Mycoplasma Chromosomal Transfer: A Distributive, Conjugative Process Creating an Infinite Variety of Mosaic Genomes.
ABSTRACT: The capacity of Mycoplasmas to engage in horizontal gene transfers has recently been highlighted. Despite their small genome, some of these wall-less bacteria are able to exchange multiple, large portions of their chromosome via a conjugative mechanism that does not conform to canonical Hfr/oriT models. To understand the exact features underlying mycoplasma chromosomal transfer (MCT), extensive genomic analyses were performed at the nucleotide level, using individual mating progenies derived from our model organism, Mycoplasma agalactiae. Genome reconstruction showed that MCT resulted in the distributive transfer of multiple chromosomal DNA fragments and generated progenies composed of a variety of mosaic genomes, each being unique. Analyses of macro- and micro-events resulting from MCT revealed that the vast majority of the acquired fragments were unrelated and co-transferred independently from the selection marker, these resulted in up to 17% of the genome being exchanged. Housekeeping and accessory genes were equally affected by MCT, with up to 35 CDSs being gained or lost. This efficient HGT process also created a number of chimeric genes and genetic micro-variations that may impact gene regulation and/or expression. Our study unraveled the tremendous plasticity of M. agalactiae genome and point toward MCT as a major player in diversification and adaptation to changing environments, offering a significant advantage to this minimal pathogen.
Project description:Mycoplasmas are important model organisms for Systems and Synthetic Biology, and are pathogenic to a wide variety of species. Despite their relevance, many of the tools established for genome editing in other microorganisms are not available for Mycoplasmas. The Tn4001 transposon is the reference tool to work with these bacteria, but the transformation efficiencies (TEs) reported for the different species vary substantially. Here, we explore the mechanisms underlying these differences in four Mycoplasma species, Mycoplasma agalactiae, Mycoplasma feriruminatoris, Mycoplasma gallisepticum and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, selected for being representative members of each cluster of the Mycoplasma genus. We found that regulatory regions (RRs) driving the expression of the transposase and the antibiotic resistance marker have a major impact on the TEs. We then designed a synthetic RR termed SynMyco RR to control the expression of the key transposon vector elements. Using this synthetic RR, we were able to increase the TE for M. gallisepticum, M. feriruminatoris and M. agalactiae by 30-, 980- and 1036-fold, respectively. Finally, to illustrate the potential of this new transposon, we performed the first essentiality study in M. agalactiae, basing our study on more than 199,000 genome insertions.
Project description:An immunodominant protein, P40, of Mycoplasma agalactiae was analyzed genetically and functionally. The gene encoding P40 was cloned from type strain PG2, sequenced, submitted to point mutagenesis in order to convert mycoplasma-specific TGA(Trp) codon to the universal TGG(Trp) codon, and subsequently expressed in Escherichia coli. Nucleotide sequence-derived amino acid sequence comparisons revealed a similarity of P40 to the adhesin P50 of Mycoplasma hominis and to protein P89 of Spiroplasma citri, which is expected to be involved in adhesion. The amino acid sequence of P40 revealed a recognition site for a signal peptidase and strong antigenic and hydrophilic motifs in the C-terminal domain. Triton X-114 phase partitioning confirmed that P40 is a membrane protein. Fab fragments of antibodies directed against recombinant purified P40 significantly inhibited adherence of M. agalactiae strains PG2 to lamb joint synovial cells LSM 192. Sera taken sequentially from sheep infected with PG2 revealed that P40 induced a strong and persistent immune response that gave strong signals on immunoblots containing recombinant P40 even 3 months after infection. The gene encoding P40 was present in a single copy in all of the 26 field strains of M. agalactiae analyzed and was not detected in closely related mycoplasma species. P40 was expressed as a protein with an apparent molecular mass of 37 kDa on sodium dodecyl sulfate-acrylamide gels by all M. agalactiae strains except for serotype C strains, which showed nonsense mutations in their p40 genes.
Project description:BACKGROUND: While the genomic era is accumulating a tremendous amount of data, the question of how genomics can describe a bacterial species remains to be fully addressed. The recent sequencing of the genome of the Mycoplasma agalactiae type strain has challenged our general view on mycoplasmas by suggesting that these simple bacteria are able to exchange significant amount of genetic material via horizontal gene transfer. Yet, events that are shaping mycoplasma genomes and that are underlining diversity within this species have to be fully evaluated. For this purpose, we compared two strains that are representative of the genetic spectrum encountered in this species: the type strain PG2 which genome is already available and a field strain, 5632, which was fully sequenced and annotated in this study. RESULTS: The two genomes differ by ca. 130 kbp with that of 5632 being the largest (1006 kbp). The make up of this additional genetic material mainly corresponds (i) to mobile genetic elements and (ii) to expanded repertoire of gene families that encode putative surface proteins and display features of highly-variable systems. More specifically, three entire copies of a previously described integrative conjugative element are found in 5632 that accounts for ca. 80 kbp. Other mobile genetic elements, found in 5632 but not in PG2, are the more classical insertion sequences which are related to those found in two other ruminant pathogens, M. bovis and M. mycoides subsp. mycoides SC. In 5632, repertoires of gene families encoding surface proteins are larger due to gene duplication. Comparative proteomic analyses of the two strains indicate that the additional coding capacity of 5632 affects the overall architecture of the surface and suggests the occurrence of new phase variable systems based on single nucleotide polymorphisms. CONCLUSION: Overall, comparative analyses of two M. agalactiae strains revealed a very dynamic genome which structure has been shaped by gene flow among ruminant mycoplasmas and expansion-reduction of gene repertoires encoding surface proteins, the expression of which is driven by localized genetic micro-events.
