Design and Construction of Vibrio cholerae Strains That Harbor Various CTX Prophage Arrays.
ABSTRACT: Toxigenic Vibrio cholerae strains arise upon infection and integration of the lysogenic cholera toxin phage, the CTX phage, into bacterial chromosomes. The V. cholerae serogroup O1 strains identified to date can be broadly categorized into three main groups: the classical biotype strains, which harbor CTX-cla; the prototype El Tor strains (Wave 1 strains), which harbor CTX-1; and the atypical El Tor strains, which harbor CTX-2 (Wave 2 strains) or CTX-3~6 (Wave 3 strains). The efficiencies of replication and transmission of CTX phages are similar, suggesting the possibility of existence of more diverse bacterial strains harboring various CTX phages and their arrays in nature. In this study, a set of V. cholerae strains was constructed by the chromosomal integration of CTX phages into strains that already harbored CTX phages or those that did not harbor any CTX phage or RS1 element. Strains containing repeats of the same kind of CTX phage, strains containing the same kind of CTX phage in each chromosome, strains containing alternative CTX phages in one chromosome, or containing different CTX phages in each chromosome have been constructed. Thus, strains with any CTX array can be designed and constructed. Moreover, the strains described in this study contained the toxT-139F allele, which enhances the expression of TcpA and cholera toxin. These characteristics are considered to be important for cholera vaccine development. Once their capacity to provoke immunity in human against V. cholerae infection is evaluated, some of the generated strains could be developed further to yield cholera vaccine strains.
Project description:Pandemic V. cholerae strains in the O1 serogroup have 2 biotypes: classical and El Tor. The classical biotype strains of the sixth pandemic, which encode the classical type cholera toxin (CT), have been replaced by El Tor biotype strains of the seventh pandemic. The prototype El Tor strains that produce biotype-specific cholera toxin are being replaced by atypical El Tor variants that harbor classical cholera toxin. Atypical El Tor strains are categorized into 2 groups, Wave 2 and Wave 3 strains, based on genomic variations and the CTX phage that they harbor. Whole-genome analysis of V. cholerae strains in the seventh cholera pandemic has demonstrated gradual changes in the genome of prototype and atypical El Tor strains, indicating that atypical strains arose from the prototype strains by replacing the CTX phages. We examined the molecular mechanisms that effected the emergence of El Tor strains with classical cholera toxin-carrying phage. We isolated an intermediary V. cholerae strain that carried two different CTX phages that encode El Tor and classical cholera toxin, respectively. We show here that the intermediary strain can be converted into various Wave 2 strains and can act as the source of the novel mosaic CTX phages. These results imply that the Wave 2 and Wave 3 strains may have been generated from such intermediary strains in nature. Prototype El Tor strains can become Wave 3 strains by excision of CTX-1 and re-equipping with the new CTX phages. Our data suggest that inter-chromosomal recombination between 2 types of CTX phages is possible when a host bacterial cell is infected by multiple CTX phages. Our study also provides molecular insights into population changes in V. cholerae in the absence of significant changes to the genome but by replacement of the CTX prophage that they harbor.
Project description:The toxigenic classical and El Tor biotype Vibrio cholerae serogroup O1 strains are generated by lysogenization of host-type-specific cholera toxin phages (CTX phages). Experimental evidence of the replication and transmission of an El Tor biotype-specific CTX phage, CTX-1, has explained the evolution of V. cholerae El Tor biotype strains. The generation of classical biotype strains has not been demonstrated in the laboratory, and the classical biotype-specific CTX phage, CTX-cla, is considered to be defective with regard to replication. However, the identification of atypical El Tor strains that contain CTX-cla-like phage, CTX-2, indicates that CTX-cla and CTX-2 replicate and can be transmitted to V. cholerae strains. The replication of CTX-cla and CTX-2 phages and the transduction of El Tor biotype strains by various CTX phages under laboratory conditions are demonstrated in this report. We have established a plasmid-based CTX phage replication system that supports the replication of CTX-1, CTX-cla, CTX-2, and CTX-O139. The replication of CTX-2 from the tandem repeat of lysogenic CTX-2 in Wave 2 El Tor strains is also presented. El Tor biotype strains can be transduced by CTX phages in vitro by introducing a point mutation in toxT, the transcriptional activator of the tcp (toxin coregulated pilus) gene cluster and the cholera toxin gene. This mutation also increases the expression of cholera toxin in El Tor strains in a sample single-phase culture. Our results thus constitute experimental evidence of the genetic mechanism of the evolution of V. cholerae.
