• Acquired type III secretion system determines environmental fitness of epidemic Vibrio parahaemolyticus in the interaction with bacterivorous protists.

      Matz, Carsten; Nouri, Bianka; McCarter, Linda; Martinez-Urtaza, Jaime; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2011)
      Genome analyses of marine microbial communities have revealed the widespread occurrence of genomic islands (GIs), many of which encode for protein secretion machineries described in the context of bacteria-eukaryote interactions. Yet experimental support for the specific roles of such GIs in aquatic community interactions remains scarce. Here, we test for the contribution of type III secretion systems (T3SS) to the environmental fitness of epidemic Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Comparisons of V. parahaemolyticus wild types and T3SS-defective mutants demonstrate that the T3SS encoded on genome island VPaI-7 (T3SS-2) promotes survival of V. parahaemolyticus in the interaction with diverse protist taxa. Enhanced persistence was found to be due to T3SS-2 mediated cytotoxicity and facultative parasitism of V. parahaemolyticus on coexisting protists. Growth in the presence of bacterivorous protists and the T3SS-2 genotype showed a strong correlation across environmental and clinical isolates of V. parahaemolyticus. Short-term microcosm experiments provide evidence that protistan hosts facilitate the invasion of T3SS-2 positive V. parahaemolyticus into a coastal plankton community, and that water temperature and productivity further promote enhanced survival of T3SS-2 positive V. parahaemolyticus. This study is the first to describe the fitness advantage of GI-encoded functions in a microbial food web, which may provide a mechanistic explanation for the global spread and the seasonal dynamics of V. parahaemolyticus pathotypes, including the pandemic serotype cluster O3:K6, in aquatic environments.
    • Beta-lactam resistance response triggered by inactivation of a nonessential penicillin-binding protein.

      Moya, Bartolomé; Dötsch, Andreas; Juan, Carlos; Blázquez, Jesús; Zamorano, Laura; Haussler, Susanne; Oliver, Antonio; Servicio de Microbiología and Unidad de Investigación, Hospital Son Dureta, Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Ciencias de la Salud Palma de Mallorca, Spain. (2009-03)
      It has long been recognized that the modification of penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) to reduce their affinity for beta-lactams is an important mechanism (target modification) by which Gram-positive cocci acquire antibiotic resistance. Among Gram-negative rods (GNR), however, this mechanism has been considered unusual, and restricted to clinically irrelevant laboratory mutants for most species. Using as a model Pseudomonas aeruginosa, high up on the list of pathogens causing life-threatening infections in hospitalized patients worldwide, we show that PBPs may also play a major role in beta-lactam resistance in GNR, but through a totally distinct mechanism. Through a detailed genetic investigation, including whole-genome analysis approaches, we demonstrate that high-level (clinical) beta-lactam resistance in vitro, in vivo, and in the clinical setting is driven by the inactivation of the dacB-encoded nonessential PBP4, which behaves as a trap target for beta-lactams. The inactivation of this PBP is shown to determine a highly efficient and complex beta-lactam resistance response, triggering overproduction of the chromosomal beta-lactamase AmpC and the specific activation of the CreBC (BlrAB) two-component regulator, which in turn plays a major role in resistance. These findings are a major step forward in our understanding of beta-lactam resistance biology, and, more importantly, they open up new perspectives on potential antibiotic targets for the treatment of infectious diseases.