[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell growth and division are required for the progression of bacterial infections. Most rod-shaped bacteria grow by inserting new cell wall along their mid-section. However, mycobacteria, including the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, produce new cell wall material at their poles. How mycobacteria control this different mode of growth is incompletely understood. Here we find that PonA1, a penicillin binding protein (PBP) capable of transglycosylation and transpeptidation of cell wall peptidoglycan (PG), is a major governor of polar growth in mycobacteria. PonA1 is required for growth of Mycobacterium smegmatis and is critical for M. tuberculosis during infection. In both cases, PonA1's catalytic activities are both required for normal cell length, though loss of transglycosylase activity has a more pronounced effect than transpeptidation. Mutations that alter the amount or the activity of PonA1 result in abnormal formation of cell poles and changes in cell length. Moreover, altered PonA1 activity results in dramatic differences in antibiotic susceptibility, suggesting that a balance between the two enzymatic activities of PonA1 is critical for survival. We also find that phosphorylation of a cytoplasmic region of PonA1 is required for normal activity. Mutations in a critical phosphorylated residue affect transglycosylase activity and result in abnormal rates of cell elongation. Together, our data indicate that PonA1 is a central determinant of polar growth in mycobacteria, and its governance of cell elongation is required for robust cell fitness during both host-induced and antibiotic stress.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bacterial envelope integrates essential stress-sensing and adaptive functions; thus, envelope-preserving functions are important for survival. In Gram-negative bacteria, envelope integrity during stress is maintained by the multi-gene Psp response. Mycobacterium tuberculosis was thought to lack the Psp system, since it encodes only pspA and no other psp ortholog. Intriguingly, pspA maps downstream from clgR, which encodes a transcription factor regulated by the MprAB-σ(E) envelope-stress-signaling system. clgR inactivation lowered ATP concentration during stress and protonophore treatment-induced clgR-pspA expression, suggesting that these genes express Psp-like functions. We identified a four-gene set - clgR, pspA (rv2744c), rv2743c, rv2742c - that is regulated by clgR and in turn regulates ClgR activity. Regulatory and protein-protein interactions within the set and a requirement of the four genes for functions associated with envelope integrity and surface-stress tolerance indicate that a Psp-like system has evolved in mycobacteria. Among Actinobacteria, the four-gene module occurred only in tuberculous mycobacteria and was required for intra-macrophage growth, suggesting links between its function and mycobacterial virulence. Additionally, the four-gene module was required for MprAB-σ(E) stress-signaling activity. The positive feedback between envelope-stress-sensing and envelope-preserving functions allows sustained responses to multiple, envelope-perturbing signals during chronic infection, making the system uniquely suited to tuberculosis pathogenesis.
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[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The DNA replication machinery is an important target for antibiotic development in increasingly drug-resistant bacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Although blocking DNA replication leads to cell death, disrupting the processes used to ensure replication fidelity can accelerate mutation and the evolution of drug resistance. In Escherichia coli, the proofreading subunit of the replisome, the ɛ exonuclease, is essential for high-fidelity DNA replication; however, we find that the corresponding subunit is completely dispensable in M. tuberculosis. Rather, the mycobacterial replicative polymerase DnaE1 itself encodes an editing function that proofreads DNA replication, mediated by an intrinsic 3'-5' exonuclease activity within its PHP domain. Inactivation of the DnaE1 PHP domain increases the mutation rate by more than 3,000-fold. Moreover, phylogenetic analysis of DNA replication proofreading in the bacterial kingdom suggests that E. coli is a phylogenetic outlier and that PHP domain-mediated proofreading is widely conserved and indeed may be the ancestral prokaryotic proofreader.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Next-generation sequencing technologies facilitate the analysis of multiple important properties of the transcriptome in addition to gene expression levels. Here we describe a method for mapping RNA 5' ends in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which allows the determination of transcriptional start sites (TSSs), comparative analysis of promoter usage under different conditions, and mapping of endoribonucleolytic processing sites. We describe in detail the procedures for constructing RNA sequencing libraries appropriate for RNA 5' end mapping using an Illumina sequencing platform. We also outline the major steps of data analysis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lung granulomas are the pathologic hallmark of tuberculosis (TB). T cells are a major cellular component of TB lung granulomas and are known to play an important role in containment of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection. We used