• Within-Host Adaptation of in a Bovine Mastitis Infection Is Associated with Increased Cytotoxicity.

      Mayer, Katharina; Kucklick, Martin; Marbach, Helene; Ehling-Schulz, Monika; Engelmann, Susanne; Grunert, Tom; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-08-17)
      Within-host adaptation is a typical feature of chronic, persistent Staphylococcus aureus infections. Research projects addressing adaptive changes due to bacterial in-host evolution increase our understanding of the pathogen's strategies to survive and persist for a long time in various hosts such as human and bovine. In this study, we investigated the adaptive processes of S. aureus during chronic, persistent bovine mastitis using a previously isolated isogenic strain pair from a dairy cow with chronic, subclinical mastitis, in which the last variant (host-adapted, Sigma factor SigB-deficient) quickly replaced the initial, dominant variant. The strain pair was cultivated under specific in vitro infection-relevant growth-limiting conditions (iron-depleted RPMI under oxygen limitation). We used a combinatory approach of surfaceomics, molecular spectroscopic fingerprinting and in vitro phenotypic assays. Cellular cytotoxicity assays using red blood cells and bovine mammary epithelial cells (MAC-T) revealed changes towards a more cytotoxic phenotype in the host-adapted isolate with an increased alpha-hemolysin (α-toxin) secretion, suggesting an improved capacity to penetrate and disseminate the udder tissue. Our results foster the hypothesis that within-host evolved SigB-deficiency favours extracellular persistence in S. aureus infections. Here, we provide new insights into one possible adaptive strategy employed by S. aureus during chronic, bovine mastitis, and we emphasise the need to analyse genotype-phenotype associations under different infection-relevant growth conditions.