Mitchell J Brittnacher

University of Washington Seattle, Seattle, Washington, United States

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Publications (34)177.28 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Burkholderia pseudomallei, Burkholderia thailandensis, and Burkholderia mallei (the Bptm group) are close relatives with very different lifestyles: B. pseudomallei is an opportunistic pathogen, B. thailandensis is nonpathogenic saprophyte, and B. mallei is a host-restricted pathogen. The acyl-homoserine lactone quorum sensing systems of these three species show a high level of conservation. We used RNAseq to define the quorum-sensing regulon in each species and we performed a cross-species analysis of the QS-controlled orthologs. Our analysis revealed a core set of QS-regulated genes in all three species, as well as QS-controlled factors shared by only two species or unique to a given species. This global survey of the QS regulons of B. pseudomallei, B. thailandensis, and B. mallei serves as a platform for predicting which QS-controlled processes might be important in different bacterial niches and contribute to pathogenesis of B. pseudomallei and B. mallei.
    Journal of bacteriology. 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Shigella dysenteriae type 1 (Sd1) causes recurrent epidemics of dysentery associated with high mortality in many regions of the world. Sd1 infects humans at very low infectious doses (10 CFU), and treatment is complicated by the rapid emergence of antibiotic resistant Sd1 strains. Sd1 is only detected in the context of human infections, and the circumstances under which epidemics emerge and regress remain unknown.
    BMC genomics. 05/2014; 15(1):355.
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    ABSTRACT: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a multiorgan disease caused by loss of a functional cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) chloride channel in many epithelia of the body. Here we report the pathology observed in the gastrointestinal organs of juvenile to adult CFTR-knockout ferrets. CF gastrointestinal manifestations included gastric ulceration, intestinal bacterial overgrowth with villous atrophy, and rectal prolapse. Metagenomic phylogenetic analysis of fecal microbiota by deep sequencing revealed considerable genotype-independent microbial diversity between animals, with the majority of taxa overlapping between CF and non-CF pairs. CF hepatic manifestations were variable, but included hepatic steatosis, hepatic necrosis, biliary hyperplasia, and biliary fibrosis. Gallbladder cystic mucosal hyperplasia was commonly found in 67% of CF animals. The majority of CF animals (85%) had pancreatic abnormalities, including extensive fibrosis, loss of exocrine pancreas, and islet disorganization. Interestingly, 2 of 13 CF animals retained predominantly normal pancreatic histology (84% to 94%) at time of death. Fecal elastase-1 levels from these CF animals were similar to non-CF controls, whereas all other CF animals evaluated were pancreatic insufficient (<2 μg elastase-1 per gram of feces). These findings suggest that genetic factors likely influence the extent of exocrine pancreas disease in CF ferrets and have implications for the etiology of pancreatic sufficiency in CF patients. In summary, these studies demonstrate that the CF ferret model develops gastrointestinal pathology similar to CF patients.
    American Journal Of Pathology 03/2014; · 4.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cystic fibrosis gastrointestinal disease includes nutrient malabsorption and intestinal inflammation. We show that the abundances of Escherichia coli in fecal microbiota were significantly higher in young children with CF than in controls and correlated with fecal measures of nutrient malabsorption and inflammation, suggesting that E. coli could contribute to CF GI dysfunction.
    Clinical Infectious Diseases 10/2013; · 9.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bacteria employ type VI secretion systems (T6SSs) to facilitate antagonistic interactions towards prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Despite the widespread identification of T6SSs among Gram-negative bacteria, the number of experimentally validated substrate effector proteins mediating these interactions remains small. Here, employing an informatics approach, we define novel families of T6S peptidoglycan glycoside hydrolase effectors. Consistent with the known intercellular selfintoxication exhibited by the T6S pathway, we observe that each effector gene is located adjacent to a hypothetical open reading frame encoding a putative periplasmically-localized immunity determinant. To validate our sequence-based approach, we functionally investigate a representative family member from the soil-dwelling bacterium Pseudomonas protegens. We demonstrate that this protein is secreted in a T6SS-dependent manner and that it confers a fitness advantage in growth competition assays with Pseudomonas putida. In addition, we determined the 1.4 Å X-ray crystal structure of this effector in complex with its cognate immunity protein. The structure reveals the effector shares highest overall structural similarity to a glycoside hydrolase family associated with peptidoglycan Nacetylglucosaminidase activity - suggesting that T6S peptidoglycan glycoside hydrolase effector families may comprise significant enzymatic diversity. Our structural analyses also demonstrate that self-intoxication is prevented by direct occlusion of the active site in a manner that would prevent binding of the murein substrate. This work significantly expands our current understanding of T6S effector diversity.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2013; · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Here we report the complete, accurate 1.89-Mb genome sequence of Francisella tularensis subsp. holarctica strain FSC200, isolated in 1998 in the Swedish municipality Ljusdal, which is in an area where tularemia is highly endemic. This genome is important because strain FSC200 has been extensively used for functional and genetic studies of Francisella and is well-characterized.
