• Human Anti-Lipopolysaccharid (LPS) antibodies against Legionella with high species specificity.

      Kuhn, Philipp; Thiem, Stefanie; Steinert, Michael; Purvis, Duncan; Lugmayr, Veronika; Treutlein, Ulrich; Plobner, Lutz; Leiser, Robert-Matthias; Hust, Michael; Dübel, Stefan; et al. (2017-07-19)
      Legionella are Gram-negative bacteria that are ubiquitously present in natural and man-made water reservoirs. When humans inhale aerosolized water contaminated with Legionella, alveolar macrophages can be infected, which may lead to a life-threatening pneumonia called Legionnaires' disease. Due to the universal distribution of Legionella in water and their potential threat to human health, the Legionella concentration in water for human use must be strictly monitored, which is difficult since the standard detection still relies on lengthy cultivation and analysis of bacterial morphology. In this study, an antibody against L. pneumophila has been generated from the naïve human HAL antibody libraries by phage-display for the first time. The panning was performed on whole bacterial cells in order to select antibodies that bind specifically to the cell surface of untreated Legionella. The bacterial cell wall component lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was identified as the target structure. Specific binding to the important pathogenic L. pneumophila strains Corby, Philadelphia-1 and Knoxville was observed, while no binding was detected to seven members of the families Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonadaceae or Clostridiaceae. Production of this antibody in the recombinant scFv-Fc format using either a murine or a human Fc part allowed the set-up of a sandwich-ELISA for detection of Legionella cells. The scFv-Fc construct proved to be very stable, even when stored for several weeks at elevated temperatures. A sensitivity limit of 4,000 cells was achieved. The scFv-Fc antibody pair was integrated on a biosensor, demonstrating the specific and fast detection of L. pneumophila on a portable device. With this system, 10,000 Legionella cells were detected within 35 min. Combined with a water filtration/concentration system, this antibody may be developed into a promising reagent for rapid on-site Legionella monitoring.
    • PilY1 Promotes Legionella pneumophila Infection of Human Lung Tissue Explants and Contributes to Bacterial Adhesion, Host Cell Invasion, and Twitching Motility.

      Hoppe, Julia; Ünal, Can M; Thiem, Stefanie; Grimpe, Louisa; Goldmann, Torsten; Gaßler, Nikolaus; Richter, Matthias; Shevchuk, Olga; Steinert, Michael; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      Legionnaires' disease is an acute fibrinopurulent pneumonia. During infection Legionella pneumophila adheres to the alveolar lining and replicates intracellularly within recruited macrophages. Here we provide a sequence and domain composition analysis of the L. pneumophila PilY1 protein, which has a high homology to PilY1 of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. PilY1 proteins of both pathogens contain a von Willebrand factor A (vWFa) and a C-terminal PilY domain. Using cellular fractionation, we assigned the L. pneumophila PilY1 as an outer membrane protein that is only expressed during the transmissive stationary growth phase. PilY1 contributes to infection of human lung tissue explants (HLTEs). A detailed analysis using THP-1 macrophages and A549 lung epithelial cells revealed that this contribution is due to multiple effects depending on host cell type. Deletion of PilY1 resulted in a lower replication rate in THP-1 macrophages but not in A549 cells. Further on, adhesion to THP-1 macrophages and A549 epithelial cells was decreased. Additionally, the invasion into non-phagocytic A549 epithelial cells was drastically reduced when PilY1 was absent. Complementation variants of a PilY1-negative mutant revealed that the C-terminal PilY domain is essential for restoring the wild type phenotype in adhesion, while the putatively mechanosensitive vWFa domain facilitates invasion into non-phagocytic cells. Since PilY1 also promotes twitching motility of L. pneumophila, we discuss the putative contribution of this newly described virulence factor for bacterial dissemination within infected lung tissue.