Project description:Heteroresistance is a phenomenon where a subpopulation of cells exhibits higher levels of antibiotic resistance than the general population. Analysis of tobramycin resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii AB5075 using Etest strips demonstrated that colonies with increased resistance arose at high frequency within the zone of growth inhibition. The presence of a resistant subpopulation was confirmed by population analysis profiling (PAP). The tobramycin-resistant subpopulation was cross resistant to gentamicin but not amikacin. The increased tobramycin resistance phenotype was highly unstable, and cells reverted to a less resistant population at frequencies of 60 to 90% after growth on nonselective media. Furthermore, the frequency of the resistant subpopulation was not increased by preincubation with subinhibitory concentrations of tobramycin. The tobramycin-resistant subpopulation was shown to replicate during the course of antibiotic treatment, demonstrating that these were not persister cells. In A. baumannii AB5075, a large plasmid (p1AB5075) carries aadB, a 2″-nucleotidyltransferase that confers resistance to both tobramycin and gentamicin but not amikacin. The aadB gene is part of an integron and is carried adjacent to four additional resistance genes that are all flanked by copies of an integrase gene. In isolates with increased resistance, this region was highly amplified in a RecA-dependent manner. However, in a recA mutant, colonies with unstable tobramycin resistance arose by a mechanism that did not involve amplification of this region. These data indicate that tobramycin heteroresistance occurs by at least two mechanisms in A. baumannii, and future studies to determine its effect on patient outcomes are warranted.IMPORTANCEAcinetobacter baumannii has become an important pathogen in hospitals worldwide, where the incidence of these infections has been increasing. A. baumannii infections have become exceedingly difficult to treat due to a rapid increase in the frequency of multidrug- and pan-resistant isolates. This has prompted the World Health Organization to list A. baumannii as the top priority for the research and development of new antibiotics. This study reports for the first time a detailed analysis of aminoglycoside heteroresistance in A. baumannii We define the mechanistic basis for heteroresistance, where the aadB(ant2″)Ia gene encoding an aminoglycoside adenylyltransferase becomes highly amplified in a RecA-dependent manner. Remarkably, this amplification of 20 to 40 copies occurs stochastically in 1/200 cells in the absence of antibiotic selection. In addition, we provide evidence for a second RecA-independent mechanism for aminoglycoside heteroresistance. This study reveals that aminoglycoside resistance in A. baumannii is far more complex than previously realized and has important implications for the use of aminoglycosides in treating A. baumannii infections.
Project description:Colony opacity phase variation in Acinetobacter baumannii strain AB5075 is regulated by a reversible high-frequency switch. Transposon mutagenesis was used to generate mutations that decreased the opaque to translucent switch and a gene encoding a predicted periplasmic membrane fusion component of a resistance-nodulation-cell division (RND)-type efflux system was isolated. This gene was designated arpA and immediately downstream was a gene designated arpB that encodes a predicted membrane transporter of RND-type systems. A nonpolar, in-frame deletion in arpA resulted in a 70-fold decrease in the opaque to translucent switch. An arpB::Tc mutant exhibited a 769-fold decrease in the opaque to translucent switch. However, the translucent to opaque switch was largely unchanged in both the arpA and arpB mutants. The arpA and arpB mutants also exhibited increased surface motility in the opaque form and the arpB mutant exhibited increased susceptibility to aminoglycosides. The arpA and arpB mutants were both attenuated in a Galleria mellonella model of virulence. A divergently transcribed TetR-type regulator ArpR was capable of repressing the arpAB operon when this TetR regulator was overexpressed. The arpR gene was also involved in regulating the opaque to translucent switch as an in-frame arpR mutation decreased this switch by 1,916-fold.
