Suleyman Felek

Concordia University–Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

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Publications (12)49.92 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Yersinia species display a tropism for lymphoid tissues during infection, and the bacteria select innate immune cells for delivery of cytotoxic effectors by the type III secretion system. Yet the mechanism for target cell selection remains a mystery. Here we investigate the interaction of Yersinia pestis with murine splenocytes to identify factors that participate in the targeting process. We find that interactions with primary immune cells rely on multiple factors. First, the bacterial adhesin Ail is required for efficient targeting of neutrophils in vivo. However, Ail does not appear to directly mediate binding to a specific cell type. Instead, we find that host serum factors direct Y. pestis to specific innate immune cells, particularly neutrophils. Importantly, specificity towards neutrophils was increased in the absence of bacterial adhesins due to reduced targeting of other cell types, but this phenotype was only visible in the presence of mouse serum. Addition of antibodies against complement receptor 3 and CD14 blocked target cell selection, suggesting that a combination of host factors participate in steering bacteria toward neutrophils during plague infection.
    Cellular Microbiology 10/2014; · 4.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Yersinia pestis adhesin Ail mediates host cell binding and facilitates delivery of cytotoxic Yop proteins. Ail from Y. pestis and Y. pseudotuberculosis is identical except for one or two amino acids at positions 43 and 126 depending on the Y. pseudotuberculosis strain. Ail from Y. pseudotuberculosis strain YPIII has been reported to lack host cell binding ability, thus we sought to determine which amino acid difference(s) are responsible for the difference in cell adhesion. Y. pseudotuberculosis YPIII Ail expressed in Escherichia coli bound host cells, albeit at ∼50% the capacity of Y. pestis Ail. Y. pestis Ail single mutants, Ail-E43D and Ail-F126V, both have decreased adhesion and invasion in E. coli when compared to wild-type Y. pestis Ail. Y. pseudotuberculosis YPIII Ail also had decreased binding to the Ail substrate fibronectin, relative to Y. pestis Ail in E. coli. When expressed in Y. pestis, there was a 30-50% decrease in adhesion and invasion depending on the substitution. Ail-mediated Yop delivery by both Y. pestis Ail and Y. pseudotuberculosis Ail were similar when expressed in Y. pestis, with only Ail-F126V giving a statistically significant reduction in Yop delivery of 25%. In contrast to results in E. coli and Y. pestis, expression of Ail in Y. pseudotuberculosis led to no measurable adhesion or invasion, suggesting the longer LPS of Y. pseudotuberculosis interferes with Ail cell-binding activity. Thus, host context affects the binding activities of Ail and both Y. pestis and Y. pseudotuberculosis Ail can mediate cell binding, cell invasion and facilitate Yop delivery.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(12):e83621. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Graphical Abstract Figure optionsView in workspaceDownload full-size imageDownload high-quality image (313 K)Download as PowerPoint slide Highlights ► Ail is an 8-stranded β-barrel having 4 extracellular loops that function in adhesion ► Ail-laminin and Ail-fibronectin interactions mediate delivery of Yops to host cells ► Ail has two binding sites for heparin that also confer adhesion to host cells
    Structure 11/2011; 19(11):1672–1682. · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ail is an outer membrane protein from Yersinia pestis that is highly expressed in a rodent model of bubonic plague, making it a good candidate for vaccine development. Ail is important for attaching to host cells and evading host immune responses, facilitating rapid progression of a plague infection. Binding to host cells is important for injection of cytotoxic Yersinia outer proteins. To learn more about how Ail mediates adhesion, we solved two high-resolution crystal structures of Ail, with no ligand bound and in complex with a heparin analog called sucrose octasulfate. We identified multiple adhesion targets, including laminin and heparin, and showed that a 40 kDa domain of laminin called LG4-5 specifically binds to Ail. We also evaluated the contribution of laminin to delivery of Yops to HEp-2 cells. This work constitutes a structural description of how a bacterial outer membrane protein uses a multivalent approach to bind host cells.
    Structure 11/2011; 19(11):1672-82. · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ToxR of Vibrio cholerae directly activates the ompU promoter, but requires a second activator, TcpP to activate the toxT promoter. ompU encodes a porin, while toxT encodes the transcription factor, ToxT, which activates V. cholerae virulence genes including cholera toxin and the toxin co-regulated pilus. Using an ompU-sacB transcriptional fusion, toxR mutant alleles were identified that encode ToxR molecules defective for ompU promoter activation. Many toxR mutants defective for ompU activation affected residues involved in DNA binding. Mutants defective for ompU activation were also tested for activation of the toxT promoter. ToxR-F69A and ToxR-V71A, both in the α-loop of ToxR, were preferentially defective for ompU activation, with ToxR-V71A nearly completely defective. Six mutants from the ompU-sacB selection showed more dramatic defects in toxT activation than ompU activation. All but one of the affected residues map to the wing domain of the winged helix-turn-helix of ToxR. Some ToxR mutants preferentially affecting toxT activation had partial DNA-binding defects, and one mutant, ToxR-P101L, had altered interactions with TcpP. These data suggest that while certain residues in the α-loop of ToxR are utilized to activate the ompU promoter, the wing domain of ToxR contributes to both promoter binding and ToxR/TcpP interaction facilitating toxT activation.
