• Microbial Community Structure Along a Horizontal Oxygen Gradient in a Costa Rican Volcanic Influenced Acid Rock Drainage System.

      Arce-Rodríguez, Alejandro; Puente-Sánchez, Fernando; Avendaño, Roberto; Libby, Eduardo; Mora-Amador, Raúl; Rojas-Jimenez, Keilor; Martínez, María; Pieper, Dietmar H; Chavarría, Max; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer Nature, 2020-06-22)
      We describe the geochemistry and microbial diversity of a pristine environment that resembles an acid rock drainage (ARD) but it is actually the result of hydrothermal and volcanic influences. We designate this environment, and other comparable sites, as volcanic influenced acid rock drainage (VARD) systems. The metal content and sulfuric acid in this ecosystem stem from the volcanic milieu and not from the product of pyrite oxidation. Based on the analysis of 16S rRNA gene amplicons, we report the microbial community structure in the pristine San Cayetano Costa Rican VARD environment (pH = 2.94-3.06, sulfate ~ 0.87-1.19 g L-1, iron ~ 35-61 mg L-1 (waters), and ~ 8-293 g kg-1 (sediments)). San Cayetano was found to be dominated by microorganisms involved in the geochemical cycling of iron, sulfur, and nitrogen; however, the identity and abundance of the species changed with the oxygen content (0.40-6.06 mg L-1) along the river course. The hypoxic source of San Cayetano is dominated by a putative anaerobic sulfate-reducing Deltaproteobacterium. Sulfur-oxidizing bacteria such as Acidithiobacillus or Sulfobacillus are found in smaller proportions with respect to typical ARD. In the oxic downstream, we identified aerobic iron-oxidizers (Leptospirillum, Acidithrix, Ferrovum) and heterotrophic bacteria (Burkholderiaceae bacterium, Trichococcus, Acidocella). Thermoplasmatales archaea closely related to environmental phylotypes found in other ARD niches were also observed throughout the entire ecosystem. Overall, our study shows the differences and similarities in the diversity and distribution of the microbial communities between an ARD and a VARD system at the source and along the oxygen gradient that establishes on the course of the river.
    • Mining zebrafish microbiota reveals key community-level resistance against fish pathogen infection.

      Stressmann, Franziska A; Bernal-Bayard, Joaquín; Perez-Pascual, David; Audrain, Bianca; Rendueles, Olaya; Briolat, Valérie; Bruchmann, Sebastian; Volant, Stevenn; Ghozlane, Amine; Häussler, Susanne; et al. (Springer Nature, 2020-10-19)
      The long-known resistance to pathogens provided by host-associated microbiota fostered the notion that adding protective bacteria could prevent or attenuate infection. However, the identification of endogenous or exogenous bacteria conferring such protection is often hindered by the complexity of host microbial communities. Here, we used zebrafish and the fish pathogen Flavobacterium columnare as a model system to study the determinants of microbiota-associated colonization resistance. We compared infection susceptibility in germ-free, conventional and reconventionalized larvae and showed that a consortium of 10 culturable bacterial species are sufficient to protect zebrafish. Whereas survival to F. columnare infection does not rely on host innate immunity, we used antibiotic dysbiosis to alter zebrafish microbiota composition, leading to the identification of two different protection strategies. We first identified that the bacterium Chryseobacterium massiliae individually protects both larvae and adult zebrafish. We also showed that an assembly of 9 endogenous zebrafish species that do not otherwise protect individually confer a community-level resistance to infection. Our study therefore provides a rational approach to identify key endogenous protecting bacteria and promising candidates to engineer resilient microbial communities. It also shows how direct experimental analysis of colonization resistance in low-complexity in vivo models can reveal unsuspected ecological strategies at play in microbiota-based protection against pathogens.
    • Non-invasive, ratiometric determination of intracellular pH in Pseudomonas species using a novel genetically encoded indicator.

