Recent Submissions

  • R18C is a new viable P2-like bacteriophage of rabbit origin infecting Citrobacter rodentium and Shigella sonnei strains.

    Sváb, Domonkos; Horváth, Balázs; Rohde, Manfred; Maróti, Gergely; Tóth, István; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-10-23)
    Here, we report a novel virulent P2-like bacteriophage, R18C, isolated from rabbit faeces, which, in addition to Escherichia coli K-12 strains, was able to be propagated on Citrobacter rodentium strain ICC169 and a range of Shigella sonnei strains with high efficiency of plating (EOP). It represents the first lytic bacteriophage originating from rabbit and the first infectious P2-like phage of animal origin. In the three characteristic moron-containing regions of P2-like phages, R18C contains genes with unknown function that have so far only been found in cryptic P2-like prophages.
  • EPLIN-α and -β Isoforms Modulate Endothelial Cell Dynamics through a Spatiotemporally Differentiated Interaction with Actin.

    Taha, Muna; Aldirawi, Mohammed; März, Sigrid; Seebach, Jochen; Odenthal-Schnittler, Maria; Bondareva, Olga; Bojovic, Vesna; Schmandra, Thomas; Wirth, Benedikt; Mietkowska, Magdalena; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-10-22)
    Actin-binding proteins are essential for linear and branched actin filament dynamics that control shape change, cell migration, and cell junction remodeling in vascular endothelium (endothelial cells [ECs]). The epithelial protein lost in neoplasm (EPLIN) is an actin-binding protein, expressed as EPLIN-α and EPLIN-β by alternative promoters; however, the isoform-specific functions are not yet understood. Aortic compared to cava vein ECs and shear stress-exposed cultured ECs express increased EPLIN-β levels that stabilize stress fibers. In contrast, EPLIN-α expression is increased in growing and migrating ECs, is targeted to membrane protrusions, and terminates their growth via interaction with the Arp2/3 complex. The data indicate that EPLIN-α controls protrusion dynamics while EPLIN-β has an actin filament stabilizing role, which is consistent with FRAP analyses demonstrating a lower EPLIN-β turnover rate compared to EPLIN-α. Together, EPLIN isoforms differentially control actin dynamics in ECs, essential in shear stress responses, cell migration, and barrier function.
  • The secRNome of Listeria monocytogenes Harbors Small Noncoding RNAs That Are Potent Inducers of Beta Interferon.

    Frantz, Renate; Teubner, Lisa; Schultze, Tilman; La Pietra, Luigi; Müller, Christin; Gwozdzinski, Konrad; Pillich, Helena; Hain, Torsten; Weber-Gerlach, Michaela; Panagiotidis, Georgios-Dimitrios; et al. (ASM, 2019-10-08)
    Cellular sensing of bacterial RNA is increasingly recognized as a determinant of host-pathogen interactions. The intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes induces high levels of type I interferons (alpha/beta interferons [IFN-α/β]) to create a growth-permissive microenvironment during infection. We previously demonstrated that RNAs secreted by L. monocytogenes (comprising the secRNome) are potent inducers of IFN-β. We determined the composition and diversity of the members of the secRNome and found that they are uniquely enriched for noncoding small RNAs (sRNAs). Testing of individual sRNAs for their ability to induce IFN revealed several sRNAs with this property. We examined ril32, an intracellularly expressed sRNA that is highly conserved for the species L. monocytogenes and that was the most potent inducer of IFN-β expression of all the sRNAs tested in this study, in more detail. The rli32-induced IFN-β response is RIG-I (retinoic acid inducible gene I) dependent, and cells primed with rli32 inhibit influenza virus replication. We determined the rli32 motif required for IFN induction. rli32 overproduction promotes intracellular bacterial growth, and a mutant lacking rli32 is restricted for intracellular growth in macrophages. rli32-overproducing bacteria are resistant to H2O2 and exhibit both increased catalase activity and changes in the cell envelope. Comparative transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) analysis indicated that ril32 regulates expression of the lhrC locus, previously shown to be involved in cell envelope stress. Inhibition of IFN-β signaling by ruxolitinib reduced rli32-dependent intracellular bacterial growth, indicating a link between induction of the interferon system and bacterial physiology. rli32 is, to the best of our knowledge, the first secreted individual bacterial sRNA known to trigger the induction of the type I IFN response.IMPORTANCE Interferons are potent and broadly acting cytokines that stimulate cellular responses to nucleic acids of unusual structures or locations. While protective when induced following viral infections, the induction of interferons is detrimental to the host during L. monocytogenes infection. Here, we identify specific sRNAs, secreted by the bacterium, with the capacity to induce type I IFN. Further analysis of the most potent sRNA, rli32, links the ability to induce RIG-I-dependent induction of the type I IFN response to the intracellular growth properties of the bacterium. Our findings emphasize the significance of released RNA for Listeria infection and shed light on a compartmental strategy used by an intracellular pathogen to modulate host responses to its advantage.
  • Actin dynamics in cell migration

