Kathryn G Watson

Imperial College London, London, ENG, United Kingdom

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Publications (4)52.7 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Many bacterial pathogens cause persistent infections despite repeated antibiotic exposure. Bacterial persisters are antibiotic-tolerant cells, but little is known about their growth status and the signals and pathways leading to their formation in infected tissues. We used fluorescent single-cell analysis to identify Salmonella persisters during infection. These were part of a nonreplicating population formed immediately after uptake by macrophages and were induced by vacuolar acidification and nutritional deprivation, conditions that also induce Salmonella virulence gene expression. The majority of 14 toxin-antitoxin modules contributed to intracellular persister formation. Some persisters resumed intracellular growth after phagocytosis by naïve macrophages. Thus, the vacuolar environment induces phenotypic heterogeneity, leading to either bacterial replication or the formation of nonreplicating persisters that could provide a reservoir for relapsing infection.
    Science 01/2014; 343(6167):204-8. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT Salmonella enterica serovars cause severe diseases in humans, such as gastroenteritis and typhoid fever. The development of systemic disease is dependent on a type III secretion system (T3SS) encoded by Salmonella pathogenicity island-2 (SPI-2). Translocation of effector proteins across the Salmonella-containing vacuole, via the SPI-2 T3SS, enables bacterial replication within host cells, including macrophages. Here, we investigated the contribution of these effectors to intramacrophage replication of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium using Fluorescence Dilution, a dual-fluorescence tool which allows direct measurement of bacterial replication. Of 32 strains, each carrying single mutations in genes encoding effectors, 10 (lacking sifA, sseJ, sopD2, sseG, sseF, srfH, sseL, spvD, cigR, or steD) were attenuated in replication in mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages. The replication profiles of strains combining deletions in effector genes were also investigated: a strain lacking the genes sseG, sopD2, and srfH showed an increased replication defect compared to single-mutation strains and was very similar to SPI-2 T3SS-deficient bacteria with respect to its replication defect. This strain was substantially attenuated in virulence in vivo and yet retained intracellular vacuole integrity and a functional SPI-2 T3SS. Moreover, this strain was capable of SPI-2 T3SS-mediated delivery of a model antigen for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-dependent T-cell activation. This work establishes a basis for the use of a poly-effector mutant strain as an attenuated vaccine carrier for delivery of heterologous antigens directly into the cytoplasm of host cells. IMPORTANCE Live attenuated strains of Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi have generated much interest in the search for improved vaccines against typhoid fever and as vaccine vectors for the delivery of heterologous antigens. A promising vaccine candidate is the ΔaroC ΔssaV S. Typhi strain, which owes its attenuation mainly to lack of a type III secretion system (SPI-2 T3SS). The SPI-2 T3SS is important for bacterial proliferation inside macrophages, but not all of the effectors involved in this process have been identified. Here, we show that 10 effectors of the related strain S. Typhimurium contribute to intracellular replication in macrophages. Moreover, we establish that a poly-effector mutant strain of S. Typhimurium can have a severe replication defect and maintain a functional SPI-2 T3SS, which can be exploited for delivery of heterologous antigens.
    mBio 01/2013; 4(2). · 6.88 Impact Factor
  • Kathryn G Watson, David W Holden
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    ABSTRACT: The last decade has witnessed increasing research on dissemination of bacterial pathogens in their hosts and on the processes that underlie bacterial spread and growth during organ colonization. Here, we discuss work on the mouse model of human typhoid fever caused by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. This has revealed the use of several routes of systemic dissemination that result in colonization and growth within the spleen and liver, the major sites of bacterial proliferation. We also highlight techniques that enable in vivo analysis of the infecting population at the spatiotemporal and single cell levels. These approaches have provided more detailed insights into the events underlying the dynamics of Salmonella replication, spread and clearance within host organs and tissues.
    Cellular Microbiology 10/2010; 12(10):1389-97. · 4.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Several important pathogens cause disease by surviving and replicating within host cells. Bacterial proliferation is the product of both replication and killing undergone by the population. However, these processes are difficult to distinguish, and are usually assessed together by determination of net bacterial load. In addition, measurement of net load does not reveal heterogeneity within pathogen populations. This is particularly important in persistent infections in which slow or nongrowing bacteria are thought to have a major impact. Here we report the development of a reporter system based on fluorescence dilution that enables direct quantification of the replication dynamics of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) in murine macrophages at both the population and single-cell level. We used this technique to demonstrate that a major S. Typhimurium virulence determinant, the Salmonella pathogenicity island 2 type III secretion system, is required for bacterial replication but does not have a major influence on resistance to killing. Furthermore, we found that, upon entry into macrophages, many bacteria do not replicate, but appear to enter a dormant-like state. These could represent an important reservoir of persistent bacteria. The approach could be extended to other pathogens to study the contribution of virulence and host resistance factors to replication and killing, and to identify and characterize nonreplicating bacteria associated with chronic or latent infections.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2010; 107(8):3746-51. · 9.81 Impact Factor