Computational Analysis of Host-Pathogen Protein Interactions between Humans and Different Strains of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli.
ABSTRACT: Serotype O157:H7, an enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), is known to cause gastrointestinal and systemic illnesses ranging from diarrhea and hemorrhagic colitis to potentially fatal hemolytic uremic syndrome. Specific genetic factors like ompA, nsrR, and LEE genes are known to play roles in EHEC pathogenesis. However, these factors are not specific to EHEC and their presence in several non-pathogenic strains indicates that additional factors are involved in pathogenicity. We propose a comprehensive effort to screen for such potential genetic elements, through investigation of biomolecular interactions between E. coli and their host. In this work, an in silico investigation of the protein-protein interactions (PPIs) between human cells and four EHEC strains (viz., EDL933, Sakai, EC4115, and TW14359) was performed in order to understand the virulence and host-colonization strategies of these strains. Potential host-pathogen interactions (HPIs) between human cells and the "non-pathogenic" E. coli strain MG1655 were also probed to evaluate whether and how the variations in the genomes could translate into altered virulence and host-colonization capabilities of the studied bacterial strains. Results indicate that a small subset of HPIs are unique to the studied pathogens and can be implicated in virulence. This subset of interactions involved E. coli proteins like YhdW, ChuT, EivG, and HlyA. These proteins have previously been reported to be involved in bacterial virulence. In addition, clear differences in lineage and clade-specific HPI profiles could be identified. Furthermore, available gene expression profiles of the HPI-proteins were utilized to estimate the proportion of proteins which may be involved in interactions. We hypothesized that a cumulative score of the ratios of bound:unbound proteins (involved in HPIs) would indicate the extent of colonization. Thus, we designed the Host Colonization Index (HCI) measure to determine the host colonization potential of the E. coli strains. Pathogenic strains of E. coli were observed to have higher HCIs as compared to a non-pathogenic laboratory strain. However, no significant differences among the HCIs of the two pathogenic groups were observed. Overall, our findings are expected to provide additional insights into EHEC pathogenesis and are likely to aid in designing alternate preventive and therapeutic strategies.
Project description:Most Escherichia coli strains in the human intestine are harmless. However, enterohemorrhagic E coli (EHEC) is a foodborne pathogen that causes intestinal disease in humans. Conventionally reared (CONV) mice are inconsistent models for human infections with EHEC because they are often resistant to E coli colonization, in part due to their gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota. Although antibiotic manipulation of the mouse microbiota has been a common means to overcome colonization resistance, these models have limitations. Currently, there are no licensed treatments for clinical EHEC infections and, thus, new tools to study EHEC colonization need to be developed. Here, we used a defined microbiota mouse model, consisting of the altered Schaedler flora (ASF), to characterize intestinal colonization and compare host responses following colonization with EHEC strain 278F2 or non-pathogenic E coli strain MG1655. Significantly higher (P<0.05) levels of both strains were found in feces and cecal and colonic contents of C3H/HeN ASF compared to C3H/HeN CONV mice. GI inflammation was significantly elevated (P<0.05) in the cecum of EHEC 278F2-colonized compared to E. coli MG1655-colonized C3H/HeN ASF mice. In addition, EHEC 278F2 differentially modulated inflammatory-associated genes in colonic tissue of C3H/HeN ASF mice compared to E. coli MG1655-colonized mice. This approach allowed for prolonged colonization of the murine GI tract by pathogenic and non-pathogenic E coli strains, and for evaluation of host inflammatory processes. Overall, this system can be used as a powerful tool for future studies to assess therapeutics, microbe-microbe interactions, and strategies for preventing EHEC infections.
