• Yersinia pseudotuberculosis supports Th17 differentiation and limits de novo regulatory T cell induction by directly interfering with T cell receptor signaling.

      Pasztoi, Maria; Bonifacius, Agnes; Pezoldt, Joern; Kulkarni, Devesha; Niemz, Jana; Yang, Juhao; Teich, René; Hajek, Janina; Pisano, Fabio; Rohde, Manfred; et al. (2017-04-04)
      Adaptive immunity critically contributes to control acute infection with enteropathogenic Yersinia pseudotuberculosis; however, the role of CD4(+) T cell subsets in establishing infection and allowing pathogen persistence remains elusive. Here, we assessed the modulatory capacity of Y. pseudotuberculosis on CD4(+) T cell differentiation. Using in vivo assays, we report that infection with Y. pseudotuberculosis resulted in enhanced priming of IL-17-producing T cells (Th17 cells), whereas induction of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) was severely disrupted in gut-draining mesenteric lymph nodes (mLNs), in line with altered frequencies of tolerogenic and proinflammatory dendritic cell (DC) subsets within mLNs. Additionally, by using a DC-free in vitro system, we could demonstrate that Y. pseudotuberculosis can directly modulate T cell receptor (TCR) downstream signaling within naïve CD4(+) T cells and Tregs via injection of effector molecules through the type III secretion system, thereby affecting their functional properties. Importantly, modulation of naïve CD4(+) T cells by Y. pseudotuberculosis resulted in an enhanced Th17 differentiation and decreased induction of Foxp3(+) Tregs in vitro. These findings shed light to the adjustment of the Th17-Treg axis in response to acute Y. pseudotuberculosis infection and highlight the direct modulation of CD4(+) T cell subsets by altering their TCR downstream signaling.
    • The Type III Effector NleD from Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli Differentiates between Host Substrates p38 and JNK.

      Creuzburg, Kristina; Giogha, Cristina; Wong Fok Lung, Tania; Scott, Nichollas E; Mühlen, Sabrina; Hartland, Elizabeth L; Pearson, Jaclyn S; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-02)
      Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) is a gastrointestinal pathogen that utilizes a type III secretion system (T3SS) to inject an array of virulence effector proteins into host enterocytes to subvert numerous cellular processes for successful colonization and dissemination. The T3SS effector NleD is a 26-kDa zinc metalloprotease that is translocated into host enterocytes, where it directly cleaves and inactivates the mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling proteins JNK and p38. Here a library of 91 random transposon-based, in-frame, linker insertion mutants of NleD were tested for their ability to cleave JNK and p38 during transient transfection of cultured epithelial cells. Immunoblot analysis of p38 and JNK cleavage showed that 7 mutant derivatives of NleD no longer cleaved p38 but maintained the ability to cleave JNK. Site-directed mutation of specific regions surrounding the insertion sites within NleD revealed that a single amino acid, R203, was essential for cleavage of p38 but not JNK in a direct in vitro cleavage assay, in transiently transfected cells, or in EPEC-infected cells. Mass spectrometry analysis narrowed the cleavage region to within residues 187 and 213 of p38. Mutation of residue R203 within NleD to a glutamate residue abolished the cleavage of p38 and impaired the ability of NleD to inhibit AP-1-dependent gene transcription of a luciferase reporter. Furthermore, the R203 mutation abrogated the ability of NleD to dampen interleukin-6 production in EPEC-infected cells. Overall, this work provides greater insight into substrate recognition and specificity by the type III effector NleD.
    • Tissue dual RNA-seq allows fast discovery of infection-specific functions and riboregulators shaping host-pathogen transcriptomes.