Project description:Acinetobacter baumannii is recognized as an emerging bacterial pathogen because of traits such as prolonged survival in a desiccated state, effective nosocomial transmission, and an inherent ability to acquire antibiotic resistance genes. A pressing need in the field of A. baumannii research is a suitable model strain that is representative of current clinical isolates, is highly virulent in established animal models, and can be genetically manipulated. To identify a suitable strain, a genetically diverse set of recent U.S. military clinical isolates was assessed. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and multiplex PCR determined the genetic diversity of 33 A. baumannii isolates. Subsequently, five representative isolates were tested in murine pulmonary and Galleria mellonella models of infection. Infections with one strain, AB5075, were considerably more severe in both animal models than those with other isolates, as there was a significant decrease in survival rates. AB5075 also caused osteomyelitis in a rat open fracture model, while another isolate did not. Additionally, a Tn5 transposon library was successfully generated in AB5075, and the insertion of exogenous genes into the AB5075 chromosome via Tn7 was completed, suggesting that this isolate may be genetically amenable for research purposes. Finally, proof-of-concept experiments with the antibiotic rifampin showed that this strain can be used in animal models to assess therapies under numerous parameters, including survival rates and lung bacterial burden. We propose that AB5075 can serve as a model strain for A. baumannii pathogenesis due to its relatively recent isolation, multidrug resistance, reproducible virulence in animal models, and genetic tractability.The incidence of A. baumannii infections has increased over the last decade, and unfortunately, so has antibiotic resistance in this bacterial species. A. baumannii is now responsible for more than 10% of all hospital-acquired infections in the United States and has a >50% mortality rate in patients with sepsis and pneumonia. Most research on the pathogenicity of A. baumannii focused on isolates that are not truly representative of current multidrug-resistant strains isolated from patients. After screening of a panel of isolates in different in vitro and in vivo assays, the strain AB5075 was selected as more suitable for research because of its antibiotic resistance profile and increased virulence in animal models. Moreover, AB5075 is susceptible to tetracycline and hygromycin, which makes it amenable to genetic manipulation. Taken together, these traits make AB5075 a good candidate for use in studying virulence and pathogenicity of this species and testing novel antimicrobials.
Project description:The nosocomial pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii is a frequent cause of hospital-acquired infections worldwide and is a challenge for treatment due to its evolved resistance to antibiotics, including carbapenems. Here, to gain insight on A. baumannii antibiotic resistance mechanisms, we analyse the protein interaction network of a multidrug-resistant A. baumannii clinical strain (AB5075). Using in vivo chemical cross-linking and mass spectrometry, we identify 2,068 non-redundant cross-linked peptide pairs containing 245 intra- and 398 inter-molecular interactions. Outer membrane proteins OmpA and YiaD, and carbapenemase Oxa-23 are hubs of the identified interaction network. Eighteen novel interactors of Oxa-23 are identified. Interactions of Oxa-23 with outer membrane porins OmpA and CarO are verified with co-immunoprecipitation analysis. Furthermore, transposon mutagenesis of oxa-23 or interactors of Oxa-23 demonstrates changes in meropenem or imipenem sensitivity in strain AB5075. These results provide a view of porin-localized antibiotic inactivation and increase understanding of bacterial antibiotic resistance mechanisms.
Project description:Type IV pili (T4P) are bacterial appendages composed of protein subunits, called pilins, noncovalently assembled into helical fibers. T4P are essential, in many bacterial species, for processes as diverse as twitching motility, natural competence, biofilm or microcolony formation, and host cell adhesion. The genes encoding type IV pili are found universally in the Gram-negative, aerobic, nonflagellated, and pathogenic coccobacillus Acinetobacter baumannii, but there is considerable variation in PilA, the major protein subunit, both in amino acid sequence and in glycosylation patterns. Here we report the X-ray crystal structure of PilA from AB5075, a recently characterized, highly virulent isolate, at 1.9 Å resolution and compare it to homologues from A. baumannii strains ACICU and BIDMC57, which are C-terminally glycosylated. These structural comparisons revealed that PilAAB5075 exhibits a distinctly electronegative surface chemistry. To understand the functional consequences of this change in surface electrostatics, we complemented a ?pilA knockout strain with divergent pilA genes from ACICU, BIDMC57, and AB5075. The resulting transgenic strains showed differential twitching motility and biofilm formation while maintaining the ability to adhere to epithelial cells. PilAAB5075 and PilAACICU, although structurally similar, promote different characteristics, favoring twitching motility and biofilm formation, respectively. These results support a model in which differences in pilus electrostatics affect the equilibrium of microcolony formation, which in turn alters the balance between motility and biofilm formation in Acinetobacter.