      Arce-Rodríguez, Alejandro; Volke, Daniel C; Bense, Sarina; Häussler, Susanne; Nikel, Pablo I; HZI, Helmholtz -Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley Open, 2019-07-01)
      The ability of Pseudomonas species to thrive in all major natural environments (i.e. terrestrial, freshwater and marine) is based on its exceptional capability to adapt to physicochemical changes. Thus, environmental bacteria have to tightly control the maintenance of numerous physiological traits across different conditions. The intracellular pH (pHi ) homoeostasis is a particularly important feature, since the pHi influences a large portion of the biochemical processes in the cell. Despite its importance, relatively few reliable, easy-to-implement tools have been designed for quantifying in vivo pHi changes in Gram-negative bacteria with minimal manipulations. Here we describe a convenient, non-invasive protocol for the quantification of the pHi in bacteria, which is based on the ratiometric fluorescent indicator protein PHP (pH indicator for Pseudomonas). The DNA sequence encoding PHP was thoroughly adapted to guarantee optimal transcription and translation of the indicator in Pseudomonas species. Our PHP-based quantification method demonstrated that pHi is tightly regulated over a narrow range of pH values not only in Pseudomonas, but also in other Gram-negative bacterial species such as Escherichia coli. The maintenance of the cytoplasmic pH homoeostasis in vivo could also be observed upon internal (e.g. redirection of glucose consumption pathways in P. putida) and external (e.g. antibiotic exposure in P. aeruginosa) perturbations, and the PHP indicator was also used to follow dynamic changes in the pHi upon external pH shifts. In summary, our work describes a reliable method for measuring pHi in Pseudomonas, allowing for the detailed investigation of bacterial pHi homoeostasis and its regulation.
    • An oral multispecies biofilm model for high content screening applications.

      Kommerein, Nadine; Stumpp, Sascha N; Müsken, Mathias; Ehlert, Nina; Winkel, Andreas; Häussler, Susanne; Behrens, Peter; Buettner, Falk F R; Stiesch, Meike; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      Peri-implantitis caused by multispecies biofilms is a major complication in dental implant treatment. The bacterial infection surrounding dental implants can lead to bone loss and, in turn, to implant failure. A promising strategy to prevent these common complications is the development of implant surfaces that inhibit biofilm development. A reproducible and easy-to-use biofilm model as a test system for large scale screening of new implant surfaces with putative antibacterial potency is therefore of major importance. In the present study, we developed a highly reproducible in vitro four-species biofilm model consisting of the highly relevant oral bacterial species Streptococcus oralis, Actinomyces naeslundii, Veillonella dispar and Porphyromonas gingivalis. The application of live/dead staining, quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and urea-NaCl fluorescence in situ hybridization (urea-NaCl-FISH) revealed that the four-species biofilm community is robust in terms of biovolume, live/dead distribution and individual species distribution over time. The biofilm community is dominated by S. oralis, followed by V. dispar, A. naeslundii and P. gingivalis. The percentage distribution in this model closely reflects the situation in early native plaques and is therefore well suited as an in vitro model test system. Furthermore, despite its nearly native composition, the multispecies model does not depend on nutrient additives, such as native human saliva or serum, and is an inexpensive, easy to handle and highly reproducible alternative to the available model systems. The 96-well plate format enables high content screening for optimized implant surfaces impeding biofilm formation or the testing of multiple antimicrobial treatment strategies to fight multispecies biofilm infections, both exemplary proven in the manuscript.
    • Organism-specific depletion of highly abundant RNA species from bacterial total RNA.