      Nuss, Aaron M; Beckstette, Michael; Pimenova, Maria; Schmühl, Carina; Opitz, Wiebke; Pisano, Fabio; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-31)
      Pathogenic bacteria need to rapidly adjust their virulence and fitness program to prevent eradication by the host. So far, underlying adaptation processes that drive pathogenesis have mostly been studied in vitro, neglecting the true complexity of host-induced stimuli acting on the invading pathogen. In this study, we developed an unbiased experimental approach that allows simultaneous monitoring of genome-wide infection-linked transcriptional alterations of the host and colonizing extracellular pathogens. Using this tool for Yersinia pseudotuberculosis-infected lymphatic tissues, we revealed numerous alterations of host transcripts associated with inflammatory and acute-phase responses, coagulative activities, and transition metal ion sequestration, highlighting that the immune response is dominated by infiltrating neutrophils and elicits a mixed TH17/TH1 response. In consequence, the pathogen's response is mainly directed to prevent phagocytic attacks. Yersinia up-regulates the gene and expression dose of the antiphagocytic type III secretion system (T3SS) and induces functions counteracting neutrophil-induced ion deprivation, radical stress, and nutritional restraints. Several conserved bacterial riboregulators were identified that impacted this response. The strongest influence on virulence was found for the loss of the carbon storage regulator (Csr) system, which is shown to be essential for the up-regulation of the T3SS on host cell contact. In summary, our established approach provides a powerful tool for the discovery of infection-specific stimuli, induced host and pathogen responses, and underlying regulatory processes.
    • RNA Regulators: Formidable Modulators of Yersinia Virulence.

      Nuss, Aaron M; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01)
      A large repertoire of RNA-based regulatory mechanisms, including a plethora of cis- and trans-acting noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), sensory RNA elements, regulatory RNA-binding proteins, and RNA-degrading enzymes have been uncovered lately as key players in the regulation of metabolism, stress responses, and virulence of the genus Yersinia. Many of them are strictly controlled in response to fluctuating environmental conditions sensed during the course of the infection, and certain riboregulators have already been shown to be crucial for virulence. Some of them are highly conserved among the family Enterobacteriaceae, while others are genus-, species-, or strain-specific and could contribute to the difference in Yersinia pathogenicity. Importantly, the analysis of Yersinia riboregulators has not only uncovered crucial elements and regulatory mechanisms governing host-pathogen interactions, it also revealed exciting new venues for the design of novel anti-infectives.
    • Roles of Regulatory RNAs for Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria and Their Potential Value as Novel Drug Targets.

      Dersch, Petra; Khan, Muna A; Mühlen, Sabrina; Görke, Boris; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      The emergence of antibiotic resistance mechanisms among bacterial pathogens increases the demand for novel treatment strategies. Lately, the contribution of non-coding RNAs to antibiotic resistance and their potential value as drug targets became evident. RNA attenuator elements in mRNA leader regions couple expression of resistance genes to the presence of the cognate antibiotic. Trans-encoded small RNAs (sRNAs) modulate antibiotic tolerance by base-pairing with mRNAs encoding functions important for resistance such as metabolic enzymes, drug efflux pumps, or transport proteins. Bacteria respond with extensive changes of their sRNA repertoire to antibiotics. Each antibiotic generates a unique sRNA profile possibly causing downstream effects that may help to overcome the antibiotic challenge. In consequence, regulatory RNAs including sRNAs and their protein interaction partners such as Hfq may prove useful as targets for antimicrobial chemotherapy. Indeed, several compounds have been developed that kill bacteria by mimicking ligands for riboswitches controlling essential genes, demonstrating that regulatory RNA elements are druggable targets. Drugs acting on sRNAs are considered for combined therapies to treat infections. In this review, we address how regulatory RNAs respond to and establish resistance to antibiotics in bacteria. Approaches to target RNAs involved in intrinsic antibiotic resistance or virulence for chemotherapy will be discussed.
    • Management of a cluster of Clostridium difficile infections among patients with osteoarticular infections.

