Persistence and progression of staphylococcal infection in the presence of public goods.
ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus is a prominent etiological agent of suppurative abscesses. In principle, abscess formation and purulent exudate are classical physiological features of healing and tissue repair. However, S. aureus deploys two coagulases that can usurp this classical host response and form distinct abscess lesions. Here, we establish that during coinfection with coagulase producers and non-producers, coagulases are shared public goods that contribute to staphylococcal persistence, abscess formation, and disease progression. Coagulase-negative mutants that do not produce the public goods themselves are able to exploit those cooperatively secreted by producers and thereby thrive during coinfection at the expense of others. This study shows the importance of social interactions among pathogens concerning clinical outcomes.
Project description:Coagulation is an innate defense mechanism intended to limit blood loss and trap invading pathogens during infection. However, <i>Staphylococcus aureus</i> has the ability to hijack the coagulation cascade and generate clots via secretion of coagulases. Although many <i>S. aureus</i> have this characteristic, some do not. The population dynamics regarding this defining trait have yet to be explored. We report here that coagulases are public goods that confer protection against antimicrobials and immune factors within a local population or community, thus promoting growth and virulence. By utilizing variants of a methicillin-resistant <i>S. aureus</i> we infer that the secretion of coagulases is a cooperative trait, which is subject to exploitation by invading mutants that do not produce the public goods themselves. However, overexploitation, "tragedy of the commons," does not occur at clinically relevant conditions. Our micrographs indicate this is due to spatial segregation and population viscosity. These findings emphasize the critical role of coagulases in a social evolution context and provide a possible explanation as to why the secretion of these public goods is maintained in mixed <i>S. aureus</i> communities.
Project description:During infection, Staphylococcus aureus secretes two coagulases (Coa and von Willebrand factor binding protein [vWbp]), which, following an association with host prothrombin and fibrinogen, form fibrin clots and enable the establishment of staphylococcal disease. Within the genomes of different S. aureus isolates, coagulase gene sequences are variable, and this has been exploited for a classification of types. We show here that antibodies directed against the variable prothrombin binding portion of coagulases confer type-specific immunity through the neutralization of S. aureus clotting activity and protection from staphylococcal disease in mice. By combining variable portions of coagulases from North American isolates into hybrid Coa and vWbp proteins, a subunit vaccine that provided protection against challenge with different coagulase-type S. aureus strains in mice was derived.
Project description:The bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus seeds abscesses in host tissues to replicate at the center of these lesions, protected from host immune cells via a pseudocapsule. Using histochemical staining, we identified prothrombin and fibrin within abscesses and pseudocapsules. S. aureus secretes two clotting factors, coagulase (Coa) and von Willebrand factor binding protein (vWbp). We report here that Coa and vWbp together are required for the formation of abscesses. Coa and vWbp promote the non-proteolytic activation of prothrombin and cleavage of fibrinogen, reactions that are inhibited with specific antibody against each of these molecules. Coa and vWbp specific antibodies confer protection against abscess formation and S. aureus lethal bacteremia, suggesting that coagulases function as protective antigens for a staphylococcal vaccine.
Project description:The two coagulases, von Willebrand factor binding protein (vWbp) and Coagulase (Coa), are critical virulence factors in several animal models of invasive Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) infections. These proteins are part of an intricate system of proteins that S. aureus uses to assemble a fibrinogen (Fg)/fibrin protective shield surrounding itself. This shield allows the microorganism to evade clearance by the host phagocytic cells. The coagulases can non-proteolytically activate the zymogen prothrombin to convert Fg to fibrin and promote the Fg/fibrin shield formation. The coagulases also bind directly to Fg and the interaction between Coa and Fg has been previously characterized in some detail. However, the mechanism(s) by which vWbp interacts with Fg remains unclear. Here, we show that vWbp and Coa have distinct interactions with Fg, despite being structurally similar. Coa binds with a significantly higher affinity to soluble Fg than to Fg coated on a plastic surface, whereas vWbp demonstrates no preference between the two forms of Fg. The two coagulases appear to target different sites on Fg, as they do not compete with each other in binding to Fg. Similar to Coa, both the N- and C-terminal halves of vWbp (vWbp-N, vWbp-C, respectively) harbor Fg-binding activities. The higher affinity Fg-binding activity resides in vWbp-N; whereas, the C-terminal region of Coa encompasses the major Fg-binding activity. Peptides constituting the previously identified Coa/Efb1 Fg-binding motif fail to inhibit vWbp-C from binding to Fg, indicating that vWbp-C lacks a functional homolog to this motif. Interestingly, the N-terminal prothrombin-binding domains of both coagulases recognize the Fg ?-chain, but they appear to interact with different sequence motifs in the host protein. Collectively, our data provide insight into the complex interactions between Fg and the S. aureus coagulases.
Project description:Coagulase-positive Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is the major causal pathogen of acute endocarditis, a rapidly progressing, destructive infection of the heart valves. Bacterial colonization occurs at sites of endothelial damage, where, together with fibrin and platelets, the bacteria initiate the formation of abnormal growths known as vegetations. Here we report that an engineered analog of prothrombin could be used to detect S. aureus in endocarditic vegetations via noninvasive fluorescence or positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. These prothrombin derivatives bound staphylocoagulase and intercalated into growing bacterial vegetations. We also present evidence for bacterial quorum sensing in the regulation of staphylocoagulase expression by S. aureus. Staphylocoagulase expression was limited to the growing edge of mature vegetations, where it was exposed to the host and co-localized with the imaging probe. When endocarditis was induced with an S. aureus strain with genetic deletion of coagulases, survival of mice improved, highlighting the role of staphylocoagulase as a virulence factor.
