Finegoldia magna is a Gram-positive anaerobic commensal of the human skin microbiota, but also known to act as an opportunistic pathogen. Two primary virulence factors of F. magna are the subtilisin-like extracellular serine protease SufA and the adhesive protein FAF. This study examines the molecular mechanisms F. magna uses when colonizing or establishing an infection in the skin. FAF was found to be essential in the initial adherence of F. magna to human skin biopsies. In the upper layers of the epidermis FAF mediates adhesion through binding to galectin-7 - a keratinocyte cell marker. Once the bacteria moved deeper into the skin to the basement membrane layer, SufA was found to degrade collagen IV which forms the backbone structure of the basement membrane. It also degraded collagen V, whereby F. magna could reach deeper dermal tissue sites. In the dermis, FAF interacts with collagen V and fibrillin, which presumably helps the bacteria to establish infection in this area. The findings of this study paint a clear picture of how F. magna interacts with human skin and explain how it is such a successful opportunistic pathogen in chronic wounds and ulcers.
Antithrombin III (ATIII) is a key antiproteinase involved in blood coagulation. Previous investigations have shown that ATIII is degraded by Staphylococcus aureus V8 protease, leading to release of heparin binding fragments derived from its D helix. As heparin binding and antimicrobial activity of peptides frequently overlap, we here set out to explore possible antibacterial effects of intact and degraded ATIII. In contrast to intact ATIII, the results showed that extensive degradation of the molecule yielded fragments with antimicrobial activity. Correspondingly, the heparin-binding, helix d-derived, peptide FFFAKLNCRLYRKANKSSKLV (FFF21) of human ATIII, was found to be antimicrobial against particularly the Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Fluorescence microscopy and electron microscopy studies demonstrated that FFF21 binds to and permeabilizes bacterial membranes. Analogously, FFF21 was found to induce membrane leakage of model anionic liposomes. In vivo, FFF21 significantly reduced P. aeruginosa infection in mice. Additionally, FFF21 displayed anti-endotoxic effects in vitro. Taken together, our results suggest novel roles for ATIII-derived peptide fragments in host defense.
Platelet activation and aggregation have been reported to occur in response to a number of Gram-positive pathogens. Here, we show that platelet aggregates induced by Streptococcus pyogenes were unstable and that viable bacteria escaped from the aggregates over time. This was not due to differential activation in response to the bacteria compared with physiological activators. All the bacterial isolates induced significant platelet activation, including integrin activation and alpha and dense-granule release, at levels equivalent to those induced by potent physiological platelet activators that induced stable aggregates. The ability to escape the aggregates and to resist the antibacterial effects of platelets was dependent on active protein synthesis by the bacteria within the aggregate. We conclude that S. pyogenes bacteria can temporarily cover themselves with activated platelets, and we propose that this may facilitate survival of the bacteria in the presence of platelets.
During bacterial infections of the airways, a Th1-profiled inflammation promotes the production of several host defense proteins and peptides with antibacterial activities including ?-defensins, ELR-negative CXC-chemokines, and the cathelicidin LL-37. These are down-regulated by Th2 cytokines of the allergic response. Instead, the eosinophil-recruiting chemokines eotaxin-1/CCL11, eotaxin-2/CCL24, and eotaxin-3/CCL26 are expressed. This study set out to investigate if these chemokines could serve as innate host defense molecules during allergic inflammation.
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) escapes the host immune system by recruitment of the complement regulator vitronectin, which inhibits the formation of the membrane attack complex (MAC) by inhibiting C5b-C7 complex formation and C9 polymerization. We reported previously that Hib acquires vitronectin at the surface by using Haemophilus surface fibrils (Hsf). Here we studied in detail the interaction between Hsf and vitronectin and its role in the inhibition of MAC formation and the invasion of lung epithelial cells. The vitronectin-binding region of Hsf was defined at the N-terminal region comprising Hsf amino acids 429 to 652. Moreover, the Hsf recognition site on vitronectin consisted of the C-terminal amino acids 352 to 374. H. influenzae was killed more rapidly in vitronectin-depleted serum than in normal human serum (NHS), and increased MAC deposition was observed at the surface of an Hsf-deficient H. influenzae mutant. In parallel, Hsf-expressing Escherichia coli selectively acquired vitronectin from serum, resulting in significant inhibition of the MAC. Moreover, when vitronectin was bound to Hsf, increased bacterial adherence and internalization into epithelial cells were observed. Taking our findings together, we have defined a fine-tuned protein-protein interaction between Hsf and vitronectin that may contribute to increased Hib virulence.
The human pathogen Haemophilus influenzae causes mainly respiratory tract infections such as acute otitis media in children and exacerbations in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We recently revealed the crystal structure of H. influenzeae protein E (PE), a multifunctional adhesin that is involved in direct interactions with lung epithelial cells and host proteins. Based upon the PE structure we here suggest a hypothetical binding pocket that is compatible in size with a hemin molecule. An H. influenzae mutant devoid of PE bound significantly less hemin in comparison to the PE-expressing wild type counterpart. In addition, E. coli expressing PE at the surface resulted in a hemin-binding phenotype. An interaction between hemin and recombinant soluble PE was also demonstrated by native-PAGE and UV-visible spectrophotometry. Surface plasmon resonance revealed an affinity (Kd) of 1.6 × 10(-6)M for the hemin-PE interaction. Importantly, hemin that was bound to PE at the H. influenzae surface, was donated to co-cultured luciferase-expressing H. influenzae that were starved of hemin. When hemin is bound to PE it thus may serve as a storage pool for H. influenzae. To our knowledge this is the first report showing that H. influenzae can share hemin via a surface-located outer membrane protein.
Effects of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) conjugation on peptide interactions with lipid membranes and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) were investigated for KYE28 (KYEITTIHNLFRKLTHRLFRRNFGYTLR), an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory peptide derived from human heparin cofactor II. In particular, effects of PEG length and localization was investigated by ellipsometry, circular dichroism, nanoparticle tracking analysis, and fluorescence/electron microscopy. PEGylation of KYE28 reduces peptide binding to lipid membranes, an effect accentuated at increasing PEG length, but less sensitive to conjugation site. The reduced binding causes suppressed liposome leakage induction, as well as bacterial lysis. As a result of this, the antimicrobial effects of KYE28 is partially lost with increasing PEG length, but hemolysis also strongly suppressed and selecticity improved. Through this, conditions can be found, at which the PEGylated peptide displays simultaneously efficient antimicrobial affects and low hemolysis in blood. Importantly, PEGylation does not markedly affect the anti-inflammatory effects of KYE28. The combination of reduced toxicity, increased selectivity, and retained anti-inflammatory effect after PEGylation, as well as reduced scavenging by serum proteins, thus shows that PEG conjugation may offer opportunities in the development of effective and selective anti-inflammatory peptides.
Pili have only been discovered in the major Gram-positive pathogens in the past decade and they have been found to play an important role in colonisation and virulence. Pili have been shown to have many important functions including attachment to host tissues, mediating bacterial aggregation, biofilm formation and binding to proteins in the extracellular matrix. In this study, sortase-dependent pili have been found to be expressed on the surface of Finegoldia magna ALB8. F. magna is a Gram-positive anaerobic coccus that, primarily, is a commensal of the skin and mucous membranes, but has also been isolated from various clinical infection sites and is associated with soft-tissue abscesses, wound infections and bone and prosthetic joint infections. In this study, F. magna ALB8 was found to harbour three sortases at the pilus locus, two of which bear high similarity to class C sortases in Streptococcus pneumoniae. Two putative sortase-dependent pili proteins were found in the locus, with one being identified as the major pilus subunit, Fmp1 (F. magna pilus subunit 1), due to its high similarity to other major pilus proteins in prominent Gram-positive pathogens. The presence of sortase-dependent pili was confirmed experimentally through recombinant production of Fmp1 and production of antiserum. The Fmp1 antiserum was used in Western blot to show the presence of a high molecular weight protein ladder, characteristic of the presence of pili, in trypsin released cell wall surface proteins from F. magna. The presence of sortase-dependent pili was visually confirmed by transmission electron microscopy, which showed the binding of gold labelled anti-Fmp1 to individual pilus proteins along the pilus. Furthermore, pili could also be found to bind and interact with keratinocytes in the epidermal layer of human skin, suggesting an adhesive role for pili on F. magna. Our work represents the first description of pilus structures in F. magna. This discovery further elucidates F. magna physiology and allows for additional analysis of host-bacterial interactions in future studies.
