3,254 research outputs found

    A Machine Learning-Based Raman Spectroscopic Assay for the Identification of Burkholderia mallei and Related Species

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    Burkholderia (B.) mallei, the causative agent of glanders, and B. pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis in humans and animals, are genetically closely related. The high infectious potential of both organisms, their serological cross-reactivity, and similar clinical symptoms in human and animals make the differentiation from each other and other Burkholderia species challenging. The increased resistance against many antibiotics implies the need for fast and robust identification methods. The use of Raman microspectroscopy in microbial diagnostic has the potential for rapid and reliable identification. Single bacterial cells are directly probed and a broad range of phenotypic information is recorded, which is subsequently analyzed by machine learning methods. Burkholderia were handled under biosafety level 1 (BSL 1) conditions after heat inactivation. The clusters of the spectral phenotypes and the diagnostic relevance of the Burkholderia spp. were considered for an advanced hierarchical machine learning approach. The strain panel for training involved 12 B. mallei, 13 B. pseudomallei and 11 other Burkholderia spp. type strains. The combination of top- and sub-level classifier identified the mallei-complex with high sensitivities (>95%). The reliable identification of unknown B. mallei and B. pseudomallei strains highlighted the robustness of the machine learning-based Raman spectroscopic assay

    Type three secretion system-mediated escape of Burkholderia pseudomallei into the host cytosol is critical for the activation of NFκB.

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    BackgroundBurkholderia pseudomallei is the causative agent of melioidosis, a potentially fatal disease endemic in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. This Gram-negative pathogen possesses numerous virulence factors including three "injection type" type three secretion systems (T3SSs). B. pseudomallei has been shown to activate NFκB in HEK293T cells in a Toll-like receptor and MyD88 independent manner that requires T3SS gene cluster 3 (T3SS3 or T3SSBsa). However, the mechanism of how T3SS3 contributes to NFκB activation is unknown.ResultsKnown T3SS3 effectors are not responsible for NFκB activation. Furthermore, T3SS3-null mutants are able to activate NFκB almost to the same extent as wildtype bacteria at late time points of infection, corresponding to delayed escape into the cytosol. NFκB activation also occurs when bacteria are delivered directly into the cytosol by photothermal nanoblade injection.ConclusionsT3SS3 does not directly activate NFκB but facilitates bacterial escape into the cytosol where the host is able to sense the presence of the pathogen through cytosolic sensors leading to NFκB activation

    Structure analysis of biologically important prokaryotic glycopolymers

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    Of the many post-translational modifications organisms can undertake, glycosylation is the most prevalent and the most diverse. The research in this thesis focuses on the structural characterisation of glycosylation in two classes of glycopolymer (lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and glycoprotein) in two domains of life (bacteria and archaea). The common theme linking these subprojects is the development and application of high sensitivity analytical techniques, primarily mass spectrometry (MS), for studying prokaryotic glycosylation. Many prokaryotes produce glycan arrangements with extraordinary variety in composition and structure. A further challenge is posed by additional functionalities such as lipids whose characterisation is not always straightforward. Glycosylation in prokaryotes has a variety of different biological functions, including their important roles in the mediation of interactions between pathogens and hosts. Thus enhanced knowledge of bacterial glycosylation may be of therapeutic value, whilst a better understanding of archaeal protein glycosylation will provide further targets for industrial applications, as well as insight into this post- translational modification across evolution and protein processing under extreme conditions. The first sub-project focused on the S-layer glycoprotein of the halophilic archeaon Haloferax volcanii, which has been reported to be modified by both glycans and lipids. Glycoproteomic and associated MS technologies were employed to characterise the N- and O-linked glycosylation and to explore putative lipid modifications. Approximately 90% of the S-layer was mapped and N-glycans were identified at all the mapped consensus sites, decorated with a pentasaccharide consisting of two hexoses, two hexuronic acids and a methylated hexuronic acid. The O-glycans are homogeneously identified as a disaccharide consisting of galactose and glucose. Unexpectedly it was found that membrane-derived lipids were present in the S- layer samples despite extensive purification, calling into question the predicted presence of covalently linked lipid. The H. volcanii N-glycosylation is mediated by the products of the agl gene cluster and the functional characterisation of members of the agl gene cluster was investigated by MS analysis of agl-mutant strains of the S-layer. Burkholderia pseudomallei is the causative agent of melioidosis, a serious and often fatal disease in humans which is endemic in South-East Asia and other equatorial regions. Its LPS is vital for serum resistance and the O-antigen repeat structures are of interest as vaccine targets. B. pseudomallei is reported to produce several polysaccharides, amongst which the already characterised ‘typical’ O-antigen of K96243 represents 97% of the strains. The serologically distinct ‘atypical’ strain 576 produces a different LPS, whose characterisation is the subject of this research project. MS strategies coupled with various hydrolytic and chemical derivatisation methodologies were employed to define the composition and potential sequences of the O-antigen repeat unit. These MS strategies were complemented by a novel NMR technique involving embedding of the LPS into micelles. Taken together the MS and NMR data have revealed a highly unusual O-antigen structure for atypical LPS which is remarkably different from the typical O-antigen. The development of structural analysis tools in MS and NMR applicable to the illustrated types of glycosylation in these prokaryotes will give a more consistent approach to sugar characterisation and their modifications thus providing more informative results for pathogenicity and immunological studies as well as pathway comparisons.Open Acces

