[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhodococcus equi is a multi-host pathogen that infects a range of animals as well as immune-compromised humans. Equine and porcine isolates harbour a virulence plasmid encoding a homologous family of virulence-associated proteins associated with the capacity of R. equi to divert the normal processes of endosomal maturation, enabling bacterial survival and proliferation in alveolar macrophages. To provide a basis for probing the function of the Vap proteins in virulence, the crystal structure of VapD was determined. VapD is a monomer as determined by multi-angle laser light scattering. The structure reveals an elliptical, compact eight-stranded β-barrel with a novel strand topology and pseudo-twofold symmetry, suggesting evolution from an ancestral dimer. Surface-associated octyl-β-d-glucoside molecules may provide clues to function. Circular-dichroism spectroscopic analysis suggests that the β-barrel structure is preceded by a natively disordered region at the N-terminus. Sequence comparisons indicate that the core folds of the other plasmid-encoded virulence-associated proteins from R. equi strains are similar to that of VapD. It is further shown that sequences encoding putative R. equi Vap-like proteins occur in diverse bacterial species. Finally, the functional implications of the structure are discussed in the light of the unique structural features of VapD and its partial structural similarity to other β-barrel proteins.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Virulence of the intracellular pathogen Rhodococcus equi depends on a 21.3-kb pathogenicity island located on a conjugative plasmid. To date, the only non-regulatory pathogenicity island encoded virulence factor identified is the cell envelope associated VapA protein. Although the pathogenicity islands from porcine and equine R. equi isolates have undergone major rearrangements, the virR operon (virR-icgA-vapH-orf7-virS) is highly conserved in both, suggesting these genes play an important role in pathogenicity. VirR and VirS are transcriptional regulators controlling expression of pathogenicity island genes, including vapA. Here, we show that while vapH and orf7 are dispensable for intracellular growth of R. equi, deletion of icgA, formerly known as orf5, encoding a major facilitator superfamily transport protein, elicited an enhanced growth phenotype in macrophages and a significant reduction in macrophage viability, while extracellular growth in broth remained unaffected. Transcription of virS, located downstream of icgA, and vapA was not affected by the icgA deletion during growth in broth or in macrophages, showing that the enhanced growth phenotype caused by deletion of icgA was not mediated through abnormal transcription of these genes. Transcription of icgA increased 6-fold within 2 hours following infection of macrophages and remained significantly higher 48 hours post-infection compared to the start of the infection. The major facilitator superfamily transport protein IcgA is the first factor identified in R. equi that negatively affects intracellular replication. Aside from VapA, it is only the second pathogenicity island encoded structural protein shown to play a direct role in intracellular growth of this pathogenic actinomycete.
Infection and immunity 02/2014; · 4.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent trend to steer Wireless Sensor Networks towards a broad outdoor environment allows to monitor harsh areas and prevent a disaster situation. To guarantee an extensive work of the system and smooth cooperation among involved devices a new clustering approach needs to be found. In this paper, we present a new algorithm for an Event-oriented Focal Weight-based clustering for Wireless Sensor Network which will be able to monitor various parameters (physical, biological, and chemical) of the outdoor environment and signal the current situation further to the network. Shown results demonstrate the applicability of the algorithm for the large amount of nodes with various power levels. The use of a dual-band transceiver and advanced processing elements allow to accommodate new features in the nodes and guarantee a high performance with the low power consumption which is crucial for the outdoor system with no human attendance.
Proceedings of the 2014 22nd Euromicro International Conference on Parallel, Distributed, and Network-Based Processing; 02/2014
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This paper presents a new marine water quality forecasting system for real-time and short-term predictions. The forecasting system comprises an integrated catchment-coastal model and a database management system. The integrated model is validated in an Irish catchment-coastal system using hydrodynamic and water quality data. The forecasting system was then used to provide short-term and real-time forecasts of Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Intestinal Enterococci concentrations (IE) in the near-shore coastal waters of Bray, Ireland. Two hind-cast scenarios were simulated: 5F in which predictions were based on rainfall forecasts only; and I-5F where forecasts of 5F were improved by incorporating real-time data. Results indicate that predictions of E. coli of scenario I-5F are improved. Also predicted IE concentrations by Scenario 5F were comparably higher than the I-5F predications, but due to the wide scatter of observed IE concentrations, the superiority of one scenario over the second could not be definitively determined.
