The Probiotic Escherichia coli Strain Nissle 1917 Combats Lambdoid Bacteriophages stx and ?.
ABSTRACT: Shiga toxin (Stx) producing E. coli (STEC) such as Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) are the major cause of foodborne illness in humans. In vitro studies showed the probiotic Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 (EcN) to efficiently inhibit the production of Stx. Life threatening EHEC strains as for example the serotype O104:H4, responsible for the great outbreak in 2011 in Germany, evolutionary developed from certain E. coli strains which got infected by stx2-encoding lambdoid phages turning the E. coli into lysogenic and subsequently Stx producing strains. Since antibiotics induce stx genes and Stx production, EHEC infected persons are not recommended to be treated with antibiotics. Therefore, EcN might be an alternative medication. However, because even commensal E. coli strains might be converted into Stx-producers after becoming host to a stx encoding prophage, we tested EcN for stx-phage genome integration. Our experiments revealed the resistance of EcN toward not only stx-phages but also against lambda-phages. This resistance was not based on the lack of or by mutated phage receptors. Rather it involved the expression of a phage repressor (pr) gene of a defective prophage in EcN which was able to partially protect E. coli K-12 strain MG1655 against stx and lambda phage infection. Furthermore, we observed EcN to inactivate phages and thereby to protect E. coli K-12 strains against infection by stx- as well as lambda-phages. Inactivation of lambda-phages was due to binding of lambda-phages to LamB of EcN whereas inactivation of stx-phages was caused by a thermostable protein of EcN. These properties together with its ability to inhibit Stx production make EcN a good candidate for the prevention of illness caused by EHEC and probably for the treatment of already infected people.
Project description:The Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 (EcN) is used as a probiotic for the treatment of certain gastrointestinal diseases in several European and non-European countries. In vitro studies showed EcN to efficiently inhibit the production of Shiga toxin (Stx) by Stx producing E. coli (STEC) such as Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC). The occurrence of the latest EHEC serotype (O104:H4) responsible for the great outbreak in 2011 in Germany was due to the infection of an enteroaggregative E. coli by a Stx 2-encoding lambdoid phage turning this E. coli into a lysogenic and subsequently into a Stx producing strain. Since EHEC infected persons are not recommended to be treated with antibiotics, EcN might be an alternative medication. However, because a harmless E. coli strain might be converted into a Stx-producer after becoming host to a stx encoding prophage, we tested EcN for stx-phage genome integration. Our experiments revealed the resistance of EcN towards not only stx-phages but also against the lambda phage. This resistance was not based on the lack of or by mutated phage receptors. Rather the expression of certain genes (superinfection exclusion B (sieB) and a phage repressor (pr) gene) of a defective prophage of EcN was involved in the complete resistance of EcN to infection by the stx- and lambda phage. Obviously, EcN cannot be turned into a Stx producer. Furthermore, we observed EcN to inactivate phages and thereby to protect E. coli K-12 strains against infection by stx- as well as lambda-phages. Inactivation of lambda-phages was due to binding of lambda-phages to LamB of EcN whereas inactivation of stx-phages was caused by a thermostable protein of EcN. These properties together with its ability to inhibit Stx production make EcN a good candidate for the prevention of illness caused by EHEC and probably for the treatment of already infected people. Overall design: Total EcN bacterial RNA was isolated from 3 ml cultures after 16 h of a static incubation period with or without stx phages.
Project description:Bacteriophage-encoded genetic elements control bacterial biological functions. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) strains harbor lambda-phages encoding the Shiga-toxin (Stx), which is expressed during the phage lytic cycle and associated with exacerbated disease. Phages also reside dormant within bacterial chromosomes through their lysogenic cycle, but how this impacts EHEC virulence remains unknown. We find that during lysogeny the phage transcription factor Cro activates the EHEC type III secretion system (T3SS). EHEC lambdoid phages are lysogenic under anaerobic conditions when Cro binds to and activates the promoters of T3SS genes. Interestingly, the Cro sequence varies among phages carried by different EHEC outbreak strains, and these changes affect Cro-dependent T3SS regulation. Additionally, infecting mice with the related pathogen C. rodentium harboring the bacteriophage cro from EHEC results in greater T3SS gene expression and enhanced virulence. Collectively, these findings reveal the role of phages in impacting EHEC virulence and their potential to affect outbreak strains.
