• 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.
    • Evaluation of a microarray-hybridization based method applicable for discovery of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the Pseudomonas aeruginosa genome.

      Dötsch, Andreas; Pommerenke, Claudia; Bredenbruch, Florian; Geffers, Robert; Häussler, Susanne; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. andreas.doetsch@helmholtz-hzi.de (2009)
      BACKGROUND: Whole genome sequencing techniques have added a new dimension to studies on bacterial adaptation, evolution and diversity in chronic infections. By using this powerful approach it was demonstrated that Pseudomonas aeruginosa undergoes intense genetic adaptation processes, crucial in the development of persistent disease. The challenge ahead is to identify universal infection relevant adaptive bacterial traits as potential targets for the development of alternative treatment strategies. RESULTS: We developed a microarray-based method applicable for discovery of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in P. aeruginosa as an easy and economical alternative to whole genome sequencing. About 50% of all SNPs theoretically covered by the array could be detected in a comparative hybridization of PAO1 and PA14 genomes at high specificity (> 0.996). Variations larger than SNPs were detected at much higher sensitivities, reaching nearly 100% for genetic differences affecting multiple consecutive probe oligonucleotides. The detailed comparison of the in silico alignment with experimental hybridization data lead to the identification of various factors influencing sensitivity and specificity in SNP detection and to the identification of strain specific features such as a large deletion within the PA4684 and PA4685 genes in the Washington Genome Center PAO1. CONCLUSION: The application of the genome array as a tool to identify adaptive mutations, to depict genome organizations, and to identify global regulons by the "ChIP-on-chip" technique will expand our knowledge on P. aeruginosa adaptation, evolution and regulatory mechanisms of persistence on a global scale and thus advance the development of effective therapies to overcome persistent disease.
    • Genomewide identification of genetic determinants of antimicrobial drug resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Dötsch, Andreas; Becker, Tanja; Pommerenke, Claudia; Magnowska, Zofia; Jänsch, Lothar; Häussler, Susanne; Chronic Pseudomonas Infections Research Group, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2009-06)
      The emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance is of enormous public concern due to the increased risk of delayed treatment of infections, the increased length of hospital stays, the substantial increase in the cost of care, and the high risk of fatal outcomes. A prerequisite for the development of effective therapy alternatives is a detailed understanding of the diversity of bacterial mechanisms that underlie drug resistance, especially for problematic gram-negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This pathogen has impressive chromosomally encoded mechanisms of intrinsic resistance, as well as the potential to mutate, gaining resistance to current antibiotics. In this study we have screened the comprehensive nonredundant Harvard PA14 library for P. aeruginosa mutants that exhibited either increased or decreased resistance against 19 antibiotics commonly used in the clinic. This approach identified several genes whose inactivation sensitized the bacteria to a broad spectrum of different antimicrobials and uncovered novel genetic determinants of resistance to various classes of antibiotics. Knowledge of the enhancement of bacterial susceptibility to existing antibiotics and of novel resistance markers or modifiers of resistance expression may lay the foundation for effective therapy alternatives and will be the basis for the development of new strategies in the control of problematic multiresistant gram-negative bacteria.
    • Global genotype-phenotype correlations in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Pommerenke, Claudia; Müsken, Mathias; Becker, Tanja; Dötsch, Andreas; Klawonn, Frank; Häussler, Susanne; Chronic Pseudomonas Infections, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2010)
      Once the genome sequence of an organism is obtained, attention turns from identifying genes to understanding their function, their organization and control of metabolic pathways and networks that determine its physiology. Recent technical advances in acquiring genome-wide data have led to substantial progress in identifying gene functions. However, we still do not know the function of a large number of genes and, even when a gene product has been assigned to a functional class, we cannot normally predict its contribution to the phenotypic behaviour of the cell or organism--the phenome. In this study, we assessed bacterial growth parameters of 4030 non-redundant PA14 transposon mutants in the pathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The genome-wide simultaneous analysis of 119 distinct growth-related phenotypes uncovered a comprehensive phenome and provided evidence that most genotypes are not phenotypically isolated but rather define specific complex phenotypic clusters of genotypes. Since phenotypic overlap was demonstrated to reflect the relatedness of genotypes on a global scale, knowledge of an organism's phenome might significantly contribute to the advancement of functional genomics.
    • Pseudomonas aeruginosa cupA-encoded fimbriae expression is regulated by a GGDEF and EAL domain-dependent modulation of the intracellular level of cyclic diguanylate.

      Meissner, Andree; Wild, Verena; Simm, Roger; Rohde, Manfred; Erck, Christian; Bredenbruch, Florian; Morr, Michael; Römling, Ute; Häussler, Susanne; Division of Cell Biology and Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2007-10)
      Cyclic-diguanylate (c-di-GMP) is a widespread bacterial signal molecule that plays a major role in the modulation of cellular surface components, such as exopolysaccharides and fimbriae, and in the establishment of a sessile life style. Here, we report that intracellular c-di-GMP levels influence cupA-encoded fimbriae expression in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In an autoaggregative P. aeruginosa small colony variant (SCV) CupA fimbriae and the intracellular c-di-GMP concentration were found to be enhanced as compared with the clonal wild-type. The SCV morphology and the expression of CupA fimbriae were dependent on a functional PA1120 and morA gene both encoding a GGDEF domain. Overexpression of the GGDEF domain protein PA1120 complemented the PA1120 and the morA mutant with respect to CupA fimbriae expression. In agreement with these findings, overexpression of the EAL domain containing phenotypic variance regulator (PvrR) in the SCV resulted in a decreased intracellular level of c-di-GMP, a reduced cupA fimbriae expression and a switch to wild-type colony morphology.
    • The pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) balances life and death in Pseudomonas aeruginosa populations.

      Häussler, Susanne; Becker, Tanja; Department of Cell Biology, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. susanne.haeussler@helmholtz-hzi.de (2008)
      When environmental conditions deteriorate and become inhospitable, generic survival strategies for populations of bacteria may be to enter a dormant state that slows down metabolism, to develop a general tolerance to hostile parameters that characterize the habitat, and to impose a regime to eliminate damaged members. Here, we provide evidence that the pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) mediates induction of all of these phenotypes. For individual cells, PQS, an interbacterial signaling molecule of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, has both deleterious and beneficial activities: on the one hand, it acts as a pro-oxidant and sensitizes the bacteria towards oxidative and other stresses and, on the other, it efficiently induces a protective anti-oxidative stress response. We propose that this dual function fragments populations into less and more stress tolerant members which respond differentially to developing stresses in deteriorating habitats. This suggests that a little poison may be generically beneficial to populations, in promoting survival of the fittest, and in contributing to bacterial multi-cellular behavior. It further identifies PQS as an essential mediator of the shaping of the population structure of Pseudomonas and of its response to and survival in hostile environmental conditions.