Identification of Potential Virulence Factors in the Model Strain Acinetobacter baumannii A118.
ABSTRACT: Acinetobacter baumannii A118, a strain isolated from the blood of an infected patient, is naturally competent and unlike most clinical strains, is susceptible to a variety of different antibiotics including those usually used for selection in genetic manipulations. These characteristics make strain A118 a convenient model for genetic studies of A. baumannii. To identify potential virulence factors, its complete genome was analyzed and compared to other A. baumannii genomes. A. baumannii A118 includes gene clusters coding for the acinetobactin and baumannoferrin iron acquisition systems. Iron-regulated expression of the BauA outer membrane receptor for ferric-acinetobactin complexes was confirmed as well as the utilization of acinetobactin. A. baumannii A118 also possesses the feoABC genes, which code for the main bacterial ferrous uptake system. The functionality of baumannoferrin was suggested by the ability of A. baumannii A118 culture supernatants to cross feed an indicator BauA-deficient strain plated on iron-limiting media. A. baumannii A118 behaved as non-motile but included the csuA/BABCDE chaperone-usher pilus assembly operon and produced biofilms on polystyrene and glass surfaces. While a known capsular polysaccharide (K) locus was identified, the outer core polysaccharide (OC) locus, which belongs to group B, showed differences with available sequences. Our results show that despite being susceptible to most antibiotics, strain A118 conserves known virulence-related traits enhancing its value as model to study A. baumannii pathogenicity.
Project description:New strategies are urgently required to develop antibiotics. The siderophore uptake system has attracted considerable attention, but rational design of siderophore antibiotic conjugates requires knowledge of recognition by the cognate outer-membrane transporter. Acinetobacter baumannii is a serious pathogen, which utilizes (pre)acinetobactin to scavenge iron from the host. We report the structure of the (pre)acinetobactin transporter BauA bound to the siderophore, identifying the structural determinants of recognition. Detailed biophysical analysis confirms that BauA recognises preacinetobactin. We show that acinetobactin is not recognised by the protein, thus preacinetobactin is essential for iron uptake. The structure shows and NMR confirms that under physiological conditions, a molecule of acinetobactin will bind to two free coordination sites on the iron preacinetobactin complex. The ability to recognise a heterotrimeric iron-preacinetobactin-acinetobactin complex may rationalize contradictory reports in the literature. These results open new avenues for the design of novel antibiotic conjugates (trojan horse) antibiotics.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is an opportunistic pathogen that causes severe nosocomial infections. Strain ATCC 19606(T) utilizes the siderophore acinetobactin to acquire iron under iron-limiting conditions encountered in the host. Accordingly, the genome of this strain has three tonB genes encoding proteins for energy transduction functions needed for the active transport of nutrients, including iron, through the outer membrane. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that these tonB genes, which are present in the genomes of all sequenced A. baumannii strains, were acquired from different sources. Two of these genes occur as components of tonB-exbB-exbD operons and one as a monocistronic copy; all are actively transcribed in ATCC 19606(T). The abilities of components of these TonB systems to complement the growth defect of Escherichia coli W3110 mutants KP1344 (tonB) and RA1051 (exbBD) under iron-chelated conditions further support the roles of these TonB systems in iron acquisition. Mutagenesis analysis of ATCC 19606(T) tonB1 (subscripted numbers represent different copies of genes or proteins) and tonB2 supports this hypothesis: their inactivation results in growth defects in iron-chelated media, without affecting acinetobactin biosynthesis or the production of the acinetobactin outer membrane receptor protein BauA. In vivo assays using Galleria mellonella show that each TonB protein is involved in, but not essential for, bacterial virulence in this infection model. Furthermore, we observed that TonB2 plays a role in the ability of bacteria to bind to fibronectin and to adhere to A549 cells by uncharacterized mechanisms. Taken together, these results indicate that A. baumannii ATCC 19606(T) produces three independent TonB proteins, which appear to provide the energy-transducing functions needed for iron acquisition and cellular processes that play a role in the virulence of this pathogen.