    Schaks, Matthias; Giannone, Grégory; Rottner, Klemens; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Portland Press Ltd., 2019-09-24)
    Cell migration is an essential process, both in unicellular organisms such as amoeba and as individual or collective motility in highly developed multicellular organisms like mammals. It is controlled by a variety of activities combining protrusive and contractile forces, normally generated by actin filaments. Here, we summarize actin filament assembly and turnover processes, and how respective biochemical activities translate into different protrusion types engaged in migration. These actin-based plasma membrane protrusions include actin-related protein 2/3 complex-dependent structures such as lamellipodia and membrane ruffles, filopodia as well as plasma membrane blebs. We also address observed antagonisms between these protrusion types, and propose a model – also inspired by previous literature – in which a complex balance between specific Rho GTPase signaling pathways dictates the protrusion mechanism employed by cells. Furthermore, we revisit published work regarding the fascinating antagonism between Rac and Rho GTPases, and how this intricate signaling network can define cell behavior and modes of migration. Finally, we discuss how the assembly of actin filament networks can feed back onto their regulators, as exemplified for the lamellipodial factor WAVE regulatory complex, tightly controlling accumulation of this complex at specific subcellular locations as well as its turnover.
  • The Gram-Positive Bacterial Cell Wall

    Rohde, Manfred; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Society for Microbiology, 2019-05-24)
    The chapter about the Gram-positive bacterial cell wall gives a brief historical background on the discovery of Gram-positive cell walls and their constituents and microscopic methods applied for studying the Gram-positive cell envelope. Followed by the description of the different chemical building blocks of peptidoglycan and the biosynthesis of the peptidoglycan layers and high turnover of peptidoglycan during bacterial growth. Lipoteichoic acids and wall teichoic acids are highlighted as major components of the cell wall. Characterization of capsules and the formation of extracellular vesicles by Gram-positive bacteria close the section on cell envelopes which have a high impact on bacterial pathogenesis. In addition, the specialized complex and unusual cell wall of mycobacteria is introduced thereafter. Next a short back view is given on the development of electron microscopic examinations for studying bacterial cell walls. Different electron microscopic techniques and methods applied to examine bacterial cell envelopes are discussed in the view that most of the illustrated methods should be available in a well-equipped life sciences orientated electron microscopic laboratory. In addition, newly developed and mostly well-established cryo-methods like high-pressure freezing and freeze-substitution (HPF-FS) and cryo-sections of hydrated vitrified bacteria (CEMOVIS, Cryo-electron microscopy of vitreous sections) are described. At last, modern cryo-methods like cryo-electron tomography (CET) and cryo-FIB-SEM milling (focus ion beamscanning electron microscopy) are introduced which are available only in specialized institutions, but at present represent the best available methods and techniques to study Gram-positive cell walls under close-to-nature conditions in great detail and at high resolution.
  • RhoG and Cdc42 can contribute to Rac-dependent lamellipodia formation through WAVE regulatory complex-binding.

    Schaks, Matthias; Döring, Hermann; Kage, Frieda; Steffen, Anika; Klünemann, Thomas; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Stradal, Theresia; Rottner, Klemens; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Taylor and Francis, 2019-08-26)
    Cell migration frequently involves the formation of lamellipodial protrusions, the initiation of which requires Rac GTPases signalling to heteropentameric WAVE regulatory complex (WRC). While Rac-related RhoG and Cdc42 can potently stimulate lamellipodium formation, so far presumed to occur by upstream signalling to Rac activation, we show here that the latter can be bypassed by RhoG and Cdc42 given that WRC has been artificially activated. This evidence arises from generation of B16-F1 cells simultaneously lacking both Rac GTPases and WRC, followed by reconstitution of lamellipodia formation with specific Rho-GTPase and differentially active WRC variant combinations. We conclude that formation of canonical lamellipodia requires WRC activation through Rac, but can possibly be tuned, in addition, by WRC interactions with RhoG and Cdc42.
  • Mitochondria Are a Subset of Extracellular Vesicles Released by Activated Monocytes and Induce Type I IFN and TNF Responses in Endothelial Cells.

