Nosocomial transmission of pathogens is a major health care challenge. The increasing spread of antibiotic-resistant strains represents an ongoing threat to public health. Previous Staphylococcus aureus transmission studies have focused on transmission of S. aureus between asymptomatic carriers or used low-resolution typing methods such as multilocus sequence typing (MLST) or spa typing. To identify patient-to-patient intrahospital transmission using high-resolution genetic analysis, we sequenced the genomes of a consecutive set of 398 S. aureus isolates from sterile-site infections. The S. aureus strains were collected from four hospitals in the Houston Methodist Hospital System over a 6-month period. Importantly, we discovered no evidence of transmission of S. aureus between patients with sterile-site infections. The lack of intrahospital transmission may reflect a fundamental difference between day-to-day transmission events in the hospital setting and the more frequently studied outbreak scenarios.
Large hospital-based clinical laboratories must be prepared to rapidly investigate potential infectious disease outbreaks. To challenge the ability of our molecular diagnostics laboratory to use whole-genome sequencing in a potential outbreak scenario and identify impediments to these efforts, we studied 84 invasive serotype emm59 group A streptococcus (GAS) strains collected in the United States. We performed a rapid-response exercise to the mock outbreak scenario using whole-genome sequencing, genome-wide transcript analysis, and mouse virulence studies. The protocol changes installed in response to the lessons learned were tested in a second iteration. The initial investigation was completed in 9 days. Whole-genome sequencing showed that the invasive infections were caused by multiple subclones of epidemic emm59 GAS strains likely spread to the United States from Canada. The phylogenetic tree showed a strong temporal-spatial structure with diversity in mobile genetic element content, features that are useful for identifying closely related strains and possible transmission events. The genome data informed the epidemiology, identifying multiple patients who likely acquired the organisms through direct person-to-person transmission. Transcriptome analysis unexpectedly revealed significantly altered expression of genes encoding a two-component regulator and the hyaluronic acid capsule virulence factor. Mouse infection studies confirmed a high-virulence capacity of these emm59 organisms. Whole-genome sequencing, coupled with transcriptome analysis and animal virulence studies, can be rapidly performed in a clinical environment to effectively contribute to patient care decisions and public health maneuvers.
Ceftaroline is the first member of a novel class of cephalosporins approved for use in the United States. Although prior studies have identified eight ceftaroline-resistant methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates in Europe and Asia with MICs ranging from 4 to 8 mg/liter, high-level resistance to ceftaroline (>32 mg/liter) has not been described in MRSA strains isolated in the United States. We isolated a ceftaroline-resistant (MIC > 32 mg/liter) MRSA strain from the blood of a cystic fibrosis patient and five MRSA strains from the respiratory tract of this patient. Whole-genome sequencing identified two amino acid-altering mutations uniquely present in the ceftaroline-binding pocket of the transpeptidase region of penicillin-binding protein 2a (PBP2a) in ceftaroline-resistant isolates. Biochemical analyses and the study of isogenic mutant strains confirmed that these changes caused ceftaroline resistance. Thus, we identified the molecular mechanism of ceftaroline resistance in the first MRSA strain with high-level ceftaroline resistance isolated in the United States.
Humans commonly carry pathogenic bacteria asymptomatically, but despite decades of study, the underlying molecular contributors remain poorly understood. Here, we show that a group A streptococcus carriage strain contains a frameshift mutation in the hasA gene resulting in loss of hyaluronic acid capsule biosynthesis. This mutation was repaired by allelic replacement, resulting in restoration of capsule production in the isogenic derivative strain. The "repaired" isogenic strain was significantly more virulent than the carriage strain in a mouse model of necrotizing fasciitis and had enhanced growth ex vivo in human blood. Importantly, the repaired isogenic strain colonized the mouse oropharynx with significantly greater bacterial burden and had significantly reduced ability to internalize into cultured epithelial cells than the acapsular carriage strain. We conducted full-genome sequencing of 81 strains cultured serially from 19 epidemiologically unrelated human subjects and discovered the common theme that mutations negatively affecting capsule biosynthesis arise in vivo in the has operon. The significantly decreased capsule production is a key factor contributing to the molecular détente between pathogen and host. Our discoveries suggest a general model for bacterial pathogens in which mutations that downregulate or ablate virulence factor production contribute to carriage.
Context .- Timely processing of blood cultures with positive results, including Gram staining and notification of clinicians, is a critical function of the clinical microbiology laboratory. Analysis of processing time in our laboratory revealed opportunities to enhance workflow efficiency. We found that the average time from positive blood culture result to removal of the bottle for processing (positive-to-removal [PR] time) was inadequate for our rapid pathogen identification program. Objective .- To determine whether increased vigilance about PR time and prioritization of laboratory resources would decrease PR time and total processing time. Design .- We performed a retrospective analysis of blood culture PR time 7 months before and 7 months after an in-service meeting during which the importance of PR time was emphasized, and corrective measures were implemented. Results .- Before the in-service meeting, the average PR time for 5057 samples was 38 minutes, with an aggregate time of 192?251 minutes. Unexpectedly, we discovered that only 51.8% (2617 of 5057) of the positive blood cultures were removed in less than 10 minutes. After the in-service meeting, for 5293 samples, the average PR time improved to 8 minutes, the aggregate time improved to 44?630 minutes, and 84.5% (4470 of 5293) of the positive blood cultures were removed in less than 10 minutes. These improvements reduced the time to telephone notification of the Gram stain results to a caregiver by 46.7% (from 105 minutes to 56 minutes). Conclusions .- Increased awareness of barriers to rapid pathogen identification and interventions for improving performance time significantly enhanced care of patients with bloodstream infections.
We sequenced the genomes of 3,615 strains of serotype Emm protein 1 (M1) group A Streptococcus to unravel the nature and timing of molecular events contributing to the emergence, dissemination, and genetic diversification of an unusually virulent clone that now causes epidemic human infections worldwide. We discovered that the contemporary epidemic clone emerged in stepwise fashion from a precursor cell that first contained the phage encoding an extracellular DNase virulence factor (streptococcal DNase D2, SdaD2) and subsequently acquired the phage encoding the SpeA1 variant of the streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin A superantigen. The SpeA2 toxin variant evolved from SpeA1 by a single-nucleotide change in the M1 progenitor strain before acquisition by horizontal gene transfer of a large chromosomal region encoding secreted toxins NAD(+)-glycohydrolase and streptolysin O. Acquisition of this 36-kb region in the early 1980s into just one cell containing the phage-encoded sdaD2 and speA2 genes was the final major molecular event preceding the emergence and rapid intercontinental spread of the contemporary epidemic clone. Thus, we resolve a decades-old controversy about the type and sequence of genomic alterations that produced this explosive epidemic. Analysis of comprehensive, population-based contemporary invasive strains from seven countries identified strong patterns of temporal population structure. Compared with a preepidemic reference strain, the contemporary clone is significantly more virulent in nonhuman primate models of pharyngitis and necrotizing fasciitis. A key finding is that the molecular evolutionary events transpiring in just one bacterial cell ultimately have produced millions of human infections worldwide.
Full-genome sequencing showed that a recently emerged and hypervirulent clone of group A Streptococcus type emm59 active in Canada and parts of the United States has now caused severe invasive infections in rural northeastern Wyoming. Phylogenetic analysis of genome data indicated that the strain was likely introduced from Montana.
Infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria are a major problem worldwide. Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, most notably isolates classified as multilocus sequence type (ST) 258, have emerged as an important cause of hospital deaths. ST258 isolates are predominantly multidrug resistant, and therefore infections caused by them are difficult to treat. It is not known why the ST258 lineage is the most prevalent cause of multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae infections in the United States and other countries. Here we tested the hypothesis that carbapenem-resistant ST258 K. pneumoniae is a single genetic clone that has disseminated worldwide. We sequenced to closure the genomes of two ST258 clinical isolates and used these genomes as references for comparative genome sequencing of 83 additional clinical isolates recovered from patients at diverse geographic locations worldwide. Phylogenetic analysis of the SNPs in the core genome of these isolates revealed that ST258 K. pneumoniae organisms are two distinct genetic clades. This unexpected finding disproves the single-clone hypothesis. Notably, genetic differentiation between the two clades results from an ? 215-kb region of divergence that includes genes involved in capsule polysaccharide biosynthesis. The region of divergence appears to be a hotspot for DNA recombination events, and we suggest that this region has contributed to the success of ST258 K. pneumoniae. Our findings will accelerate research on novel diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccine strategies designed to prevent and/or treat infections caused by multidrug resistant K. pneumoniae.
