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Publications

Identification of three new GGDEF and EAL domain-containing proteins participating in the Scr surface colonization regulatory network in Vibrio parahaemolyticus

Abstract

Vibrio parahaemolyticus rapidly colonizes surfaces using swarming motility. Surface contact induces the surface sensing regulon including lateral flagellar genes, spurring dramatic shifts in physiology and behavior. The bacterium can also adopt a sessile, surface-associated lifestyle and form robust biofilms. These alternate colonization strategies are influenced reciprocally by the second messenger c-di-GMP. Although V. parahaemolyticus possesses 43 predicted proteins with the c-di-GMP-forming GGDEF domain, none have been previously been identified as contributors to surface colonization. We sought to explore this knowledge gap by using a suppressor transposon screen to restore swarming motility of a non-swarming, high c-di-GMP strain. Two diguanylate cyclases, ScrJ and ScrL, each containing tetratricopeptide repeat coupled GGDEF domains were demonstrated to contribute additively to swarming gene repression. Both proteins required an intact catalytic motif to regulate. Another suppressor mapped in lafV, the last gene in a lateral flagellar operon. Containing a degenerate phosphodiesterase (EAL) domain, LafV affected expression of multiple genes in the surface sensing regulon and required LafK, a primary swarming activator, to repress. Mutation of the signature EAL motif had little effect on LafV's repressive activity, suggesting LafV belongs to the subclass of EAL-type proteins that are regulatory but not enzymatic. Consistent with these activities and their predicted effects on c-di-GMP, scrJ and scrL, but not lafV mutants affected transcription of the c-di-GMP-responsive, biofilm reporter cpsA::lacZ. Our results expand the knowledge of the V. parahaemolyticus GGDEF/EAL repertoire and their roles in this surface colonization regulatory network.Significance A key survival decision, in the environment or the host, is whether to emigrate or aggregate. In bacteria, c-di-GMP signaling almost universally influences solutions to this dilemma. In V. parahaemolyticus, c-di-GMP reciprocally regulates swarming and sticking (i.e., biofilm formation) programs of surface colonization. Key c-di-GMP degrading phosphodiesterases responsive to quorum and nutritional signals have been previously identified. c-di-GMP-binding transcription factors programming biofilm development have been studied. Here, we further develop the blueprint of the c-di-GMP network by identifying new participants involved in dictating the complex decision of whether to swarm or stay. These include diguanylate cyclases with tetratricopeptide domains and a degenerate EAL protein that serves, analogous to the negative flagellar regulator RflP/YdiV of enteric bacteria, to regulate swarming.

Authors:
John H Kimbrough Linda L McCarter


The SrrAB two-component system regulates Staphylococcus aureus pathogenicity through redox sensitive cysteines

Abstract


Staphylococcus aureus infections can lead to diseases that range from localized skin abscess to life-threatening toxic shock syndrome. The SrrAB two-component system (TCS) is a global regulator of S. aureus virulence and critical for survival under environmental conditions such as hypoxic, oxidative, and nitrosative stress found at sites of infection. Despite the critical role of SrrAB in S. aureus pathogenicity, the mechanism by which the SrrAB TCS senses and responds to these environmental signals remains unknown. Bioinformatics analysis showed that the SrrB histidine kinase contains several domains, including an extracellular Cache domain and a cytoplasmic HAMP-PAS-DHp-CA region. Here, we show that the PAS domain regulates both kinase and phosphatase enzyme activity of SrrB and present the structure of the DHp-CA catalytic core. Importantly, this structure shows a unique intramolecular cysteine disulfide bond in the ATP-binding domain that significantly affects autophosphorylation kinetics. In vitro data show that the redox state of the disulfide bond affects S. aureus biofilm formation and toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 production. Moreover, with the use of the rabbit infective endocarditis model, we demonstrate that the disulfide bond is a critical regulatory element of SrrB function during S. aureus infection. Our data support a model whereby the disulfide bond and PAS domain of SrrB sense and respond to the cellular redox environment to regulate S. aureus survival and pathogenesis.

Authors:
N Tiwari, M López-Redondo, L Miguel-Romero, K Kulhankova, M P Cahill, P M Tran , K J Kinney, S H Kilgore, H Al-Tameemi, C A Herfst, S W Tuffs, J R Kirby, J M Boyd, J K McCormick, W Salgado-Pabón, A Marina, P M Schlievert, E. Fuentes


Decolonization of Human Anterior Nares of Staphylococcus aureus with Use of a Glycerol Monolaurate Nonaqueous Gel

Abstract


Staphylococcus aureus is a highly significant infection problem in health care centers, particularly after surgery. It has been shown that nearly 80% of S. aureus infections following surgery are the same as those in the anterior nares of patients, suggesting that the anterior nares is the source of the infection strain. This has led to the use of mupirocin ointment being applied nasally to reduce infections; mupirocin resistance is being observed. This study was undertaken to determine whether gel composed of 5% glycerol monolaurate solubilized in a glycol-based, nonaqueous gel (5% GML gel) could be used as an alternative. In our study, 40 healthy human volunteers swabbed their anterior nares for 3 days with the 5% GML gel. Prior to swabbing and 8 to 12 h after swabbing, S. aureus and coagulase-negative staphylococcal CFU per milliliter were determined by plating the swabs on mannitol salt agar. Fourteen of the volunteers had S. aureus in their nares prior to 5% GML gel treatment, most persons with the organisms present in both nares; five had pure cultures of S. aureus All participants without pure culture of S. aureus were cocolonized with S. aureus and coagulase-negative staphylococci. Five of the S. aureus strains produced the superantigens commonly associated with toxic shock syndrome, though none of the participants became ill. For both S. aureus and coagulase-negative staphylococci, the 5% GML gel treatment resulted in a 3-log-unit reduction in microorganisms. For S. aureus, the reduction persisted for 2 or 3 days.IMPORTANCE In this microflora study, we show that a 5% glycerol monolaurate nonaqueous gel is safe for use in the anterior nares. The gel was effective in reducing Staphylococcus aureus nasally, a highly significant hospital-associated pathogen. The gel may be a useful alternative or additive to mupirocin ointment for nasal use prior to surgery, noting that 80% of hospital-associated S. aureus infections are due to the same organism found in the nose. This gel also kills all enveloped viruses tested and should be considered for studies to reduce infection and transmission of coronaviruses and influenza viruses.

Authors:
Patrick M Schlievert, Marnie L Peterson


COVID-19 treatments and pathogenesis including anosmia in K18-hACE2 mice

Abstract

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Although much has been learned in the first months of the pandemic, many features of COVID-19 pathogenesis remain to be determined. For example, anosmia is a common presentation and many patients with this finding show no or only minor respiratory signs1. Studies in animals experimentally infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the cause of COVID-19, provide opportunities to study aspects of the disease not easily investigated in human patients. Although COVID-19 severity ranges from asymptomatic to lethal2, most experimental infections provide insights into mild disease3. Here, using K18-hACE2 mice that we originally developed for SARS studies4, we show that infection with SARS-CoV-2 causes severe disease in the lung, and in some mice, the brain. Evidence of thrombosis and vasculitis was detected in mice with severe pneumonia. Furthermore, we show that infusion of convalescent plasma from a recovered patient with COVID-19 protected against lethal disease. Mice developed anosmia at early times after infection. Notably, although pre-treatment with convalescent plasma prevented notable clinical disease, it did not prevent anosmia. Thus, K18-hACE2 mice provide a useful model for studying the pathological underpinnings of both mild and lethal COVID-19 and for assessing therapeutic interventions.

