Intracellular killing of Streptococcus pneumoniae is complemented by induction of macrophage apoptosis. Here, we show that the toxin pneumolysin (PLY) contributes both to lysosomal/phagolysosomal membrane permeabilization (LMP), an upstream event programing susceptibility to apoptosis, and to apoptosis execution via a mitochondrial pathway, through distinct mechanisms. PLY is necessary but not sufficient for the maximal induction of LMP and apoptosis. PLY's ability to induce both LMP and apoptosis is independent of its ability to form cytolytic pores and requires only the first three domains of PLY. LMP involves TLR (Toll-like receptor) but not NLRP3/ASC (nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain [Nod]-like receptor family, pyrin domain-containing protein 3/apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain) signaling and is part of a PLY-dependent but phagocytosis-independent host response that includes the production of cytokines, including interleukin-1 beta (IL-1?). LMP involves progressive and selective permeability to 40-kDa but not to 250-kDa fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labeled dextran, as PLY accumulates in the cytoplasm. In contrast, the PLY-dependent execution of apoptosis requires phagocytosis and is part of a host response to intracellular bacteria that also includes NO generation. In cells challenged with PLY-deficient bacteria, reconstitution of LMP using the lysomotrophic detergent LeuLeuOMe favored cell necrosis whereas PLY reconstituted apoptosis. The results suggest that PLY contributes to macrophage activation and cytokine production but also engages LMP. Following bacterial phagocytosis, PLY triggers apoptosis and prevents macrophage necrosis as a component of a broad-based antimicrobial strategy. This illustrates how a key virulence factor can become the focus of a multilayered and coordinated innate response by macrophages, optimizing pathogen clearance and limiting inflammation.
Alterations in whole genome expression profiles following exposure of the pneumococcus (strain 172, serotype 23F) to cigarette smoke condensate (160??g/mL) for 15 and 60?min have been determined using the TIGR4 DNA microarray chip. Exposure to CSC resulted in the significant (P<0.014-0.0006) upregulation of the genes encoding the two-component regulatory system 11 (TCS11), consisting of the sensor kinase, hk11, and its cognate response regulator, rr11, in the setting of increased biofilm formation. These effects of cigarette smoke on the pneumococcus may contribute to colonization of the airways by this microbial pathogen.
To demonstrate that vaginal delivery is a safe alternative to hysterotomy when planning pregnancy termination of late-second-trimester conjoined twins. We present two cases of conjoined twins in the late second trimester desiring pregnancy termination.
OBJECTIVES: The number of cochlear implant recipients throughout the world is set to increase markedly. Surgical diathermy used inappropriately in the head and neck region can be damaging to implant electronics and may irreversibly damage the remaining auditory neural pathways. Safety guidelines have been published but many non-implant surgeons are unaware of their existence. We aimed to examine this issue from the patients perspective. METHODS: A questionnaire was supplied to 50 adults and the parents of 50 implanted children registered at the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre. RESULTS: Adults: Forty-six percent felt that non-implant surgeons would be aware of the diathermy restrictions. Only one patient had undergone subsequent surgery. Eighty-six percent still possess their implant identification (ID) card, and 71% carry it with them. Seventy-seven percent felt that if they required surgery they would show their implant ID card and raise the diathermy issue. Parents: Although 76% of parents believed that surgeons would be unaware of the diathermy restrictions, none of the 12% of parents whose children underwent subsequent surgery had highlighted the issue to their surgeon. Eighty-four percent of the parents/children possessed their ID card. While only 8% of parents ensured that their child carried it at all times, a further 12% reported in free text that they carry the card on behalf of their children. CONCLUSION: Diathermy use in cochlear implant recipients is a significant patient safety issue. There is a role for further education of patients and surgeons, for better utilization of the ID card, and for increased clarity on manufacturers websites.
Evolutionary theory predicts that dioecious species should produce a balanced primary sex ratio maintained by frequency-dependent selection. Organisms with environmental sex determination, however, are vulnerable to maladaptive sex ratios, because environmental conditions vary spatio-temporally. For reptiles with temperature-dependent sex determination, nest-site choice is a behavioural maternal effect that could respond to sex-ratio selection, as mothers could adjust offspring sex ratios by choosing nest sites that will have particular thermal properties. This theoretical prediction has generated decades of empirical research, yet convincing evidence that sex-ratio selection is influencing nesting behaviours remains absent. Here, we provide the first experimental evidence from nature that sex-ratio selection, rather than only viability selection, is probably an important component of nest-site choice in a reptile with temperature-dependent sex determination. We compare painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) neonates from maternally selected nest sites with those from randomly selected nest sites, observing no substantive difference in hatching success or survival, but finding a profound difference in offspring sex ratio in the direction expected based on historical records. Additionally, we leverage long-term data to reconstruct our sex ratio results had the experiment been repeated in multiple years. As predicted by theory, our results suggest that sex-ratio selection has shaped nesting behaviour in ways likely to enhance maternal fitness.
