Inactivation of the Haemophilus ducreyi luxS Gene Affects the Virulence of This Pathogen in Human Subjects

Department of Microbiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases (Impact Factor: 6). 07/2009; 200(3):409-16. DOI: 10.1086/600142
Source: PubMed


Haemophilus ducreyi 35000HP contains a homologue of the luxS gene, which encodes an enzyme that synthesizes autoinducer 2 (AI-2) in other gram-negative bacteria. H. ducreyi 35000HP produced AI-2 that functioned in a Vibrio harveyi-based reporter system. A H. ducreyi luxS mutant was constructed by insertional inactivation of the luxS gene and lost the ability to produce AI-2. Provision of the H. ducreyi luxS gene in trans partially restored AI-2 production by the mutant. The luxS mutant was compared with its parent for virulence in the human challenge model of experimental chancroid. The pustule-formation rate in 5 volunteers was 93.3% (95% confidence interval, 81.7%-99.9%) at 15 parent sites and 60.0% (95% confidence interval, 48.3%-71.7%) at 15 mutant sites (1-tailed P < .001). Thus, the luxS mutant was partially attenuated for virulence. This is the first report of AI-2 production contributing to the pathogenesis of a genital ulcer disease.

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    • "In vivo, H. ducreyi forms aggregates and colocalizes with macrophages, PMNs, collagen and fibrin [16,17]. H. ducreyi contains a luxS homologue that has autoinducer (AI-2) activity in a Vibrio harveyi-based reporter system, and a luxS mutant is partially attenuated for virulence in human volunteers [21]. Taken together, these data suggest that the formation of microcolonies, aggregates and quorum sensing mechanisms may be important for H. ducreyi pathogenesis. "
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    ABSTRACT: Haemophilus ducreyi, the causative agent of the sexually transmitted disease chancroid, contains a flp (fimbria like protein) operon that encodes proteins predicted to contribute to adherence and pathogenesis. H. ducreyi mutants that lack expression of Flp1 and Flp2 or TadA, which has homology to NTPases of type IV secretion systems, have decreased abilities to attach to and form microcolonies on human foreskin fibroblasts (HFF). A tadA mutant is attenuated in its ability to cause disease in human volunteers and in the temperature dependent rabbit model, but a flp1flp2 mutant is virulent in rabbits. Whether a flp deletion mutant would cause disease in humans is not clear. We constructed 35000HPΔflp1-3, a deletion mutant that lacks expression of all three Flp proteins but has an intact tad secretion system. 35000HPΔflp1-3 was impaired in its ability to form microcolonies and to attach to HFF in vitro when compared to its parent (35000HP). Complementation of the mutant with flp1-3 in trans restored the parental phenotype. To test whether expression of Flp1-3 was necessary for virulence in humans, ten healthy adult volunteers were experimentally infected with a fixed dose of 35000HP (ranging from 54 to 67 CFU) on one arm and three doses of 35000HPΔflp1-3 (ranging from 63 to 961 CFU) on the other arm. The overall papule formation rate for the parent was 80% (95% confidence interval, CI, 55.2%-99.9%) and for the mutant was 70.0% (95% CI, 50.5%-89.5%) (P = 0.52). Mutant papules were significantly smaller (mean, 11.2 mm2) than were parent papules (21.8 mm2) 24 h after inoculation (P = 0.018). The overall pustule formation rates were 46.7% (95% CI 23.7-69.7%) at 30 parent sites and 6.7% (95% CI, 0.1-19.1%) at 30 mutant sites (P = 0.001). These data suggest that production and secretion of the Flp proteins contributes to microcolony formation and attachment to HFF cells in vitro. Expression of flp1-3 is also necessary for H. ducreyi to initiate disease and progress to pustule formation in humans. Future studies will focus on how Flp proteins contribute to microcolony formation and attachment in vivo.
    BMC Microbiology 09/2011; 11:208. DOI:10.1186/1471-2180-11-208 · 2.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Haemophilus ducreyi, the causative agent of the sexually transmitted infection chancroid, is primarily a pathogen of human skin. During infection, H. ducreyi thrives extracellularly in a milieu of professional phagocytes and other antibacterial components of the innate and adaptive immune responses. This review summarizes our understanding of the interplay between this pathogen and its host that leads to development and persistence of disease. H. ducreyi expresses key virulence mechanisms to resist host defenses. The secreted LspA proteins are tyrosine-phosphorylated by host kinases, which may contribute to their antiphagocytic effector function. The serum resistance and adherence functions of DsrA map to separate domains of this multifunctional virulence factor. An influx transporter protects H. ducreyi from killing by the antimicrobial peptide LL37. Regulatory genes have been identified that may coordinate virulence factor expression during disease. Dendritic cells and natural killer cells respond to H. ducreyi and may be involved in determining the differential outcomes of infection observed in humans. A human model of H. ducreyi infection has provided insights into virulence mechanisms that allow this human-specific pathogen to survive immune pressures. Components of the human innate immune system may also determine the ultimate fate of H. ducreyi infection by driving either clearance of the organism or an ineffective response that allows disease progression.
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    ABSTRACT: The Haemophilus ducreyi 35000HP genome encodes a homolog of the CpxRA two-component cell envelope stress response system originally characterized in Escherichia coli. CpxR, the cytoplasmic response regulator, was shown previously to be involved in repression of the expression of the lspB-lspA2 operon (M. Labandeira-Rey, J. R. Mock, and E. J. Hansen, Infect. Immun. 77:3402-3411, 2009). In the present study, the H. ducreyi CpxR and CpxA proteins were shown to closely resemble those of other well-studied bacterial species. A cpxA deletion mutant and a CpxR-overexpressing strain were used to explore the extent of the CpxRA regulon. DNA microarray and real-time reverse transcriptase (RT) PCR analyses indicated several potential regulatory targets for the H. ducreyi CpxRA two-component regulatory system. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) were used to prove that H. ducreyi CpxR interacted with the promoter regions of genes encoding both known and putative virulence factors of H. ducreyi, including the lspB-lspA2 operon, the flp operon, and dsrA. Interestingly, the use of EMSAs also indicated that H. ducreyi CpxR did not bind to the promoter regions of several genes predicted to encode factors involved in the cell envelope stress response. Taken together, these data suggest that the CpxRA system in H. ducreyi, in contrast to that in E. coli, may be involved primarily in controlling expression of genes not involved in the cell envelope stress response.
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