      Engelhardt, Florian; Tomasch, Jürgen; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Microbiology Society, 2020-09-09)
      High-throughput sequencing has become a standard tool for transcriptome analysis. The depletion of overrepresented RNA species from sequencing libraries plays a key role in establishing potent and cost-efficient RNA-seq routines. Commercially available kits are known to obtain good results for the reduction of ribosomal RNA (rRNA). However, we found that the transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA) was frequently highly abundant in rRNA-depleted samples of Pseudomonas aeruginosa , consuming up to 25 % of the obtained reads. The tmRNA fraction was particularly high in samples taken from stationary cultures. This suggests that overrepresentation of this RNA species reduces the mRNA fraction when cells are grown under challenging conditions. Here, we present an RNase-H-based depletion protocol that targets the tmRNA in addition to ribosomal RNAs. We were able to increase the mRNA fraction to 93-99% and therefore outperform not only the commercially Ribo-off kit (Vazyme) operating by the same principle but also the formerly widely used Ribo-Zero kit (Illumina). Maximizing the read share of scientifically interesting RNA species enhances the discriminatory potential of next-generation RNA-seq experiments and, therefore, can contribute to a better understanding of the transcriptomic landscape of bacterial pathogens and their used mechanisms in host infection.
    • Parallel evolutionary paths to produce more than one biofilm phenotype.

      Thöming, Janne G; Tomasch, Jürgen; Preusse, Matthias; Koska, Michal; Grahl, Nora; Pohl, Sarah; Willger, Sven D; Kaever, Volkhard; Müsken, Mathias; Häussler, Susanne; et al. (Nature publishing group, 2020-01-01)
      Studying parallel evolution of similar traits in independent within-species lineages provides an opportunity to address evolutionary predictability of molecular changes underlying adaptation. In this study, we monitored biofilm forming capabilities, motility, and virulence phenotypes of a plethora of phylogenetically diverse clinical isolates of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We also recorded biofilm-specific and planktonic transcriptional responses. We found that P. aeruginosa isolates could be stratified based on the production of distinct organismal traits. Three major biofilm phenotypes, which shared motility and virulence phenotypes, were produced repeatedly in several isolates, indicating that the phenotypes evolved via parallel or convergent evolution. Of note, while we found a restricted general response to the biofilm environment, the individual groups of biofilm phenotypes reproduced biofilm transcriptional profiles that included the expression of well-known biofilm features, such as surface adhesive structures and extracellular matrix components. Our results provide insights into distinct ways to make a biofilm and indicate that genetic adaptations can modulate multiple pathways for biofilm development that are followed by several independent clinical isolates. Uncovering core regulatory pathways that drive biofilm-associated growth and tolerance towards environmental stressors promises to give clues to host and environmental interactions and could provide useful targets for new clinical interventions.
    • The Peptide Chain Release Factor Methyltransferase PrmC Influences the Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14 Endo- and Exometabolome.

      Depke, Tobias; Häussler, Susanne; Brönstrup, Mark; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-10-18)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the most important nosocomial pathogens and understanding its virulence is the key to effective control of P. aeruginosa infections. The regulatory network governing virulence factor production in P. aeruginosa is exceptionally complex. Previous studies have shown that the peptide chain release factor methyltransferase PrmC plays an important role in bacterial pathogenicity. Yet, the underlying molecular mechanism is incompletely understood. In this study, we used untargeted liquid and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry to characterise the metabolome of a prmC defective P. aeruginosa PA14 strain in comparison with the corresponding strain complemented with prmC in trans. The comprehensive metabolomics data provided new insight into the influence of prmC on virulence and metabolism. prmC deficiency had broad effects on the endo- and exometabolome of P. aeruginosa PA14, with a marked decrease of the levels of aromatic compounds accompanied by reduced precursor supply from the shikimate pathway. Furthermore, a pronounced decrease of phenazine production was observed as well as lower abundance of alkylquinolones. Unexpectedly, the metabolomics data showed no prmC-dependent effect on rhamnolipid production and an increase in pyochelin levels. A putative virulence biomarker identified in a previous study was significantly less abundant in the prmC deficient strain.
    • The peptide chain release factor methyltransferase PrmC is essential for pathogenicity and environmental adaptation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14.