Recent findings associated with resting-state cortical networks have provided insight into the brains organizational structure. In addition to their neuroscientific implications, the networks identified by resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) may prove useful for clinical brain mapping.
Streptococcus pneumoniae diseases are a rare but increasingly recognized trigger of atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) in young children and associated with a higher mortality rate than diarrhoea-associated HUS. This study aimed to determine the importance of neuraminidase A (NanA) and genomic diversity in the pathogenesis of pneumococcal HUS (pHUS). We investigated the nanA gene sequence, gene expression, neuraminidase activity and comparative genomic hybridization of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) isolates from patients with pHUS and control strains matched by serotype and sequence type (ST), isolated from patients with IPD but not pHUS. The nanA sequence of 33 isolates was determined and mutations at 142 aa positions were identified. High levels of diversity were observed within the NanA protein, with mosaic blocks, insertions and repeat regions present. When comparing nanA allelic diversity with ST and disease profile in the isolates tested, nanA alleles clustered mostly by ST. No particular nanA allele was associated with pHUS. There was no significant difference in overall neuraminidase activity between pHUS isolates and controls when induced/uninduced with N-acetylneuraminic acid. Comparative genomic hybridization showed little difference in genetic content between the pHUS isolates and the controls. Results of gene expression studies identified 12 genes differentially regulated in all pHUS isolates compared with the control. Although neuraminidase enzyme activity may be important in pHUS progression and contribute to pathogenesis, the lack of a distinction between pHUS isolates and controls suggests that host factors, such as acquired abnormalities of the alternative complement cascade in young children, may play a more significant role in the outcome of pHUS.
Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) meningitis is a common bacterial infection of the brain. The cholesterol-dependent cytolysin pneumolysin represents a key factor, determining the neuropathogenic potential of the pneumococci. Here, we demonstrate selective synaptic loss within the superficial layers of the frontal neocortex of post-mortem brain samples from individuals with pneumococcal meningitis. A similar effect was observed in mice with pneumococcal meningitis only when the bacteria expressed the pore-forming cholesterol-dependent cytolysin pneumolysin. Exposure of acute mouse brain slices to only pore-competent pneumolysin at disease-relevant, non-lytic concentrations caused permanent dendritic swelling, dendritic spine elimination and synaptic loss. The NMDA glutamate receptor antagonists MK801 and D-AP5 reduced this pathology. Pneumolysin increased glutamate levels within the mouse brain slices. In mouse astrocytes, pneumolysin initiated the release of glutamate in a calcium-dependent manner. We propose that pneumolysin plays a significant synapto- and dendritotoxic role in pneumococcal meningitis by initiating glutamate release from astrocytes, leading to subsequent glutamate-dependent synaptic damage. We outline for the first time the occurrence of synaptic pathology in pneumococcal meningitis and demonstrate that a bacterial cytolysin can dysregulate the control of glutamate in the brain, inducing excitotoxic damage.
Identifying the relative contributions of genetic, maternal, and environmental factors to phenotypic variation is critical for evaluating the evolutionary potential of fitness-related traits. We employed a novel two-step cross-fostering experiment to quantify the relative contributions of clutch (i.e., maternal identity) and maternally chosen nest sites to phenotypic variation during three early life stages (incubation, hibernation, dispersal) of the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta). By translocating eggs between nests in the field, we demonstrated that both clutch and nest site contribute to phenotypic variation at hatching. Because hatchling C. picta hibernate inside nests, we performed a second cross-foster to decouple the effects of the incubation nest with that of the hibernation nest. Incubation nest explained little variation in phenotypes at spring emergence, but winter nest site was important. We found no evidence that mothers select nest sites specific to reaction norms of their own offspring, suggesting that females may select nest sites with microhabitats that broadly meet similar requirements across the population. After hibernation, we released hatchlings to assess performance and phenotypic selection during dispersal. Hibernation nest site influenced physiological performance during dispersal, and we detected nonlinear selection on hatchling carapace length. Our experiment demonstrates that nest-site choice has substantial effects on phenotypic variation and fitness across multiple early life stages.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a standard part of a cochlear implant assessment in most centres. While there is ample literature on the temporal bone-specific imaging that is required, the role of whole brain imaging has not been as fully studied. We present the first report of the incidence of associated brain abnormalities in the whole cochlear implant population, including adults and consider their significance.