Apoptotic nucleosomes are structurally and immunologically involved in lupus nephritis. The purpose of this study was to examine the expression and function of laminins and their interactions with nucleosomes in the kidneys of patients with lupus nephritis, using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) analysis.
Host defense peptides are key components of the innate immune system, providing multi-facetted responses to invading pathogens. Here, we describe that the peptide GKS26 (GKSRIQRLNILNAKFAFNLYRVLKDQ), corresponding to the A domain of heparin cofactor II (HCII), ameliorates experimental septic shock. The peptide displays antimicrobial effects through direct membrane disruption, also at physiological salt concentration and in the presence of plasma and serum. Biophysical investigations of model lipid membranes showed the antimicrobial action of GKS26 to be mirrored by peptide incorporation into, and disordering of, bacterial lipid membranes. GKS26 furthermore binds extensively to bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), as well as its endotoxic lipid A moiety, and displays potent anti-inflammatory effects, both in vitro and in vivo. Thus, for mice challenged with ip injection of LPS, GKS26 suppresses pro-inflammatory cytokines, reduces vascular leakage and infiltration in lung tissue, and normalizes coagulation. Together, these findings suggest that GKS26 may be of interest for further investigations as therapeutic against severe infections and septic shock.
Sepsis and septic shock remain important medical problems with high mortality rates. Today's treatment is based mainly on using antibiotics to target the bacteria, without addressing the systemic inflammatory response, which is a major contributor to mortality in sepsis. Therefore, novel treatment options are urgently needed to counteract these complex sepsis pathologies. Heparin cofactor II (HCII) has recently been shown to be protective against Gram-negative infections. The antimicrobial effects were mapped to helices A and D of the molecule. Here we show that KYE28, a 28 amino acid long peptide representing helix D of HCII, is antimicrobial against the Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the Gram-positive Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus, as well as the fungus Candida albicans. Moreover, KYE28 binds to LPS and thereby reduces LPS-induced pro-inflammatory responses by decreasing NF-?B/AP-1 activation in vitro. In mouse models of LPS-induced shock, KYE28 significantly enhanced survival by dampening the pro-inflammatory cytokine response. Finally, in an invasive Pseudomonas infection model, the peptide inhibited bacterial growth and reduced the pro-inflammatory response, which lead to a significant reduction of mortality. In summary, the peptide KYE28, by simultaneously targeting bacteria and LPS-induced pro-inflammatory responses represents a novel therapeutic candidate for invasive infections.
Apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) is the main protein of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and a principal mediator of the reverse cholesterol transfer pathway. Variants of apoA-I have been shown to be associated with hereditary amyloidosis. We previously characterized the G26R and L178H variants that both possess decreased stability and increased fibril formation propensity. Here we investigate the Milano variant of apoAI (R173C; apoAI-M), which despite association with low plasma levels of HDL leads to low prevalence of cardiovascular disease in carriers of this mutation. The R173C substitution is located to a region (residues 170 to 178) that contains several fibrillogenic apoA-I variants, including the L178H variant, and therefore we investigated a potential fibrillogenic property of the apoAI-M protein. Despite the fact that apoAI-M shared several features with the L178H variant regarding increased helical content and low degree of ThT binding during prolonged incubation in physiological buffer, our electron microscopy analysis revealed no formation of fibrils. These results suggest that mutations inducing secondary structural changes may be beneficial in cases where fibril formation does not occur.
Cell-free foetal haemoglobin (HbF) has been shown to play a role in the pathology of preeclampsia (PE). In the present study, we aimed to further characterize the harmful effects of extracellular free haemoglobin (Hb) on the placenta. In particular, we investigated whether cell-free Hb affects the release of placental syncytiotrophoblast vesicles (STBMs) and their micro-RNA content.
Preeclampsia (PE) is a serious pregnancy complication that manifests as hypertension and proteinuria after the 20(th) gestation week. Previously, fetal hemoglobin (HbF) has been identified as a plausible causative factor. Cell-free Hb and its degradation products are known to cause oxidative stress and tissue damage, typical of the PE placenta. A1M (?1-microglobulin) is an endogenous scavenger of radicals and heme. Here, the usefulness of A1M as a treatment for PE is investigated in the pregnant ewe PE model, in which starvation induces PE symptoms via hemolysis. Eleven ewes, in late pregnancy, were starved for 36 hours and then treated with A1M (n = 5) or placebo (n = 6) injections. After injections, the ewes were re-fed and observed for additional 72 hours. They were monitored for blood pressure, proteinuria, blood cell distribution and clinical and inflammation markers in plasma. Before termination, the utero-placental circulation was analyzed with Doppler velocimetry and the kidney glomerular function was analyzed by Ficoll sieving. At termination, blood, kidney and placenta samples were collected and analyzed for changes in gene expression and tissue structure. The starvation resulted in increased amounts of the hemolysis marker bilirubin in the blood, structural damages to the placenta and kidneys and an increased glomerular sieving coefficient indicating a defect filtration barrier. Treatment with A1M ameliorated these changes without signs of side-effects. In conclusion, A1M displayed positive therapeutic effects in the ewe starvation PE model, and was well tolerated. Therefore, we suggest A1M as a plausible treatment for PE in humans.
Sepsis is characterized by a dysregulated host-pathogen response, leading to high cytokine levels, excessive coagulation and failure to eradicate invasive bacteria. Novel therapeutic strategies that address crucial pathogenetic steps during infection are urgently needed. Here, we describe novel bioactive roles and therapeutic anti-infective potential of the peptide EDC34, derived from the C-terminus of tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 (TFPI-2). This peptide exerted direct bactericidal effects and boosted activation of the classical complement pathway including formation of antimicrobial C3a, but inhibited bacteria-induced activation of the contact system. Correspondingly, in mouse models of severe Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection, treatment with EDC34 reduced bacterial levels and lung damage. In combination with the antibiotic ceftazidime, the peptide significantly prolonged survival and reduced mortality in mice. The peptides boosting effect on bacterial clearance paired with its inhibiting effect on excessive coagulation makes it a promising therapeutic candidate for invasive Gram-negative infections.
Group G streptococcus (GGS) is a human bacterial pathogen expressing surface proteins FOG and protein G (PG) which interact with several host defense systems, including the complement and contact systems. Selected reaction monitoring mass spectrometry, electron microscopy, and protein binding assays were used to follow the amounts of FOG and PG intracellularly and on the bacterial surface during different phases of growth. Large and increasing amounts of PG were present on the surface in the stationary growth phase, and this was due to de novo production. In contrast, the amount of FOG did not change substantially during this phase. Apart from PG, a number of housekeeping proteins also increased in abundance in the stationary phase. These results show that GGS protein production is active during the stationary phase and that the bacteria actively remodel their surface and enter a less pro-inflammatory state in this phase.
Haemophilus influenzae (Hi) causes respiratory tract infections and is also considered to be a commensal, particularly in preschool children. Tonsils from patients (n = 617) undergoing tonsillectomy due to chronic infection or hypertrophy were examined. We found that 51% of tonsils were positive for Hi, and in 95% of cases analyzed in detail (n = 39) Hi resided intracellularly in the core tonsillar tissue. Patients harbored several intracellular unique strains and the majority were nontypeable Hi (NTHi). Interestingly, the isolated NTHi bound soluble immunoglobulin (Ig) D at the constant heavy chain domain 1 as revealed by recombinant IgD/IgG chimeras. NTHi also interacted with B lymphocytes via the IgD B-cell receptor, resulting in internalization of bacteria, T-cell-independent activation via Toll-like receptor 9, and differentiation into non-NTHi-specific IgM-producing cells. Taken together, IgD-binding NTHi leads to an unspecific immune response and may support the bacteria to circumvent the host defense.
The innate immune system is the first line of defense against invading microbes. Its specificity relies a great deal on host pattern recognition molecules that sense pathogen-associated molecular patterns of the invading pathogen. However, full protection is not always guaranteed, and some early defense mechanisms involved in bacterial killing, such as the complement system, can also exert cytolytic activity against host cells. Although these cascades are tightly regulated, the host has to take additional precautions to prevent its cell destruction. In this study, we describe that p33, a negatively charged surface protein found on endothelial cells also known as gC1q receptor, protects host cells from a cytolytic attack by antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), such as LL37 and ?-defensin 3. To this end, we characterized the interaction of p33 with AMPs by biochemical and functional means. Our data show that p33 forms a doughnut-shaped trimer that can bind up to three AMPs, and we identified a segment in p33 forming a ?-sheet that mediates the binding to all AMPs. Moreover, our results show that p33 abolishes the lytic activity of AMPs at an equimolar ratio, and it protects endothelial cells and erythrocytes from AMP-induced lysis. Taken together, our data suggest a novel protective mechanism of p33 in modulating innate immune response by neutralizing cytotoxic AMPs at the host cell surface.
