Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in women, and recurrence is a major clinical problem. Most UTIs are caused by uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC). UPEC are generally thought to migrate from the gut to the bladder to cause UTI. UPEC form specialized intracellular bacterial communities in the bladder urothelium as part of a pathogenic mechanism to establish a foothold during acute stages of infection. Evolutionarily, such a specific adaptation to the bladder environment would be predicted to result in decreased fitness in other habitats, such as the gut. To examine this prediction, we characterized 45 E. coli strains isolated from the feces and urine of four otherwise healthy women with recurrent UTI. Multilocus sequence typing and whole genome sequencing revealed that two patients maintained a clonal population in both these body habitats throughout their recurrent UTIs, whereas the other two exhibited a wholesale shift in the dominant UPEC strain colonizing both sites. In vivo competition studies in mouse models, using isolates taken from one of the patients with a wholesale population shift, revealed that the strain that dominated her last UTI episode had increased fitness in both the gut and the bladder relative to the strain that dominated in preceding episodes. Increased fitness correlated with differences in the strains gene repertoires and carbohydrate and amino acid utilization profiles. Thus, UPEC appear capable of persisting in both the gut and urinary tract without a fitness trade-off, emphasizing the need to widen our consideration of potential reservoirs for strains causing recurrent UTI.
Environmental biofilms often contain mixed populations of different species. In these dense communities, competition between biofilm residents for limited nutrients such as iron can be fierce, leading to the evolution of competitive factors that affect the ability of competitors to grow or form biofilms. We have discovered a compound(s) present in the conditioned culture fluids of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that disperses and inhibits the formation of biofilms produced by the facultative plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The inhibitory activity is strongly induced when P. aeruginosa is cultivated in iron-limited conditions, but it does not function through iron sequestration. In addition, the production of the biofilm inhibitory activity is not regulated by the global iron regulatory protein Fur, the iron-responsive extracytoplasmic function ? factor PvdS, or three of the recognized P. aeruginosa quorum-sensing systems. In addition, the compound(s) responsible for the inhibition and dispersal of A. tumefaciens biofilm formation is likely distinct from the recently identified P. aeruginosa dispersal factor, cis-2-decenoic acid (CDA), as dialysis of the culture fluids showed that the inhibitory compound was larger than CDA and culture fluids that dispersed and inhibited biofilm formation by A. tumefaciens had no effect on biofilm formation by P. aeruginosa.
The plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens encodes predicted iron-responsive regulators, Irr and RirA, that function in several other bacteria to control the response to environmental iron levels. Deletion mutations of irr and rirA, alone and in combination, were evaluated for their impact on cellular iron response. Growth was severely diminished in the ?irr mutant under iron-limiting conditions, but reversed to wild-type levels in an ?irr ?rirA mutant. The level of uncomplexed iron in the ?irr mutant was decreased, whereas the ?rirA mutant exhibited elevated iron levels. Sensitivity of the ?irr and ?rirA mutants to iron-activated antimicrobial compounds generally reflected their uncomplexed-iron levels. Expression of genes that encode iron uptake systems was decreased in the ?irr mutant, whereas that of iron utilization genes was increased. Irr function required a trihistidine repeat likely to mediate interactions with heme. Iron uptake genes were derepressed in the ?rirA mutant. In the ?irr ?rirA mutant, iron uptake and utilization genes were derepressed, roughly combining the phenotypes of the single mutants. Siderophore production was elevated in the rirA mutant, but most strongly regulated by an RirA-controlled sigma factor. Expression of rirA itself was regulated by Irr, RirA, and iron availability, in contrast to irr expression, which was relatively stable in the different mutants. These studies suggest that in A. tumefaciens, the Irr protein is most active under low-iron conditions, inhibiting iron utilization and activating iron acquisition, while the RirA protein is active under high-iron conditions, repressing iron uptake.
Dickeya dadantii is a plant-pathogenic enterobacterium responsible for the soft rot disease of many plants of economic importance. We present here the sequence of strain 3937, a strain widely used as a model system for research on the molecular biology and pathogenicity of this group of bacteria.
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