The success of Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) as a pulmonary pathogen is related to its restriction of innate immune responses by respiratory epithelial cells. The mechanisms used to overcome this restriction are incompletely elucidated. Pulmonary chemokine expression involves complex cellular and molecular networks, involving the pulmonary epithelium, but the specific cellular interactions and the cytokines that control them are incompletely defined. We show that serotype 2 or 4 pneumococci induce only modest levels of CXCL8 expression from epithelial cell lines, even in the absence of a polysaccharide capsule. In contrast, coculture of A549 cells with the macrophage-like THP-1 cell line, differentiated with vitamin D, or monocyte-derived macrophages enhanced CXCL8 release. Supernatants from the THP-1 cell line prime A549 cells to release CXCL8 at levels similar to cocultures. Interleukin-1Ra (IL-1Ra) inhibits CXCL8 release from cocultures and reduces the activity of macrophage-conditioned media, but inhibition of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-?) had only a minimal effect on CXCL8 release. Release of IL-1? but not TNF-? was upregulated in cocultures. IL-1 type 1 receptor knockout C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice confirmed the importance of IL-1 signaling in CXC chemokine expression and neutrophil recruitment in vivo. In fulminant disease, increased IL-1 signaling resulted in increased neutrophils in the airway and more invasive disease. These results demonstrate that IL-1 is an important component of the cellular network involving macrophages and epithelial cells, which facilitates CXC chemokine expression and aids neutrophil recruitment during pneumococcal pneumonia. They also highlight a potential clinical role for anti-IL-1 treatment to limit excessive neutrophilic inflammation in the lung.
Streptococcus pneumoniae causes serious diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis. Its major pathogenic factor is the cholesterol-dependent cytolysin pneumolysin, which produces lytic pores at high concentrations. At low concentrations, it has other effects, including induction of apoptosis. Many cellular effects of pneumolysin appear to be calcium dependent.
Astrocytes represent a major component of brain tissue and play a critical role in the proper functioning and protection of the brain. Streptococcus pneumoniae, the most common cause of bacterial meningitis, has a high lethality and causes serious disabilities in survivors. Pneumolysin (PLY), a member of the cholesterol-dependent cytolysin group and a major S. pneumoniae neurotoxin, causes deterioration over the course of experimental S. pneumoniae meningitis. At disease-relevant sub-lytic concentrations, PLY produces actin and tubulin reorganization and astrocyte cell shape changes in vitro. In this article, we show that sub-lytic amounts of PLY remodel brain tissue and produce astrocytic process retraction, cortical astroglial reorganization and increased interstitial fluid retention, which is manifested as tissue edema. These changes caused increased tissue permeability to macromolecules and bacteria. The pore-forming capacity of PLY remained necessary for these changes because none of the nonpore-forming mutants were capable of producing similar effects. We suggest that PLY can increase the permeability of brain tissue toward pathogenic factors and bacteria in the course of meningitis, thus contributing to the deterioration caused by the disease.
The upper respiratory tract mucosa is the location for commensal Streptococcus (S.) pneumoniae colonization and therefore represents a major site of contact between host and bacteria. The CD4(+) T cell response to pneumococcus is increasingly recognised as an important mediator of immunity that protects against invasive disease, with data suggesting a critical role for Th17 cells in mucosal clearance. By assessing CD4 T cell proliferative responses we demonstrate age-related sequestration of Th1 and Th17 CD4(+) T cells reactive to pneumococcal protein antigens within mucosal lymphoid tissue. CD25(hi) T cell depletion and utilisation of pneumococcal specific MHCII tetramers revealed the presence of antigen specific Tregs that utilised CTLA-4 and PDL-1 surface molecules to suppress these responses. The balance between mucosal effector and regulatory CD4(+) T cell immunity is likely to be critical to pneumococcal commensalism and the prevention of unwanted pathology associated with carriage. However, if dysregulated, such responses may render the host more susceptible to invasive pneumococcal infection and adversely affect the successful implementation of both polysaccharide-conjugate and novel protein-based pneumococcal vaccines.