Project description:Recently, a novel phase-variable colony opacity phenotype was discovered in Acinetobacter baumannii strain AB5075, where colonies interconvert between opaque and translucent variants. Opaque colonies become mottled or sectored after 24 h of growth due to translucent variants arising within the colony. This easily distinguishable opaque-colony phenotype was used to screen for random transposon insertions that increased the frequency of sectoring at a time point when wild-type colonies were uniformly opaque. A colony was identified that contained multiple papillae of translucent variants, and the insertion in this mutant mapped to an ortholog of the two-component system response regulator ompR Subsequent investigation of in-frame deletions of ompR and the sensor kinase envZ (located adjacent to ompR) showed that the switching frequency from opaque to translucent was increased 401- and 281-fold, respectively. The ompR mutant also exhibited sensitivity to sodium chloride in growth medium, whereas the envZ mutation did not elicit sensitivity to sodium chloride. Mutation of either gene reduced motility in A. baumannii strain AB5075, but a mutation in both ompR and envZ produced a more profound effect. The ompR and envZ genes were cotranscribed but were not subject to autoregulation by OmpR. Both ompR and envZ mutant opaque variants were attenuated in virulence in the Galleria mellonella infection model, whereas mutation of ompR had no effect on the virulence of the translucent variant. IMPORTANCEAcinetobacter baumannii is a well-known antibiotic-resistant pathogen; many clinical isolates can only be treated by a very small number of antibiotics (including colistin), while some exhibit panresistance. The current antimicrobial arsenal is nearing futility in the treatment of Acinetobacter infections, and new avenues of treatment are profoundly needed. Since phase variation controls the transition between opaque (virulent) and translucent (avirulent) states in A. baumannii, this may represent an "Achilles' heel" that can be targeted via the development of small molecules that lock cells in the translucent state and allow the host immune system to clear the infection. A better understanding of how phase variation is regulated may allow for the development of methods to target this process. The ompR-envZ two-component system ortholog negatively regulates phase variation in A. baumannii, and perturbation of this system leads to the attenuation of virulence in an invertebrate infection model.
Project description:A. baumannii response to arcA disruption Overall design: A. baumannii RNA was extracted to compare gobal gene expression of AB5075 wildtype to AB5075 arcA transposon mutant strain in the presence of sub-inhibitory concentrations of CCCP. Each sample was generated by pooling three independent biological replicate RNA preps.
Project description:Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii strains cause life-threatening infections due to the lack of therapeutic options. Although the main mechanisms underlying antibiotic-resistance have been extensively studied, the general response to maintain bacterial viability under antibiotic exposure deserves to be fully investigated. Since the periplasmic space contains several proteins with crucial cellular functions, besides carbapenemases, we decided to study the periplasmic proteome of the multidrug-resistant (MDR) A. baumannii AB5075 strain, grown in the absence and presence of imipenem (IMP). Through the proteomic approach, 65 unique periplasmic proteins common in both growth conditions were identified: eight proteins involved in protein fate, response to oxidative stress, energy metabolism, antibiotic-resistance, were differentially expressed. Among them, ABUW_1746 and ABUW_2363 gene products presented the tetratricopeptide repeat motif, mediating protein-protein interactions. The expression switch of these proteins might determine specific protein interactions to better adapt to changing environmental conditions. ABUW_2868, encoding a heat shock protein likely involved in protection against oxidative stress, was upregulated in IMP-exposed bacteria. Accordingly, the addition of periplasmic proteins from A. baumannii cultured with IMP increased bacterial viability in an antioxidant activity assay. Overall, this study provides the first insights about the composition of the periplasmic proteins of a MDR A. baumannii strain, its biological response to IMP and suggests possible new targets to develop alternative antibiotic drugs.