    Puhm, Florian; Afonyushkin, Taras; Resch, Ulrike; Obermayer, Georg; Rohde, Manfred; Penz, Thomas; Schuster, Michael; Wagner, Gabriel; Rendeiro, Andre F; Melki, Imene; et al. (Lippincott,Williams & Wilkins, 2019-06-21)
    Extracellular vesicles, including microvesicles, are increasingly recognized as important mediators in cardiovascular disease. The cargo and surface proteins they carry are considered to define their biological activity, including their inflammatory properties. Monocyte to endothelial cell signaling is a prerequisite for the propagation of inflammatory responses. However, the contribution of microvesicles in this process is poorly understood. OBJECTIVE: To elucidate the mechanisms by which microvesicles derived from activated monocytic cells exert inflammatory effects on endothelial cells. METHODS AND RESULTS: LPS (lipopolysaccharide)-stimulated monocytic cells release free mitochondria and microvesicles with mitochondrial content as demonstrated by flow cytometry, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, Western Blot, and transmission electron microscopy. Using RNAseq analysis and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, we demonstrated that both mitochondria directly isolated from and microvesicles released by LPS-activated monocytic cells, as well as circulating microvesicles isolated from volunteers receiving low-dose LPS-injections, induce type I IFN (interferon), and TNF (tumor necrosis factor) responses in endothelial cells. Depletion of free mitochondria significantly reduced the ability of these microvesicles to induce type I IFN and TNF-dependent genes. We identified mitochondria-associated TNFα and RNA from stressed mitochondria as major inducers of these responses. Finally, we demonstrated that the proinflammatory potential of microvesicles and directly isolated mitochondria were drastically reduced when they were derived from monocytic cells with nonrespiring mitochondria or monocytic cells cultured in the presence of pyruvate or the mitochondrial reactive oxygen species scavenger MitoTEMPO. CONCLUSIONS: Mitochondria and mitochondria embedded in microvesicles constitute a major subset of extracellular vesicles released by activated monocytes, and their proinflammatory activity on endothelial cells is determined by the activation status of their parental cells. Thus, mitochondria may represent critical intercellular mediators in cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory settings associated with type I IFN and TNF signaling.
  • IL-1β Promotes Biofilms on Implants .

    Gutierrez Jauregui, Rodrigo; Fleige, Henrike; Bubke, Anja; Rohde, Manfred; Weiss, Siegfried; Förster, Reinhold; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    Implant associated infections represent a serious health burden in clinics since some microorganisms are able to colonize biological surfaces or surfaces of indwelling medical devices and form biofilms. Biofilms represent communities of microorganisms attached to hydrated surfaces and enclosed in self-produced extracellular matrix. This renders them resistant to exogenous assaults like antibiotics or immune effector mechanisms. Little is known regarding the role of the immune system in the formation of biofilms during implant associated infections, largely due to the lack of suitable mouse models. Here we use colonized osmotic pumps in mice to study the interaction of an activated immune system with biofilm-forming Staphylococcus aureus encoding Gaussia luciferase. This approach permits biofilm formation on the osmotic pumps in living animals. It also allows the continuous supply of soluble immune cell activating agents, such as cytokines to study their effect on biofilm formation in vivo. Using non-invasive imaging of the bioluminescent signal emitted by the lux expressing bacteria for quantification of bacterial load in conjunction with light and electron microscopy, we observed that pump-supplied pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1β strongly increased biofilm formation along with a massive influx of neutrophils adjacent to the biofilm-coated pumps. Thus, our data demonstrate that immune defense mechanisms can augment biofilm formation.
  • Corrigendum: gen. nov., sp. nov., an Unusual Member of the Phylum Planctomycetes From the German Wadden Sea.

    Kohn, Timo; Heuer, Anja; Jogler, Mareike; Vollmers, John; Boedeker, Christian; Bunk, Boyke; Rast, Patrick; Borchert, Daniela; Glöckner, Ines; Freese, Heike M; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
  • gen. nov., sp. nov., an Unusual Member of the Phylum Planctomycetes from the German Wadden Sea.

