High sporulation and overexpression of virulence factors in biofilms and reduced susceptibility to vancomycin and linezolid in recurrent Clostridium [Clostridioides] difficile infection isolates.
ABSTRACT: Clostridium [Clostridioides] difficile infection (CDI) is one of the leading causes of diarrhea associated with medical care worldwide, and up to 60% of patients with CDI can develop a recurrent infection (R-CDI). A multi-species microbiota biofilm model of C. difficile was designed to evaluate the differences in the production of biofilms, sporulation, susceptibility to drugs, expression of sporulating (sigH, spo0A), quorum sensing (agrD1, and luxS), and adhesion-associated (slpA and cwp84) pathway genes between selected C. difficile isolates from R-CDI and non-recurrent patients (NR-CDI). We obtained 102 C. difficile isolates from 254 patients with confirmed CDI (66 from NR-CDI and 36 from R-CDI). Most of the isolates were biofilm producers, and most of the strains were ribotype 027 (81.374%, 83/102). Most C. difficile isolates were producers of biofilm (100/102), and most were strongly adherent. Sporulation was higher in the R-CDI than in the NR-CDI isolates (p = 0.015). The isolates from R-CDI patients more frequently demonstrated reduced susceptibility to vancomycin than isolates of NR-CDI patients (27.78% [10/36] and 9.09% [6/66], respectively, p = 0.013). The minimum inhibitory concentrations for vancomycin and linezolid against biofilms (BMIC) were up to 100 times and 20 times higher, respectively, than the corresponding planktonic MICs. Expression of sigH, spo0A, cwp84, and agrD1 was higher in R-CDI than in NR-CDI isolates. Most of the C. difficile isolates were producers of biofilms with no correlation with the ribotype. Sporulation was greater in R-CDI than in NR-CDI isolates in the biofilm model of C. difficile. The R-CDI isolates more frequently demonstrated reduced susceptibility to vancomycin and linezolid than the NR-CDI isolates in both planktonic cells and biofilm isolates. A higher expression of sporulating pathway (sigH, spo0A), quorum sensing (agrD1), and adhesion-associated (cwp84) genes was found in R-CDI than in NR-CDI isolates. All of these factors can have effect on the recurrence of the infection.
Project description:Bacteria within biofilms are protected from multiple stresses, including immune responses and antimicrobial agents. The biofilm-forming ability of bacterial pathogens has been associated with increased antibiotic resistance and chronic recurrent infections. Although biofilms have been well studied for several gut pathogens, little is known about biofilm formation by anaerobic gut species. The obligate anaerobe Clostridium difficile causes C. difficile infection (CDI), a major health care-associated problem primarily due to the high incidence of recurring infections. C. difficile colonizes the gut when the normal intestinal microflora is disrupted by antimicrobial agents; however, the factors or processes involved in gut colonization during infection remain unclear. We demonstrate that clinical C. difficile strains, i.e., strain 630 and the hypervirulent strain R20291, form structured biofilms in vitro, with R20291 accumulating substantially more biofilm. Microscopic and biochemical analyses show multiple layers of bacteria encased in a biofilm matrix containing proteins, DNA, and polysaccharide. Employing isogenic mutants, we show that virulence-associated proteins, Cwp84, flagella, and a putative quorum-sensing regulator, LuxS, are all required for maximal biofilm formation by C. difficile. Interestingly, a mutant in Spo0A, a transcription factor that controls spore formation, was defective for biofilm formation, indicating a possible link between sporulation and biofilm formation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that bacteria in clostridial biofilms are more resistant to high concentrations of vancomycin, a drug commonly used for treatment of CDI. Our data suggest that biofilm formation by C. difficile is a complex multifactorial process and may be a crucial mechanism for clostridial persistence in the host.
Project description:Clostridium difficile is a Gram positive, anaerobic bacterium that can form highly resistant endospores. The bacterium is the causative agent of C. difficile infection (CDI), for which the symptoms can range from a mild diarrhea to potentially fatal pseudomembranous colitis and toxic megacolon. Endospore formation in Firmicutes, including C. difficile, is governed by the key regulator for sporulation, Spo0A. In Bacillus subtilis, this transcription factor is also directly or indirectly involved in various other cellular processes. Here, we report that C. difficile Spo0A shows a high degree of similarity to the well characterized B. subtilis protein and recognizes a similar binding sequence. We find that the laboratory strain C. difficile 630?erm contains an 18bp-duplication near the DNA-binding domain compared to its ancestral strain 630. In vitro binding assays using purified C-terminal DNA binding domain of the C. difficile Spo0A protein demonstrate direct binding to DNA upstream of spo0A and sigH, early sporulation genes and several other putative targets. In vitro binding assays suggest that the gene encoding the major clostridial toxin TcdB may be a direct target of Spo0A, but supernatant derived from a spo0A negative strain was no less toxic towards Vero cells than that obtained from a wild type strain, in contrast to previous reports. These results identify for the first time direct (putative) targets of the Spo0A protein in C. difficile and make a positive effect of Spo0A on production of the large clostridial toxins unlikely.