An intervention for Gram-negative bloodstream infections that integrated mass spectrometry technology for rapid diagnosis with antimicrobial stewardship oversight significantly improved patient outcomes and reduced hospital costs. As antibiotic resistance rates continue to grow at an alarming speed, the current study was undertaken to assess the impact of this intervention in a challenging patient population with bloodstream infections caused by antibiotic-resistant Gram-negative bacteria.
Despite the public health challenges associated with the emergence of new pathogenic bacterial strains and/or serotypes, there is a dearth of information regarding the molecular mechanisms that drive this variation. Here, we began to address the mechanisms behind serotype-specific variation between serotype M1 and M3 strains of the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes (the group A Streptococcus [GAS]). Spatially diverse contemporary clinical serotype M3 isolates were discovered to contain identical inactivating mutations within genes encoding two regulatory systems that control the expression of important virulence factors, including the thrombolytic agent streptokinase, the protease inhibitor-binding protein-G-related ?2-macroglobulin-binding (GRAB) protein, and the antiphagocytic hyaluronic acid capsule. Subsequent analysis of a larger collection of isolates determined that M3 GAS, since at least the 1920s, has harbored a 4-bp deletion in the fasC gene of the fasBCAX regulatory system and an inactivating polymorphism in the rivR regulator-encoding gene. The fasC and rivR mutations in M3 isolates directly affect the virulence factor profile of M3 GAS, as evident by a reduction in streptokinase expression and an enhancement of GRAB expression. Complementation of the fasC mutation in M3 GAS significantly enhanced levels of the small regulatory RNA FasX, which in turn enhanced streptokinase expression. Complementation of the rivR mutation in M3 GAS restored the regulation of grab mRNA abundance but did not alter capsule mRNA levels. While important, the fasC and rivR mutations do not provide a full explanation for why serotype M3 strains are associated with unusually severe invasive infections; thus, further investigation is warranted.
Staphylococcus aureus small-colony variants (SCVs) are implicated in chronic and relapsing infections that are difficult to diagnose and treat. Despite many years of study, the underlying molecular mechanisms and virulence effect of the small-colony phenotype remain incompletely understood. We sequenced the genomes of five S. aureus SCV strains recovered from human patients and discovered previously unidentified nonsynonymous point mutations in three genes encoding proteins in the menadione biosynthesis pathway. Analysis of genetic revertants and complementation with wild-type alleles confirmed that these mutations caused the SCV phenotype and decreased virulence for mice.
Invasive group A streptococcal (GAS) strains often have genetic differences compared to GAS strains from nonsterile sites. Invasive, "hypervirulent" GAS strains can arise from a noninvasive progenitor following subcutaneous inoculation in mice, but such emergence has been rarely characterized in humans. We used whole genome analyses of multiple GAS isolates from the same patient to document the molecular basis for emergence of a GAS strain with an invasive phenotype during human infection. In contrast to previous theories, we found that elimination of production of the cysteine protease SpeB was not necessary for emergence of GAS with an invasive, "hypervirulent" phenotype.
Staphylococcus aureus community-acquired pneumonia is often associated with influenza or an influenza-like syndrome. Morbidity and mortality due to methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) or influenza and pneumonia, which includes bacterial co-infection, are among the top causes of death by infectious diseases in the United States. We developed a non-lethal IAV (H3N2)/S. aureus co-infection model in cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) to test the hypothesis that seasonal influenza A virus (IAV) infection predisposes non-human primates to severe S. aureus pneumonia. Infection and disease progression were monitored by clinical assessment of animal health; analysis of blood chemistry, nasal swabs, and X-rays; and gross pathology and histopathology of lungs from infected animals. Seasonal IAV infection in healthy cynomolgus macaques caused mild pneumonia, but unexpectedly, did not predispose these animals to subsequent severe infection with the community-associated MRSA clone USA300. We conclude that in our co-infection model, seasonal IAV infection alone is not sufficient to promote severe S. aureus pneumonia in otherwise healthy non-human primates. The implication of these findings is that comorbidity factors in addition to IAV infection are required to predispose individuals to secondary S. aureus pneumonia.
Humans commonly carry pathogenic bacteria asymptomatically, but the molecular factors underlying microbial asymptomatic carriage are poorly understood. We previously reported that two epidemiologically unassociated serotype M3 group A Streptococcus (GAS) carrier strains had an identical 12-bp deletion in the promoter of the gene encoding Mga, a global positive gene regulator. Herein, we report on studies designed to test the hypothesis that the identified 12-bp deletion in the mga promoter alters GAS virulence, thereby potentially contributing to the asymptomatic carrier phenotype. Using allelic exchange, we introduced the variant promoter into a serotype M3 invasive strain and the wild-type promoter into an asymptomatic carrier strain. Compared to strains with the wild-type mga promoter, we discovered that strains containing the promoter with the 12-bp deletion produced significantly fewer mga and Mga-regulated gene transcripts. Consistent with decreased mga transcripts, strains containing the variant mga promoter were also significantly less virulent in in vivo and ex vivo models of GAS disease. Further, we provide evidence that the pleiotropic regulator protein CodY binds to the mga promoter and that the 12-bp deletion in the mga promoter reduces CodY-mediated mga transcription. We conclude that the naturally occurring 12-bp deletion in the mga promoter significantly alters the pathogen-host interaction of these asymptomatic carrier strains. Our findings provide new insight into the molecular basis of the carrier state of an important human pathogen.
Regulation of oxidative stress responses by the peroxide stress regulator (PerR) is critical for the in vivo fitness and virulence of group A Streptococcus. To elucidate the molecular mechanism of DNA binding, peroxide sensing, and gene regulation by PerR, we performed biochemical and structural characterization of PerR. Sequence-specific DNA binding by PerR does not require regulatory metal occupancy. However, metal binding promotes higher affinity PerR-DNA interactions. PerR metallated with iron directly senses peroxide stress and dissociates from operator sequences. The crystal structure revealed that PerR exists as a homodimer with two metal-binding sites per subunit as follows: a structural zinc site and a regulatory metal site that is occupied in the crystals by nickel. The regulatory metal-binding site in PerR involves a previously unobserved HXH motif located in its unique N-terminal extension. Mutational analysis of the regulatory site showed that the PerR metal ligands are involved in regulatory metal binding, and integrity of this site is critical for group A Streptococcus virulence. Interestingly, the metal-binding HXH motif is not present in the structurally characterized members of ferric uptake regulator (Fur) family but is fully conserved among PerR from the genus Streptococcus. Thus, it is likely that the PerR orthologs from streptococci share a common mechanism of metal binding, peroxide sensing, and gene regulation that is different from that of well characterized PerR from Bacillus subtilis. Together, our findings provide key insights into the peroxide sensing and regulation of the oxidative stress-adaptive responses by the streptococcal subfamily of PerR.
Most biopsy and autopsy tissues are formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE), but this process leads to RNA degradation that limits gene expression analysis. The RNA genome of the 1918 pandemic influenza virus was previously determined in a 9-year effort by overlapping RT-PCR from post-mortem samples. Here, the full genome of the 1918 virus at 3000× coverage was determined in one high-throughput sequencing run of a library derived from total RNA of a 1918 FFPE sample after duplex-specific nuclease treatments. Bacterial sequences associated with secondary bacterial pneumonias were also detected. Host transcripts were well represented in the library. Compared to a 2009 pandemic influenza virus FFPE post-mortem library, the 1918 sample showed significant enrichment for host defence and cell death response genes, concordant with prior animal studies. This methodological approach should assist in the analysis of FFPE tissue samples isolated over the past century from a variety of diseases.