Project description:Stx bacteriophages are responsible for driving the dissemination of Stx toxin genes (stx) across their bacterial host range. Lysogens carrying Stx phages can cause severe, life-threatening disease and Stx toxin is an integral virulence factor. The Stx-bacteriophage vB_EcoP-24B, commonly referred to as ?24B, is capable of multiply infecting a single bacterial host cell at a high frequency, with secondary infection increasing the rate at which subsequent bacteriophage infections can occur. This is biologically unusual, therefore determining the genomic content and context of ?24B compared to other lambdoid Stx phages is important to understanding the factors controlling this phenomenon and determining whether they occur in other Stx phages.The genome of the Stx2 encoding phage, ?24B was sequenced and annotated. The genomic organisation and general features are similar to other sequenced Stx bacteriophages induced from Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), however ?24B possesses significant regions of heterogeneity, with implications for phage biology and behaviour. The ?24B genome was compared to other sequenced Stx phages and the archetypal lambdoid phage, lambda, using the Circos genome comparison tool and a PCR-based multi-loci comparison system.The data support the hypothesis that Stx phages are mosaic, and recombination events between the host, phages and their remnants within the same infected bacterial cell will continue to drive the evolution of Stx phage variants and the subsequent dissemination of shigatoxigenic potential.
Project description:The bacteriophage life cycle has an important role in Shiga toxin (Stx) expression. The induction of Shiga toxin-encoding phages (Stx phages) increases toxin production as a result of replication of the phage genome, and phage lysis of the host cell also provides a means of Stx toxin to exit the cell. Previous studies suggested that prophage induction might also occur in the absence of SOS response, independently of RecA.The influence of EDTA on RecA-independent Stx2 phage induction was assessed, in laboratory lysogens and in EHEC strains carrying Stx2 phages in their genome, by Real-Time PCR. RecA-independent mechanisms described for phage ? induction (RcsA and DsrA) were not involved in Stx2 phage induction. In addition, mutations in the pathway for the stress response of the bacterial envelope to EDTA did not contribute to Stx2 phage induction. The effect of EDTA on Stx phage induction is due to its chelating properties, which was also confirmed by the use of citrate, another chelating agent. Our results indicate that EDTA affects Stx2 phage induction by disruption of the bacterial outer membrane due to chelation of Mg(2+). In all the conditions evaluated, the pH value had a decisive role in Stx2 phage induction.Chelating agents, such as EDTA and citrate, induce Stx phages, which raises concerns due to their frequent use in food and pharmaceutical products. This study contributes to our understanding of the phenomenon of induction and release of Stx phages as an important factor in the pathogenicity of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and in the emergence of new pathogenic strains.
Project description:The pathogenicity of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) depends on production of Shiga toxins, which are encoded by stx genes located in the genomes of lambdoid prophages. Efficient expression of these genes requires prophage induction and lytic development of phages. Treatment of EHEC infections is problematic due to not only the resistance of various strains to antibiotics but also the fact that many antibiotics cause prophage induction, thus resulting in high-level expression of stx genes. Here we report that E. coli growth, Shiga toxin-converting phage development, and production of the toxin by EHEC are strongly inhibited by phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC). We demonstrate that PEITC induces the stringent response in E. coli that is mediated by massive production of a global regulator, guanosine tetraphosphate (ppGpp). The stringent response induction arises most probably from interactions of PEITC with amino acids and from amino acid deprivation-mediated activation of ppGpp synthesis. In mutants unable to synthesize ppGpp, development of Shiga toxin-converting phages and production of Shiga toxin are significantly enhanced. Therefore, ppGpp, which appears at high levels in bacterial cells after stimulation of its production by PEITC, is a negative regulator of EHEC virulence and at the same time efficiently inhibits bacterial growth. This is in contrast to stimulation of virulence of different bacteria by this nucleotide reported previously by others.
