• A short story about a big magic bug.

      Bunk, Boyke; Schulz, Arne; Stammen, Simon; Münch, Richard; Warren, Martin J; Rohde, Manfred; Jahn, Dieter; Biedendieck, Rebekka; Institute of Microbiology; Technische Universität Braunschweig; Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-03-02)
      Bacillus megaterium, the "big beast," is a Gram-positive bacterium with a size of 4 × 1.5 µm. During the last years, it became more and more popular in the field of biotechnology for its recombinant protein production capacity. For the purpose of intra- as well as extracellular protein synthesis several vectors were constructed and commercialized (MoBiTec GmbH, Germany). On the basis of two compatible vectors, a T7 RNA polymerase driven protein production system was established. Vectors for chromosomal integration enable the direct manipulation of the genome. The vitamin B(12) biosynthesis of B. megaterium served as a model for the systematic development of a production strain using these tools. For this purpose, the overexpression of chromosomal and plasmid encoded genes and operons, the synthesis of anti-sense RNA for gene silencing, the removal of inhibitory regulatory elements in combination with the utilization of strong promoters, directed protein design, and the recombinant production of B(12) binding proteins to overcome feedback inhibition were successfully employed. For further system biotechnology based optimization strategies the genome sequence will provide a closer look into genomic capacities of B. megaterium. DNA arrays are available. Proteome, fluxome and metabolome analyses are possible. All data can be integrated by using a novel bioinformatics platform. Finally, the size of the "big beast" B. megaterium invites for cell biology research projects. All these features provide a solid basis for challenging biotechnological approaches.
    • Adaptation in CRISPR-Cas Systems.

      Sternberg, Samuel H; Richter, Hagen; Charpentier, Emmanuelle; Qimron, Udi; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-03-17)
      Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins constitute an adaptive immune system in prokaryotes. The system preserves memories of prior infections by integrating short segments of foreign DNA, termed spacers, into the CRISPR array in a process termed adaptation. During the past 3 years, significant progress has been made on the genetic requirements and molecular mechanisms of adaptation. Here we review these recent advances, with a focus on the experimental approaches that have been developed, the insights they generated, and a proposed mechanism for self- versus non-self-discrimination during the process of spacer selection. We further describe the regulation of adaptation and the protein players involved in this fascinating process that allows bacteria and archaea to harbor adaptive immunity.
    • Adherence and invasion of streptococci to eukaryotic cells and their role in disease pathogenesis.

      Rohde, Manfred; Chhatwal, G Singh; Department of Medical Microbiology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. manfred.rohde@helmholtz-hzi.de (2013)
      Streptococcal adhesion, invasion, intracellular trafficking, dissemination, and persistence in eukaryotic cells have a variety of implications in the infection pathogenesis. While cell adhesion establishes the initial host contact, adhering bacteria exploit the host cell for their own benefit. Internalization into the host cell is an essential step for bacterial survival and subsequent dissemination and persistence, thus playing a key role in the course of infection. This chapter summarizes the current knowledge about the diverse mechanisms of streptococcal adhesion to and invasion into different eukaryotic cells and the impact on dissemination and persistence which is reflected by consequences for the pathogenesis of streptococcal infections.
    • Bacillus megaterium--from simple soil bacterium to industrial protein production host.

      Vary, Patricia S; Biedendieck, Rebekka; Fuerch, Tobias; Meinhardt, Friedhelm; Rohde, Manfred; Deckwer, Wolf-Dieter; Jahn, Dieter; Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA. (2007-10)
      Bacillus megaterium has been industrially employed for more than 50 years, as it possesses some very useful and unusual enzymes and a high capacity for the production of exoenzymes. It is also a desirable cloning host for the production of intact proteins, as it does not possess external alkaline proteases and can stably maintain a variety of plasmid vectors. Genetic tools for this species include transducing phages and several hundred mutants covering the processes of biosynthesis, catabolism, division, sporulation, germination, antibiotic resistance, and recombination. The seven plasmids of B. megaterium strain QM B1551 contain several unusual metabolic genes that may be useful in bioremediation. Recently, several recombinant shuttle vectors carrying different strong inducible promoters and various combinations of affinity tags for simple protein purification have been constructed. Leader sequences-mediated export of affinity-tagged proteins into the growth medium was made possible. These plasmids are commercially available. For a broader application of B. megaterium in industry, sporulation and protease-deficient as well as UV-sensitive mutants were constructed. The genome sequence of two different strains, plasmidless DSM319 and QM B1551 carrying seven natural plasmids, is now available. These sequences allow for a systems biotechnology optimization of the production host B. megaterium. Altogether, a "toolbox" of hundreds of genetically characterized strains, genetic methods, vectors, hosts, and genomic sequences make B. megaterium an ideal organism for industrial, environmental, and experimental applications.
    • Bifidobacterial enolase, a cell surface receptor for human plasminogen involved in the interaction with the host.