Tuberculosis (TB) surveillance among the homeless is not supported by the political will necessary for TB elimination. We merged the first stakeholder-accepted enumeration of homeless persons with existing surveillance data to assess TB risk among the homeless in Houston, Texas. The average incidence per 100,000 was 411 among homeless and 9.5 among housed persons. The homeless were more likely than the housed to be US-born, clustered, and in a larger-sized cluster. Multivariate analysis revealed that TB rates among the homeless were driven not by comorbidities but by social determinants. Homeless patients were hospitalized more days than the housed and required more follow-up time. Reporting of TB rates for populations with known health disparities could help reframe TB prevention and better target limited funds.
Next-generation sequencing technology is available to many clinical laboratories; however, it is not yet widely used in routine microbiology practice. To demonstrate the feasibility of using whole-genome sequencing in a routine clinical microbiology workflow, we sequenced the genome of every organism isolated in our laboratory for 1 day.
Bacillus cereus strains harboring a pXO1-like virulence plasmid cause respiratory anthrax-like disease in humans, particularly in welders. We developed mouse models for intraperitoneal as well as aerosol challenge with spores of B. cereus G9241, harboring pBCXO1 and pBC218 virulence plasmids. Compared to wild-type B. cereus G9241, spores with a deletion of the pBCXO1-carried protective antigen gene (pagA1) were severely attenuated, whereas spores with a deletion of the pBC218-carried protective antigen homologue (pagA2) were not. Anthrax vaccine adsorbed (AVA) immunization raised antibodies that bound and neutralized the pagA1-encoded protective antigen (PA1) but not the PA2 orthologue encoded by pagA2. AVA immunization protected mice against a lethal challenge with spores from B. cereus G9241 or B. cereus Elc4, a strain that had been isolated from a fatal case of anthrax-like disease. As the pathogenesis of B. cereus anthrax-like disease in mice is dependent on pagA1 and PA-neutralizing antibodies provide protection, AVA immunization may also protect humans from respiratory anthrax-like death.
Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Streptococcus, GAS) and Moraxella catarrhalis are important colonizers and (opportunistic) pathogens of the human respiratory tract. However, current knowledge regarding colonization and pathogenic potential of these two pathogens is based on work involving single bacterial species, even though the interplay between respiratory bacterial species is increasingly important in niche occupation and the development of disease. Therefore, to further define and understand polymicrobial species interactions, we investigated whether gene expression (and hence virulence potential) of GAS would be affected upon co-culture with M. catarrhalis. For co-culture experiments, GAS and M. catarrhalis were cultured in Todd-Hewitt broth supplemented with 0.2% yeast extract (THY) at 37°C with 5% CO2 aeration. Each strain was grown in triplicate so that triplicate experiments could be performed. Bacterial RNA was isolated, cDNA synthesized, and microarray transcriptome expression analysis performed. We observed significantly increased (?4-fold) expression for genes playing a role in GAS virulence such as hyaluronan synthase (hasA), streptococcal mitogenic exotoxin Z (smeZ) and IgG endopeptidase (ideS). In contrast, significantly decreased (?4-fold) expression was observed in genes involved in energy metabolism and in 12 conserved GAS two-component regulatory systems. This study provides the first evidence that M. catarrhalis increases GAS virulence gene expression during co-culture, and again shows the importance of polymicrobial infections in directing bacterial virulence.
Sepsis continues to pose a clear challenge as one of the most difficult and costly problems to treat and prevent. Sepsis is caused by systemic or localized infections that damage the integrity of microcirculation in multiple organs. The challenge of sepsis and its long-term sequelae was addressed by the National Institutes of Health National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Division of Blood Diseases and Resources. Defining sepsis as severe endothelial dysfunction syndrome that causes multiorgan failure in response to intravascular or extravascular microbial agents, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute panel proposed the concept of genome wars as a platform for new diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive approaches to sepsis.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a human-adapted pathogen that causes a variety of diseases, including pharyngitis and invasive infections. GAS strains are categorized by variation in the nucleotide sequence of the gene (emm) that encodes the M protein. To identify the emm types of GAS strains causing pharyngitis in Ontario, Canada, we sequenced the hypervariable region of the emm gene in 4,635 pharyngeal GAS isolates collected during 2002-2010. The most prevalent emm types varied little from year to year. In contrast, fine-scale geographic analysis identified inter-site variability in the most common emm types. Additionally, we observed fluctuations in yearly frequency of emm3 strains from pharyngitis patients that coincided with peaks of emm3 invasive infections. We also discovered a striking increase in frequency of emm89 strains among isolates from patients with pharyngitis and invasive disease. These findings about the epidemiology of GAS are potentially useful for vaccine research.
Streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin B (SpeB) is an extracellular cysteine protease that is a critical virulence factor made by the major human pathogen group A Streptococcus (GAS). speB expression is dependent on the regulator of proteinase B (RopB) and is upregulated with increasing cell density and during infection. Because computer modelling suggested significant structural similarity between RopB and peptide-sensing regulatory proteins made by other Gram-positive bacteria, we hypothesized that speB expression is influenced by RopB-peptide interactions. Inactivation of the gene (vfr) encoding the virulence factor related (Vfr) protein resulted in increased speB transcript level during the exponential growth phase, whereas provision of only the amino-terminal region of Vfr comprising the secretion signal sequence in trans restored a wild-type speB expression profile. Addition of the culture supernatant from a Vfr signal peptide-expressing GAS strain restored wild-type speB transcript level to a vfr-inactivated isogenic mutant strain. A distinct peptide in the Vfr secretion signal sequence specifically bound to recombinant RopB. Finally, overexpression of the Vfr secretion signal sequence significantly decreased speB transcript level and attenuated GAS virulence in two mouse models of invasive infection. Taken together, these data delineate a previously unknown small peptide-mediated regulatory system that controls GAS virulence factor production.
To reach the tuberculosis (TB) elimination goals established by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measures must be taken to speed the currently stagnant TB elimination rate and curtail a future peak in TB incidence. Increases in TB incidence have historically coincided with immigration, poverty, and joblessness; all situations that are currently occurring worldwide. Effective TB elimination strategies will require the geographical elucidation of areas within the U.S. that have endemic TB, and systematic surveillance of the locations and location-based risk factors associated with TB transmission. Surveillance data was used to assess the spatial distribution of cases, the yearly TB incidence by census tract, and the statistical significance of case clustering. The analysis revealed that there are neighborhoods within Houston/Harris County that had a heavy TB burden. The maximum yearly incidence varied from 245/100,000-754/100,000 and was not exclusively dependent of the number of cases reported. Geographically weighted regression identified risk factors associated with the spatial distribution of cases such as: poverty, age, Black race, and foreign birth. Public transportation was also associated with the spatial distribution of cases and census tracts identified as high incidence were found to be irregularly clustered within communities of varied SES.
Previous geospatial analysis of the well-defined Houston Tuberculosis Initiative (HTI) database identified an association between the use of city-bus transportation (inclusive of time onboard) and Tuberculosis (TB) incidence in Houston/Harris County census tracts (paper submitted). This paper is an extension of those findings. Contact investigations on school buses have reported a high rate of positive tuberculin skin tests in the persons traveling with the index case and have shown an association with bus ride duration. In Houston, city bus routes are veins connecting even the most diverse of populations within the metropolitan area. Among HTI participants, TB patients who reported weekly bus use were more likely to have demographic and social risk factors associated with poverty, immune suppression and health disparities. An equal proportion of bus riders and non-bus riders were cultured for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), yet 75% of bus riders were clustered with a mean cluster size of 50.14, indicating recent transmission, compared to 56% of non-bus riders (OR = 2.4, p < 0.001) with a mean cluster size of 28.9 (p < 0.01). Individual bus routes, including one route servicing the local hospitals, were found to be risk factors for endemic MTB clustered strains and the routes themselves geographically connect the census tracts previously identified as having endemic TB.
Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterial pathogen known to cause infections in epidemic waves. One such epidemic was caused by a clone known as phage-type 80/81, a penicillin-resistant strain that rose to world prominence in the late 1950s. The molecular underpinnings of the phage-type 80/81 outbreak have remained unknown for decades, nor is it understood why related S. aureus clones became epidemic in hospitals in the early 1990s. To better understand the molecular basis of these epidemics, we sequenced the genomes of eight S. aureus clinical isolates representative of the phage-type 80/81 clone, the Southwest Pacific clone [a community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) clone], and contemporary S. aureus clones, all of which are genetically related and belong to the same clonal complex (CC30). Genome sequence analysis revealed that there was coincident divergence of these clones from a recent common ancestor, a finding that resolves controversy about the evolutionary history of the lineage. Notably, we identified nonsynonymous SNPs in genes encoding accessory gene regulator C (agrC) and ?-hemolysin (hla)--molecules important for S. aureus virulence--that were present in virtually all contemporary CC30 hospital isolates tested. Compared with the phage-type 80/81 and Southwest Pacific clones, contemporary CC30 hospital isolates had reduced virulence in mouse infection models, the result of SNPs in agrC and hla. We conclude that agr and hla (along with penicillin resistance) were essential for world dominance of phage-type 80/81 S. aureus, whereas key SNPs in contemporary CC30 clones restrict these pathogens to hospital settings in which the host is typically compromised.
Ten years ago a bioterrorism event involving Bacillus anthracis spores captured the nations interest, stimulated extensive new research on this pathogen, and heightened concern about illegitimate release of infectious agents. Sporadic reports have described rare, fulminant, and sometimes fatal cases of pneumonia in humans and nonhuman primates caused by strains of Bacillus cereus , a species closely related to Bacillus anthracis.
Streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin B (SpeB) is a protease secreted by group A streptococci and known to degrade a wide range of host and GAS proteins in vitro. Although the role of SpeB in GAS infection is debated, recent evidence has conclusively demonstrated that SpeB is critical for the pathogenesis of severe invasive disease caused by GAS. Genetic inactivation of the speB gene results in significantly decreased virulence in a necrotizing fasciitis model of infection. Production of fully active SpeB by GAS is extremely complex. Following transcription and translation the SpeB protein is secreted as an inactive zymogen, which is autocatalytically processed through a series of intermediates to form an active protease. Each step from transcription to protease activation is tightly controlled and regulated by the bacterial cell reflecting the critical role played by this virulence factor in GAS infection. Here we review the molecular aspects of SpeB production by GAS from transcription to activation and the multiple layers of control involved.
Low G+C Gram-positive bacteria typically contain multiple LacI/GalR regulator family members, which often have highly similar amino-terminal DNA binding domains, suggesting significant overlap in target DNA sequences. The LacI/GalR family regulator catabolite control protein A (CcpA) is a global regulator of the Group A Streptococcus (GAS) transcriptome and contributes to GAS virulence in diverse infection sites. Herein, we studied the role of the maltose repressor (MalR), another LacI/GalR family member, in GAS global gene expression and virulence. MalR inactivation reduced GAS colonization of the mouse oropharynx but did not detrimentally affect invasive infection. The MalR transcriptome was limited to only 25 genes, and a highly conserved MalR DNA-binding sequence was identified. Variation of the MalR binding sequence significantly reduced MalR binding in vitro. In contrast, CcpA bound to the same DNA sequences as MalR but tolerated variation in the promoter sequences with minimal change in binding affinity. Inactivation of pulA, a MalR regulated gene which encodes a cell surface carbohydrate binding protein, significantly reduced GAS human epithelial cell adhesion and mouse oropharyngeal colonization but did not affect GAS invasive disease. These data delineate a molecular mechanism by which hierarchical regulation of carbon source utilization influences bacterial pathogenesis in a site-specific fashion.
Sequencing of invasive strains of group A streptococci (GAS) has revealed a diverse array of single nucleotide polymorphisms in the gene encoding the control of virulence regulator (CovR) protein. However, there is limited information regarding the molecular mechanisms by which CovR single amino acid replacements impact GAS pathogenesis. The crystal structure of the CovR C-terminal DNA-binding domain was determined to 1.50 Å resolution and revealed a three-stranded ?-sheet followed by a winged helix-turn-helix DNA binding motif. Modeling of the CovR protein-DNA complex indicated that CovR single amino acid replacements observed in clinical GAS isolates could directly alter protein-DNA interaction and impact protein structure. Isoallelic GAS strains that varied by a single amino acid replacement in the CovR DNA binding domain had significantly different transcriptomes compared to wild-type and to each other. Similarly, distinct recombinant CovR variants had differential binding affinity for DNA from the promoter regions of several virulence factor-encoding genes. Finally, mice that were challenged with GAS CovR isoallelic strains had significantly different survival times, which correlated with the transcriptome and protein-DNA binding studies. Taken together, these data provide structural and functional insights into the critical and distinct effects of variation in the CovR protein on GAS pathogenesis.
The genome of serotype M28 group A Streptococcus (GAS) strain MGAS6180 contains a novel genetic element named Region of Difference 2 (RD2) that encodes seven putative secreted extracellular proteins. RD2 is present in all serotype M28 strains and strains of several other GAS serotypes associated with female urogenital infections. We show here that the GAS RD2 element is present in strain MGAS6180 both as an integrative chromosomal form and a circular extrachromosomal element. RD2-like regions were identified in publicly available genome sequences of strains representing three of the five major group B streptococcal serotypes causing human disease. Ten RD2-encoded proteins have significant similarity to proteins involved in conjugative transfer of Streptococcus thermophilus integrative chromosomal elements (ICEs).
Advancements in high-throughput, high-volume data generating techniques increasingly present us with opportunities to probe new areas of biology. In this work we assessed the extent to which four closely related and genetically representative strains of group A Streptococcus causing epidemic disease have differentiated from one another. Comparative genome sequencing, expression microarray analysis, and proteomic studies were used in parallel to assess strain variation. The extent of phenotypic differentiation was unexpectedly large. We found significant associations between genetic polymorphisms and alterations in gene expression allowing us to estimate the frequency with which specific types of polymorphisms alter gene transcription. We identified polymorphisms in the gene (ropB) encoding the RopB regulator that associate with altered transcription of speB and production of the SpeB protein, a critical secreted protease virulence factor. Although these four epidemic strains are closely related, a key discovery is that accumulation of modest genetic changes has rapidly resulted in significant strain phenotypic differentiation, including the extracellular proteome that contains multiple virulence factors. These data provide enhanced understanding of genetic events resulting in strain variation in bacterial epidemics.
Many pathogens colonize different anatomical sites, but the selective pressures contributing to survival in the diverse niches are poorly understood. Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a human-adapted bacterium that causes a range of infections. Much effort has been expended to dissect the molecular basis of invasive (sterile-site) infections, but little is known about the genomes of strains causing pharyngitis (streptococcal "sore throat"). Additionally, there is essentially nothing known about the genetic relationships between populations of invasive and pharyngitis strains. In particular, it is unclear if invasive strains represent a distinct genetic subpopulation of strains that cause pharyngitis. We compared the genomes of 86 serotype M3 GAS pharyngitis strains with those of 215 invasive M3 strains from the same geographical location. The pharyngitis and invasive groups were highly related to each other and had virtually identical phylogenetic structures, indicating they belong to the same genetic pool. Despite the overall high degree of genetic similarity, we discovered that strains from different host environments (i.e., throat, normally sterile sites) have distinct patterns of diversifying selection at the nucleotide level. In particular, the pattern of polymorphisms in the hyaluronic acid capsule synthesis operon was especially different between the two strain populations. This finding was mirrored by data obtained from full-genome analysis of strains sequentially cultured from nonhuman primates. Our results answer the long-standing question of the genetic relationship between GAS pharyngitis and invasive strains. The data provide previously undescribed information about the evolutionary history of pathogenic microbes that cause disease in different anatomical sites.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) causes human infections that range in severity from pharyngitis ("strep-throat") to necrotizing fasciitis ("flesh-eating disease"). To facilitate investigation of the molecular basis of host-pathogen interactions, infection models capable of rapidly screening for differences in GAS strain virulence are needed. To this end, we developed a Galleria mellonella larvae (wax worm) model of invasive GAS infection and used it to compare the virulence of serotype M3 GAS strains. We found that GAS causes severe tissue damage and kills wax worms in a dose-dependent manner. The virulence of genetically distinct GAS strains was compared by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and determining 50% lethal doses (LD 50). Host-pathogen interactions were further characterized using quantitative culture, histopathology and TaqMan assays. GAS strains known to be highly pathogenic in mice and monkeys caused significantly lower survival and had significantly lower LD 50s in wax worms than GAS strains associated with attenuated virulence or asymptomatic carriage. Furthermore, isogenic inactivation of proven virulence factors resulted in a significantly increased LD 50 and decreased lesion size compared to the wild-type strain, a finding that also strongly correlates with animal studies. Importantly, survival analysis and LD 50 determination in wax worms supported our hypothesis that a newly emerged GAS subclone that is epidemiologically associated with more human necrotizing fasciitis cases than its progenitor lineage has significantly increased virulence. We conclude that GAS virulence in wax worms strongly correlates with the data obtained in vertebrate models, and thus, the Galleria mellonella larva is a useful host organism to study GAS pathogenesis.
