The pathogenesis of brucellosis depends on the ability of bacteria from the genus Brucella to invade and replicate within animal cells. To understand the molecular pathways used by Brucella spp. to reach its intracellular niche, robust and reproducible bacteria purification protocols that provide enough material for biochemical and molecular biology studies are essential. Here, we describe a detailed methodology designed to extract and purify viable brucellae from mammalian host cells at different time periods of their intracellular cycle. The yield of proteins and nucleic acids is sufficient to perform immunochemical analysis, genetic studies, transcriptomics, and proteomics among others.
Background Brucella ceti infections have been increasingly reported in cetaceans. Brucellosis in these animals is associated with meningoencephalitis, abortion, discospondylitis¿, subcutaneous abscesses, endometritis and other pathological conditions B. ceti infections have been frequently described in dolphins from both, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In the Mediterranean Sea, only two reports have been made: one from the Italian Tyrrhenian Sea and the other from the Adriatic Sea.ResultsWe describe the clinical and pathological features of three cases of B. ceti infections in three dolphins stranded in the Mediterranean Catalonian coast. One striped dolphin had neurobrucellosis, showing lethargy, incoordination and lateral swimming due to meningoencephalitis, A B. ceti infected bottlenose dolphin had discospondylitis, and another striped dolphin did not show clinical signs or lesions related to Brucella infection. A detailed characterization of the three B. ceti isolates was performed by bacteriological, molecular, protein and fatty acid analyses.ConclusionsAll the B. ceti strains originating from Mediterranean dolphins cluster together in a distinct phylogenetic clade, close to that formed by B. ceti isolates from dolphins inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean. Our study confirms the severity of pathological signs in stranded dolphins and the relevance of B. ceti as a pathogen in the Mediterranean Sea.
Rapid and specific identification of Brucella suis at the biovar level is necessary because some of the biovars that infect animals are pathogenic for humans. None of the molecular typing methods described so far are able to discriminate B. suis biovars in a single test and differentiation of B. suis from Brucella canis by molecular approaches can be difficult. This article describes a new multiplex PCR assay, Suis-ladder, for fast and accurate identification of B. suis at the biovar level and the differentiation of B. suis, B. canis and Brucella microti. An advancement of the original Bruce-ladder PCR protocol which allows the correct discrimination of all known Brucella species is also described.
The pathogenesis of Brucella is related to the ability to multiply intracellularly, an event controlled by the two-component system BvrR/BvrS (TCS BvrRS) and the type IV secretion machinery VirB (T4SS VirB). We have hypothesized that the TCS BvrRS transcriptionally regulates the T4SS VirB. To test this hypothesis, we have compared the levels of VirB proteins in the wild-type strain Brucella abortus 2308 and mutant strains devoid of the sensor and regulator genes (bvrS and bvrR mutants, respectively). While the bvrR and bvrS mutants showed low levels of the VirB1, VirB5, VirB8, and VirB9 proteins, the same proteins were overexpressed in the bvrR mutant complemented with a plasmid carrying a functional bvrR gene. Quantitation of virB5 mRNA confirmed these data and indicated that the influence of the TCS BvrRS on the T4SS VirB occurs at the transcriptional level. The expression of the transcriptional activator VjbR also depended on the TCS BvrRS. In addition, we demonstrate a direct interaction between the promoter region of the VirB operon and the response regulator BvrR. Altogether these data demonstrate that the TCS BvrRS controls the expression of the T4SS VirB through direct and indirect mechanisms.
Brucellosis is an important malady of productive and wildlife animals and a worldwide zoonosis. The use of effective vaccines and the corresponding diagnostic tests that allow differentiating infected from vaccinated animals are essential tools to control the disease. For this, a prototype of Brucella abortus S19 vaccine expressing green fluorescent protein (S19-GFP) was constructed. The S19-GFP was readily identified under ultraviolet light by macroscopic and microscopic examination and maintained all the biochemical characteristics of the parental S19 vaccine. S19-GFP replicated ex vivo and in vivo, and protected mice against challenge with virulent B. abortus to the same extent as the isogenic S19. An immunoenzymatic assay designed to measure anti-GFP antibodies allowed the discrimination between mice vaccinated with S19-GFP and those immunized with S19. Both vaccines raised antibodies against lipopolysaccharide molecule to similar levels. This experimental model constitutes a "proof of concept" for the use of Brucella-GFP vaccines and associated diagnostic tests to distinguish vaccinated from naturally Brucella infected animals.
