• Cross-regulation by CrcZ RNA controls anoxic biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Pusic, Petra; Tata, Muralidhar; Wolfinger, Michael T; Sonnleitner, Elisabeth; Häussler, Susanne; Bläsi, Udo; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-12-21)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) can thrive in anaerobic biofilms in the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Here, we show that CrcZ is the most abundant PA14 RNA bound to the global regulator Hfq in anoxic biofilms grown in cystic fibrosis sputum medium. Hfq was crucial for anoxic biofilm formation. This observation complied with an RNAseq based transcriptome analysis and follow up studies that implicated Hfq in regulation of a central step preceding denitrification. CrcZ is known to act as a decoy that sequesters Hfq during relief of carbon catabolite repression, which in turn alleviates Hfq-mediated translational repression of catabolic genes. We therefore inferred that CrcZ indirectly impacts on biofilm formation by competing for Hfq. This hypothesis was supported by the findings that over-production of CrcZ mirrored the biofilm phenotype of the hfq deletion mutant, and that deletion of the crcZ gene augmented biofilm formation. To our knowledge, this is the first example where competition for Hfq by CrcZ cross-regulates an Hfq-dependent physiological process unrelated to carbon metabolism.
    • Divergent co-transcriptomes of different host cells infected with Toxoplasma gondii reveal cell type-specific host-parasite interactions.

      Swierzy, Izabela J; Händel, Ulrike; Kaever, Alexander; Jarek, Michael; Scharfe, Maren; Schlüter, Dirk; Lüder, Carsten G K; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-03)
      The apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii infects various cell types in avian and mammalian hosts including humans. Infection of immunocompetent hosts is mostly asymptomatic or benign, but leads to development of largely dormant bradyzoites that persist predominantly within neurons and muscle cells. Here we have analyzed the impact of the host cell type on the co-transcriptomes of host and parasite using high-throughput RNA sequencing. Murine cortical neurons and astrocytes, skeletal muscle cells (SkMCs) and fibroblasts differed by more than 16,200 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) before and after infection with T. gondii. However, only a few hundred of them were regulated by infection and these largely diverged in neurons, SkMCs, astrocytes and fibroblasts indicating host cell type-specific transcriptional responses after infection. The heterogeneous transcriptomes of host cells before and during infection coincided with ~5,400 DEGs in T. gondii residing in different cell types. Finally, we identified gene clusters in both T. gondii and its host, which correlated with the predominant parasite persistence in neurons or SkMCs as compared to astrocytes or fibroblasts. Thus, heterogeneous expression profiles of different host cell types and the parasites' ability to adapting to them may govern the parasite-host cell interaction during toxoplasmosis.
    • Dysbiosis in chronic periodontitis: Key microbial players and interactions with the human host.

      Deng, Zhi-Luo; Szafrański, Szymon P; Jarek, Michael; Bhuju, Sabin; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7., 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-06-16)
      Periodontitis is an extremely prevalent disease worldwide and is driven by complex dysbiotic microbiota. Here we analyzed the transcriptional activity of the periodontal pocket microbiota from all domains of life as well as the human host in health and chronic periodontitis. Bacteria showed strong enrichment of 18 KEGG functional modules in chronic periodontitis, including bacterial chemotaxis, flagellar assembly, type III secretion system, type III CRISPR-Cas system, and two component system proteins. Upregulation of these functions was driven by the red-complex pathogens and candidate pathogens, e.g. Filifactor alocis, Prevotella intermedia, Fretibacterium fastidiosum and Selenomonas sputigena. Nine virulence factors were strongly up-regulated, among them the arginine deiminase arcA from Porphyromonas gingivalis and Mycoplasma arginini. Viruses and archaea accounted for about 0.1% and 0.22% of total putative mRNA reads, respectively, and a protozoan, Entamoeba gingivalis, was highly enriched in periodontitis. Fourteen human transcripts were enriched in periodontitis, including a gene for a ferric iron binding protein, indicating competition with the microbiota for iron, and genes associated with cancer, namely nucleolar phosphoprotein B23, ankyrin-repeat domain 30B-like protein and beta-enolase. The data provide evidence on the level of gene expression in vivo for the potentially severe impact of the dysbiotic microbiota on human health.
    • Inoculation density and nutrient level determine the formation of mushroom-shaped structures in Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms.