Authors:
Jian Zheng, Lok-Yin Roy Wong, Kun Li, Abhishek Kumar Verma, Miguel Ortiz, Christine Wohlford-Lenane, Mariah R. Leidinger, C. Michael Knudson, David K. Meyerholz, Paul B. McCray Jr & Stanley Perlman


TRAF6 and TAK1 contribute to SAMHD1-mediated negative regulation of NF-κB signaling

ABSTRACT
Sterile alpha motif and HD-domain-containing protein 1 (SAMHD1) restricts HIV-1 replication by limiting the intracellular dNTP pool. SAMHD1 also suppresses the activation of NF-κB in response to viral infections and inflammatory stimuli. However, the mechanisms by which SAMHD1 negatively regulates this pathway remain unclear. Here we show that SAMHD1-mediated suppression of NF-κB activation is modulated by two key mediators of NF-κB signaling, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) and transforming growth factor-ß-activated kinase-1 (TAK1). We compared NF-κB activation stimulated by interleukin (IL)-1ß in monocytic THP-1 control and SAMHD1 knockout (KO) cells with and without partial TRAF6 knockdown (KD), or in cells treated with TAK1 inhibitors. Relative to control cells, IL-1ß-treated SAMHD1 KO cells showed increased phosphorylation of the inhibitor of NF-κB (IκBα), an indication of pathway activation, and elevated levels of TNF-α mRNA. Moreover, SAMHD1 KO combined with TRAF6 KD or pharmacological TAK1 inhibition reduced IκBα phosphorylation and TNF-α mRNA to the level of control cells. SAMHD1 KO cells infected with single-cycle HIV-1 showed elevated infection and TNF-α mRNA levels compared to control cells, and the effects were significantly reduced by TRAF6 KD or TAK1 inhibition. We further demonstrated that overexpressed SAMHD1 inhibited TRAF6-stimulated NF-κB reporter activity in HEK293T cells in a dose-dependent manner. SAMHD1 contains a nuclear localization signal (NLS), but an NLS-defective SAMHD1 exhibited a suppressive effect similar to the wild-type protein. Our data suggest that the TRAF6-TAK1 axis contributes to SAMHD1-mediated suppression of NF-κB activation and HIV-1 infection.

Authors:
Constanza E. Espada, Corine St. Gelais, Serena Bonifati, Victoria V. Maksimova, Michael P. Cahill, Sun Hee Kim, Li Wu


Microglia depletion exacerbates demyelination and impairs remyelination in a neurotropic coronavirus infection

Abstract

Microglia are considered both pathogenic and protective during recovery from demyelination, but their precise role remains ill defined. Here, using an inhibitor of colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R), PLX5622, and mice infected with a neurotropic coronavirus (mouse hepatitis virus [MHV], strain JHMV), we show that depletion of microglia during the time of JHMV clearance resulted in impaired myelin repair and prolonged clinical disease without affecting the kinetics of virus clearance. Microglia were required only during the early stages of remyelination. Notably, large deposits of extracellular vesiculated myelin and cellular debris were detected in the spinal cords of PLX5622-treated and not control mice, which correlated with decreased numbers of oligodendrocytes in demyelinating lesions in drug-treated mice. Furthermore, gene expression analyses demonstrated differential expression of genes involved in myelin debris clearance, lipid and cholesterol recycling, and promotion of oligodendrocyte function. The results also demonstrate that microglial functions affected by depletion could not be compensated by infiltrating macrophages. Together, these results demonstrate that microglia play key roles in debris clearance and in the initiation of remyelination following infection with a neurotropic coronavirus but are not necessary during later stages of remyelination.

Authors:
Alan Sariol, Samantha Mackin, Merri-Grace Allred, Chen Ma, Yu Zhou, Qinran Zhang, Xiufen Zou, Juan E. Abrahante, David K. Meyerholz, and Stanley Perlman


Human Keratinocyte Response to Superantigens

ABSTRACT


Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes are significant human pathogens, causing infections at multiple body sites, including across the skin. Both are organisms that cause human diseases and secrete superantigens, including toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 (TSST-1), staphylococcal enterotoxins (SEs), and streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxins (SPEs). On the skin, human keratinocytes represent the first cell type to encounter these superantigens. We employed transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) to evaluate the human primary keratinocyte response to both TSST-1 and staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) in triplicate analyses. Both superantigens caused large numbers of genes to be up- and downregulated. The genes that exhibited 2-fold differential gene expression compared to vehicle-treated cells, whether up- or downregulated, totaled 5,773 for TSST-1 and 4,320 for SEB. Of these, 4,482 were significantly upregulated by exposure of keratinocytes to TSST-1, whereas 1,291 were downregulated. For SEB, expression levels of 3,785 genes were upregulated, whereas those of 535 were downregulated. There was the expected high overlap in both upregulation (3,412 genes) and downregulation (400 genes). Significantly upregulated genes included those associated with chemokine production, with the possibility of stimulation of inflammation. We also tested an immortalized human keratinocyte line, from a different donor, for chemokine response to four superantigens. TSST-1 and SEB caused production of interleukin-8 (IL-8), MIP-3α, and IL-33. SPEA and SPEC were evaluated for stimulation of expression of IL-8 as a representative chemokine; both stimulated production of IL-8.

Authors:
Patrick M. Schlievert, Francoise A. Gourronc, Donald Y. M. Leung, Aloysius J. Klingelhulz


The p150 Isoform of ADAR1 Blocks Sustained RLR signaling and Apoptosis during Influenza Virus Infection

Abstract

Signaling through retinoic acid inducible gene I (RIG-I) like receptors (RLRs) is tightly regulated, with activation occurring upon sensing of viral nucleic acids, and suppression mediated by negative regulators. Under homeostatic conditions aberrant activation of melanoma differentiation-associated protein-5 (MDA5) is prevented through editing of endogenous dsRNA by RNA editing enzyme Adenosine Deaminase Acting on RNA (ADAR1). In addition, ADAR1 is postulated to play proviral and antiviral roles during viral infections that are dependent or independent of RNA editing activity. Here, we investigated the importance of ADAR1 isoforms in modulating influenza A virus (IAV) replication and revealed the opposing roles for ADAR1 isoforms, with the nuclear p110 isoform restricting versus the cytoplasmic p150 isoform promoting IAV replication. Importantly, we demonstrate that p150 is critical for preventing sustained RIG-I signaling, as p150 deficient cells showed increased IFN-β expression and apoptosis during IAV infection, independent of RNA editing activity. Taken together, the p150 isoform of ADAR1 is important for preventing sustained RIG-I induced IFN-β expression and apoptosis during viral infection.

Authors:
Olivia A. Vogel, Julianna Han, Chieh-Yu Liang, Santhakumar Manicassamy, Jasmine T. Perez, Balaji Manicassamy


The Chlamydia trachomatis secreted effector TmeA hijacks the N-WASP-ARP2/3 actin remodeling axis to facilitate cellular invasion

Abstract


As an obligate intracellular pathogen, host cell invasion is paramount to Chlamydia trachomatis proliferation. While the mechanistic underpinnings of this essential process remain ill-defined, it is predicted to involve delivery of prepackaged effector proteins into the host cell that trigger plasma membrane remodeling and cytoskeletal reorganization. The secreted effector proteins TmeA and TarP, have risen to prominence as putative key regulators of cellular invasion and bacterial pathogenesis. Although several studies have begun to unravel molecular details underlying the putative function of TarP, the physiological function of TmeA during host cell invasion is unknown. Here, we show that TmeA employs molecular mimicry to bind to the GTPase binding domain of N-WASP, which results in recruitment of the actin branching ARP2/3 complex to the site of chlamydial entry. Electron microscopy revealed that TmeA mutants are deficient in filopodia capture, suggesting that TmeA/N-WASP interactions ultimately modulate host cell plasma membrane remodeling events necessary for chlamydial entry. Importantly, while both TmeA and TarP are necessary for effective host cell invasion, we show that these effectors target distinct pathways that ultimately converge on activation of the ARP2/3 complex. In line with this observation, we show that a double mutant suffers from a severe entry defect nearly identical to that observed when ARP3 is chemically inhibited or knocked down. Collectively, our study highlights both TmeA and TarP as essential regulators of chlamydial invasion that modulate the ARP2/3 complex through distinct signaling platforms, resulting in plasma membrane remodeling events that are essential for pathogen uptake.

Authors:
Robert Faris, Alix McCullough, Shelby E. Andersen, Thomas O. Moninger, Mary M. Weber


Kawasaki syndrome: role of superantigens revisited

Abstract

Kawasaki syndrome (KS) is an acute vasculitis in children complicated by the development of heart disease. Despite its description over 50 years ago, the etiology of coronary artery disease in KS is unknown. High dose intravenous immunoglobulin is the most effective approach to reduce cardiovascular complications. It remains unclear why patients with KS develop coronary artery aneurysms. A subset of patients is resistant to immunoglobulin therapy. Given the heterogeneity of clinical features, variability of history, and therapeutic response, KS may be a cluster of phenotypes triggered by multiple infectious agents and influenced by various environmental, genetic, and immunologic responses. The cause of KS is unknown, and a diagnostic test remains lacking. A better understanding of mechanisms leading to acute KS would contribute to a more precision medicine approach for this complex disease. In the current viewpoint, we make the case for microbial superantigens as important causes of KS.