During evolution, innate immunity has been tuned to recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns. However, some alpha-Proteobacteria are stealthy intracellular pathogens not readily detected by this system. Brucella members follow this strategy and are highly virulent, but other Brucellaceae like Ochrobactrum are rhizosphere inhabitants and only opportunistic pathogens. To gain insight into the emergence of the stealthy strategy, we compared these two phylogenetically close but biologically divergent bacteria.
Brucella ceti causes disease in Odontoceti. The absence of control serum collections and the diversity of cetaceans have hampered the standardization of serological tests for the diagnosis of cetacean brucellosis. Without a "gold" standard for sensitivity and specificity determination, an alternative approach was followed. We designed an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (iELISA) that recognizes immunoglobulins G (IgGs) from 17 odontocete species as a single group. For the standardization, we used Brucella melitensis and Brucella abortus lipopolysaccharides, serum samples from seven resident odontocetes with no history of infectious disease displaying negative rose bengal test (RBT) reactions, and serum samples from seven dolphins infected with B. ceti. We compared the performance of the iELISA with those of the protein G ELISA (gELISA), the competitive ELISA (cELISA), and the immunofluorescence (IF) and dot blot (DB) tests, using 179 odontocete serum samples and RBT as the reference. The diagnostic potential based on sensitivity and specificity of the iELISA was superior to that of gELISA and cELISA. The correlation and agreement between the iELISA and the gELISA were relatively good (R(i/g)2 = 0.65 and kappa(i/g) = 0.66, respectively), while the correlation and agreement of these two ELISAs with cELISA were low (R(i/c)2 = 0.46, R(g/c)2 = 0.37 and kappa(i/c) = 0.62, kappa(g/c) = 0.42). In spite of using the same anti-odontocete IgG antibody, the iELISA was more specific than were the IF and DB tests. An association between high antibody titers and the presence of neurological symptoms in dolphins was observed. The prediction is that iELISA based on broadly cross-reacting anti-dolphin IgG antibody would be a reliable test for the diagnosis of brucellosis in odontocetes, including families not covered in this study.
Macrophages were infected with virulent Brucella abortus strain 2308 or attenuated strain 19. Intracellular bacteria were recovered at different times after infection and their proteomes compared. The virulent strain initially reduced most biosynthesis and altered its respiration; adaptations reversed later in infection. The attenuated strain was unable to match the magnitude of the virulent strains adjustments. The results provide insight into mechanisms utilized by Brucella to establish intracellular infections.
Since the first case of brucellosis detected in a dolphin aborted fetus, an increasing number of Brucella ceti isolates has been reported in members of the two suborders of cetaceans: Mysticeti and Odontoceti. Serological surveys have shown that cetacean brucellosis may be distributed worldwide in the oceans. Although all B. ceti isolates have been included within the same species, three different groups have been recognized according to their preferred host, bacteriological properties, and distinct genetic traits: B. ceti dolphin type, B. ceti porpoise type, and B. ceti human type. It seems that B. ceti porpoise type is more closely related to B. ceti human isolates and B. pinnipedialis group, while B. ceti dolphin type seems ancestral to them. Based on comparative phylogenetic analysis, it is feasible that the B. ceti ancestor radiated in a terrestrial artiodactyl host close to the Raoellidae family about 58 million years ago. The more likely mode of transmission of B. ceti seems to be through sexual intercourse, maternal feeding, aborted fetuses, placental tissues, vertical transmission from mother to the fetus or through fish or helminth reservoirs. The B. ceti dolphin and porpoise types seem to display variable virulence in land animal models and low infectivity for humans. However, brucellosis in some dolphins and porpoises has been demonstrated to be a severe chronic disease, displaying significant clinical and pathological signs related to abortions, male infertility, neurobrucellosis, cardiopathies, bone and skin lesions, strandings, and death.
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