• Impact of glutamine transporters on pneumococcal fitness under infection-related conditions.

      Härtel, Tobias; Klein, Matthias; Koedel, Uwe; Rohde, Manfred; Petruschka, Lothar; Hammerschmidt, Sven; Department of Genetics of Microorganisms, Interfaculty Institute for Genetics and Functional Genomics, Ernst Moritz Arndt Universität Greifswald, Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Str. 15a, D-17487 Greifswald, Germany. (2011-01)
      The genomic analysis of Streptococcus pneumoniae predicted six putative glutamine uptake systems, which are expressed under in vitro conditions, as shown here by reverse transcription-PCR. Four of these operons consist of glnHPQ, while two lack glnH, which encodes a soluble glutamine-binding protein. Here, we studied the impact of two of these glutamine ATP-binding cassette transporters on S. pneumoniae D39 virulence and phagocytosis, which consist of GlnQ and a translationally fused protein of GlnH and GlnP. Mice infected intranasally with D39Δgln0411/0412 showed significantly increased survival times and a significant delay in the development of pneumococcal pneumonia compared to those infected with D39, as observed in real time using bioluminescent pneumococci. In a mouse sepsis model, the mutant D39Δgln0411/0412 showed only moderate but significant attenuation. In contrast, the D39Δgln1098/1099 knockout strain was massively attenuated in the pneumonia and septicemia mouse infection model. To cause pneumonia or sepsis with D39Δgln1098/1099, infection doses 100- to 10,000-fold higher than those used for wild-type strain D39 were required. In an experimental mouse meningitis model, D39Δgln1098/1099 produced decreased levels of white blood cells in cerebrospinal fluid and showed decreased numbers of bacteria in the bloodstream compared to D39 and D39Δgln0411/0412. Phagocytosis experiments revealed significantly decreased intracellular survival rates of mutants D39Δgln1098/1099 and D39Δgln0411/0412 compared to wild-type D39, suggesting that the deficiency of Gln uptake systems impairs resistance to oxidative stress. Taken together, our results demonstrate that both glutamine uptake systems are required for full virulence of pneumococci but exhibit different impacts on the pathogenesis of pneumococci under in vivo conditions.
    • Increased neutrophil extracellular trap-mediated Staphylococcus aureus clearance through inhibition of nuclease activity by clindamycin and immunoglobulin.

      Schilcher, Katrin; Andreoni, Federica; Uchiyama, Satoshi; Ogawa, Taiji; Schuepbach, Reto A; Zinkernagel, Annelies S; Helmholtz Centre for infection reseach, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2014-08-01)
      The Gram-positive human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus causes a variety of human diseases such as skin infections, pneumonia, and endocarditis. The micrococcal nuclease Nuc1 is one of the major S. aureus virulence factors and allows the bacterium to avoid neutrophil extracellular trap (NET)-mediated killing. We found that addition of the protein synthesis inhibitor clindamycin to S. aureus LAC cultures decreased nuc1 transcription and subsequently blunted nuclease activity in a molecular beacon-based fluorescence assay. We also observed reduced NET degradation through Nuc1 inhibition translating into increased NET-mediated clearance. Similarly, pooled human immunoglobulin specifically inhibited nuclease activity in a concentration-dependent manner. Inhibition of nuclease activity by clindamycin and immunoglobulin enhanced S. aureus clearance and should be considered in the treatment of S. aureus infections.
    • Role of glucose and CcpA in capsule expression and virulence of Streptococcus suis.

      Willenborg, J; Fulde, M; de Greeff, A; Rohde, Manfred; Smith, H E; Valentin-Weigand, P; Goethe, R; Institute for Microbiology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany. (2011-06)
      Streptococcus suis is one of the most important pathogens in pigs and is also an emerging zoonotic agent. After crossing the epithelial barrier, S. suis causes bacteraemia, resulting in meningitis, endocarditis and bronchopneumonia. Since the host environment seems to be an important regulatory component for virulence, we related expression of virulence determinants of S. suis to glucose availability during growth and to the sugar metabolism regulator catabolite control protein A (CcpA). We found that expression of the virulence-associated genes arcB, representing arcABC operon expression, cps2A, representing capsular locus expression, as well as sly, ofs, sao and epf, differed significantly between exponential and early stationary growth of a highly virulent serotype 2 strain. Deletion of ccpA altered the expression of the surface-associated virulence factors arcB, sao and eno, as well as the two currently proven virulence factors in pigs, ofs and cps2A, in early exponential growth. Global expression analysis using a cDNA expression array revealed 259 differentially expressed genes in early exponential growth, of which 141 were more highly expressed in the CcpA mutant strain 10ΔccpA and 118 were expressed to a lower extent. Interestingly, among the latter genes, 18 could be related to capsule and cell wall synthesis. Correspondingly, electron microscopy characterization of strain 10ΔccpA revealed a markedly reduced thickness of the capsule. This phenotype correlated with enhanced binding to porcine plasma proteins and a reduced resistance to killing by porcine neutrophils. Taken together, our data demonstrate that CcpA has a significant effect on the capsule synthesis and virulence properties of S. suis.