    Journal of bacteriology 12/2012; 194(24):6965-6. · 3.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Quorum sensing allows bacteria to sense and respond to changes in population density. Acyl-homoserine lactones serve as quorum-sensing signals for many Proteobacteria, and acyl-homoserine lactone signaling is known to control cooperative activities. Quorum-controlled activities vary from one species to another. Quorum-sensing controls a constellation of genes in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which thrives in a number of habitats ranging from soil and water to animal hosts. We hypothesized that there would be significant variation in quorum-sensing regulons among strains of P. aeruginosa isolated from different habitats and that differences in the quorum-sensing regulons might reveal insights about the ecology of P. aeruginosa. As a test of our hypothesis we used RNA-seq to identify quorum-controlled genes in seven P. aeruginosa isolates of diverse origins. Although our approach certainly overlooks some quorum-sensing-regulated genes we found a shared set of genes, i.e., a core quorum-controlled gene set, and we identified distinct, strain-variable sets of quorum-controlled genes, i.e., accessory genes. Some quorum-controlled genes in some strains were not present in the genomes of other strains. We detected a correlation between traits encoded by some genes in the strain-variable subsets of the quorum regulons and the ecology of the isolates. These findings indicate a role for quorum sensing in extension of the range of habitats in which a species can thrive. This study also provides a framework for understanding the molecular mechanisms by which quorum-sensing systems operate, the evolutionary pressures by which they are maintained, and their importance in disparate ecological contexts.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2012; 109(41):E2823-31. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genome-wide association studies can identify common differences that contribute to human phenotypic diversity and disease. When genome-wide association studies are combined with approaches that test how variants alter physiology, biological insights can emerge. Here, we used such an approach to reveal regulation of cell death by the methionine salvage pathway. A common SNP associated with reduced expression of a putative methionine salvage pathway dehydratase, apoptotic protease activating factor 1 (APAF1)-interacting protein (APIP), was associated with increased caspase-1-mediated cell death in response to Salmonella. The role of APIP in methionine salvage was confirmed by growth assays with methionine-deficient media and quantitation of the methionine salvage substrate, 5'-methylthioadenosine. Reducing expression of APIP or exogenous addition of 5'-methylthioadenosine increased Salmonellae-induced cell death. Consistent with APIP originally being identified as an inhibitor of caspase-9-dependent apoptosis, the same allele was also associated with increased sensitivity to the chemotherapeutic agent carboplatin. Our results show that common human variation affecting expression of a single gene can alter susceptibility to two distinct cell death programs. Furthermore, the same allele that promotes cell death is associated with improved survival of individuals with systemic inflammatory response syndrome, suggesting a possible evolutionary pressure that may explain the geographic pattern observed for the frequency of this SNP. Our study shows that in vitro association screens of disease-related traits can not only reveal human genetic differences that contribute to disease but also provide unexpected insights into cell biology.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2012; 109(35):E2343-52. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: High-throughput sequencing of cDNA prepared from RNA, an approach known as RNA-seq, is coming into increasing use as a method for transcriptome analysis. Despite its many advantages, widespread adoption of the technique has been hampered by a lack of easy-to-use, integrated, open-source tools for analyzing the nucleotide sequence data that are generated. Here we describe Xpression, an integrated tool for processing prokaryotic RNA-seq data. The tool is easy to use and is fully automated. It performs all essential processing tasks, including nucleotide sequence extraction, alignment, quantification, normalization, and visualization. Importantly, Xpression processes multiplexed and strand-specific nucleotide sequence data. It extracts and trims specific sequences from files and separately quantifies sense and antisense reads in the final results. Outputs from the tool can also be conveniently used in downstream analysis. In this paper, we show the utility of Xpression to process strand-specific RNA-seq data to identify genes regulated by CouR, a transcription factor that controls p-coumarate degradation by the bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris.
