[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) is the hallmark of community acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) but can also be found in methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) sharing pathogenic and epidemiological characteristics of CA-MRSA. PVL is encoded by two co-transcribed genes that are carried by different staphylococcal bacteriophages. We applied an extended PCR-based typing scheme that allows the identification of two morphological groups (elongated-head group and icosahedral-head group I phages) and of specific types of PVL phages to S. aureus isolates recovered in Italy. We examined 48 PVL-positive isolates (25 MSSA and 23 MRSA) collected from different hospital laboratories from April 2005 to May 2011. spa typing, multi-locus sequence typing and staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec typing were applied to categorize the isolates. Phage typeability was 48.0% in MSSA and 91.3% in MRSA, highlighting the limitation of the PCR typing scheme when applied to PVL-positive MSSA. Five different PVL phages and two variants of a known phage were detected, the most prevalent being ΦSa2usa, recovered in 15 out of 48 (31.2%) isolates, and carried by both MSSA and MRSA belonging to CC8 and CC5. The recently described ΦTCH60 was recovered in 4 isolates. A PVL phage (ΦSa119) from a ST772 MRSA, that was not detected using the previous typing scheme, was sequenced, and new primers were designed for the identification of the icosahedral-head group II PVL phages present in ST772 and ST59 MRSA. A comprehensive PVL-phage typing can contribute to the understanding of the epidemiology and evolution of PVL-positive MSSA and MRSA.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Clinical Microbiology and Infection 05/2014; · 4.58 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has been suggested that the rarity of human listeriosis due to Listeria ivanovii reflects not only host tropism factors but also the rare occurrence of this species in the environment, compared with Listeria monocytogenes. In the present study we evaluate the effects on the reference strain L. ivanovii ATCC 19119 behaviour of two combined stresses, low iron availability and acid environment, that bacteria can encounter in the passage from saprophytic life to the host. In these conditions, L. ivanovii evidenced a different behaviour compared to L. monocytogenes exposed to similar conditions. L. ivanovii was not able to mount an acid tolerance response (ATR) even if, upon entry into the stationary phase in iron-loaded medium, growth phase-dependent acid resistance (AR) was evidenced. Moreover, bacteria grown in iron excess and acidic pH showed the higher invasion value in Caco-2 cells, even though it was not able to efficiently multiply. On the contrary, low iron and acidic conditions improved invasion ability in amniotic WISH cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Listeria monocytogenes is the agent of listeriosis, a food-borne disease. It represents a serious problem for the food industry because of its environmental persistence mainly due to its ability to form biofilm on a variety of surfaces. Microrganisms attached on the surfaces are a potential source of contamination for environment and animals and humans. Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs) are used in food industry in a variety of products and it was reported that daily exposure to these nanomaterials is very high. Anti-listerial activity of TiO2 NPs was investigated only with UV-irradiated nanomaterials, based on generation of reactive oxigen species (ROS) with antibacterial effect after UV exposure. Since both Listeria monocytogenes and TiO2 NPs are veicolated with foods, this study explores the interaction between Listeria monocytogenes and non UV-irradiated TiO2 NPs, with special focus on biofilm formation and intestinal cell interaction. Scanning electron microscopy and quantitative measurements of biofilm mass indicate that NPs influence both production and structural architecture of listerial biofilm. Moreover, TiO2 NPs show to interfere with bacterial interaction to intestinal cells. Increased biofilm production due to TiO2 NPs exposure may favour bacterial survival in environment and its transmission to animal and human hosts.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e84986. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bovine lactoferrin (bLf) is a multifunctional glycoprotein that plays an important role in innate immunity against infections, including influenza. Here we have dissected bLf into its C- and N-lobes and show that inhibition of influenza virus hemagglutination and cell infection is entirely attributable to the C-lobe and that all major virus subtypes, including H1N1 and H3N2, are inhibited. By far-western blotting and sequencing studies, we demonstrate that bLf C-lobe strongly binds to the HA(2) region of viral hemagglutinin, precisely the highly conserved region containing the fusion peptide. By molecular docking studies, three C-lobe fragments were identified which inhibited virus hemagglutination and infection at fentomolar concentration range. Besides contributing to explain the broad anti-influenza activity of bLf, our findings lay the foundations for exploiting bLf fragments as source of potential anti-influenza therapeutics.