Environmental Modelling and Software 01/2014; · 3.48 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The contribution of fecal pollution from dogs in urbanized areas can be significant and is an often underestimated problem. Microbial source tracking methods (MST) utilizing quantitative PCR of dog-associated gene sequences encoding 16S rRNA of Bacteroidales are a useful tool to estimate these contributions. However, data about the performance of available assays are scarce. The results of a multi-laboratory study testing two assays for the determination of dog-associated Bacteroidales (DogBact and BacCan-UCD) on 64 single and mixed fecal source samples created from pooled fecal samples collected in California are presented here. Standardization of qPCR data treatment lowered inter-laboratory variability of sensitivity and specificity results. Both assays exhibited 100% sensitivity. Normalization methods are presented that eliminated random and confirmed non-target responses. The combination of standardized qPCR data treatment, use of normalization via a non-target specific Bacteroidales assay (GenBac3), and application of threshold criteria improved the calculated specificity significantly for both assays. Such measures would reasonably improve MST data interpretation not only for canine-associated assays, but for all qPCR assays used in identifying and monitoring fecal pollution in the environment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A number of PCR-based methods for detecting human fecal material in environmental waters have been developed over the past decade, but these methods have rarely received independent comparative testing in large multi-laboratory studies. Here, we evaluated ten of these methods (BacH, BacHum-UCD, Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (BtH), BsteriF1, gyrB, HF183 endpoint, HF183 SYBR, HF183 Taqman(®), HumM2, and Methanobrevibacter smithiinifH (Mnif)) using 64 blind samples prepared in one laboratory. The blind samples contained either one or two fecal sources from human, wastewater or non-human sources. The assay results were assessed for presence/absence of the human markers and also quantitatively while varying the following: 1) classification of samples that were detected but not quantifiable (DNQ) as positive or negative; 2) reference fecal sample concentration unit of measure (such as culturable indicator bacteria, wet mass, total DNA, etc); and 3) human fecal source type (stool, sewage or septage). Assay performance using presence/absence metrics was found to depend on the classification of DNQ samples. The assays that performed best quantitatively varied based on the fecal concentration unit of measure and laboratory protocol. All methods were consistently more sensitive to human stools compared to sewage or septage in both the presence/absence and quantitative analysis. Overall, HF183 Taqman(®) was found to be the most effective marker of human fecal contamination in this California-based study.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The State of California has mandated the preparation of a guidance document on the application of fecal source identification methods for recreational water quality management. California contains the fifth highest population of cattle in the United States, making the inclusion of cow-associated methods a logical choice. Because the performance of these methods has been shown to change based on geography and/or local animal feeding practices, laboratory comparisons are needed to determine which assays are best suited for implementation. We describe the performance characterization of two end-point PCR assays (CF128 and CF193) and five real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays (Rum2Bac, BacR, BacCow, CowM2, and CowM3) reported to be associated with either ruminant or cattle feces. Each assay was tested against a blinded set of 38 reference challenge filters (19 duplicate samples) containing fecal pollution from 12 different sources suspected to impact water quality. The abundance of each host-associated genetic marker was measured for qPCR-based assays in both target and non-target animals and compared to quantities of total DNA mass, wet mass of fecal material, as well as Bacteroidales, and enterococci determined by 16S rRNA qPCR and culture-based approaches (enterococci only). Ruminant- and cow-associated genetic markers were detected in all filters containing a cattle fecal source. However, some assays cross-reacted with non-target pollution sources. A large amount of variability was evident across laboratories when protocols were not fixed suggesting that protocol standardization will be necessary for widespread implementation. Finally, performance metrics indicate that the cattle-associated CowM2 qPCR method combined with either the BacR or Rum2Bac ruminant-associated methods are most suitable for implementation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Here we report results from a multi-laboratory (n = 11) evaluation of four different PCR methods targeting the 16S rRNA gene of Catellicoccus marimammalium originally developed to detect gull fecal contamination in coastal