[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The majority of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infections are clinically latent, characterized by drug tolerance and little or no bacterial replication. Low oxygen tension is a major host factor inducing bacteriostasis, but the molecular mechanisms driving oxygen-dependent replication are poorly understood. Here, we tested the role of serine/threonine phosphorylation in the Mtb response to altered oxygen status, using an in vitro model of latency (hypoxia) and reactivation (reaeration). Broad kinase inhibition compromised survival of Mtb in reaeration. Activity-based protein profiling and genetic mutation identified PknB as the kinase critical for surviving hypoxia. Mtb replication was highly sensitive to changes in PknB levels in aerated culture, and even more so in hypoxia. A mutant overexpressing PknB specifically in hypoxia showed a 10-fold loss in viability and gross morphological defects in low oxygen conditions. In contrast, chemically reducing PknB activity during hypoxia specifically compromised resumption of growth during reaeration. These data support a model in which PknB activity is reduced to achieve bacteriostasis, and elevated when replication resumes. Together, these data show that phosphosignaling controls replicative transitions associated with latency and reactivation, that PknB is a major regulator of these transitions, and that PknB could provide a highly vulnerable therapeutic target at every step of the Mtb life cycle-active disease, latency, and reactivation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bacteria are able to adapt to dramatically different microenvironments, but in many organisms, the signaling pathways, transcriptional programs, and downstream physiological changes involved in adaptation are not well-understood. Here, we discovered that osmotic stress stimulates a signaling network in Mycobacterium tuberculosis regulated by the eukaryotic-like receptor Ser/Thr protein kinase PknD. Expression of the PknD substrate Rv0516c was highly induced by osmotic stress. Furthermore, Rv0516c disruption modified peptidoglycan thickness, enhanced antibiotic resistance, and activated genes in the regulon of the alternative σ-factor SigF. Phosphorylation of Rv0516c regulated the abundance of EspA, a virulence-associated substrate of the type VII ESX-1 secretion system. These findings identify an osmosensory pathway orchestrated by PknD, Rv0516c, and SigF that enables adaptation to osmotic stress through cell wall remodeling and virulence factor production. Given the widespread occurrence of eukaryotic-like Ser/Thr protein kinases in bacteria, these proteins may play a broad role in bacterial osmosensing.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have taken the first steps towards a complete reconstruction of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis regulatory network based on ChIP-Seq and combined this reconstruction with system-wide profiling of messenger RNAs, proteins, metabolites and lipids during hypoxia and re-aeration. Adaptations to hypoxia are thought to have a prominent role in M. tuberculosis pathogenesis. Using ChIP-Seq combined with expression data from the induction of the same factors, we have reconstructed a draft regulatory network based on 50 transcription factors. This network model revealed a direct interconnection between the hypoxic response, lipid catabolism, lipid anabolism and the production of cell wall lipids. As a validation of this model, in response to oxygen availability we observe substantial alterations in lipid content and changes in gene expression and metabolites in corresponding metabolic pathways. The regulatory network reveals transcription factors underlying these changes, allows us to computationally predict expression changes, and indicates that Rv0081 is a regulatory hub.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The enzyme pantothenate synthetase, PanC, is an attractive drug target in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is essential for the in vitro growth of M. tuberculosis and for survival of the bacteria in the mouse model of infection. PanC is absent from mammals. We developed an enzyme-based assay to identify inhibitors of PanC, optimized it for high-throughput screening, and tested a large and diverse library of compounds for activity. Two compounds belonging to the same chemical class of 3-biphenyl-4- cyanopyrrole-2-carboxylic acids had activity against the purified recombinant protein, and also inhibited growth of live M. tuberculosis in manner consistent with PanC inhibition. Thus we have identified a new class of PanC inhibitors with whole cell activity that can be further developed.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(11):e72786. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Identification of CD8(+) T cell antigens/epitopes expressed by human pathogens with large genomes is especially challenging, yet necessary for vaccine development. Immunity to tuberculosis, a leading cause of mortality worldwide, requires CD8(+) T cell immunity, yet the repertoire of CD8 antigens/epitopes remains undefined. We used integrated computational and proteomic approaches to screen 10% of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) proteome for CD8 Mtb antigens. We designed a weighting schema based upon a Multiple Attribute Decision Making:framework to select 10% of the Mtb proteome with a high probability of containing CD8(+) T cell epitopes. We created a synthetic peptide library consisting of 15-mers overlapping by 11 aa. Using the interferon-γ ELISPOT assay and Mtb-infected dendritic cells as antigen presenting cells, we screened Mtb-specific CD8(+) T cell clones restricted by classical MHC class I molecules (MHC class Ia molecules), that were isolated from Mtb-infected humans, against this library. Three novel CD8 antigens were unambiguously identified: the EsxJ family (Rv1038c, Rv1197, Rv3620c, Rv2347c, Rv1792), PE9 (Rv1088), and PE_PGRS42 (Rv2487c). The epitopes are B5701-restricted EsxJ24-34, B3905-restricted PE953-67, and B3514-restricted PE_PGRS4248-56, respectively. The utility of peptide libraries in identifying unknown epitopes recognized by classically restricted CD8(+) T cells was confirmed, which can be applied to other intracellular pathogens with large size genomes. In addition, we identified three novel Mtb epitopes/antigens that may be evaluated for inclusion in vaccines and/or diagnostics for tuberculosis.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(6):e67016. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Identification of new drug targets is vital for the advancement of drug discovery against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, especially given the increase of resistance worldwide to first- and second-line drugs. Because traditional target-based screening has largely proven unsuccessful for antibiotic discovery, we have developed a scalable platform for target identification in M. tuberculosis that is based on whole-cell screening, coupled with whole-genome sequencing of resistant mutants and recombineering to confirm. The method yields targets paired with whole-cell active compounds, which can serve as novel scaffolds for drug development, molecular tools for validation, and/or as ligands for co-crystallization. It may also reveal other information about mechanisms of action, such as activation or efflux. Using this method, we identified resistance-linked genes for eight compounds with anti-tubercular activity. Four of the genes have previously been shown to be essential: AspS, aspartyl-tRNA synthetase, Pks13, a polyketide synthase involved in mycolic acid biosynthesis, MmpL3, a membrane transporter, and EccB3, a component of the ESX-3 type VII secretion system. AspS and Pks13 represent novel targets in protein translation and cell-wall biosynthesis. Both MmpL3 and EccB3 are involved in membrane transport. Pks13, AspS, and EccB3 represent novel candidates not targeted by existing TB drugs, and the availability of whole-cell active inhibitors greatly increases their potential for drug discovery.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(9):e75245. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We analyzed whole genome-based transcriptional profiles of Mycobacterium tuberculosis subjected to prolonged hypoxia to guide the discovery of novel potential Ags, by a combined bioinformatic and empirical approach. We analyzed the fold induction of the 100 most highly induced genes at 7 d of hypoxia, as well as transcript abundance, peptide-binding prediction (ProPred) adjusted for population-specific MHC class II allele frequency, and by literature search. Twenty-six candidate genes were selected by this bioinformatic approach and evaluated empirically using IFN-γ and IL-2 ELISPOT using immunodominant Ags (Acr-1, CFP-10, ESAT-6) as references. Twenty-three of twenty-six proteins induced an IFN-γ response in PBMCs of persons with active or latent tuberculosis. Five novel immunodominant proteins-Rv1957, Rv1954c, Rv1955, Rv2022c, and Rv1471-were identified that induced responses similar to CFP-10 and ESAT-6 in both magnitude and frequency. IL-2 responses were of lower magnitude than were those of IFN-γ. Only moderate evidence of infection stage-specific recognition of Ags was observed. Reconciliation of bioinformatic and empirical hierarchies of immunodominance revealed that Ags could be predicted, providing transcriptomic data were combined with peptide-binding prediction adjusted by population-specific MHC class II allele frequency.