Project description:Mycoplasma agalactiae is an important pathogen of small ruminants, in which it causes contagious agalactia. It belongs to a large group of "minimal bacteria" with a small genome and reduced metabolic capacities that are dependent on their host for nutrients. Mycoplasma survival thus relies on intimate contact with host cells, but little is known about the factors involved in these interactions or in the more general infectious process. To address this issue, an assay based on goat epithelial and fibroblastic cells was used to screen a M. agalactiae knockout mutant library. Mutants with reduced growth capacities in cell culture were selected and 62 genomic loci were identified as contributing to this phenotype. As expected for minimal bacteria, "transport and metabolism" was the functional category most commonly implicated in this phenotype, but 50% of the selected mutants were disrupted in coding sequences (CDSs) with unknown functions, with surface lipoproteins being most commonly represented in this category. Since mycoplasmas lack a cell wall, lipoproteins are likely to be important in interactions with the host. A few intergenic regions were also identified that may act as regulatory sequences under co-culture conditions. Interestingly, some mutants mapped to gene clusters that are highly conserved across mycoplasma species but located in different positions. One of these clusters was found in a transcriptionally active region of the M. agalactiae chromosome, downstream of a cryptic promoter. A possible scenario for the evolution of these loci is discussed. Finally, several CDSs identified here are conserved in other important pathogenic mycoplasmas, and some were involved in horizontal gene transfer with phylogenetically distant species. These results provide a basis for further deciphering functions mediating mycoplasma-host interactions.
Project description:Here, we propose an approach to identify active metabolic pathways by integrating gene essentiality analysis and protein abundance. We use two bacterial species (Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Mycoplasma agalactiae) that share a high gene content similarity yet show significant metabolic differences. First, we build detailed metabolic maps of their carbon metabolism, the most striking difference being the absence of two key enzymes for glucose metabolism in M. agalactiae. We then determine carbon sources that allow growth in M. agalactiae, and we introduce glucose-dependent growth to show the functionality of its remaining glycolytic enzymes. By analyzing gene essentiality and performing quantitative proteomics, we can predict the active metabolic pathways connected to carbon metabolism and show significant differences in use and direction of key pathways despite sharing the large majority of genes. Gene essentiality combined with quantitative proteomics and metabolic maps can be used to determine activity and directionality of metabolic pathways.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Mycoplasma agalactiae, causing agent of contagious agalactia, infects domestic small ruminants such as sheep and goats but also wild Caprinae. M. agalactiae is highly contagious and transmitted through oral, respiratory, and mammary routes spreading rapidly in an infected herd.<h4>Results</h4>In an outbreak of contagious agalactia in a mixed herd of sheep and goats, 80% of the goats were affected displaying swollen udders and loss of milk production but no other symptom such as kerato-conjunctivitis, arthritis or pulmonary distress commonly associated to contagious agalactia. Surprisingly, none of the sheep grazing on a common pasture and belonging to the same farm as the goats were affected. Whole genome sequencing and analysis of M. agalactiae strain GrTh01 isolated from the outbreak, revealed a previously unknown sequence type, ST35, and a particularly small, genome size of 841'635 bp when compared to others available in public databases. Overall, GrTh01 displayed a reduced accessory genome, with repertoires of gene families encoding variable surface proteins involved in host-adhesion and variable antigenicity being scaled down. GrTh01 was also deprived of Integrative Conjugative Element or prophage, and had a single IS element, suggesting that GrTh01 has a limited capacity to adapt and evolve.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The lack of most of the variable antigens and the Integrative Conjugative Element, both major virulence- and host specificity factors of a M. agalactiae strain isolated from an outbreak affecting particularly goats, indicates the implication of these factors in host specificity. Whole genome sequencing and full assembly of bacterial pathogens provides a most valuable tool for epidemiological and virulence studies of M. agalactiae without experimental infections.
