Lateral gene transfer (LGT) has been crucial in the evolution of the cholera pathogen, Vibrio cholerae. The two major virulence factors are present on two different mobile genetic elements, a bacteriophage containing the cholera toxin genes and a genomic island (GI) containing the intestinal adhesin genes. Non-toxigenic V.?cholerae in the aquatic environment are a major source of novel DNA that allows the pathogen to morph via LGT. In this study, we report a novel GI from a non-toxigenic V.?cholerae strain containing multiple genes involved in DNA repair including the recombination repair gene recA that is 23% divergent from the indigenous recA and genes involved in the translesion synthesis pathway. This is the first report of a GI containing the critical gene recA and the first report of a GI that targets insertion into a specific site within recA. We show that possession of the island in Escherichia coli is protective against DNA damage induced by UV-irradiation and DNA targeting antibiotics. This study highlights the importance of genetic elements such as GIs in the evolution of V.?cholerae and emphasizes the importance of environmental strains as a source of novel DNA that can influence the pathogenicity of toxigenic strains.
Bacteria from the genus Vibrio are a common and environmentally important group of bacteria within coastal environments and include species pathogenic to aquaculture organisms. Their distribution and abundance are linked to specific environmental parameters, including temperature, salinity and nutrient enrichment. Accurate and efficient detection of Vibrios in environmental samples provides a potential important indicator of overall ecosystem health while also allowing rapid management responses for species pathogenic to humans or species implicated in disease of economically important aquacultured fish and invertebrates. In this study, we developed a surface immuno-functionalisation protocol, based on an avidin-biotin type covalent binding strategy, allowing specific sandwich-type detection of bacteria from the Vibrio genus. The assay was optimized on 12 diverse Vibrio strains, including species that have implications for aquaculture industries, reaching detection limits between 7×103 to 3×104 cells mL-1. Current techniques for the detection of total Vibrios rely on laborious or inefficient analyses resulting in delayed management decisions. This work represents a novel approach for a rapid, accurate, sensitive and robust tool for quantifying Vibrios directly in industrial systems and in the environment, thereby facilitating rapid management responses.
The antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis is the increasing global incidence of infectious diseases affecting the human population, which are untreatable with any known antimicrobial agent. This crisis will have a devastating cost on human society as both debilitating and lethal diseases increase in frequency and scope. Three major factors determine this crisis: (1) the increasing frequency of AMR phenotypes among microbes is an evolutionary response to the widespread use of antimicrobials; (2) the large and globally connected human population allows pathogens in any environment access to all of humanity; and (3) the extensive and often unnecessary use of antimicrobials by humanity provides the strong selective pressure that is driving the evolutionary response in the microbial world. Of these factors, the size of the human population is least amenable to rapid change. In contrast, the remaining two factors may be affected, so offering a means of managing the crisis: the rate at which AMR, as well as virulence factors evolve in microbial world may be slowed by reducing the applied selective pressure. This may be accomplished by radically reducing the global use of current and prospective antimicrobials. Current management measures to legislate the use of antimicrobials and to educate the healthcare world in the issues, while useful, have not comprehensively addressed the problem of achieving an overall reduction in the human use of antimicrobials. We propose that in addition to current measures and increased research into new antimicrobials and diagnostics, a comprehensive education program will be required to change the public paradigm of antimicrobial usage from that of a first line treatment to that of a last resort when all other therapeutic options have failed.
Bacterial aminopeptidases play important roles in pathogenesis by providing a source of amino acids from exogenous proteins, destroying host immunological effector peptides and executing posttranslational modification of bacterial and host proteins. We show that MHJ_0125 from the swine respiratory pathogen Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae represents a new member of the M42 class of bacterial aminopeptidases. Despite lacking a recognizable signal sequence, MHJ_0125 is detectable on the cell surface by fluorescence microscopy and LC-MS/MS of (i) biotinylated surface proteins captured by avidin chromatography and (ii) peptides released by mild trypsin shaving. Furthermore, surface-associated glutamyl aminopeptidase activity was detected by incubation of live M. hyopneumoniae cells with the diagnostic substrate H-Glu-AMC. MHJ_0125 moonlights as a multifunctional adhesin, binding to both heparin and plasminogen. Native proteomics and comparative modelling studies suggest MHJ_0125 forms a dodecameric, homopolymeric structure and provide insight into the positions of key residues that are predicted to interact with heparin and plasminogen. MHJ_0125 is the first aminopeptidase shown to both bind plasminogen and facilitate its activation by tissue plasminogen activator. Plasmin cleaves host extracellular matrix proteins and activates matrix metalloproteases, generating peptide substrates for MHJ_0125 and a source of amino acids for growth of M. hyopneumoniae. This unique interaction represents a new paradigm in microbial pathogenesis.