Staphylococcus aureus is sometimes isolated from the airways during acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but more commonly recognized as a cause of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Antimicrobial proteins, among them midkine (MK), are an important part of innate immunity in the airways. In this study, the levels and possible processing of MK in relation to S. aureus infection of the airways were investigated, comparing COPD and VAP, thus comparing a state of disease with preceding chronic inflammation and remodeling (COPD) with acute inflammation (i.e. VAP). MK was detected in the small airways and alveoli of COPD lung tissue but less so in normal lung tissue. MK at below micromolar concentrations killed S. aureus in vitro. Proteolytic processing of MK by the staphylococcal metalloprotease AL but not cysteine protease SA, resulted in impaired bactericidal activity. Degradation was foremost seen in the COOH-terminal portion of the molecule that harbors high bactericidal activity. In addition, MK was detected in sputum from patients suffering from VAP caused by S. aureus but less so in sputum from COPD-exacerbations associated with the same bacterium. Recombinant MK was degraded more rapidly in sputum from the COPD patients than from the VAP patients and a greater proteolytic activity in COPD sputum was confirmed by zymography. Taken together, proteases of both bacteria and the host contribute to degradation of the antibacterial protein MK, resulting in an impaired defense of the airways, in particular in COPD where the state of chronic inflammation could be of importance.
In order to survive and persist in an immunocompetent human host, Borrelia burgdorferi controls the human immune attack and blocks the damaging effects of the activated complement system. These Gram-negative spirochetes use CspA (CRASP-1) and four additional immune evasion proteins to bind combinations of human plasma regulators, including factor H, factor H-like protein 1 (FHL-1), complement factor H-related protein 1 (CFHR1), CFHR2, CFHR5, and plasminogen. As many microbial immune evasion proteins have multiple functions, we hypothesized that CspA has additional roles in complement or immune control. Here, we identify CspA as a terminal complement inhibitor. Borrelial CspA binds the human terminal complement components C7 and C9 and blocks assembly and membrane insertion of the terminal complement complex (TCC). CspA inhibits TCC assembly at the level of C7, as revealed by hemolytic assays, and inhibits polymerization of C9. CspA, when ectopically expressed on the surface of serum-sensitive Borrelia garinii, blocks TCC assembly on the level of C7 and induces serum resistance in the transformed bacteria. This CspA-mediated serum resistance and terminal complement pathway inhibition allow B. burgdorferi to survive in the hostile environment of human plasma.
Previous studies have shown that stimulation of whole blood or peripheral blood mononuclear cells with bacterial virulence factors results in the sequestration of pro-coagulant microvesicles (MVs). These particles explore their clotting activity via the extrinsic and intrinsic pathway of coagulation; however, their pathophysiological role in infectious diseases remains enigmatic. Here we describe that the interaction of pro-coagulant MVs with bacteria of the species Streptococcus pyogenes is part of the early immune response to the invading pathogen. As shown by negative staining electron microscopy and clotting assays, pro-coagulant MVs bind in the presence of plasma to the bacterial surface. Fibrinogen was identified as a linker that, through binding to the M1 protein of S. pyogenes, allows the opsonization of the bacteria by MVs. Surface plasmon resonance analysis revealed a strong interaction between pro-coagulant MVs and fibrinogen with a KD value in the nanomolar range. When performing a mass-spectrometry-based strategy to determine the protein quantity, a significant up-regulation of the fibrinogen-binding integrins CD18 and CD11b on pro-coagulant MVs was recorded. Finally we show that plasma clots induced by pro-coagulant MVs are able to prevent bacterial dissemination and possess antimicrobial activity. These findings were confirmed by in vivo experiments, as local treatment with pro-coagulant MVs dampens bacterial spreading to other organs and improved survival in an invasive streptococcal mouse model of infection. Taken together, our data implicate that pro-coagulant MVs play an important role in the early response of the innate immune system in infectious diseases.
Mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene result in impaired host defense during cystic fibrosis (CF), where Pseudomonas aeruginosa becomes a key pathogen. We investigated the expression pattern of the antibacterial growth factor midkine (MK) in CF and the possible interference with its activity by the altered airway microenvironment. High MK expression was found in CF lung tissue compared with control samples, involving epithelia of the large and small airways, alveoli, and cells of the submucosa (i.e., neutrophils and mast cells). In CF sputum, MK was present at 100-fold higher levels, but was also subject to increased degradation, compared with MK in sputum from healthy control subjects. MK exerted a bactericidal effect on P. aeruginosa, but increasing salt concentrations and low pH impaired this activity. Molecular modeling suggested that the effects of salt and pH were attributable to electrostatic screening and a charge-neutralization of the membrane, respectively. Both the neutrophil elastase and elastase of P. aeruginosa cleaved MK to smaller fragments, resulting in impaired bactericidal activity. Thus, MK is highly expressed in CF, but its bactericidal properties may be impaired by the altered microenvironment, as reflected by the in vitro conditions used in this study.
The abundant serine proteinase inhibitor heparin cofactor II (HCII) has been proposed to inhibit extravascular thrombin. However, the exact physiological role of this plasma protein remains enigmatic. In this study, we demonstrate a previously unknown role for HCII in host defense. Proteolytic cleavage of the molecule induced a conformational change, thereby inducing endotoxin-binding and antimicrobial properties. Analyses employing representative peptide epitopes mapped these effects to helices A and D. Mice deficient in HCII showed increased susceptibility to invasive infection by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, along with a significantly increased cytokine response. Correspondingly, decreased levels of HCII were observed in wild-type animals challenged with bacteria or endotoxin. In humans, proteolytically cleaved HCII forms were detected during wounding and in association with bacteria. Thus, the protease-induced uncovering of cryptic epitopes in HCII, which transforms the molecule into a host defense factor, represents a previously unknown regulatory mechanism in HCII biology and innate immunity.
The role of exosomes in cancer can be inferred from the observation that they transfer tumor cell derived genetic material and signaling proteins, resulting in e.g. increased tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. However, the membrane transport mechanisms and the signaling events involved in the uptake of these virus-like particles remain ill-defined. We now report that internalization of exosomes derived from glioblastoma (GBM) cells involves nonclassical, lipid raft-dependent endocytosis. Importantly, we show that the lipid raft-associated protein caveolin-1 (CAV1), in analogy with its previously described role in virus uptake, negatively regulates the uptake of exosomes. We find that exosomes induce the phosphorylation of several downstream targets known to associate with lipid rafts as signaling and sorting platforms, such as extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 (ERK1/2) and heat shock protein 27 (HSP27). Interestingly, exosome uptake appears dependent on unperturbed ERK1/2-HSP27 signaling, and ERK1/2 phosphorylation is under negative influence by CAV1 during internalization of exosomes. These findings significantly advance our general understanding of exosome-mediated uptake and offer potential strategies for how this pathway may be targeted through modulation of CAV1 expression and ERK1/2 signaling.
Hypoxia, or low oxygen tension, is a major regulator of tumor development and aggressiveness. However, how cancer cells adapt to hypoxia and communicate with their surrounding microenvironment during tumor development remain important questions. Here, we show that secreted vesicles with exosome characteristics mediate hypoxia-dependent intercellular signaling of the highly malignant brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). In vitro hypoxia experiments with glioma cells and studies with patient materials reveal the enrichment in exosomes of hypoxia-regulated mRNAs and proteins (e.g., matrix metalloproteinases, IL-8, PDGFs, caveolin 1, and lysyl oxidase), several of which were associated with poor glioma patient prognosis. We show that exosomes derived from GBM cells grown at hypoxic compared with normoxic conditions are potent inducers of angiogenesis ex vivo and in vitro through phenotypic modulation of endothelial cells. Interestingly, endothelial cells were programmed by GBM cell-derived hypoxic exosomes to secrete several potent growth factors and cytokines and to stimulate pericyte PI3K/AKT signaling activation and migration. Moreover, exosomes derived from hypoxic compared with normoxic conditions showed increased autocrine, promigratory activation of GBM cells. These findings were correlated with significantly enhanced induction by hypoxic compared with normoxic exosomes of tumor vascularization, pericyte vessel coverage, GBM cell proliferation, as well as decreased tumor hypoxia in a mouse xenograft model. We conclude that the proteome and mRNA profiles of exosome vesicles closely reflect the oxygenation status of donor glioma cells and patient tumors, and that the exosomal pathway constitutes a potentially targetable driver of hypoxia-dependent intercellular signaling during tumor development.