    Applied and Environmental Microbiology 07/2012; 78(19):6812-8. · 3.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sophisticated mechanisms are employed to facilitate information exchange between interfacing bacteria. A type VI secretion system (T6SS) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa was shown to deliver cell wall-targeting effectors to neighboring cells. However, the generality of bacteriolytic effectors and, moreover, of antibacterial T6S remained unknown. Using parameters derived from experimentally validated bacterial T6SS effectors we identified a phylogenetically disperse superfamily of T6SS-associated peptidoglycan-degrading effectors. The effectors separate into four families composed of peptidoglycan amidase enzymes of differing specificities. Effectors strictly co-occur with cognate immunity proteins, indicating that self-intoxication is a general property of antibacterial T6SSs and effector delivery by the system exerts a strong selective pressure in nature. The presence of antibacterial effectors in a plethora of organisms, including many that inhabit or infect polymicrobial niches in the human body, suggests that the system could mediate interbacterial interactions of both environmental and clinical significance.
    Cell host & microbe 05/2012; 11(5):538-49. · 13.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Burkholderia pseudomallei, the etiologic agent of human melioidosis, is capable of causing severe acute infection with overwhelming septicemia leading to death. A high rate of recurrent disease occurs in adult patients, most often due to recrudescence of the initial infecting strain. Pathogen persistence and evolution during such relapsing infections are not well understood. Bacterial cells present in the primary inoculum and in late infections may differ greatly, as has been observed in chronic disease, or they may be genetically similar. To test these alternative models, we conducted whole-genome comparisons of clonal primary and relapse B. pseudomallei isolates recovered six months to six years apart from four adult Thai patients. We found differences within each of the four pairs, and some, including a 330 Kb deletion, affected substantial portions of the genome. Many of the changes were associated with increased antibiotic resistance. We also found evidence of positive selection for deleterious mutations in a TetR family transcriptional regulator from a set of 107 additional B. pseudomallei strains. As part of the study, we sequenced to base-pair accuracy the genome of B. pseudomallei strain 1026b, the model used for genetic studies of B. pseudomallei pathogenesis and antibiotic resistance. Our findings provide new insights into pathogen evolution during long-term infections and have important implications for the development of intervention strategies to combat recurrent melioidosis.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(5):e36507. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To help define the biological functions of nonessential genes of Francisella novicida, we measured the growth of arrayed members of a comprehensive transposon mutant library under a variety of nutrition and stress conditions. Mutant phenotypes were identified for 37% of the genes, corresponding to ten carbon source utilization pathways, nine amino acid- and nucleotide-biosynthetic pathways, ten intrinsic antibiotic resistance traits, and six other stress resistance traits. The greatest surprise of the analysis was the large number of genotype-phenotype relationships that were not predictable from studies of Escherichia coli and other model species. The study identified candidate genes for a missing glycolysis function (phosphofructokinase), an unusual proline-biosynthetic pathway, parallel outer membrane lipid asymmetry maintenance systems, and novel antibiotic resistance functions. The analysis provides an evaluation of annotation predictions, identifies cases in which fundamental processes differ from those in model species, and helps create an empirical foundation for understanding virulence and other complex processes. IMPORTANCE: The value of genome sequences as foundations for analyzing complex traits in nonmodel organisms is limited by the need to rely almost exclusively on sequence similarities to predict gene functions in annotations. Many genes cannot be assigned functions, and some predictions are incorrect or incomplete. Due to these limitations, genome-scale experimental approaches that test and extend bioinformatics-based predictions are sorely needed. In this study, we describe such an approach based on phenotypic analysis of a comprehensive, sequence-defined transposon mutant library.
    mBio 01/2012; 3(2). · 5.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: MOTIVATION: The Prokaryotic-genome Analysis Tool (PGAT) is a web-based database application for comparing gene content and sequence across multiple microbial genomes facilitating the discovery of genetic differences that may explain observed phenotypes. PGAT supports database queries to identify genes that are present or absent in user-selected genomes, comparison of sequence polymorphisms in sets of orthologous genes, multigenome display of regions surrounding a query gene, comparison of the distribution of genes in metabolic pathways and manual community annotation. AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: The PGAT website may be accessed at http://nwrce.org/pgat. CONTACT: mbrittna@uw.edu.