We report on the comparative genomics and characterization of the virulence phenotypes of four S. pneumoniae strains that belong to the multidrug resistant clone PMEN1 (Spain(23F) ST81). Strains SV35-T23 and SV36-T3 were recovered in 1996 from the nasopharynx of patients at an AIDS hospice in New York. Strain SV36-T3 expressed capsule type 3 which is unusual for this clone and represents the product of an in vivo capsular switch event. A third PMEN1 isolate - PN4595-T23 - was recovered in 1996 from the nasopharynx of a child attending day care in Portugal, and a fourth strain - ATCC700669 - was originally isolated from a patient with pneumococcal disease in Spain in 1984. We compared the genomes among four PMEN1 strains and 47 previously sequenced pneumococcal isolates for gene possession differences and allelic variations within core genes. In contrast to the 47 strains - representing a variety of clonal types - the four PMEN1 strains grouped closely together, demonstrating high genomic conservation within this lineage relative to the rest of the species. In the four PMEN1 strains allelic and gene possession differences were clustered into 18 genomic regions including the capsule, the blp bacteriocins, erythromycin resistance, the MM1-2008 prophage and multiple cell wall anchored proteins. In spite of their genomic similarity, the high resolution chinchilla model was able to detect variations in virulence properties of the PMEN1 strains highlighting how small genic or allelic variation can lead to significant changes in pathogenicity and making this set of strains ideal for the identification of novel virulence determinants.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading cause of pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. Pneumococci can be divided into >90 serotypes that show differences in the pathogenicity and invasiveness. We tested the hypotheses that the innate immune inflammasome pathway is involved in fighting pneumococcal pneumonia and that some invasive pneumococcal types are not recognized by this pathway. We show that human and murine mononuclear cells responded to S. pneumoniae expressing hemolytic pneumolysin by producing IL-1?. This IL-1? production depended on the NOD-like receptor family, pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome. Some serotype 1, serotype 8, and serotype 7F bacteria, which have previously been associated with increased invasiveness and with production of toxins with reduced hemolytic activity, or bacterial mutants lacking pneumolysin did not stimulate notable IL-1? production. We further found that NLRP3 was beneficial for mice during pneumonia caused by pneumococci expressing hemolytic pneumolysin and was involved in cytokine production and maintenance of the pulmonary microvascular barrier. Overall, the inflammasome pathway is protective in pneumonia caused by pneumococci expressing hemolytic toxin but is not activated by clinically important pneumococcal sequence types causing invasive disease. The study indicates that a virulence factor polymorphism may substantially affect the recognition of bacteria by the innate immune system.
Epidemiological studies of the naturally transformable bacterial pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae have previously been confounded by high rates of recombination. Sequencing 240 isolates of the PMEN1 (Spain(23F)-1) multidrug-resistant lineage enabled base substitutions to be distinguished from polymorphisms arising through horizontal sequence transfer. More than 700 recombinations were detected, with genes encoding major antigens frequently affected. Among these were 10 capsule-switching events, one of which accompanied a population shift as vaccine-escape serotype 19A isolates emerged in the USA after the introduction of the conjugate polysaccharide vaccine. The evolution of resistance to fluoroquinolones, rifampicin, and macrolides was observed to occur on multiple occasions. This study details how genomic plasticity within lineages of recombinogenic bacteria can permit adaptation to clinical interventions over remarkably short time scales.
The bactericidal function of macrophages against pneumococci is enhanced by their apoptotic demise, which is controlled by the anti-apoptotic protein Mcl-1. Here, we show that lysosomal membrane permeabilization (LMP) and cytosolic translocation of activated cathepsin D occur prior to activation of a mitochondrial pathway of macrophage apoptosis. Pharmacological inhibition or knockout of cathepsin D during pneumococcal infection blocked macrophage apoptosis. As a result of cathepsin D activation, Mcl-1 interacted with its ubiquitin ligase Mule and expression declined. Inhibition of cathepsin D had no effect on early bacterial killing but inhibited the late phase of apoptosis-associated killing of pneumococci in vitro. Mice bearing a cathepsin D(-/-) hematopoietic system demonstrated reduced macrophage apoptosis in vivo, with decreased clearance of pneumococci and enhanced recruitment of neutrophils to control pulmonary infection. These findings establish an unexpected role for a cathepsin D-mediated lysosomal pathway of apoptosis in pulmonary host defense and underscore the importance of apoptosis-associated microbial killing to macrophage function.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a common pathogen that causes various infections, such as sepsis and meningitis. A major pathogenic factor of S. pneumoniae is the cholesterol-dependent cytolysin, pneumolysin. It produces cell lysis at high concentrations and apoptosis at lower concentrations. We have shown that sublytic amounts of pneumolysin induce small GTPase-dependent actin cytoskeleton reorganization and microtubule stabilization in human neuroblastoma cells that are manifested by cell retraction and changes in cell shape. In this study, we utilized a live imaging approach to analyze the role of pneumolysins pore-forming capacity in the actin-dependent cell shape changes in primary astrocytes. After the initial challenge with the wild-type toxin, a permeabilized cell population was rapidly established within 20-40 minutes. After the initial rapid permeabilization, the size of the permeabilized population remained unchanged and reached a plateau. Thus, we analyzed the non-permeabilized (non-lytic) population, which demonstrated retraction and shape changes that were inhibited by actin depolymerization. Despite the non-lytic nature of pneumolysin treatment, the toxins lytic capacity remained critical for the initiation of cell shape changes. The non-lytic pneumolysin mutants W433F-pneumolysin and delta6-pneumolysin, which bind the cell membrane with affinities similar to that of the wild-type toxin, were not able to induce shape changes. The initiation of cell shape changes and cell retraction by the wild-type toxin were independent of calcium and sodium influx and membrane depolarization, which are known to occur following cellular challenge and suggested to result from the ion channel-like properties of the pneumolysin pores. Excluding the major pore-related phenomena as the initiation mechanism of cell shape changes, the existence of a more complex relationship between the pore-forming capacity of pneumolysin and the actin cytoskeleton reorganization is suggested.