    Kohn, Timo; Heuer, Anja; Jogler, Mareike; Vollmers, John; Boedeker, Christian; Bunk, Boyke; Rast, Patrick; Borchert, Daniela; Glöckner, Ines; Freese, Heike M; et al. (Frontiers, 2016-01-01)
    Members of the phylum Planctomycetes are ubiquitous bacteria that dwell in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. While planctomycetal species are important players in the global carbon and nitrogen cycle, this phylum is still undersampled and only few genome sequences are available. Here we describe strain NH11T, a novel planctomycete obtained from a crustacean shell (Wadden Sea, Germany). The phylogenetically closest related cultivated species is Gimesia maris, sharing only 87% 16S rRNA sequence identity. Previous isolation attempts have mostly yielded members of the genus Rhodopirellula from water of the German North Sea. On the other hand, only one axenic culture of the genus Pirellula was obtained from a crustacean thus far. However, the 16S rRNA gene sequence of strain NH11T shares only 80% sequence identity with the closest relative of both genera, Rhodopirellula and Pirellula. Thus, strain NH11T is unique in terms of origin and phylogeny. While the pear to ovoid shaped cells of strain NH11T are typical planctomycetal, light-, and electron microscopic observations point toward an unusual variation of cell division through budding: during the division process daughter- and mother cells are connected by an unseen thin tubular-like structure. Furthermore, the periplasmic space of strain NH11T was unusually enlarged and differed from previously known planctomycetes. The complete genome of strain NH11T, with almost 9 Mb in size, is among the largest planctomycetal genomes sequenced thus far, but harbors only 6645 protein-coding genes. The acquisition of genomic components by horizontal gene transfer is indicated by the presence of numerous putative genomic islands. Strikingly, 45 "giant genes" were found within the genome of NH11T. Subsequent analysis of all available planctomycetal genomes revealed that Planctomycetes as such are especially rich in "giant genes". Furthermore, Multilocus Sequence Analysis (MLSA) tree reconstruction support the phylogenetic distance of strain NH11T from other cultivated Planctomycetes of the same phylogenetic cluster. Thus, based on our findings, we propose to classify strain NH11T as Fuerstia marisgermanicae gen. nov., sp. nov., with the type strain NH11T, within the phylum Planctomycetes.
  • Still Something to Discover: Novel Insights into Phage Diversity and Taxonomy.

    Korf, Imke H E; Meier-Kolthoff, Jan P; Adriaenssens, Evelien M; Kropinski, Andrew M; Nimtz, Manfred; Rohde, Manfred; van Raaij, Mark J; Wittmann, Johannes; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2019-05-17)
    The aim of this study was to gain further insight into the diversity of Escherichia coli phagesfollowed by enhanced work on taxonomic issues in that field. Therefore, we present the genomiccharacterization and taxonomic classification of 50 bacteriophages against E. coli isolated fromvarious sources, such as manure or sewage. All phages were examined for their host range on a setof different E. coli strains, originating, e.g., from human diagnostic laboratories or poultry farms.Transmission electron microscopy revealed a diversity of morphotypes (70% Myo-, 22% Sipho-, and8% Podoviruses), and genome sequencing resulted in genomes sizes from ~44 to ~370 kb.Annotation and comparison with databases showed similarities in particular to T4- and T5-likephages, but also to less-known groups. Though various phages against E. coli are already describedin literature and databases, we still isolated phages that showed no or only few similarities to otherphages, namely phages Goslar, PTXU04, and KWBSE43-6. Genome-based phylogeny andclassification of the newly isolated phages using VICTOR resulted in the proposal of new generaand led to an enhanced taxonomic classification of E. coli phages.
  • Three glycosylated serine-rich repeat proteins play a pivotal role in adhesion and colonization of the pioneer commensal bacterium, Streptococcus salivarius.

