CD4(+) T cells display a variety of helper functions necessary for an efficient adaptive immune response against bacterial invaders. This work reports the in vivo identification and characterization of murine cytotoxic CD4(+) T cells (CD4(+) CTL) during Brucella abortus infection. These CD4(+) CTLs express granzyme B and exhibit immunophenotypic features consistent with fully differentiated T cells. They express CD25, CD44, CD62L ,CD43 molecules at their surface and produce IFN-?. Moreover, these cells express neither the co-stimulatory molecule CD27 nor the memory T cell marker CD127. We show here that CD4(+) CTLs are capable of cytolytic action against Brucella-infected antigen presenting cells (APC) but not against Mycobacterium-infected APC. Cytotoxic CD4(+) T cell population appears at early stages of the infection concomitantly with high levels of IFN-? and granzyme B expression. CD4(+) CTLs represent a so far uncharacterized immune cell sub-type triggered by early immune responses upon Brucella abortus infection.
Several bacterial pathogens have TIR domain-containing proteins that contribute to their pathogenesis. We identified a second TIR-containing protein in Brucella spp. that we have designated BtpB. We show it is a potent inhibitor of TLR signaling, probably via MyD88. BtpB is a novel Brucella effector that is translocated into host cells and interferes with activation of dendritic cells. In vivo mouse studies revealed that BtpB is contributing to virulence and control of local inflammatory responses with relevance in the establishment of chronic brucellosis. Together, our results show that BtpB is a novel Brucella effector that plays a major role in the modulation of host innate immune response during infection.
Rhodococcus equi is an intracellular pathogen which causes pneumonia in young horses and in immunocompromised humans. R. equi arrests phagosome maturation in macrophages at a prephagolysosome stage and grows inside a privileged compartment. Here, we show that, in murine macrophages activated with gamma interferon and lipopolysaccharide, R. equi does not multiply but stays viable for at least 24 h. Whereas infection control of other intracellular pathogens by activated macrophages is executed by enhanced phagosome acidification or phagolysosome formation, by autophagy or by the interferon-inducible GTPase Irgm1, none of these mechanisms seems to control R. equi infection. Growth control by macrophage activation is fully mimicked by treatment of resting macrophages with nitric oxide donors, and inhibition of bacterial multiplication by either activation or nitric oxide donors is annihilated by cotreatment of infected macrophages with ferrous sulfate. Transcriptional analysis of the R. equi iron-regulated gene iupT demonstrates that intracellular R. equi encounters iron stress in activated, but not in resting, macrophages and that this stress is relieved by extracellular addition of ferrous sulfate. Our results suggest that nitric oxide is central to the restriction of bacterial access to iron in activated macrophages.
Rhodococcus equi is a gram-positive facultative intracellular pathogen that can cause severe bronchopneumonia in foals and AIDS patients. Virulence is plasmid regulated and is accompanied by phagosome maturation arrest and host cell necrosis. A replacement mutant in the gene for VapA (virulence-associated protein A), a major virulence factor of R. equi, was tested for its activities during macrophage infection. Early in infection, phagosomes containing the vapA mutant did not fuse with lysosomes and did not stain with the acidotropic fluor LysoTracker similar to those containing virulent wild-type R. equi. However, vapA mutant phagosomes had a lower average pH. Late in infection, phagosomes containing the vapA mutant were as frequently positive for LysoTracker as phagosomes containing plasmid-cured, avirulent bacteria, whereas those with virulent wild-type R. equi were still negative for the fluor. Macrophage necrosis after prolonged infection with virulent bacteria was accompanied by a loss of organelle staining with LysoTracker, suggesting that lysosome proton gradients had collapsed. The vapA mutant still killed the macrophages and yet did not affect the pH of host cell lysosomes. Hence, VapA is not required for host cell necrosis but is required for neutralization of phagosomes and lysosomes or their disruption. This is the first report of an R. equi mutant with altered phagosome biogenesis.
