Crosslinked flagella as a stabilized vaccine adjuvant scaffold.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Engineered vaccine proteins incorporating both antigen and adjuvant components are constructed with the aim of combining functions to induce effective protective immunity. Bacterial flagellin is a strong candidate for an engineered vaccine scaffold as it is known to provide adjuvant activity through its TLR5 and inflammasome activation. Moreover, polymerized flagellin filaments can elicit a more robust immunoglobulin response than monomeric flagellin, and the multimeric antigen form can also promote T cell-independent antibody responses. Here, we aim to produce and test a covalently stabilized polymerized flagellar filament, providing additional immune efficacy through stabilization of its polymeric filament structure, as well as stabilization for long-term storage. RESULTS:Computational modeling of monomer packing in flagellin filaments helped identify amino acids with proximity to neighboring flagella protofilaments. Paired cysteine substitutions were made at amino acids predicted to form inter-monomer disulfide cross-links, and these substitutions were capable of forming flagella when transfected into a flagellin-negative strain of Salmonella enterica subspecies Typhimurium. Interestingly, each paired substitution stabilized different helical conformational polymorphisms; the stabilized filaments lost the ability to transition between conformations, reducing bacterial motility. More importantly, the paired substitutions enabled extensive disulfide cross links and intra-filament multimer formation, and in one of the three variants, permitted filament stability in high acidic and temperature conditions where wild-type filaments would normally rapidly depolymerize. In addition, with regard to potential adjuvant activity, all crosslinked flagella filaments were able to induce wild-type levels of epithelial NF-?B in a cell reporter system. Finally, bacterial virulence was unimpaired in epithelial adherence and invasion, and the cysteine substitutions also appeared to increase bacterial resistance to oxidizing and reducing conditions. CONCLUSIONS:We identified amino acid pairs, with cysteine substitutions, were able to form intermolecular disulfide bonds that stabilized the resulting flagellar filaments in detergent, hydrochloric acid, and high temperatures while retaining its immunostimulatory function. Flagellar filaments with disulfide-stabilized protofilaments introduce new possibilities for the application of flagella as a vaccine adjuvant. Specifically, increased stability and heat tolerance permits long-term storage in a range of temperature environments, as well as delivery under a range of clinical conditions.
Project description:The bacterial flagellar filament is a very large macromolecular assembly of a single protein, flagellin. Various supercoiled states of the filament exist, which are formed by two structurally different conformations of flagellin in different ratios. We investigated the correlation between supercoiling of the protofilaments and molecular dynamics in the flagellar filament using quasielastic and elastic incoherent neutron scattering on the picosecond and nanosecond timescales. Thermal fluctuations in the straight L- and R-type filaments were measured and compared to the resting state of the wild-type filament. Amplitudes of motion on the picosecond timescale were found to be similar in the different conformational states. Mean-square displacements and protein resilience on the 0.1 ns timescale demonstrate that the L-type state is more flexible and less resilient than the R-type, whereas the wild-type state lies in between. Our results provide strong support that supercoiling of the protofilaments in the flagellar filament is determined by the strength of molecular forces in and between the flagellin subunits.
Project description:Rotary flagella propel bacteria through liquid and across semisolid environments. Flagella are composed of the basal body that constitutes the motor for rotation, the curved hook that connects to the basal body, and the flagellar filament that propels the cell. Flagellar filaments can be composed of a single flagellin protein, such as in Escherichia coli, or made up of multiple flagellins, such as in Agrobacterium tumefaciens The four distinct flagellins FlaA, FlaB, FlaC, and FlaD produced by wild-type A. tumefaciens are not redundant in function but have specific properties. FlaA and FlaB are much more abundant than FlaC and FlaD and are readily observable in mature flagellar filaments, when either FlaA or FlaB is fluorescently labeled. Cells producing FlaA with any one of the other three flagellins can generate functional filaments and thus are motile, but FlaA alone cannot constitute a functional filament. In flaA mutants that manifest swimming deficiencies, there are multiple ways by which these mutations can be phenotypically suppressed. These suppressor mutations primarily occur within or upstream of the flaB flagellin gene or in the transcription factor sciP regulating flagellin expression. The helical conformation of the flagellar filament appears to require a key asparagine residue present in FlaA and absent in other flagellins. However, FlaB can be spontaneously mutated to render helical flagella in the absence of FlaA, reflecting their overall similarity and perhaps the subtle differences in the specific functions they have evolved to fulfill.IMPORTANCE Flagellins are abundant bacterial proteins comprising the flagellar filaments that propel bacterial movement. Several members of the alphaproteobacterial group express multiple flagellins, in contrast to model systems, such as with Escherichia coli, which has one type of flagellin. The plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens has four flagellins, the abundant and readily detected FlaA and FlaB, and lower levels of FlaC and FlaD. Mutational analysis reveals that FlaA requires at least one of the other flagellins to function, as flaA mutants produce nonhelical flagella and cannot swim efficiently. Suppressor mutations can rescue this swimming defect through mutations in the remaining flagellins, including structural changes imparting helical shape to the flagella, and putative regulators. Our findings shed light on how multiple flagellins contribute to motility.