cynomolgus macaques, a non-human primate model that recapitulates human TB with clinically active disease, latent infection or early infection, to understand functional characteristics and dynamics of T cells in individual granulomas. We sought to correlate T cell cytokine response and bacterial burden of each granuloma, as well as granuloma and systemic responses in individual animals. Our results support that each granuloma within an individual host is independent with respect to total cell numbers, proportion of T cells, pattern of cytokine response, and bacterial burden. The spectrum of these components overlaps greatly amongst animals with different clinical status, indicating that a diversity of granulomas exists within an individual host. On average only about 8% of T cells from granulomas respond with cytokine production after stimulation with Mtb specific antigens, and few "multi-functional" T cells were observed. However, granulomas were found to be "multi-functional" with respect to the combinations of functional T cells that were identified among lesions from individual animals. Although the responses generally overlapped, sterile granulomas had modestly higher frequencies of T cells making IL-17, TNF and any of T-1 (IFN-γ, IL-2, or TNF) and/or T-17 (IL-17) cytokines than non-sterile granulomas. An inverse correlation was observed between bacterial burden with TNF and T-1/T-17 responses in individual granulomas, and a combinatorial analysis of pair-wise cytokine responses indicated that granulomas with T cells producing both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. IL-10 and IL-17) were associated with clearance of Mtb. Preliminary evaluation suggests that systemic responses in the blood do not accurately reflect local T cell responses within granulomas.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A major factor complicating efforts to control the tuberculosis epidemic is the long duration of treatment required to successfully clear the infection. One reason that long courses of treatment are required may be the fact that mycobacterial cells arise during the course of infection that are less susceptible to antibiotics. Here we describe the paradigms of phenotypic drug tolerance and resistance as they apply to mycobacteria. We then discuss the mechanisms by which phenotypically drug-tolerant and -resistant cells arise both at a population level and in specialized subpopulations of cells that may be especially important in allowing the bacterium to survive in the face of treatment. These include general mechanisms that have been shown to alter the susceptibility of mycobacteria to antibiotics including growth arrest, efflux pump induction, and biofilm formation. In addition, we discuss emerging data from single-cell studies of mycobacteria that have identified unique ways in which specialized subpopulations of cells arise that vary in their frequency, in their susceptibility to drug, and in their stability over time.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among protein secretion systems there are specialized ATPases that serve different functions such as substrate recognition, substrate unfolding, and assembly of the secretory machinery. ESX protein secretion systems require FtsK/SpoIIIE family ATPases but the specific function of these ATPases is poorly understood. The ATPases of ESX secretion systems have a unique domain architecture among proteins of the FtsK/SpoIIIE family. All well-studied FtsK family ATPases to date have one ATPase domain and oligomerize to form a functional molecular machine, most commonly a hexameric ring. In contrast, the ESX ATPases have three ATPase domains, either encoded by a single gene or by two operonic genes. It is currently unknown which of the ATPase domains is catalytically functional and whether each domain plays the same or a different function. Here we focus on the ATPases of two ESX systems, the ESX-1 system of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the yuk system of Bacillus subtilis. We show that ATP hydrolysis by the ESX ATPase is required for secretion, suggesting that this enzyme at least partly fuels protein translocation. We further show that individual ATPase domains play distinct roles in substrate translocation and complex formation. Comparing the single chain and split ESX ATPases we reveal differences in the requirements of these unique secretory ATPases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Esat-6 protein secretion systems (ESX or Ess) are required for the virulence of several human pathogens, most notably Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Staphylococcus aureus. These secretion systems are defined by a conserved FtsK/SpoIIIE family ATPase and one or more WXG100 family secreted substrates. Gene clusters coding for ESX systems have been identified amongst many organisms including the highly tractable model system, Bacillus subtilis. In this study, we demonstrate that the B. subtilis yuk/yue locus codes for a nonessential ESX secretion system. We develop a functional secretion assay to demonstrate that each of the locus gene products is specifically required for secretion of the WXG100 virulence factor homolog, YukE. We then employ an unbiased approach to search for additional secreted substrates. By quantitative profiling of culture supernatants, we find that YukE may be the sole substrate that depends on the FtsK/SpoIIIE family ATPase for secretion. We discuss potential functional implications for secretion of a unique substrate.