The pattern recognition molecules C-reactive protein (CRP) and C1q are of big interest in relation to the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Circulating autoantibodies against CRP and C1q are frequently found in SLE patients with active disease, particularly in lupus nephritis (LN), and rising levels reportedly relate to disease activity and outcome. If CRP-, or dsDNA- and/or C1q-containing immune complexes (ICs) are pathogenic in LN, glomerular IgG-deposits would be expected to co-localize with these antigens. In search for proof of this concept, renal biospsies from patients with active LN (n = 5) were examined with high-resolution immunogold electron microscopy. Renal biopsies from patients with Henoch-Schönlein purpura, pauci-immune nephritis and renal cancer served as controls. IgG antibodies against CRP, C1q and nucleosomes were analyzed in pre-post flare sera. We could demonstrate that CRP, C1q, C3c and dsDNA were co-localized with IgG in electron dense deposits in the glomerular basement membrane/subendothelial space in all of the 5 LN patients. Deposits of IgG, CRP, complement and dsDNA were 10-fold higher in LN compared to controls. All SLE patients had circulating anti-nucleosome antibodies; 4/5 had serum antibodies against CRP, dsDNA, and C1q at biopsy/flare. Despite a limited number of cases, the results support the notion of a pathogenic role not only for anti-dsDNA antibodies, but also for anti-CRP and anti-C1q in LN. The glomerular ICs may have been generated by deposition of circulating ICs or by in situ IC formation.
To resist infections, robust defense mechanisms of the airways are essential. Retinoic acid promotes differentiation and maintains the phenotypic characteristics of bronchial epithelium. In addition, it induces the expression of the antibacterial growth factor midkine (MK). In the present study, we explored the expression and antibacterial activity of MK in an airway context. MK was detected in bronchial epithelial cells of large airways and type 2 pneumocytes of normal lungs by immunohistochemistry. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed a surface-associated distribution, both on the ciliated apical and basolateral sides, and MK was detected in sputum obtained from healthy individuals by ELISA. In vitro, MK killed the common respiratory pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae at below micromolar concentrations, an activity retained in the presence of sodium chloride at physiological concentrations. The MK molecule consists of two domains with three anti-parallel ?-sheets and a COOH-terminal tail. Although both the NH2- and COOH-terminal domains alone showed antibacterial activity, the COOH-terminal domain including the tail region possessed higher bactericidal activity, i.e. in the order of the holoprotein. Retinoic acid-induced differentiation of primary bronchial epithelial cells, using an air-liquid interface system, revealed bactericidal activity in the apical airway surface liquid, an activity that was reduced after immunoprecipitation of MK. This study shows that airway epithelial cells of large airways and alveoli have a constitutive production of MK that is part of the bactericidal activity present in the air surface liquid, at least in vitro, and may thus be an important part of this arm of airway host defense.
Chemokines and chemokine receptor-mediated effects are important mediators of the immunological response and cure in human leishmaniasis. However, in addition to their signalling properties for leukocytes, many chemokines have also been shown to act directly as antimicrobial peptides on bacteria and fungi. We screened ten human chemokines (CXCL2, CXCL6, CXCL8, CXCL9, CXCL10, CCL2, CCL3, CCL20, CCL27, CCL28) for antimicrobial effects on the promastigote form of the protozoan parasite Leishmania mexicana, and observed direct parasiticidal effects of several, CCL28 being the most potent. Damage to the plasma membrane integrity could be visualised by entrance of propidium iodide, as measured with flow cytometry, and by scanning electron microscopy, which showed morphological changes and aggregation of cells. The findings were in concordance with parasiticidal activity, measured by decreased mitochondrial activity in an MTT-assay. This is the first report of direct antimicrobial activity by chemokines on parasites. This component of immunity against Leishmania parasites identified here warrants further investigation that might lead to new insight in the mechanisms of human infection and/or new therapeutic approaches.
Acquisition of the complement inhibitor vitronectin (Vn) is important for the respiratory tract pathogen nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) to escape complement-mediated killing. NTHi actively recruits Vn, and we previously showed that this interaction involves Protein E (PE). Here we describe a second Vn-binding protein, a 30?kDa Yersinia YfeA homologue designated as Protein F (PF). An isogenic NTHi 3655?hpf mutant devoid of PF displayed a reduced binding of Vn, and was consequently more sensitive to killing by human serum compared with the wild type. Surface expression of PF on Escherichia coli conferred binding of Vn that resulted in a serum resistant phenotype. Molecular analyses revealed that the N-terminal of PF (Lys23-Glu48) bound to the C-terminal of Vn (Phe352-Ser374) without disrupting the inhibitory role of Vn on the membrane attack complex. The PF-Vn complex actively delayed C9 deposition on PF-expressing bacteria. Comparative studies of binding affinity and multiple mutants demonstrated that both PE and PF contribute individually to NTHi serum survival. PF was highly conserved and ubiquitously expressed in a series of randomly selected NTHi clinical isolates (n?=?18). In conclusion, the multifaceted binding of Vn is beneficial for NTHi survival in serum and may contribute to successful colonization and consequently infection.
During cell death, energy-consuming cell degradation and recycling programs are performed. Maintenance of energy delivery during cell death is therefore crucial, but the mechanisms to keep the mitochondrial functions intact during these processes are poorly understood. We have investigated the hypothesis that the heme- and radical-binding ubiquitous protein ?1-microglobulin (A1M) is involved in protection of the mitochondria against oxidative insult during cell death.
Excessive complement activation contributes to joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis during which cartilage proteins are fragmented and released into the synovial fluid. Some of these proteins and fragments activate complement, which may sustain inflammation. The G3 domain of large cartilage proteoglycan aggrecan interacts with other extracellular matrix proteins, fibulins and tenascins, via its C-type lectin domain (CLD) and has important functions in matrix organization. Fragments containing G3 domain are released during normal aggrecan turnover, but increasingly so in disease. We now show that the aggrecan CLD part of the G3 domain activates the classical and to a lesser extent the alternative pathway of complement, via binding of C1q and C3, respectively. The complement control protein (CCP) domain adjacent to the CLD showed no effect on complement initiation. The binding of C1q to G3 depended on ionic interactions and was decreased in D2267N mutant G3. However, the observed complement activation was attenuated due to binding of complement inhibitor factor H to CLD and CCP domains. This was most apparent at the level of deposition of terminal complement components. Taken together our observations indicate aggrecan CLD as one factor involved in the sustained inflammation of the joint.
A number of amyloidogenic variants of apoA-I have been discovered but most have not been analyzed. Previously, we showed that the G26R mutation of apoA-I leads to increased ?-strand structure, increased N-terminal protease susceptibility, and increased fibril formation after several days of incubation. In vivo, this and other variants mutated in the N-terminal domain (residues 26 to ?90) lead to renal and hepatic accumulation. In contrast, several mutations identified within residues 170 to 178 lead to cardiac, laryngeal, and cutaneous protein deposition. Here, we describe the structural changes in the fibrillogenic variant L178H. Like G26R, the initial structure of the protein exhibits altered tertiary conformation relative to wild-type protein along with decreased stability and an altered lipid binding profile. However, in contrast to G26R, L178H undergoes an increase in helical structure upon incubation at 37°C with a half time (t(1/2)) of about 12 days. Upon prolonged incubation, the L178H mutant forms fibrils of a diameter of 10 nm that ranges in length from 30 to 120 nm. These results show that apoA-I, known for its dynamic properties, has the ability to form multiple fibrillar conformations, which may play a role in the tissue-specific deposition of the individual variants.
Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) is an interleukin-7-like cytokine expressed by epithelial cells and reported to be involved in allergic diseases and atopic eczema. The presence of several predicted ?-helical regions in TSPL, a structure characterizing many classical antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), prompted us to investigate whether TSLP exerts antimicrobial activities. Recombinant human TSLP exerted antimicrobial activity, particularly against Gram-negative bacteria. Using synthetic overlapping peptide 20-mers of TSLP, it was demonstrated that the antimicrobial effect is primarily mediated by the C-terminal region of the protein. MKK34 (MKKRRKRKVTTNKCLEQVSQLQGLWRRFNRPLLK), a peptide spanning a C-terminal ?-helical region in TSLP, showed potent antimicrobial activities, in physiological salt conditions and in the presence of human plasma. Fluorescent studies of peptide-treated bacteria, electron microscopy and liposome leakage models showed that MKK34 exerted membrane-disrupting effects comparable to those of the classical AMP LL-37. Moreover, TSLP was degraded into multiple fragments by staphylococcal V8 proteinase. One major antimicrobial degradation fragment was found to encompass the C-terminal antimicrobial region defined by the MKK34 peptide. We here describe a novel antimicrobial role for TSLP. The antimicrobial activity is primarily mediated by the C-terminal part of the protein. In combination with the previously known cytokine function of TSLP, our result indicates dual functions of the molecule and a previously unknown role in host defense.
Severe infectious diseases remain a major and life-threatening health problem. In serious cases a systemic activation of the coagulation cascade and hypovolemic shock are critical complications that are associated with high mortality rates. Here we report that blood mononuclear cells, stimulated with M1 protein of Streptococcus pyogenes or other bacterial virulence factors, produce not only pro-coagulant, but also pro-inflammatory microparticles (MPs). Our results also show that activation of the contact system on MPs contributes to these two effects. Phosphatidylserine (PS) plays an important role in these processes as its upregulation on MPs allows an assembly and activation of the contact system. This in turn results in stabilization of the tissue factor-induced clot and a processing of high-molecular-weight kininogen by plasma kallikrein followed by the release of bradykinin, a potent vascular mediator. Pro-coagulant monocyte-derived MPs were identified in plasma samples from septic patients and further analysis of MPs from these patients revealed that their pro-coagulant activity is dependent on the tissue factor- and contact system-driven pathway.
Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) is an important non-collagenous cartilage protein that is essential for the structural integrity of the cartilage extracellular matrix. The repeated modular structure of COMP allows it to "bridge" and assemble multiple cartilage extracellular matrix components such as collagens, matrilins, and proteoglycans. With its modular structure, COMP also has the potential to act as a scaffold for growth factors, thereby affecting how and when the growth factors are presented to cell-surface receptors. However, it is not known whether COMP binds growth factors. We studied the binding interaction between COMP and TGF-?1 in vitro and determined the effect of COMP on TGF-?1-induced signal transduction in reporter cell lines and primary cells. Our results demonstrate that mature COMP protein binds to multiple TGF-?1 molecules and that the peak binding occurs at slightly acidic pH. These interactions were confirmed by dual polarization interferometry and visualized by rotary shadow electron microscopy. There is cation-independent binding of TGF-?1 to the C-terminal domain of COMP. In the presence of manganese, an additional TGF-?-binding site is present in the TSP3 repeats of COMP. Finally, we show that COMP-bound TGF-?1 causes increased TGF-?1-dependent transcription. We conclude that TGF-?1 binds to COMP and that TGF-?1 bound to COMP has enhanced bioactivity.
Epithelial linings serve as physical barriers and produce antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) to maintain host integrity. Examples are the bactericidal proteins midkine (MK) and BRAK/CXCL14 that are constitutively produced in the skin epidermal layer, where the anaerobic Gram-positive coccoid commensal Finegoldia magna resides. Consequently, this bacterium is likely to encounter both MK and BRAK/CXCL14, making these molecules possible threats to its habitat. In this study, we show that MK expression is upregulated during inflammation, concomitant with a strong downregulation of BRAK/CXCL14, resulting in changed antibacterial conditions. MK, BRAK/CXCL14, and the inflammation-dependent antimicrobial ?-defensins human ?-defensin (hBD)-2 and hBD-3 all showed bactericidal activity against both F. magna and the virulent pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes at similar concentrations. SufA, a released protease of F. magna, degraded MK and BRAK/CXCL14 but not hBD-2 nor hBD-3. Cleavage was seen at lysine and arginine residues, amino acids characteristic of AMPs. Intermediate SufA-degraded fragments of MK and BRAK/CXCL14 showed stronger bactericidal activity against S. pyogenes than F. magna, thus promoting survival of the latter. In contrast, the cysteine-protease SpeB of S. pyogenes rapidly degraded all AMPs investigated. The proteins FAF and SIC, released by F. magna and S. pyogenes, respectively, neutralized the antibacterial activity of MK and BRAK/CXCL14, protein FAF being the most efficient. Quantitation and colocalization by immunoelectron microscopy demonstrated significant levels and interactions of the molecules in in vivo and ex vivo samples. The findings reflect strategies used by a permanently residing commensal and a virulent pathogen, the latter operating during the limited time course of invasive disease.
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) causes otitis media and is commonly found in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Adhesins are important for bacterial attachment and colonization. Protein E (PE) is a recently characterized ubiquitous 16 kDa adhesin with vitronectin-binding capacity that results in increased survival in serum. In addition to PE, NTHi utilizes Haemophilus adhesion protein (Hap) that binds to the basement-membrane glycoprotein laminin. We show that most clinical isolates bind laminin and that both Hap and PE are crucial for the NTHi-dependent interaction with laminin as revealed with different mutants. The laminin-binding region is located at the N-terminus of PE, and PE binds to the heparin-binding C-terminal globular domain of laminin. PE simultaneously attracts vitronectin and laminin at separate binding sites, proving the multifunctional nature of the adhesin. This previously unknown PE-dependent interaction with laminin may contribute to NTHi colonization, particularly in smokers with COPD.
Highly malignant tumors, such as glioblastomas, are characterized by hypoxia, endothelial cell (EC) hyperplasia, and hypercoagulation. However, how these phenomena of the tumor microenvironment may be linked at the molecular level during tumor development remains ill-defined. Here, we provide evidence that hypoxia up-regulates protease-activated receptor 2 (PAR-2), i.e., a G-protein-coupled receptor of coagulation-dependent signaling, in ECs. Hypoxic induction of PAR-2 was found to elicit an angiogenic EC phenotype and to specifically up-regulate heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF). Inhibition of HB-EGF by antibody neutralization or heparin treatment efficiently counteracted PAR-2-mediated activation of hypoxic ECs. We show that PAR-2-dependent HB-EGF induction was associated with increased phosphorylation of ERK1/2, and inhibition of ERK1/2 phosphorylation attenuated PAR-2-dependent HB-EGF induction as well as EC activation. Tissue factor (TF), i.e., the major initiator of coagulation-dependent PAR signaling, was substantially induced by hypoxia in several types of cancer cells, including glioblastoma; however, TF was undetectable in ECs even at prolonged hypoxia, which precludes cell-autonomous PAR-2 activation through TF. Interestingly, hypoxic cancer cells were shown to release substantial amounts of TF that was mainly associated with secreted microvesicles with exosome-like characteristics. Vesicles derived from glioblastoma cells were found to trigger TF/VIIa-dependent activation of hypoxic ECs in a paracrine manner. We provide evidence of a hypoxia-induced signaling axis that links coagulation activation in cancer cells to PAR-2-mediated activation of ECs. The identified pathway may constitute an interesting target for the development of additional strategies to treat aggressive brain tumors.
During bleeding the skin is subjected to oxidative insults from free heme and radicals, generated from extracellular hemoglobin. The lipocalin ?(1)-microglobulin (A1M) was recently shown to have reductase properties, reducing heme-proteins and other substrates, and to scavenge heme and radicals. We investigated the expression and localization of A1M in skin and the possible role of A1M in the protection of skin tissue from damage induced by heme and reactive oxygen species. Skin explants, keratinocyte cultures and purified collagen I were exposed to heme, reactive oxygen species, and/or A1M and investigated by biochemical methods and electron microscopy. The results demonstrate that A1M is localized ubiquitously in the dermal and epidermal layers, and that the A1M-gene is expressed in keratinocytes and up-regulated after exposure to heme and reactive oxygen species. A1M inhibited the heme- and reactive oxygen species-induced ultrastructural damage, up-regulation of antioxidation and cell cycle regulatory genes, and protein carbonyl formation in skin and keratinocytes. Finally, A1M bound to purified collagen I (K(d)?=?0.96×10(-6) M) and could inhibit and repair the destruction of collagen fibrils by heme and reactive oxygen species. The results suggest that A1M may have a physiological role in protection of skin cells and matrix against oxidative damage following bleeding.
ADAMTS13 is the physiological von Willebrand factor (VWF)-cleaving protease. The aim of this study was to examine ADAMTS13 expression in kidneys from ADAMTS13 wild-type (Adamts13?/?) and deficient (Adamts13?/?) mice and to investigate the expression pattern and bioactivity in human glomerular endothelial cells.
