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    ABSTRACT: Galectin-3 is expressed and secreted by immune cells and has been implicated in multiple aspects of the inflammatory response. It is a glycan binding protein which can exert its functions within cells or exogenously by binding cell surface ligands, acting as a molecular bridge or activating signalling pathways. In addition, this lectin has been shown to bind to microorganisms. In this study we investigated the interaction between galectin-3 and Neisseria meningitidis, an important extracellular human pathogen, which is a leading cause of septicaemia and meningitis. Immunohistochemical analysis indicated that galectin-3 is expressed during meningococcal disease and colocalizes with bacterial colonies in infected tissues from patients. We show that galectin-3 binds to N. meningitidis and we demonstrate that this interaction requiresfull-length, intact lipopolysaccharide molecules. We found that neither exogenous nor endogenous galectin-3 contributes to phagocytosis of N. meningitidis; instead exogenous galectin-3 increases adhesion to monocytes and macrophages but not epithelial cells. Finally we used galectin-3 deficient (Gal-3(-/-) ) mice to evaluate the contribution of galectin-3 to meningococcal bacteraemia. We found that Gal-3(-/-) mice had significantly lower levels of bacteraemia compared with wild-type mice after challenge with live bacteria, indicating that galectin-3 confers an advantage to N. meningitidis during systemic infection.
    Cellular Microbiology 07/2012; 14(11):1657-75.
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    ABSTRACT: The adaptor protein Nck has been shown to link receptor ligation to actin-based signalling in a diverse range of cellular events, such as changes in cell morphology and motility. It has also been implicated in phagocytosis. However, its molecular role in controlling actin remodelling associated with phagocytic uptake remains to be clarified. Here, we show that Nck, which is recruited to phagocytic cups, is required for Fcγ receptor (FcγR)- but not complement receptor 3 (CR3)-induced phagocytosis. Nck recruitment in response to FcγR ligation is mediated by the phosphorylation of tyrosine 282 and 298 in the ITAM motif in the cytoplasmic tail of the receptor. In the absence of FcγR phosphorylation, there is also no recruitment of N-WASP or Cdc42 to phagocytic cups. Nck promotes FcγR-mediated phagocytosis by recruiting N-WASP to phagocytic cups. Efficient phagocytosis, however, only occurs, if the CRIB domain of N-WASP can also interact with Cdc42. Our observations demonstrate that Nck and Cdc42 collaborate to stimulate N-WASP-dependent FcγR-mediated phagocytosis.
    Journal of Cell Science 03/2012; 125(Pt 12):2825-30.
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    ABSTRACT: Enteric Escherichia coli (E. coli) are both natural flora of humans and important pathogens causing significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Traditionally enteric E. coli have been divided into 6 pathotypes, with further pathotypes often proposed. In this review we suggest expansion of the enteric E. coli into 8 pathotypes to include the emerging pathotypes of adherent invasive E. coli (AIEC) and Shiga-toxin producing enteroaggregative E. coli (STEAEC). The molecular mechanisms that allow enteric E. coli to colonize and cause disease in the human host are examined and for two of the pathotypes that express a type 3 secretion system (T3SS) we discuss the complex interplay between translocated effectors and manipulation of host cell signaling pathways that occurs during infection.
    Gut Microbes 03/2012; 3(2):71-87.
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    ABSTRACT: Phagocytosis is a highly ordered process orchestrated by signalling through Rho GTPases to locally organise the actin cytoskeleton and drive particle uptake. Specific Rho family members that regulate phagocytosis are not known, as the majority of studies have relied on the use of dominant-negative mutants and/or toxins, which can inactivate multiple Rho GTPases. To identify the relevant GTPases for phagocytosis through the Fcγ receptor (FcγR) and complement receptor 3 (CR3), we depleted 20 Rho proteins individually in an RNA interference (RNAi) screen. We find that distinct GTPase subsets are required for actin polymerisation and uptake by macrophages: FcγR-dependent engulfment requires Cdc42 and Rac2 (but not Rac1), whereas CR3 requires RhoA. Surprisingly, RhoG is required for particle uptake through both FcγR and CR3. RhoG has been previously linked to Rac and Cdc42 signalling in different model systems, but not to RhoA. Interestingly, we find that RhoG is also recruited and activated at phagocytic cups downstream of FcγR and CR3, irrespective of their distinct actin structures and mechanisms of internalisation. Thus, the functional links between RhoG and RhoA downstream of CR3-dependent phagocytosis are new and unexpected. Our data suggest a broad role for RhoG in consolidating signals from multiple receptors during phagocytosis.
    Journal of Cell Science 09/2011; 124(Pt 17):2897-902.
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    ABSTRACT: The enteric pathogens enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC), enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) and Shigella flexneri all translocate at least one effector protein of the EspG protein family into host cells via a type III secretion system (T3SS). The EspG family comprises EspG, EspG2 and VirA. From a Y2H screen, we identified the Golgi matrix protein GM130 as a potential binding partner of EspG. We confirmed EspG:GM130 protein interaction by affinity co-purification. In co-immunoprecipitation experiments EspG was co-precipitated with GM130 while both GM130 and tubulins were co-precipitated with EspG. When expressed ectopically in HeLa cells, the EspG protein family all localized to the Golgi and induced fragmentation of the Golgi apparatus. All EspG family proteins were also able to disrupt protein secretion to a greater extent than the T3SS effector NleA/EspI, which has previously been shown to localize to the Golgi and interact with SEC24 to disrupt COPII vesicle formation. We hypothesize that EspG:GM130 interaction disrupts protein secretion either through direct disruption of GM130 function or through recruitment of other EspG interacting proteins to the Golgi.