      Färber, Jacqueline; Illiger, Sebastian; Berger, Fabian; Gärtner, Barbara; von Müller, Lutz; Lohmann, Christoph H; Bauer, Katja; Grabau, Christina; Zibolka, Stefanie; Schlüter, Dirk; et al. (2017)
      Here we describe a cluster of hospital-acquired Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) among 26 patients with osteoarticular infections. The aim of the study was to define the source of C. difficile and to evaluate the impact of general infection control measures and antibiotic stewardship on the incidence of CDI.
    • Transcriptomic and Phenotypic Analysis Reveals New Functions for the Tat Pathway in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

      Avican, Ummehan; Beckstette, Michael; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Lavander, Moa; Dersch, Petra; Forsberg, Åke; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-10-15)
      The twin-arginine translocation (Tat) system mediates the secretion of folded proteins that are identified via an N-terminal signal peptide in bacteria, plants, and archaea. Tat systems are associated with virulence in many bacterial pathogens, and our previous studies revealed that Tat-deficient Yersinia pseudotuberculosis was severely attenuated for virulence. Aiming to identify Tat-dependent pathways and phenotypes of relevance for in vivo infection, we analyzed the global transcriptome of parental and ΔtatC mutant strains of Y. pseudotuberculosis during exponential and stationary growth at 26°C and 37°C. The most significant changes in the transcriptome of the ΔtatC mutant were seen at 26°C during stationary-phase growth, and these included the altered expression of genes related to virulence, stress responses, and metabolism. Subsequent phenotypic analysis based on these transcriptome changes revealed several novel Tat-dependent phenotypes, including decreased YadA expression, impaired growth under iron-limited and high-copper conditions, as well as acidic pH and SDS. Several functionally related Tat substrates were also verified to contribute to these phenotypes. Interestingly, the phenotypic defects observed in the Tat-deficient strain were generally more pronounced than those in mutants lacking the Tat substrate predicted to contribute to that specific function. Altogether, this provides new insight into the impact of Tat deficiency on in vivo fitness and survival/replication of Y. pseudotuberculosis during infection.
    • Increased plasmid copy number is essential for Yersinia T3SS function and virulence.

      Wang, He; Avican, Kemal; Fahlgren, Anna; Erttmann, Saskia F; Nuss, Aaron M; Dersch, Petra; Fallman, Maria; Edgren, Tomas; Wolf-Watz, Hans; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsfoschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-07-29)
      Pathogenic bacteria have evolved numerous virulence mechanisms that are essential for establishing infections. The enterobacterium Yersinia uses a type III secretion system (T3SS) encoded by a 70-kilobase, low-copy, IncFII-class virulence plasmid. We report a novel virulence strategy in Y. pseudotuberculosis in which this pathogen up-regulates the plasmid copy number during infection. We found that an increased dose of plasmid-encoded genes is indispensable for virulence and substantially elevates the expression and function of the T3SS. Remarkably, we observed direct, tight coupling between plasmid replication and T3SS function. This regulatory pathway provides a framework for further exploration of the environmental sensing mechanisms of pathogenic bacteria.
    • RNA-based mechanisms of virulence control in Enterobacteriaceae.

      Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Nuss, Aaron M; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-07-21)
      Enteric pathogens of the family Enterobacteriaceae colonize various niches within animals and humans in which they compete with intestinal commensals and are attacked by the host immune system. To survive these hostile environments they possess complex, multilayer regulatory networks that coordinate the control of virulence factors, host-adapted metabolic functions and stress resistance. An important part of these intricate control networks are RNA-based control systems that enable the pathogen to fine-tune its responses. Recent next-generation sequencing approaches revealed a large repertoire of conserved and species-specific riboregulators, including numerous cis- and trans-acting non-coding RNAs, sensory RNA elements (RNA thermometers, riboswitches), regulatory RNA-binding proteins and RNA degrading enzymes which regulate colonization factors, toxins, host defense processes and virulence-relevant physiological and metabolic processes. All of which are important cues for pathogens to sense and respond to fluctuating conditions during the infection. This review covers infection-relevant riboregulators of E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella and Yersinia, highlights their versatile regulatory mechanisms, complex target regulons and functions, and discusses emerging topics and future challenges to fully understand and exploit RNA-based control to combat bacterial infections.
    • Temperature-responsive in vitro RNA structurome of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