Data from 4727 invasive isolates of Streptococcus pneumoniae submitted to the Scottish Haemophilus, Legionella, Meningococcus and Pneumococcus Reference Laboratory between 1999 and 2007 were analysed to establish susceptibility profiles to penicillin, erythromycin and cefotaxime. Pneumococcal resistance to penicillin over the study period remained low, with only 0.2?% (n=7/4727) of isolates falling into this category (MIC ?2?mg l(-1)). These isolates have been sporadic, and have mainly represented serogroup 14 (ST9) and 9 (ST156). In comparison, the intermediate sensitivity group (MIC 0.12-1?mg l(-1)) ranged between 2 and 6?% per year, the majority from serogroup 9 (ST156). Over the study period, we found that 12?% (n=585/4727) of isolates were erythromycin-resistant (MIC >0.5?mg l(-1)), with the majority (n=467; 80?%) of these isolates identified as serogroup 14 (ST9). Cephalosporin resistance (cefotaxime MIC >1?mg l(-1)) was found in only 0.06?% (n=2/3135) of isolates. Internationally recognized clones (Pneumococcal Molecular Epidemiology Network) accounted for 35?% (n=28/81) of the penicillin non-susceptible isolates and 75?% (n=248/330) of the macrolide-resistant isolates, with ST9 and ST306 predominating. Between 1999 and 2007 we found that 11.6?% (n=18/155) of the penicillin non-susceptible isolates and 4.8?% (n=28/585) of the macrolide-resistant isolates were from serogroups not covered by the 7-valent conjugate pneumococcal vaccine in use in the UK since 2006. Susceptibility to first-line antimicrobial agents for invasive pneumococcal disease in Scotland remained high over the period 1999-2007.
The natural niche of Streptococcus pneumoniae is the nasopharyngeal mucosa and nasopharyngeal carriage of pneumococci is widely prevalent. Pneumolysin (Ply), a pore-forming protein produced by S. pneumonia, may be important in driving the innate immune response of the nasopharynx. We studied the Ply-induced production of CXCL8 by nasopharyngeal cells and further analysed the mechanism of this induction. Detroit nasopharyngeal cells were stimulated with supernatants derived from bacterial cultures of Ply-deficient, wild-type pneumococci and recombinant Ply, and CXCL8 measured by ELISA. The role of MAP kinase family members in Ply-induced CXCL8 production was analysed using specific inhibitors, NF-?B activity was measured by immunoblot and Ply-mediated TLR4 activation analysed by a CXCL8 promotor luciferase assay. Ply significantly increased production of CXCL8 in Detroit and primary nasal cells. Flow cytometric analysis showed that Detroit cells express cell surface TLR4. CXCL8 production was dependent on changes in the intracellular Ca(2+) levels and also by NF-?B via activation of TLR4, and MAP kinase signalling. Ply induces production of CXCL8 by nasopharyngeal cells using signalling mechanisms involving Ca(2+) mobilisation and activation of MAPK and NF-?B via TLR4. This may be important in regulating nasopharyngeal immunity against pneumococcal colonization.
Knowledge of the epidemiology of pneumococcal disease in Bolivia is sparse, and Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST) of isolates has not been previously possible. Beni state has until recently been a geographically isolated region of the Bolivian Amazon basin and is a region of significant poverty. During June and July 2007, we performed a pneumococcal carriage study recruiting over 600 schoolchildren in two towns in the Beni state. Here, we describe the unique identification of simultaneous nasopharyngeal carriage of two pneumococcal multilocus sequence types with a serotype 3 phenotype within a single subject.
The association between plasmid DNA distribution, the amount of Ag produced, Ag persistence and the identity and localisation of cells presenting DNA-encoded Ag all have important consequences for both quantitative and qualitative aspects of T cell responses induced by DNA vaccines. Using a variety of approaches to detect and quantify the uptake of injected DNA, and the production and presentation of DNA-encoded antigen, we report that injected DNA vaccines rapidly enter the peripheral blood from the injection site and also reach muscle-draining lymph nodes directly as free DNA. 24h after plasmid injection, MHCII(+)CD11b(+)B220(-)CD11c(low/-) cells in the draining and distal LNs and spleen contain pDNA. Interestingly, we also observed pDNA(+)MHCII(low/-)CD11b(+) within the bone marrow. Concomitantly, we detected Ag-containing/expressing cells at both the injection site and in draining lymph nodes. Three days after plasmid injection we detected rare pMHC(+)CD11c(+) cells within secondary lymphoid tissue and simultaneously observed Ag-specific CD4(+) T cell accumulation and blastogenesis in these tissues. Our results show that the events that determine the induction of DNA vaccine immune responses occur within days of DNA injection and that the response becomes systemic very rapidly, possibly with involvement from resident BM cells.