    Couvigny, Benoit; Lapaque, Nicolas; Rigottier-Gois, Lionel; Guillot, Alain; Chat, Sophie; Meylheuc, Thierry; Kulakauskas, Saulius; Rohde, M; Mistou, Michel-Yves; Renault, Pierre; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017-01-01)
    Bacterial adhesion is a critical step for colonization of the host. The pioneer colonizer and commensal bacterium of the human gastrointestinal tract, Streptococcus salivarius, has strong adhesive properties but the molecular determinants of this adhesion remain uncharacterized. Serine‐rich repeat (SRR) glycoproteins are a family of adhesins that fulfil an important role in adhesion. In general, Gram‐positive bacterial genomes have a unique SRR glycoprotein‐encoding gene. We demonstrate that S. salivarius expresses three large and glycosylated surface‐exposed proteins – SrpA, SrpB and SrpC – that show characteristics of SRR glycoproteins and are secreted through the accessory SecA2/Y2 system. Two glycosyltransferases – GtfE/F – encoded outside of the secA2/Y2 locus, unusually, perform the first step of the sequential glycosylation process, which is crucial for SRR activity. We show that SrpB and SrpC play complementary adhesive roles involved in several steps of the colonization process: auto‐aggregation, biofilm formation and adhesion to a variety of host epithelial cells and components. We also show that at least one of the S. salivarius SRR glycoproteins is important for colonization in mice. SrpA, SrpB and SrpC are the main factors underlying the multifaceted adhesion of S. salivarius and, therefore, play a major role in host colonization.
  • Role of Src and Cortactin in Pemphigus Skin Blistering.

    Kugelmann, Daniela; Rötzer, Vera; Walter, Elias; Egu, Desalegn Tadesse; Fuchs, Michael Tobias; Vielmuth, Franziska; Vargas-Robles, Hilda; Schnoor, Michael; Hertl, Michael; Eming, Rüdiger; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    Autoantibodies against desmoglein (Dsg) 1 and Dsg3 primarily cause blister formation in the autoimmune disease pemphigus vulgaris (PV). Src was proposed to contribute to loss of keratinocyte cohesion. However, the role and underlying mechanisms are unclear and were studied here. In keratinocytes, cell cohesion in response to autoantibodies was reduced in Src-dependent manner by two patient-derived PV-IgG fractions as well as by AK23 but not by a third PV-IgG fraction, although Src was activated by all autoantibodies. Loss of cell cohesion was progredient in a timeframe of 24 h and AK23, similar to PV-IgG, interfered with reconstitution of cell cohesion after Ca2+-switch, indicating that the autoantibodies also interfered with desmosome assembly. Dsg3 co-localized along cell contacts and interacted with the Src substrate cortactin. In keratinocytes isolated from cortactin-deficient mice, cell adhesion was impaired and Src-mediated inhibition of AK23-induced loss of cell cohesion for 24 h was significantly reduced compared to wild-type (wt) cells. Similarly, AK23 impaired reconstitution of cell adhesion was Src-dependent only in the presence of cortactin. Likewise, Src inhibition significantly reduced AK23-induced skin blistering in wt but not cortactin-deficient mice. These data suggest that the Src-mediated long-term effects of AK23 on loss of cell cohesion and skin blistering are dependent on cortactin-mediated desmosome assembly. However, in human epidermis PV-IgG-induced skin blistering and ultrastructural alterations of desmosomes were not affected by Src inhibition, indicating that Src may not be critical for skin blistering in intact human skin, at least when high levels of autoantibodies targeting Dsg1 are present.
  • Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria That Produce Exopolymers Thrive in the Calcifying Zone of a Hypersaline Cyanobacterial Mat.

    Spring, Stefan; Sorokin, Dimitry Y; Verbarg, Susanne; Rohde, M; Woyke, Tanja; Kyrpides, Nikos C; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    Calcifying microbial mats in hypersaline environments are important model systems for the study of the earliest ecosystems on Earth that started to appear more than three billion years ago and have been preserved in the fossil record as laminated lithified structures known as stromatolites. It is believed that sulfate-reducing bacteria play a pivotal role in the lithification process by increasing the saturation index of calcium minerals within the mat. Strain L21-Syr-ABT was isolated from anoxic samples of a several centimeters-thick microbialite-forming cyanobacterial mat of a hypersaline lake on the Kiritimati Atoll (Kiribati, Central Pacific). The novel isolate was assigned to the family Desulfovibrionaceae within the Deltaproteobacteria. Available 16S rRNA-based population surveys obtained from discrete layers of the mat indicate that the occurrence of a species-level clade represented by strain L21-Syr-ABT is restricted to a specific layer of the suboxic zone, which is characterized by the presence of aragonitic spherulites. To elucidate a possible function of this sulfate-reducing bacterium in the mineral formation within the mat a comprehensive phenotypic characterization was combined with the results of a comparative genome analysis. Among the determined traits of strain L21-Syr-ABT, several features were identified that could play a role in the precipitation of calcium carbonate: (i) the potential deacetylation of polysaccharides and consumption of substrates such as lactate and sulfate could mobilize free calcium; (ii) under conditions that favor the utilization of formate and hydrogen, the alkalinity engine within the mat is stimulated, thereby increasing the availability of carbonate; (iii) the production of extracellular polysaccharides could provide nucleation sites for calcium mineralization. In addition, our data suggest the proposal of the novel species and genus Desulfohalovibrio reitneri represented by the type strain L21-Syr-ABT (=DSM 26903T = JCM 18662T).
  • Isolation, characterization and analysis of bacteriophages from the haloalkaline lake Elmenteita, Kenya.