      Pustelny, Christian; Brouwer, Stephan; Müsken, Mathias; Bielecka, Agata; Dötsch, Andreas; Nimtz, Manfred; Häussler, Susanne; Department of Molecular Bacteriology, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. Christian.pustelny@helmholtz-hzi.de (2013-02)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa pathogenicity and its capability to adapt to multiple environments are dependent on the production of diverse virulence factors, controlled by the sophisticated quorum sensing (QS) network of P. aeruginosa. To better understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie this adaptation we searched for novel key regulators of virulence factor production by screening a PA14 transposon mutant library for potential candidates acting downstream of the unique 2-alkyl-4-quinolone (AQ) QS system of P. aeruginosa. We focused the work on a protein named HemK with high homology to PrmC of Escherichia coli displaying a similar enzymatic activity (therefore also referred to as PrmC). In this study, we demonstrate that PrmC is an S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent methyltransferase of peptide chain release factors (RFs) essential for the expression of several virulence factors, such as pyocyanin, rhamnolipids and the type III-secreted toxin ExoT. Furthermore, the PA14_prmC mutant strain is unable to grow under anoxic conditions and has a significantly reduced pathogenicity in the infection model Galleria mellonella. Along with transcriptomic and proteomic analyses, the presented data indicate that the methylation of RFs in P. aeruginosa seems to have a global effect on cellular processes related to the virulence of this nosocomial pathogen.
    • The PqsR and RhlR transcriptional regulators determine the level of Pseudomonas quinolone signal synthesis in Pseudomonas aeruginosa by producing two different pqsABCDE mRNA isoforms.

      Brouwer, Stephan; Pustelny, Christian; Ritter, Christiane; Klinkert, Birgit; Narberhaus, Franz; Häussler, Susanne (2014-12)
      Regulation of gene expression plays a key role in bacterial adaptability to changes in the environment. An integral part of this gene regulatory network is achieved via quorum sensing (QS) systems that coordinate bacterial responses under high cellular densities. In the nosocomial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the 2-alkyl-4-quinolone (pqs) signaling pathway is crucial for bacterial survival under stressful conditions. Biosynthesis of the Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) is dependent on the pqsABCDE operon, which is positively regulated by the LysR family regulator PqsR and repressed by the transcriptional regulator protein RhlR. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this inhibition have remained elusive. Here, we demonstrate that not only PqsR but also RhlR activates transcription of pqsA. The latter uses an alternative transcriptional start site and induces expression of a longer transcript that forms a secondary structure in the 5' untranslated leader region. As a consequence, access of the ribosome to the Shine-Dalgarno sequence is restricted and translation efficiency reduced. We propose a model of a novel posttranscriptional regulation mechanism that fine-tunes PQS biosynthesis, thus highlighting the complexity of quorum sensing in P. aeruginosa.
    • Production of norspermidine contributes to aminoglycoside resistance in pmrAB mutants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Bolard, Arnaud; Schniederjans, Monika; Haussler, Susanne; Triponney, Pauline; Valot, Benoît; Plesiat, Patrick; Jeannot, Katy; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Society of microbiology, 2019-08-05)
      Emergence of resistance to polymyxins in Pseudomonas aeruginosa is mainly due to mutations in two-components systems, that promote addition of 4-amino-4-deoxy-L-arabinose to the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) through upregulation of operon arnBCADTEF-ugd (arn) expression. Here, we demonstrate that mutations occurring in different domains of histidine kinase PmrB or in response regulator PmrA result in coresistance to aminoglycosides and colistin. All seventeen clinical strains tested exhibiting such a cross-resistance phenotype were found to be pmrAB mutants. As shown by gene deletion experiments, the decreased susceptibility of the mutants to aminoglycosides was independent from operon arn but required the efflux system MexXY(OprM) and the products of three genes, PA4773-PA4774-PA4775, that are cotranscribed and activated with genes pmrAB Gene PA4773 (annotated as speD2 in PAO1 genome) and PA4774 (speE2) are predicted to encode enzymes involved in biosynthesis of polyamines. Comparative analysis of cell surface extracts of an in vitro selected pmrAB mutant, called AB16.2, and derivatives lacking PA4773, PA4774 and PA4775, respectively revealed that these genes were needed for norspermidine production via a pathway that likely uses 1,3-diaminoprane, a precursor of polyamines. Altogether, our results suggest that norspermidine decreases the self-promoted uptake pathway of aminoglycosides across the outer membrane and thereby potentiates the activity of efflux pump MexXY(OprM).
    • Pseudomonas aeruginosa ceftolozane-tazobactam resistance development requires multiple mutations leading to overexpression and structural modification of AmpC.