    Cellular Microbiology 09/2011; 13(9):1429-39.
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    ABSTRACT: Despite advances against infectious diseases over the past century, Neisseria meningitidis remains a major causative agent of meningitis and septicaemia worldwide. Its adaptation for survival in the human nasopharynx makes the meningococcus a highly successful commensal bacterium. Recent progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms that enable neisserial colonisation, in terms of the role of type IV pili, the impact of other adhesins, biofilm formation, nutrient acquisition and resistance to host immune defences. Refinements in cell-based and in vivo models will lead to improved understanding of the colonisation process, and hopefully to more effective vaccines and therapeutic strategies.
    Trends in Microbiology 08/2011; 19(9):456-63.
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    ABSTRACT: Tuberculous meningitis (TBM) is the most lethal form of tuberculosis, and new treatments that improve outcomes are required. We randomly assigned adults with TBM to treatment with standard antituberculosis treatment alone or in combination with ciprofloxacin (750 mg/12 h), levofloxacin (500 mg/12 h), or gatifloxacin (400 mg/24 h) for the first 60 days of therapy. Fluoroquinolone concentrations were measured with plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens taken at predetermined, randomly assigned times throughout treatment. We aimed to describe the pharmacokinetics of each fluoroquinolone during TBM treatment and evaluate the relationship between drug exposure and clinical response over 270 days of therapy (Controlled Trials number ISRCTN07062956). Sixty-one patients with TBM were randomly assigned to treatment with no fluoroquinolone (n = 15), ciprofloxacin (n = 16), levofloxacin (n = 15), or gatifloxacin (n = 15). Cerebrospinal fluid penetration, measured by the ratio of the plasma area under the concentration-time curve from 0 to 24 h (AUC(0-24)) to the cerebrospinal fluid AUC(0-24), was greater for levofloxacin (median, 0.74; range, 0.58 to 1.03) than for gatifloxacin (median, 0.48; range, 0.47 to 0.50) or ciprofloxacin (median, 0.26; range, 0.11 to 0.77). Univariable and multivariable analyses of fluoroquinolone exposure against a range of different treatment responses revealed worse outcomes among patients with lower and higher plasma and CSF exposures than for patients with intermediate exposures (a U-shaped exposure-response). TBM patients most likely to benefit from fluoroquinolone therapy were identified, along with exposure-response relationships associated with improved outcomes. Fluoroquinolones add antituberculosis activity to the standard treatment regimen, but to improve outcomes of TBM, they must be started early, before the onset of coma.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 07/2011; 55(7):3244-53.
  • The Lancet Infectious Diseases 05/2011; 11(8):582-3.
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    ABSTRACT: Two general approaches to prokaryotic live-cell imaging have been employed to date, growing bacteria on thin agar pads or growing bacteria in micro-channels. The methods using agar pads 'sandwich' the cells between the agar pad on the bottom and a glass cover slip on top, before sealing the cover slip. The advantages of this technique are that it is simple and relatively inexpensive to set up. However, once the cover slip is sealed, the environmental conditions cannot be manipulated. Furthermore, desiccation of the agar pad, and the growth of cells in a sealed environment where the oxygen concentration will be in gradual decline, may not permit longer term studies such as those required for the slower growing mycobacteria. We report here a modified agar pad method where the cells are sandwiched between a cover slip on the bottom and an agar pad on top of the cover slip (rather than the reverse) and the cells viewed from below using an inverted microscope. This critical modification overcomes some of the current limitations with agar pad methods and was used to produce time-lapse images and movies of cell growth for Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium bovis BCG. This method offers improvement on the current agar pad methods in that long term live cell imaging studies can be performed and modification of the media during the experiment is permitted.
    BMC Research Notes 03/2011; 4:73.
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    ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia is one of the most common serious bacterial infections worldwide. In the UK alone, around 12,500 cases each year are reported, with an associated mortality of about 30%, yet the evidence guiding optimum management is poor. To date, fewer than 1500 patients with S aureus bacteraemia have been recruited to 16 controlled trials of antimicrobial therapy. Consequently, clinical practice is driven by the results of observational studies and anecdote. Here, we propose and review ten unanswered clinical questions commonly posed by those managing S aureus bacteraemia. Our findings define the major areas of uncertainty in the management of S aureus bacteraemia and highlight just two key principles. First, all infective foci must be identified and removed as soon as possible. Second, long-term antimicrobial therapy is required for those with persistent bacteraemia or a deep, irremovable focus. Beyond this, the best drugs, dose, mode of delivery, and duration of therapy are uncertain, a situation compounded by emerging S aureus strains that are resistant to old and new antibiotics. We discuss the consequences on clinical practice, and how these findings define the agenda for future clinical research.
    The Lancet Infectious Diseases 03/2011; 11(3):208-22.
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