The Journal of Immunology 11/2012; · 5.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) is a highly successful pathogen that infects over a billion people. As with most organisms, MTB adapts to stress by modifying its transcriptional profile. Remodeling of the transcriptome requires both altering the transcription rate and clearing away the existing mRNA through degradation, a process that can be directly regulated in response to stress. To understand better how MTB adapts to the harsh environs of the human host, we performed a global survey of the decay rates of MTB mRNA transcripts. Decay rates were measured for 2139 of the ∼4000 MTB genes, which displayed an average half-life of 9.5 min. This is nearly twice the average mRNA half-life of other prokaryotic organisms where these measurements have been made. The transcriptome was further stabilized in response to lowered temperature and hypoxic stress. The generally stable transcriptome described here, and the additional stabilization in response to physiologically relevant stresses, has far-ranging implications for how this pathogen is able to adapt in its human host.
Nucleic Acids Research 11/2012; · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whole-cell screening of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) remains a mainstay of drug discovery, but subsequent target elucidation often proves difficult. Conditional mutants that underexpress essential genes have been used to identify compounds with known mechanism of action by target-based whole-cell screening (TB-WCS). Here, the feasibility of TB-WCS in Mtb was assessed by generating mutants that conditionally express pantothenate synthetase (panC), diaminopimelate decarboxylase (lysA), and isocitrate lyase (icl1). The essentiality of panC and lysA, and conditional essentiality of icl1 for growth on fatty acids, was confirmed. Depletion of PanC and Icl1 rendered mutants hypersensitive to target-specific inhibitors. Stable reporter strains were generated for use in high-throughput screening, and their utility was demonstrated by identifying compounds that display greater potency against a PanC-depleted strain. These findings illustrate the power of TB-WCS as a tool for tuberculosis drug discovery.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Reduction of active disease by preventive therapy has the potential to make an important contribution towards the goal of tuberculosis (TB) elimination. This report summarises discussions amongst a Working Group convened to consider areas of research that will be important in optimising the design and delivery of preventative therapies. The Working Group met in Cape Town on 26th February 2012, following presentation of results from the GC11 Grand Challenges in Global Health project to discover drugs for latent TB.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of tuberculosis, is a bacterial pathogen that claims roughly 1.4 million lives every year. Current drug regimens are inefficient at clearing infection, requiring at least 6 months of chemotherapy, and resistance to existing agents is rising. There is an urgent need for new drugs that are more effective and faster acting. The folate pathway has been successfully targeted in other pathogens and diseases, but has not yielded a lead drug against tuberculosis. We developed a high-throughput screening assay against Mtb dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), a critical enzyme in the folate pathway, and screened a library consisting of 32,000 synthetic and natural product-derived compounds. One potent inhibitor containing a quinazoline ring was identified. This compound was active against the wild-type laboratory strain H37Rv (MIC(99) = 207 µM). In addition, an Mtb strain with artificially lowered DHFR levels showed increased sensitivity to this compound (MIC(99) = 70.7 µM), supporting that the inhibition was target-specific. Our results demonstrate the potential to identify Mtb DHFR inhibitors with activity against whole cells, and indicate the power of using a recombinant strain of Mtb expressing lower levels of DHFR to facilitate the discovery of antimycobacterial agents. With these new tools, we highlight the folate pathway as a potential target for new drugs to combat the tuberculosis epidemic.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(6):e39961. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Mycobacterium tuberculosis regulator DosR is induced by multiple stimuli including hypoxia, nitric oxide and redox stress. Overlap of these stimuli with conditions thought to promote latency in infected patients fuels a model in which DosR regulon expression is correlated with bacteriostasis in vitro and a proxy for latency in vivo. Here, we find that inducing the DosR regulon to wildtype levels in aerobic, replicating M. tuberculosis does not alter bacterial growth kinetics. We conclude that DosR regulon expression alone is insufficient for bacterial latency, but rather is expressed during a range of growth states in a dynamic environment.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(4):e35935. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is estimated that one-third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Infection typically remains latent, but it can reactivate to cause clinical disease. The only vaccine, Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), is largely ineffective, and ways to enhance its efficacy are being developed. Of note, the candidate booster vaccines currently under clinical development have been designed to improve BCG efficacy but not prevent reactivation of latent infection. Here, we demonstrate that administering a multistage vaccine that we term H56 in the adjuvant IC31 as a boost to vaccination with BCG delays and reduces clinical disease in cynomolgus macaques challenged with M. tuberculosis and prevents reactivation of latent infection. H56 contains Ag85B and ESAT-6, which are two of the M. tuberculosis antigens secreted in the acute phase of infection, and the nutrient stress-induced antigen Rv2660c. Boosting with H56/IC31 resulted in efficient containment of M. tuberculosis infection and reduced rates of clinical disease, as measured by clinical parameters, inflammatory markers, and improved survival of the animals compared with BCG alone. Boosted animals showed reduced pulmonary pathology and extrapulmonary dissemination, and protection correlated with a strong recall response against ESAT-6 and Rv2660c. Importantly, BCG/H56-vaccinated monkeys did not reactivate latent infection after treatment with anti-TNF antibody. Our results indicate that H56/IC31 boosting is able to control late-stage infection with M. tuberculosis and contain latent tuberculosis, providing a rationale for the clinical development of H56.