Project description:Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 is a food-borne pathogen that causes hemorrhagic colitis and the hemolytic uremic syndrome. Colonization of the human gut mucosa and production of potent Shiga toxins are critical virulence traits of EHEC. Although EHEC O157:H7 contains numerous putative pili operons, their role in the colonization of the natural bovine or accidental human hosts remains largely unknown. We have identified in EHEC an adherence factor, herein called E. coli common pilus (ECP), composed of a 21-kDa pilin subunit whose amino acid sequence corresponds to the product of the yagZ (renamed ecpA) gene present in all E. coli genomes sequenced to date. ECP production was demonstrated in 121 (71.6%) of a total of 169 ecpA+ strains representing intestinal and extraintestinal pathogenic as well as normal flora E. coli. High-resolution ultrastructural and immunofluorescence studies demonstrated the presence of abundant peritrichous fibrillar structures emanating from the bacterial surface forming physical bridges between bacteria adhering to cultured epithelial cells. Isogenic ecpA mutants of EHEC O157:H7 or fecal commensal E. coli showed significant reduction in adherence to cultured epithelial cells. Our data suggest that ECP production is a common feature of E. coli colonizing the human gut or other host tissues. ECP is a pilus of EHEC O157:H7 with a potential role in host epithelial cell colonization and may represent a mechanism of adherence of both pathogenic and commensal E. coli.
Project description:The translocation of effectors into the host cell through type 3 secretion systems (T3SS) is a sophisticated strategy employed by pathogenic bacteria to subvert host responses and facilitate colonization. Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) utilize the Tir and EspFu (also known as TccP) effectors to remodel the host cytoskeleton, culminating in the formation of attaching and effacing (AE) lesions on enterocytes. While some EPEC strains require tyrosine phosphorylation of Tir and recruitment of the host Nck to trigger actin polymerization, EHEC and certain EPEC strains, whose Tir is not phosphorylated, rely on the effector EspFu for efficient actin remodeling. Here, we investigated the role played by Tir-Nck and Tir-EspFu actin polymerization pathways during the infection of epithelial cells, as well as the host transcriptional response to the AE lesion formation induced by EPEC. We found that EspFu-mediated actin assembly promotes bacterial attachment and epithelial colonization more efficiently than Tir-Nck. Moreover, we showed that both actin polymerization mechanisms can activate inflammatory pathways and reverse the anti-inflammatory response induced by EPEC in epithelial cells. However, this activity is remarkably more evident in infections with EspFu-expressing EPEC strains. This study demonstrates the complex interactions between effector-mediated actin remodeling and inflammation. Different strains carry different combinations of these two effectors, highlighting the plasticity of pathogenic E. coli enteric infections.IMPORTANCE EPEC is among the leading causes of diarrheal disease worldwide. The colonization of the gut mucosa by EPEC results in actin pedestal formation at the site of bacterial attachment. These pedestals are referred to as attaching and effacing (AE) lesions. Here, we exploit the different molecular mechanisms used by EPEC to induce AE lesions on epithelial cells, showing that the effector EspFu is associated with increased bacterial attachment and enhanced epithelial colonization compared to the Tir-Nck pathway. Moreover, we also showed that actin pedestal formation can counterbalance the anti-inflammatory activity induced by EPEC, especially when driven by EspFu. Collectively, our findings provide new insights into virulence mechanisms employed by EPEC to colonize epithelial cells, as well as the host response to this enteric pathogen.
Project description:Attaching/Effacing (A/E) bacteria include human pathogens enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC), enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), and their murine equivalent Citrobacter rodentium (CR), of which EPEC and EHEC are important causative agents of foodborne diseases worldwide. While A/E pathogen infections cause mild symptoms in the immunocompetent hosts, an increasing number of studies show that they produce more severe morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised and/or immunodeficient hosts. However, the pathogenic mechanisms and crucial host-pathogen interactions during A/E pathogen infections under immunocompromised conditions remain elusive. We performed a functional screening by infecting interleukin-22 (IL-22) knockout (Il22-/-) mice with a library of randomly mutated CR strains. Our screen reveals that interruption of the espF gene, which encodes the Type III Secretion System effector EspF (E. coli secreted protein F) conserved among A/E pathogens, completely abolishes the high mortality rates in CR-infected Il22-/- mice. Chromosomal deletion of espF in CR recapitulates the avirulent phenotype without impacting colonization and proliferation of CR, and EspF complement in ΔespF strain fully restores the virulence in mice. Moreover, the expression levels of the espF gene are elevated during CR infection and CR induces disruption of the tight junction (TJ) strands in colonic epithelium in an EspF-dependent manner. Distinct from EspF, chromosomal deletion of other known TJ-damaging effector genes espG and map failed to impede CR virulence in Il22-/- mice. Hence our findings unveil a critical pathophysiological function for EspF during CR infection in the immunocompromised host and provide new insights into the complex pathogenic mechanisms of A/E pathogens.