Project description:Cytolethal distending toxins (CDT) are potent cytotoxins of several Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria, including Escherichia coli, in which five types (CDT-I to CDT-V) have been identified so far. CDT-V is frequently associated with Shiga-toxigenic E. coli (STEC), enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O157 strains, and strains not fitting any established pathotypes. In this study, we were the first to sequence and annotate a 31.2-kb-long, noninducible P2-like prophage carrying the cdt-V operon from an stx- and eae-negative E. coli O157:H43 strain of bovine origin. The cdt-V operon is integrated in the place of the tin and old phage immunity genes (termed the TO region) of the prophage, and the prophage itself is integrated into the bacterial chromosome between the housekeeping genes cpxP and fieF. The presence of P2-like genes (n = 20) was investigated in a further five CDT-V-positive bovine E. coli O157 strains of various serotypes, three EHEC O157:NM strains, four strains expressing other variants of CDT, and eight CDT-negative strains. All but one CDT-V-positive atypical O157 strain uniformly carried all the investigated genomic regions of P2-like phages, while the EHEC O157 strains missed three regions and the CDT-V-negative strains carried only a few P2-like sequences. Our results suggest that P2-like phages play a role in the dissemination of cdt-V between E. coli O157 strains and that after integration into the bacterial chromosome, they adapted to the respective hosts and became temperate.
Project description:A bacteriophage encoding the Shiga toxin 2c variant (Stx2c) was isolated from the human Escherichia coli O157 strain CB2851 and shown to form lysogens on the E. coli K-12 laboratory strains C600 and MG1655. Production of Stx2c was found in the wild-type E. coli O157 strain and the K-12 lysogens and was inducible by growing bacteria in the presence of ciprofloxacin. Phage 2851 is the first reported viable bacteriophage which carries an stx(2c) gene. Electron micrographs of phage 2851 showed particles with elongated hexagonal heads and long flexible tails resembling phage lambda. Sequence analysis of an 8.4-kb region flanking the stx(2c) gene and other genetic elements revealed a mosaic gene structure, as found in other Stx phages. Phage 2851 showed lysis of E. coli K-12 strains lysogenic for Stx phages encoding Stx1 (H19), Stx2 (933W), Stx (7888), and Stx1c (6220) but showed superinfection immunity with phage lambda, presumably originating from the similarity of the cI repressor proteins of both phages. Apparently, phage 2851 integrates at a different chromosomal locus than Stx2 phage 933W and Stx1 phage H19 in E. coli, explaining why Stx2c is often found in combination with Stx1 or Stx2 in E. coli O157 strains. Diagnostic PCR was performed to determine gene sequences specific for phage 2851 in wild-type E. coli O157 strains producing Stx2c. The phage 2851 q and o genes were frequently detected in Stx2c-producing E. coli O157 strains, indicating that phages related to 2851 are associated with Stx2c production in strains of E. coli O157 that were isolated in different locations and time periods.