The Journal of clinical investigation 12/2011; 122(1):303-14. · 15.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infections caused by biofilms are abundant and highly persistent, displaying phenotypic resistance to high concentrations of antimicrobials and modulating host immune systems. Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, shares these qualities with biofilm infections. To identify genetic determinants of biofilm formation in M. tuberculosis, we performed a small-scale transposon screen using an in vitro pellicle biofilm assay. We identified five M. tuberculosis mutants that were reproducibly attenuated for biofilm production relative to that of the parent strain H37Rv. One of the most attenuated mutants is interrupted in pks1, a polyketide synthase gene. When fused with pks15, as in some M. tuberculosis isolates, pks1 contributes to synthesis of the immunomodulatory phenolic glycolipids (PGLs). However, in strains such as H37Rv with split pks15 and pks1 loci, PGL is not produced and pks1 has no previously defined role. We showed that pks1 complementation restores biofilm production independently of the known role of pks1 in PGL synthesis. We also assessed the relationship among biofilm formation, the pks15/1 genotype, and M. tuberculosis phylogeography. A global survey of M. tuberculosis clinical isolates revealed surprising sequence variability in the pks15/1 locus and substantial variation in biofilm phenotypes. Our studies identify novel M. tuberculosis genes that contribute to biofilm production, including pks1. In addition, we find that the ability to make pellicle biofilms is common among M. tuberculosis isolates from throughout the world, suggesting that this trait is relevant to TB propagation or persistence.
Journal of bacteriology 11/2011; 194(3):715-21. · 3.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The DosR regulon and the Enduring Hypoxic Response (EHR) define a group of M. tuberculosis genes that are specifically induced in bacilli exposed in vitro to conditions thought to mimic the environment encountered by Mycobacteria during latent infection. Although well described in humans, latent mycobacterial infection in cattle remains poorly understood. Thus, the aim of this study was to identify antigens that may potentially disclose cattle with latent M. bovis infection. To this end, we initially screened 57 pools of overlapping peptides representing 4 DosR regulon and 29 EHR antigens for their ability to stimulate an immune response in whole blood from TB-reactor cattle using IFN-γ and IL-2 as readouts. All 4 DosR regulon proteins were poorly recognized (maximum responder frequency of 10%). For the EHR antigens, both IFN-γ and IL-2 revealed similar response hierarchies, with responder frequencies ranging from 54% down to 3% depending on the given EHR antigen. Furthermore, these results demonstrated that responses in the infected cattle were largely IFN-γ biased. To support the concept for their role in latency, we evaluated if EHR antigen responses were associated with lower pathology. The EHR antigen Rv0188 was recognised predominantly in animals presenting with low pathology scores, whereas responses to ESAT-6/CFP-10 or the other EHR antigens tested were prevalent across the pathology spectrum. However, when we determined the production of additional cytokines induced by the M. bovis antigens PPD-B or ESAT-6/CFP-10, we detected significantly greater PPD-B-induced production of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1β in animals recognizing Rv0188 (i.e. those with limited or no pathology). Thus, these results are consistent with the idea that responses to Rv0188 may identify a subset of animals at early stages of infection or in which disease progression may be limited.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(6):e21371. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium bovis BCG strains are live, attenuated vaccines generated through decades of in vitro passage. Because in vitro growth does not select for interaction with the host, it has been hypothesized that genetic loci lost from BCG code for virulence determinants that are dispensable for growth in the laboratory, as exemplified by Region of Difference 1 (RD1), which was lost during the original derivation of BCG between 1908 and 1921. Region of Difference 2 (RD2) was lost during the ongoing propagation of BCG between 1927 and 1931, a time that coincides with reports of the ongoing attenuation of the vaccine. In this study, RD2 has been disrupted in M. tuberculosis H37Rv to test whether its