Streptococcus pneumoniae may evade complement activity by binding of factor H (FH), a negative regulator of the alternative pathway, to the surface protein PspC. However, existing data on the effects of FH binding to PspC on complement activity are conflicting, and there is also considerable allelic variation in PspC structure between S. pneumoniae strains that may influence PspC-dependent effects on complement. We have investigated interactions with complement for several S. pneumoniae strains in which the gene encoding PspC has been deleted. The degree of FH binding varied between strains and was entirely dependent on PspC for seven strains. Data obtained with TIGR4 strains expressing different capsular serotypes suggest that FH binding is affected by capsular serotype. Results of immunoblot analysis for C3 degradation products and iC3b deposition assays suggested that FH bound to PspC retained functional activity, but loss of PspC had strikingly varied effects on C3b/iC3b deposition on S. pneumoniae, with large increases on serotype 4, 6A, 6B, and 9V strains but only small increases or even decreases on serotype 2, 3, 17, and 23F strains. Repeating C3b/iC3b assays with TIGR4 strains expressing different capsular serotypes suggested that differences in the effect of PspC on C3b/iC3b deposition were largely independent of capsular serotype and depend on strain background. However, data obtained from infection in complement-deficient mice demonstrated that differences between strains in the effects of PspC on complement surprisingly did not influence the development of septicemia.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading cause of vaccine-preventable disease worldwide. Pneumococcal protein antigens are currently under study as components of potential vaccines that offer protection against multiple serotypes. We have therefore characterized T cell pneumococcal immunity acquired through asymptomatic carriage.
Severe pneumococcal pneumonia frequently causes respiratory failure. Both pathogen factors and an uncontrolled host response may contribute to acute lung injury by impairing microvascular barrier function. Phosphodiesterase 2 (PDE2) was examined as a potential target in pneumonia-induced lung microvascular hyperpermeability.
Learned associations between effects of abused drugs and the drug administration environment are important in drug addiction. Histochemical and electrophysiological studies suggest that these associations are encoded in sparsely distributed nucleus accumbens neurons that are selectively activated by drugs and drug-associated cues. Although correlations have been observed between nucleus accumbens neuronal activity and responsivity to drugs and drug cues, no technique exists for selectively manipulating these activated neurons and establishing their causal role in behavioral effects of drugs and drug cues. Here we describe a new approach, which we term the Daun02 inactivation method, that selectively inactivates a minority of neurons previously activated by cocaine in an environment repeatedly paired with cocaine to demonstrate a causal role for these activated neurons in context-specific cocaine-induced psychomotor sensitization in rats. This method provides a new tool for studying the causal roles of selectively activated neurons in behavioral effects of drugs and drug cues and in other learned behaviors.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most frequent cause of bacterial meningitis, leading to permanent neurological damage in 30% and lethal outcome in 25% of patients. The cholesterol-dependent cytolysin pneumolysin is a major virulence factor of S. pneumoniae. It produces rapid cell lysis at higher concentrations or apoptosis at lower concentrations. Here, we show that sublytic amounts of pneumolysin produce rapid bundling and increased acetylation of microtubules (signs of excessive microtubule stabilization) in various types of cells--neuroblastoma cells, fibroblasts and primary astrocytes. The bundling started perinuclearly and extended peripherally towards the membrane. The effect was not connected to pneumolysins capacity to mediate calcium influx, macropore formation, apoptosis, or RhoA and Rac1 activation. Cellular cholesterol depletion and neutralization of the toxin by pre-incubation with cholesterol completely inhibited the microtubule phenotype. Pharmacological inhibition of Src-family kinases diminished microtubule bundling, suggesting their involvement in the process. The relevance of microtubule stabilization to meningitis was confirmed in an experimental pneumococcal meningitis animal model, where increased acetylation was observed. Live imaging experiments demonstrated a decrease in organelle motility after toxin challenge in a manner comparable to the microtubule-stabilizing agent taxol, thus proposing a possible pathogenic mechanism that might contribute to the CNS damage in pneumococcal meningitis.