PLoS ONE 05/2014; 9(5):e96267. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0096267 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To identify lipids with roles in tuberculosis disease, we systematically compared the lipid content of virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis with the attenuated vaccine strain Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin. Comparative lipidomics analysis identified more than 1,000 molecular differences, including a previously unknown, Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific lipid that is composed of a diterpene unit linked to adenosine. We established the complete structure of the natural product as 1-tuberculosinyladenosine (1-TbAd) using mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy. A screen for 1-TbAd mutants, complementation studies, and gene transfer identified Rv3378c as necessary for 1-TbAd biosynthesis. Whereas Rv3378c was previously thought to function as a phosphatase, these studies establish its role as a tuberculosinyl transferase and suggest a revised biosynthetic pathway for the sequential action of Rv3377c-Rv3378c. In agreement with this model, recombinant Rv3378c protein produced 1-TbAd, and its crystal structure revealed a cis-prenyl transferase fold with hydrophobic residues for isoprenoid binding and a second binding pocket suitable for the nucleoside substrate. The dual-substrate pocket distinguishes Rv3378c from classical cis-prenyl transferases, providing a unique model for the prenylation of diverse metabolites. Terpene nucleosides are rare in nature, and 1-TbAd is known only in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Thus, this intersection of nucleoside and terpene pathways likely arose late in the evolution of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex; 1-TbAd serves as an abundant chemical marker of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and the extracellular export of this amphipathic molecule likely accounts for the known virulence-promoting effects of the Rv3378c enzyme.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2014; 111(8). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1315883111 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over 30% of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), yet only ∼5-10% will develop clinical disease. Despite considerable effort, researchers understand little about what distinguishes individuals whose infection progresses to active tuberculosis (TB) from those whose infection remains latent for decades. The variable course of disease is recapitulated in cynomolgus macaques infected with Mtb. Active disease occurs in ∼45% of infected macaques and is defined by clinical, microbiologic and immunologic signs, whereas the remaining infected animals are clinically asymptomatic. Here, we use individually marked Mtb isolates and quantitative measures of culturable and cumulative bacterial burden to show that most lung lesions are probably founded by a single bacterium and reach similar maximum burdens. Despite this observation, the fate of individual lesions varies substantially within the same host. Notably, in active disease, the host sterilizes some lesions even while others progress. Our data suggest that lesional heterogeneity arises, in part, through differential killing of bacteria after the onset of adaptive immunity. Thus, individual lesions follow diverse and overlapping trajectories, suggesting that critical responses occur at a lesional level to ultimately determine the clinical outcome of infection. Defining the local factors that dictate outcome will be useful in developing effective interventions to prevent active TB.
Nature medicine 12/2013; DOI:10.1038/nm.3412 · 27.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract One of the challenges in clinical infectious diseases is the problem of chronic infections, which can require long durations of antibiotic treatment and often recur. An emerging explanation for the refractoriness of some infections to treatment is the existence of subpopulations of drug tolerant cells. While typically discussed as "persister" cells, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is significant heterogeneity in drug responses within a bacterial population and that multiple mechanisms underlie the emergence of drug tolerant and drug-resistant subpopulations. Many of these parallel mechanisms have been shown to affect drug susceptibility at the level of a whole population. Here we review mechanisms of phenotypic drug tolerance and resistance in bacteria with the goal of providing a framework for understanding the similarities and differences in these cells.
Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 12/2013; 49(2). DOI:10.3109/10409238.2013.869543 · 7.71 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA methylation regulates gene expression in many organisms. In eukaryotes, DNA methylation is associated with gene repression, while it exerts both activating and repressive effects in the Proteobacteria through largely locus-specific mechanisms. Here, we identify a critical DNA methyltransferase in M. tuberculosis, which we term MamA. MamA creates N(6)-methyladenine in a six base pair recognition sequence present in approximately 2,000 copies on each strand of the genome. Loss of MamA reduces the expression of a number of genes. Each has a MamA site located at a conserved position relative to the sigma factor -10 binding site and transcriptional start site, suggesting that MamA modulates their expression through a shared, not locus-specific, mechanism. While strains lacking MamA grow normally in vitro, they are attenuated in hypoxic conditions, suggesting that methylation promotes survival in discrete host microenvironments. Interestingly, we demonstrate strikingly different patterns of DNA methyltransferase activity in different lineages of M. tuberculosis, which have been associated with preferences for distinct host environments and different disease courses in humans. Thus, MamA is the major functional adenine methyltransferase in M. tuberculosis strains of the Euro-American lineage while strains of the Beijing lineage harbor a point mutation that largely inactivates MamA but possess a second functional DNA methyltransferase. Our results indicate that MamA influences gene expression in M. tuberculosis and plays an important but strain-specific role in fitness during hypoxia.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A key question in tuberculosis control is why some strains of M. tuberculosis are preferentially associated with resistance to multiple drugs. We demonstrate that M. tuberculosis strains from lineage 2 (East Asian lineage and Beijing sublineage) acquire drug resistances in vitro more rapidly than M. tuberculosis strains from lineage 4 (Euro-American lineage) and that this higher rate can be attributed to a higher mutation rate. Moreover, the in vitro mutation rate correlates well with the bacterial mutation rate in humans as determined by whole-genome sequencing of clinical isolates. Finally, using a stochastic mathematical model, we demonstrate that the observed differences in mutation rate predict a substantially higher probability that patients infected with a drug-susceptible lineage 2 strain will harbor multidrug-resistant bacteria at the time of diagnosis. These data suggest that interventions to prevent the emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis should target bacterial as well as treatment-related risk factors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The task of rapidly identifying patients infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis in resource-constrained environments remains a challenge. A sensitive and robust platform that does not require bacterial isolation or culture is critical in making informed diagnostic and therapeutic decisions. Here we introduce a platform for the detection of nucleic acids based on a magnetic barcoding strategy. PCR-amplified mycobacterial genes are sequence-specifically captured on microspheres, labelled by magnetic nanoprobes and detected by nuclear magnetic resonance. All components are integrated into a single, small fluidic cartridge for streamlined on-chip operation. We use this platform to detect M. tuberculosis and identify drug-resistance strains from mechanically processed sputum samples within 2.5 h. The specificity of the assay is confirmed by detecting a panel of clinically relevant non-M. tuberculosis bacteria, and the clinical utility is demonstrated by the measurements in M. tuberculosis-positive patient specimens. Combined with portable systems, the magnetic barcode assay holds promise to become a sensitive, high-throughput and low-cost platform for point-of-care diagnostics.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Mycobacterial interspersed repetitive units (MIRUs) are minisatellites within the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) genome. Copy number variation (CNV) in MIRU loci is used for epidemiological typing, making the rate of variation important for tracking the transmission of Mtb strains. In this study, we developed and assessed a whole-genome sequencing (WGS) approach to detect MIRU CNV in Mtb. We applied this methodology to a panel of Mtb strains isolated from the macaque model of tuberculosis (TB), the animal model that best mimics human disease. From these data, we have estimated the rate of MIRU variation in the host environment, providing a benchmark rate for future epidemiologic work.
We assessed variation at the 24 MIRU loci used for typing in a set of Mtb strains isolated from infected cynomolgus macaques. We previously performed WGS of these strains and here have applied both read depth (RD) and paired-end mapping (PEM) metrics to identify putative copy number variants. To assess the relative power of these approaches, all MIRU loci were resequenced using Sanger sequencing. We detected two insertion/deletion events both of which could be identified as candidates by PEM criteria. With these data, we estimate a MIRU mutation rate of 2.70 × 10-03 (95% CI: 3.30 × 10-04- 9.80 × 10-03) per locus, per year.