Authors:
Donald Y M Leung, Patrick M Schlievert


Kinetic Visualization of Single-Cell Interspecies Bacterial Interactions

Abstract
Polymicrobial communities are ubiquitous in nature, yet studying their interactions at the single-cell level is difficult. Thus, a microscopy-based method has been developed for observing interspecies interactions between two bacterial pathogens. The use of this method to interrogate interactions between a motile Gram-negative pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and a non-motile Gram-positive pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus is demonstrated here. This protocol consists of co-inoculating each species between a coverslip and an agarose pad, which maintains the cells in a single plane and allows for visualization of bacterial behaviors in both space and time.

Furthermore, the time-lapse microscopy demonstrated here is ideal for visualizing the early interactions that take place between two or more bacterial species, including changes in bacterial species motility in monoculture and in coculture with other species. Due to the nature of the limited sample space in the microscopy setup, this protocol is less applicable for studying later interactions between bacterial species once cell populations are too high. However, there are several different applications of the protocol which include the use of staining for imaging live and dead bacterial cells, quantification of gene or protein expression through fluorescent reporters, and tracking bacterial cell movement in both single species and multispecies experiments.

Authors:
Kaitlin D Yarrington, Andrea Sánchez Peña, Dominique H Limoli


Device-Associated Menstrual Toxic Shock Syndrome

Abstract

In the 1980s, menstrual toxic shock syndrome (mTSS) became a household topic, particularly among mothers and their daughters. The research performed at the time, and for the first time, exposed the American public as well as the biomedical community, in a major way, to understanding disease progression and investigation. Those studies led to the identification of the cause, Staphylococcus aureus and the pyrogenic toxin superantigen TSS toxin 1 (TSST-1), and many of the risk factors, for example, tampon use. Those studies in turn led to TSS warning labels on the outside and inside of tampon boxes and, as important, uniform standards worldwide of tampon absorbency labeling. This review addresses our understanding of the development and conclusions related to mTSS and risk factors. We leave the final message that even though mTSS is not commonly in the news today, cases continue to occur. Additionally, S. aureus strains cycle in human populations in roughly 10-year intervals, possibly dependent on immune status. TSST-1-producing S. aureus bacteria appear to be reemerging, suggesting that physician awareness of this emergence and mTSS history should be heightened.

Authors:
Patrick M Schlievert, Catherine C Davis


Sustained Coinfections with Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in Cystic Fibrosis

Summary:

This study questions the long-standing assumption that Staphylococcus aureus is replaced over time by Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the airways of individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). By examining over 10 years of quantitative bacterial airway cultures from CF patients cared for at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, we found that S. aureus is not routinely replaced and is maintained at high levels, even when also infected with P. aeruginosa.

Authors:
Anthony J Fischer, Sachinkumar B Singh, Mason M LaMarche, Lucas J Maakestad, Zoe E Kienenberge , Tahuanty A Peña, David A Stolt , Dominique H Limoli


Pdgfrα-Cre mediated knockout of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor protects mice from high-fat diet induced obesity and hepatic steatosis

Abstract

Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) agonists such as dioxin have been associated with obesity and the development of diabetes. Whole-body Ahr knockout mice on high-fat diet (HFD) have been shown to resist obesity and hepatic steatosis. Tissue-specific knockout of Ahr in mature adipocytes via adiponectin-Cre exacerbates obesity while knockout in liver increases steatosis without having significant effects on obesity. Our previous studies demonstrated that treatment of subcutaneous preadipocytes with exogenous or endogenous AHR agonists disrupts maturation into functional adipocytes in vitro. Here, we used platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (Pdgfrα)-Cre mice, a Cre model previously established to knock out genes in preadipocyte lineages and other cell types, but not liver cells, to further define AHR's role in obesity. We demonstrate that Pdgfrα-Cre Ahr-floxed (Ahrfl/fl) knockout mice are protected from HFD-induced obesity compared to non-knockout Ahrfl/fl mice (control mice). The Pdgfrα-Cre Ahrfl/fl knockout mice were also protected from increased adiposity, enlargement of adipocyte size, and liver steatosis while on the HFD compared to control mice. On a regular control diet, knockout and non-knockout mice showed no differences in weight gain, indicating the protective phenotype arises only when animals are challenged by a HFD. At the cellular level, cultured cells from brown adipose tissue (BAT) of Pdgfrα-Cre Ahrfl/fl mice were more responsive than cells from controls to transcriptional activation of the thermogenic uncoupling protein 1 (Ucp1) gene by norepinephrine, suggesting an ability to burn more energy under certain conditions. Collectively, our results show that knockout of Ahr mediated by Pdgfrα-Cre is protective against diet-induced obesity and suggest a mechanism by which enhanced UCP1 activity within BAT might confer these effects.

Authors:
Francoise A Gourronc, Kathleen R Markan, Katarina Kulhankova, Zhiyong Zhu, Ryan Sheehy, Dawn E Quelle, Leonid V Zingman, Zoya B Kurago, James A Ankrum, Aloysius J Klingelhutz


Herpes Simplex Virus Organizes Cytoplasmic Membranes to Form a Viral Assembly Center in Neuronal Cells

ABSTRACT


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a neuroinvasive virus that has been used as a model organism for studying common properties of all herpesviruses. HSV induces host organelle rearrangement and forms multiple, dispersed assembly compartments in epithelial cells, which complicates the study of HSV assembly. In this study, we show that HSV forms a visually distinct unitary cytoplasmic viral assembly center (cVAC) in both cancerous and primary neuronal cells that concentrates viral structural proteins and is a major site of capsid envelopment. The HSV cVAC also concentrates host membranes that are important for viral assembly, such as Golgi- and recycling endosome-derived membranes. Lastly, we show that HSV cVAC formation and/or maintenance depends on an intact microtubule network and a viral tegument protein, pUL51. Our observations suggest that the neuronal cVAC is a uniquely useful model to study common herpesvirus assembly pathways, and cell-specific pathways for membrane reorganization.

Importance Herpesvirus particles are complex and contain many different proteins that must come together in an organized and coordinated fashion. Many viruses solve this coordination problem by creating a specialized assembly factory in the host cell, and the formation of such factories provides a promising target for interfering with virus production. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) infects several types of cells, including neurons, but has not previously been shown to form such an organized factory in the non-neuronal cells in which its assembly has been best studied. Here we show that HSV-1 forms an organized assembly factory in neuronal cells, and we identify some of the viral and host cell factors that are important for its formation.

Authors:
Shaowen White, Hiroyuki Kawano, N. Charles Harata, Richard J. Roller


Lessons for COVID-19 immunity from other coronavirus infections

Abstract

A key goal to controlling COVID-19 is developing an effective vaccine. Development of a vaccine requires knowledge of what constitutes a protective immune response and also features that might be pathogenic. Protective and pathogenic aspects of the response to SARS-CoV-2 are not well understood, partly because the virus has infected humans for only 6 months. However, insight into coronavirus immunity can be informed by previous studies of immune responses to non-human coronaviruses, to common cold coronaviruses, and to SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Here we review the literature describing these responses and discuss their relevance to the SARS-CoV-2 immune response.

 

Authors:
Alan Sariol and Stanley Perlman


Envelope protein ubiquitination drives entry and pathogenesis of Zika virus

Abstract


Zika virus (ZIKV) belongs to the family Flaviviridae, and is related to other viruses that cause human diseases. Unlike other flaviviruses, ZIKV infection can cause congenital neurological disorders and replicates efficiently in reproductive tissues1-3. Here we show that the envelope protein (E) of ZIKV is polyubiquitinated by the E3 ubiquitin ligase TRIM7 through Lys63 (K63)-linked polyubiquitination. Accordingly, ZIKV replicates less efficiently in the brain and reproductive tissues of Trim7-/- mice. Ubiquitinated E is present on infectious virions of ZIKV when they are released from specific cell types, and enhances virus attachment and entry into cells. Specifically, K63-linked polyubiquitin chains directly interact with the TIM1 (also known as HAVCR1) receptor of host cells, which enhances virus entry in cells as well as in brain tissue in vivo. Recombinant ZIKV mutants that lack ubiquitination are attenuated in human cells and in wild-type mice, but not in live mosquitoes. Monoclonal antibodies against K63-linked polyubiquitin specifically neutralize ZIKV and reduce viraemia in mice. Our results demonstrate that the ubiquitination of ZIKV E is an important determinant of virus entry, tropism and pathogenesis.

Authors:
Maria I. Giraldo, Hongjie Xia, Leopoldo Aguilera-Aguirre, Adam Hage, Sarah van Tol, Chao Shan, Xuping Xie, Gail L. Sturdevant, Shelly J. Robertson, Kristin L. McNally, Kimberly Meade-White, Sasha R. Azar, Shannan L. Rossi, Wendy Maury..., Sonja M. Best, Pei-Yong Shi & Ricardo Rajsbaum


Cutting Edge: Augmenting Muscle MHC Expression Enhances Systemic Pathogen Control at the Expense of T Cell Exhaustion

Lead author is Postdoctoral Research Scholar Angela Pack, PhD, who is in the Noah Butler, PhD lab. 

