Meningococcal Disease-Associated Prophage-Like Elements Are Present in Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Some Commensal Neisseria Species.
ABSTRACT: Neisseria spp. possess four genogroups of filamentous prophages, termed Nf1 to 4. A filamentous bacteriophage from the Nf1 genogroup termed meningococcal disease-associated phage (MDA ?) is associated with clonal complexes of Neisseria meningitidis that cause invasive meningococcal disease. Recently, we recovered an isolate of Neisseria gonorrhoeae (ExNg63) from a rare case of gonococcal meningitis, and found that it possessed a region with 90% similarity to Nf1 prophages, specifically, the meningococcal MDA ?. This led to the hypothesis that the Nf1 prophage may be more widely distributed amongst the genus Neisseria. An analysis of 92 reference genomes revealed the presence of intact Nf1 prophages in the commensal species, Neisseria lactamica and Neisseria cinerea in addition to the pathogen N. gonorrhoeae. In N. gonorrhoeae, Nf1 prophages had a restricted distribution but were present in all representatives of MLST ST1918. Of the 160 phage integration sites identified, only one common insertion site was found between one isolate of N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis. There was an absence of any obvious conservation of the receptor for prophage entry, PilE, suggesting that the phage may have been obtained by natural transformation. An examination of the restriction modification systems and mutated mismatch repair systems with prophage presence suggested that there was no obvious preference for these hosts. A timed phylogeny inferred that N. meningitidis was the donor of the Nf1 prophages in N. lactamica and N. gonorrhoeae. Further work is required to determine whether Nf1 prophages are active and can act as accessory colonization factors in these species.
Project description:Meningococcal FetA is an iron-regulated, immunogenic outer membrane protein and vaccine component. The most diverse region of this protein is a previously defined variable region (VR) that has been shown to be immunodominant. In this analysis, a total of 275 Neisseria lactamica isolates, collected during studies of nasopharyngeal bacterial carriage in infants, were examined for the presence of a fetA gene. The fetA VR nucleotide sequence was determined for 217 of these isolates, with fetA apparently absent from 58 isolates, the majority of which belonged to the ST-624 clonal complex. The VR in N. lactamica was compared to the same region in N. meningitidis, N. gonorrhoeae, and a number of other commensal Neisseria. Identical fetA variable region sequences were identified among commensal and pathogenic Neisseria, suggesting a common gene pool, differing from other antigens in this respect. Carriage of commensal Neisseria species, such as N. lactamica, that express FetA may be involved in the development of natural immunity to meningococcal disease.
Project description:Microarray comparative genome hybridization (mCGH) data was collected from one Neisseria cinerea, two Neisseria lactamica, two Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and 48 Neisseria meningitidis isolates. For N. meningitidis, these isolates are from diverse clonal complexes, invasive and carriage strains, and all major serogroups. The microarray platform represented N. meningitidis strains MC58, Z2491, and FAM18 and N. gonorrhoeae FA1090.
Project description:Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae give rise to dramatically different diseases. Their interactions with the host, however, do share common characteristics: they are both human pathogens which do not survive in the environment and which colonize and invade mucosa at their port of entry. It is therefore likely that they have common properties that might not be found in nonpathogenic bacteria belonging to the same genetically related group, such as Neisseria lactamica. Their common properties may be determined by chromosomal regions found only in the pathogenic Neisseria species. To address this issue, we used a previously described technique (C. R. Tinsley and X. Nassif, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93:11109-11114, 1996) to identify sequences of DNA specific for pathogenic neisseriae and not found in N. lactamica. Sequences present in N. lactamica were physically subtracted from the N. meningitidis Z2491 sequence and also from the N. gonorrhoeae FA1090 sequence. The clones obtained from each subtraction were tested by Southern blotting for their reactivity with the three species, and only those which reacted with both N. meningitidis and N. gonorrhoeae (i.e., not specific to either one of the pathogens) were further investigated. In a first step, these clones were mapped onto the chromosomes of both N. meningitidis and N. gonorrhoeae. The majority of the clones were arranged in clusters extending up to 10 kb, suggesting the presence of chromosomal regions common to N. meningitidis and N. gonorrhoeae which distinguish these pathogens from the commensal N. lactamica. The sequences surrounding these clones were determined from the N. meningitidis genome-sequencing project. Several clones corresponded to previously described factors required for colonization and survival at the port of entry, such as immunoglobulin A protease and PilC. Others were homologous to virulence-associated proteins in other bacteria, demonstrating that the subtractive clones are capable of pinpointing chromosomal regions shared by N. meningitidis and N. gonorrhoeae which are involved in common aspects of the host interaction of both pathogens.