    Molecular Microbiology 05/2011; 81(1):113-28. · 5.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Yersinia pestis genome sequencing projects have revealed six intact uncharacterized chaperone/usher systems with the potential to play roles in plague pathogenesis. We cloned each locus and expressed them in the Δfim Escherichia coli strain AAEC185 to test the assembled Y. pestis surface structures for various activities. Expression of each chaperone/usher locus gave rise to specific novel fibrillar structures on the surface of E. coli. One locus, y0561-0563, was able to mediate attachment to human epithelial cells (HEp-2) and human macrophages (THP-1) but not mouse macrophages (RAW264.7), while several loci were able to facilitate E. coli biofilm formation. When each chaperone/usher locus was deleted in Y. pestis, only deletion of the previously described pH 6 antigen (Psa) chaperone/usher system resulted in decreased adhesion and biofilm formation. Quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) revealed low expression levels for each novel chaperone/usher system in vitro as well as in mouse tissues following intravenous infection. However, a Y. pestis mutant in the chaperone/usher locus y1858-1862 was attenuated for virulence in mice via the intravenous route of infection, suggesting that expression of this locus is, at some stage, sufficient to affect the outcome of a plague infection. qRT-PCR experiments also indicated that expression of the chaperone/usher-dependent capsule locus, caf1, was influenced by oxygen availability and that the well-described chaperone/usher-dependent pilus, Psa, was strongly induced in minimal medium even at 28 °C rather than 37 °C, a temperature previously believed to be required for Psa expression. These data indicate several potential roles for the novel chaperone/usher systems of Y. pestis in pathogenesis and infection-related functions such as cell adhesion and biofilm formation.
    Microbiology 11/2010; 157(Pt 3):805-18. · 3.06 Impact Factor
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    Suleyman Felek, Tiffany M Tsang, Eric S Krukonis
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    ABSTRACT: To establish a successful infection, Yersinia pestis requires the delivery of cytotoxic Yops to host cells. Yops inhibit phagocytosis, block cytokine responses, and induce apoptosis of macrophages. The Y. pestis adhesin Ail facilitates Yop translocation and is required for full virulence in mice. To determine the contributions of other adhesins to Yop delivery, we deleted five known adhesins of Y. pestis. In addition to Ail, plasminogen activator (Pla) and pH 6 antigen (Psa) could mediate Yop translocation to host cells. The contribution of each adhesin to binding and Yop delivery was dependent upon the growth conditions. When cells were pregrown at 28°C and pH 7, the order of importance for adhesins in cell binding and cytotoxicity was Ail > Pla > Psa. Y. pestis grown at 37°C and pH 7 had equal contributions from Ail and Pla but an undetectable role for Psa. At 37°C and pH 6, both Ail and Psa contributed to binding and Yop delivery, while Pla contributed minimally. Pla-mediated Yop translocation was independent of protease activity. Of the three single mutants, the Δail mutant was the most defective in mouse virulence. The expression level of ail was also the highest of the three adhesins in infected mouse tissues. Compared to an ail mutant, additional deletion of psaA (encoding Psa) led to a 130,000-fold increase in the 50% lethal dose for mice relative to that of the KIM5 parental strain. Our results indicate that in addition to Ail, Pla and Psa can serve as environmentally specific adhesins to facilitate Yop secretion, a critical virulence function of Y. pestis.
    Infection and immunity 10/2010; 78(10):4134-50. · 4.21 Impact Factor
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    Tiffany M Tsang, Suleyman Felek, Eric S Krukonis
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    ABSTRACT: Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague, evades host immune responses and rapidly causes disease. The Y. pestis adhesin Ail mediates host cell binding and is critical for Yop delivery. To identify the Ail receptor(s), Ail was purified following overexpression in Escherichia coli. Ail bound specifically to fibronectin, an extracellular matrix protein with the potential to act as a bridge between Ail and host cells. Ail expressed by E. coli also mediated binding to purified fibronectin, and Ail-mediated E. coli adhesion to host cells was dependent on fibronectin. Ail expressed by Y. pestis bound purified fibronectin, as did the Y. pestis adhesin plasminogen activator (Pla). However, a KIM5 Delta ail mutant had decreased binding to host cells, while a KIM5 Delta pla mutant had no significant defect in adhesion. Furthermore, treatment with antifibronectin antibodies decreased Ail-mediated adhesion by KIM5 and the KIM5 Delta pla mutant, indicating that the Ail-fibronectin interaction was important for cell binding. Finally, antifibronectin antibodies inhibited the KIM5-mediated cytotoxicity of host cells in an Ail-dependent fashion. These data indicate that Ail is a key adhesin that mediates binding to host cells through interaction with fibronectin on the surface of host cells, and this interaction is important for Yop delivery by Y. pestis.