      Cabot, Gabriel; Bruchmann, Sebastian; Mulet, Xavier; Zamorano, Laura; Moyà, Bartolomé; Juan, Carlos; Haussler, Susanne; Oliver, Antonio; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2014-06)
      We compared the dynamics and mechanisms of resistance development to ceftazidime, meropenem, ciprofloxacin, and ceftolozane-tazobactam in wild-type (PAO1) and mutator (PAOMS, ΔmutS) P. aeruginosa. The strains were incubated for 24 h with 0.5 to 64× MICs of each antibiotic in triplicate experiments. The tubes from the highest antibiotic concentration showing growth were reinoculated in fresh medium containing concentrations up to 64× MIC for 7 consecutive days. The susceptibility profiles and resistance mechanisms were assessed in two isolated colonies from each step, antibiotic, and strain. Ceftolozane-tazobactam-resistant mutants were further characterized by whole-genome analysis through RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). The development of high-level resistance was fastest for ceftazidime, followed by meropenem and ciprofloxacin. None of the mutants selected with these antibiotics showed cross-resistance to ceftolozane-tazobactam. On the other hand, ceftolozane-tazobactam resistance development was much slower, and high-level resistance was observed for the mutator strain only. PAO1 derivatives that were moderately resistant (MICs, 4 to 8 μg/ml) to ceftolozane-tazobactam showed only 2 to 4 mutations, which determined global pleiotropic effects associated with a severe fitness cost. High-level-resistant (MICs, 32 to 128 μg/ml) PAOMS derivatives showed 45 to 53 mutations. Major changes in the global gene expression profiles were detected in all mutants, but only PAOMS mutants showed ampC overexpression, which was caused by dacB or ampR mutations. Moreover, all PAOMS mutants contained 1 to 4 mutations in the conserved residues of AmpC (F147L, Q157R, G183D, E247K, or V356I). Complementation studies revealed that these mutations greatly increased ceftolozane-tazobactam and ceftazidime MICs but reduced those of piperacillin-tazobactam and imipenem, compared to those in wild-type ampC. Therefore, the development of high-level resistance to ceftolozane-tazobactam appears to occur efficiently only in a P. aeruginosa mutator background, in which multiple mutations lead to overexpression and structural modifications of AmpC.
    • The Pseudomonas aeruginosa Transcriptional Landscape Is Shaped by Environmental Heterogeneity and Genetic Variation.

      Dötsch, Andreas; Schniederjans, Monika; Khaledi, Ariane; Hornischer, Klaus; Schulz, Sebastian; Bielecka, Agata; Eckweiler, Denitsa; Pohl, Sarah; Häussler, Susanne; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
      Phenotypic variability among bacteria depends on gene expression in response to different environments, and it also reflects differences in genomic structure. In this study, we analyzed transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) profiles of 151 Pseudomonas aeruginosa clinical isolates under standard laboratory conditions and of one P. aeruginosa type strain under 14 different environmental conditions. Our approach allowed dissection of the impact of the genetic background versus environmental cues on P. aeruginosa gene expression profiles and revealed that phenotypic variation was larger in response to changing environments than between genomically different isolates. We demonstrate that mutations within the global regulator LasR affect more than one trait (pleiotropy) and that the interaction between mutations (epistasis) shapes the P. aeruginosa phenotypic plasticity landscape. Because of pleiotropic and epistatic effects, average genotype and phenotype measures appeared to be uncorrelated in P. aeruginosa.
    • The Pseudomonas aeruginosa transcriptome in planktonic cultures and static biofilms using RNA sequencing.