    Akhwale, Juliah Khayeli; Rohde, M; Rohde, Christine; Bunk, Boyke; Spröer, Cathrin; Boga, Hamadi Iddi; Klenk, Hans-Peter; Wittmann, Johannes; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (PLOS, 2019-01-01)
    As a step towards better understanding of diversity and biology of phages and their hosts in haloalkaline Lake Elmenteita, phages were isolated from sediment samples and overlying water using indigenous bacteria as hosts. 17 seemingly different phages of diverse morphotypes with different dimensions and partly exhibiting remarkably unusual ultrastructures were revealed by transmission electron microscopy. 12 clonal phage isolates were further characterized. Infection capability of the phages was optimum at 30–35°C and in alkali condition with optimum at pH 10–12. Structural protein profiles and restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses patterns were distinct for each of the phage type. Complete nucleotide sequences of phages vB-VmeM-32, vB_EauS-123 and vB_BhaS-171 genomes varied in size from 30,926–199,912 bp and G + C content of between 36.25–47.73%. A range of 56–260 potential open reading frames were identified and annotated. The results showed that the 12 phages were distinct from each other and confirmed the presence and diversity of phages in extreme environment of haloalkaline Lake Elmenteita. The phages were deposited at the German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures and three of their genomes uploaded to NCBI GenBank.
  • Microbiome yarns: The Global Phenotype-Genotype Survey. Episode III: importance of microbiota diversification for microbiome function and biome health.

    Timmis, Kenneth; Jebok, Franziska; Rohde, M; Lahti, Leo; Molinari, Gabriella; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-01-01)
  • Bacterial microcompartment-directed polyphosphate kinase promotes stable polyphosphate accumulation in E. coli.

    Liang, Mingzhi; Frank, Stefanie; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Warren, Martin J; Prentice, Michael B; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017-03-01)
    Processes for the biological removal of phosphate from wastewater rely on temporary manipulation of bacterial polyphosphate levels by phased environmental stimuli. In E. coli polyphosphate levels are controlled via the polyphosphate-synthesizing enzyme polyphosphate kinase (PPK1) and exopolyphosphatases (PPX and GPPA), and are temporarily enhanced by PPK1 overexpression and reduced by PPX overexpression. We hypothesised that partitioning PPK1 from cytoplasmic exopolyphosphatases would increase and stabilise E. coli polyphosphate levels. Partitioning was achieved by co-expression of E. coli PPK1 fused with a microcompartment-targeting sequence and an artificial operon of Citrobacter freundii bacterial microcompartment genes. Encapsulation of targeted PPK1 resulted in persistent phosphate uptake and stably increased cellular polyphosphate levels throughout cell growth and into the stationary phase, while PPK1 overexpression alone produced temporary polyphosphate increase and phosphate uptake. Targeted PPK1 increased polyphosphate in microcompartments 8-fold compared with non-targeted PPK1. Co-expression of PPX polyphosphatase with targeted PPK1 had little effect on elevated cellular polyphosphate levels because microcompartments retained polyphosphate. Co-expression of PPX with non-targeted PPK1 reduced cellular polyphosphate levels. Thus, subcellular compartmentalisation of a polymerising enzyme sequesters metabolic products from competing catabolism by preventing catabolic enzyme access. Specific application of this process to polyphosphate is of potential application for biological phosphate removal.
  • Spatiotemporal control of FlgZ activity impacts Pseudomonas aeruginosa flagellar motility.