Phylogenetically conserved serine protease cascades play an important role in invertebrate and vertebrate immunity. The mammalian coagulation system can be traced back some 400 million years and shares homology with ancestral serine proteinase cascades that are involved in, for example, Toll receptor signaling in insects and release of antimicrobial peptides during hemolymph clotting. In the present study, we show that the induction of coagulation by bacteria leads to immobilization and killing of Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria inside the clot. The entrapment is mediated via cross-linking of bacteria to fibrin fibers by the action of coagulation factor XIII (fXIII), an evolutionarily conserved transglutaminase. In a streptococcal skin infection model, fXIII(-/-) mice developed severe signs of pathologic inflammation at the local site of infection, and fXIII treatment of wild-type animals dampened bacterial dissemination during early infection. Bacterial killing and cross-linking to fibrin networks was also detected in tissue biopsies from patients with streptococcal necrotizing fasciitis, supporting the concept that coagulation is part of the early innate immune system.
Moraxella catarrhalis is a common pathogen found in children with upper respiratory tract infections and in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease during exacerbations. The bacterial species is often isolated together with Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae. Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are released by M. catarrhalis and contain phospholipids, adhesins, and immunomodulatory compounds such as lipooligosaccharide. We have recently shown that M. catarrhalis OMVs exist in patients upon nasopharyngeal colonization. As virtually all M. catarrhalis isolates are ?-lactamase positive, the goal of this study was to investigate whether M. catarrhalis OMVs carry ?-lactamase and to analyze if OMV consequently can prevent amoxicillin-induced killing. Recombinant ?-lactamase was produced and antibodies were raised in rabbits. Transmission electron microscopy, flow cytometry, and Western blotting verified that OMVs carried ?-lactamase. Moreover, enzyme assays revealed that M. catarrhalis OMVs contained active ?-lactamase. OMVs (25 ?g/ml) incubated with amoxicillin for 1 h completely hydrolyzed amoxicillin at concentrations up to 2.5 ?g/ml. In functional experiments, preincubation of amoxicillin (10× MIC) with M. catarrhalis OMVs fully rescued amoxicillin-susceptible M. catarrhalis, S. pneumoniae, and type b or nontypeable H. influenzae from ?-lactam-induced killing. Our results suggest that the presence of amoxicillin-resistant M. catarrhalis originating from ?-lactamase-containing OMVs may pave the way for respiratory pathogens that by definition are susceptible to ?-lactam antibiotics.
Haemophilus influenzae protein E (PE) is a 16 kDa adhesin that induces a pro-inflammatory immune response in lung epithelial cells. The active epithelial binding region comprising amino acids PE 84-108 also interferes with complement-mediated bacterial killing by capturing vitronectin (Vn) that prevents complement deposition and formation of the membrane attack complex (MAC). Here, the interaction between PE and Vn was characterized using site-directed mutagenesis. Protein E variants were produced both in soluble forms and in surface-expressed molecules on Escherichia coli. Mutations within PE(84-108) in the full-length molecule revealed that K85 and R86 residues were important for the Vn binding. Bactericidal activity against H. influenzae was higher in human serum pre-treated with full-length PE as compared with serum incubated with PE(K85E, R86D) , suggesting that PE quenched Vn. A series of truncated Vn molecules revealed that the C-terminal domain comprising Vn(353-363) harboured the major binding region for PE. Interestingly, MAC deposition was significantly higher on mutants devoid of PE due to a decreased Vn-binding capacity when compared with wild-type H. influenzae. Our results define a fine-tuned interaction between H. influenzae and the innate immune system, and identify the mode of control of the MAC that is important for pathogen complement evasion.
Many bacterial pathogens interfere with the contact system (kallikrein-kinin system) in human plasma. Activation of this system has two consequences: cleavage of high-molecular-mass kininogen (HK) resulting in release of the potent proinflammatory peptide bradykinin, and initiation of the intrinsic pathway of coagulation. In this study, two species of the Gram-negative anaerobic commensal organism Bacteroides, namely Bacteroides fragilis and Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, were found to bind HK and fibrinogen, the major clotting protein, from human plasma as shown by immunoelectron microscopy and Western blot analysis. In addition, these Bacteroides species were capable of activating the contact system at its surface leading to a significant prolongation of the intrinsic coagulation time and also to the release of bradykinin. Members of the genus Bacteroides have been known to act as opportunistic pathogens outside the gut, with B. fragilis being the most common isolate from clinical infections, such as intra-abdominal abscesses and bacteraemia. The present results thus provide more insight into how Bacteroides species cause infection.
Sepsis is a systemic host response to invasive infection by bacteria. Despite treatment with antibiotics, current mortality rates are in the range of 20%-25%, which makes sepsis the most important cause of death in intensive care. Gram-negative bacteria are a prominent cause of sepsis. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), one of the major constituents of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria, plays a major role in activating the hosts immune response by binding to monocytes and other cells. Several proteins are involved in neutralization and clearance of LPS from the bloodstream. Here, we provide evidence that ??-glycoprotein I (??GPI) is a scavenger of LPS. In vitro, ??GPI inhibited LPS-induced expression of tissue factor and IL-6 from monocytes and endothelial cells. Binding of ??GPI to LPS caused a conformational change in ??GPI that led to binding of the ??GPI-LPS complex to monocytes and ultimately clearance of this complex. Furthermore, plasma levels of ??GPI were inversely correlated with temperature rise and the response of inflammatory markers after a bolus injection of LPS in healthy individuals. Together, these observations provide evidence that ??GPI is involved in the neutralization and clearance of LPS and identify ??GPI as a component of innate immunity.
Peptides of the C-terminal region of human thrombin are released upon proteolysis and identified in human wounds. In this study, we wanted to investigate minimal determinants, as well as structural features, governing the antimicrobial and immunomodulating activity of this peptide region. Sequential amino acid deletions of the peptide GKYGFYTHVFRLKKWIQKVIDQFGE (GKY25), as well as substitutions at strategic and structurally relevant positions, were followed by analyses of antimicrobial activity against the Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, and the fungus Candida albicans. Furthermore, peptide effects on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-, lipoteichoic acid-, or zymosan-induced macrophage activation were studied. The thrombin-derived peptides displayed length- and sequence-dependent antimicrobial as well as immunomodulating effects. A peptide length of at least 20 amino acids was required for effective anti-inflammatory effects in macrophage models, as well as optimal antimicrobial activity as judged by MIC assays. However, shorter (>12 amino acids) variants also displayed significant antimicrobial effects. A central K14 residue was important for optimal antimicrobial activity. Finally, one peptide variant, GKYGFYTHVFRLKKWIQKVI (GKY20) exhibiting improved selectivity, i.e., low toxicity and a preserved antimicrobial as well as anti-inflammatory effect, showed efficiency in mouse models of LPS shock and P. aeruginosa sepsis. The work defines structure-activity relationships of C-terminal host defense peptides of thrombin and delineates a strategy for selecting peptide epitopes of therapeutic interest.
Streptococcus pyogenes is an important human pathogen and surface structures allow it to adhere to, colonize and invade the human host. Proteins containing leucine rich repeats (LRR) have been identified in mammals, viruses, archaea and several bacterial species. The LRRs are often involved in protein-protein interaction, are typically 20-30 amino acids long and the defining feature of the LRR motif is an 11-residue sequence LxxLxLxxNxL (x being any amino acid). The streptococcal leucine rich (Slr) protein is a hypothetical lipoprotein that has been shown to be involved in virulence, but at present no ligands for Slr have been identified. We could establish that Slr is a membrane attached horseshoe shaped lipoprotein by homology modeling, signal peptidase II inhibition, electron microscopy (of bacteria and purified protein) and immunoblotting. Based on our previous knowledge of LRR proteins we hypothesized that Slr could mediate binding to collagen. We could show by surface plasmon resonance that recombinant Slr and purified M1 protein bind with high affinity to collagen I. Isogenic slr mutant strain (MB1) and emm1 mutant strain (MC25) had reduced binding to collagen type I as shown by slot blot and surface plasmon resonance. Electron microscopy using gold labeled Slr showed multiple binding sites to collagen I, both to the monomeric and the fibrillar structure, and most binding occurred in the overlap region of the collagen I fibril. In conclusion, we show that Slr is an abundant membrane bound lipoprotein that is co-expressed on the surface with M1, and that both these proteins are involved in recruiting collagen type I to the bacterial surface. This underlines the importance of S. pyogenes interaction with extracellular matrix molecules, especially since both Slr and M1 have been shown to be virulence factors.