Inactivation of the Staphylococcus aureus tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle delays the resolution of cutaneous ulcers in a mouse soft tissue infection model. In this study, it was observed that cutaneous lesions in mice infected with wild-type or isogenic aconitase mutant S. aureus strains contained comparable inflammatory infiltrates, suggesting the delayed resolution was independent of the recruitment of immune cells. These observations led us to hypothesize that staphylococcal metabolism can modulate the host immune response. Using an in vitro model system involving RAW 264.7 cells, the authors observed that cells cultured with S. aureus aconitase mutant strains produced significantly lower amounts of nitric oxide (NO(•)) and an inducible nitric oxide synthase as compared to those cells exposed to wild-type bacteria. Despite the decrease in NO(•) synthesis, the expression of antigen-presentation and costimulatory molecules was similar in cells cultured with wild-type and those cultured with aconitase mutant bacteria. The data suggest that staphylococci can evade innate immune responses and potentially enhance their ability to survive in infected hosts by altering their metabolism. This may also explain the occurrence of TCA cycle mutants in clinical S. aureus isolates.
Infection with different strains of the same species of bacteria often results in vastly different clinical outcomes. Despite extensive investigation, the genetic basis of microbial strain-specific virulence remains poorly understood. Recent whole-genome sequencing has revealed that SNPs are the most prevalent form of genetic diversity among different strains of the same species of bacteria. For invasive serotype M3 group A streptococci (GAS) strains, the gene encoding regulator of proteinase B (RopB) has the highest frequency of SNPs. Here, we have determined that ropB polymorphisms alter RopB function and modulate GAS host-pathogen interactions. Sequencing of ropB in 171 invasive serotype M3 GAS strains identified 19 distinct ropB alleles. Inactivation of the ropB gene in strains producing distinct RopB variants had dramatically divergent effects on GAS global gene expression. Additionally, generation of isoallelic GAS strains differing only by a single amino acid in RopB confirmed that variant proteins affected transcript levels of the gene encoding streptococcal proteinase B, a major RopB-regulated virulence factor. Comparison of parental, RopB-inactivated, and RopB isoallelic strains in mouse infection models demonstrated that ropB polymorphisms influence GAS virulence and disease manifestations. These data detail a paradigm in which unbiased, whole-genome sequence analysis of populations of clinical bacterial isolates creates new avenues of productive investigation into the pathogenesis of common human infections.
Spatial variation in the epidemiological patterns of successive waves of pandemic influenza virus in humans has been documented throughout the 20th century but never understood at a molecular level. However, the unprecedented intensity of sampling and whole-genome sequencing of the H1N1/09 pandemic virus now makes such an approach possible. To determine whether the spring and fall waves of the H1N1/09 influenza pandemic were associated with different epidemiological patterns, we undertook a large-scale phylogeographic analysis of viruses sampled from three localities in the United States. Analysis of genomic and epidemiological data reveals distinct spatial heterogeneities associated with the first pandemic wave, March to July 2009, in Houston, TX, Milwaukee, WI, and New York State. In Houston, no specific H1N1/09 viral lineage dominated during the spring of 2009, a period when little epidemiological activity was observed in Texas. In contrast, major pandemic outbreaks occurred at this time in Milwaukee and New York State, each dominated by a different viral lineage and resulting from strong founder effects. During the second pandemic wave, beginning in August 2009, all three U.S. localities were dominated by a single viral lineage, that which had been dominant in New York during wave 1. Hence, during this second phase of the pandemic, extensive viral migration and mixing diffused the spatially defined population structure that had characterized wave 1, amplifying the one viral lineage that had dominated early on in one of the worlds largest international travel centers.
A community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) strain known as pulsed-field type USA300 (USA300) is epidemic in the United States. Previous comparative whole-genome sequencing studies demonstrated that there has been recent clonal emergence of a subset of USA300 isolates, which comprise the epidemic clone. Although the core genomes of these isolates are closely related, the level of diversity among USA300 plasmids was not resolved. Inasmuch as these plasmids might contribute to significant gene diversity among otherwise closely related USA300 isolates, we performed de novo sequencing of endogenous plasmids from 10 previously characterized USA300 clinical isolates obtained from different geographic locations in the United States. All isolates tested contained small (2- to 3-kb) and/or large (27- to 30-kb) plasmids. The large plasmids encoded heavy metal and/or antimicrobial resistance elements, including those that confer resistance to cadmium, bacitracin, macrolides, penicillin, kanamycin, and streptothricin, although all isolates were sensitive to minocycline, doxycycline, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, vancomycin, teicoplanin, and linezolid. One of the USA300 isolates contained an archaic plasmid that encoded staphylococcal enterotoxins R, J, and P. Notably, the large plasmids (27 to 28 kb) from 8 USA300 isolates--those that comprise the epidemic USA300 clone--were virtually identical (99% identity) and similar to a large plasmid from strain USA300_TCH1516 (a previously sequenced USA300 strain from Houston, TX). These plasmids are largely divergent from the 37-kb plasmid of FPR3757, the first sequenced USA300 strain. The high level of plasmid sequence identity among the majority of closely related USA300 isolates is consistent with the recent clonal emergence hypothesis for USA300.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS), a human-specific pathogen, is best known for causing pharyngitis ("strep-throat") and necrotizing fasciitis ("flesh-eating disease"). However, the organism is also an uncommon but important cause of community-acquired bronchopneumonia, an infection with an exceptionally high mortality rate. Inasmuch as little is known about the molecular pathogenesis of GAS lower respiratory tract infection, we sought to develop a relevant human infection model. Nine cynomolgus macaques were infected by intra-bronchial instillation of either sterile saline or GAS (10(5) or 10(7) CFU). Animals were continuously monitored and sacrificed at five days post-inoculation. Serial bronchial alveolar lavage specimens and tissues collected at necropsy were used for histologic and immunohistochemical examination, quantitative microbial culture, lung and blood biomarker analysis, and in vivo GAS gene expression studies. The lower respiratory tract disease observed in cynomolgus macaques mimicked the clinical and pathological features of severe GAS bronchopneumonia in humans. This new monkey model will be useful for testing hypotheses bearing on the molecular pathogenesis of GAS in the lower respiratory tract.
Relatively little is understood about the dynamics of global host-pathogen transcriptome changes that occur during bacterial infection of mucosal surfaces. To test the hypothesis that group A Streptococcus (GAS) infection of the oropharynx provokes a distinct host transcriptome response, we performed genome-wide transcriptome analysis using a nonhuman primate model of experimental pharyngitis. We also identified host and pathogen biological processes and individual host and pathogen gene pairs with correlated patterns of expression, suggesting interaction. For this study, 509 host genes and seven biological pathways were differentially expressed throughout the entire 32-day infection cycle. GAS infection produced an initial widespread significant decrease in expression of many host genes, including those involved in cytokine production, vesicle formation, metabolism, and signal transduction. This repression lasted until day 4, at which time a large increase in expression of host genes was observed, including those involved in protein translation, antigen presentation, and GTP-mediated signaling. The interactome analysis identified 73 host and pathogen gene pairs with correlated expression levels. We discovered significant correlations between transcripts of GAS genes involved in hyaluronic capsule production and host endocytic vesicle formation, GAS GTPases and host fibrinolytic genes, and GAS response to interaction with neutrophils. We also identified a strong signal, suggesting interaction between host gammadelta T cells and genes in the GAS mevalonic acid synthesis pathway responsible for production of isopentenyl-pyrophosphate, a short-chain phospholipid that stimulates these T cells. Taken together, our results are unique in providing a comprehensive understanding of the host-pathogen interactome during mucosal infection by a bacterial pathogen.