Project description:We describe a novel genetic mechanism in which tandem amplification of a plasmid-borne integron regulates virulence, opacity variation, and global gene expression by altering levels of a putative small RNA (sRNA) in Acinetobacter baumannii AB5075. Copy number of this amplified locus correlated with the rate of switching between virulent opaque (VIR-O) and avirulent translucent (AV-T) cells. We found that prototypical VIR-O colonies, which exhibit high levels of switching and visible sectoring with AV-T cells by 24 h of growth, harbor two copies of this locus. However, a subset of opaque colonies that did not form AV-T sectors within 24 h were found to harbor only one copy. The colonies with decreased sectoring to AV-T were designated low-switching opaque (LSO) variants and were found to exhibit a 3-log decrease in switching relative to that of the VIR-O. Overexpression studies revealed that the element regulating switching was localized to the 5' end of the aadB gene within the amplified locus. Northern blotting indicated that an sRNA of approximately 300?nucleotides (nt) is encoded in this region and is likely responsible for regulating switching to AV-T. Copy number of the ?300-nt sRNA was also found to affect virulence, as the LSO variant exhibited decreased virulence during murine lung infections. Global transcriptional profiling revealed that >100 genes were differentially expressed between VIR-O and LSO variants, suggesting that the ?300-nt sRNA may act as a global regulator. Several virulence genes exhibited decreased expression in LSO cells, potentially explaining their decreased virulence.IMPORTANCE Acinetobacter baumannii remains a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections. Widespread multidrug resistance in this species has prompted the WHO to name carbapenem-resistant A. baumannii as its top priority for research and development of new antibiotics. Many strains of A. baumannii undergo a high-frequency virulence switch, which is an attractive target for new therapeutics targeting this pathogen. This study reports a novel mechanism controlling the frequency of switching in strain AB5075. The rate of switching from the virulent opaque (VIR-O) to the avirulent translucent (AV-T) variant is positively influenced by the copy number of an antibiotic resistance locus encoded on a plasmid-borne composite integron. Our data suggest that this locus encodes a small RNA that regulates opacity switching. Low-switching opaque variants, which harbor a single copy of this locus, also exhibit decreased virulence. This study increases our understanding of this critical phenotypic switch, while also identifying potential targets for virulence-based A. baumannii treatments.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>The increasing emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens represents a serious risk to human health and the entire health care system. Many currently circulating strains of Acinetobacter baumannii exhibit resistance to multiple antibiotics. A key limitation in combating A. baumannii is that our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of A. baumannii is lacking. To identify potential virulence determinants of a contemporary multidrug-resistant isolate of A. baumannii, we used transposon insertion sequencing (TnSeq) of strain AB5075. A collection of 250,000 A. baumannii transposon mutants was analyzed for growth within Galleria mellonella larvae, an insect-based infection model. The screen identified 300 genes that were specifically required for survival and/or growth of A. baumannii inside G. mellonella larvae. These genes encompass both known, established virulence factors and several novel genes. Among these were more than 30 transcription factors required for growth in G. mellonella. A subset of the transcription factors was also found to be required for resistance to antibiotics and environmental stress. This work thus establishes a novel connection between virulence and resistance to both antibiotics and environmental stress in A. baumannii.<h4>Importance</h4>Acinetobacter baumannii is rapidly emerging as a significant human pathogen, largely because of disinfectant and antibiotic resistance, causing lethal infection in fragile hosts. Despite the increasing prevalence of infections with multidrug-resistant A. baumannii strains, little is known regarding not only the molecular mechanisms that allow A. baumannii to resist environmental stresses (i.e., antibiotics and disinfectants) but also how these pathogens survive within an infected host to cause disease. We employed a large-scale genetic screen to identify genes required for A. baumannii to survive and grow in an insect disease model. While we identified many known virulence factors harbored by A. baumannii, we also discovered many novel genes that likely play key roles in A. baumannii survival of exposure to antibiotics and other stress-inducing chemicals. These results suggest that selection for increased resistance to antibiotics and environmental stress may inadvertently select for increased virulence in A. baumannii.