      Righetti, Francesco; Nuss, Aaron M; Twittenhoff, Christian; Beele, Sascha; Urban, Kristina; Will, Sebastian; Bernhart, Stephan H; Stadler, Peter F; Dersch, Petra; Narberhaus, Franz; et al. (2016-06-28)
      RNA structures are fundamentally important for RNA function. Dynamic, condition-dependent structural changes are able to modulate gene expression as shown for riboswitches and RNA thermometers. By parallel analysis of RNA structures, we mapped the RNA structurome of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis at three different temperatures. This human pathogen is exquisitely responsive to host body temperature (37 °C), which induces a major metabolic transition. Our analysis profiles the structure of more than 1,750 RNAs at 25 °C, 37 °C, and 42 °C. Average mRNAs tend to be unstructured around the ribosome binding site. We searched for 5'-UTRs that are folded at low temperature and identified novel thermoresponsive RNA structures from diverse gene categories. The regulatory potential of 16 candidates was validated. In summary, we present a dynamic bacterial RNA structurome and find that the expression of virulence-relevant functions in Y. pseudotuberculosis and reprogramming of its metabolism in response to temperature is associated with a restructuring of numerous mRNAs.
    • Hypoxia Decreases Invasin-Mediated Yersinia enterocolitica Internalization into Caco-2 Cells.

      Zeitouni, Nathalie E; Dersch, Petra; Naim, Hassan Y; von Köckritz-Blickwede, Maren; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Yersinia enterocolitica is a major cause of human yersiniosis, with enterocolitis being a typical manifestation. These bacteria can cross the intestinal mucosa, and invade eukaryotic cells by binding to host β1 integrins, a process mediated by the bacterial effector protein invasin. This study examines the role of hypoxia on the internalization of Y. enterocolitica into intestinal epithelial cells, since the gastrointestinal tract has been shown to be physiologically deficient in oxygen levels (hypoxic), especially in cases of infection and inflammation. We show that hypoxic pre-incubation of Caco-2 cells resulted in significantly decreased bacterial internalization compared to cells grown under normoxia. This phenotype was absent after functionally blocking host β1 integrins as well as upon infection with an invasin-deficient Y. enterocolitica strain. Furthermore, downstream phosphorylation of the focal adhesion kinase was also reduced under hypoxia after infection. In good correlation to these data, cells grown under hypoxia showed decreased protein levels of β1 integrins at the apical cell surface whereas the total protein level of the hypoxia inducible factor (HIF-1) alpha was elevated. Furthermore, treatment of cells with the HIF-1 α stabilizer dimethyloxalylglycine (DMOG) also reduced invasion and decreased β1 integrin protein levels compared to control cells, indicating a potential role for HIF-1α in this process. These results suggest that hypoxia decreases invasin-integrin-mediated internalization of Y. enterocolitica into intestinal epithelial cells by reducing cell surface localization of host β1 integrins.
    • Anti-virulence Strategies to Target Bacterial Infections.

      Mühlen, Sabrina; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Resistance of important bacterial pathogens to common antimicrobial therapies and the emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteria are increasing at an alarming rate and constitute one of our greatest challenges in the combat of bacterial infection and accompanied diseases. The current shortage of effective drugs, lack of successful prevention measures and only a few new antibiotics in the clinical pipeline demand the development of novel treatment options and alternative antimicrobial therapies. Our increasing understanding of bacterial virulence strategies and the induced molecular pathways of the infectious disease provides novel opportunities to target and interfere with crucial pathogenicity factors or virulence-associated traits of the bacteria while bypassing the evolutionary pressure on the bacterium to develop resistance. In the past decade, numerous new bacterial targets for anti-virulence therapies have been identified, and structure-based tailoring of intervention strategies and screening assays for small-molecule inhibitors of such pathways were successfully established. In this chapter, we will take a closer look at the bacterial virulence-related factors and processes that present promising targets for anti-virulence therapies, recently discovered inhibitory substances and their promises and discuss the challenges, and problems that have to be faced.
    • Identification of a Distinct Substrate-binding Domain in the Bacterial Cysteine Methyltransferase Effectors NleE and OspZ.