Our results represent the first experimental estimate of the MIRU mutation rate in Mtb. This rate is comparable to the highest previous estimates gathered from epidemiologic data and meta-analyses. Our findings allow for a more rigorous interpretation of data gathered from MIRU typing.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Peptidoglycan hydrolases are a double-edged sword. They are required for normal cell division, but when dysregulated can become autolysins lethal to bacteria. How bacteria ensure that peptidoglycan hydrolases function only in the correct spatial and temporal context remains largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that dysregulation converts the essential mycobacterial peptidoglycan hydrolase RipA to an autolysin that compromises cellular structural integrity. We find that mycobacteria control RipA activity through two interconnected levels of regulation -protein interactions coordinate PG hydrolysis, while proteolysis is necessary for RipA enzymatic activity. Dysregulation of RipA protein complexes by treatment with a peptidoglycan synthase inhibitor leads to excessive RipA activity and impairment of correct morphology. Furthermore, expression of a RipA dominant negative mutant or of differentially processed RipA homologues reveals that RipA is produced as a zymogen, requiring proteolytic processing for activity. The amount of RipA processing differs between fast-growing and slow-growing mycobacteria and correlates with the requirement for peptidoglycan hydrolase activity in these species. Together, the complex picture of RipA regulation is a part of a growing paradigm for careful control of cell wall hydrolysis by bacteria during growth, and may represent a novel target for chemotherapy development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Probing the physical properties of heterogeneous materials is essential to understand the structure, function and dynamics of complex fluids including cells, mucus, and polymer solutions. Particle tracking microrheology is a useful method to passively probe viscoelastic properties on micron length scales by tracking the thermal motion of beads embedded in the sample. However, errors associated with active motion have limited the implementation to dynamic systems. We present a simple method to decouple active and Brownian motion, enabling particle tracking to be applied to fluctuating heterogeneous systems. We use the movement perpendicular to the major axis of motion in time to calculate rheological properties. Through simulated data we demonstrate that this method removes directed motion and performs equally well when there is no directed motion, with an average percent error of <1%. We use this method to measure glycerol-water mixtures to show the capability to measure a range of materials. Finally, we use this technique to characterize the compliance of human sputum. We also investigate the effect of a liquefaction agent used to prepare sputum for diagnostic purposes. Our results suggest that the addition of high concentration sodium hydroxide increases sample heterogeneity by increasing the maximum observed creep compliance.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium tuberculosis ESAT-6 (MtbESAT-6) reportedly shows membrane/cell-lysis activity, and recently its biological roles in pathogenesis have been implicated in rupture of the phagosomes for bacterial cytosolic translocation. However, molecular mechanism of MtbESAT-6-mediated membrane interaction, particularly in relation with its biological functions in pathogenesis, is poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the pH-dependent membrane interaction of MtbESAT-6, MtbCFP-10, and the MtbESAT-6/CFP-10 heterodimer, by using liposomal model membranes that mimic phagosomal compartments. MtbESAT-6, but neither MtbCFP-10 nor the heterodimer, interacted with the liposomal membranes at acidic conditions, which was evidenced by release of K+ ions from the liposomes. Most importantly, the orthologous ESAT-6 from non-pathogenic Mycobacterium smegmatis (MsESAT-6) was essentially inactive in release of K+. The differential membrane interactions between MtbESAT-6 and MsESAT-6 were further confirmed in an independent membrane leakage assay using the dye/quencher pair, 8-aminonapthalene-1,3,6 trisulfonic acid (ANTS)/p-xylene-bis-pyridinium bromide (DPX). Finally, using intrinsic and extrinsic fluorescence approaches, we probed the pH-dependent conformational changes of MtbESAT-6 and MsESAT-6. At acidic pH conditions, MtbESAT-6 underwent a significant conformational change, which was featured by an increased solvent-exposed hydrophobicity, while MsESAT-6 showed little conformational change in response to acidification. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that MtbESAT-6 possesses a unique membrane-interacting activity that is not found in MsESAT-6 and established the utility of rigorous biochemical approaches in dissecting the virulence of M. tuberculosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium tuberculosis persists within macrophages in an arrested phagosome and depends upon necrosis to elude immunity and disseminate. Although apoptosis of M. tuberculosis-infected macrophages is associated with reduced bacterial growth, the bacteria are relatively resistant to other forms of death, leaving the mechanism underlying this observation unresolved. We find that after apoptosis, M. tuberculosis-infected macrophages are rapidly taken up by uninfected macrophages through efferocytosis, a dedicated apoptotic cell engulfment process. Efferocytosis of M. tuberculosis sequestered within an apoptotic macrophage further compartmentalizes the bacterium and delivers it along with the apoptotic cell debris to the lysosomal compartment. M. tuberculosis is killed only after efferocytosis, indicating that apoptosis itself is not intrinsically bactericidal but requires subsequent phagocytic uptake and lysosomal fusion of the apoptotic body harboring the bacterium. While efferocytosis is recognized as a constitutive housekeeping function of macrophages, these data indicate that it can also function as an antimicrobial effector mechanism.