      Candela, Marco; Biagi, Elena; Centanni, Manuela; Turroni, Silvia; Vici, Manuela; Musiani, Francesco; Vitali, Beatrice; Bergmann, Simone; Hammerschmidt, Sven; Brigidi, Patrizia; et al. (2009-10)
      The interaction with the host plasminogen/plasmin system represents a novel component in the molecular cross-talk between bifidobacteria and human host. Here, we demonstrated that the plasminogen-binding bifidobacterial species B. longum, B. bifidum, B. breve and B. lactis share the key glycolytic enzyme enolase as a surface receptor for human plasminogen. Enolase was visualized on the cell surface of the model strain B. lactis BI07. The His-tagged recombinant protein showed a high affinity for human plasminogen, with an equilibrium dissociation constant in the nanomolar range. By site-directed mutagenesis we demonstrated that the interaction between the B. lactis BI07 enolase and human plasminogen involves an internal plasminogen-binding site homologous to that of pneumococcal enolase. According to our data, the positively charged residues Lys-251 and Lys-255, as well as the negatively charged Glu-252, of the B. lactis BI07 enolase are crucial for plasminogen binding. Acting as a human plasminogen receptor, the bifidobacterial surface enolase is suggested to play an important role in the interaction process with the host.
    • Biofilm formation by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium colonizing solid tumours.

      Crull, Katja; Rohde, Manfred; Westphal, Kathrin; Loessner, Holger; Wolf, Kathrin; Felipe-López, Alfonso; Hensel, Michael; Weiss, Siegfried (2011-08)
      Systemic administration of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium to tumour bearing mice results in preferential colonization of the tumours and retardation of tumour growth. Although the bacteria are able to invade the tumour cells in vitro, in tumours they were never detected intracellularly. Ultrastructural analysis of Salmonella-colonized tumours revealed that the bacteria had formed biofilms. Interestingly, depletion of neutrophilic granulocytes drastically reduced biofilm formation. Obviously, bacteria form biofilms in response to the immune reactions of the host. Importantly, we tested Salmonella mutants that were no longer able to form biofilms by deleting central regulators of biofilm formation. Such bacteria could be observed intracellularly in immune cells of the host or in tumour cells. Thus, tumour colonizing S. typhimurium might form biofilms as protection against phagocytosis. Since other bacteria are behaving similarly, solid murine tumours might represent a unique model to study biofilm formation in vivo.
    • Biogenesis pathways of RNA guides in archaeal and bacterial CRISPR-Cas adaptive immunity.

      Charpentier, Emmanuelle; Richter, Hagen; van der Oost, John; White, Malcolm F; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-05)
      CRISPR-Cas is an RNA-mediated adaptive immune system that defends bacteria and archaea against mobile genetic elements. Short mature CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) are key elements in the interference step of the immune pathway. A CRISPR array composed of a series of repeats interspaced by spacer sequences acquired from invading mobile genomes is transcribed as a precursor crRNA (pre-crRNA) molecule. This pre-crRNA undergoes one or two maturation steps to generate the mature crRNAs that guide CRISPR-associated (Cas) protein(s) to cognate invading genomes for their destruction. Different types of CRISPR-Cas systems have evolved distinct crRNA biogenesis pathways that implicate highly sophisticated processing mechanisms. In Types I and III CRISPR-Cas systems, a specific endoribonuclease of the Cas6 family, either standalone or in a complex with other Cas proteins, cleaves the pre-crRNA within the repeat regions. In Type II systems, the trans-acting small RNA (tracrRNA) base pairs with each repeat of the pre-crRNA to form a dual-RNA that is cleaved by the housekeeping RNase III in the presence of the protein Cas9. In this review, we present a detailed comparative analysis of pre-crRNA recognition and cleavage mechanisms involved in the biogenesis of guide crRNAs in the three CRISPR-Cas types.
    • Biological functions of GCS3, a novel plasminogen-binding protein of Streptococcus dysgalactiae ssp. equisimilis.