Pathogens and global health. 03/2012; 106(1):12-9.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Influenza is a highly contagious, acute respiratory illness, which represents one of the main plagues worldwide. Even though some antiviral drugs are available, the alarming increase of virus strains resistant to them highlights the need to find new antiviral compounds. As we have recently demonstrated that bovine lactoferrin (bLf) prevents influenza virus-induced apoptosis, in the present wor,k we have attempted to investigate in depth the mechanism of the anti-influenza virus effect of this protein. To this aim, experiments have been carried out whereby different forms of bLf were added to the cells during different phases of viral infection. Results obtained showed that bLf was able to prevent influenza virus cytopathic effects when incubated with the cells after the adsorption step, independently from ion saturation or carbohydrate content. Moreover, the influence of iron saturations or sialic acid/carbohydrates removal on bLf activity on the early phases of infection has been observed. Our results provide further insights on the antiviral activity of bLf and suggest novel strategies for treatment of influenza virus infection.
Biochemistry and Cell Biology 02/2012; 90(3):442-8. · 2.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The HPV16 E7 protein is both a tumour-specific and a tumour-rejection antigen, the ideal target for developing therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of HPV16-associated cancer and its precursor lesions. E7, which plays a key role in virus-associated carcinogenesis, contains 98 amino acids and has two finger-type structures which bind a Zn++ ion. The ability of an Escherichia coli-produced E7-preparation, assembled into particles, to induce protective immunity against a HPV16-related tumour in the TC-1-C57BL/6 mouse tumour model, was evaluated.
E7 was expressed in E. coli, purified via a one-step denaturing protocol and prepared as a soluble suspension state after dialysis in native buffer. The presence in the E7 preparation of particulate forms was analysed by non-reducing SDS-PAGE and negative staining electron microscopy (EM). The Zn++ ion content was analysed by mass-spectrometry. Ten μg of protein per mouse was administered to groups of animals, once, twice or three times without adjuvant. The E7-specific humoral response was monitored in mice sera using an E7-based ELISA while the cell-mediated immune response was analysed in mice splenocytes with lymphoproliferation and IFN-γ ELISPOT assays. The E7 immunized mice were challenged with TC-1 tumour cells and the tumour growth monitored for two months.
In western blot analysis E7 appears in multimers and high molecular mass oligomers. The EM micrographs show the protein dispersed as aggregates of different shape and size. The protein appears clustered in micro-, nano-aggregates, and structured particles. Mice immunised with this protein preparation show a significant E7-specific humoral and cell-mediated immune response of mixed Th1/Th2 type. The mice are fully protected from the tumour growth after vaccination with three E7-doses of 10 μg without any added adjuvant.
This report shows that a particulate form of HPV16 E7 is able to induce, without adjuvant, an E7-specific tumour protection in C57BL/6 mice. The protective immunity is sustained by both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses. The E. coli-derived HPV16 E7 assembled in vitro into micro- and nanoparticles represents not only a good substrate for antigen-presenting cell uptake and processing, but also a cost-effective means for the production of a new generation of HPV subunit vaccines.
Journal of Translational Medicine 01/2011; 9:69. · 3.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study we evaluated the ability of lactoferrin, the most abundant antimicrobial protein in airway secretions, to bind the surface structures of a Burkholderia strain cystic fibrosis-isolated. Burkholderia cenocepacia is a gram-negative bacterium involved as respiratory pathogen in cystic fibrosis patient infections. This bacterium possesses filamentous structures, named cable pili that have been proposed as virulence factors because of their ability to bind to respiratory epithelia and mucin. Previously, we demonstrated that bovine lactoferrin was able to influence the efficiency of invasion of different iron-regulated morphological forms of B. cenocepacia. Bovine lactoferrin showed to efficiently inhibit invasion of alveolar epithelial cells by free-living bacteria or iron-induced aggregates or biofilm. Results of the present study demonstrate that bovine lactoferrin is also able to specifically bind to B. cenocepacia cells and show that cable pili are involved in this interaction. The attachment of bovine lactoferrin to pili led to a reduced binding of bacterial cells to mucin. Since cable pili are implicated in mediating the bacterial interactions with mucin and epithelial cells, lactoferrin binding to these structures could play an important role in neutralizing bacterial infection in cystic fibrosis patients.
