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Capsular Polysaccharide Is Essential for the Virulence of the Antimicrobial-Resistant Pathogen Enterobacter hormaechei

St John, Amelia; Perault, Andrew I; Giacometti, Sabrina I; Sommerfield, Alexis G; DuMont, Ashley L; Lacey, Keenan A; Zheng, Xuhui; Sproch, Julia; Petzold, Chris; Dancel-Manning, Kristen; Gonzalez, Sandra; Annavajhala, Medini; Beckford, Colleen; Zeitouni, Nathalie; Liang, Feng-Xia; van Bakel, Harm; Shopsin, Bo; Uhlemann, Anne-Catrin; Pironti, Alejandro; Torres, Victor J
Nosocomial infections caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) Enterobacter cloacae complex (ECC) pathogens are on the rise. However, the virulence strategies employed by these pathogens remain elusive. Here, we study the interaction of ECC clinical isolates with human serum to define how this pathogen evades the antimicrobial action of complement, one of the first lines of host-mediated immune defense. We identified a small number of serum-sensitive strains, including Enterobacter hormaechei strain NR3055, which we exploited for the in vitro selection of serum-resistant clones. Comparative genomics between the serum-sensitive NR3055 strain and the isolated serum-resistant clones revealed a premature stop codon in the wzy gene of the capsular polysaccharide biosynthesis locus of NR3055. The complementation of wzy conferred serum resistance to NR3055, prevented the deposition of complement proteins on the bacterial surface, inhibited phagocytosis by human neutrophils, and rendered the bacteria virulent in a mouse model of peritonitis. Mice exposed to a nonlethal dose of encapsulated NR3055 were protected from subsequent lethal infections by encapsulated NR3055, whereas mice that were previously exposed to unencapsulated NR3055 succumbed to infection. Thus, capsule is a key immune evasion determinant for E. hormaechei, and it is a potential target for prophylactics and therapeutics to combat these increasingly MDR human pathogens. IMPORTANCE Infections caused by antimicrobial resistant bacteria are of increasing concern, especially those due to carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae pathogens. Included in this group are species of the Enterobacter cloacae complex, regarding which there is a paucity of knowledge on the infection biology of the pathogens, despite their clinical relevance. In this study, we combine techniques in comparative genomics, bacterial genetics, and diverse models of infection to establish capsule as an important mechanism of Enterobacter pathogens to resist the antibacterial activity of serum, a first line of host defense against bacterial infections. We also show that immune memory targeting the Enterobacter capsule protects against lethal infection. The further characterization of Enterobacter infection biology and the immune response to infection are needed for the development of therapies and preventative interventions targeting these highly antibiotic resistant pathogens.
PMID: 36779722
ISSN: 2150-7511
CID: 5421192

MRSA lineage USA300 isolated from bloodstream infections exhibit altered virulence regulation

Dyzenhaus, Sophie; Sullivan, Mitchell J; Alburquerque, Bremy; Boff, Daiane; van de Guchte, Adriana; Chung, Marilyn; Fulmer, Yi; Copin, Richard; Ilmain, Juliana K; O'Keefe, Anna; Altman, Deena R; Stubbe, François-Xavier; Podkowik, Magdalena; Dupper, Amy C; Shopsin, Bo; van Bakel, Harm; Torres, Victor J
The epidemic community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) USA300 lineage has recently become a leading cause of hospital-associated bloodstream infections (BSIs). Here, we leveraged this recent introduction into hospitals and the limited genetic variation across USA300 isolates to identify mutations that contribute to its success in a new environment. We found that USA300 BSI isolates exhibit altered virulence regulation. Using comparative genomics to delineate the genes involved in this phenotype, we discovered repeated and independent mutations in the transcriptional regulator sarZ. Mutations in sarZ resulted in increased virulence of USA300 BSI isolates in a murine model of BSI. The sarZ mutations derepressed the expression and production of the surface protein ClfB, which was critical for the pathogenesis of USA300 BSI isolates. Altogether, these findings highlight ongoing evolution of a major MRSA lineage and suggest USA300 strains can optimize their fitness through altered regulation of virulence.
PMID: 36681080
ISSN: 1934-6069
CID: 5426472

Clostridia isolated from helminth-colonized humans promote the life cycle of Trichuris species

Sargsian, Shushan; Chen, Ze; Lee, Soo Ching; Robertson, Amicha; Thur, Rafaela Saes; Sproch, Julia; Devlin, Joseph C; Tee, Mian Zi; Er, Yi Xian; Copin, Richard; Heguy, Adriana; Pironti, Alejandro; Torres, Victor J; Ruggles, Kelly V; Lim, Yvonne A L; Bethony, Jeffrey; Loke, P'ng; Cadwell, Ken
Soil-transmitted intestinal worms known as helminths colonize over 1.5 billion people worldwide. Although helminth colonization has been associated with altered composition of the gut microbiota, such as increases in Clostridia, individual species have not been isolated and characterized. Here, we isolate and sequence the genome of 13 Clostridia from the Orang Asli, an indigenous population in Malaysia with a high prevalence of helminth infections. Metagenomic analysis of 650 fecal samples from urban and rural Malaysians confirm the prevalence of species corresponding to these isolates and reveal a specific association between Peptostreptococcaceae family members and helminth colonization. Remarkably, Peptostreptococcaceae isolated from the Orang Asli display superior capacity to promote the life cycle of whipworm species, including hatching of eggs from Trichuris muris and Trichuris trichiura. These findings support a model in which helminths select for gut colonization of microbes that support their life cycle.
PMID: 36450245
ISSN: 2211-1247
CID: 5374022