The soil actinomycete Rhodococcus equi is a pulmonary pathogen of young horses and AIDS patients. As a facultative intracellular bacterium, R. equi survives and multiplies in macrophages and establishes its specific niche inside the host cell. Recent research into chromosomal virulence factors and into the role of virulence plasmids in infection and host tropism has presented novel aspects of R. equi infection biology and pathogenicity. This review will focus on new findings in R. equi biology, the trafficking of R. equi-containing vacuoles inside host cells, factors involved in virulence and host resistance and on host-pathogen interaction on organismal and cellular levels.
Rhodococcus equi is a close relative of Mycobacterium spp. and a facultative intracellular pathogen which arrests phagosome maturation in macrophages before the late endocytic stage. We have screened a transposon mutant library of R. equi for mutants with decreased capability to prevent phagolysosome formation. This screen yielded a mutant in the gene for ?-ketoacyl-(acyl carrier protein)-synthase A (KasA), a key enzyme of the long-chain mycolic acid synthesizing FAS-II system. The longest kasA mutant mycolic acid chains were 10 carbon units shorter than those of wild-type bacteria. Coating of non-pathogenic E. coli with purified wild-type trehalose dimycolate reduced phagolysosome formation substantially which was not the case with shorter kasA mutant-derived trehalose dimycolate. The mutant was moderately attenuated in macrophages and in a mouse infection model, but was fully cytotoxic.Whereas loss of KasA is lethal in mycobacteria, R. equi kasA mutant multiplication in broth was normal proving that long-chain mycolic acid compounds are not necessarily required for cellular integrity and viability of the bacteria that typically produce them. This study demonstrates a central role of mycolic acid chain length in diversion of trafficking by R. equi.
Innate immunity recognizes bacterial molecules bearing pathogen-associated molecular patterns to launch inflammatory responses leading to the activation of adaptive immunity. However, the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of the gram-negative bacterium Brucella lacks a marked pathogen-associated molecular pattern, and it has been postulated that this delays the development of immunity, creating a gap that is critical for the bacterium to reach the intracellular replicative niche. We found that a B. abortus mutant in the wadC gene displayed a disrupted LPS core while keeping both the LPS O-polysaccharide and lipid A. In mice, the wadC mutant induced proinflammatory responses and was attenuated. In addition, it was sensitive to killing by non-immune serum and bactericidal peptides and did not multiply in dendritic cells being targeted to lysosomal compartments. In contrast to wild type B. abortus, the wadC mutant induced dendritic cell maturation and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. All these properties were reproduced by the wadC mutant purified LPS in a TLR4-dependent manner. Moreover, the core-mutated LPS displayed an increased binding to MD-2, the TLR4 co-receptor leading to subsequent increase in intracellular signaling. Here we show that Brucella escapes recognition in early stages of infection by expressing a shield against recognition by innate immunity in its LPS core and identify a novel virulence mechanism in intracellular pathogenic gram-negative bacteria. These results also encourage for an improvement in the generation of novel bacterial vaccines.
Bacteria of the genus Brucella are Gram-negative pathogens of several animal species that cause a zoonotic disease in humans known as brucellosis or Malta fever. Within their hosts, brucellae reside within different cell types where they establish a replicative niche and remain protected from the immune response. The aim of this article is to discuss recent advances in the field in the specific context of the Brucella intracellular lifestyle. We initially discuss the different host cell targets and their relevance during infection. As it represents the key to intracellular replication, the focus is then set on the maturation of the Brucella phagosome, with particular emphasis on the Brucella factors that are directly implicated in intracellular trafficking and modulation of host cell signalling pathways. Recent data on the role of the type IV secretion system are discussed, novel effector molecules identified and how some of them impact on trafficking events. Current knowledge on Brucella gene regulation and control of host cell death are summarized, as they directly affect intracellular persistence. Understanding how Brucella molecules interplay with their host cell targets to modulate cellular functions and establish the intracellular niche will help unravel how this pathogen causes disease.
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