Project description:We evaluated the capacity of the Mycoplasma agalactiae p40 gene as a diagnostic marker for contagious agalactia in sheep by quantitative real-time PCR. The p40 gene encodes an immunodominant adhesin that plays a key role in cytoadhesion of M. agalactiae. The assay was 100% specific, with an analytical sensitivity of 1 genome equivalent (GE), a quantification that is highly linear (R(2) > 0.992) and efficient (PCR efficiency, >0.992) over a 6-log dynamic range, down to 10 GE. We evaluated the capacity of the assay to detect Mycoplasma agalactiae in 797 milk samples (373 raw sheep milk samples from refrigerated tanks of different farms and 424 milk samples from individual sheep of a flock positive for M. agalactiae). In parallel, we also tested the samples by using microbiological isolation coupled with microscopy identification and by a PCR method recommended by the World Organization for Animal Health. While our assay was able to detect 57 (15.28%) positive samples of the 373 milk samples from different farms, identification by microbiological isolation coupled with microscopy detected only 36 (9.65%) samples, and the conventional PCR detected 31 (8.31%) samples. These findings showed that our assay based on the p40 gene is more specific and sensitive for the detection of M. agalactiae in actual natural samples and, thus, can be a promising alternative tool for diagnosis and epidemiological studies of M. agalactiae infection.
Project description:Horizontal Gene Transfer was long thought to be marginal in Mycoplasma a large group of wall-less bacteria often portrayed as minimal cells because of their reduced genomes (ca. 0.5 to 2.0 Mb) and their limited metabolic pathways. This view was recently challenged by the discovery of conjugative exchanges of large chromosomal fragments that equally affected all parts of the chromosome via an unconventional mechanism, so that the whole mycoplasma genome is potentially mobile. By combining next generation sequencing to classical mating and evolutionary experiments, the current study further explored the contribution and impact of this phenomenon on mycoplasma evolution and adaptation using the fluoroquinolone enrofloxacin (Enro), for selective pressure and the ruminant pathogen Mycoplasma agalactiae, as a model organism. For this purpose, we generated isogenic lineages that displayed different combination of spontaneous mutations in Enro target genes (gyrA, gyrB, parC and parE) in association to gradual level of resistance to Enro. We then tested whether these mutations can be acquired by a susceptible population via conjugative chromosomal transfer knowing that, in our model organism, the 4 target genes are scattered in three distinct and distant loci. Our data show that under antibiotic selective pressure, the time scale of the mutational pathway leading to high-level of Enro resistance can be readily compressed into a single conjugative step, in which several EnroR alleles were transferred from resistant to susceptible mycoplasma cells. In addition to acting as an accelerator for antimicrobial dissemination, mycoplasma chromosomal transfer reshuffled genomes beyond expectations and created a mosaic of resistant sub-populations with unpredicted and unrelated features. Our findings provide insights into the process that may drive evolution and adaptability of several pathogenic Mycoplasma spp. via an unconventional conjugative mechanism.
Project description:Mycoplasmas are commonly described as the simplest self-replicating organisms, whose evolution was mainly characterized by genome downsizing with a proposed evolutionary scenario similar to that of obligate intracellular bacteria such as insect endosymbionts. Thus far, analysis of mycoplasma genomes indicates a low level of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) implying that DNA acquisition is strongly limited in these minimal bacteria. In this study, the genome of the ruminant pathogen Mycoplasma agalactiae was sequenced. Comparative genomic data and phylogenetic tree reconstruction revealed that approximately 18% of its small genome (877,438 bp) has undergone HGT with the phylogenetically distinct mycoides cluster, which is composed of significant ruminant pathogens. HGT involves genes often found as clusters, several of which encode lipoproteins that usually play an important role in mycoplasma-host interaction. A decayed form of a conjugative element also described in a member of the mycoides cluster was found in the M. agalactiae genome, suggesting that HGT may have occurred by mobilizing a related genetic element. The possibility of HGT events among other mycoplasmas was evaluated with the available sequenced genomes. Our data indicate marginal levels of HGT among Mycoplasma species except for those described above and, to a lesser extent, for those observed in between the two bird pathogens, M. gallisepticum and M. synoviae. This first description of large-scale HGT among mycoplasmas sharing the same ecological niche challenges the generally accepted evolutionary scenario in which gene loss is the main driving force of mycoplasma evolution. The latter clearly differs from that of other bacteria with small genomes, particularly obligate intracellular bacteria that are isolated within host cells. Consequently, mycoplasmas are not only able to subvert complex hosts but presumably have retained sexual competence, a trait that may prevent them from genome stasis and contribute to adaptation to new hosts.
Project description:An integrative conjugative element, ICEA, was characterized in Mycoplasma agalactiae strain 5632, in which it occurs as multiple chromosomal copies and as a free circular form. The distribution of ICEA sequences in M. agalactiae strains and their occurrence in Mycoplasma bovis suggest the spreading of the element within or between species.