The unique species specificity of the bacterial cytolysin intermedilysin is explained by its requirement for the human complement regulator CD59 as the primary receptor. Binding studies using individual domains of intermedilysin mapped the CD59-binding site to domain 4 and swap mutants between human and rabbit (non-intermedilysin-binding) CD59 implicated a short sequence (residues 42-59) in human CD59 in binding intermedilysin. We set out to map more closely the CD59 binding site in intermedilysin. We first looked for regions of homology between domain 4 in intermedilysin and the terminal complement components that bind CD59, C8 and C9. A nine amino acid sequence immediately adjacent the undecapeptide segment in intermedilysin domain 4 matched (5 of 9 identical, 3 of 9 conserved) a sequence in C9. A peptide containing this sequence caused dose-dependent inhibition of intermedilysin-mediated lysis of human erythrocytes and rendered erythrocytes more susceptible to complement lysis. Surface plasmon resonance analysis of intermedilysin binding to immobilized CD59 revealed saturable fast-on, fast-off binding and a calculated affinity of 4.9 nM. Substitution of three residues from the putative binding site caused a 5-fold reduction in lytic potency of intermedilysin and reduced affinity for immobilized CD59 by 2.5-fold. The demonstration that a peptide modeled on the CD59-binding site inhibits intermedilysin-mediated haemolysis leads us to suggest that such peptides might be useful in treating infections caused by intermedilysin-producing bacteria.
The eukaryotic actin cytoskeleton is an evolutionarily well-established pathogen target, as a large number of bacterial factors disturb its dynamics to alter the function of the host cells. These pathogenic factors modulate or mimic actin effector proteins or they modify actin directly, leading to an imbalance of the precisely regulated actin turnover. Here, we show that the pore-forming, cholesterol-dependent cytolysin pneumolysin (PLY), a major neurotoxin of Streptococcus pneumoniae, has the capacity to bind actin directly and to enhance actin polymerisation in vitro. In cells, the toxin co-localised with F-actin shortly after exposure, and this direct interaction was verified by Förster resonance energy transfer. PLY was capable of exerting its effect on actin through the lipid bilayer of giant unilamellar vesicles, but only when its pore competence was preserved. The dissociation constant of G-actin binding to PLY in a biochemical environment was 170-190 nM, which is indicative of a high-affinity interaction, comparable to the affinity of other intracellular actin-binding factors. Our results demonstrate the first example of a direct interaction of a pore-forming toxin with cytoskeletal components, suggesting that the cross talk between pore-forming cytolysins and cells is more complex than previously thought.
Orientation and dispersal to suitable habitat affects fitness in many animals, but the factors that govern these behaviors are poorly understood. In many turtle species, hatchlings must orient and disperse to suitable aquatic habitat immediately after emergence from subterranean nests. Thus, the location of nest sites relative to aquatic habitats ideally should be associated with the direction of hatchling dispersal. At our study site, painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) nest to the west (on an island) and east (on the mainland) of a wetland, which determines the direction that hatchlings must travel to reach suitable aquatic habitat. To determine if hatchling orientation is intrinsically influenced by the location where their mothers nest, we employed a two-part cross-fostering experiment in the field, whereby half the eggs laid in mainland nests were swapped with half the eggs laid in island nests. Moreover, because C. picta hatchlings overwinter inside their nests, we performed a second cross-fostering experiment to fully decouple the effects of (1) the maternally chosen nest location, (2) the embryonic developmental location, and (3) the overwinter location. We released hatchlings into a circular arena in the field and found that turtles generally dispersed in a westerly direction, regardless of the maternally chosen nest location and independent of the locations of embryonic development and overwintering. Although this westerly direction was towards suitable aquatic habitat, we could not distinguish whether naïve hatchling turtles (i) use environmental cues/stimuli to orient their movement, or (ii) have an intrinsic bias to orient west in the absence of stimuli. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the orientation behavior of naïve hatchling turtles during terrestrial dispersal is not dependent upon the location of maternally-chosen nest sites.
Vaccines including conserved antigens from Streptococcus pneumoniae and nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) have the potential to reduce the burden of acute otitis media. Little is known about the antibody response to such antigens in young children with recurrent acute otitis media, however, it has been suggested antibody production may be impaired in these children.