Transcriptional regulatory networks are fundamental to how microbes alter gene expression in response to environmental stimuli, thereby playing a critical role in bacterial pathogenesis. However, understanding how bacterial transcriptional regulatory networks function during host-pathogen interaction is limited. Recent studies in group A Streptococcus (GAS) suggested that the transcriptional regulator catabolite control protein A (CcpA) influences many of the same genes as the control of virulence (CovRS) two-component gene regulatory system. To provide new information about the CcpA and CovRS networks, we compared the CcpA and CovR transcriptomes in a serotype M1 GAS strain. The transcript levels of several of the same genes encoding virulence factors and proteins involved in basic metabolic processes were affected in both DeltaccpA and DeltacovR isogenic mutant strains. Recombinant CcpA and CovR bound with high-affinity to the promoter regions of several co-regulated genes, including those encoding proteins involved in carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism. Compared to the wild-type parental strain, DeltaccpA and DeltacovRDeltaccpA isogenic mutant strains were significantly less virulent in a mouse myositis model. Inactivation of CcpA and CovR alone and in combination led to significant alterations in the transcript levels of several key GAS virulence factor encoding genes during infection. Importantly, the transcript level alterations in the DeltaccpA and DeltacovRDeltaccpA isogenic mutant strains observed during infection were distinct from those occurring during growth in laboratory medium. These data provide new knowledge regarding the molecular mechanisms by which pathogenic bacteria respond to environmental signals to regulate virulence factor production and basic metabolic processes during infection.
Understanding the fine-structure molecular architecture of bacterial epidemics has been a long-sought goal of infectious disease research. We used short-read-length DNA sequencing coupled with mass spectroscopy analysis of SNPs to study the molecular pathogenomics of three successive epidemics of invasive infections involving 344 serotype M3 group A Streptococcus in Ontario, Canada. Sequencing the genome of 95 strains from the three epidemics, coupled with analysis of 280 biallelic SNPs in all 344 strains, revealed an unexpectedly complex population structure composed of a dynamic mixture of distinct clonally related complexes. We discovered that each epidemic is dominated by micro- and macrobursts of multiple emergent clones, some with distinct strain genotype-patient phenotype relationships. On average, strains were differentiated from one another by only 49 SNPs and 11 insertion-deletion events (indels) in the core genome. Ten percent of SNPs are strain specific; that is, each strain has a unique genome sequence. We identified nonrandom temporal-spatial patterns of strain distribution within and between the epidemic peaks. The extensive full-genome data permitted us to identify genes with significantly increased rates of nonsynonymous (amino acid-altering) nucleotide polymorphisms, thereby providing clues about selective forces operative in the host. Comparative expression microarray analysis revealed that closely related strains differentiated by seemingly modest genetic changes can have significantly divergent transcriptomes. We conclude that enhanced understanding of bacterial epidemics requires a deep-sequencing, geographically centric, comparative pathogenomics strategy.
Mechanisms underlying the enhanced virulence phenotype of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) are incompletely defined, but presumably include evasion of killing by human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs or neutrophils). To better understand this phenomenon, we investigated the basis of rapid PMN lysis after phagocytosis of USA300, a prominent CA-MRSA strain. Survival of USA300 clinical isolates after phagocytosis ultimately resulted in neutrophil lysis. PMNs containing ingested USA300 underwent morphological changes consistent with apoptosis, but lysed rapidly thereafter (within 6 h), whereas cells undergoing FAS-mediated apoptosis or phagocytosis-induced cell death remained intact. Phagosome membranes remained intact until the point of PMN destruction, suggesting lysis was not caused by escape of S. aureus from phagosomes or the cytolytic action of pore-forming toxins. Microarray analysis of the PMN transcriptome after phagocytosis of representative community-associated S. aureus and healthcare-associated MRSA strains revealed changes unique to community-associated S. aureus strains, such as upregulation of transcripts involved in regulation of calcium homeostasis. Collectively, the data suggest that neutrophil destruction after phagocytosis of USA300 is in part a form of programmed necrosis rather than direct lysis by S. aureus pore-forming toxins. We propose that the ability of CA-MRSA strains to induce programmed necrosis of neutrophils is a component of enhanced virulence.
Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) is a two-component cytolytic toxin epidemiologically linked to community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) infections, including serious invasive infections caused by the epidemic clone referred to as strain USA300. Although PVL has long been known to be a S. aureus virulence molecule in vitro, the relative contribution of this leukotoxin to invasive CA-MRSA infections such as pneumonia remains controversial. We developed a nonhuman primate model of CA-MRSA pneumonia and used it to test the hypothesis that PVL contributes to lower respiratory tract infections caused by S. aureus strain USA300. The lower respiratory tract disease observed in this monkey model mimicked the clinical and pathological features of early mild to moderate S. aureus pneumonia in humans, including fine-structure histopathology. In this experiment using a large sample of monkeys and multiple time points of examination, no involvement of PVL in virulence could be detected. Compared with the wild-type parental USA300 strain, the isogenic PVL deletion-mutant strain caused equivalent lower respiratory tract pathology. We conclude that PVL does not contribute to lower respiratory tract infection in this nonhuman primate model of human CA-MRSA pneumonia.
For more than 100 years, group A Streptococcus has been identified as a cause of severe and, in many cases, fatal infections of the female urogenital tract. Due to advances in hospital hygiene and the advent of antibiotics, this type of infection has been virtually eradicated. However, within the last three decades there has been an increase in severe intra- and post-partum infections attributed to GAS.
Single-nucleotide changes are the most common cause of natural genetic variation among members of the same species, but there is remarkably little information bearing on how they alter bacterial virulence. We recently discovered a single-nucleotide mutation in the group A Streptococcus genome that is epidemiologically associated with decreased human necrotizing fasciitis ("flesh-eating disease"). Working from this clinical observation, we find that wild-type mtsR function is required for group A Streptococcus to cause necrotizing fasciitis in mice and nonhuman primates. Expression microarray analysis revealed that mtsR inactivation results in overexpression of PrsA, a chaperonin involved in posttranslational maturation of SpeB, an extracellular cysteine protease. Isogenic mutant strains that overexpress prsA or lack speB had decreased secreted protease activity in vivo and recapitulated the necrotizing fasciitis-negative phenotype of the DeltamtsR mutant strain in mice and monkeys. mtsR inactivation results in increased PrsA expression, which in turn causes decreased SpeB secreted protease activity and reduced necrotizing fasciitis capacity. Thus, a naturally occurring single-nucleotide mutation dramatically alters virulence by dysregulating a multiple gene virulence axis. Our discovery has broad implications for the confluence of population genomics and molecular pathogenesis research.