    Phylogenetic analysis reveals an ancient gene duplication as the origin of the MdtABC efflux pump.

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    The efflux pumps from the Resistance-Nodulation-Division family, RND, are main contributors to intrinsic antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria. Among this family, the MdtABC pump is unusual by having two inner membrane components. The two components, MdtB and MdtC are homologs, therefore it is evident that the two components arose by gene duplication. In this paper, we describe the results obtained from a phylogenetic analysis of the MdtBC pumps in the context of other RNDs. We show that the individual inner membrane components (MdtB and MdtC) are conserved throughout the Proteobacterial species and that their existence is a result of a single gene duplication. We argue that this gene duplication was an ancient event which occurred before the split of Proteobacteria into Alpha-, Beta- and Gamma- classes. Moreover, we find that the MdtABC pumps and the MexMN pump from Pseudomonas aeruginosa share a close common ancestor, suggesting the MexMN pump arose by another gene duplication event of the original Mdt ancestor. Taken together, these results shed light on the evolution of the RND efflux pumps and demonstrate the ancient origin of the Mdt pumps and suggest that the core bacterial efflux pump repertoires have been generally stable throughout the course of evolution

    Characterization of the role of the Burkholderia pseudomallei type 3 secretion system using in vivo imaging.

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    Melioidosis is a fatal infectious disease caused by the Tier 1 Select Agent Burkholderia pseudomallei. Hallmarks of melioidosis include pneumonic disease and prominent septicaemic spread. Both forms of disease are contingent upon the bacterium’s intracellular life cycle and particularly on its ability to escape from host cell phagosomes. Upon encountering a host cell, B. pseudomallei is internalized into membrane-bound vacuoles from which the bacterium must rapidly escape to the cytoplasm in order to replicate and promote its survival. In the host cytoplasm, B. pseudomallei is capable of polymerizing actin for intracellular and intercellular motility and spread, lysing the host cell and perpetuating the cycle of infection. Commonly used intranasal and aerosol models to study respiratory melioidosis result in significant upper respiratory tract colonization, dramatically altering disease progression. Accordingly, we developed an improved lung-specific instillation approach to deliver bacteria directly into mice lungs, coupled with in vivo optical imaging and observed the development of disease that closely resembles human melioidosis in mice. We found that in the absence of upper respiratory tract infection, a capsular polysaccharide (CPS) mutant is only 6.8-fold attenuated. This mutant is unable to spread to secondary sites of infection, consistent with the role of capsule in protecting the bacterium from host antimicrobial activity. Similarly, a type 3 secretion system cluster 3 (T3SS3) structural mutant is spread deficient, yet this mutant is attenuated 290-fold, strongly suggesting that T3SS3 is critical for respiratory melioidosis. Having a strong platform for studying the pathogenesis of B. pseudomallei in a mouse model of lung-specific melioidosis, we used transposon mutagenesis to comprehensively identify virulence factors required for B. pseudomallei lung colonization and spread to the liver and spleen. Notably, T3SS3, capsular polysaccharide and type 6 secretion system cluster 5 (T6SS5) were the major genetic loci required for respiratory melioidosis. A T6SS5 mutant is not attenuated by LD50 estimations using our lung-specific melioidosis mouse model. Yet by competition analysis