Project description:Neisseria meningitidis is a leading cause of infectious childhood mortality worldwide. Most research efforts have hitherto focused on disease isolates belonging to only a few hypervirulent clonal lineages. However, up to 10% of the healthy human population is temporarily colonized by genetically diverse strains mostly with little or no pathogenic potential. Currently, little is known about the biology of carriage strains and their evolutionary relationship with disease isolates. The expression of a polysaccharide capsule is the only trait that has been convincingly linked to the pathogenic potential of N. meningitidis. To gain insight into the evolution of virulence traits in this species, whole-genome sequences of three meningococcal carriage isolates were obtained. Gene content comparisons with the available genome sequences from three disease isolates indicate that there is no core pathogenome in N. meningitidis. A comparison of the chromosome structure suggests that a filamentous prophage has mediated large chromosomal rearrangements and the translocation of some candidate virulence genes. Interspecific comparison of the available Neisseria genome sequences and dot blot hybridizations further indicate that the insertion sequence IS1655 is restricted only to N. meningitidis; its low sequence diversity is an indicator of an evolutionarily recent population bottleneck. A genome-based phylogenetic reconstruction provides evidence that N. meningitidis has emerged as an unencapsulated human commensal from a common ancestor with Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria lactamica and consecutively acquired the genes responsible for capsule synthesis via horizontal gene transfer.
Project description:Neisseria meningitidis causes the life-threatening diseases meningococcal meningitis and meningococcal septicemia. Neisseria gonorrhoeae is closely related to the meningococcus, but is the cause of the very different infection, gonorrhea. A number of genes have been implicated in the virulence of these related yet distinct pathogens, but the genes that define and differentiate the species and their behaviours have not been established. Further, a related species, Neisseria lactamica is not associated with either type of infection in normally healthy people, and lives as a harmless commensal. We have determined which of the genes so far identified in the genome sequences of the pathogens are also present in this non-pathogenic related species.Thirteen unrelated strains of N. lactamica were investigated using comparative genome hybridization to the pan-Neisseria microarray-v2, which contains 2845 unique gene probes. The presence of 127 'virulence genes' was specifically addressed; of these 85 are present in N. lactamica. Of the remaining 42 'virulence genes' only 11 are present in all four of the sequenced pathogenic Neisseria.Assessment of the complete dataset revealed that the vast majority of genes present in the pathogens are also present in N. lactamica. Of the 1,473 probes to genes shared by all four pathogenic genome sequences, 1,373 hybridize to N. lactamica. These shared genes cannot include genes that are necessary and sufficient for the virulence of the pathogens, since N. lactamica does not share this behaviour. This provides an essential context for the interpretation of gene complement studies of the pathogens.
Project description:One potential vaccine strategy in the fight against meningococcal disease involves the exploitation of outer-membrane components of Neisseria lactamica, a commensal bacterium closely related to the meningococcus, Neisseria meningitidis. Although N. lactamica shares many surface structures with the meningococcus, little is known about the antigenic diversity of this commensal bacterium or the antigenic relationships between N. lactamica and N. meningitidis. Here, the N. lactamica porin protein (Por) was examined and compared to the related PorB antigens of N. meningitidis, to investigate potential involvement in anti-meningococcal immunity. Relationships among porin sequences were determined using distance-based methods and F(ST), and maximum-likelihood analyses were used to compare the selection pressures acting on the encoded proteins. These analyses demonstrated that the N. lactamica porin was less diverse than meningococcal PorB and although it was subject to positive selection, this was not as strong as the positive selection pressures acting on the meningococcal porin. In addition, the N. lactamica porin gene sequences and the protein sequences of the loop regions predicted to be exposed to the human immune system were dissimilar to the corresponding sequences in the meningococcus. This suggests that N. lactamica Por, contrary to previous suggestions, may have limited involvement in the development of natural immunity to meningococcal disease and might not be effective as a meningococcal vaccine component.