Project description:Lytic or lysogenic infections by bacteriophages drive the evolution of enteric bacteria. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) have recently emerged as a significant zoonotic infection of humans with the main serotypes carried by ruminants. Typical EHEC strains are defined by the expression of a type III secretion (T3S) system, the production of Shiga toxins (Stx) and association with specific clinical symptoms. The genes for Stx are present on lambdoid bacteriophages integrated into the E. coli genome. Phage type (PT) 21/28 is the most prevalent strain type linked with human EHEC infections in the United Kingdom and is more likely to be associated with cattle shedding high levels of the organism than PT32 strains. In this study we have demonstrated that the majority (90%) of PT 21/28 strains contain both Stx2 and Stx2c phages, irrespective of source. This is in contrast to PT 32 strains for which only a minority of strains contain both Stx2 and 2c phages (28%). PT21/28 strains had a lower median level of T3S compared to PT32 strains and so the relationship between Stx phage lysogeny and T3S was investigated. Deletion of Stx2 phages from EHEC strains increased the level of T3S whereas lysogeny decreased T3S. This regulation was confirmed in an E. coli K12 background transduced with a marked Stx2 phage followed by measurement of a T3S reporter controlled by induced levels of the LEE-encoded regulator (Ler). The presence of an integrated Stx2 phage was shown to repress Ler induction of LEE1 and this regulation involved the CII phage regulator. This repression could be relieved by ectopic expression of a cognate CI regulator. A model is proposed in which Stx2-encoding bacteriophages regulate T3S to co-ordinate epithelial cell colonisation that is promoted by Stx and secreted effector proteins.
Project description:Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) colonize intestinal epithelium by generating characteristic attaching and effacing (AE) lesions. They are lysogenized by prophage that encode Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2), which is responsible for severe clinical manifestations. As a lysogen, prophage genes leading to lytic growth and stx2 expression are repressed, whereas induction of the bacterial SOS response in response to DNA damage leads to lytic phage growth and Stx2 production both in vitro and in germ-free or streptomycin-treated mice. Some commensal bacteria diminish prophage induction and concomitant Stx2 production in vitro, whereas it has been proposed that phage-susceptible commensals may amplify Stx2 production by facilitating successive cycles of infection in vivo. We tested the role of phage induction in both Stx production and lethal disease in microbiome-replete mice, using our mouse model encompassing the murine pathogen Citrobacter rodentium lysogenized with the Stx2-encoding phage ?stx2dact. This strain generates EHEC-like AE lesions on the murine intestine and causes lethal Stx-mediated disease. We found that lethal mouse infection did not require that ?stx2dact infect or lysogenize commensal bacteria. In addition, we detected circularized phage genomes, potentially in the early stage of replication, in feces of infected mice, confirming that prophage induction occurs during infection of microbiota-replete mice. Further, C. rodentium (?stx2dact) mutants that do not respond to DNA damage or express stx produced neither high levels of Stx2 in vitro or lethal infection in vivo, confirming that SOS induction and concomitant expression of phage-encoded stx genes are required for disease. In contrast, C. rodentium (?stx2dact) mutants incapable of prophage genome excision or of packaging phage genomes retained the ability to produce Stx in vitro, as well as to cause lethal disease in mice. Thus, in a microbiome-replete EHEC infection model, lytic induction of Stx-encoding prophage is essential for lethal disease, but actual phage production is not.
Project description:Shiga toxin-converting bacteriophages (or Stx phages) are responsible for virulence of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli strains. Although they belong to the group of lambdoid phages, which have served as models in studies on DNA replication mechanisms, details of regulation of replication of Stx phage genomes are poorly understood. Despite high similarity of their replication regions to that of phage lambda, considerable differences occur between them. Here, we present a comparison of origins of replication and O proteins of lambda and selected Stx phages (phages P27 and 933W). Stx initiator proteins, similarly to the lambda O protein, exist in the form of dimers. Only 4 iteron sequences are strongly bound in vitro by the O proteins, despite the presence of 6 such fragments in the Stx ori, while the function of the other two iterons is still crucial for transformation of E. coli wild-type strain by the P27-derived lambdoid plasmid. As these sequences are found in the gene coding for Stx O proteins, the sequences of these proteins themselves are also extended compared to lambda phage. Therefore, proteins O of Stx phages P27 and 933W have 13 additional amino acids. They can act as a space barrier, thus affecting the lesser packing of the O-some Stx complex compared to the structure found in lambda. Such structure of the DNA replication initiation complex may determine its lesser dependence on the processes occurring in the host cell, including transcriptional activation of the origin. Differences between molecular processes occurring during formation of replication complexes in lambda and Stx phages may indicate the specialization of the latter phages and their adaptation to specific environmental conditions where quick genetic switches are crucial.