Project description:The El Tor biotype of Vibrio cholerae O1, causing the current seventh pandemic of cholera, has replaced the classical biotype, which caused the sixth pandemic. The CTX prophages encoding cholera toxin in the two biotypes have distinct repressor (rstR) genes. Recently, new variants of El Tor strains that carry the classical type (CTX(class)) prophage have emerged. These "hybrid" strains apparently originate through lateral gene transfer and recombination events. To explore possible donors of the CTX(class) prophage and its mode of transfer, we tested environmental V. cholerae isolates for the presence of CTX(class) prophage and mobility of the phage genome. Of the 272 environmental V. cholerae isolates tested, 6 were found to carry the CTX(class) prophage; all of these belonged to the O141 serogroup. These O141 strains were unable to produce infectious CTX(class) phage or to transmit the prophage to recipient strains in the mouse model of infection; however, the CTX(class) prophage was acquired by El Tor strains when cultured with the O141 strains in microcosms composed of filtered environmental water, a chitin substrate, and a V. cholerae O141-specific bacteriophage. The CTX(class) prophage either coexisted with or replaced the resident CTX(ET) prophage, resulting in El Tor strains with CTX genotypes similar to those of the naturally occurring hybrid strains. Our results support a model involving phages and natural chitin substrate in the emergence of new variants of pathogenic V. cholerae. Furthermore, the O141 strains apparently represent an alternative reservoir of the CTX(class) phage genome, because the classical V. cholerae O1 strains are possibly extinct.
Project description:Cholera outbreaks in subSaharan African countries are caused by strains of the El Tor biotype of toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O1. The El Tor biotype is the causative agent of the current seventh cholera pandemic, whereas the classical biotype, which was associated with the sixth pandemic, is now extinct. Besides other genetic differences the CTX prophages encoding cholera toxin in the two biotypes of V. cholerae O1 have distinct repressor (rstR) genes. However, recent incidences of cholera in Mozambique were caused by an El Tor biotype V. cholerae O1 strain that, unusually, carries a classical type (CTX(class)) prophage. We conducted genomic analysis of the Mozambique strain and its CTX prophage together with chromosomal phage integration sites to understand the origin of this atypical strain and its evolutionary relationship with the true seventh pandemic strain. These analyses showed that the Mozambique strain carries two copies of CTX(class) prophage located on the small chromosome in a tandem array that allows excision of the prophage, but the excised phage genome was deficient in replication and did not produce CTX(class) virion. Comparative genomic microarray analysis revealed that the strain shares most of its genes with the typical El Tor strain N16961 but did not carry the TLC gene cluster, and RS1 sequence, adjacent to the CTX prophage. Our data are consistent with the Mozambique strain's having evolved from a progenitor similar to the seventh pandemic strain, involving multiple recombination events and suggest a model for origination of El Tor strains carrying the classical CTX prophage.
Project description:We initially attempted to isolate a Vibrio cholerae O1 El Tor biotype that carries a novel variant of the cholera toxin gene (ctxAB) from environmental waters of Indonesia, where the seventh cholera pandemic by V. cholerae O1 El Tor biotype began. Nested PCR targeting the gene revealed that a total of eight strains were found to carry ctxAB. However, sequencing of the 16S rRNA genes of these isolates showed they were not V. cholerae but were either Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Pantoea, or Aeromonas. Subsequent nested PCR assays targeting all genes known to be encoded on the CTX phage (i.e., zot, ace, orfU, cep, rstB, rstA, and rstR) showed that one isolate belonged to the Enterobacter genus carried all the genes tested, while the other isolates lacked either 2, 3, or 5 of the genes. This evidence suggests that phages with ctxAB are genetically diverse and can infect not only V. cholerae and V. mimicus but also other species and genera in the form of a pseudolysogen.