Abstract

Myocytes express low levels of MHC class I (MHC I), perhaps influencing the ability of CD8+ T cells to efficiently detect and destroy pathogens that invade muscle. Trypanosoma cruzi infects many cell types but preferentially persists in muscle, and we asked if this tissue-dependent persistence was linked to MHC expression. Inducible enhancement of skeletal muscle MHC I in mice during the first 20 d of T. cruzi infection resulted in enhanced CD8-dependent reduction of parasite load. However, continued overexpression of MHC I beyond 30 d ultimately led to a collapse of systemic parasite control associated with immune exhaustion, which was reversible in part by blocking PD-1:PD-L1 interactions. These studies demonstrate a surprisingly strong and systemically dominant effect of skeletal muscle MHC expression on maintaining T cell function and pathogen control and argue that the normally low MHC I expression in skeletal muscle is host protective by allowing for pathogen control while preventing immune exhaustion.

Authors:
Angela D. Pack and Rick L. Tarleton


Fitting Pieces Into the Puzzle of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Type III Secretion System Gene Expression

Abstract
Type III secretion systems (T3SS) are widely distributed in Gram-negative microorganisms and critical for host-pathogen and host-symbiont interactions with plants and animals. Central features of the T3SS are a highly conserved set of secretion and translocation genes and contact dependence wherein host-pathogen interactions trigger effector protein delivery and serve as an inducing signal for T3SS gene expression. In addition to these conserved features, there are pathogen-specific properties that include a unique repertoire of effector genes and mechanisms to control T3SS gene expression. The Pseudomonas aeruginosa T3SS serves as a model system to understand transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms involved in the control of T3SS gene expression. The central regulatory feature is a partner-switching system that controls the DNA-binding activity of ExsA, the primary regulator of T3SS gene expression. Superimposed upon the partner-switching mechanism are cyclic AMP and cyclic di-GMP signaling systems, two-component systems, global regulators, and RNA-binding proteins that have positive and negative effects on ExsA transcription and/or synthesis. In the present review, we discuss advances in our understanding of how these regulatory systems orchestrate the activation of T3SS gene expression in the context of acute infections and repression of the T3SS as P. aeruginosa adapts to and colonizes the cystic fibrosis airways.

Authors:
Emily A Williams McMackin, Louise Djapgne, Jodi M Corley, Timothy L Yahr


Oligodendrocytes that survive acute coronavirus infection induce prolonged inflammatory responses in the CNS

 

Abstract
Neurotropic strains of mouse hepatitis virus (MHV), a coronavirus, cause acute and chronic demyelinating encephalomyelitis with similarities to the human disease multiple sclerosis. Here, using a lineage-tracking system, we show that some cells, primarily oligodendrocytes (OLs) and oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), survive the acute MHV infection, are associated with regions of demyelination, and persist in the central nervous system (CNS) for at least 150 d. These surviving OLs express major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and other genes associated with an inflammatory response. Notably, the extent of inflammatory cell infiltration was variable, dependent on anatomic location within the CNS, and without obvious correlation with numbers of surviving cells. We detected more demyelination in regions with larger numbers of T cells and microglia/macrophages compared to those with fewer infiltrating cells. Conversely, in regions with less inflammation, these previously infected OLs more rapidly extended processes, consistent with normal myelinating function. Together, these results show that OLs are inducers as well as targets of the host immune response and demonstrate how a CNS infection, even after resolution, can induce prolonged inflammatory changes with CNS region-dependent impairment in remyelination.

Authors:
Ruangang Pan, Qinran Zhang, Scott M Anthony, Yu Zhou, Xiufen Zou, Martin Cassell, Stanley Perlman


TLR2 on Blood Monocytes Senses Dengue Virus Infection and Its Expression Correlates With Disease Pathogenesis

Lead author is Postdoctoral Research Scholar  Alberto Aguilar-Briseño, PhD, who is in the Wendy Maury, PhD lab. 

Abstract

Vascular permeability and plasma leakage are immune-pathologies of severe dengue virus (DENV) infection, but the mechanisms underlying the exacerbated inflammation during DENV pathogenesis are unclear. Here, we demonstrate that TLR2, together with its co-receptors CD14 and TLR6, is an innate sensor of DENV particles inducing inflammatory cytokine expression and impairing vascular integrity in vitro. Blocking TLR2 prior to DENV infection in vitro abrogates NF-κB activation while CD14 and TLR6 block has a moderate effect. Moreover, TLR2 block prior to DENV infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells prevents activation of human vascular endothelium, suggesting a potential role of the TLR2-responses in vascular integrity. TLR2 expression on CD14 + + classical monocytes isolated in an acute phase from DENV-infected pediatric patients correlates with severe disease development. Altogether, these data identify a role for TLR2 in DENV infection and provide insights into the complex interaction between the virus and innate receptors that may underlie disease pathogenesis.

Authors:
José A Aguilar-Briseño, Vinit Upasani, Bram M Ter Ellen, Jill Moser, Mindaugas Pauzuolis 1, Mariana Ruiz-Silva, Sothy Heng , Denis Laurent , Rithy Choeung , Philippe Dussart , Tineke Cantaert , Jolanda M Smit , Izabela A Rodenhuis-Zybe


Hfq and sRNA 179 Inhibit Expression of the Pseudomonas Aeruginosa cAMP-Vfr and Type III Secretion Regulons

Abstract

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a Gram-negative opportunistic pathogen causing skin and soft tissue, respiratory, and bloodstream infections. The type III secretion system (T3SS) is one important virulence factor. Production of the T3SS is controlled by ExsA, a transcription factor that activates expression of the entire T3SS regulon. Global regulators including Vfr, RsmA, and Hfq also contribute to regulation of the T3SS. Vfr is a cAMP-responsive transcription factor that activates exsA transcription. RsmA, an RNA-binding protein, inversely controls expression of the T3SS and the type VI secretion system (T6SS). Hfq is an RNA chaperone that functions by stabilizing small noncoding RNAs (sRNAs) and/or facilitating base pairing between sRNAs and mRNA targets. A previous study identified sRNA 1061, which directly targets the exsA mRNA and likely inhibits ExsA synthesis. In this study, we screened an sRNA expression library and identified sRNA 179 as an Hfq-dependent inhibitor of T3SS gene expression. Further characterization revealed that sRNA 179 inhibits the synthesis of both ExsA and Vfr. The previous finding that RsmA stimulates ExsA and Vfr synthesis suggested that sRNA 179 impacts the Gac/Rsm system. Consistent with that idea, the inhibitory activity of sRNA 179 is suppressed in a mutant lacking rsmY and rsmZ, and sRNA 179 expression stimulates rsmY transcription. RsmY and RsmZ are small noncoding RNAs that sequester RsmA from target mRNAs. Our combined findings show that Hfq and sRNA 179 indirectly regulate ExsA and Vfr synthesis by reducing the available pool of RsmA, leading to reduced expression of the T3SS and cAMP-Vfr regulons.IMPORTANCE Control of gene expression by small noncoding RNA (sRNA) is well documented but underappreciated. Deep sequencing of mRNA preparations from Pseudomonas aeruginosa suggests that >500 sRNAs are generated. Few of those sRNAs have defined roles in gene expression. To address that knowledge gap, we constructed an sRNA expression library and identified sRNA 179 as a regulator of the type III secretion system (T3SS) and the cAMP-Vfr regulons. The T3SS- and cAMP-Vfr-controlled genes are critical virulence factors. Increased understanding of the signals and regulatory mechanisms that control these important factors will enhance our understanding of disease progression and reveal potential approaches for therapeutic intervention.

Authors:
Kayley H Janssen, Jodi M Corley, Louise Djapgne, J T Cribbs, Deven Voelker, Zachary Slusher, Robert Nordell, Elizabeth E Regulski, Barbara I Kazmierczak, Emily Williams McMackin, Timothy L Yahr


Generation of a Broadly Useful Model for COVID-19 Pathogenesis, Vaccination, and Treatment

Summary

COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, is a virulent pneumonia, with >4,000,000 confirmed cases worldwide and >290,000 deaths as of May 15, 2020. It is critical that vaccines and therapeutics be developed very rapidly. Mice, the ideal animal for assessing such interventions, are resistant to SARS-CoV-2. Here, we overcome this difficulty by exogenous delivery of human ACE2 with a replication-deficient adenovirus (Ad5-hACE2). Ad5-hACE2-sensitized mice developed pneumonia characterized by weight loss, severe pulmonary pathology, and high-titer virus replication in lungs. Type I interferon, T cells, and, most importantly, signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) are critical for virus clearance and disease resolution in these mice. Ad5-hACE2-transduced mice enabled rapid assessments of a vaccine candidate, of human convalescent plasma, and of two antiviral therapies (poly I:C and remdesivir). In summary, we describe a murine model of broad and immediate utility to investigate COVID-19 pathogenesis and to evaluate new therapies and vaccines.