Project description:Various typing methods have been developed for Neisseria gonorrhoeae, but none provide the combination of discrimination, reproducibility, portability, and genetic inference that allows the analysis of all aspects of the epidemiology of this pathogen from a single data set. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) has been used successfully to characterize the related organisms Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria lactamica. Here, the same seven locus Neisseria scheme was used to characterize a diverse collection of N. gonorrhoeae isolates to investigate whether this method would allow differentiation among isolates, and to distinguish these three species.A total of 149 gonococcal isolates were typed and submitted to the Neisseria MLST database. Although relatively few (27) polymorphisms were detected among the seven MLST loci, a total of 66 unique allele combinations (sequence types, STs), were observed, a number comparable to that seen among isolate collections of the more diverse meningococcus. Patterns of genetic variation were consistent with high levels of recombination generating this diversity. There was no evidence for geographical structuring among the isolates examined, with isolates collected in Liverpool, UK, showing levels of diversity similar to a global collection of isolates. There was, however, evidence that populations of N. meningitidis, N. gonorrhoeae and N. lactamica were distinct, with little support for frequent genetic recombination among these species, with the sequences from the gdh locus alone grouping the species into distinct clusters.The seven loci Neisseria MLST scheme was readily adapted to N. gonorrhoeae isolates, providing a highly discriminatory typing method. In addition, these data permitted phylogenetic and population genetic inferences to be made, including direct comparisons with N. meningitidis and N. lactamica. Examination of these data demonstrated that alleles were rarely shared among the three species. Analysis of variation at a single locus, gdh, provided a rapid means of identifying misclassified isolates and determining whether mixed cultures were present.
Project description:The distribution of the hemoglobin receptor gene (hmbR) was investigated among disease and carriage Neisseria meningitidis isolates, revealing that the gene was detected at a significantly higher frequency among disease isolates than among carriage isolates. In isolates without hmbR, the locus was occupied by the cassettes exl2 or exl3 or by a "pseudo hmbR" gene, designated exl4. The hmbR locus exhibited characteristics of a pathogenicity island in published genomes of N. meningitidis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Neisseria lactamica sequence type-640. These data are consistent with a role for the hmbR gene in meningococcal disease.
Project description:Natural immunity to meningococcal disease in young children is associated epidemiologically with carriage of commensal Neisseria species, including Neisseria lactamica. We have previously demonstrated that outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) from N. lactamica provide protection against lethal challenge in a mouse model of meningococcal septicemia. We evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of an N. lactamica OMV vaccine in a phase I placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical trial. Ninety-seven healthy young adult male volunteers were randomized to receive three doses of either an OMV vaccine or an Alhydrogel control. Subsequently, some subjects who had received the OMV vaccine also received a fourth dose of OMV vaccine, 6 months after the third dose. Injection site reactions were more frequent in the OMV-receiving group, but all reactions were mild or moderate in intensity. The OMV vaccine was immunogenic, eliciting rises in titers of immunoglobulin G (IgG) against the vaccine OMVs, together with a significant booster response, as determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Additionally, the vaccine induced modest cross-reactive immunity to six diverse strains of serogroup B Neisseria meningitidis, including IgG against meningococcal OMVs, serum bactericidal antibodies, and opsonophagocytic activity. The percentages of subjects showing > or =4-fold rises in bactericidal antibody titer obtained were similar to those previously reported for the Norwegian meningococcal OMV vaccine against the same heterologous meningococcal strain panel. In conclusion, this N. lactamica OMV vaccine is safe and induces a weak but broad humoral immune response to N. meningitidis.
Project description:The two-partner secretion (TPS) systems of Gram-negative bacteria consist of a large secreted exoprotein (TpsA) and a transporter protein (TpsB) located in the outer membrane. TpsA targets TpsB for transport across the membrane via its ?30-kDa TPS domain located at its N terminus, and this domain is also the minimal secretory unit. Neisseria meningitidis genomes encode up to five TpsAs and two TpsBs. Sequence alignments of TPS domains suggested that these are organized into three systems, while there are two TpsBs, which raised questions on their system specificity. We show here that the TpsB2 transporter of Neisseria meningitidis is able to secrete all types of TPS domains encoded in N. meningitidis and the related species Neisseria lactamica but not domains of Haemophilus influenzae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In contrast, the TpsB1 transporter seemed to be specific for its cognate N. meningitidis system and did not secrete the TPS domains of other meningococcal systems. However, TpsB1 did secrete the TPS2b domain of N. lactamica, which is related to the meningococcal TPS2 domains. Apparently, the secretion depends on specific sequences within the TPS domain rather than the overall TPS domain structure.