Biology of Metals 04/2010; 23(3):531-42. · 3.17 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Influenza is one of the main plagues worldwide. The statistical likelihood of a new pandemic outbreak, together with the alarming emergence of influenza virus strains that are resistant to available antiviral medications, highlights the need for new antiviral drugs. Lactoferrin, a 80 kDa bi-globular iron-binding glycoprotein, is a pleiotropic factor with potent antimicrobial and immunomodulatory activities. Although the antiviral effect of lactoferrin is one of its major biological functions, the mechanism of action is still under debate. In this research, we have analyzed the effect of bovine lactoferrin (bLf) on Influenza A virus infection in vitro. Our results showed that (i) Influenza virus infected cells died as a result of apoptosis, (ii) bLf treatment inhibited programmed cell death by interfering with function of caspase 3, a major virus-induced apoptosis effector, and (iii) bLf efficiently blocked nuclear export of viral ribonucleoproteins so preventing viral assembly. These results provide further insights on the antiviral activity of bLf and suggest novel strategies for treatment of Influenza virus infection.
Biology of Metals 03/2010; 23(3):465-75. · 3.17 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Listeria monocytogenes can cause a placental-foetal infection that results in spontaneous abortion, premature labour, stillbirth, or neonatal sepsis and meningitis. Bacteria cross the maternofoetal barrier at the villous syncytiotrophoblast level and subsequently spread from the placenta to the fetus. L. monocytogenes is able to induce different kinds of death in a variety of cells. Murine hepatocytes, murine T and human B lymphocytes, and murine dendritic cells die by apoptosis, whereas bacterial infection of murine and human macrophages leads mainly to necrotic cell death. As we previously described the efficient infection and growth of L. monocytogenes in a human amniotic cell line, we investigated the fate of these cells in order to analyse the mode of cell death. Our results provide biochemical and morphological evidence of necrotic death induced by L. monocytogenes infection.
International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology 01/2009; 22(1):153-62. · 2.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lactoferrin has been recognized as a potent inhibitor of human herpetic viruses, such as herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2). In particular, bovine lactoferrin (bLf) has been found to prevent viral infection by binding to heparan sulphate (HS) glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) that in turn can act as cell receptors for human herpetic viruses. In this study we further investigate the mechanism of inhibiting activity of both human lactoferrin (hLf) and bLf against HSV-2. The antiviral effect of these proteins towards HSV-2 strain 333 and its glycoprotein C (gC)-truncated derivative HSV-2 gC-neg1 has been tested in monkey kidney cells. Our results indicate that the antiviral activity of bLf does not involve gC-HS interaction as there was no difference in its effectiveness towards wild type and mutant virus. As regards hLf, the mutant virus HSV-2 gC-neg1 was more sensitive compared to the wild type, suggesting that the human protein might interact with some viral structures that in wild-type viruses are masked by gC. When the modulation of HSV-2 infection by bLf and hLf was investigated under different experimental conditions, the bovine protein proved more effective than the human protein. Moreover, we found that, differently from what observed with HSV-1, bLf inhibited HSV-2 plaque-forming activity also in cells devoid of GAG expression. These results suggest that bLf may block a virus receptor of non-GAG nature and add new information on the anti-herpes virus activity of this protein, confirming it as an outstanding candidate for the treatment of herpetic infections.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Treatment of human herpes simplex virus (HSV) diseases represents an important goal, as herpetic infections are not controlled by vaccination. Many therapeutic agents have been developed and used for HSV infections and several alternative natural compounds are under investigation. Most of the drugs clinically employed against HSV types 1 and 2 are represented by guanosine nucleoside analogues, such as aciclovir and aciclovir-like drugs. The emergence of aciclovir-resistant virus strains provided a stimulus for increased search of new effective agents. Alternative drugs are other nucleoside analogues, such as the vidarabine, brivudin, and cidofovir, or pyrophosphate analogues such as foscarnet, that showed efficacy for HSV infections refractory to aciclovir. However, the risk of adverse effects reported for available anti-herpetic compounds and the frequent development of drug-resistant strains of HSV following therapeutic treatment generate the need for new antiviral agents. In the last years, several studies have been carried out on the anti-HSV activity of different components of innate host defences such as cationic antimicrobial peptides. The antiviral activity of these peptides often appears to be related to the viral adsorption and entry process or is a result of a direct effect on the viral envelope. Other natural compounds, extracts from medicinal plants employed in ethnomedicine and displaying marked anti-herpetic activity, are at present under investigation to determine the scientific evidence and rationale for their clinical use. This review discusses the anti-HSV activity of compounds licensed for clinical use and promising natural molecules.