    Bioinformatics 09/2011; 27(17):2429-30. · 5.47 Impact Factor
  • Bioinformatics. 01/2011; 27:2429-2430.
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    ABSTRACT: MOTIVATION: Genome-wide association studies are beginning to elucidate how our genetic differences contribute to susceptibility and severity of disease. While computational tools have previously been developed to support various aspects of genome-wide association studies, there is currently a need for informatics solutions that facilitate the integration of data from multiple sources. RESULTS: Here we present GWAS Analyzer, a database driven web-based tool that integrates genotype and phenotype data, association analysis results and genomic annotations from multiple public resources. GWAS Analyzer contains features for browsing these interrelated data, exploring phenotypic values by family or genotype, and filtering association results based on multiple criteria. The utility of the tool has been demonstrated by a genome-wide association study of human in vitro susceptibility to bacterial infection. GWAS Analyzer facilitated management of large sets of phenotype and genotype data, analysis of phenotypic variation and heritability, and most importantly, generation of a refined set of candidate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The tool revealed a SNP that was experimentally validated to be associated with increased cell death among Salmonella infected HapMap cell lines.
    Bioinformatics 02/2010; 26(4):560-4. · 5.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent progress in cataloguing common genetic variation has made possible genome-wide studies that are beginning to elucidate the causes and consequences of our genetic differences. Approaches that provide a mechanistic understanding of how genetic variants function to alter disease susceptibility and why they were substrates of natural selection would complement other approaches to human-genome analysis. Here we use a novel cell-based screen of bacterial infection to identify human variation in Salmonella-induced cell death. A loss-of-function allele of CARD8, a reported inhibitor of the proinflammatory protease caspase-1, was associated with increased cell death in vitro (p = 0.013). The validity of this association was demonstrated through overexpression of alternative alleles and RNA interference in cells of varying genotype. Comparison of mammalian CARD8 orthologs and examination of variation among different human populations suggest that the increase in infectious-disease burden associated with larger animal groups (i.e., herds and colonies), and possibly human population expansion, may have naturally selected for loss of CARD8. We also find that the loss-of-function CARD8 allele shows a modest association with an increased risk of systemic inflammatory response syndrome in a small study (p = 0.05). Therefore, a by-product of the selected benefit of loss of CARD8 could be increased inflammatory diseases. These results demonstrate the utility of genome-wide cell-based association screens with microbes in the identification of naturally selected variants that can impact human health.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 09/2009; 85(2):214-27. · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In addition to causing diarrhea, Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection can lead to hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe disease characterized by hemolysis and renal failure. Differences in HUS frequency among E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks have been noted, but our understanding of bacterial factors that promote HUS is incomplete. In 2006, in an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 caused by consumption of contaminated spinach, there was a notably high frequency of HUS. We sequenced the genome of the strain responsible (TW14359) with the goal of identifying candidate genetic factors that contribute to an enhanced ability to cause HUS. The TW14359 genome contains 70 kb of DNA segments not present in either of the two reference O157:H7 genomes. We identified seven putative virulence determinants, including two putative type III secretion system effector proteins, candidate genes that could result in increased pathogenicity or, alternatively, adaptation to plants, and an intact anaerobic nitric oxide reductase gene, norV. We surveyed 100 O157:H7 isolates for the presence of these putative virulence determinants. A norV deletion was found in over one-half of the strains surveyed and correlated strikingly with the absence of stx(1). The other putative virulence factors were found in 8 to 35% of the O157:H7 isolates surveyed, and their presence also correlated with the presence of norV and the absence of stx(1), indicating that the presence of norV may serve as a marker of a greater propensity for HUS, similar to the correlation between the absence of stx(1) and a propensity for HUS.