T6SS5, T3SS3 and CPS mutants were attenuated, substantiating the requirement of these factors for B. pseudomallei infection as previously reported. These results highlight the importance of competition analysis for studying the fitness of distinct virulence determinants. Importantly, T3SS3 was the only virulence determinant attenuated by both LD50 analysis and competition studies, corroborating the critical requirement of this virulence system for respiratory melioidosis. B. pseudomallei is a facultative intracellular cytosolic bacterium and its ability to survive intracellularly is fundamental to mammalian host infection. Upon B. pseudomallei internalization into host cell vacuoles, the bacterium rapidly escapes this compartment by action of the T3SS3. The T3SS3 is required by B. pseudomallei for intracellular survival by translocating protein effectors to the cytoplasm of host cells and mediating the rapid escape of the bacterium from phagosomes of these cells. We hypothesized that effectors act in concert to mediate B. pseudomallei’s rapid escape from phagosomes of host cells by manipulating host signaling pathways and promoting bacterial survival. Using a high-resolution, high-throughput in vivo imaging screening approach we profiled the contributions of five of the six B. pseudomallei putative type 3 effectors to the bacterium’s rapid phagosome escape. Effector mutants exhibited distinct temporal differences in escape, with bopA inactivation resulting in the most pronounced delay in vacuolar rupture, strongly suggesting that BopA directly mediates escape of B. pseudomallei from endocytic vesicles. We confirmed that a previously identified BopA host target, the trafficking particle protein C8 (TRAPPC8), colocalized with Burkholderia containing vacuoles. Small interfering RNA knockdown of this protein strongly suggests that TRAPPC8 is required for vacuolar membrane stabilization. These findings substantiate the significant role of the T3SS3 and provide a paradigm to study B. pseudomallei natural infection processes and potential vaccine and therapeutic targets

    Accurate and Rapid Identification of the Burkholderia pseudomallei Near-Neighbour, Burkholderia ubonensis, Using Real-Time PCR

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    Burkholderia ubonensis is an environmental bacterium belonging to the Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc), a group of genetically related organisms that are associated with opportunistic but generally nonfatal infections in healthy individuals. In contrast, the near-neighbour species Burkholderia pseudomallei causes melioidosis, a disease that can be fatal in up to 95% of cases if left untreated. B. ubonensis is frequently misidentified as B. pseudomallei from soil samples using selective culturing on Ashdown’s medium, reflecting both the shared environmental niche and morphological similarities of these species. Additionally, B. ubonensis shows potential as an important biocontrol agent in B. pseudomallei-endemic regions as certain strains possess antagonistic properties towards B. pseudomallei. Current methods for characterising B. ubonensis are laborious, time-consuming and costly, and as such this bacterium remains poorly studied. The aim of our study was to develop a rapid and inexpensive real-time PCR-based assay specific for B. ubonensis. We demonstrate that a novel B. ubonensis-specific assay, Bu550, accurately differentiates B. ubonensis from B. pseudomallei and other species that grow on selective Ashdown’s agar. We anticipate that Bu550 will catalyse research on B. ubonensis by enabling rapid identification of this organism from Ashdown’s-positive colonies that are not B. pseudomallei

    Genome-wide saturation mutagenesis of Burkholderia pseudomallei K96243 predicts essential genes and novel targets for antimicrobial development.