      Bergmann, René; Dinkla, Katrin; Nitsche-Schmitz, D Patric; Graham, Rikki M A; Lüttge, Melanie; Sanderson-Smith, Martina L; Nerlich, Andreas; Rohde, Manfred; Chhatwal, Gursharan S; Dept. of Medical Microbiology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-02)
      Increasing awareness of the relevance of Streptococcus dysgalactiae ssp. equisimilis as a human pathogen motivates the analysis of its pathomechanisms. One of the mechanisms that increases infectivity and dissemination of several streptococcal species is the recruitment and subsequent activation of host plasminogen on the streptococcal surface. This study identified GCS3 as a novel plasminogen-binding M protein of S. dysgalactiae ssp. equisimilis and revealed a difference in the mode of binding as compared to the plasminogen-binding protein PAM of S. pyogenes. In contrast to PAM, GCS3 did not bind to the kringle 1-3 region of plasminogen. Despite this difference, GCS3 exerts the same function of recruiting plasminogen to the streptococcal surface, which can be activated by streptokinase and host plasminogen activators to serve as a spreading factor. Moreover, we demonstrate a role of GCS3 in plasminogen-dependent streptococcal adherence to human pharyngeal cells (cell line Detroit 562) that indicates an additional function of the protein as an adhesin in the oral cavity.
    • Cationic hydrous thorium dioxide colloids – a useful tool for staining negatively charged surface matrices of bacteria for use in energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy

      Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Kristen, Ingeborg; Barth, Elke (BioMed Central, 2006-06-27)
      Background Synthesis of cationic hydrous thorium dioxide colloids (ca. 1.0 to 1.7 nm) has been originally described by Müller [22] and Groot [11] and these have been used by Groot to stain acidic glucosaminoglycans for ultrastructure research of different tissues by conventional transmission electron microscopy. Results Synthesis of colloidal thorium dioxide has been modified and its use as a suitable stain of acidic mucopolysaccharides and other anionic biopolymers from bacteria, either as whole mount preparations or as preembedment labels, is described. The differences in stain behavior relative to commonly used rutheniumred-lysine and Alcian Blue™ electron dense acidic stains has been investigated and its use is exemplified for Pseudomonas aeruginosa adjacent cell wall biopolymers. For the first time thorificated biopolymers, i.e. bacterial outer cell wall layers, have been analysed at the ultrastructural level with electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) and electron spectroscopic imaging (ESI), leading to excellent contrast and signal strength for these extracellular biopolymers. Conclusion Application of cationic hydrous ThO2 colloids for tracing acidic groups of the bacterial surface and/or EPS has been shown to be rather effective by transmission electron microscopy. Because of its high electron density and its good diffusibility it stains and outlines electro-negative charges within these biopolymers. In combination with ESI, based on integrated energy-filtered electron microscopy (EFTEM) Th-densities and thus negative charge densities can be discriminated from other elemental densities, especially in environmental samples, such as biofilms.
    • Caveolin limits membrane microdomain mobility and integrin-mediated uptake of fibronectin-binding pathogens.

      Hoffmann, Christine; Berking, Anne; Agerer, Franziska; Buntru, Alexander; Neske, Florian; Chhatwal, G Singh; Ohlsen, Knut; Hauck, Christof R; Lehrstuhl Zellbiologie X908, Universität Konstanz, Universitätsstr. 10, 78457 Konstanz, Germany. (2010-12-15)
      Staphylococcus aureus, which is a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections, binds via fibronectin to integrin α5β1, a process that can promote host colonization in vivo. Integrin engagement induces actin cytoskeleton rearrangements that result in the uptake of S. aureus by non-professional phagocytic cells. Interestingly, we found that fibronectin-binding S. aureus trigger the redistribution of membrane microdomain components. In particular, ganglioside GM1 and GPI-linked proteins were recruited upon integrin β1 engagement, and disruption of membrane microdomains blocked bacterial internalization. Several membrane-microdomain-associated proteins, such as flotillin-1 and flotillin-2, as well as caveolin, were recruited to sites of bacterial attachment. Whereas dominant-negative versions of flotillin-2 did not affect bacterial attachment or internalization, cells deficient for caveolin-1 (Cav1(-/-)) showed increased uptake of S. aureus and other Fn-binding pathogens. Recruitment of membrane microdomains to cell-associated bacteria was unaltered in Cav1(-/-) cells. However, fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) revealed an enhanced mobility of membrane-microdomain-associated proteins in the absence of caveolin-1. Enhanced membrane microdomain mobility and increased uptake of S. aureus was repressed by expression of wild-type caveolin-1, but not caveolin-1 G83S, which harbors a point mutation in the caveolin scaffolding domain. Similarly, chemical or physical stimulation of membrane fluidity led to increased uptake of S. aureus. These results highlight a crucial role for caveolin-1 in negative regulation of membrane microdomain mobility, thereby affecting endocytosis of bacteria-engaged integrins. This process might not only limit host cell invasion by integrin-binding bacterial pathogens, but might also be physiologically relevant for integrin-mediated cell adhesion.
    • Cellular aspects of the distinct M protein and SfbI anchoring pathways in Streptococcus pyogenes.