Authors:
Jing Sun, Zhen Zhuang, Jian Zheng...Paul McCray Jr., Stanley Perlman, Jincun Zhao


Key Positions of HIV-1 Env and Signatures of Vaccine Efficacy Show Gradual Reduction of Population Founder Effects at the Clade and Regional Levels

Abstract

HIV-1 group M was transmitted to humans nearly one century ago. The virus has since evolved to form distinct clades, which spread to different regions of the world. The envelope glycoproteins (Envs) of HIV-1 have rapidly diversified in all infected populations. We examined whether key antigenic sites of Env and signatures of vaccine efficacy are evolving toward similar or distinct structural forms in different populations worldwide. Patterns of amino acid variants that emerged at each position of Env were compared between diverse HIV-1 clades and isolates from different geographic regions. Interestingly, at each Env position, the amino acid in the clade ancestral or regional-founder virus was replaced by a unique frequency distribution (FD) of amino acids. FDs are highly conserved in populations from different regions worldwide and in paraphyletic and monophyletic subclade groups. Remarkably, founder effects of Env mutations at the clade and regional levels have gradually decreased during the pandemic by evolution of each site toward the unique combination of variants. Therefore, HIV-1 Env is evolving at a population level toward well-defined "target" states; these states are not specific amino acids but rather specific distributions of amino acid frequencies. Our findings reveal the powerful nature of the forces that guide evolution of Env and their conservation across different populations. Such forces have caused a gradual decrease in the interpopulation diversity of Env despite an increasing intrapopulation diversity.IMPORTANCE The Env protein of HIV-1 is the primary target in AIDS vaccine design. Frequent mutations in the virus increase the number of Env forms in each population, limiting the efficacy of AIDS vaccines. Comparison of newly emerging forms in different populations showed that each position of Env is evolving toward a specific combination of amino acids. Similar changes are occurring in different HIV-1 subtypes and geographic regions toward the same position-specific combinations of amino acids, often from distinct ancestral sequences. The predictable nature of HIV-1 Env evolution, as shown here, provides a new framework for designing vaccines that are tailored to the unique combination of variants expected to emerge in each virus subtype and geographic region.

Authors:
Changze Han, Jacklyn Johnson, Rentian Dong, Raghavendranath Kandula, Alexa Kort, Maria Wong, Tianbao Yang, Patrick J Breheny, Grant D Brown, Hillel Haim


Infection-induced plasmablasts are a nutrient sink that impairs humoral immunity to malaria

Abstract

Plasmodium parasite–specific antibodies are critical for protection against malaria, yet the development of long-lived and effective humoral immunity against Plasmodium takes many years and multiple rounds of infection and cure. Here, we report that the rapid development of short-lived plasmablasts during experimental malaria unexpectedly hindered parasite control by impeding germinal center responses. Metabolic hyperactivity of plasmablasts resulted in nutrient deprivation of the germinal center reaction, limiting the generation of memory B cell and long-lived plasma cell responses. Therapeutic administration of a single amino acid to experimentally infected mice was sufficient to overcome the metabolic constraints imposed by plasmablasts and enhanced parasite clearance and the formation of protective humoral immune memory responses. Thus, our studies not only challenge the current model describing the role and function of blood-stage Plasmodium-induced plasmablasts but they also reveal new targets and strategies to improve anti-Plasmodium humoral immunity.

Authors:
Vijay R, Guthmiller JJ, Sturtz AJ, Surette FA, Rogers KJ, Sompallae RR, Li F, Pope RL, Chan JA, de Labastida Rivera F, Andrew D, Webb L, Maury WJ, Xue HH, Engwerda CR, McCarthy JS, Boyle MJ, Butler NS


Acute Plasmodium Infection Promotes Interferon-Gamma-Dependent Resistance to Ebola Virus Infection 

Abstract

During the 2013-2016 Ebola virus (EBOV) epidemic, a significant number of patients admitted to Ebola treatment units were co-infected with Plasmodium falciparum, a predominant agent of malaria. However, there is no consensus on how malaria impacts EBOV infection. The effect of acute Plasmodium infection on EBOV challenge was investigated using mouse-adapted EBOV and a biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) model virus. We demonstrate that acute Plasmodium infection protects from lethal viral challenge, dependent upon interferon gamma (IFN-γ) elicited as a result of parasite infection. Plasmodium-infected mice lacking the IFN-γ receptor are not protected. Ex vivo incubation of naive human or mouse macrophages with sera from acutely parasitemic rodents or macaques programs a proinflammatory phenotype dependent on IFN-γ and renders cells resistant to EBOV infection. We conclude that acute Plasmodium infection can safeguard against EBOV by the production of protective IFN-γ. These findings have implications for anti-malaria therapies administered during episodic EBOV outbreaks in Africa.

Authors:
Rogers KJ, Shtanko O, Vijay R, Mallinger LN, Joyner CJ, Galinski MR, Butler NS, Maury W


The High Content of Fructose in Human Semen Competitively Inhibits Broad and Potent Antivirals that Target High-mannose Glycans

ABSTRACT

Semen is the primary transmission vehicle for various pathogenic viruses. Initial steps of transmission, including cell attachment and entry, likely occur in the presence of semen. However, the unstable nature of human seminal plasma and its toxic effects on cells in culture limit the in vitro study of virus infection and inhibition in this medium. We found that whole semen significantly reduces the potency of antibodies and microbicides that target glycans on the envelope glycoproteins (Envs) of HIV-1. The extraordinarily high concentration of the monosaccharide fructose in semen contributes significantly to the effect by competitively inhibiting binding of ligands to α1,2-linked mannose residues on Env. Infection and inhibition in whole human semen are accurately mimicked by a stable synthetic simulant of seminal fluid we formulated. Our findings indicate that, in addition to the protein content of biological secretions, their small-solute composition impacts the potency of antiviral microbicides and mucosal antibodies.

Authors:
Johnson J, Flores MG, Rosa J, Han C, Salvi AM, DeMali KA, Jagnow JR, Sparks A, Haim H


Staphylococcal Virulence Factors on the Skin of Atopic Dermatitis Patients

Abstract

Staphylococcus aureus is the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections, bacteremia, infective endocarditis, osteoarticular, pleuropulmonary, and device-related infections. Virulence factors secreted by S. aureus, including superantigens and cytotoxins, play significant roles in driving disease. The ability to identify virulence factors present at the site of infection will be an important tool in better identifying and understanding how specific virulence factors contribute to disease. Previously, virulence factor production has been determined by culturing S. aureus isolates and detecting the mRNA of specific virulence factors. We demonstrated for the first time that virulence factors can be directly detected at the protein level from human samples, removing the need to first culture isolated bacteria. Superantigens and cytotoxins were detected and quantified with a Western dot blot assay by using reconstituted skin swabs obtained from patients with atopic dermatitis. This methodology will significantly enhance our ability to investigate the complex host-microbe environment and the effects various therapies have on virulence factor production. Overall, the ability to directly quantify virulence factors present at the site of infection or colonization will enhance our understanding of S. aureus-related diseases and help identify optimal treatments.IMPORTANCE For the first time, we show that secreted staphylococcal virulence factors can be quantified at the protein level directly from skin swabs obtained from the skin of atopic dermatitis patients. This technique eliminates the need to culture Staphylococcus aureus and then test the strain's potential to produce secreted virulence factors. Our methodology shows that secreted virulence factors are present on the skin of atopic patients and provides a more accurate means of evaluating the physiological impact of S. aureus in inflammatory diseases such as atopic dermatitis.

Authors:
Moran MC, Cahill MP, Brewer MG, Yoshida T, Knowlden, Perez-Nazario, Schlievert PM, Beck LA


High Prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus Enterotoxin Gene Cluster Superantigens in Cystic Fibrosis Clinical Isolates

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Staphylococcus aureus is a highly prevalent respiratory pathogen in cystic fibrosis (CF). It is unclear how this organism establishes chronic infections in CF airways. We hypothesized that S. aureus isolates from patients with CF would share common virulence properties that enable chronic infection.