Project description:CTXphi is a lysogenic, filamentous bacteriophage. Its genome includes the genes encoding cholera toxin (ctxAB), one of the principal virulence factors of Vibrio cholerae; consequently, nonpathogenic strains of V. cholerae can be converted into toxigenic strains by CTXphi infection. O139 Calcutta strains of V. cholerae, which were linked to cholera outbreaks in Calcutta, India, in 1996, are novel pathogenic strains that carry two distinct CTX prophages integrated in tandem: CTX(ET), the prophage previously characterized within El Tor strains, and a new CTX Calcutta prophage (CTX(calc)). We found that the CTX(calc) prophage gives rise to infectious virions; thus, CTX(ET)phi is no longer the only known vector for transmission of ctxAB. The most functionally significant differences between the nucleotide sequences of CTX(calc)phi and CTX(ET)phi are located within the phages' repressor genes (rstR(calc) and rstR(ET), respectively) and their RstR operators. RstR(calc) is a novel, allele-specific repressor that regulates replication of CTX(calc)phi by inhibiting the activity of the rstA(calc) promoter. RstR(calc) has no inhibitory effect upon the classical and El Tor rstA promoters, which are instead regulated by their cognate RstRs. Consequently, production of RstR(calc) renders a CTX(calc) lysogen immune to superinfection by CTX(calc)phi but susceptible (heteroimmune) to infection by CTX(ET)phi. Analysis of the prophage arrays generated by sequentially integrated CTX phages revealed that pathogenic V. cholerae O139 Calcutta probably arose via infection of an O139 CTX(ET)phi lysogen by CTX(calc)phi.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>An outbreak of cholera occurred in 1991 in Mexico, where it had not been reported for more than a century and is now endemic. Vibrio cholerae O1 prototype El Tor and classical strains coexist with altered El Tor strains (1991 to 1997). Nontoxigenic (CTX(-)) V. cholerae El Tor dominated toxigenic (CTX(+)) strains (2001 to 2003), but V. cholerae CTX(+) variant El Tor was isolated during 2004 to 2008, outcompeting CTX(-) V. cholerae. Genomes of six Mexican V. cholerae O1 strains isolated during 1991 to 2008 were sequenced and compared with both contemporary and archived strains of V. cholerae. Three were CTX(+) El Tor, two were CTX(-) El Tor, and the remaining strain was a CTX(+) classical isolate. Whole-genome sequence analysis showed the six isolates belonged to five distinct phylogenetic clades. One CTX(-) isolate is ancestral to the 6th and 7th pandemic CTX(+) V. cholerae isolates. The other CTX(-) isolate joined with CTX(-) non-O1/O139 isolates from Haiti and seroconverted O1 isolates from Brazil and Amazonia. One CTX(+) isolate was phylogenetically placed with the sixth pandemic classical clade and the V. cholerae O395 classical reference strain. Two CTX(+) El Tor isolates possessing intact Vibrio seventh pandemic island II (VSP-II) are related to hybrid El Tor isolates from Mozambique and Bangladesh. The third CTX(+) El Tor isolate contained West African-South American (WASA) recombination in VSP-II and showed relatedness to isolates from Peru and Brazil. Except for one isolate, all Mexican isolates lack SXT/R391 integrative conjugative elements (ICEs) and sensitivity to selected antibiotics, with one isolate resistant to streptomycin. No isolates were related to contemporary isolates from Asia, Africa, or Haiti, indicating phylogenetic diversity.<h4>Importance</h4>Sequencing of genomes of V. cholerae is critical if genetic changes occurring over time in the circulating population of an area of endemicity are to be understood. Although cholera outbreaks occurred rarely in Mexico prior to the 1990s, genetically diverse V. cholerae O1 strains were isolated between 1991 and 2008. Despite the lack of strong evidence, the notion that cholera was transmitted from Africa to Latin America has been proposed in the literature. In this study, we have applied whole-genome sequence analysis to a set of 124 V. cholerae strains, including six Mexican isolates, to determine their phylogenetic relationships. Phylogenetic analysis indicated the six V. cholerae O1 isolates belong to five phylogenetic clades: i.e., basal, nontoxigenic, classical, El Tor, and hybrid El Tor. Thus, the results of phylogenetic analysis, coupled with CTX? array and antibiotic susceptibility, do not support single-source transmission of cholera to Mexico from African countries. The association of indigenous populations of V. cholerae that has been observed in this study suggests it plays a significant role in the dynamics of cholera in Mexico.