    Infection and immunity 07/2009; 77(9):3713-21. · 4.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Diatoms play a critical role in the oceans' carbon and silicon cycles; however, a mechanistic understanding of the biochemical processes that contribute to their ecological success remains elusive. Completion of the Thalassiosira pseudonana genome provided 'blueprints' for the potential biochemical machinery of diatoms, but offers only a limited insight into their biology under various environmental conditions. Using high-throughput shotgun proteomics, we identified a total of 1928 proteins expressed by T. pseudonana cultured under optimal growth conditions, enabling us to analyze this diatom's primary metabolic and biosynthetic pathways. Of the proteins identified, 70% are involved in cellular metabolism, while 11% are involved in the transport of molecules. We identified all of the enzymes involved in the urea cycle, thereby describing the complete pathway to convert ammonia to urea, along with urea transporters, and the urea-degrading enzyme urease. Although metabolic exchange between these pathways remains ambiguous, their constitutive presence suggests complex intracellular nitrogen recycling. In addition, all C(4) related enzymes for carbon fixation have been identified to be in abundance, with high protein sequence coverage. Quantification of mass spectra acquisitions demonstrated that the 20 most abundant proteins included an unexpectedly high expression of clathrin, which is the primary structural protein involved in endocytic transport. This result highlights a previously overlooked mechanism for the inter- and intra-cellular transport of nutrients and macromolecules in diatoms, potentially providing a missing link to organelle communication and metabolite exchange. Our results demonstrate the power of proteomics, and lay the groundwork for future comparative proteomic studies and directed analyses of specifically expressed proteins and biochemical pathways of oceanic diatoms.
    Aquatic Microbial Ecology 06/2009; 55(3):241-253. · 2.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Francisella tularensis is a gram-negative, highly infectious, aerosolizable facultative intracellular pathogen that causes the potentially life-threatening disease tularemia. To date there is no approved vaccine available, and little is known about the molecular mechanisms important for infection, survival, and dissemination at different times of infection. We report the first whole-genome screen using an inhalation mouse model to monitor infection in the lung and dissemination to the liver and spleen. We queried a comprehensive library of 2,998 sequence-defined transposon insertion mutants in Francisella novicida strain U112 using a microarray-based negative-selection screen. We were able to track the behavior of 1,029 annotated genes, equivalent to a detection rate of 75% and corresponding to approximately 57% of the entire F. novicida genome. As expected, most transposon mutants retained the ability to colonize, but 125 candidate virulence genes (12%) could not be detected in at least one of the three organs. They fell into a variety of functional categories, with one-third having no annotated function and a statistically significant enrichment of genes involved in transcription. Based on the observation that behavior during complex pool infections correlated with the degree of attenuation during single-strain infection we identified nine genes expected to strongly contribute to infection. These included two genes, those for ATP synthase C (FTN_1645) and thioredoxin (FTN_1415), that when mutated allowed increased host survival and conferred protection in vaccination experiments.
    Infection and immunity 11/2008; 77(1):232-44. · 4.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Burkholderia pseudomallei is a bacterial pathogen that causes a broad spectrum of clinical symptoms collectively known as melioidosis. Since it can be acquired by inhalation and is difficult to eradicate due to its resistance to a wide group of antibiotics and capacity for latency, work with B. pseudomallei requires a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) containment facility. The bsa (Burkholderia secretion apparatus)-encoded type III secretion system (TTSS) has been shown to be required for its full virulence in a number of animal models. TTSSs are export devices found in a variety of gram-negative bacteria that translocate bacterial effector proteins across host cell membranes into the cytoplasm of host cells. Although the Bsa TTSS has been shown to play an important role in the ability of B. pseudomallei to survive and replicate in mammalian cells, escape from the endocytic vacuole, and spread from cell to cell, little is known about its effectors mediating these functions. Using bioinformatics, we identified homologs of several known TTSS effectors from other bacteria in the B. pseudomallei genome. In addition, we show that orthologs of these putative effectors exist in the genome of B. thailandensis, a closely related bacterium that is rarely pathogenic to humans. By generating a Bsa TTSS mutant B. thailandensis strain, we also demonstrated that the Bsa TTSS has similar functions in the two species. Therefore, we propose B. thailandensis as a useful BSL-1 model system to study the role of the Bsa TTSS during Burkholderia infection of mammalian cells and animals.
    Infection and immunity 10/2008; 76(11):5402-11. · 4.21 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
177.28 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2003–2013
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • • Department of Pediatrics
      • • Department of Microbiology
      • • Department of Immunology
      • • Department of Genome Sciences
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 2007
    • Florida Atlantic University
      Boca Raton, Florida, United States
    • Trinity Washington University
      Washington, Washington, D.C., United States