Molecular pathogenomic analysis of the human bacterial pathogen group A Streptococcus has been conducted for a decade. Much has been learned as a consequence of the confluence of low-cost DNA sequencing, microarray technology, high-throughput proteomics, and enhanced bioinformatics. These technical advances, coupled with the availability of unique bacterial strain collections, have facilitated a systems biology investigative strategy designed to enhance and accelerate our understanding of disease processes. Here, we provide examples of the progress made by exploiting an integrated genome-wide research platform to gain new insight into molecular pathogenesis. The studies have provided many new avenues for basic and translational research.
alpha-Glucans such as starch and glycogen are abundant in the human oropharynx, the main site of group A Streptococcus (GAS) infection. However, the role in pathogenesis of GAS extracellular alpha-glucan binding and degrading enzymes is unknown. The serotype M1 GAS genome encodes two extracellular proteins putatively involved in alpha-glucan binding and degradation; pulA encodes a cell wall anchored pullulanase and amyA encodes a freely secreted putative cyclomaltodextrin alpha-glucanotransferase. Genetic inactivation of amyA, but not pulA, abolished GAS alpha-glucan degradation. The DeltaamyA strain had a slower rate of translocation across human pharyngeal epithelial cells. Consistent with this finding, the DeltaamyA strain was less virulent following mouse mucosal challenge. Recombinant AmyA degraded alpha-glucans into beta-cyclomaltodextrins that reduced pharyngeal cell transepithelial resistance, providing a physiologic explanation for the observed transepithelial migration phenotype. Higher amyA transcript levels were present in serotype M1 GAS strains causing invasive infection compared with strains causing pharyngitis. GAS proliferation in a defined alpha-glucan-containing medium was dependent on the presence of human salivary alpha-amylase. These data delineate the molecular mechanisms by which alpha-glucan degradation contributes to GAS host-pathogen interaction, including how GAS uses human salivary alpha-amylase for its own metabolic benefit.
Because passage of the bacterium to blood is a crucial step in the pathogenesis of many group B Streptococcus (GBS) invasive infections, we recently conducted a whole-genome transcriptome analysis during GBS incubation ex vivo with human blood. In the current work, we sought to analyze in detail the difference in GBS gene expression that occurred in one blood sample (donor A) relative to other blood samples. We incubated GBS strain NEM316 with fresh heparinized human blood obtained from healthy volunteers, and analyzed GBS genome expression and cytokine production. Principal component analysis identified extensive clustering of the transcriptome data among all samples at time 0. In striking contrast, the whole bacterial gene expression in the donor A blood sample was significantly different from the gene expression in all other blood samples studied, both after 30 and 90 min of incubation. More genes were up-regulated in donor A blood relative to the other samples, at 30 min and 90 min. Furthermore, there was significant variation in transcript levels between donor A blood and other blood samples. Notably, genes with the highest transcript levels in donor A blood were those involved in carbohydrate metabolism. We also discovered an unusual production of proinflammatory and immunomodulatory cytokines: MIF, tPAI-1 and IL-1beta were produced at higher levels in donor A blood relative to the other blood samples, whereas GM-CSF, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, IL-7 and IL-10 remained at lower levels in donor A blood. Potential reasons for our observations are that the immune response of donor A significantly influenced the bacterial transcriptome, or both GBS gene expression and immune response were influenced by the metabolic status of donor A.
Tuberculosis (TB) rates in the United States are disproportionately high for certain ethnic minorities. Using univariate and multivariate analyses, we compared data for 1,318 US-born blacks with 565 US-born non-Hispanic whites who participated in the Houston TB Initiative (1995-2004). All available Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates underwent susceptibility and genotype testing (insertion sequence 6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism, spoligotyping, and genetic grouping). TB in blacks was associated with younger age, inner city residence, HIV seropositivity, and drug resistance. TB cases clustered in 82% and 77% of blacks and whites, respectively (p = 0.46). Three clusters had >100 patients each, including 1 cluster with a predominance of blacks. Size of TB clusters was unexpectedly large, underscoring the ongoing transmission of TB in Houston, particularly among blacks.
To colonize and cause disease at distinct anatomical sites, bacterial pathogens must tailor gene expression in a microenvironment-specific manner. The molecular mechanisms that control the ability of the human bacterial pathogen group A Streptococcus (GAS) to transition between infection sites have yet to be fully elucidated. A key regulator of GAS virulence gene expression is the CovR-CovS two-component regulatory system (also known as CsrR-CsrS). covR and covS mutant strains arise spontaneously during invasive infections and, in in vivo models of infection, rapidly become dominant. Here, we compared wild-type GAS with covR, covS, and covRS isogenic mutant strains to investigate the heterogeneity in the types of natural mutations that occur in covR and covS and the phenotypic consequences of covR or covS mutation. We found that the response regulator CovR retains some regulatory function in the absence of CovS and that CovS modulates CovR to significantly enhance repression of one group of genes (e.g., the speA, hasA, and ska genes) while it reduces repression of a second group of genes (e.g., the speB, grab, and spd3 genes). We also found that different in vivo-induced covR mutations can lead to strikingly different transcriptomes. While covS mutant strains show increased virulence in several invasive models of infection, we determined that these mutants are significantly outcompeted by wild-type GAS during growth in human saliva, an ex vivo model of upper respiratory tract infection. We propose that CovS-mediated regulation of CovR activity plays an important role in the ability of GAS to cycle between pharyngeal and invasive infections.
Infectious pericardial effusion with tamponade is an uncommon but life-threatening disease. We report an unusual case of spontaneous Ureaplasma pericardial effusion with tamponade associated with pneumonia, pleural effusion, and urinary tract infection. All published cases of clinically invasive Ureaplasma infections in the adult population are also reviewed.
Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus) is a bacterial pathogen that causes severe intrauterine infections leading to fetal morbidity and mortality. The pathogenesis of GBS infection in this environment is poorly understood, in part because we lack a detailed understanding of the adaptation of this pathogen to growth in amniotic fluid. To address this knowledge deficit, we characterized the transcriptome of GBS grown in human amniotic fluid (AF) and compared it with the transcriptome in rich laboratory medium.
Bacteria employ multiple mechanisms to control gene expression and react to their constantly changing environment. Bacterial growth in rich laboratory medium is a dynamic process in which bacteria utilize nutrients from simple to complex and change physical properties of the medium, as pH, during the process. To determine which genes are differentially expressed throughout growth from mid log to stationary phase, we performed global transcript analysis.
The human pathogen Group A Streptococcus (Streptococcus pyogenes, GAS) is widely recognized as a major cause of common pharyngitis as well as of severe invasive diseases and non-suppurative sequelae associated with the existence of GAS antigens eliciting host autoantibodies. It has been proposed that a subset of paediatric disorders characterized by tics and obsessive-compulsive symptoms would exacerbate in association with relapses of GAS-associated pharyngitis. This hypothesis is however still controversial. In the attempt to shed light on the contribution of GAS infections to the onset of neuropsychiatric or behavioral disorders affecting as many as 3% of children and adolescents, we tested the antibody response of tic patient sera to a representative panel of GAS antigens. In particular, 102 recombinant proteins were spotted on nitrocellulose-coated glass slides and probed against 61 sera collected from young patients with typical tic neuropsychiatric symptoms but with no overt GAS infection. Sera from 35 children with neither tic disorder nor overt GAS infection were also analyzed. The protein recognition patterns of these two sera groups were compared with those obtained using 239 sera from children with GAS-associated pharyngitis. This comparative analysis identified 25 antigens recognized by sera of the three patient groups and 21 antigens recognized by tic and pharyngitis sera, but poorly or not recognized by sera from children without tic. Interestingly, these antigens appeared to be, in quantitative terms, more immunogenic in tic than in pharyngitis patients. Additionally, a third group of antigens appeared to be preferentially and specifically recognized by tic sera. These findings provide the first evidence that tic patient sera exhibit immunological profiles typical of individuals who elicited a broad, specific and strong immune response against GAS. This may be relevant in the context of one of the hypothesis proposing that GAS antigen-dependent induction of autoantibodies in susceptible individuals may be involved the occurrence of tic disorders.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a versatile human pathogen causing diseases ranging from uncomplicated mucosal infections to life-threatening invasive disease. The development of human-relevant animal models of GAS infection and introduction of new technologies have markedly accelerated the pace of discoveries related to GAS host-pathogen interactions. For example, recently investigators have identified pili on the GAS cell surface and learned that they are key components for adherence to eukaryotic cell surfaces. Similarly, the recent development of a transgenic mouse expressing human plasminogen has resulted in new understanding of the molecular processes contributing to invasive infection. Improved understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of GAS pharyngeal, invasive and other infections holds the promise of assisting with the development of novel preventive or therapeutic agents for this prevalent human pathogen.