Current Medicinal Chemistry 02/2008; 15(9):900-11. · 3.72 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lactoferrin (Lf) is a multifunctional glycoprotein that plays an important role in immune regulation and defence mechanisms against bacteria, fungi and viruses. Bovine lactoferrin (bLf) has been recognized as a potent inhibitor of human herpetic viruses, such as cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2. BLf has been found to prevent viral infection by binding to heparan sulphate containing proteoglycans that also act as cell receptors for herpetic viruses. In this study we further investigated the inhibiting activity of bLf against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) in Green Monkey Kidney (GMK) cells and found that, in addition to the viral adsorption step, bLf also targets the HSV-1 entry process and cell-to-cell viral spread. Our study showed that the inhibition of HSV-1 infectivity by bLf is dependent on its interaction with specific structural viral proteins. Apart from the prevention of early phases of viral infection, cell-to-cell spread inhibition activity of HSV-1 by bLf confirmed that this protein is an outstanding candidate for the treatment of herpetic infections since it would offer the advantage to prevent also viral infections caused by cell-associated virus.
Antiviral Research 01/2008; 76(3):252-62. · 3.93 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Primary effusion lymphomas (PELs) are invariably infected by the human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8)that is present in most PEL cells as latent virus but replicates in a subset of permissive cells to produce infectious progeny. Here we show that productively infected PEL cells release C-type retrovirus-like particles encoding an Mn++-dependent RT activity, which is typical of endogenous retroviruses. Strikingly, C-type particles are produced only in cells showing advanced HHV8 morphogenesis. Phorbol esters, which induce productive HHV8 replication and morphogenesis in PEL cells, increase RLP production. Phosphonoacetic acid, a blocker of HHV8 late gene expression, inhibits the production of C-type particles, whereas neutralizing anti-alphaIFN antibodies, which are known to increase HHV8 assembly, increases C-type particle production. These data suggest that factors expressed in advanced stages of HHV8 reactivation support endogenous C-type particle morphogenesis in PEL cells.
International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology 01/2008; 21(4):999-1006. · 2.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ability of Listeria monocytogenes to survive and grow at high salt concentrations and low pH makes it a potential hazard after the consumption of milk and dairy products, often implicated in severe outbreaks of listeriosis. This study was designed to evaluate the behaviour of L. monocytogenes in traditional acid and salted Italian-style soft cheeses and to investigate whether Listeria occurrence and growth in these environments may represent a potential increase of hazard.
A first approach was addressed to in vitro evaluate survival, acid tolerance response, ability to produce biofilm, and capability to invade intestinal-like cells of a L. monocytogenes strain grown under experimental conditions mimicking environmental features that this pathogen encounters in soft cheeses (such as acid pH and high NaCl content). A second set of experiments was performed to monitor, during the storage at 4 degrees C, the survival of acid-adapted and nonadapted Listeriae in artificially contaminated soft cheeses. Both acid tolerance response and invasion efficiency of acid-adapted bacteria resulted in an increase, even when bacteria were simultaneously pre-exposed to increasing salt stress. The contamination of cheeses with acid-adapted and nonadapted bacteria evidenced in all products a good survival. A significant increased survival, the recovery of bacterial cells highly resistant to lethal pH exposure, and the prevalence of filamentous structures were observed in crescenza cheese during the storage.
The Listeria survival and acid pH tolerance observed during refrigerated storage are probably related to the intrinsic acid and saline features of soft cheeses analysed.
Italian soft cheeses tested may represent a potential hazard for the recovery of acid-adapted L. monocytogenes cells with enhanced ability to adhere to inert surfaces and/or to penetrate host cells.