    Bense, Sarina; Bruchmann, Sebastian; Steffen, Anika; Stradal, Theresia E B; Häussler, Susanne; Düvel, Juliane; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-03-12)
    The c-di-GMP-binding effector protein FlgZ has been demonstrated to control motility in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and it was suggested that c-di-GMP-bound FlgZ impedes motility via its interaction with the MotCD stator. To further understand how motility is downregulated in P. aeruginosa and to elucidate the general control mechanisms operating during bacterial growth, we examined the spatiotemporal activity of FlgZ. We re-annotated the P. aeruginosaflgZ open reading frame and demonstrated that FlgZ-mediated downregulation of motility is fine-tuned via three independent mechanisms. First, we found that flgZ gene is transcribed independently from flgMN in stationary growth phase to increase FlgZ protein levels in the cell. Second, FlgZ localizes to the cell pole upon c-di-GMP binding and third, we describe that FimV, a cell pole anchor protein, is involved in increasing the polar localized c-di-GMP bound FlgZ to inhibit both, swimming and swarming motility. Our results shed light on the complex dynamics and spatiotemporal control of c-di-GMP-dependent bacterial motility phenotypes and on how the polar anchor protein FimV, the motor brake FlgZ and the stator proteins function to repress flagella-driven swimming and swarming motility.
  • Homophilic protein interactions facilitate bacterial aggregation and IgG-dependent complex formation by the Streptococcus canis M protein SCM.

    Nerlich, Andreas; Lapschies, Antje-Maria; Kohler, Thomas P; Cornax, Ingrid; Eichhorn, Inga; Goldmann, Oliver; Krienke, Petra; Bergmann, Simone; Nizet, Victor; Hammerschmidt, Sven; et al. (Taylor & Francis, 2019-01-01)
    Streptococcus canis is a zoonotic agent that causes serious invasive diseases in domestic animals and humans, but knowledge about its pathogenic potential and underlying virulence mechanisms is limited. Here, we report on the ability of certain S. canis isolates to form large bacterial aggregates when grown in liquid broth. Bacterial aggregation was attributed to the presence and the self-binding activity of SCM, the M protein of S. canis, as evaluated by bacterial sedimentation assays, immunofluorescence- and electron microscopic approaches. Using a variety of truncated recombinant SCM fragments, we demonstrated that homophilic SCM interactions occur via the N-terminal, but not the C-terminal part, of the mature M protein. Interestingly, when incubated in human plasma, SCM forms soluble protein complexes comprising its known ligands, immunoglobulin G (IgG) and plasminogen (Plg). Co-incubation studies with purified host proteins revealed that SCM-mediated complex formation is based on the interaction of SCM with itself and with IgG, but not with Plg or fibrinogen (Fbg), well-established constituents of M protein-mediated protein complexes in human-associated streptococci. Notably, these soluble, SCM-mediated plasma complexes harbored complement factor C1q, which can induce complement breakdown in the periphery and therefore represent another immune evasion mechanism of SCM.
  • The Effect of Cytochalasans on the Actin Cytoskeleton of Eukaryotic Cells and Preliminary Structure⁻Activity Relationships.

    Kretz, Robin; Wendt, Lucile; Wongkanoun, Sarunyou; Luangsa-Ard, J Jennifer; Surup, Frank; Helaly, Soleiman E; Noumeur, Sara R; Stadler, Marc; Stradal, Theresia E B; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (MDPI, 2019-02-19)
    In our ongoing search for new bioactive fungal metabolites, two new cytochalasans were isolated from stromata of the hypoxylaceous ascomycete Hypoxylon fragiforme. Their structures were elucidated via high-resolution mass spectrometry (HR-MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Together with 23 additional cytochalasans isolated from ascomata and mycelial cultures of different Ascomycota, they were tested on their ability to disrupt the actin cytoskeleton of mammal cells in a preliminary structure⁻activity relationship study. Out of all structural features, the presence of hydroxyl group at the C7 and C18 residues, as well as their stereochemistry, were determined as important factors affecting the potential to disrupt the actin cytoskeleton. Moreover, reversibility of the actin disrupting effects was tested, revealing no direct correlations between potency and reversibility in the tested compound group. Since the diverse bioactivity of cytochalasans is interesting for various applications in eukaryotes, the exact effect on eukaryotic cells will need to be determined, e.g., by follow-up studies involving medicinal chemistry and by inclusion of additional natural cytochalasans. The results are also discussed in relation to previous studies in the literature, including a recent report on the anti-Biofilm activities of essentially the same panel of compounds against the pathogenic bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus.

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