Project description:The flagellar filament enables bacteria to swim by functioning as a helical propeller. The filament is a supercoiled assembly of a single protein, flagellin, and is formed by 11 protofilaments arranged in a circle. Bacterial swimming and tumbling correlate with changes of the various helical structures, called polymorphic transformation, that are determined by the ratios of two distinct forms of protofilaments, the L and R types. The polymorphic transformation is caused by transition of the protofilament between L and R types. Elucidation of this transition mechanism has been addressed by comparing the atomic structures of L- and R-type straight filaments or using massive molecular dynamic simulation. Here, we found amino acid residues required for the transition of the protofilament using fliC-intragenic suppressor analysis. We isolated a number of revertants producing supercoiled filaments from mutants with straight filaments and identified the second-site mutations in all of the revertants. The results suggest that Asp107, Gly426, and Ser448 and Ser106, Ala416, Ala427, and Arg431 are the key residues involved in inducing supercoiled filaments from the R- and the L-type straight filaments, respectively. Considering the structures of the R- and L-type protofilaments and the relationship between the rotation of the flagellar motor and the polymorphic transformation, we propose that Gly426, Ala427, and Arg431 contribute to the first stage of the transition and that Ser106, Asp107, and Ala416 play a role in propagating the transitions along the flagellar filament.
Project description:Flagella are crucial for bacterial motility and pathogenesis. The flagellar capping protein (FliD) regulates filament assembly by chaperoning and sorting flagellin (FliC) proteins after they traverse the hollow filament and exit the growing flagellum tip. In the absence of FliD, flagella are not formed, resulting in impaired motility and infectivity. Here, we report the 2.2 Å resolution X-ray crystal structure of FliD from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the first high-resolution structure of any FliD protein from any bacterium. Using this evidence in combination with a multitude of biophysical and functional analyses, we find that Pseudomonas FliD exhibits unexpected structural similarity to other flagellar proteins at the domain level, adopts a unique hexameric oligomeric state, and depends on flexible determinants for oligomerization. Considering that the flagellin filaments on which FliD oligomers are affixed vary in protofilament number between bacteria, our results suggest that FliD oligomer stoichiometries vary across bacteria to complement their filament assemblies.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae establishes symbiotic nitrogen fixing partnerships with plant species belonging to the Tribe Vicieae, which includes the genera Vicia, Lathyrus, Pisum and Lens. Motility and chemotaxis are important in the ecology of R. leguminosarum to provide a competitive advantage during the early steps of nodulation, but the mechanisms of motility and flagellar assembly remain poorly studied. This paper addresses the role of the seven flagellin genes in producing a functional flagellum. RESULTS: R. leguminosarum strains 3841 and VF39SM have seven flagellin genes (flaA, flaB, flaC, flaD, flaE, flaH, and flaG), which are transcribed separately. The predicted flagellins of 3841 are highly similar or identical to the corresponding flagellins in VF39SM. flaA, flaB, flaC, and flaD are in tandem array and are located in the main flagellar gene cluster. flaH and flaG are located outside of the flagellar/motility region while flaE is plasmid-borne. Five flagellin subunits (FlaA, FlaB, FlaC, FlaE, and FlaG) are highly similar to each other, whereas FlaD and FlaH are more distantly related. All flagellins exhibit conserved amino acid residues at the N- and C-terminal ends and are variable in the central regions. Strain 3841 has 1-3 plain subpolar flagella while strain VF39SM exhibits 4-7 plain peritrichous flagella. Three flagellins (FlaA/B/C) and five flagellins (FlaA/B/C/E/G) were detected by mass spectrometry in the flagellar filaments of strains 3841 and VF39SM, respectively. Mutation of flaA resulted in non-motile VF39SM and extremely reduced motility in 3841. Individual mutations of flaB and flaC resulted in shorter flagellar filaments and consequently reduced swimming and swarming motility for both strains. Mutant VF39SM strains carrying individual mutations in flaD, flaE, flaH, and flaG were not significantly affected in motility and filament morphology. The flagellar filament and the motility of 3841 strains with mutations in flaD and flaG were not significantly affected while flaE and flaH mutants exhibited shortened filaments and reduced swimming motility. CONCLUSION: The results obtained from this study demonstrate that FlaA, FlaB, and FlaC are major components of the flagellar filament while FlaD and FlaG are minor components for R. leguminosarum strains 3841 and VF39SM. We also observed differences between the two strains, wherein FlaE and FlaH appear to be minor components of the flagellar filaments in VF39SM but these flagellin subunits may play more important roles in 3841. This paper also demonstrates that the flagellins of 3841 and VF39SM are possibly glycosylated.