      Ghanbari, Azadeh; Dehghany, Jaber; Schwebs, Timo; Müsken, Mathias; Häussler, Susanne; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-09-09)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa often colonises immunocompromised patients and the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. It exhibits resistance to many antibiotics by forming biofilms, which makes it hard to eliminate. P. aeruginosa biofilms form mushroom-shaped structures under certain circumstances. Bacterial motility and the environment affect the eventual mushroom morphology. This study provides an agent-based model for the bacterial dynamics and interactions influencing bacterial biofilm shape. Cell motility in the model relies on recently published experimental data. Our simulations show colony formation by immotile cells. Motile cells escape from a single colony by nutrient chemotaxis and hence no mushroom shape develops. A high number density of non-motile colonies leads to migration of motile cells onto the top of the colonies and formation of mushroom-shaped structures. This model proposes that the formation of mushroom-shaped structures can be predicted by parameters at the time of bacteria inoculation. Depending on nutrient levels and the initial number density of stalks, mushroom-shaped structures only form in a restricted regime. This opens the possibility of early manipulation of spatial pattern formation in bacterial colonies, using environmental factors.
    • Topical imiquimod yields systemic effects due to unintended oral uptake.

      Grine, Lynda; Steeland, Sophie; Van Ryckeghem, Sara; Ballegeer, Marlies; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Weiss, Siegfried; Sanders, Niek N; Vandenbroucke, Roosmarijn E; Libert, Claude; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Repetitive application of topical imiquimod is used as an experimental model for the induction of psoriasiform skin lesions in mice. The model is characterized by several inflammatory processes, including cytokine production both locally and systemically, cellular infiltration, and splenomegaly. To investigate the production of type I interferons in response to imiquimod-containing Aldara cream, IFNβ-luciferase reporter mice were imaged in vivo and ex vivo. Type I interferons were found to be produced in the skin, but also in the intestinal system caused by unintended ingestion of imiquimod by the mice. Through the use of Elizabethan collars to prevent ingestion, these effects, including psoriasiform lesions were nearly completely prevented. Our findings reveal that topical treatment with Aldara induces a psoriasiform skin inflammation, but that its mode of action depends on ingestion of the chemical, which leads to systemic responses and affects local inflammation. Therefore, potential ingestion of topical treatments during experimental procedures should be taken into account during assessment of cutaneous inflammatory parameters in skin disease models.
    • Use of Single-Frequency Impedance Spectroscopy to Characterize the Growth Dynamics of Biofilm Formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      van Duuren, Jozef B J H; Müsken, Mathias; Karge, Bianka; Tomasch, Jürgen; Wittmann, Christoph; Häussler, Susanne; Brönstrup, Mark (2017-07-12)
      Impedance spectroscopy has been applied in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cytometry as a label-free method for the investigation of adherent cells. In this paper, its use for characterizing the growth dynamics of P. aeruginosa biofilms is described and compared to crystal violet staining and confocal microscopy. The method allows monitoring the growth of biofilm-forming P. aeruginosa in a continuous and label-free manner over a period of 72 h in a 96 well plate format. Impedance curves obtained for P. aeruginosa PA14 wild type and mutant strains with a transposon insertion in pqsA and pelA genes exhibited distinct phases. We propose that the slope of the declining curve following a maximum at ca. 35-40 h is a measure of biofilm formation. Transplant experiments with P. aeruginosa biofilms and paraffin suggest that the impedance also reflects pellicle formation at the liquid-air interface, a barely considered contributor to impedance. Finally, the impairment of biofilm formation upon treatment of cultures with L-arginine and with ciprofloxacin, tobramycin and meropenem was studied by single frequency impedance spectroscopy. We suggest that these findings qualify impedance spectroscopy as an additional technique to characterize biofilm formation and its modulation by small molecule drugs.