Project description:Many organisms-notably microbes-are embedded within complex communities where cooperative behaviors in the form of excreted public goods can benefit other species. Under such circumstances, intraspecific interactions are likely to be less important in driving the evolution of cooperation. We first illustrate this idea with a simple theoretical model, showing that relatedness-the extent to which individuals with the same cooperative alleles interact with each other-has a reduced impact on the evolution of cooperation when public goods are shared between species. We test this empirically using strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that vary in their production of metal-chelating siderophores in copper contaminated compost (an interspecific public good). We show that nonsiderophore producers grow poorly relative to producers under high relatedness, but this cost can be alleviated by the presence of the isogenic producer (low relatedness) and/or the compost microbial community. Hence, relatedness can become unimportant when public goods provide interspecific benefits.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus produces numerous factors that facilitate survival in the human host. S. aureus coagulase (Coa) and von Willebrand factor-binding protein (vWbp) are known to clot plasma through activation of prothrombin and conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin. In addition, S. aureus clumping factor A (ClfA) binds fibrinogen and contributes to platelet aggregation via a fibrinogen- or complement-dependent mechanism. Here, we evaluated the contribution of Coa, vWbp and ClfA to S. aureus pathogenesis in a rabbit model of skin and soft tissue infection. Compared to skin abscesses caused by the Newman wild-type strain, those caused by isogenic coa, vwb, or clfA deletion strains, or a strain deficient in coa and vwb, were significantly smaller following subcutaneous inoculation in rabbits. Unexpectedly, we found that fibrin deposition and abscess capsule formation appear to be independent of S. aureus coagulase activity in the rabbit infection model. Similarities notwithstanding, S. aureus strains deficient in coa and vwb elicited reduced levels of several proinflammatory molecules in human blood in vitro. Although a specific mechanism remains to be determined, we conclude that S. aureus Coa, vWbp and ClfA contribute to abscess formation in rabbits.
Project description:Bacteria frequently live in densely populated surface-bound communities, termed biofilms [1-4]. Biofilm-dwelling cells rely on secretion of extracellular substances to construct their communities and to capture nutrients from the environment . Some secreted factors behave as cooperative public goods: they can be exploited by nonproducing cells [6-11]. The means by which public-good-producing bacteria avert exploitation in biofilm environments are largely unknown. Using experiments with Vibrio cholerae, which secretes extracellular enzymes to digest its primary food source, the solid polymer chitin, we show that the public goods dilemma may be solved by two very different mechanisms: cells can produce thick biofilms that confine the goods to producers, or fluid flow can remove soluble products of chitin digestion, denying access to nonproducers. Both processes are unified by limiting the distance over which enzyme-secreting cells provide benefits to neighbors, resulting in preferential benefit to nearby clonemates and allowing kin selection to favor public good production. Our results demonstrate new mechanisms by which the physical conditions of natural habitats can interact with bacterial physiology to promote the evolution of cooperation.
Project description:Quorum sensing in Pseudomonas aeruginosa controls the production of costly public goods such as exoproteases. This cooperative behavior is susceptible to social cheating by mutants that do not invest in the exoprotease production but assimilate the amino acids and peptides derived by the hydrolysis of proteins in the extracellular media. In sequential cultures with protein as the sole carbon source, these social cheaters are readily selected and often reach equilibrium with the exoprotease producers. Nevertheless, an excess of cheaters causes the collapse of population growth. In this work, using the reference strain PA14 and a clinical isolate from a burn patient, we demonstrate that the initial amount of public goods (exoprotease) that comes with the inoculum in each sequential culture is essential for maintaining population growth and that eliminating the exoprotease in the inoculum leads to rapid population collapse. Therefore, our results suggest that sequential washes should be combined with public good inhibitors to more effectively combat P. aeruginosa infections.
Project description:Staphylococcus lugdunensis has gained recognition as an atypically virulent pathogen with a unique microbiological and clinical profile. S. lugdunensis is coagulase negative due to the lack of production of secreted coagulase, but a membrane-bound form of the enzyme present in some isolates can result in misidentification of the organism as Staphylococcus aureus in the clinical microbiology laboratory. S. lugdunensis is a skin commensal and an infrequent pathogen compared to S. aureus and S. epidermidis, but clinically, infections caused by this organism resemble those caused by S. aureus rather than those caused by other coagulase-negative staphylococci. S. lugdunensis can cause acute and highly destructive cases of native valve endocarditis that often require surgical treatment in addition to antimicrobial therapy. Other types of S. lugdunensis infections include abscess and wound infection, urinary tract infection, and infection of intravascular catheters and other implanted medical devices. S. lugdunensis is generally susceptible to antimicrobial agents and shares CLSI antimicrobial susceptibility breakpoints with S. aureus. Virulence factors contributing to this organism's heightened pathogenicity remain largely unknown. Those characterized to date suggest that the organism has the ability to bind to and interact with host cells and to form biofilms on host tissues or prosthetic surfaces.