Journal of Applied Microbiology 08/2007; 103(1):185-93. · 2.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lactoferrin, an 80 kDa bi-globular iron-binding glycoprotein belonging to the transferrin family, is a pleiotropic factor with potent antimicrobial and immunomodulatory activities, present in breast milk, in mucosal secretions, and in the secondary granules of neutrophils. Recently, we have shown that bovine lactoferrin prevents the early phases of echovirus infection and also acts as a survival factor inhibiting viral-induced apoptosis. In the present research we investigated the mechanism of bovine lactoferrin anti-echoviral effect demonstrating that echovirus enters susceptible cells by an endocytic pathway and that lactoferrin treatment is able to prevent viral genome delivery into the cytoplasm. It is likely that lactoferrin interaction with echovirus capsid proteins induces alterations that stabilize the conformation of the virion making it resistant to uncoating. Taken together, the results of our study show that the inhibition of echovirus 6 infectivity by lactoferrin is dependent on its interaction not only with cell surface glycosaminoglycan chains but also with viral structural proteins demonstrating that this glycoprotein targets the virus entry process.
Antiviral Research 04/2007; 73(3):151-60. · 3.93 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among Listeria genus, only two species, Listeria ivanovii and Listeria monocytogenes, are pathogenic. L. ivanovii is almost only associated with infections in animals, mainly sheep and cattle, and has rarely been associated with human infections, whereas L. monocytogenes causes severe illnesses in both humans and animals. To further investigate the pathogenetic features of L. ivanovii in humans, we undertook a study in which the intracellular behaviour of this pathogen was analysed in WISH cells, a cell line derived from human amniotic tissue, and compared to that of L. monocytogenes. Using microbiological, biochemical, and ultrastructural approaches, we demonstrate that L. ivanovii can adhere to and invade human amniotic cells, lyse the phagosomal membrane, polymerize host cell actin, and spread from cell to cell more efficiently than L. monocytogenes. However, although L. ivanovii is capable of specifically infecting and replicating in human amnion cells, its survival in cytoplasm is limited compared to that of L. monocytogenes.
International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology 01/2007; 20(3):509-18. · 2.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is an emerging nosocomial bacterial pathogen which is currently isolated with increasing frequency from the airways of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. In this study 13 S. maltophilia strains (11 isolated from the airways of independent CF patients, and two non-CF respiratory reference strains) have been characterized for the expression of several virulence-associated factors. In particular, the ability to form biofilm on abiotic surfaces has been determined and correlated with different features, such as motility, adherence and the ability to invade A549 respiratory epithelial cells. Moreover, the presence of a flagellum-associated gene as well as that of the StmPr1 gene, which encodes an extracellular protease, have been determined by Southern blot hybridization. Our data indicate that the different degree of biofilm formation exhibited by the 11 CF isolates does not correlate with motility, ability to adhere to and invade A549 cells, or with the presence of flagella. On the other hand, among the CF isolates the StmPr1 gene was found only in two strains, both able to establish chronic lung infections in CF patients. Moreover, only four of the strains analyzed show a temperature-independent antibiotic-resistance profile, suggesting either a different origin of these strains or an intervening adaptation to host tissues.
International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology 01/2007; 20(3):529-37. · 2.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bovine lactoferrin is a multifunctional glycoprotein folded in two symmetric globular lobes (N- and C-lobes), each being able to bind one ferric ion. We have previously demonstrated that this protein is able to prevent echovirus-induced apoptosis. In the present study, we have investigated both the role of tryptic fragments of bovine lactoferrin and the mechanism of lactoferrin effect on echovirus infection. Results obtained showed that bovine lactoferrin inhibits echovirus-induced cytopathic effect and antigen synthesis in a dose-dependent manner and that this protein is able to prevent viral replication when added not only during the entire cycle of infection but also before, during or after the viral adsorption step. The N-terminal cationic peptide was sufficient to prevent viral binding. Our data suggest that lactoferrin inhibition of echovirus attachment to cell receptors could be mediated by the cluster of positive charges at its N-terminus (lactoferricin).
Antiviral Research 03/2006; 69(2):98-106. · 3.93 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lactoferrin is a glycoprotein and plays an important role in defence against pathogens. Although the antiviral activity of lactoferrin is one of the major biological functions of such protein, the mechanism of action is still under debate. The effect of lactoferrin on echovirus 6 infection in vitro was analysed and results showed that (i) cells infected with echovirus 6, died as a result of apoptosis and that (ii) programmed cell death was inhibited by lactoferrin treatment. In this report, we demonstrate that lactoferrin can exert its anti-enteroviral activity by preventing viral-induced apoptosis.
International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 06/2005; 25(5):433-8. · 4.42 Impact Factor