Of the 200+ serogroups of Vibrio cholerae, only O1 or O139 strains are reported to cause cholera, and mostly in endemic regions. Cholera outbreaks elsewhere are considered to be via importation of pathogenic strains. Using established animal models, we show that diverse V. cholerae strains indigenous to a non-endemic environment (Sydney, Australia), including non-O1/O139 serogroup strains, are able to both colonize the intestine and result in fluid accumulation despite lacking virulence factors believed to be important. Most strains lacked the type three secretion system considered a mediator of diarrhoea in non-O1/O13 V. cholerae. Multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) showed that the Sydney isolates did not form a single clade and were distinct from O1/O139 toxigenic strains. There was no correlation between genetic relatedness and the profile of virulence-associated factors. Current analyses of diseases mediated by V. cholerae focus on endemic regions, with only those strains that possess particular virulence factors considered pathogenic. Our data suggest that factors other than those previously well described are of potential importance in influencing disease outbreaks.
The integron is a genetic recombination system that catalyses the acquisition of genes on mobilisable elements called gene cassettes. In Vibrio species, multiple acquired gene cassettes form a cassette array that can comprise 1-3% of the bacterial genome. Since 75% of these gene cassettes contain genes encoding proteins of uncharacterised function, how the integron has driven adaptation and evolution in Vibrio species remains largely unknown. A feature of cassette arrays is the presence of large indels. Using Vibrio rotiferianus DAT722 as a model organism, the aim of this study was to determine how large cassette deletions affect vibrio physiology with a view to improving understanding into how cassette arrays influence bacterial host adaptation and evolution.
The integron is a genetic element that incorporates mobile genes termed gene cassettes into a reserved genetic site via site-specific recombination. It is best known for its role in antibiotic resistance with one type of integron, the class 1 integron, a major player in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes across Gram negative pathogens and commensals. However, integrons are ancient structures with over 100 classes (including class 1) present in bacteria from the broader environment. While, the class 1 integron is only one example of an integron being mobilized into the clinical environment, it is by far the most successful. Unlike clinical class 1 integrons which are largely found on plasmids, other integron classes are found on the chromosomes of bacteria and carry diverse gene cassettes indicating a non-antibiotic resistance role(s). However, there is very limited knowledge on what these alternative roles are. This is particularly relevant to Vibrio species where gene cassettes make up approximately 1-3% of their entire genome. In this review, we discuss how emphasis on class 1 integron research has resulted in a limited understanding by the wider research community on the role of integrons in the broader environment. This has the capacity to be counterproductive in solving or improving the antibiotic resistance problem into the future. Furthermore, there is still a significant lack of knowledge on how gene cassettes in Vibrio species drive adaptation and evolution. From research in Vibrio rotiferianus DAT722, new insight into how gene cassettes affect cellular physiology offers new alternative roles for the gene cassette resource. At least a subset of gene cassettes are involved in host surface polysaccharide modification suggesting that gene cassettes may be important in processes such as bacteriophage resistance, adhesion/biofilm formation, protection from grazers and bacterial aggregation.
Lateral Gene Transfer (LGT) is a major contributor to bacterial evolution and up to 25% of a bacteriums genome may have been acquired by this process over evolutionary periods of time. Successful LGT requires both the physical transfer of DNA and its successful incorporation into the host cell. One system that contributes to this latter step by site-specific recombination is the integron. Integrons are found in many diverse bacterial Genera and is a genetic system ubiquitous in vibrios that captures mobile DNA at a dedicated site. The presence of integron-associated genes, contained within units of mobile DNA called gene cassettes makes up a substantial component of the vibrio genome (1-3%). Little is known about the role of this system since the vast majority of genes in vibrio arrays are highly novel and functions cannot be ascribed. It is generally regarded that strain-specific mobile genes cannot be readily integrated into the cellular machinery since any perturbation of core metabolism is likely to result in a loss of fitness.
Vibrio rotiferianus is a marine pathogen capable of causing disease in various aquatic organisms. We announce the genome sequence of V. rotiferianus DAT722, which has a large chromosomal integron containing 116 gene cassettes and is a model organism for studying the role of this system in vibrio evolution.
The direct isolation of integron gene cassettes from cultivated and environmental microbial sources allows an assessment of the impact of the integron/gene cassette system on the emergence of new phenotypes, such as drug resistance or virulence. A structural approach is being exploited to investigate the modularity and function of novel integron gene cassettes.
The presence of integrons was assessed in gut bacteria isolated from wild-caught prawns. A pseudomonad was recovered that contained a Tn402-like class 1 integron with a complete transposition module and two gene cassettes. One cassette was identical to a previously described cassette from a chromosomal class 3 integron in Delftia tsuruhatensis.