      Zhang, Ying; Mühlen, Sabrina; Oates, Clare V; Pearson, Jaclyn S; Hartland, Elizabeth L; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      The type III secretion system effector protein NleE from enteropathogenic Escherichia coli plays a key role in the inhibition of NF-κB activation during infection. NleE inactivates the ubiquitin chain binding activity of host proteins TAK1-binding proteins 2 and 3 (TAB2 and TAB3) by modifying the Npl4 zinc finger domain through S-adenosyl methionine-dependent cysteine methylation. Using yeast two-hybrid protein interaction studies, we found that a conserved region between amino acids 34 and 52 of NleE, in particular the motif (49)GITR(52), was critical for TAB2 and TAB3 binding. NleE mutants lacking (49)GITR(52) were unable to methylate TAB3, and wild type NleE but not NleE(49AAAA52) where each of GITR was replaced with alanine restored the ability of an nleE mutant to inhibit IL-8 production during infection. Another NleE target, ZRANB3, also associated with NleE through the (49)GITR(52) motif. Ectopic expression of an N-terminal fragment of NleE (NleE(34-52)) in HeLa cells showed competitive inhibition of wild type NleE in the suppression of IL-8 secretion during enteropathogenic E. coli infection. Similar results were observed for the NleE homologue OspZ from Shigella flexneri 6 that also bound TAB3 through the (49)GITR(52) motif and decreased IL-8 transcription through modification of TAB3. In summary, we have identified a unique substrate-binding motif in NleE and OspZ that is required for the ability to inhibit the host inflammatory response.
    • Persistence of Toxoplasma gondii in the central nervous system: a fine-tuned balance between the parasite, the brain and the immune system.

      Blanchard, N; Dunay, I R; Schlüter, D; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-03)
      Upon infection of humans and animals with Toxoplasma gondii, the parasites persist as intraneuronal cysts that are controlled, but not eliminated by the immune system. In particular, intracerebral T cells are crucial in the control of T. gondii infection and are supported by essential functions from other leukocyte populations. Additionally, brain-resident cells including astrocytes, microglia and neurons contribute to the intracerebral immune response by the production of cytokines, chemokines and expression of immunoregulatory cell surface molecules, such as major histocompatibility (MHC) antigens. However, the in vivo behaviour of these individual cell populations, specifically their interaction during cerebral toxoplasmosis, remains to be elucidated. We discuss here what is known about the function of T cells, recruited myeloid cells and brain-resident cells, with particular emphasis on the potential cross-regulation of these cell populations, in governing cerebral toxoplasmosis.
    • Toxoplasma gondii-induced neuronal alterations.

      Parlog, A; Schlüter, D; Dunay, I R; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-03)
      The zoonotic pathogen Toxoplasma gondii infects over 30% of the human population. The intracellular parasite can persist lifelong in the CNS within neurons modifying their function and structure, thus leading to specific behavioural changes of the host. In recent years, several in vitro studies and murine models have focused on the elucidation of these modifications. Furthermore, investigations of the human population have correlated Toxoplasma seropositivity with changes in neurological functions; however, the complex underlying mechanisms of the subtle behavioural alteration are still not fully understood. The parasites are able to induce direct modifications in the infected cells, for example by altering dopamine metabolism, by functionally silencing neurons as well as by hindering apoptosis. Moreover, indirect effects of the peripheral immune system and alterations of the immune status of the CNS, observed during chronic infection, might also contribute to changes in neuronal connectivity and synaptic plasticity. In this review, we will provide an overview and highlight recent advances, which describe changes in the neuronal function and morphology upon T. gondii infection.
    • Complete genome sequence and description of Salinispira pacifica gen. nov., sp. nov., a novel spirochaete isolated form a hypersaline microbial mat