      Dötsch, Andreas; Eckweiler, Denitsa; Schniederjans, Monika; Zimmermann, Ariane; Jensen, Vanessa; Scharfe, Maren; Geffers, Robert; Häussler, Susanne; Helmholtz Centre of infection research; Inhoffenstr. 7; D-38124 Braunschweig; Germany. (2012)
      In this study, we evaluated how gene expression differs in mature Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms as opposed to planktonic cells by the use of RNA sequencing technology that gives rise to both quantitative and qualitative information on the transcriptome. Although a large proportion of genes were consistently regulated in both the stationary phase and biofilm cultures as opposed to the late exponential growth phase cultures, the global biofilm gene expression pattern was clearly distinct indicating that biofilms are not just surface attached cells in stationary phase. A large amount of the genes found to be biofilm specific were involved in adaptation to microaerophilic growth conditions, repression of type three secretion and production of extracellular matrix components. Additionally, we found many small RNAs to be differentially regulated most of them similarly in stationary phase cultures and biofilms. A qualitative analysis of the RNA-seq data revealed more than 3000 putative transcriptional start sites (TSS). By the use of rapid amplification of cDNA ends (5'-RACE) we confirmed the presence of three different TSS associated with the pqsABCDE operon, two in the promoter of pqsA and one upstream of the second gene, pqsB. Taken together, this study reports the first transcriptome study on P. aeruginosa that employs RNA sequencing technology and provides insights into the quantitative and qualitative transcriptome including the expression of small RNAs in P. aeruginosa biofilms.
    • Quantitative Contributions of Target Alteration and Decreased Drug Accumulation to Pseudomonas aeruginosa Fluoroquinolone Resistance.

      Bruchmann, Sebastian; Dötsch, Andreas; Nouri, Bianka; Chaberny, Iris F; Häussler, Susanne; Department of Molecular Bacteriology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2013-03)
      Quinolone antibiotics constitute a clinically successful and widely used class of broad-spectrum antibiotics; however, the emergence and spread of resistance increasingly limits the use of fluoroquinolones in the treatment and management of microbial disease. In this study, we evaluated the quantitative contributions of quinolone target alteration and efflux pump expression to fluoroquinolone resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We generated isogenic mutations in hot spots of the quinolone resistance-determining regions (QRDRs) of gyrA, gyrB, and parC and inactivated the efflux regulator genes so as to overexpress the corresponding multidrug resistance (MDR) efflux pumps. We then introduced the respective mutations into the reference strain PA14 singly and in various combinations. Whereas the combined inactivation of two efflux regulator-encoding genes did not lead to resistance levels higher than those obtained by inactivation of only one efflux regulator-encoding gene, the combination of mutations leading to increased efflux and target alteration clearly exhibited an additive effect. This combination of target alteration and overexpression of efflux pumps was commonly observed in clinical P. aeruginosa isolates; however, these two mechanisms were frequently found not to be sufficient to explain the level of fluoroquinolone resistance. Our results suggest that there are additional mechanisms, independent of the expression of the MexAB-OprM, MexCD-OprJ, MexEF-OprN, and/or MexXY-OprM efflux pump, that increase ciprofloxacin resistance in isolates with mutations in the QRDRs.
    • Quantitative image analysis of microbial communities with BiofilmQ.

      Hartmann, Raimo; Jeckel, Hannah; Jelli, Eric; Singh, Praveen K; Vaidya, Sanika; Bayer, Miriam; Rode, Daniel K H; Vidakovic, Lucia; Díaz-Pascual, Francisco; Fong, Jiunn C N; et al. (Nature research, 2021-01-04)
      Biofilms are microbial communities that represent a highly abundant form of microbial life on Earth. Inside biofilms, phenotypic and genotypic variations occur in three-dimensional space and time; microscopy and quantitative image analysis are therefore crucial for elucidating their functions. Here, we present BiofilmQ-a comprehensive image cytometry software tool for the automated and high-throughput quantification, analysis and visualization of numerous biofilm-internal and whole-biofilm properties in three-dimensional space and time.
    • Quo vadis clinical diagnostic microbiology?