    Infection and immunity 05/2010; 78(8):3358-68. · 4.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague, autoaggregates within a few minutes of cessation of shaking when grown at 28 degrees C. To identify the autoaggregation factor of Y. pestis, we performed mariner-based transposon mutagenesis. Autoaggregation-defective mutants from three different pools were identified, each with a transposon insertion at a different position within the gene encoding phosphoglucomutase (pgmA; y1258). Targeted deletion of pgmA in Y. pestis KIM5 also resulted in loss of autoaggregation. Given the previously defined role for phosphoglucomutase in antimicrobial peptide resistance in other organisms, we tested the KIM5 DeltapgmA mutant for antimicrobial peptide sensitivity. The DeltapgmA mutant displayed >1,000-fold increased sensitivity to polymyxin B compared to the parental Y. pestis strain, KIM5. This sensitivity is not due to changes in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) since the LPSs from both Y. pestis KIM5 and the DeltapgmA mutant are identical based on a comparison of their structures by mass spectrometry (MS), tandem MS, and nuclear magnetic resonance analyses. Furthermore, the ability of polymyxin B to neutralize LPS toxicity was identical for LPS purified from both KIM5 and the DeltapgmA mutant. Our results indicate that increased polymyxin B sensitivity of the DeltapgmA mutant is due to changes in surface structures other than LPS. Experiments with mice via the intravenous and intranasal routes did not demonstrate any virulence defect for the DeltapgmA mutant, nor was flea colonization or blockage affected. Our findings suggest that the activity of PgmA results in modification and/or elaboration of a surface component of Y. pestis responsible for autoaggregation and polymyxin B resistance.
    Infection and immunity 12/2009; 78(3):1163-75. · 4.21 Impact Factor
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    Suleyman Felek, Eric S Krukonis
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    ABSTRACT: Although adhesion to host cells is a critical step in the delivery of cytotoxic Yop proteins by Yersinia pestis, the mechanism has not been defined. To identify adhesins critical for Yop delivery, we initiated two transposon mutagenesis screens using the mariner transposon. To avoid redundant cell binding activities, we initiated the screen with a strain deleted for two known adhesins, pH 6 antigen and the autotransporter, YapC, as well as the Caf1 capsule, which is known to obscure some adhesins. The mutants that emerged contained insertions within the ail (attachment and invasion locus) gene of Y. pestis. A reconstructed mutant with a single deletion in the ail locus (y1324) was severely defective for delivery of Yops to HEp-2 human epithelial cells and significantly defective for delivery of Yops to THP-1 human monocytes. Specifically, the Yop delivery defect was apparent when cell rounding and translocation of an ELK-tagged YopE derivative into host cells were monitored. Although the ail mutant showed only a modest decrease in cell binding capacity in vitro, the KIM5 Deltaail mutant exhibited a >3,000-fold-increased 50% lethal dose in mice. Mice infected with the Deltaail mutant also had 1,000-fold fewer bacteria in their spleens, livers, and lungs 3 days after infection than did those infected with the parental strain, KIM5. Thus, the Ail protein is critical for both Y. pestis type III secretion in vitro and infection in mice.
    Infection and immunity 01/2009; 77(2):825-36. · 4.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: YapC, a putative Yersinia pestis autotransporter protein, shows strong homology to the enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli adhesin TibA. As a potentially important surface protein of Y. pestis, we analysed YapC for several activities. When expressed in the non-pathogenic Fim(-) E. coli strain AAEC185, YapC mediated attachment to both murine-derived macrophage-like cells (RAW264.7) and human-derived epithelial-like cells (HEp-2). In addition, expression of YapC on the surface of E. coli led to autoaggregation in DMEM tissue culture medium, a phenomenon associated with virulence in Yersinia species. YapC also mediated formation of biofilm-like deposits by E. coli AAEC185. Deletion of yapC in Y. pestis strain KIM5 resulted in no change in adhesion to either RAW264.7 or HEp-2 cells, or in biofilm formation. Lack of a phenotype for the Y. pestis DeltayapC mutant may reflect the relatively low level of yapC expression in vitro, as assessed by RT-PCR, and/or redundant functions expressed in vitro. These data demonstrate several activities for YapC that may function during Y. pestis infection.
    Microbiology 06/2008; 154(Pt 6):1802-12. · 2.85 Impact Factor
  • Advances in experimental medicine and biology 02/2007; 603:97-105. · 1.83 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

154 Citations
49.92 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2007–2014
    • Concordia University–Ann Arbor
      Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
  • 2008–2011
    • University of Michigan
      • • Department of Microbiology and Immunology
      • • Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences
      Ann Arbor, MI, United States