Mycobacterium leprae Phenolglycolipid-1 Expressed by Engineered M. bovis BCG Modulates Early Interaction with Human Phagocytes

CNRS, IPBS (Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale), Toulouse, France.
PLoS Pathogens (Impact Factor: 7.56). 10/2010; 6(10):e1001159. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001159
Source: PubMed


The species-specific phenolic glycolipid 1 (PGL-1) is suspected to play a critical role in the pathogenesis of leprosy, a chronic disease of the skin and peripheral nerves caused by Mycobacterium leprae. Based on studies using the purified compound, PGL-1 was proposed to mediate the tropism of M. leprae for the nervous system and to modulate host immune responses. However, deciphering the biological function of this glycolipid has been hampered by the inability to grow M. leprae in vitro and to genetically engineer this bacterium. Here, we identified the M. leprae genes required for the biosynthesis of the species-specific saccharidic domain of PGL-1 and reprogrammed seven enzymatic steps in M. bovis BCG to make it synthesize and display PGL-1 in the context of an M. leprae-like cell envelope. This recombinant strain provides us with a unique tool to address the key questions of the contribution of PGL-1 in the infection process and to study the underlying molecular mechanisms. We found that PGL-1 production endowed recombinant BCG with an increased capacity to exploit complement receptor 3 (CR3) for efficient invasion of human macrophages and evasion of inflammatory responses. PGL-1 production also promoted bacterial uptake by human dendritic cells and dampened their infection-induced maturation. Our results therefore suggest that M. leprae produces PGL-1 for immune-silent invasion of host phagocytic cells.

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    • "Activation of different stress pathways might result not only in a change in phenotype but also in genetic adaptations (Beaumont et al., 2009; Ensminger et al., 2012). pks1 is part of the DIM+PGL locus, responsible for the synthesis of phenolic glycolipids (PGLs) and linked to the virulence of certain strains of M. tuberculosis (Reed et al., 2004; 2007; Sinsimer et al., 2008) and M. leprae (Tabouret et al., 2010). Based on our data, we concluded that the macrophage lifestyle has selected mycobacteria that have a non-functional pks1. "
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    ABSTRACT: Some intracellular bacteria are known to cause long-term infections that last decades without compromising the viability of the host. Although of critical importance, the adaptations that intracellular bacteria undergo during this long process of residence in a host cell environment remain obscure. Here, we report a novel experimental approach to study the adaptations of mycobacteria imposed by a long-term intracellular lifestyle. Selected Mycobacterium bovis BCG through continuous culture in macrophages underwent an adaptation process leading to impaired phenolic glycolipids (PGL) synthesis, improved usage of glucose as a carbon source and accumulation of neutral lipids. These changes correlated with increased survival of mycobacteria in macrophages and mice during re-infection and also with the specific expression of stress- and survival-related genes. Our findings identify bacterial traits implicated in the establishment of long-term cellular infections and represent a tool for understanding the physiological states and the environment that bacteria face living in fluctuating intracellular environments.
    Cellular Microbiology 04/2014; 16(9). DOI:10.1111/cmi.12303 · 4.92 Impact Factor
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    • "If this mechanism is operating in mycobacterial cell invasion, low MASP-2 levels would be insufficient to avoid subsequent infection. Surely this hypothesis needs to be tested in a functional setting, maybe using the recently achieved bioengineered BCG bacillus [36]. Otherwise in malaria, the ingestion of hemozoin could be beneficial to control for dyserithropoiesis [44]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The gene MASP2 (mannan-binding lectin (MBL)-associated serine protease 2) encodes two proteins, MASP-2 and MAp19 (MBL-associated protein of 19 kDa), bound in plasma to MBL and ficolins. The binding of MBL/MASP-2 and ficolin/MASP-2 complexes to microorganisms activates the lectin pathway of complement and may increase the ingestion of intracellular pathogens such as Mycobacterium leprae. We haplotyped 11 MASP2 polymorphisms with multiplex sequence-specific PCR in 219 Brazilian leprosy patients (131 lepromatous, 29 borderline, 21 tuberculoid, 14 undetermined, 24 unspecified), 405 healthy Brazilians and 291 Danish blood donors with previously determined MASP-2 and MAp19 levels. We also evaluated MASP-2 levels in further 46 leprosy patients and 69 Brazilian controls. Two polymorphisms flanking exon 5 of MASP2 were associated with a dominant effect on high MASP-2 levels and an additive effect on low MAp19 levels. Patients presented lower MASP-2 levels (P = 0.0012) than controls. The frequency of the p.126L variant, associated with low MASP-2 levels (below 200 ng/mL), was higher in the patients (P = 0.0002, OR = 4.92), as was the frequency of genotypes with p.126L (P = 0.00006, OR = 5.96). The *1C2-l [AG] haplotype, which harbors p.126L and the deficiency-causing p.439H variant, has a dominant effect on the susceptibility to the disease (P = 0.007, OR = 4.15). Genotypes composed of the *2B1-i and/or *2B2A-i haplotypes, both associated with intermediate MASP-2 levels (200-600 ng/mL), were found to be protective against the disease (P = 0.0014, OR = 0.6). Low MASP-2 levels (P = 0.022), as well as corresponding genotypes with *1C2-l and/or *2A2-l but without *1B1-h or *1B2-h, were more frequent in the lepromatous than in other patients (P = 0.008, OR = 8.8). In contrast with MBL, low MASP-2 levels increase the susceptibility to leprosy in general and to lepromatous leprosy in particular. MASP2 genotypes and MASP-2 levels might thus be of prognostic value for leprosy progression.
    PLoS ONE 07/2013; 8(7):e69054. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0069054 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "kansasii, M. gastri, M. ulcerans, M. marinum, M. microti and M. haemophilum) [1], [2]. These substances, located in the outermost layer of the mycobacterial cell envelope, have been shown to play important functions in the pathogenicity of these bacteria [3], [4], [5], [6]. PGL are composed of a mixture of long chain β-diols, esterified by multimethyl-branched fatty acids, named mycocerosic acids or phthioceranic acids depending on the configuration of the asymmetric centres bearing the methyl branches [1]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Phenolic glycolipids are produced by a very limited number of slow-growing mycobacterial species, most of which are pathogen for humans. In Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the etiologic agent of tuberculosis, these molecules play a role in the pathogenicity by modulating the host immune response during infection. The major variant of phenolic glycolipids produced by M. tuberculosis, named PGL-tb, consists of a large lipid core terminated by a glycosylated aromatic nucleus. The carbohydrate part is composed of three sugar residues, two rhamnosyl units and a terminal fucosyl residue, which is per-O-methylated, and seems to be important for pathogenicity. While most of the genes responsible for the synthesis of the lipid core domain and the saccharide appendage of PGL-tb have been characterized, the enzymes involved in the O-methylation of the fucosyl residue of PGL-tb remain unknown. In this study we report the identification and characterization of the methyltransferases required for the O-methylation of the terminal fucosyl residue of PGL-tb. These enzymes are encoded by genes Rv2954c, Rv2955c and Rv2956. Mutants of M. tuberculosis harboring deletion within these genes were constructed. Purification and analysis of the phenolglycolipids produced by these strains, using a combination of mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy, revealed that Rv2954c, Rv2955c and Rv2956 encode the methyltransferases that respectively catalysed the O-methylation of the hydroxyl groups located at positions 3, 4 and 2 of the terminal fucosyl residue of PGL-tb. Our data also suggest that methylation at these positions is a sequential process, starting with position 2, followed by positions 4 and 3.
    PLoS ONE 03/2013; 8(3):e58954. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0058954 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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