The integron/gene cassette system is a diverse and effective adaptive resource for prokaryotes. Short cassette arrays, with less than 10 cassettes adjacent to an integron, provide this resource through the expression of cassette-associated genes by an integron-borne promoter. However, the advantage provided by large arrays containing hundreds of cassettes is less obvious. In this work, using the 116-cassette array of Vibrio sp. DAT722 as a model, we investigated the theory that the majority of genes contained within large cassette arrays are widely expressed by intra-array promoters in addition to the integron-borne promoter.
A 25,441-bp transposon was recovered from a Pseudomonas aeruginosa clinical isolate. While the transposition module was >99% identical to sequence of Tn1403, the element had been subject to rearrangements, with two In70.2-like class 1 integrons inserted into it in an unusual "tail-to-tail" configuration. One cassette array was the same as that in In70.2; however, the second was different, generating a transposon that collectively includes six resistance cassettes.
A Tn402-like class 1 integron was recovered from a prawn-associated bacterium. One of its cassettes included methionine sulfoxide reductase genes, the first example of such genes being captured by an integron. The integron was flanked by direct repeats that resemble miniature inverted-repeat transposable element sequences. Excision of the integron by homologous recombination through these sequences was demonstrated.
Although integrons and their associated gene cassettes are present in ~10% of bacteria and can represent up to 3% of the genome in which they are found, very few have been properly identified and annotated in public databases. These genetic elements have been overlooked in comparison to other vectors that facilitate lateral gene transfer between microorganisms.
The integron includes a site-specific recombination system capable of integrating and expressing genes contained in structures called mobile gene cassettes. Integrons were originally identified on mobile elements from pathogenic bacteria and were found to be a major reservoir of antibiotic-resistance genes. Integrons are now known to be ancient structures that are phylogenetically diverse and, to date, have been found in approximately 9% of sequenced bacterial genomes. Overall, gene diversity in cassettes is extraordinarily high, suggesting that the integron/gene cassette system has a broad role in adaptation rather than being confined to simply conferring resistance to antibiotics. In this chapter, we provide a review of the integron/gene cassette system highlighting characteristics associated with this system, diversity of elements contained within it, and their importance in driving bacterial evolution and consequently adaptation. Ideas on the evolution of gene cassettes and gene cassette arrays are discussed.
Campylobacter jejuni is the major worldwide cause of bacterial gastroenteritis. C. jejuni possesses an extensive repertoire of carbohydrate structures that decorate both protein and non-protein surface-exposed structures. An N-linked glycosylation system encoded by the pgl gene cluster mediates the synthesis of a rigidly conserved heptasaccharide that is attached to protein substrates or released as free oligosaccharide in the periplasm. Removal of N-glycosylation results in reduced virulence and impeded host cell attachment. Since the N-glycan is conserved, the N-glycosylation system is also an attractive option for glycoengineering recombinant vaccines in Escherichia coli. To determine whether non-canonical N-glycans are present in C. jejuni, we utilized high throughput glycoproteomics to characterize C. jejuni JHH1 and identified 93 glycosylation sites, including 34 not previously reported. Interrogation of these data allowed the identification of a phosphoethanolamine (pEtN)-modified variant of the N-glycan that was attached to multiple proteins. The pEtN moiety was attached to the terminal GalNAc of the canonical N-glycan. Deletion of the pEtN transferase eptC removed all evidence of the pEtN-glycan but did not globally influence protein reactivity to patient sera, whereas deletion of the pglB oligosaccharyltransferase significantly reduced reactivity. Transfer of eptC and the pgl gene cluster to E. coli confirmed the addition of the pEtN-glycan to a target C. jejuni protein. Significantly reduced, yet above background levels of pEtN-glycan were also observed in E. coli not expressing eptC, suggesting that endogenous E. coli pEtN transferases can mediate the addition of pEtN to N-glycans. The addition of pEtN must be considered in the context of glycoengineering and may alter C. jejuni glycan-mediated structure-function interactions.
Lateral gene transfer (LGT) impacts on the evolution of prokaryotes in both the short and long-term. The short-term impacts of mobilized genes are a concern to humans since LGT explains the global rise of multi drug resistant pathogens seen in the past 70 years. However, LGT has been a feature of prokaryotes from the earliest days of their existence and the concept of a bifurcating tree of life is not entirely applicable to prokaryotes since most genes in extant prokaryotic genomes have probably been acquired from other lineages. Successful transfer and maintenance of a gene in a new host is understandable if it acts independently of cell networks and confers an advantage. Antibiotic resistance provides an example of this whereby a gene can be advantageous in virtually any cell across broad species backgrounds. In a longer evolutionary context however laterally transferred genes can be assimilated into even essential cell networks. How this happens is not well understood and we discuss recent work that identifies a mobile gene, unique to a cell lineage, which is detrimental to the cell when lost. We also present some additional data and believe our emerging model will be helpful in understanding how mobile genes integrate into cell networks.
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