Project description:Bacterial flagella are helical proteinaceous fibers, composed of the protein flagellin, that confer motility to many bacterial species. The genomes of about half of all flagellated species include more than one flagellin gene, for reasons mostly unknown. Here we show that two flagellins (FlaA and FlaB) are spatially arranged in the polar flagellum of Shewanella putrefaciens, with FlaA being more abundant close to the motor and FlaB in the remainder of the flagellar filament. Observations of swimming trajectories and numerical simulations demonstrate that this segmentation improves motility in a range of environmental conditions, compared to mutants with single-flagellin filaments. In particular, it facilitates screw-like motility, which enhances cellular spreading through obstructed environments. Similar mechanisms may apply to other bacterial species and may explain the maintenance of multiple flagellins to form the flagellar filament.
Project description:Unlike external flagellated bacteria, spirochetes have periplasmic flagella (PF). Very little is known about how PF are assembled within the periplasm of spirochaetal cells. Herein, we report that FliD (BB0149), a flagellar cap protein (also named hook-associated protein 2), controls flagellin stability and flagellar filament assembly in the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Deletion of fliD leads to non-motile mutant cells that are unable to assemble flagellar filaments and pentagon-shaped caps (10 nm in diameter, 12 nm in length). Interestingly, FlaB, a major flagellin protein of B. burgdorferi, is degraded in the fliD mutant but not in other flagella-deficient mutants (i.e., in the hook, rod, or MS-ring). Biochemical and genetic studies reveal that HtrA, a serine protease of B. burgdorferi, controls FlaB turnover. Specifically, HtrA degrades unfolded but not polymerized FlaB, and deletion of htrA increases the level of FlaB in the fliD mutant. Collectively, we propose that the flagellar cap protein FliD promotes flagellin polymerization and filament growth in the periplasm. Deletion of fliD abolishes this process, which leads to leakage of unfolded FlaB proteins into the periplasm where they are degraded by HtrA, a protease that prevents accumulation of toxic products in the periplasm.
Project description:Bacteria swim and swarm by rotating the micrometers long, helical filaments of their flagella. They change direction by reversing their flagellar rotation, which switches the handedness of the filament's supercoil. So far, all studied functional filaments are composed of a mixture of L- and R-state flagellin monomers. Here we show in a study of the wild type Firmicute Kurthia sp., that curved, functional filaments can adopt a conformation in vivo that is closely related to a uniform, all-L-state. This sheds additional light on transitions of the flagellar supercoil and uniquely reveals the atomic structure of a wild-type flagellar filament in vivo, including six residues showing clearly densities of O-linked glycosylation.
Project description:Bacterial flagella are cell locomotion and occasional adhesion organelles composed primarily of the polymeric protein flagellin, but to date have not been associated with any enzymatic function. Here, we report the bioinformatics-driven discovery of a class of enzymatic flagellins that assemble to form proteolytically active flagella. Originating by a metallopeptidase insertion into the central flagellin hypervariable region, this flagellin family has expanded to at least 74 bacterial species. In the pathogen, Clostridium haemolyticum, metallopeptidase-containing flagellin (which we termed flagellinolysin) is the second most abundant protein in the flagella and is localized to the extracellular flagellar surface. Purified flagellar filaments and recombinant flagellin exhibit proteolytic activity, cleaving nearly 1000 different peptides. With?~?20,000 flagellin copies per ?~?10-?m flagella this assembles the largest proteolytic complex known. Flagellum-mediated extracellular proteolysis expands our understanding of the functional plasticity of bacterial flagella, revealing this family as enzymatic biopolymers that mediate interactions with diverse peptide substrates.So far no enzymatic activity has been attributed to flagellin, the major component of bacterial flagella. Here the authors use bioinformatic analysis and identify a metallopeptidase insertion in flagellins from 74 bacterial species and show that recombinant flagellin and flagellar filaments have proteolytic activity.
Project description:The bacterial flagellum is a self-assembling nanomachine. The external flagellar filament, several times longer than a bacterial cell body, is made of a few tens of thousands subunits of a single protein: flagellin. A fundamental problem concerns the molecular mechanism of how the flagellum grows outside the cell, where no discernible energy source is available. Here, we monitored the dynamic assembly of individual flagella using in situ labelling and real-time immunostaining of elongating flagellar filaments. We report that the rate of flagellum growth, initially ?1,700 amino acids per second, decreases with length and that the previously proposed chain mechanism does not contribute to the filament elongation dynamics. Inhibition of the proton motive force-dependent export apparatus revealed a major contribution of substrate injection in driving filament elongation. The combination of experimental and mathematical evidence demonstrates that a simple, injection-diffusion mechanism controls bacterial flagella growth outside the cell.