METHODS:

77 S. aureus isolates were obtained from 45 de-identified patients with CF at the University of Iowa. We assessed isolates phenotypically and used genotyping assays to determine the presence or absence of 18 superantigens (SAgs).

RESULTS:

We observed phenotypic diversity among S. aureus isolates from patients with CF. Genotypic analysis for SAgs revealed 79.8% of CF clinical isolates carried all six members of the enterotoxin gene cluster (EGC). MRSA and MSSA isolates had similar prevalence of SAgs. We additionally observed that EGC SAgs were prevalent in S. aureus isolated from two geographically distinct CF centers.

CONCLUSIONS:

S. aureus SAgs belonging to the EGC are highly prevalent in CF clinical isolates. The greater prevalence in these SAgs in CF airway specimens compared to skin isolates suggests that these toxins confer selective advantage in the CF airway.

Authors:
Fischer AJ, Kilgore SH, Singh SB, Allen PD, Hansen AR, Limoli DH, Schlievert PM.


Effect of non-absorbent intravaginal menstrual/contraceptive products on Staphylococcus aureus and production of the superantigen TSST-1

Abstract

Tampons are associated with toxic shock syndrome (mTSS). One reason for this association is oxygen introduction within tampons into the anaerobic vagina. Oxygen is required for Staphylococcus aureus to produce TSS toxin-1 (TSST-1). There have been changes in use of medical devices to control menstrual flow, including increased use of menstrual discs and cups. These devices composed of solid, flexible materials do not absorb menstrual fluid and thus do not trap oxygen. This study evaluates tampons and non-absorbent devices for effect on S. aureus and TSST-1 production. There are three in vitro tests to evaluate devices for effect on TSST-1 production: (1) stationary flask, (2) shake flask, and (3) tampon sac. In this study, 100% rayon and 100% cotton tampons with three absorbencies, contraceptive diaphragms, and menstrual discs and cups were tested for effect on S. aureus growth and TSST-1 production. Product composition did not affect bacterial growth or TSST-1 production. Tampons showed no effect on S. aureus growth compared with no-tampon controls, but tampons showed enhanced TSST-1 production as a function of trapped oxygen in stationary cultures and tampon sacs but not in shake flasks. The non-absorbent devices showed no enhanced S. aureus growth or TSST-1 production compared with no-device controls. These studies are consistent with the association of tampons with mTSS as a function of absorbency, but they suggest the occasional association of mTSS with non-absorbent devices may be coincidental as opposed to co-causative.

Authors:
Schlievert PM


Pre-existing neutralizing antibodies prevent CD8 T cell-mediated immunopathology following respiratory syncytial virus infection

Abstract

Despite being a leading cause of severe respiratory disease, there remains no licensed respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine. Neutralizing antibodies reduce the severity of RSV-associated disease, but are not sufficient for preventing reinfection. In contrast, the role of memory CD8 T cells in protecting against a secondary RSV infection is less established. We recently demonstrated that high-magnitude memory CD8 T cells efficiently reduced lung viral titers following RSV infection, but induced fatal immunopathology that was mediated by IFN-γ. To evaluate the ability of RSV-specific neutralizing antibodies to prevent memory CD8 T cell-mediated immunopathology, mice with high-magnitude memory CD8 T cell responses were treated with neutralizing antibodies prior to RSV challenge. Neutralizing antibody treatment significantly reduced morbidity and prevented mortality following RSV challenge compared with IgG-treated controls. Neutralizing antibody treatment restricted early virus replication, which caused a substantial reduction in memory CD8 T cell activation and IFN-γ production, directly resulting in survival. In contrast, therapeutic neutralizing antibody administration did not impact morbidity, mortality, or IFN-γ levels, despite significantly reducing lung viral titers. Therefore, only pre-existing neutralizing antibodies prevent memory CD8 T cell-mediated immunopathology following RSV infection. Overall, our results have important implications for the development of future RSV vaccines.

Authors:
Schmidt M, Meyerholz D, Varga S


You Shall Not Pass: Memory CD8 T Cells in Liver-Stage Malaria

Highlights

Novel discoveries about the role of memory CD8 T cells in mediating immunity to liver-stage malaria are informing methods of resolving historical issues of malaria vaccine efficacy and implementation.

Liver resident memory (Trm) cells are essential to mediate sterilizing immunity against liver-stage malaria after whole-parasite immunization in mouse models. Circulating memory CD8 T cell contributions to protection remain undefined.

Mechanisms of liver Trm cell generation, maintenance, and protective function are active areas of investigation.

The unique hepatic microenvironment appears to dictate phenotypic characteristics and motility dynamics of local liver Trm cells at homeostasis.

Authors:
Lefebvre M, Harty, J


The dNTPase activity of SAMHD1 is important for its suppression of innate immune responses in differentiated monocytic cells

Abstract

Sterile alpha motif and HD domain-containing protein 1 (SAMHD1) is a deoxynucleoside triphosphohydrolase (dNTPase) with a nuclear localization signal (NLS). SAMHD1 suppresses innate immune responses to viral infection and inflammatory stimuli by inhibiting the NF-κB and type I interferon (IFN-I) pathways. However, whether the dNTPase activity and nuclear localization of SAMHD1 are required for its suppression of innate immunity remains unknown. Here, we report that the dNTPase activity, but not nuclear localization of SAMHD1, is important for its suppression of innate immune responses in differentiated monocytic cells. We generated monocytic U937 cell lines stably expressing wild-type (WT) SAMHD1 or mutated variants defective in dNTPase activity (HD/RN) or nuclear localization (mNLS). WT SAMHD1 in differentiated U937 cells significantly inhibited lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced expression of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) mRNAs, as well as IFN-a, IFN-b, and TNF-a mRNA levels induced by Sendai virus (SeV) infection. In contrast, the HD/RN mutant did not exhibit this inhibition in either U937 or THP-1 cells, indicating that the dNTPase activity of SAMHD1 is important for suppressing NF-κB activation. Of note, in LPS-treated or SeV-infected U937 or THP-1 cells, the mNLS variant reduced TNF-α or IFN-β mRNA expression to a similar extent as did WT SAMHD1, suggesting that SAMHD1-mediated inhibition of innate immune responses is independent of SAMHD1’s nuclear localization. Moreover, WT and mutant SAMHD1 similarly interacted with key proteins in NF-κB and IFN-I pathways in cells. This study further defines the role and mechanisms of SAMHD1 in suppressing innate immunity.

Authors:
Qin Z, Bonifati S, St. Gelais C, Li T-W, Kim S-H, Antonucci, J, Mahboubi B, Yount J, Xiong Y, Kim B, Wu L.


The lipid membrane of HIV-1 stabilizes the viral envelope glycoproteins and modulates their sensitivity to antibody neutralization.

Abstract

The envelope glycoproteins (Envs) of HIV-1 are embedded in the cholesterol-rich lipid membrane of the virus. Chemical depletion of cholesterol from HIV-1 particles inactivates their infectivity. We observed that diverse HIV-1 strains exhibit a range of sensitivities to such treatment. Differences in sensitivity to cholesterol depletion could not be explained by variation in Env components known to interact with cholesterol, including the cholesterol-recognition motif and cytoplasmic tail of gp41. Using antibody-binding assays, measurements of virus infectivity and analyses of lipid membrane order, we found that depletion of cholesterol from HIV-1 particles decreases the conformational stability of Env. It enhances exposure of partially cryptic epitopes on the trimer and increases sensitivity to structure-perturbing treatments such as antibodies and cold denaturation. Substitutions in the cholesterol-interacting motif of gp41 induced similar effects as depletion of cholesterol. Surface-acting agents, which are incorporated into the virus lipid membrane, caused similar effects as disruption of the Env-cholesterol interaction. Furthermore, substitutions in gp120 that increased structural stability of Env (i.e., induced a "closed" conformation of the trimer) increased virus resistance to cholesterol depletion and to the surface-acting agents. Collectively, these results indicate a critical contribution of the viral membrane to the stability of the Env trimer and to neutralization resistance against antibodies. Our findings suggest that the potency of poorly neutralizing antibodies, which are commonly elicited in vaccinated individuals, may be markedly enhanced by altering the lipid composition of the viral membrane.

Authors:
Salimi H, Johnson J Flores MG, Zhang MS, O'Malley YQ, Houtman JC, Schlievert PM, Haim H


IL-4/IL-13 polarization of macrophages enhances Ebola virus glycoprotein-dependent infection.