Lipoproteins are an important class of surface associated proteins that have diverse roles and frequently are involved in the virulence of bacterial pathogens. As prolipoproteins are attached to the cell membrane by a single enzyme, prolipoprotein diacylglyceryl transferase (Lgt), deletion of the corresponding gene potentially allows the characterisation of the overall importance of lipoproteins for specific bacterial functions. We have used a ?lgt mutant strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae to investigate the effects of loss of lipoprotein attachment on cation acquisition, growth in media containing specific carbon sources, and virulence in different infection models. Immunoblots of triton X-114 extracts, flow cytometry and immuno-fluorescence microscopy confirmed the ?lgt mutant had markedly reduced lipoprotein expression on the cell surface. The ?lgt mutant had reduced growth in cation depleted medium, increased sensitivity to oxidative stress, reduced zinc uptake, and reduced intracellular levels of several cations. Doubling time of the ?lgt mutant was also increased slightly when grown in medium with glucose, raffinose and maltotriose as sole carbon sources. These multiple defects in cation and sugar ABC transporter function for the ?lgt mutant were associated with only slightly delayed growth in complete medium. However the ?lgt mutant had significantly reduced growth in blood or bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and a marked impairment in virulence in mouse models of nasopharyngeal colonisation, sepsis and pneumonia. These data suggest that for S. pneumoniae loss of surface localisation of lipoproteins has widespread effects on ABC transporter functions that collectively prevent the ?lgt mutant from establishing invasive infection.
Vaccination and antimicrobial therapy remain the cornerstones of the management of pneumococcal pneumonia. Despite significant successes, the capacity of the pneumococcus to evolve in the face of the selective pressure of anticapsular immunity challenges immunization programs. Treatment focuses on antimicrobial therapy but ignores the central role of the dysregulated inflammatory response during pneumonia. Future therapeutic approaches need to build on the considerable recent advances in our understanding of the pathogenesis of pneumococcal pneumonia, including those from models of pneumonia. Enhancement of the essential components of the host response that prevents most colonized individuals from developing pneumonia and strategies to limit inappropriate inflammatory responses to lower respiratory tract infection are approaches that could be exploited to improve disease outcome. This review highlights recent discoveries relating to the microbial and host determinants of microbial clearance and regulation of the inflammatory response, which provide clues as to how this could be achieved in the future.
Monocytes and T-cells are critical to the host response to acute bacterial infection but monocytes are primarily viewed as amplifying the inflammatory signal. The mechanisms of cell death regulating T-cell numbers at sites of infection are incompletely characterized. T-cell death in cultures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) showed classic features of apoptosis following exposure to pneumococci. Conversely, purified CD3(+) T-cells cultured with pneumococci demonstrated necrosis with membrane permeabilization. The death of purified CD3(+) T-cells was not inhibited by necrostatin, but required the bacterial toxin pneumolysin. Apoptosis of CD3(+) T-cells in PBMC cultures required classical CD14(+) monocytes, which enhanced T-cell activation. CD3(+) T-cell death was enhanced in HIV-seropositive individuals. Monocyte-mediated CD3(+) T-cell apoptotic death was Fas-dependent both in vitro and in vivo. In the early stages of the T-cell dependent host response to pneumococci reduced Fas ligand mediated T-cell apoptosis was associated with decreased bacterial clearance in the lung and increased bacteremia. In summary monocytes converted pathogen-associated necrosis into Fas-dependent apoptosis and regulated levels of activated T-cells at sites of acute bacterial infection. These changes were associated with enhanced bacterial clearance in the lung and reduced levels of invasive pneumococcal disease.
Antibiotics-induced release of the pore-forming virulence factor pneumolysin (PLY) in patients with pneumococcal pneumonia results in its presence days after lungs are sterile and is a major factor responsible for the induction of permeability edema. Here we sought to identify major mechanisms mediating PLY-induced endothelial dysfunction. We evaluated PLY-induced endothelial hyperpermeability in human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HL-MVECs) and human lung pulmonary artery endothelial cells in vitro and in mice instilled intratracheally with PLY. PLY increases permeability in endothelial monolayers by reducing stable and dynamic microtubule content and modulating VE-cadherin expression. These events, dependent upon an increased calcium influx, are preceded by protein kinase C (PKC)-? activation, perturbation of the RhoA/Rac1 balance, and an increase in myosin light chain phosphorylation. At later time points, PLY treatment increases the expression and activity of arginase in HL-MVECs. Arginase inhibition abrogates and suppresses PLY-induced endothelial barrier dysfunction by restoring NO generation. Consequently, a specific PKC-? inhibitor and the TNF-derived tonoplast intrinsic protein peptide, which blunts PLY-induced PKC-? activation, are able to prevent activation of arginase in HL-MVECs and to reduce PLY-induced endothelial hyperpermeability in mice. Arginase I (AI)(+/-)/arginase II (AII)(-/-) C57BL/6 mice, displaying a significantly reduced arginase I expression in the lungs, are significantly less sensitive to PLY-induced capillary leak than their wild-type or AI(+/+)/AII(-/-) counterparts, indicating an important role for arginase I in PLY-induced endothelial hyperpermeability. These results identify PKC-? and arginase I as potential upstream and downstream therapeutic targets in PLY-induced pulmonary endothelial dysfunction.
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