The influenza-injured lung microenvironment promotes MRSA virulence, contributing to severe secondary bacterial pneumonia

Langouët-Astrié, Christophe; Oshima, Kaori; McMurtry, Sarah A; Yang, Yimu; Kwiecinski, Jakub M; LaRivière, Wells B; Kavanaugh, Jeffrey S; Zakharevich, Igor; Hansen, Kirk C; Shi, Deling; Zhang, Fuming; Boguslawski, Kristina M; Perelman, Sofya S; Su, Gouwei; Torres, Victor J; Liu, Jian; Horswill, Alexander R; Schmidt, Eric P
Influenza infection is substantially worsened by the onset of secondary pneumonia caused by bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The bidirectional interaction between the influenza-injured lung microenvironment and MRSA is poorly understood. By conditioning MRSA ex vivo in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid collected from mice at various time points of influenza infection, we found that the influenza-injured lung microenvironment dynamically induces MRSA to increase cytotoxin expression while decreasing metabolic pathways. LukAB, a SaeRS two-component system-dependent cytotoxin, is particularly important to the severity of post-influenza MRSA pneumonia. LukAB's activity is likely shaped by the post-influenza lung microenvironment, as LukAB binds to (and is activated by) heparan sulfate (HS) oligosaccharide sequences shed from the epithelial glycocalyx after influenza. Our findings indicate that post-influenza MRSA pneumonia is shaped by bidirectional host-pathogen interactions: host injury triggers changes in bacterial expression of toxins, the activity of which may be shaped by host-derived HS fragments.
PMID: 36450248
ISSN: 2211-1247
CID: 5374032

Defensosomes: a new role for autophagy proteins in innate immune defense

Ching, Krystal L; Torres, Victor J; Cadwell, Ken
In recent years, the contribution of exosomes to immunity, inflammation and host-pathogen interaction have been appreciated. Exosomes are small secreted extracellular vesicles from endosomal origin that contain a myriad of cellular molecules (protein, nucleic acids), including surface receptors. We have reported a pathogen-induced and macroautophagy/autophagy-dependent class of exosomes coined as "defensosomes", which protect the host from membrane-targeting toxins. In a recent study, we found that defensosomes decorated with ACE2, the SARS-CoV-2 cellular receptor, are produced in the lungs of patients with COVID-19, and that increased concentration of ACE2-loaded defensosomes is associated with decreased hospitalization length. Mechanistically, SARS-CoV-2 induces the production of ACE2-coated defensosomes, a process requiring the autophagy machinery, which in turn binds and neutralizes the virus. We propose that defensosomes represent a new form of autophagy-mediated innate immunity that contributes to the host's armamentarium against pathogens.
PMID: 36409156
ISSN: 1554-8635
CID: 5371952

Gut microbiome dysbiosis in antibiotic-treated COVID-19 patients is associated with microbial translocation and bacteremia

Bernard-Raichon, Lucie; Venzon, Mericien; Klein, Jon; Axelrad, Jordan E; Zhang, Chenzhen; Sullivan, Alexis P; Hussey, Grant A; Casanovas-Massana, Arnau; Noval, Maria G; Valero-Jimenez, Ana M; Gago, Juan; Putzel, Gregory; Pironti, Alejandro; Wilder, Evan; Thorpe, Lorna E; Littman, Dan R; Dittmann, Meike; Stapleford, Kenneth A; Shopsin, Bo; Torres, Victor J; Ko, Albert I; Iwasaki, Akiko; Cadwell, Ken; Schluter, Jonas
Although microbial populations in the gut microbiome are associated with COVID-19 severity, a causal impact on patient health has not been established. Here we provide evidence that gut microbiome dysbiosis is associated with translocation of bacteria into the blood during COVID-19, causing life-threatening secondary infections. We first demonstrate SARS-CoV-2 infection induces gut microbiome dysbiosis in mice, which correlated with alterations to Paneth cells and goblet cells, and markers of barrier permeability. Samples collected from 96 COVID-19 patients at two different clinical sites also revealed substantial gut microbiome dysbiosis, including blooms of opportunistic pathogenic bacterial genera known to include antimicrobial-resistant species. Analysis of blood culture results testing for secondary microbial bloodstream infections with paired microbiome data indicates that bacteria may translocate from the gut into the systemic circulation of COVID-19 patients. These results are consistent with a direct role for gut microbiome dysbiosis in enabling dangerous secondary infections during COVID-19.
PMID: 36319618
ISSN: 2041-1723
CID: 5358262