Project description:The formation of spores is critical for the survival of Clostridium difficile outside the host gastrointestinal tract. Persistence of C. difficile spores greatly contributes to the spread of C. difficile infection (CDI), and the resistance of spores to antimicrobials facilitates the relapse of infection. Despite the importance of sporulation to C. difficile pathogenesis, the molecular mechanisms controlling spore formation are not well understood. The initiation of sporulation is known to be regulated through activation of the conserved transcription factor Spo0A. Multiple regulators influence Spo0A activation in other species; however, many of these factors are not conserved in C. difficile and few novel factors have been identified. Here, we investigated the function of a protein, CD1492, that is annotated as a kinase and was originally proposed to promote sporulation by directly phosphorylating Spo0A. We found that deletion of CD1492 resulted in increased sporulation, indicating that CD1492 is a negative regulator of sporulation. Accordingly, we observed increased transcription of Spo0A-dependent genes in the CD1492 mutant. Deletion of CD1492 also resulted in decreased toxin production in vitro and in decreased virulence in the hamster model of CDI. Further, the CD1492 mutant demonstrated effects on gene expression that are not associated with Spo0A activation, including lower sigD and rstA transcription, suggesting that this protein interacts with factors other than Spo0A. Altogether, the data indicate that CD1492 negatively affects sporulation and positively influences motility and virulence. These results provide further evidence that C. difficile sporulation is regulated differently from that of other endospore-forming species.
Project description:Clostridium difficile remains a leading nosocomial pathogen, putting considerable strain on the healthcare system. The ability to form endospores, highly resistant to environmental insults, is key to its persistence and transmission. However, important differences exist between the sporulation pathways of C. difficile and the model Gram-positive organism Bacillus subtilis. Amongst the challenges in studying sporulation in C. difficile is the relatively poor levels of sporulation and high heterogeneity in the sporulation process. To overcome these limitations we placed Ptet regulatory elements upstream of the master regulator of sporulation, spo0A, generating a new strain that can be artificially induced to sporulate by addition of anhydrotetracycline (ATc). We demonstrate that this strain is asporogenous in the absence of ATc, and that ATc can be used to drive faster and more efficient sporulation. Induction of Spo0A is titratable and this can be used in the study of the spo0A regulon both in vitro and in vivo, as demonstrated using a mouse model of C. difficile infection (CDI). Insights into differences between the sporulation pathways in B. subtilis and C. difficile gained by study of the inducible strain are discussed, further highlighting the universal interest of this tool. The Ptet-spo0A strain provides a useful background in which to generate mutations in genes involved in sporulation, therefore providing an exciting new tool to unravel key aspects of sporulation in C. difficile.
Project description:Toxin synthesis in Clostridium difficile increases as cells enter into stationary phase. We first compared the expression profiles of strain 630E during exponential growth and at the onset of stationary phase and showed that genes involved in sporulation, cellular division, and motility, as well as carbon and amino acid metabolism, were differentially expressed under these conditions. We inactivated the sigH gene, which encodes an alternative sigma factor involved in the transition to post-exponential phase in Bacillus subtilis. Then, we compared the expression profiles of strain 630E and the sigH mutant after 10 h of growth. About 60% of the genes that were differentially expressed between exponential and stationary phases, including genes involved in motility, sporulation, and metabolism, were regulated by SigH, which thus appears to be a key regulator of the transition phase in C. difficile. SigH positively controls several genes required for sporulation. Accordingly, sigH inactivation results in an asporogeneous phenotype. The spo0A and CD2492 genes, encoding the master regulator of sporulation and one of its associated kinases, and the spoIIA operon were transcribed from a SigH-dependent promoter. The expression of tcdA and tcdB, encoding the toxins, and of tcdR, encoding the sigma factor required for toxin production, increased in a sigH mutant. Finally, SigH regulates the expression of genes encoding surface-associated proteins, such as the Cwp66 adhesin, the S-layer precursor, and the flagellum components. Among the 286 genes positively regulated by SigH, about 40 transcriptional units presenting a SigH consensus in their promoter regions are good candidates for direct SigH targets.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is a significant nosocomial infection worldwide, that recurs in as many as 35% of infections. Risk of CDI recurrence varies by ribotype, which also vary in sporulation and germination rates. Whether sporulation/germination mediate risk of recurrence and effectiveness of treatment of recurring CDI remains unclear. We aim to assess the role of sporulation/germination patterns on risk of recurrence, and the relative effectiveness of the recommended tapered/pulsing regimens using an in silico model. METHODS:We created a compartmental in-host mathematical model of CDI, composed of vegetative cells, toxins, and spores, to explore whether sporulation and germination have an impact on recurrence rates. We also simulated the effectiveness of three tapered/pulsed vancomycin regimens by ribotype. RESULTS:Simulations underscored the importance of sporulation/germination patterns in determining pathogenicity and transmission. All recommended regimens for recurring CDI tested were effective in reducing risk of an additional recurrence. Most modified regimens were still effective even after reducing the duration or dosage of vancomycin. However, the effectiveness of treatment varied by ribotype. CONCLUSION:Current CDI vancomycin regimen for treating recurrent cases should be studied further to better balance associated risks and benefits.