environments. The methods included a conventional end-point PCR method, a SYBR(®) Green qPCR method, and two TaqMan(®) qPCR methods. Different techniques for data normalization and analysis were tested. Data analysis methods had a pronounced impact on assay sensitivity and specificity calculations. Across-laboratory standardization of metrics including the lower limit of quantification (LLOQ), target detected but not quantifiable (DNQ), and target not detected (ND) significantly improved results compared to results submitted by individual laboratories prior to definition standardization. The unit of measure used for data normalization also had a pronounced effect on measured assay performance. Data normalization to DNA mass improved quantitative method performance as compared to enterococcus normalization. The MST methods tested here were originally designed for gulls but were found in this study to also detect feces from other birds, particularly feces composited from pigeons. Sequencing efforts showed that some pigeon feces from California contained sequences similar to C. marimammalium found in gull feces. These data suggest that the prevalence, geographic scope, and ecology of C. marimammalium in host birds other than gulls require further investigation. This study represents an important first step in the multi-laboratory assessment of these methods and highlights the need to broaden and standardize additional evaluations, including environmentally relevant target concentrations in ambient waters from diverse geographic regions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many disorders are characterised by changes in O-glycosylation, but analysis of O-glycosylation has been limited by the availability of specific endo- and exo-glycosidases. As a result chemical methods are employed. However, these may give rise to glycan degradation, so therefore novel O-glycosidases are needed. Artificial substrates do not always identify every glycosidase activity present in an extract. To overcome this, an HPLC-based protocol for glycosidase identification from microbial culture was developed using natural O-glycans and O-glycosylated glycoproteins (porcine stomach mucin and fetuin) as substrates. O-glycans were released by ammonia-based β-elimination for use as substrates, and the bacterial culture supernatants were subjected to ultrafiltration to separate the proteins from glycans and low molecular size molecules. Two bacterial cultures, the psychrotroph Arthrobacter C1-1 and a Corynebacterium isolate, were examined as potential sources of novel glycosidases. Arthrobacter C1-1 culture contained a β-galactosidase and N-acetyl-β-glucosaminidase when assayed using 4-methylumbelliferyl substrates, but when defucosylated O-glycans from porcine stomach mucin were used as substrate, the extract did not cleave β-linked galactose or N-acetylglucosamine. Sialidase activity was identified in Corynebacterium culture supernatant, which hydrolysed sialic acid from fetuin glycans. When both culture supernatants were assayed using the glycoproteins as substrate, neither contained endoglycosidase activity. This method may be applied to investigate a microbial or other extract for glycosidase activity, and has potential for scale-up on high-throughput platforms.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the equine reproductive tract, little is known about mucin gene expression and the role of mucins in barrier function and host-cell interaction. The aims of the study were to identify equine orthologs of mammalian mucin genes using available equine sequence data, to profile expression of equine orthologous mucin genes in the endometrium using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), to determine spatial expression patterns of mucin genes using in situ hybridisation, and to confirm the presence of mucin gene products using Western blotting and equine-specific mucin antibodies during oestrus and dioestrus. While the mucin gene expression pattern in equine endometrium is similar to that of other mammals, several mucins appear to be uniquely expressed in this tissue (eqMUC3B, 7, 18, and 20) and one is hormonally regulated (eqMUC3B).
Research in Veterinary Science 04/2013; · 1.77 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhodococcus equi is a facultative intracellular pathogen of macrophages and the causative agent of foal pneumonia. R. equi virulence is usually assessed by analyzing intracellular growth in macrophages by enumeration of bacteria following cell lysis, which is time consuming and does not allow for a high throughput analysis. This paper describes the use of an impedance based real-time method to characterize proliferation of R. equi in macrophages, using virulent and attenuated strains lacking the vapA gene or virulence plasmid. Image analysis suggested that the time-dependent cell response profile (TCRP) is governed by cell size and roundness as well as cytoxicity of infecting R. equi strains. The amplitude and inflection point of the resulting TCRP were dependent on the multiplicity of infection as well as virulence of the infecting strain, thus distinguishing between virulent and attenuated strains.