Project description:In 2011, a severe outbreak of hemolytic-uremic syndrome was caused by an unusual, highly virulent enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O104:H4 strain, which possessed EHEC virulence traits in the genetic background of human-adapted enteroaggregative E. coli. To determine magnitude of fecal shedding and site of colonization of EHEC O104:H4 in a livestock host, 30 (ten/strain) weaned calves were inoculated with 10(10) CFU of EHEC O104:H4, EHEC O157:H7 (positive control) or E. coli strain 123 (negative control) and necropsied (4 or 28 d.p.i.). E. coli O157:H7 was recovered until 28 d.p.i. and O104:H4 until 24 d.p.i. At 4 d.p.i., EHEC O104:H4 was isolated from intestinal content and detected associated with the intestinal mucosa. These results are the first evidence that cattle, the most important EHEC reservoir, can also carry unusual EHEC strains at least transiently, questioning our current understanding of the molecular basis of host adaptation of this important E. coli pathovar.
Project description:Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are nanoscale proteoliposomes secreted from the cell envelope of all Gram-negative bacteria. Originally considered as an artifact of the cell wall, OMVs are now recognized as a general secretion system, which serves to improve the fitness of bacteria and facilitate bacterial interactions in polymicrobial communities as well as interactions between the microbe and the host. In general, OMVs are released in increased amounts from pathogenic bacteria and have been found to harbor much of the contents of the parental bacterium. They mainly encompass components of the outer membrane and the periplasm including various virulence factors such as toxins, adhesins, and immunomodulatory molecules. Numerous studies have clearly shown that the delivery of toxins and other virulence factors via OMVs essentially influences their interactions with host cells. Here, we review the OMV-mediated intracellular deployment of toxins and other virulence factors with a special focus on intestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli. Especially, OMVs ubiquitously produced and secreted by enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) appear as a highly advanced mechanism for secretion and simultaneous, coordinated and direct delivery of bacterial virulence factors into host cells. OMV-associated virulence factors are not only stabilized by the association with OMVs, but can also often target previously unknown target structures and perform novel activities. The toxins are released by OMVs in their active forms and are transported via cell sorting processes to their specific cell compartments, where they can develop their detrimental effects. OMVs can be considered as bacterial "long distance weapons" that attack host tissues and help bacterial pathogens to establish the colonization of their biological niche(s), impair host cell function, and modulate the defense of the host. Thus, OMVs contribute significantly to the virulence of the pathogenic bacteria.
Project description:The large intestinal pathogen enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 detects host cues to regulate virulence gene expression during colonization and infection. However, virulence regulatory mechanisms of EHEC O157:H7 in the human large intestine are not fully understood. Herein, we identified a virulence-regulating pathway where the PhoQ/PhoP two-component regulatory system senses low magnesium levels and signals to the O island 119-encoded Z4267 (LmiA; low magnesium-induced regulator A), directly activating loci of enterocyte effacement genes to promote EHEC O157:H7 adherence in the large intestine. Disruption of this pathway significantly decreased EHEC O157:H7 adherence in the mouse intestinal tract. Moreover, feeding mice a magnesium-rich diet significantly reduced EHEC O157:H7 adherence in vivo This LmiA-mediated virulence regulatory pathway is also conserved among several EHEC and enteropathogenic E. coli serotypes; therefore, our findings support the use of magnesium as a dietary supplement and provide greater insights into the dietary cues that can prevent enteric infections.IMPORTANCE Sensing specific gut metabolites is an important strategy for inducing crucial virulence programs by enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 during colonization and infection. Here, we identified a virulence-regulating pathway wherein the PhoQ/PhoP two-component regulatory system signals to the O island 119-encoded low magnesium-induced regulator A (LmiA), which, in turn, activates locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) genes to promote EHEC O157:H7 adherence in the low-magnesium conditions of the large intestine. This regulatory pathway is widely present in a range of EHEC and enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) serotypes. Disruption of this pathway significantly decreased EHEC O157:H7 adherence in the mouse intestinal tract. Moreover, mice fed a magnesium-rich diet showed significantly reduced EHEC O157:H7 adherence in vivo, indicating that magnesium may help in preventing EHEC and EPEC infection in humans.