      Ben Hania, Wajdi; Joseph, Manon; Schumann, Peter; Bunk, Boyke; Fiebig, Anne; Spröer, Cathrin; Klenk, Hans-Peter; Fardeau, Marie-Laure; Spring, Stefan (2015-02-09)
      Abstract During a study of the anaerobic microbial community of a lithifying hypersaline microbial mat of Lake 21 on the Kiritimati atoll (Kiribati Republic, Central Pacific) strain L21-RPul-D2T was isolated. The closest phylogenetic neighbor was Spirochaeta africana Z-7692T that shared a 16S rRNA gene sequence identity value of 90% with the novel strain and thus was only distantly related. A comprehensive polyphasic study including determination of the complete genome sequence was initiated to characterize the novel isolate. Cells of strain L21-RPul-D2T had a size of 0.2 – 0.25 × 8–9 μm, were helical, motile, stained Gram-negative and produced an orange carotenoid-like pigment. Optimal conditions for growth were 35°C, a salinity of 50 g/l NaCl and a pH around 7.0. Preferred substrates for growth were carbohydrates and a few carboxylic acids. The novel strain had an obligate fermentative metabolism and produced ethanol, acetate, lactate, hydrogen and carbon dioxide during growth on glucose. Strain L21-RPul-D2T was aerotolerant, but oxygen did not stimulate growth. Major cellular fatty acids were C14:0, iso-C15:0, C16:0 and C18:0. The major polar lipids were an unidentified aminolipid, phosphatidylglycerol, an unidentified phospholipid and two unidentified glycolipids. Whole-cell hydrolysates contained L-ornithine as diagnostic diamino acid of the cell wall peptidoglycan. The complete genome sequence was determined and annotated. The genome comprised one circular chromosome with a size of 3.78 Mbp that contained 3450 protein-coding genes and 50 RNA genes, including 2 operons of ribosomal RNA genes. The DNA G + C content was determined from the genome sequence as 51.9 mol%. There were no predicted genes encoding cytochromes or enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of respiratory lipoquinones. Based on significant differences to the uncultured type species of the genus Spirochaeta, S. plicatilis, as well as to any other phylogenetically related cultured species it is suggested to place strain L21-RPul-D2T (=DSM 27196T = JCM 18663T) in a novel species and genus, for which the name Salinispira pacifica gen. nov., sp. nov. is proposed.
    • Transcriptomic Profiling of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis Reveals Reprogramming of the Crp Regulon by Temperature and Uncovers Crp as a Master Regulator of Small RNAs.

      Nuss, Aaron M; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Waldmann, Barbara; Reinkensmeier, Jan; Jarek, Michael; Beckstette, Michael; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-02)
      One hallmark of pathogenic yersiniae is their ability to rapidly adjust their life-style and pathogenesis upon host entry. In order to capture the range, magnitude and complexity of the underlying gene control mechanisms we used comparative RNA-seq-based transcriptomic profiling of the enteric pathogen Y. pseudotuberculosis under environmental and infection-relevant conditions. We identified 1151 individual transcription start sites, multiple riboswitch-like RNA elements, and a global set of antisense RNAs and previously unrecognized trans-acting RNAs. Taking advantage of these data, we revealed a temperature-induced and growth phase-dependent reprogramming of a large set of catabolic/energy production genes and uncovered the existence of a thermo-regulated 'acetate switch', which appear to prime the bacteria for growth in the digestive tract. To elucidate the regulatory architecture linking nutritional status to virulence we also refined the CRP regulon. We identified a massive remodelling of the CRP-controlled network in response to temperature and discovered CRP as a transcriptional master regulator of numerous conserved and newly identified non-coding RNAs which participate in this process. This finding highlights a novel level of complexity of the regulatory network in which the concerted action of transcriptional regulators and multiple non-coding RNAs under control of CRP adjusts the control of Yersinia fitness and virulence to the requirements of their environmental and virulent life-styles.
    • Reprogramming of Yersinia from virulent to persistent mode revealed by complex in vivo RNA-seq analysis.