The tempo and mode of gene regulatory programs during bacterial infection

Avital, Gal; Kuperwaser, Felicia; Pountain, Andrew W; Lacey, Keenan A; Zwack, Erin E; Podkowik, Magdalena; Shopsin, Bo; Torres, Victor J; Yanai, Itai
Innate immune recognition of bacterial pathogens is a key determinant of the ensuing systemic response, and host or pathogen heterogeneity in this early interaction can impact the course of infection. To gain insight into host response heterogeneity, we investigate macrophage inflammatory dynamics using primary human macrophages infected with Group B Streptococcus. Transcriptomic analysis reveals discrete cellular states within responding macrophages, one of which consists of four sub-states, reflecting inflammatory activation. Infection with six additional bacterial species-Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Enterococcus faecalis, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, Shigella flexneri, and Salmonella enterica-recapitulates these states, though at different frequencies. We show that modulating the duration of infection and the presence of a toxin impacts inflammatory trajectory dynamics. We provide evidence for this trajectory in infected macrophages in an in vivo model of Staphylococcus aureus infection. Our cell-state analysis defines a framework for understanding inflammatory activation dynamics in response to bacterial infection.
PMID: 36223751
ISSN: 2211-1247
CID: 5352072

ACE2-containing defensosomes serve as decoys to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection

Ching, Krystal L; de Vries, Maren; Gago, Juan; Dancel-Manning, Kristen; Sall, Joseph; Rice, William J; Barnett, Clea; Khodadadi-Jamayran, Alireza; Tsirigos, Aristotelis; Liang, Feng-Xia; Thorpe, Lorna E; Shopsin, Bo; Segal, Leopoldo N; Dittmann, Meike; Torres, Victor J; Cadwell, Ken
Extracellular vesicles of endosomal origin, exosomes, mediate intercellular communication by transporting substrates with a variety of functions related to tissue homeostasis and disease. Their diagnostic and therapeutic potential has been recognized for diseases such as cancer in which signaling defects are prominent. However, it is unclear to what extent exosomes and their cargo inform the progression of infectious diseases. We recently defined a subset of exosomes termed defensosomes that are mobilized during bacterial infection in a manner dependent on autophagy proteins. Through incorporating protein receptors on their surface, defensosomes mediated host defense by binding and inhibiting pore-forming toxins secreted by bacterial pathogens. Given this capacity to serve as decoys that interfere with surface protein interactions, we investigated the role of defensosomes during infection by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the etiological agent of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Consistent with a protective function, exosomes containing high levels of the viral receptor ACE2 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from critically ill COVID-19 patients was associated with reduced intensive care unit (ICU) and hospitalization times. We found ACE2+ exosomes were induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection and activation of viral sensors in cell culture, which required the autophagy protein ATG16L1, defining these as defensosomes. We further demonstrate that ACE2+ defensosomes directly bind and block viral entry. These findings suggest that defensosomes may contribute to the antiviral response against SARS-CoV-2 and expand our knowledge on the regulation and effects of extracellular vesicles during infection.
PMID: 36099266
ISSN: 1545-7885
CID: 5335192

Staphylococcus aureus induces a muted host response in human blood that blunts the recruitment of neutrophils

Zwack, Erin E; Chen, Ze; Devlin, Joseph C; Li, Zhi; Zheng, Xuhui; Weinstock, Ada; Lacey, Keenan A; Fisher, Edward A; Fenyö, David; Ruggles, Kelly V; Loke, P'ng; Torres, Victor J
PMID: 35881802
ISSN: 1091-6490
CID: 5276372

Structural basis for inhibition of the drug efflux pump NorA from Staphylococcus aureus

Brawley, Douglas N; Sauer, David B; Li, Jianping; Zheng, Xuhui; Koide, Akiko; Jedhe, Ganesh S; Suwatthee, Tiffany; Song, Jinmei; Liu, Zheng; Arora, Paramjit S; Koide, Shohei; Torres, Victor J; Wang, Da-Neng; Traaseth, Nathaniel J
Membrane protein efflux pumps confer antibiotic resistance by extruding structurally distinct compounds and lowering their intracellular concentration. Yet, there are no clinically approved drugs to inhibit efflux pumps, which would potentiate the efficacy of existing antibiotics rendered ineffective by drug efflux. Here we identified synthetic antigen-binding fragments (Fabs) that inhibit the quinolone transporter NorA from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Structures of two NorA-Fab complexes determined using cryo-electron microscopy reveal a Fab loop deeply inserted in the substrate-binding pocket of NorA. An arginine residue on this loop interacts with two neighboring aspartate and glutamate residues essential for NorA-mediated antibiotic resistance in MRSA. Peptide mimics of the Fab loop inhibit NorA with submicromolar potency and ablate MRSA growth in combination with the antibiotic norfloxacin. These findings establish a class of peptide inhibitors that block antibiotic efflux in MRSA by targeting indispensable residues in NorA without the need for membrane permeability.
PMID: 35361990
ISSN: 1552-4469
CID: 5201392