      Raz, Assaf; Talay, Susanne R; Fischetti, Vincent A; Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology, Rockefeller University, New York, USA. araz@rockefeller.edu (2012-05)
      Wall-anchored surface proteins are critical for the in vivo survival of Streptococcus pyogenes. Cues in the signal sequence direct the membrane translocation of surface proteins: M protein to the septum, and SfbI to the poles. Both proteins are subsequently anchored to the wall by the membrane bound enzyme sortase A. However, the cellular features of these pathways are not fully understood. Here we show that M protein and SfbI are anchored simultaneously throughout the cell cycle. M protein is rapidly anchored at the septum, and in part of the cell cycle, is anchored simultaneously at the mother and daughter septa. Conversely, SfbI accumulates gradually on peripheral peptidoglycan, resulting in a polar distribution. Sortase is not required for translocation of M protein or SfbI at their respective locations. Methicillin-induced unbalanced peptidoglycan synthesis diminishes surface M protein but not SfbI. Furthermore, overexpression of the division regulator DivIVA also diminishes surface M protein but increases SfbI. These results demonstrate a close connection between the regulation of cell division and protein anchoring. Better understanding of the spatial regulation of surface anchoring may lead to the identification of novel targets for the development of anti-infective agents, given the importance of surface molecules for pathogenesis.
    • Cellular immune reactions in the lung.

      Hasenberg, Mike; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Gunzer, Matthias; Institute of Experimental Immunology and Imaging, University of Duisburg/Essen, University Hospital, Essen, Germany. (2013-01)
      The lung constantly interacts with the environment through thousands of liters of air that are inhaled daily. This continually transports toxic chemicals and particles or pathogenic microorganisms deep into the respiratory system, posing a challenge to physicochemical barriers and the local immune system. Thus, complex structures and mechanisms have evolved to recognize and fend off environmental dangers while at the same time allowing efficient gas exchange. Here we review our current knowledge regarding cellular mechanisms of the immune system in context with the highly specialized anatomical features of the airways and especially the alveolar compartment. The focus is on fungal and viral infections, merging anatomical aspects well known to pulmonologists with fundamental immunological concepts. We discuss the specialized morphological constraints of immune cells compressed under a continuous layer of the surfactant lining within alveoli as well as the importance of functional polarization of respiratory tract epithelia. Furthermore, we summarize the different types of innate and adaptive immune cells and their relative contribution to lung homeostasis with respect to localization. Finally, we provide a list of currently unresolved questions with high relevance for the field that might serve as food for thought regarding future research directions.
    • Characterisation of the laccase-encoding gene abr2 of the dihydroxynaphthalene-like melanin gene cluster of Aspergillus fumigatus.

      Sugareva, Venelina; Härtl, Albert; Brock, Matthias; Hübner, Katrin; Rohde, Manfred; Heinekamp, Thorsten; Brakhage, Axel A (2006-11-01)
      Aspergillus fumigatus is an important pathogen of the immunocompromised host. Previously, it was shown that the polyketide synthase encoded by the pksP (alb1) gene represents a virulence determinant. pksP is part of a gene cluster involved in dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-like melanin biosynthesis. Because a putative laccase-encoding gene (abr2) is also part of the cluster and a laccase was found to represent a virulence factor in Cryptococcus neoformans, here, the Abr2 laccase was characterised. Deletion of the abr2 gene changed the gray-green conidial pigment to a brown color and the ornamentation of conidia was reduced compared with wild-type conidia. In contrast to the white pksP mutant, the susceptibility of the Deltaabr2 mutant against reactive oxygen species (ROS) was not increased, suggesting that the intermediate of DHN-like melanin produced up to the step catalysed by Abr2 already possesses ROS scavenging activity. In an intranasal mouse infection model, the Deltaabr2 mutant strain showed no reduction in virulence compared with the wild type. In the Deltaabr2 mutant, overall laccase activity was reduced only during sporulation, but not during vegetative growth. An abr2p-lacZ gene fusion was expressed during sporulation, but not during vegetative growth confirming the pattern of laccase activity due to Abr2.
    • Characterization of JG024, a pseudomonas aeruginosa PB1-like broad host range phage under simulated infection conditions.