Abstract


Ebolavirus (EBOV) outbreaks, while sporadic, cause tremendous morbidity and mortality. No therapeutics or vaccines are currently licensed; however, a vaccine has shown promise in clinical trials. A critical step towards development of effective therapeutics is a better understanding of factors that govern host susceptibility to this pathogen. As macrophages are an important cell population targeted during virus replication, we explore the effect of cytokine polarization on macrophage infection.

Authors:
Rogers KJ, Brunton B, Mallinger L, Bohan D, Sevcik KM, Chen J, Ruggio N, Maury W


Control of Lymphocyte Fate, Infection, and Tumor Immunity by TCF-1

Highlights

T cell factor-1 (TCF-1) acts as a transcription factor and histone deacetylase (HDAC) in both mouse and humans to shape innate and adaptive immunity.

Expression of TCF-1 is necessary for the development of ILC progenitor cells in mouse bone marrow.

In murine T cell development, TCF-1 is critical for ETP development, commitment to the CD4+ T cell lineage, and stabilization of CD8+ T cells by suppressing alternative fate differentiation.

Increased TCF-1 expression is important for the development of central memory CD8+ T cells that provide long-term protection following acute viral infection in mice.

TCF-1 is critical for the development of Tex-stem cells that replenish Tex-term cells following chronic viral infection and in response to tumor formation. The presence of Tex-stem cells can be predictive of good prognosis in various cancer types and help to mediate patient responses to ICB.

Authors:
Raghu D, Xue HH, Mielke LA.


Interspecies interactions induce exploratory motility in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Abstract

Microbes often live in multispecies communities where interactions among community members impact both the individual constituents and the surrounding environment. Here, we developed a system to visualize interspecies behaviors at initial encounters. By imaging two prevalent pathogens known to be coisolated from chronic illnesses, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, we observed P. aeruginosa can modify surface motility in response to secreted factors from S. aureus. Upon sensing S. aureus, P. aeruginosa transitioned from collective to single-cell motility with an associated increase in speed and directedness - a behavior we refer to as 'exploratory motility'. Explorer cells moved preferentially towards S. aureus and invaded S. aureus colonies through the action of the type IV pili. These studies reveal previously undescribed motility behaviors and lend insight into how P. aeruginosa senses and responds to other species. Identifying strategies to harness these interactions may open avenues for new antimicrobial strategies.

Authors:
Dominique LH , Warren EA, Yarrington KD, Donegan NP, Cheung AL, O'Toole G


Glycerol monolaurate induces filopodia formation by disrupting the association between LAT and SLP-76 microclusters

Abstract

Glycerol monolaurate (GML) is a monoglyceride with potent antimicrobial properties that suppresses T cell receptor (TCR)-induced signaling and T cell effector function. Actin rearrangement is needed for the interaction of T cells with antigen-presenting cells and for migration to sites of infection. Because of the critical role actin rearrangement plays in T cell effector function, we analyzed the effect of GML on the rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton after TCR activation. We found that GML-treated human T cells were less adherent than untreated T cells and did not form actin ring structures but instead developed numerous inappropriate actin-mediated filopodia. The formation of these filopodia was not due to disruption of TCR-proximal regulators of actin or microtubule polymerization. Instead, total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy demonstrated mislocalization of actin nucleation protein Arp2 microclusters, but not those containing the adaptor proteins SLP-76 and WASp, or the actin nucleation protein ARPC3, which are necessary for TCR-induced actin rearrangement. Additionally, SLP-76 microclusters colocalized with WASp and WAVE microclusters but not with LAT. Together, our data suggest that GML alters actin cytoskeletal rearrangements and identify diverse functions for GML as a T cell-suppressive agent.

Authors:
Zhang MS, Tran PM, Wolff AJ, Tremblay MM, Fosdick MG, Houtman JCD


Interspecies interactions induce exploratory motility in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Abstract

Microbes often live in multispecies communities where interactions among community members impact both the individual constituents and the surrounding environment. Here, we developed a system to visualize interspecies behaviors at initial encounters. By imaging two prevalent pathogens known to be coisolated from chronic illnesses, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, we observed P. aeruginosa can modify surface motility in response to secreted factors from S. aureus. Upon sensing S. aureus, P. aeruginosa transitioned from collective to single-cell motility with an associated increase in speed and directedness - a behavior we refer to as 'exploratory motility'. Explorer cells moved preferentially towards S. aureus and invaded S. aureus colonies through the action of the type IV pili. These studies reveal previously undescribed motility behaviors and lend insight into how P. aeruginosa senses and responds to other species. Identifying strategies to harness these interactions may open avenues for new antimicrobial strategies.

Authors:
Limoli DH, Warren EA, Yarrington KD, Donegan NP, Cheung AL, O'Toole G


Engineered amphiphilic peptides enable delivery of proteins and CRISPR-associated nucleases to airway epithelia

Abstract

The delivery of biologic cargoes to airway epithelial cells is challenging due to the formidable barriers imposed by its specialized and differentiated cells. Among cargoes, recombinant proteins offer therapeutic promise but the lack of effective delivery methods limits their development. Here, we achieve protein and SpCas9 or AsCas12a ribonucleoprotein (RNP) delivery to cultured human well-differentiated airway epithelial cells and mouse lungs with engineered amphiphilic peptides. These shuttle peptides, non-covalently combined with GFP protein or CRISPR-associated nuclease (Cas) RNP, allow rapid entry into cultured human ciliated and non-ciliated epithelial cells and mouse airway epithelia. Instillation of shuttle peptides combined with SpCas9 or AsCas12a RNP achieves editing of loxP sites in airway epithelia of ROSAmT/mG mice. We observe no evidence of short-term toxicity with a widespread distribution restricted to the respiratory tract. This peptide-based technology advances potential therapeutic avenues for protein and Cas RNP delivery to refractory airway epithelial cells.

Authors:
Krishnamurthy S, Wohlford-Lenane C, Kandimalla S.,...McCray PB Jr.


Glycerol Monolaurate Contributes to the Antimicrobial and Antiinflammatory Activity of Human Milk

Abstract

Human milk has antimicrobial compounds and immunomodulatory activities. We investigated glycerol monolaurate (GML) in human milk versus bovine milk and infant formula for antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities. Human milk contained approximately 3000 µg/ml of GML, compared to 150 μg/ml in bovine milk and none in infant formula. For bacteria tested (Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli), except Enterococcus faecalis, human milk was more antimicrobial than bovine milk and formula. The Enterococcus faecalis strain, which was not inhibited, produced reutericyclin, which is an analogue of GML and functions as a growth stimulant in bacteria that produce it. Removal of GML and other lipophilic molecules from human milk by ethanol extraction resulted in a loss of antibacterial activity, which was restored by re-addition of GML. GML addition caused bovine milk to become antimicrobial. Human milk but not bovine milk or formula inhibited superantigen and bacterial-induced IL-8 production by model human epithelial cells. GML may contribute beneficially to human milk compared to bovine milk or infant formula.

 

Authors:
Schlievert PM, Kilgore SH, Seo KS, Leung DYM


Cutting Edge: Tcf1 Instructs T Follicular Helper Cell Differentiation by Repressing Blimp1 in Response to Acute Viral Infection

Abstract

Differentiation of T follicular helper (TFH) cells is regulated by a complex transcriptional network, with mutually antagonistic Bcl6–Blimp1 as a core regulatory axis. It is well established that Tcf1 acts upstream of Bcl6 for its optimal induction to program TFH cell differentiation. In this study, we show that whereas genetic ablation of Tcf1 in mice greatly diminished TFH cells in response to viral infection, compound deletion of Blimp1 with Tcf1 restored TFH cell frequency, numbers, and generation of germinal center B cells. Aberrant upregulation of T-bet and Id2 in Tcf1-deficient TFH cells was also largely rectified by ablating Blimp1. Tcf1 chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing in TFH cells identified two strong Tcf1 binding sites in the Blimp1 gene at a 24-kb upstream and an intron-3 element. Deletion of the intron-3 element, but not the 24-kb upstream element, compromised production of TFH cells. Our data demonstrate that Tcf1-mediated Blimp1 repression is functionally critical for safeguarding TFHcell differentiation.