Project description:Recent studies have demonstrated a high genomic plasticity in Acinetobacter baumannii, which may explain its high capacity to acquire multiple antibiotic resistance determinants and to survive in the hospital environment. Acinetobacter baumannii strain A118 (Ab A118) was isolated in the year 1995 from a blood culture of an intensive care unit patient. As this particular strain showed some peculiar characteristic such as being naturally competent and susceptible to numerous antibiotics, we performed whole-genome comparison (WGC) studies to gain insights into the nature and extent of the genomic differences. The Ab A118 genome is approximately 3,824 kb long with a 38.4% GC content and contains 3,520 coding sequences. WGC studies showed that the Ab A118 genome has 98% average nucleotide identity with that of A. baumannii ATCC 17978, and 96% average nucleotide identity with that of strains AYE and ACICU. At least 12 inversions, 275 insertions, and 626 deletions were identified when the Ab A118 genome was compared with those of strains ATCC 17978, AYE, and ACICU using MAUVE WGC. Multiple gene order arrangements were observed among the analyzed strains. MAUVE WGC analysis identified 19 conserved segments, known as locally colinear blocks. The number of single nucleotide polymorphisms found when comparing the Ab A118 genome with that of strains ATCC 17978, AYE, and ACICU was 43,784 (1.1496%), 44,130 (1.158%), and 43,914 (1.153%), respectively. Genes comEA, pilQ, pilD, pilF, comL, pilA, comEC, pilI, pilH, pilO, pilN, pilY1(comC), pilE, pilR, and comM, potentially involved in natural competence were found in the Ab A118 genome. In particular, unlike in most strains where comM is interrupted by an insertion of a resistance island (AbaR), in strain Ab A118 it is uninterrupted.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is a deadly nosocomial pathogen. Iron is an essential element for the pathogen. Under iron-restricted conditions, the bacterium expresses iron-regulated outer membrane proteins (IROMPs). Baumannii acinetobactin utilization (BauA) is the most important member of IROMPs in A. baumannii. Determination of its tertiary structure could help deduction of its functions and its interactions with ligands. The present study unveils BauA 3D structure via in silico approaches. Apart from ab initio, other rational methods such as homology modeling and threading were invoked to achieve the purpose. For homology modeling, BLAST was run on the sequence in order to find the best template. The template was then served to model the 3D structure. All the models built were evaluated qualitatively. The best model predicted by LOMETS was selected for analyses. Refinement of 3D structure as well as determination of its clefts and ligand binding sites was carried out on the structure. In contrast to the typical trimeric arrangement found in porins, BauA is monomeric. The barrel is formed by 22 antiparallel transmembrane β -strands. There are short periplasmic turns and longer surface-located loops. An N-terminal domain referred to either as the cork, the plug, or the hatch domain occludes the β -barrel.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is a Gram-negative opportunistic nosocomial pathogen that causes pneumonia and soft tissue and systemic infections. Screening of a transposon insertion library of A. baumannii ATCC 19606T resulted in the identification of the 2010 derivative, which, although capable of growing well in iron-rich media, failed to prosper under iron chelation. Genetic, molecular, and functional assays showed that 2010's iron utilization-deficient phenotype is due to an insertion within the 3' end of secA, which results in the production of a C-terminally truncated derivative of SecA. SecA plays a critical role in protein translocation through the SecYEG membrane channel. Accordingly, the secA mutation resulted in undetectable amounts of the ferric acinetobactin outer membrane receptor protein BauA while not affecting the production of other acinetobactin membrane protein transport components, such as BauB and BauE, or the secretion of acinetobactin by 2010 cells cultured in the presence of subinhibitory concentrations of the synthetic iron chelator 2,2'-dipyridyl. Outer membrane proteins involved in nutrient transport, adherence, and biofilm formation were also reduced in 2010. The SecA truncation also increased production of 30 different proteins, including proteins involved in adaptation/tolerance responses. Although some of these protein changes could negatively affect the pathobiology of the 2010 derivative, its virulence defect is mainly due to its inability to acquire iron via the acinetobactin-mediated system. These results together indicate that although the C terminus of the A. baumannii ATCC 19606T SecA is not essential for viability, it plays a critical role in the production and translocation of different proteins and virulence.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii A118, a naturally competent clinical isolate, is unusually susceptible to several antibiotics. Comparison of the optical map of strain A118 with in silico-generated restriction maps of sequenced genomes and sequence analyses showed that the AbaR region, commonly found inserted within the comM gene in other isolates, is missing in strain A118, which could in part explain the susceptible phenotype exhibited by this isolate. These comparative studies also showed differences in regions where genes coding for functions that may be involved in drug resistance or susceptibility are located. Further sequencing demonstrated that cat and bla(ADC), named bla(ADC-55), are present but that a tet(A) gene usually found in other strains is not. In addition, carO and pbp2, which may play a role in susceptibility to carbapenems, are present in strain A118. These findings support the idea that A. baumannii strains possess multiple mechanisms that contribute to antibiotic resistance, and the presence of some of them is not sufficient for a resistant phenotype. The results shown here indicate that optical mapping is a useful tool for preliminary comparative genomic analysis.