      Haag, Sara; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2021-07-26)
      No abstract available
    • Recycling of Peptidyl-tRNAs by Peptidyl-tRNA Hydrolase Counteracts Azithromycin-Mediated Effects on Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Gödeke, Julia; Pustelny, Christian; Häussler, Susanne; Gödeke, Julia; Pustelny, Christian; Häussler, Susanne; Department of Molecular Bacteriology, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany.; Department of Molecular Bacteriology, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2013-04)
      Acute and chronic infections caused by the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa pose a serious threat to human health worldwide, and its increasing resistance to antibiotics requires alternative treatments that are more effective than available strategies. Clinical studies have clearly demonstrated that cystic fibrosis (CF) patients with chronic P. aeruginosa infections benefit from long-term low-dose azithromycin (AZM) treatment. Immunomodulating activity, the impact of AZM on the expression of quorum-sensing-dependent virulence factors, type three secretion, and motility in P. aeruginosa seem to contribute to the therapeutic response. However, to date, the molecular mechanisms underlying these AZM effects have remained elusive. Our data indicate that the AZM-mediated phenotype is caused by a depletion of the intracellular pools of tRNAs available for protein synthesis. Overexpression of the P. aeruginosa peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase, which recycles the tRNA from peptidyl-tRNA drop-off during translation, counteracted the effects of AZM on stationary-phase cell killing, cytotoxicity, and the production of rhamnolipids and partially restored swarming motility. Intriguingly, the exchange of a rare for a frequent codon in rhlR also explicitly diminished the AZM-mediated decreased production of rhamnolipids. These results indicate that depletion of the tRNA pools by AZM seems to affect the translation of genes that use rare aminoacyl-tRNA isoacceptors to a great extent and might explain the selective activity of AZM on the P. aeruginosa proteome and possibly also on the protein expression profiles of other bacterial pathogens.
    • Regulation of Flagellum Biosynthesis in Response to Cell Envelope Stress in Serovar Typhimurium.

      Spöring, Imke; Felgner, Sebastian; Preuße, Matthias; Eckweiler, Denitsa; Rohde, M; Häussler, Susanne; Weiss, Siegfried; Erhardt, Marc (2018-05-01)
      Flagellum-driven motility of serovar Typhimurium facilitates host colonization. However, the large extracellular flagellum is also a prime target for the immune system. As consequence, expression of flagella is bistable within a population of , resulting in flagellated and nonflagellated subpopulations. This allows the bacteria to maximize fitness in hostile environments. The degenerate EAL domain protein RflP (formerly YdiV) is responsible for the bistable expression of flagella by directing the flagellar master regulatory complex FlhDC with respect to proteolytic degradation. Information concerning the environmental cues controlling expression of and thus about the bistable flagellar biosynthesis remains ambiguous. Here, we demonstrated that RflP responds to cell envelope stress and alterations of outer membrane integrity. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) truncation mutants of Typhimurium exhibited increasing motility defects due to downregulation of flagellar gene expression. Transposon mutagenesis and genetic profiling revealed that σ (RpoE) and Rcs phosphorelay-dependent cell envelope stress response systems sense modifications of the lipopolysaccaride, low pH, and activity of the complement system. This subsequently results in activation of RflP expression and degradation of FlhDC via ClpXP. We speculate that the presence of diverse hostile environments inside the host might result in cell envelope damage and would thus trigger the repression of resource-costly and immunogenic flagellum biosynthesis via activation of the cell envelope stress response. Pathogenic bacteria such as Typhimurium sense and adapt to a multitude of changing and stressful environments during host infection. At the initial stage of gastrointestinal colonization, uses flagellum-mediated motility to reach preferred sites of infection. However, the flagellum also constitutes a prime target for the host's immune response. Accordingly, the pathogen needs to determine the spatiotemporal stage of infection and control flagellar biosynthesis in a robust manner. We found that uses signals from cell envelope stress-sensing systems to turn off production of flagella. We speculate that downregulation of flagellum synthesis after cell envelope damage in hostile environments aids survival of during late stages of infection and provides a means to escape recognition by the immune system.
    • Removable denture is a risk indicator for peri-implantitis and facilitates expansion of specific periodontopathogens: a cross-sectional study.