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    UNLABELLED: Burkholderia pseudomallei is the causative agent of melioidosis, an often fatal infectious disease for which there is no vaccine. B. pseudomallei is listed as a tier 1 select agent, and as current therapeutic options are limited due to its natural resistance to most antibiotics, the development of new antimicrobial therapies is imperative. To identify drug targets and better understand the complex B. pseudomallei genome, we sought a genome-wide approach to identify lethal gene targets. As B. pseudomallei has an unusually large genome spread over two chromosomes, an extensive screen was required to achieve a comprehensive analysis. Here we describe transposon-directed insertion site sequencing (TraDIS) of a library of over 10(6) transposon insertion mutants, which provides the level of genome saturation required to identify essential genes. Using this technique, we have identified a set of 505 genes that are predicted to be essential in B. pseudomallei K96243. To validate our screen, three genes predicted to be essential, pyrH, accA, and sodB, and a gene predicted to be nonessential, bpss0370, were independently investigated through the generation of conditional mutants. The conditional mutants confirmed the TraDIS predictions, showing that we have generated a list of genes predicted to be essential and demonstrating that this technique can be used to analyze complex genomes and thus be more widely applied. IMPORTANCE: Burkholderia pseudomallei is a lethal human pathogen that is considered a potential bioterrorism threat and has limited treatment options due to an unusually high natural resistance to most antibiotics. We have identified a set of genes that are required for bacterial growth and thus are excellent candidates against which to develop potential novel antibiotics. To validate our approach, we constructed four mutants in which gene expression can be turned on and off conditionally to confirm that these genes are required for the bacteria to survive

    Diversity of 16S-23S rDNA Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) Reveals Phylogenetic Relationships in Burkholderia pseudomallei and Its Near-Neighbors

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    Length polymorphisms within the 16S-23S ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) have been described as stable genetic markers for studying bacterial phylogenetics. In this study, we used these genetic markers to investigate phylogenetic relationships in Burkholderia pseudomallei and its near-relative species. B. pseudomallei is known as one of the most genetically recombined bacterial species. In silico analysis of multiple B. pseudomallei genomes revealed approximately four homologous rRNA operons and ITS length polymorphisms therein. We characterized ITS distribution using PCR and analyzed via a high-throughput capillary electrophoresis in 1,191 B. pseudomallei strains. Three major ITS types were identified, two of which were commonly found in most B. pseudomallei strains from the endemic areas, whereas the third one was significantly correlated with worldwide sporadic strains. Interestingly, mixtures of the two common ITS types were observed within the same strains, and at a greater incidence in Thailand than Australia suggesting that genetic recombination causes the ITS variation within species, with greater recombination frequency in Thailand. In addition, the B. mallei ITS type was common to B. pseudomallei, providing further support that B. mallei is a clone of B. pseudomallei. Other B. pseudomallei near-neighbors possessed unique and monomorphic ITS types. Our data shed light on evolutionary patterns of B. pseudomallei and its near relative species

    Environmental attributes influencing the distribution of Burkholderia pseudomallei in Northern Australia

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    Factors responsible for the spatial and temporal clustering of Burkholderia pseudomallei in the environment remain to be elucidated. Whilst laboratory based experiments have been performed to analyse survival of the organism in various soil types, such approaches are strongly influenced by alterations to the soil micro ecology during soil sanitisation and translocation. During the monsoonal season in Townsville, Australia, B. pseudomallei is discharged from Castle Hill (an area with a very high soil prevalence of the organism) by groundwater seeps and is washed through a nearby area where intensive sampling in the dry season has been unable to detect the organism. We undertook environmental sampling and soil and plant characterisation in both areas to ascertain physiochemical and macro-floral differences between the two sites that may affect the prevalence of B. pseudomallei. In contrast to previous studies, the presence of B. pseudomallei was correlated with a low gravimetric water content and low nutrient availability (nitrogen and sulphur) and higher exchangeable potassium in soils favouring recovery. Relatively low levels of copper, iron and zinc favoured survival. The prevalence of the organism was found to be highest under the grasses Aristida sp. and Heteropogon contortus and to a lesser extent under Melinis repens. The findings of this study indicate that a greater variety of factors influence the endemicity of melioidosis than has previously been reported, and suggest that biogeographical boundaries to the organisms' distribution involve complex interactions
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