Project description:A novel temperate phage, vB_AbaS_TRS1, was isolated from cultures of Acinetobacter baumannii strain A118 that had been exposed to mitomycin C. Phage TRS1 belongs to the Siphoviridae family of bacteriophages and encapsulates a 40,749-bp genome encoding 70 coding sequences and a single tRNA.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii causes severe infections in compromised patients, who present an iron-limited environment that controls bacterial growth. This pathogen has responded to this restriction by expressing high-affinity iron acquisition systems including that mediated by the siderophore acinetobactin. Gene cloning, functional assays and biochemical tests showed that the A. baumannii genome contains a single functional copy of an entA ortholog. This gene, which is essential for the biosynthesis of the acinetobactin precursor 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid (DHBA), locates outside of the acinetobactin gene cluster, which otherwise harbors all genes needed for acinetobactin biosynthesis, export and transport. In silico analyses and genetic complementation tests showed that entA locates next to an entB ortholog, which codes for a putative protein that contains the isochorismatase lyase domain, which is needed for DHBA biosynthesis from isochorismic acid, but lacks the aryl carrier protein domain, which is needed for tethering activated DHBA and completion of siderophore biosynthesis. Thus, basF, which locates within the acinetobactin gene cluster, is the only fully functional entB ortholog present in ATCC 19606(T). The differences in amino acid length and sequences between these two EntB orthologs and the differences in the genetic context within which the entA and entB genes are found in different A. baumannii isolates indicate that they were acquired from different sources by horizontal transfer. Interestingly, the AYE strain proved to be a natural entA mutant capable of acquiring iron via an uncharacterized siderophore-mediated system, an observation that underlines the ability of different A. baumannii isolates to acquire iron using different systems. Finally, experimental infections using in vivo and ex vivo models demonstrate the role of DHBA and acinetobactin intermediates in the virulence of the ATCC 19606(T) cells, although to a lesser extent when compared to the responses obtained with bacteria producing and using fully matured acinetobactin to acquire iron.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is an emerging pathogen that poses a global health threat due to a lack of therapeutic options for treating drug-resistant strains. In addition to acquiring resistance to last-resort antibiotics, the success of A. baumannii is partially due to its ability to effectively compete with the host for essential metals. Iron is fundamental in shaping host-pathogen interactions, where the host restricts availability of this nutrient in an effort to curtail bacterial proliferation. To circumvent restriction, pathogens possess numerous mechanisms to obtain iron, including through the use of iron-scavenging siderophores. A. baumannii elaborates up to ten distinct siderophores, encoded from three different loci: acinetobactin and pre-acinetobactin (collectively, acinetobactin), baumannoferrins A and B, and fimsbactins A-F. The expression of multiple siderophores is common amongst bacterial pathogens and often linked to virulence, yet the collective contribution of these siderophores to A. baumannii survival and pathogenesis has not been investigated. Here we begin dissecting functional redundancy in the siderophore-based iron acquisition pathways of A. baumannii. Excess iron inhibits overall siderophore production by the bacterium, and the siderophore-associated loci are uniformly upregulated during iron restriction in vitro and in vivo. Further, disrupting all of the siderophore biosynthetic pathways is necessary to drastically reduce total siderophore production by A. baumannii, together suggesting a high degree of functional redundancy between the metabolites. By contrast, inactivation of acinetobactin biosynthesis alone impairs growth on human serum, transferrin, and lactoferrin, and severely attenuates survival of A. baumannii in a murine bacteremia model. These results suggest that whilst A. baumannii synthesizes multiple iron chelators, acinetobactin is critical to supporting growth of the pathogen on host iron sources. Given the acinetobactin locus is highly conserved and required for virulence of A. baumannii, designing therapeutics targeting the biosynthesis and/or transport of this siderophore may represent an effective means of combating this pathogen.
Project description:The critical role that iron plays in many biochemical processes has led to an elaborate battle between bacterial pathogens and their hosts to acquire and withhold this critical nutrient. Exploitation of iron nutritional immunity is being increasingly appreciated as a potential antivirulence therapeutic strategy, especially against problematic multidrug resistant Gram-negative pathogens such as Acinetobacter baumannii. To facilitate iron uptake and promote growth, A. baumannii produces a nonribosomally synthesized peptide siderophore called acinetobactin. Acinetobactin is unusual in that it is first biosynthesized in an oxazoline form called preacinetobactin that spontaneously isomerizes to the final isoxazolidinone acinetobactin. Interestingly, both isomers can bind iron and both support growth of A. baumannii. To address how the two isomers chelate their ferric cargo and how the complexes are used by A. baumannii, structural studies were carried out with the ferric acinetobactin complex and its periplasmic siderophore binding protein BauB. Herein, we present the crystal structure of BauB bound to a bis-tridentate (Fe3+L2) siderophore complex. Additionally, we present binding studies that show multiple variants of acinetobactin bind BauB with no apparent change in affinity. These results are consistent with the structural model that depicts few direct polar interactions between BauB and the acinetobactin backbone. This structural and functional characterization of acinetobactin and its requisite binding protein BauB provides insight that could be exploited to target this critical iron acquisition system and provide a novel approach to treat infections caused by this important multidrug resistant pathogen.