PLoS ONE 03/2013; 8(3):e60612. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We previously showed that the facultative intracellular pathogen Rhodococcus equi produces a non-diffusible and a catecholate containing siderophore (rhequibactin) involved in iron acquisition during saprophytic growth. Here, we provide evidence that the rhbABCDE cluster directs the biosynthesis of a hydroxamate siderophore, rhequichelin, that plays a key role in virulence. The rhbC gene encodes a non-ribosomal peptide synthetase that is predicted to produce a tetrapeptide consisting of N(5)-formyl-N(5)-hydroxyornithine, serine, N(5)-hydroxyornithine and N(5)-acyl-N(5)-hydroxyornithine. The other rhb genes encode putative tailoring enzymes mediating modification of ornithine residues incorporated into the hydroxamate product of RhbC. Transcription of rhbC was upregulated during growth in iron-depleted medium, suggesting it plays a role in iron acquisition. This was confirmed by deletion of rhbCD, rendering the resulting strain R. equi SID2 unable to grow in the presence of the iron chelator 2,2-dipyridyl. Supernatant of the wild type strain rescued the phenotype of R. equi SID2. The importance of rhequichelin in virulence was highlighted by the rapid increase in transcription levels of rhbC following infection and the inability of R. equi SID2 to grow within macrophages. Unlike the wild type strain, R. equi SID2 was unable to replicate in vivo and was rapidly cleared from the lungs of infected mice. Rhequichelin is thus a key virulence associated factor, although non-pathogenic Rhodococcus species also appear to produce rhequichelin or a structurally closely related compound. Rhequichelin biosynthesis may therefore be considered as an example of co-option of a core actinobacterial trait in the evolution of R. equi virulence.
Infection and immunity 09/2012; · 4.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Future generation intelligent systems will harvest embedded intelligence as a means of delivering new and innovative services in di-verse domains. Amongst the most challenging scenarios are those that consist of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) as their functional operat-ing constraints are significant. This paper proposes the use of in-network data aggregation techniques to enable the efficient acquisition of data in a water quality forecasting WSN application. Such an approach re-duces the energy required for data transmission by collecting statistics from the network rather than analyzing the raw data centrally. Specifi-cally, clustering points, where aggregation occurs, are modelled as mobile intelligent agents.
6th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing & Ambient Intelligence (UCAmI 2012), , 3rd-5th December, 2012; 05/2012
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The virulence plasmid of the pathogenic actinomycete Rhodococcus equi is essential for proliferation of this pathogen in macrophages and the development of disease. The pathogenicity island of this plasmid encodes a family of virulence-associated proteins (Vap), one of which (VapA) is a virulence factor. This paper describes the vcgAB operon (vapA co-expressed gene), located upstream of the vapA operon. Transcription of the vcgAB operon gave rise to transcripts with a half-life similar to those determined for other virulence plasmid genes (1.8 min). Transcription started at a promoter similar to the vapA promoter, and proceeded through an inefficient terminator into the downstream vcgC gene. In addition, vcgC is also transcribed from a promoter downstream of vcgB. The vcgAB and vapA operons were coordinately regulated by temperature and pH in a synergistic manner. The latter parameter only affected transcription at higher growth temperatures, indicating that temperature is the dominant regulatory signal. Transcription of the vcgAB operon increased 10-fold during the late exponential and stationary growth phases. Transcription was also upregulated during the initial hours following phagocytosis by phagocytic cells. In contrast to vcgA and vcgC, the vcgB gene is conserved in the porcine VapB-encoding plasmid, as well as in pathogenic mycobacteria. The coordinated regulation of vcgB and vapA, transcription of vcgB following phagocytosis and conservation of vcgB in pathogenic mycobacteria indicate a role for vcgB and the vcg genes in the virulence of R. equi.