In a series of four articles published between 1916 and 1919 in The Journal of Medical Research, precursor to The American Journal of Pathology, the investigative pathologist S. Burt Wolbach unambiguously showed that Rocky Mountain spotted fever has a tick-borne mode of transmission, the causative agent replicates intracellularly, and the disease is fundamentally a vasculitis. Although underappreciated, Wolbachs tour-de-force work epitomized investigative pathology. These four articles should be mandatory reading for young investigators and are recommended also to seasoned investigators who seek reinvigoration in the beauty in their craft.
Early diagnosis of gram-negative bloodstream infections, prompt identification of the infecting organism, and appropriate antibiotic therapy improve patient care outcomes and decrease health care expenditures. In an era of increasing antimicrobial resistance, methods to acquire and rapidly translate critical results into timely therapies for gram-negative bloodstream infections are needed.
Group A streptococcus (GAS) causes human pharyngitis and invasive infections and frequently colonizes individuals asymptomatically. Many lines of evidence generated over decades have shown that the hyaluronic acid capsule is a major virulence factor contributing to these infections. While conducting a whole-genome analysis of the in vivo molecular genetic changes that occur in GAS during longitudinal human pharyngeal interaction, we discovered that serotypes M4 and M22 GAS strains lack the hasABC genes necessary for hyaluronic acid capsule biosynthesis. Using targeted PCR, we found that all 491 temporally and geographically diverse disease isolates of these two serotypes studied lack the hasABC genes. Consistent with the lack of capsule synthesis genes, none of the strains produced detectable hyaluronic acid. Despite the lack of a hyaluronic acid capsule, all strains tested multiplied extensively ex vivo in human blood. Thus, counter to the prevailing concept in GAS pathogenesis research, strains of these two serotypes do not require hyaluronic acid to colonize the upper respiratory tract or cause abundant mucosal or invasive human infections. We speculate that serotype M4 and M22 GAS have alternative, compensatory mechanisms that promote virulence.
The epidemiology of pediatric tuberculosis (TB) from 1995 to 2000 in Harris County, TX, has been previously reported. This study was conducted to evaluate the continued trends of Mycobacterium tuberculosis clustering and the role of genotyping in pediatric TB.
Staphylococcus aureus is a human commensal bacterium and a prominent cause of infections globally. The high incidence of S. aureus infections is compounded by the ability of the microbe to readily acquire resistance to antibiotics. In the United States, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality by a single infectious agent. Therapeutic options for severe MRSA infections are limited to a few antibiotics to which the organism is typically susceptible, including vancomycin. Acquisition of high-level vancomycin resistance by MRSA is a major concern, but to date, there have been only 12 vancomycin-resistant S. aureus (VRSA) isolates reported in the United States and all belong to a phylogenetic lineage known as clonal complex 5. To gain enhanced understanding of the genetic characteristics conducive to the acquisition of vancomycin resistance by S. aureus, V. N. Kos et al. performed whole-genome sequencing of all 12 VRSA isolates and compared the DNA sequences to the genomes of other S. aureus strains. The findings provide new information about the evolutionary history of VRSA and identify genetic features that may bear on the relationship between S. aureus clonal complex 5 strains and the acquisition of vancomycin resistance genes from enterococci.
Decreasing the time to species identification and antibiotic susceptibility determination of strains recovered from patients with bacteremia significantly decreases morbidity and mortality. Herein, we validated a method to identify Gram-negative bacteria directly from positive blood culture medium using the Bruker MALDI Biotyper and to rapidly perform susceptibility testing using the BD Phoenix.
Genomic analysis of type emm59 group A Streptococcus invasive strains isolated in the United States discovered higher than anticipated genetic heterogeneity among strains and identified a heretofore unrecognized monoclonal cluster of invasive infections in the San Francisco Bay area. Heightened monitoring for a potential shift in the epidemic behavior of emm59 group A Streptococcus is warranted.
Throughout history, technologic advancements have fueled the engine of innovation, which, in turn, has driven discovery. Accordingly, recent advancements in DNA sequencing technology are revolutionizing bacterial genomics.
The widespread occurrence of antibiotic resistance among human pathogens is a major public health problem. Conventional antibiotics typically target bacterial killing or growth inhibition, resulting in strong selection for the development of antibiotic resistance. Alternative therapeutic approaches targeting microbial pathogenicity without inhibiting growth might minimize selection for resistant organisms. Compounds inhibiting gene expression of streptokinase (SK), a critical group A streptococcal (GAS) virulence factor, were identified through a high-throughput, growth-based screen on a library of 55,000 small molecules. The lead compound [Center for Chemical Genomics 2979 (CCG-2979)] and an analog (CCG-102487) were confirmed to also inhibit the production of active SK protein. Microarray analysis of GAS grown in the presence of CCG-102487 showed down-regulation of a number of important virulence factors in addition to SK, suggesting disruption of a general virulence gene regulatory network. CCG-2979 and CCG-102487 both enhanced granulocyte phagocytosis and killing of GAS in an in vitro assay, and CCG-2979 also protected mice from GAS-induced mortality in vivo. These data suggest that the class of compounds represented by CCG-2979 may be of therapeutic value for the treatment of GAS and potentially other gram-positive infections in humans.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) causes an exceptionally broad range of infections in humans, from relatively mild pharyngitis and skin infections to life-threatening necrotizing fasciitis and toxic shock syndrome. An epidemic of severe invasive human infections caused by type emm59 GAS, heretofore an exceedingly rare cause of disease, spread west to east across Canada over a 3-year period (2006 to 2008). By sequencing the genomes of 601 epidemic, historic, and other emm59 organisms, we discovered that a recently emerged, genetically distinct emm59 clone is responsible for the Canadian epidemic. Using near-real-time genome sequencing, we were able to show spread of the Canadian epidemic clone into the United States. The extensive genome data permitted us to identify patterns of geographic dissemination as well as links between emm59 subclonal lineages that cause infections. Mouse and nonhuman primate models of infection demonstrated that the emerged clone is unusually virulent. Transmission of epidemic emm59 strains may have occurred primarily by skin contact, as suggested by an experimental model of skin transmission. In addition, the emm59 strains had a significantly impaired ability to persist in human saliva and to colonize the oropharynx of mice, and seldom caused human pharyngitis. Our study contributes new information to the rapidly emerging field of molecular pathogenomics of bacterial epidemics and illustrates how full-genome data can be used to precisely illuminate the landscape of strain dissemination during a bacterial epidemic.
We propose an experimental strategy for highly accurate selection of candidates for bacterial vaccines without using in vitro and/or in vivo protection assays. Starting from the observation that efficacious vaccines are constituted by conserved, surface-associated and/or secreted components, the strategy contemplates the parallel application of three high throughput technologies, i.e. mass spectrometry-based proteomics, protein array, and flow-cytometry analysis, to identify this category of proteins, and is based on the assumption that the antigens identified by all three technologies are the protective ones. When we tested this strategy for Group A Streptococcus, we selected a total of 40 proteins, of which only six identified by all three approaches. When the 40 proteins were tested in a mouse model, only six were found to be protective and five of these belonged to the group of antigens in common to the three technologies. Finally, a combination of three protective antigens conferred broad protection against a panel of four different Group A Streptococcus strains. This approach may find general application as an accelerated and highly accurate path to bacterial vaccine discovery.
Whole-genome sequencing of serotype M3 group A streptococci (GAS) from oropharyngeal and invasive infections in Ontario recently showed that the gene encoding regulator of protease B (RopB) is highly polymorphic in this population. To test the hypothesis that ropB is under diversifying selective pressure among all serotype M3 GAS strains, we sequenced this gene in 1178 strains collected from different infection types, geographic regions, and time periods. The results confirmed our hypothesis and discovered a significant association between mutant ropB alleles, decreased activity of its major regulatory target SpeB, and pharyngitis. Additionally, isoallelic strains with ropB polymorphisms were significantly less virulent in a mouse model of necrotizing fasciitis. These studies provide a model strategy for applying whole-genome sequencing followed by deep single-gene sequencing to generate new insight to the rapid evolution and virulence regulation of human pathogens.
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We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.