Serine proteases of the S1 family have maintained a common structure over an evolutionary span of more than one billion years, and evolved a variety of substrate specificities and diverse biological roles, involving digestion and degradation, blood clotting, fibrinolysis and epithelial homeostasis. We here show that a wide range of C-terminal peptide sequences of serine proteases, particularly from the coagulation and kallikrein systems, share characteristics common with classical antimicrobial peptides of innate immunity. Under physiological conditions, these peptides exert antimicrobial effects as well as immunomodulatory functions by inhibiting macrophage responses to bacterial lipopolysaccharide. In mice, selected peptides are protective against lipopolysaccharide-induced shock. Moreover, these S1-derived host defense peptides exhibit helical structures upon binding to lipopolysaccharide and also permeabilize liposomes. The results uncover new and fundamental aspects on host defense functions of serine proteases present particularly in blood and epithelia, and provide tools for the identification of host defense molecules of therapeutic interest.
Moraxella catarrhalis is an emerging human respiratory pathogen in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and in children with acute otitis media. The specific secretion machinery known as outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) is a mechanism by which Gram-negative pathogens interact with host cells during infection. We identified 57 proteins in M. catarrhalis OMVs using a proteomics approach combining two-dimensional SDS-PAGE and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry analysis. The OMVs contained known surface proteins such as ubiquitous surface proteins (Usp) A1/A2, and Moraxella IgD-binding protein (MID). Most of the proteins are adhesins/virulence factors triggering the immune response, but also aid bacteria to evade the host defence. FITC-stained OMVs bound to lipid raft domains in alveolar epithelial cells and were internalized after interaction with Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), suggesting a delivery to the host tissue of a large and complex group of OMV-attributed proteins. Interestingly, OMVs modulated the pro-inflammatory response in epithelial cells, and UspA1-bearing OMVs were found to specifically downregulate the reaction. When mice were exposed to OMVs, a pulmonary inflammation was clearly seen. Our findings indicate that Moraxella OMVs are highly biologically active, transport main bacterial virulence factors and may modulate the epithelial pro-inflammatory response.
Human serum albumin (HSA) is the dominating protein in human plasma. Many bacterial species, especially streptococci, express surface proteins that bind HSA with high specificity and affinity, but the biological consequences of these protein-protein interactions are poorly understood. Group G streptococci (GGS), carrying the HSA-binding protein G, colonize the skin and the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, mostly without causing disease. In the case of bacterial invasion, pro-inflammatory cytokines are released that activate the epithelium to produce antibacterial peptides, in particular the chemokine MIG/CXCL9. In addition, the inflammation causes capillary leakage and extravasation of HSA and other plasma proteins, environmental changes at the epithelial surface to which the bacteria need to respond. In this study, we found that GGS adsorbed HSA from both saliva and plasma via binding to protein G and that HSA bound to protein G bound and inactivated the antibacterial MIG/CXCL9 peptide. Another surface protein of GGS, FOG, was found to mediate adherence of the bacteria to pharyngeal epithelial cells through interaction with glycosaminoglycans. This adherence was not affected by activation of the epithelium with a combination of IFN-? and TNF-?, leading to the production of MIG/CXCL9. However, at the activated epithelial surface, adherent GGS were protected against killing by MIG/CXCL9 through protein G-dependent HSA coating. The findings identify a previously unknown bacterial survival strategy that helps to explain the evolution of HSA-binding proteins among bacterial species of the normal human microbiota.
Recent studies have shown that activation of complement and contact systems results in the generation of antibacterial peptides. Streptococcus pyogenes, a major bacterial pathogen in humans, exists in >100 different serotypes due to sequence variation in the surface-associated M protein. Cases of invasive and life-threatening S. pyogenes infections are commonly associated with isolates of the M1 serotype, and in contrast to the large majority of M serotypes, M1 isolates all secrete the SIC protein. Here, we show that SIC interferes with the activation of the contact system and blocks the activity of antibacterial peptides generated through complement and contact activation. This effect promotes the growth of S. pyogenes in human plasma, and in a mouse model of S. pyogenes sepsis, SIC enhances bacterial dissemination, results which help explain the high frequency of severe S. pyogenes infections caused by isolates of the M1 serotype.
Beneficial anti-inflammatory properties have been ascribed to volatile anesthetics in septic conditions, but no studies have compared anesthesia to the conscious state in a large-animal model. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of isoflurane anesthesia on cardiovascular and respiratory function, leukocyte activation, and lung damage in a model of endotoxemia in sheep. Conscious (n = 6) and anesthetized (n = 6) sheep were made endotoxemic by continuous infusion of LPS for 48 h. Central hemodynamics were monitored continuously, and blood samples were collected regularly. Activation of leukocytes was assessed by surface expression of CD11b and plasma myeloperoxidase concentration. Lung damage was determined by electron microscopy, cell count in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and analysis of lung vascular permeability. Four additional animals (two conscious and two anesthetized) went through the same protocol but did not receive LPS. LPS infusion induced a hyperdynamic sepsis. The drop in total peripheral resistance was compensated by an increase in heart rate and cardiac output in the conscious group, whereas anesthetized sheep failed to compensate in this way. Endotoxemic isoflurane-anesthetized sheep also showed signs of aggravated lung edema formation and tissue damage together with enhanced neutrophil activation and lung tissue accumulation. Our data suggest that isoflurane in conjunction with mechanical ventilation blunts cardiovascular compensatory mechanisms in sepsis and enhances leukocyte activation, which may contribute to lung edema formation and tissue damage.
Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) is a structural component of cartilage, where it catalyzes collagen fibrillogenesis. Elevated amounts of COMP are found in serum during increased turnover of cartilage associated with active joint disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). This study was undertaken to investigate the ability of COMP to regulate complement, a capacity that has previously been shown for some other cartilage proteins.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is an important cause for neonatal liver disease. Disruption of genes encoding oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) components usually causes embryonic lethality, and thus few disease models are available. We developed a mouse model for GRACILE syndrome, a neonatal mitochondrial disease with liver and kidney involvement, caused by a homozygous BCS1L mutation (232A>G). This gene encodes a chaperone required for incorporation of Rieske iron-sulfur protein (RISP) into complex III of respiratory chain. Homozygous mutant mice after 3 weeks of age developed striking similarities to the human disease: growth failure, hepatic glycogen depletion, steatosis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis, as well as tubulopathy, complex III deficiency, lactacidosis, and short lifespan. BCS1L was decreased in whole liver cells and isolated mitochondria of mutants at all ages. RISP incorporation into complex III was diminished in symptomatic animals; however, in young animals complex III was correctly assembled. Complex III activity in liver, heart, and kidney of symptomatic mutants was decreased to 20%, 40%, and 40% of controls, respectively, as demonstrated with electron flux kinetics through complex III. In high-resolution respirometry, CIII dysfunction resulted in decreased electron transport capacity through the respiratory chain under maximum substrate input. Complex I function, suggested to be dependent on a functional complex III, was, however, unaffected.
The Gram-positive bacterium Aerococcus urinae can cause infectious endocarditis (IE) in older persons. Biofilm formation and platelet aggregation are believed to contribute to bacterial virulence in IE. Five A. urinae isolates from human blood were shown to form biofilms in vitro, and biofilm formation was enhanced by the presence of human plasma. Four of the A. urinae isolates caused platelet aggregation in platelet-rich plasma from healthy donors. The Au3 isolate, which induced platelet aggregation in all donors, also activated platelets, as determined by flow cytometry. Platelet aggregation was dependent on bacterial protein structures and on platelet activation since it was sensitive to both trypsin and prostaglandin E(1). Plasma proteins at the bacterial surface were needed for platelet aggregation; and roles of the complement system, fibrinogen, and immunoglobulin G were demonstrated. Complement-depleted serum was unable to support platelet aggregation by Au3 and complement blockade using compstatin-inhibited platelet activation. Platelet activation by Au3 was inhibited by blocking of the platelet fibrinogen receptor, and this isolate was also shown to bind to radiolabeled fibrinogen. Removal of IgG from platelet-rich plasma by a specific protease inhibited the platelet aggregation induced by A. urinae, and blockade of the platelet FcR?IIa hindered platelet activation induced by Au3. Convalescent-phase serum from a patient with A. urinae IE transferred the ability of the bacterium to aggregate platelets in an otherwise nonresponsive donor. Our results show that A. urinae exhibits virulence strategies of importance for IE.