Project description:Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is mediated by potent extracellular toxins and is spread largely via bacterial spores. We and others have shown that some antibiotics stimulate C. difficile toxin production in a strain-specific manner; however, the effects of newer anti-C. difficile antibiotics on this process remain to be investigated.The effects of the protein synthesis inhibitor tigecycline on sporulation and toxin A and toxin B production were compared in historical (strain 9689) and hypervirulent BI/NAP1/027 (strain 5325) isolates of C. difficile in vitro.Tigecycline at 1/4× MIC stimulated an increased and earlier toxin A and/or B gene expression in both the historical and the hypervirulent strains, although a commensurate increase in toxin protein production was observed only in the 9689 strain. In fact, in the hypervirulent 5325 strain, toxin production was dramatically suppressed. By comparison, subinhibitory concentrations of vancomycin and metronidazole also stimulated increased protein toxin production by the historical, but not the hypervirulent, strain. In addition, tigecycline dose-dependently reduced viable spore production by both the 9689 and 5325 strains. Vancomycin treatment also suppressed spore formation in both C. difficile strains; however, metronidazole, while reducing spore formation in the 9689 strain, stimulated a near 2 log increase in spore production by the 5325 isolate.In summary, these findings suggest that the treatment of CDI patients with tigecycline could effectively both control disease progression and limit its spread by disrupting sporulation.
Project description:Clostridium difficile is responsible for significant mortality and morbidity in the hospitalized elderly. C. difficile spores are infectious and are a major factor contributing to nosocomial transmission. The Spo0A response regulator is the master regulator for sporulation initiation and can influence many other cellular processes. Using the ClosTron gene knockout system, we inactivated genes encoding Spo0A and a putative sporulation-associated sensor histidine kinase in C. difficile. Inactivation of spo0A resulted in an asporogeneous phenotype, whereas inactivation of the kinase reduced C. difficile sporulation capacity by 3.5-fold, suggesting that this kinase also has a role in sporulation initiation. Furthermore, inactivation of either spo0A or the kinase resulted in a marked defect in C. difficile toxin production. Therefore, Spo0A and the signaling pathway that modulates its activity appear to be involved in regulation of toxin synthesis in C. difficile. In addition, Spo0A was directly phosphorylated by a putative sporulation-associated kinase, supporting the hypothesis that sporulation initiation in C. difficile is controlled by a two-component signal transduction system rather than a multicomponent phosphorelay. The implications of these findings for C. difficile sporulation, virulence, and transmission are discussed.
Project description:Clostridium difficile is a Gram-positive anaerobic, spore-forming bacillus that is the leading cause of nosocomial diarrhoea worldwide. We demonstrate that C. difficile aggregates and forms biofilms in vitro on abiotic surfaces. These polymicrobial aggregates are attached to each other and to an abiotic surface by an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). The EPS matrix provides the scaffold bonding together vegetative cells and spores, as well as forming a protective barrier for vegetative cells against oxygen stress. The master regulator of sporulation, Spo0A, may play a key role in biofilm formation, as genetic inactivation of spo0A in strain R20291 exhibits decreased biofilm formation. Our findings highlight an important attribute of C. difficile pathogenesis, which may have significant implications for infection, treatment and relapse.
Project description:Bacillus subtilis can enter three developmental pathways to form spores, biofilms or K-state cells. The K-state confers competence for transformation and antibiotic tolerance. Transition into each of these states requires a stable protein complex formed by YlbF, YmcA and YaaT. We have reported that this complex acts in sporulation by accelerating the phosphorylation of the response regulator Spo0A. Phosphorelay acceleration was also predicted to explain their involvement in biofilm formation and the K-state. This view has been challenged in the case of biofilms, by the suggestion that the three proteins act in association with the mRNA degradation protein RNaseY (Rny) to destabilize the sinR transcript. Here, we reaffirm the roles of the three proteins in supporting the phosphorylation of Spo0A for all three developmental pathways and show that in their absence sinR mRNA is not stabilized. We demonstrate that the three proteins also play unknown Spo0A-P-independent roles in the expression of biofilm matrix and in the production of ComK, the master transcription factor for competence. Finally, we show that domesticated strains of B. subtilis carry a mutation in sigH, which influences the expression kinetics of the early spore gene spoIIG, thereby increasing the penetrance of the ylbF, ymcA and yaaT sporulation phenotypes.