      Avican, Kemal; Fahlgren, Anna; Huss, Mikael; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Beckstette, Michael; Dersch, Petra; Fällman, Maria (2015-01)
      We recently found that Yersinia pseudotuberculosis can be used as a model of persistent bacterial infections. We performed in vivo RNA-seq of bacteria in small cecal tissue biopsies at early and persistent stages of infection to determine strategies associated with persistence. Comprehensive analysis of mixed RNA populations from infected tissues revealed that Y. pseudotuberculosis undergoes transcriptional reprogramming with drastic down-regulation of T3SS virulence genes during persistence when the pathogen resides within the cecum. At the persistent stage, the expression pattern in many respects resembles the pattern seen in vitro at 26oC, with for example, up-regulation of flagellar genes and invA. These findings are expected to have impact on future rationales to identify suitable bacterial targets for new antibiotics. Other genes that are up-regulated during persistence are genes involved in anaerobiosis, chemotaxis, and protection against oxidative and acidic stress, which indicates the influence of different environmental cues. We found that the Crp/CsrA/RovA regulatory cascades influence the pattern of bacterial gene expression during persistence. Furthermore, arcA, fnr, frdA, and wrbA play critical roles in persistence. Our findings suggest a model for the life cycle of this enteropathogen with reprogramming from a virulent to an adapted phenotype capable of persisting and spreading by fecal shedding.
    • Yersinia Type III Secretion System Master Regulator LcrF.

      Schwiesow, Leah; Lam, Hanh; Dersch, Petra; Auerbuch, Victoria; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
      Many Gram-negative pathogens express a type III secretion (T3SS) system to enable growth and survival within a host. The three human-pathogenic Yersinia species, Y. pestis, Y. pseudotuberculosis, and Y. enterocolitica, encode the Ysc T3SS, whose expression is controlled by an AraC-like master regulator called LcrF. In this review, we discuss LcrF structure and function as well as the environmental cues and pathways known to regulate LcrF expression. Similarities and differences in binding motifs and modes of action between LcrF and the Pseudomonas aeruginosa homolog ExsA are summarized. In addition, we present a new bioinformatics analysis that identifies putative LcrF binding sites within Yersinia target gene promoters.
    • Natural Killer Cells Mediate Protection against Yersinia pseudotuberculosis in the Mesenteric Lymph Nodes.

      Rosenheinrich, Maik; Heine, Wiebke; Schmühl, Carina M; Pisano, Fabio; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
      Natural killer cells play a crucial role in the initial defense against bacterial pathogens. The crosstalk between host cells infected with intracellular pathogens and NK cells has been studied intensively, but not much attention has been given to characterize the role of NK cells in the response to extracellular bacterial pathogens such as yersiniae. In this study we used antibody-mediated NK cell depletion to address the importance of this immune cell type in controlling a Y. pseudotuberculosis infection. Analysis of the bacterial counts was used to follow the infection and flow cytometry was performed to characterize the composition and dynamic of immune cells. Depletion of NK cells led to higher bacterial loads within the mesenteric lymph nodes. We further show that in particular CD11b+ CD27+ NK cells which express higher levels of the activation marker CD69 increase within the mesenteric lymph nodes during a Y. pseudotuberculosis infection. Moreover, in response to the activation NK cells secrete higher levels of IFNy, which in turn triggers the production of the proinflammatory cytokine TNFα. These results suggest, that NK cells aid in the clearance of Y. pseudotuberculosis infections mainly by triggering the expression of proinflammatory cytokines manipulating the host immune response.