An increased understanding of cellular uptake mechanisms of macromolecules remains an important challenge in cell biology with implications for viral infection and macromolecular drug delivery. Here, we report a strategy based on antibody-conjugated magnetic nanoparticles for the isolation of endocytic vesicles induced by heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs), key cell-surface receptors of macromolecular delivery. We provide evidence for a role of the glucose-regulated protein (GRP)75/PBP74/mtHSP70/mortalin (hereafter termed "GRP75") in HSPG-mediated endocytosis of macromolecules. GRP75 was found to be a functional constituent of intracellular vesicles of a nonclathrin-, noncaveolin-dependent pathway that was sensitive to membrane cholesterol depletion and that showed colocalization with the membrane raft marker cholera toxin subunit B. We further demonstrate a functional role of the RhoA GTPase family member CDC42 in this transport pathway; however, the small GTPase dynamin appeared not to be involved. Interestingly, we provide evidence of a functional role of GRP75 using RNAi-mediated down-regulation of GRP75 and GRP75-blocking antibodies, both of which inhibited macromolecular endocytosis. We conclude that GRP75, a chaperone protein classically found in the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria, is a functional constituent of noncaveolar, membrane raft-associated endocytic vesicles. Our data provide proof of principle of a strategy that should be generally applicable in the molecular characterization of selected endocytic pathways involved in macromolecular uptake by mammalian cells.
Tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI) inhibits tissue factor-induced coagulation, but may, via its C terminus, also modulate cell surface, heparin, and lipopolysaccharide interactions as well as participate in growth inhibition. Here we show that C-terminal TFPI peptide sequences are antimicrobial against the gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, gram-positive Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus, as well as the fungi Candida albicans and Candida parapsilosis. Fluorescence studies of peptide-treated bacteria, paired with analysis of peptide effects on liposomes, showed that the peptides exerted membrane-breaking effects similar to those seen for the "classic" human antimicrobial peptide LL-37. The killing of E. coli, but not P. aeruginosa, by the C-terminal peptide GGLIKTKRKRKKQRVKIAYEEIFVKNM (GGL27), was enhanced in human plasma and largely abolished in heat-inactivated plasma, a phenomenon linked to generation of antimicrobial C3a and activation of the classic pathway of complement activation. Furthermore, GGL27 displayed anti-endotoxic effects in vitro and in vivo in a mouse model of LPS shock. Importantly, TFPI was found to be expressed in the basal layers of normal epidermis, and was markedly up-regulated in acute skin wounds as well as wound edges of chronic leg ulcers. Furthermore, C-terminal fragments of TFPI were associated with bacteria present in human chronic leg ulcers. These findings suggest a new role for TFPI in cutaneous defense against infections.
Streptococcus pyogenes is a significant bacterial pathogen in humans. In this study, histidine-rich glycoprotein (HRG), an abundant plasma protein, was found to kill S pyogenes. Furthermore, S pyogenes grew more efficiently in HRG-deficient plasma, and clots formed in this plasma were significantly less effective at bacterial entrapment and killing. HRG-deficient mice were strikingly more susceptible to S pyogenes infection. These animals failed to control the infection at the local subcutaneous site, and abscess formation and inflammation were diminished compared with control animals. As a result, bacterial dissemination occurred more rapidly in HRG-deficient mice, and they died earlier and with a significantly higher mortality rate than control animals. HRG-deficient mice supplemented with purified HRG gave the same phenotype as control animals, demonstrating that the lack of HRG was responsible for the increased susceptibility. The results demonstrate a previously unappreciated role for HRG as a regulator of inflammation and in the defense at the local site of bacterial infection.
Leukotriene D(4) (LTD(4)) belongs to the bioactive lipid group known as eicosanoids and has implications in pathological processes such as inflammation and cancer. Leukotriene D(4) exerts its effects mainly through two different G-protein-coupled receptors, CysLT(1) and CysLT(2). The high affinity LTD(4) receptor CysLT(1)R exhibits tumor-promoting properties by triggering cell proliferation, survival, and migration in intestinal epithelial cells. In addition, increased expression and nuclear localization of CysLT(1)R correlates with a poorer prognosis for patients with colon cancer.
The antiphospholipid syndrome is defined by the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies in blood of patients with thrombosis or fetal loss. There is ample evidence that beta(2)-glycoprotein I (beta(2)GPI) is the major antigen for antiphospholipid antibodies. The autoantibodies recognize beta(2)GPI when bound to anionic surfaces and not in solution. We showed that beta(2)GPI can exist in at least 2 different conformations: a circular plasma conformation and an "activated" open conformation. We also showed that the closed, circular conformation is maintained by interaction between the first and fifth domain of beta(2)GPI. By changing pH and salt concentration, we were able to convert the conformation of beta(2)GPI from the closed to the open conformation and back. In the activated open conformation, a cryptic epitope in the first domain becomes exposed that enables patient antibodies to bind and form an antibody-beta(2)GPI complex. We also demonstrate that the open conformation of beta(2)GPI prolonged the activated partial thromboplastin time when added to normal plasma, whereas the activated partial thromboplastin time is further prolonged by addition of anti-beta(2)GPI antibodies. The conformational change of beta(2)GPI, and the influence of the autoantibodies may have important consequences for our understanding of the antiphospholipid syndrome.
Streptococcus pyogenes is an important human pathogen that causes a variety of diseases including life-threatening invasive diseases, such as toxic shock and deep tissue infections. Although S. pyogenes are classically considered extracellular pathogens, a clinical significance of an intracellular source has been emphasized. In patients with deep tissue infections, an intracellular reservoir of S. pyogenes within macrophages was shown to contribute to prolonged bacterial persistence. Here we demonstrate that intracellular survival of S. pyogenes in macrophages is associated with an M1 protein-dependent intracellular trafficking in the phagosomal-lysosomal pathway, which results in impaired fusion with lysosomes. The phagocytic vacuoles harbouring M1 protein-expressing bacteria not only served as a safe haven for the bacteria, but also as a replicating niche. An M1 protein-dependent modulation of macrophages was further supported by differences in NF-?B signalling between cells infected with either the wild-type or M1 protein-deficient strains, thereby indicating a suppressed inflammatory response when M1 protein was involved. Evidence of egress of bacteria out of their host cell and subsequent re-infection of new cells emphasize the importance of intracellular bacteria as a reservoir for dissemination of infection and continued tissue injury.
A homozygous mutation in the complex III chaperone BCS1L causes GRACILE syndrome (intrauterine growth restriction, aminoaciduria, cholestasis, hepatic iron overload, lactacidosis). In control and patient fibroblasts we localized BCS1L in inner mitochondrial membranes. In patient liver, kidney, and heart BCS1L and Rieske protein levels, as well as the amount and activity of complex III, were decreased. Major histopathology was found in kidney and liver with cirrhosis and iron deposition, but of iron-related proteins only ferritin levels were high. In placenta from a GRACILE fetus, the ferrooxidases ceruloplasmin and hephaestin were upregulated suggesting association between iron overload and placental dysfunction.
Group A streptococci (GAS, Streptococcus pyogenes) are exclusive human pathogens that have been extensively studied for many decades. The spectrum of diseases caused by these bacteria ranges from uncomplicated and superficial to severe and invasive infections. In order to give rise to these complications, GAS have evolved a number of surface-bound and secreted virulence factors, of which the M proteins are probably the best characterized. Evidence has emerged that M proteins are multifunctional pathogenic determinants, and over the years many interactions between M proteins and the human host have been reported. The present review article aims to present a state-of-the-art overview of the most important virulence mechanisms employed by M proteins to trigger disease.
MIG/CXCL9 belongs to the CXC family of chemokines and participates in the regulation of leukocyte-trafficking and angiogenesis. Certain chemokines, including human MIG/CXCL9, exert strong antibacterial activity in vitro, although the importance of this property in vivo is unknown. In the present study, we investigated the expression and a possible role for MIG/CXCL9 in host defense during mucosal airway infection caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae in vivo. We found that intranasal challenge of C57BL/6 wild-type mice with pneumococci elicited production of high levels of MIG/CXCL9 in the lungs via the MyD88-dependent signaling pathway. Whereas both human and murine MIG/CXCL9 showed efficient killing of S. pneumoniae in vitro, MIG/CXCL9 knock-out mice were not more susceptible to pneumococcal infection. Our data demonstrate that, in vivo this chemokine probably has a redundant role, acting together with other antibacterial peptides and chemokines, in innate and adaptive host defense mechanisms against pneumococcal infections.
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