      Garbe, Julia; Wesche, Andrea; Bunk, Boyke; Kazmierczak, Marlon; Selezska, Katherina; Rohde, Christine; Sikorski, Johannes; Rohde, Manfred; Jahn, Dieter; Schobert, Max (2010)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes lung infections in patients suffering from the genetic disorder Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Once a chronic lung infection is established, P. aeruginosa cannot be eradicated by antibiotic treatment. Phage therapy is an alternative to treat these chronic P. aeruginosa infections. However, little is known about the factors which influence phage infection of P. aeruginosa under infection conditions and suitable broad host range phages.
    • Clinical and microbiologic characteristics of invasive Streptococcus pyogenes infections in north and south India.

      Haggar, Axana; Nerlich, Andreas; Kumar, Rajesh; Abraham, Vinod J; Brahmadathan, Kootallur N; Ray, Pallab; Dhanda, Vanita; Joshua, John Melbin Jose; Mehra, Narinder; Bergmann, Rene; et al. (2012-05)
      The lack of epidemiologic data on invasive Streptococcus pyogenes infections in many developing countries is concerning, as S. pyogenes infections are commonly endemic in these areas. Here we present the results of the first prospective surveillance study of invasive Streptococcus pyogenes infections in India. Fifty-four patients with invasive S. pyogenes infections were prospectively enrolled at two study sites, one in the north and one in the south of India. Sterile-site isolates were collected, and clinical information was documented using a standardized questionnaire. Available acute-phase sera were tested for their ability to inhibit superantigens produced by the patient's own isolate using a cell-based neutralizing assay. The most common clinical presentations were bacteremia without focus (30%), pneumonia (28%), and cellulitis (17%). Only two cases of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome and no cases of necrotizing fasciitis were identified. Characterization of the isolates revealed great heterogeneity, with 32 different emm subtypes and 29 different superantigen gene profiles being represented among the 49 sterile-site isolates. Analyses of acute-phase sera showed that only 20% of the cases in the north cohort had superantigen-neutralizing activity in their sera, whereas 50% of the cases from the south site had neutralizing activity. The results demonstrate that there are important differences in both clinical presentation and strain characteristics between invasive S. pyogenes infections in India and invasive S. pyogenes infections in Western countries. The findings underscore the importance of epidemiologic studies on streptococcal infections in India and have direct implications for current vaccine developments.
    • Complete genome sequence of Acetohalobium arabaticum type strain (Z-7288).

      Sikorski, Johannes; Lapidus, Alla; Chertkov, Olga; Lucas, Susan; Copeland, Alex; Glavina Del Rio, Tijana; Nolan, Matt; Tice, Hope; Cheng, Jan-Fang; Han, Cliff; et al. (2010)
      Acetohalobium arabaticum Zhilina and Zavarzin 1990 is of special interest because of its physiology and its participation in the anaerobic C(1)-trophic chain in hypersaline environments. This is the first completed genome sequence of the family Halobacteroidaceae and only the second genome sequence in the order Halanaerobiales. The 2,469,596 bp long genome with its 2,353 protein-coding and 90 RNA genes is a part of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea project.
    • Complete genome sequence of Acidaminococcus fermentans type strain (VR4).

      Chang, Yun-Juan; Pukall, Rüdiger; Saunders, Elizabeth; Lapidus, Alla; Copeland, Alex; Nolan, Matt; Glavina Del Rio, Tijana; Lucas, Susan; Chen, Feng; Tice, Hope; et al. (2010)
      Acidaminococcus fermentans (Rogosa 1969) is the type species of the genus Acidaminococcus, and is of phylogenetic interest because of its isolated placement in a genomically little characterized region of the Firmicutes. A. fermentans is known for its habitation of the gastrointestinal tract and its ability to oxidize trans-aconitate. Its anaerobic fermentation of glutamate has been intensively studied and will now be complemented by the genomic basis. The strain described in this report is a nonsporulating, nonmotile, Gram-negative coccus, originally isolated from a pig alimentary tract. Here we describe the features of this organism, together with the complete genome sequence, and annotation. This is the first complete genome sequence of a member of the family Acidaminococcaceae, and the 2,329,769 bp long genome with its 2,101 protein-coding and 81 RNA genes is part of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea project.