Project description:The main virulence factor of Vibrio cholerae, the cholera toxin, is encoded by the ctxAB operon, which is contained in the genome of the lysogenic filamentous phage CTX phi. This phage transmits ctxAB genes between V. cholerae bacterial populations that express toxin-coregulated pilus (TCP), the CTX phi receptor. In investigating new forms of ctxAB transmission, we found that V. cholerae filamentous phage VGJ phi, which uses the mannose-sensitive hemagglutinin (MSHA) pilus as a receptor, transmits CTX phi or its satellite phage RS1 by an efficient and highly specific TCP-independent mechanism. This is a novel type of specialized transduction consisting in the site-specific cointegration of VGJ phi and CTX phi (or RS1) replicative forms to produce a single hybrid molecule, which generates a single-stranded DNA hybrid genome that is packaged into hybrid viral particles designated HybP phi (for the VGJ phi/CTX phi hybrid) and HybRS phi (for the VGJ phi/RS1 hybrid). The hybrid phages replicate by using the VGJ phi replicating functions and use the VGJ phi capsid, retaining the ability to infect via MSHA. The hybrid phages infect most tested strains more efficiently than CTX phi, even under in vitro optimal conditions for TCP expression. Infection and lysogenization with HybP phi revert the V. cholerae live attenuated vaccine strain 1333 to virulence. Our results reinforce that TCP is not indispensable for the acquisition of CTX phi. Thus, we discuss an alternative to the current accepted evolutionary model for the emergence of new toxigenic strains of V. cholerae and the importance of our findings for the development of an environmentally safer live attenuated cholera vaccine.
Project description:We describe a novel filamentous phage, designated VGJ phi, isolated from strain SG25-1 of Vibrio cholerae O139, which infects all O1 (classical and El Tor) and O139 strains tested. The sequence of the 7,542 nucleotides of the phage genome reveals that VGJ phi has a distinctive region of 775 nucleotides and a conserved region with an overall genomic organization similar to that of previously characterized filamentous phages, such as CTX phi of V. cholerae and Ff phages of Escherichia coli. The conserved region carries 10 open reading frames (ORFs) coding for products homologous to previously reported peptides of other filamentous phages, and the distinctive region carries one ORF whose product is not homologous to any known peptide. VGJ phi, like other filamentous phages, uses a type IV pilus to infect V. cholerae; in this case, the pilus is the mannose-sensitive hemagglutinin. VGJ phi-infected V. cholerae overexpresses the product of one ORF of the phage (ORF112), which is similar to single-stranded DNA binding proteins of other filamentous phages. Once inside a cell, VGJ phi is able to integrate its genome into the same chromosomal attB site as CTX phi, entering into a lysogenic state. Additionally, we found an attP structure in VGJ phi, which is also conserved in several lysogenic filamentous phages from different bacterial hosts. Finally, since different filamentous phages seem to integrate into the bacterial dif locus by a general mechanism, we propose a model in which repeated integration events with different phages might have contributed to the evolution of the CTX chromosomal region in V. cholerae El Tor.
Project description:Toxigenic Vibrio cholerae strains, including strains in serogroups O1 and O139 associated with the clinical disease cholera, are ubiquitous in aquatic reservoirs, including fresh, estuarine, and marine environments. Humans acquire cholera by consuming water and/or food contaminated with the microorganism. The genome of toxigenic V. cholerae harbors a cholera-toxin producing prophage (CT-prophage) encoding genes that promote expression of cholera toxin. The CT-prophage in V. cholerae is flanked by two satellite prophages, RS1 and TLC. Using cell surface appendages (TCP and/or MSHA pili), V. cholerae can sequentially acquire TLC, RS1, and CTX phages by transduction; the genome of each of these phages ultimately integrates into V. cholerae's genome in a site-specific manner. Here, we showed that a non-toxigenic V. cholerae O1 biotype El Tor strain, lacking the entire RS1-CTX-TLC prophage complex (designated as RCT: R for RS1, C for CTX and T for TLC prophage, respectively), was able to acquire RCT from donor genomic DNA (gDNA) of a wild-type V. cholerae strain (E7946) via chitin-induced transformation. Moreover, we demonstrated that a chitin-induced transformant (designated as AAS111) harboring RCT was capable of producing cholera toxin. We also showed that recA, rather than xerC and xerD recombinases, promoted the acquisition of RCT from donor gDNA by the recipient non-toxigenic V. cholerae strain. Our data document the existence of an alternative pathway by which a non-toxigenic V. cholerae O1 strain can transform to a toxigenic strain by using chitin induction. As chitin is an abundant natural carbon source in aquatic reservoirs where V. cholerae is present, chitin-induced transformation may be an important driver in the emergence of new toxigenic V. cholerae strains.