Project description:Background:Although intestinal colonization precedes most extraintestinal Escherichia coli infections, colonization-promoting factors are incompletely understood. We compared within-household E. coli colonization patterns with host and bacterial traits. Methods:Twenty-two veterans with a clinical E. coli isolate and their 46 human and animal household members underwent longitudinal fecal sampling. Distinct E. coli strains were characterized for phylogenetic background, virulence genes, antibiotic resistance, and colonization behaviors. Host and bacterial traits were assessed statistically as predictors of colonization behaviors. Results:Among the 139 unique-by-household fecal E. coli strains, univariable predictors of colonization behavior included (i) host demographics, (ii) matching the index clinical isolate, and (iii) bacterial characteristics (2 phylogroups, 5 clonal lineages, 18 virulence genes, and molecular extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli status). Multivariable predictors of colonization behavior included veteran host, spouse host, matching the index clinical isolate, phylogroup F, ST73, hlyD (alpha hemolysin), hlyF (variant hemolysin), H7 fliC (flagellar variant), vat (vacuolating toxin), and iha (adhesin-siderophore). Conclusions:Host demographics, multiple bacterial "virulence" traits, and matching the index clinical isolate predicted E. coli fecal colonization behaviors. Thus, certain bacterial characteristics may promote both colonization and pathogenicity. Future interventions directed toward such traits might prevent E. coli infections both directly and by disrupting antecedent colonization.
Project description:The mammalian gastrointestinal tract provides a complex and competitive environment for the microbiota. Successful colonization by pathogens requires scavenging nutrients, sensing chemical signals, competing with the resident bacteria and precisely regulating the expression of virulence genes. The gastrointestinal pathogen enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) relies on inter-kingdom chemical sensing systems to regulate virulence gene expression. Here we show that these systems control the expression of a novel two-component signal transduction system, named FusKR, where FusK is the histidine sensor kinase and FusR the response regulator. FusK senses fucose and controls expression of virulence and metabolic genes. This fucose-sensing system is required for robust EHEC colonization of the mammalian intestine. Fucose is highly abundant in the intestine. Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron produces multiple fucosidases that cleave fucose from host glycans, resulting in high fucose availability in the gut lumen. During growth in mucin, B. thetaiotaomicron contributes to EHEC virulence by cleaving fucose from mucin, thereby activating the FusKR signalling cascade, modulating the virulence gene expression of EHEC. Our findings suggest that EHEC uses fucose, a host-derived signal made available by the microbiota, to modulate EHEC pathogenicity and metabolism.
Project description:Characterization of an Escherichia coli O157 strain collection (n = 42) derived from healthy Hungarian cattle revealed the existence of diverse pathotypes. Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC; eae positive) appeared to be the most frequent pathotype (n = 22 strains), 11 O157 strains were typical enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC; stx and eae positive), and 9 O157 strains were atypical, with none of the key stx and eae virulence genes detected. EHEC and EPEC O157 strains all carried eae-gamma, tir-gamma, tccP, and paa. Other virulence genes located on the pO157 virulence plasmid and different O islands (O island 43 [OI-43] and OI-122), as well as espJ and espM, also characterized the EPEC and EHEC O157 strains with similar frequencies. However, none of these virulence genes were detected by PCR in atypical O157 strains. Interestingly, five of nine atypical O157 strains produced cytolethal distending toxin V (CDT-V) and carried genes encoding long polar fimbriae. Macro-restriction fragment enzyme analysis (pulsed-field gel electrophoresis) revealed that these E. coli O157 strains belong to four main clusters. Multilocus sequence typing analysis revealed that five housekeeping genes were identical in EHEC and EPEC O157 strains but were different in the atypical O157 strains. These results suggest that the Hungarian bovine E. coli O157 strains represent at least two main clones: EHEC/EPEC O157:H7/NM (nonmotile) and atypical CDT-V-producing O157 strains with H antigens different from H7. The CDT-V-producing O157 strains represent a novel genogroup. The pathogenic potential of these strains remains to be elucidated.