      Grischke, Jasmin; Szafrański, Szymon P; Muthukumarasamy, Uthayakumar; Häussler, Susanne; Stiesch, Meike; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (BMC, 2021-04-01)
      Background: The prevalence of peri-implantitis ranges between 7 and 38.4% depending on risk indicators such as smoking, diabetes mellitus, lack of periodontal maintenance program, and history or presence of periodontitis. Currently, the possible effect of the type of superstructure on peri-implant health is unclear. This cross-sectional study aims to investigate the influence of the superstructure on the prevalence of peri-implant mucositis, peri-implantitis and peri-implant dysbiosis. Methods: During a 32-month recruitment period dental implants were assessed to diagnose healthy peri-implant tissues, mucositis or peri-implantitis. The study included 1097 implants in 196 patients. Out of all peri-implantitis cases 20 randomly chosen submucosal biofilms from implants with fixed denture (FD) originating from 13 patients and 11 biofilms from implants with removable dentures (RD) originating from 3 patients were studied for microbiome analysis. Composition of transcriptionally active biofilms was revealed by RNAseq. Metatranscriptomic profiles were created for thirty-one peri-implant biofilms suffering from peri-implantitis and microbiome changes associated with superstructure types were identified. Results: 16.41% of the implants were diagnosed with peri-implantitis, 25.00% of implants with RD and 12.68% of implants with FD, respectively. Multivariate analysis showed a significant positive association on patient (p = < 0.001) and implant level (p = 0.03) between the prevalence of peri-implantitis and RD. Eight bacterial species were associated either with FD or RD by linear discriminant analysis effect size method. However, significant intergroup confounders (e.g. smoking) were present. Conclusions: Within the limitations of the present work, RDs appear to be a risk indicator for peri-implantitis and seem to facilitate expansion of specific periodontopathogens. Potential ecological and pathological consequences of shift in microbiome from RDs towards higher activity of Fusobacterium nucleatum subspecies animalis and Prevotella intermedia require further investigation.
    • RNASeq Based Transcriptional Profiling of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14 after Short- and Long-Term Anoxic Cultivation in Synthetic Cystic Fibrosis Sputum Medium.

      Tata, Muralidhar; Wolfinger, Michael T; Amman, Fabian; Roschanski, Nicole; Dötsch, Andreas; Sonnleitner, Elisabeth; Häussler, Susanne; Bläsi, Udo; Helmholtz Centre for infection research (HZI), Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      The opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa can thrive under microaerophilic to anaerobic conditions in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. RNASeq based comparative RNA profiling of the clinical isolate PA14 cultured in synthetic cystic fibrosis medium was performed after planktonic growth (OD600 = 2.0; P), 30 min after shift to anaerobiosis (A-30) and after anaerobic biofilm growth for 96h (B-96) with the aim to reveal differentially regulated functions impacting on sustained anoxic biofilm formation as well as on tolerance towards different antibiotics. Most notably, functions involved in sulfur metabolism were found to be up-regulated in B-96 cells when compared to A-30 cells. Based on the transcriptome studies a set of transposon mutants were screened, which revealed novel functions involved in anoxic biofilm growth.In addition, these studies revealed a decreased and an increased abundance of the oprD and the mexCD-oprJ operon transcripts, respectively, in B-96 cells, which may explain their increased tolerance towards meropenem and to antibiotics that are expelled by the MexCD-OprD efflux pump. The OprI protein has been implicated as a target for cationic antimicrobial peptides, such as SMAP-29. The transcriptome and subsequent Northern-blot analyses showed that the abundance of the oprI transcript encoding the OprI protein is strongly decreased in B-96 cells. However, follow up studies revealed that the susceptibility of a constructed PA14ΔoprI mutant towards SMAP-29 was indistinguishable from the parental wild-type strain, which questions OprI as a target for this antimicrobial peptide in strain PA14.