Authors:
Shao P, Li F, Wang J, Chen X, Liu C and Xue HH


A Xylose-Inducible Expression System and a CRISPR Interference Plasmid for Targeted Knockdown of Gene Expression in Clostridioides difficile

Abstract
Here we introduce plasmids for xylose-regulated expression and repression of genes in Clostridioides difficile The xylose-inducible expression vector allows for ∼100-fold induction of an mCherryOpt reporter gene. Induction is titratable and uniform from cell to cell. The gene repression plasmid is a CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) system based on a nuclease-defective, codon-optimized allele of the Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 protein (dCas9) that is targeted to a gene of interest by a constitutively expressed single guide RNA (sgRNA). Expression of dCas9 is induced by xylose, allowing investigators to control the timing and extent of gene silencing, as demonstrated here by dose-dependent repression of a chromosomal gene for a red fluorescent protein (maximum repression, ∼100-fold). To validate the utility of CRISPRi for deciphering gene function in C. difficile, we knocked down the expression of three genes involved in the biogenesis of the cell envelope: the cell division gene ftsZ, the S-layer protein gene slpA, and the peptidoglycan synthase gene pbp-0712 CRISPRi confirmed known or expected phenotypes associated with the loss of FtsZ and SlpA and revealed that the previously uncharacterized peptidoglycan synthase PBP-0712 is needed for proper elongation, cell division, and protection against lysis.IMPORTANCE Clostridioides difficile has become the leading cause of hospital-acquired diarrhea in developed countries. A better understanding of the basic biology of this devastating pathogen might lead to novel approaches for preventing or treating C. difficile infections. Here we introduce new plasmid vectors that allow for titratable induction (P xyl ) or knockdown (CRISPRi) of gene expression. The CRISPRi plasmid allows for easy depletion of target proteins in C. difficile Besides bypassing the lengthy process of mutant construction, CRISPRi can be used to study the function of essential genes, which are particularly important targets for antibiotic development.

Authors:
Müh U, Pannullo AG, Weiss DS, Ellermeier CD


Monocyte-Derived CD11c+ Cells Acquire Plasmodium from Hepatocytes to Prime CD8 T Cell Immunity to Liver-Stage Malaria

Abstract

Plasmodium sporozoites inoculated by mosquitoes migrate to the liver and infect hepatocytes prior to release of merozoites that initiate symptomatic blood-stage malaria. Plasmodium parasites are thought to be restricted to hepatocytes throughout this obligate liver stage of development, and how liver-stage-expressed antigens prime productive CD8 T cell responses remains unknown. We found that a subset of liver-infiltrating monocyte-derived CD11c+ cells co-expressing F4/80, CD103, CD207, and CSF1R acquired parasites during the liver stage of malaria, but only after initial hepatocyte infection. These CD11c+ cells found in the infected liver and liver-draining lymph nodes exhibited transcriptionally and phenotypically enhanced antigen-presentation functions and primed protective CD8 T cell responses against Plasmodium liver-stage-restricted antigens. Our findings highlight a previously unrecognized aspect of Plasmodium biology and uncover the fundamental mechanism by which CD8 T cell responses are primed against liver-stage malaria antigens.

Authors:
Kurup SP, Anthony SM, Hancox LS, Vijay R, Pewe LL, Moioffer SJ, Sompallae R, Janse CJ, Khan SM, Harty JT.


Staphylococcal Superantigens Stimulate Epithelial Cells through CD40 To Produce Chemokines

Mucosal and skin tissues form barriers to infection by most bacterial pathogens. Staphylococcus aureus causes diseases across these barriers in part dependent on the proinflammatory properties of superantigens. We showed, through use of a CRISPR-Cas9 CD40 knockout, that the superantigens toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST-1) and staphylococcal enterotoxins (SEs) B and C stimulated chemokine production from human vaginal epithelial cells (HVECs) through human CD40. This response was enhanced by addition of antibodies against CD40 through an unknown mechanism. TSST-1 was better able to stimulate chemokine (IL-8 and MIP-3α) production by HVECs than SEB and SEC, suggesting this is the reason for TSST-1's exclusive association with menstrual TSS. A mutant of TSST-1, K121A, caused TSS in a rabbit model when administered vaginally but not intravenously, emphasizing the importance of the local vaginal environment. Collectively, our data suggested that superantigens facilitate infections by disruption of mucosal barriers through their binding to CD40, with subsequent expression of chemokines. The chemokines facilitate TSS and possibly other epithelial conditions after attraction of the adaptive immune system to the local environment.IMPORTANCE Menstrual toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a serious infectious disease associated with vaginal colonization by Staphylococcus aureus producing the exotoxin TSS toxin 1 (TSST-1). We show that menstrual TSS occurs after TSST-1 interaction with an immune costimulatory molecule called CD40 on the surface of vaginal epithelial cells. Other related toxins, where the entire family is called the superantigen family, bind to CD40, but not with a high-enough apparent affinity to cause TSS; thus, TSST-1 is the only exotoxin superantigen associated. Once the epithelial cells become activated by TSST-1, they produce soluble molecules referred to as chemokines, which in turn facilitate TSST-1 activation of T lymphocytes and macrophages to cause the symptoms of TSS. Identification of small-molecule inhibitors of the interaction of TSST-1 with CD40 may be useful so that they may serve as additives to medical devices, such as tampons and menstrual cups, to reduce the incidence of menstrual TSS.

Authors:
Schlievert PM, Cahill MP, Hostager BS, Brosnahan AJ, Klingelhutz AJ, Gourronc FA, Bishop GA, Leung DYM.


Article Chlamydia trachomatis CT229 Subverts Rab GTPase-Dependent CCV Trafficking Pathways to Promote Chlamydial Infection

Chlamydial infection requires the formation of a membrane-bound vacuole, termed the inclusion, that undergoes extensive interactions with select host organelles. The importance of the Inc protein CT229 in the formation and maintenance of the chlamydial inclusion was recently highlighted by studies demonstrating that its absence during infection results in reduced bacterial replication, premature inclusion lysis, and host cell death. Previous reports have indicated that CT229 binds Rab GTPases; however, the physiological implications of this interaction are unknown. Here, we show that CT229 regulates host multivesicular trafficking by recruiting multiple Rab GTPases and their cognate effectors to the inclusion. We demonstrate that CT229 specifically modulates clathrin-coated vesicle trafficking and regulates the trafficking of transferrin and the mannose-6-phosphate receptor, both of which are crucial for proper chlamydial development. This study highlights CT229 as a master regulator of multiple host vesicular trafficking pathways essential for chlamydial infection.

Authors:
Faris R, Merling M, Andersen SE, Dooley CA, Hackstadt T, Weber MM.

Cell Rep. 2019 Mar 19;26(12):3380-3390.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.02.079.

Chlamydia trachomatis CT229 Subverts Rab GTPase-Dependent CCV Trafficking Pathways to Promote Chlamydial Infection.

Faris R, Merling M, Andersen SE, Dooley CA, Hackstadt T, Weber MM.


Toxins and Superantigens of Group A Streptococci.

Group A Streptococcus is a human-restricted bacterial pathogen that produces an impressive arsenal of virulence factors. The secreted virulence factors are major mediators of tissue damage and toxicity seen during active infection. In this article, we focus on the biology of the true secreted exotoxins of the group A Streptococcus, as well as their roles in the pathogenesis of human disease.

Authors:
Shannon BA, McCormick JK, Schlievert PM


Tcf1 and Lef1 are required for the immunosuppressive function of regulatory T cells

Tcf1 and Lef1 have versatile functions in regulating T cell development and differentiation, but intrinsic requirements for these factors in regulatory T (T reg) cells remain to be unequivocally defined. Specific ablation of Tcf1 and Lef1 in T reg cells resulted in spontaneous multi-organ autoimmunity that became more evident with age. 

Authors:
Xing S, Gai X, Shao P....Xue HH


Glycerol Monolaurate (GML) and a Nonaqueous Five-Percent GML Gel Kill Bacillus and Clostridium Spores

Glycerol monolaurate is a broadly antimicrobial fatty acid monoester, killing bacteria, fungi, and enveloped viruses. The compound kills stationary-phase cultures of Bacillus anthracis, suggesting that the molecule may kill spores. In this study, we examined the ability of glycerol monolaurate alone or solubilized in a nonaqueous gel to kill vegetative cells and spores of aerobic B. anthracis, B. subtilis, and B. cereus and anaerobic Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium (Clostridioides) difficile.

Authors:
Schlievert PM, Kilgore SH, Kaus GM, Ho TD, Ellermeier CD.

mSphere. 2018 Nov 21;3(6). pii: e00597-18. doi: 10.1128/mSphereDirect.00597-18.


TRAF3 as a Multifaceted Regulator of B Lymphocyte Survival and Activation

The adaptor protein TNF receptor-associated factor 3 (TRAF3) serves as a powerful negative regulator in multiple aspects of B cell biology. Early in vitro studies in transformed cell lines suggested the potential of TRAF3 to inhibit signaling by its first identified binding receptor, CD40. 

Authors:
Bishop GA, Stunz LL, Hostager BS