loss contributed to the further attenuation of BCG. The deletion of RD2 did not affect in vitro growth; in contrast, the mutant manifested a decrease in pulmonary and splenic bacterial burdens and reduced pathology in C57BL/6 mice at early time points. This attenuated phenotype was complemented by reintroducing the genes Rv1979c to Rv1982 (including mpt64) but not Rv1985c to Rv1986. In RAW 264.7 macrophages, H37Rv:ΔRD2 showed a decreased proliferation and impaired modulation of the host innate immune response; both observations were complemented with Rv1979c to Rv1982. To test the effect of RD2 disruption on innate immunity, Rag(-/-) mice were infected; H37Rv:ΔRD2 had increased survival times compared those of H37Rv. These findings support the notion that the safety profile of certain BCG vaccines stems from multiple attenuating mutations, with the RD2 deletion resulting in a less-virulent organism through the impaired bacterial manipulation of the host innate immune response.
Infection and immunity 10/2010; 79(1):59-66. · 4.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: M. tuberculosis (MTB) species-specific antigenic determinants of the human T cell response are important for immunodiagnosis and vaccination. As hypoxia is a stimulus in chronic tuberculosis infection, we analyzed transcriptional profiles of MTB subject to 168 hours of hypoxia to test the hypothesis that upregulation by hypoxia might result in gene products being recognized as antigens. We identified upregulation of two region of difference (RD) 11 (Rv2658C and Rv2659c), and one RD2 (Rv1986) absent from commonly used BCG strains. In MTB infected persons, the IL-2 ELISpot response to Rv1986 peptides was several times greater than the corresponding IFN-γ response to the reference immunodominant ESAT-6 or CFP-10 antigens. The IL-2 response was confined to two epitopic regions containing residues 61-80 and 161-180. The biggest population of IL-2 secreting T cells was single cytokine positive central memory T cells. The IL-2 response to live MTB bacilli lacking Rv1986 was significantly lower than the response to wild type or mutant complemented with Rv1986. In addition, the IL-2 response to Rv1986 was significantly lower in HIV-TB co-infected persons than in HIV uninfected persons, and significantly increased during antiretroviral therapy. These findings demonstrate that Rv1986 is an immunodominant target of memory T cells and is therefore of relevance when considering the partial efficacy of currently used BCG vaccines and provide evidence for a clinical trial comparing BCG strains.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) enters a non-replicating state when exposed to low oxygen tension, a condition the bacillus encounters in granulomas during infection. Determining how mycobacteria enter and maintain this state is a major focus of research. However, from a public health standpoint the importance of latent TB is its ability to reactivate. The mechanism by which mycobacteria return to a replicating state upon re-exposure to favorable conditions is not understood. In this study, we utilized reaeration from a defined hypoxia model to characterize the adaptive response of MTB following a return to favorable growth conditions. Global transcriptional analysis identified the approximately 100 gene Reaeration Response, induced relative to both log-phase and hypoxic MTB. This response includes chaperones and proteases, as well as the transcription factor Rv2745c, which we characterize as a Clp protease gene regulator (ClgR) orthologue. During reaeration, genes repressed during hypoxia are also upregulated in a wave of transcription that includes genes crucial to transcription, translation and oxidative phosphorylation and culminates in bacterial replication. In sum, this study defines a new transcriptional response of MTB with potential relevance to disease, and implicates ClgR as a regulator involved in resumption of replication following hypoxia.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(7):e11622. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present CSDeconv, a computational method that determines locations of transcription factor binding from ChIP-seq data. CSDeconv differs from prior methods in that it uses a blind deconvolution approach that allows closely-spaced binding sites to be called accurately. We apply CSDeconv to novel ChIP-seq data for DosR binding in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and to existing data for GABP in humans and show that it can discriminate binding sites separated by as few as 40 bp.