation, demonstrating an association between fatty acid metabolism and triclosan-induced SCV.
Project description:Small colony variants (SCVs) of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus are characterized by a reduced colony size and are linked to increased antibiotic tolerance and resistance. Their altered expression of virulence factors, slow growing properties and their ability to form biofilms make the eradication of SCVs challenging. In the context of biofilm-related infectious diseases involving S. aureus SCVs, a therapy targeting bacterial iron metabolism was evaluated. The combination of the iron-chelator deferiprone (Def) and the heme-analog gallium-protoporphyrin (GaPP), in solution and incorporated in a surgical wound gel, was tested for activity against planktonic and sessile SCVs. To this end, the activity of Def-GaPP was assessed against planktonic S. aureus SCVs, as well as against in vitro and in vivo biofilms in the colony biofilm model, an artificial wound model and a Caenorhabditis elegans infection model. While Def alone failed to show substantial antibacterial activity, GaPP and the combination of Def-GaPP demonstrated concentration- and strain-dependent antibacterial properties. Specifically, the Def-GaPP combination significantly reduced the bacterial load in an artificial wound model and increased the survival of S. aureus SCV infected C. elegans. When Def-GaPP were combined with gentamicin or ciprofloxacin, the triple combinations exceeded the antibiofilm activity of the individual compounds in the colony biofilm model. In targeting bacterial iron metabolism, Def-GaPP showed significant activity against planktonic and sessile SCVs. Moreover, Def-GaPP could potentiate the activity of gentamicin and ciprofloxacin. Delivered in a wound healing gel, Def-GaPP showed promise as a new topical strategy against infections with S. aureus SCVs.
Project description:Small colony variants (SCVs) can be defined as a naturally occurring sub-population of bacteria characterized by their reduced colony size and distinct biochemical properties. SCVs of Staphylococcus aureus have been studied extensively over the past two decades due to their role in recurrent human infections. However, little work has been done on SCVs of Escherichia coli, and this work has focused on the physiology and morphology that define these colonies of E. coli, such as small size and slow growth. E. coli strain JW0623, has a null lipA mutation in the lipoic acid synthase gene (lipA), and is a lipoic acid auxotroph. When the mutant was grown in LB medium to log phase, it showed remarkable resistance to acid (pH 3), hydrogen peroxide, heat and osmotic stress compared to its parent BW25113. Using RT-PCR and real time RT-PCR, the expression of certain genes was compared in the two strains in an attempt to create a molecular profile of Escherichia coli SCVs. These include genes involved in glycolysis, TCA cycle, electron transport, iron acquisition, biofilm formation and cyclopropane fatty acid synthesis. It was also demonstrated that the addition of 5 ?g/ml of lipoic acid to LB medium allows for the phenotypic rescue of the mutant; reversing its slow growth, its resistance characteristics, and elevated gene expression. These results indicate that the mutation in lipA leads to an E. coli SCV that resembles an electron transport defective SCV of S. aureus These strains are typically auxotrophs, and are phenotypically rescued by adding the missing metabolite to rich medium. There are global shifts in gene expression which are reversible and depend on whether the auxotrophic molecule is absent or present. Looking at the E. coli SCV from an evolutionary point of view, it becomes evident that its path to survival is to express genes that confer stress resistance.