R Pamela Kawakami

AgResearch, Hamilton City, Waikato, New Zealand

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Publications (10)43.6 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium orygis, previously called the oryx bacillus, is a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex and has been reported only recently as a cause of human tuberculosis in patients of South Asian origin. We present the first case documenting the transmission of this organism from a human to a cow.
    Journal of clinical microbiology 07/2012; 50(9):3136-8. · 4.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bovine tuberculosis costs New Zealand more than $80 million per year, mostly because extensive areas of the country are occupied by brushtail possums infected with Mycobacterium bovis. AgResearch has a major programme to produce new live tuberculosis vaccines that can be delivered to possums. Primary work involved development of molecular biological methods to enable genetic manipulation of M. bovis, including the production of random and specific mutants. Many avirulent mutants of M. bovis have been produced and their vaccine efficacy has been compared to BCG in guinea pigs. Selected mutants that perform at least as well as BCG are retested in guinea pigs using an extended vaccination protocol in which animals are pre-sensitized to environmental mycobacteria to mimic natural exposure. Ten candidate vaccines that have induced good protection in guinea pigs have been subsequently tested as vaccines in possums. While the protective efficacy of an M. bovis mutant inoculated into guinea pigs reliably indicated that some protection would be induced in possums, the most protective mutant in guinea pigs was different from that in possums. This illustrates the importance of testing in the target species as part of new vaccine development. An important outcome of this work was the identification of an operon in M. bovis whose inactivation produced an avirulent M. bovis vaccine candidate that was better than BCG in protecting possums from experimental tuberculosis. Allelic exchange methods are now being used to produce vaccine strains with multiple specific mutations to improve safety and immunological characteristics.
    Veterinary Microbiology 02/2011; 151(1-2):99-103. · 3.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (basonym M. paratuberculosis) is the causative agent of paratuberculosis, a chronic enteritis of ruminants. To control the considerable economic effect that paratuberculosis has on the livestock industry, a vaccine that induces protection with minimal side effects is required. We employed transposon mutagenesis and allelic exchange to develop three potential vaccine candidates, which were then tested for virulence with macrophages, mice, and goats. All three models identified the WAg906 mutant as being the most attenuated, but some differences in the levels of attenuation were evident among the models when testing the other strains. In a preliminary mouse vaccine experiment, limited protection was induced by WAg915, as evidenced by a reduced bacterial load in spleens and livers 12 weeks following intraperitoneal challenge with M. paratuberculosis K10. While we found macrophages and murine models to be rapid and cost-effective alternatives for the initial screening of M. paratuberculosis mutants for attenuation, it appears necessary to do the definitive assessment of attenuation with a ruminant model.
    Infection and immunity 03/2010; 78(3):1383-9. · 4.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As part of wildlife surveillance for bovine tuberculosis, pooled lymph nodes from 21,481 ferrets, 1056 stoats and 83 weasels were cultured for mycobacteria. A total of 268 isolates of Mycobacterium bovis were obtained from ferrets, 2 from stoats and none from weasels, demonstrating the presence of a wildlife reservoir of infection in ferrets. DNA typing by restriction endonuclease analysis (REA) of 48 selected isolates of M. bovis revealed 23 REA types. Twenty-one of these types had previously been isolated from cattle and farmed deer, demonstrating a complex cycle of infection involving wildlife and domestic animals. Apart from M. bovis, a further 208 mycobacterial isolates were obtained, the majority of which (178) were members of the M. avium complex. Speciation of the remaining 30 mycobacterial isolates by DNA sequencing of the 16s rRNA gene, identified half the isolates as M. triplex. Other species identified included M. fortuitum, M. florentinum, M. interjectum, M. intracellulare, M. holsaticum, and M. septicum/M. peregrinum.
    Veterinary Microbiology 12/2008; 132(3-4):402-7. · 3.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Infection with Mycobacterium bovis is a significant human and animal health problem in many parts of the world. The first stage of pulmonary tuberculosis occurs after inhalation of the bacilli into an alveolus where they are ingested by resident macrophages. DNA microarray analysis was used to detect genes expressed in bovine lung alveolar macrophages infected with two isogenic strains of M. bovis, a virulent strain, ATCC35723 and an attenuated strain, WAg520 derived from ATCC35723. Chemokines, interleukin-8 and monocyte chemotactic protein 1, were more strongly expressed in ATCC35723-infected macrophages compared to WAg520-infected macrophages. Conversely, a group of genes, including fibrinogen-like protein 2 and legumain, were expressed at a higher level in macrophages infected with WAg520 compared to ATCC35723. Quantitative real-time PCR of a selected group of these differentially expressed genes confirmed enhanced levels of IL-8 mRNA in ATCC35723-infected macrophages compared to WAg520-infected macrophages. Microarray analysis of gene expression in macrophages infected with attenuated isogenic strains of M. bovis may identify key genes involved in early and protective immune responses to tuberculosis.
    International Immunopharmacology 07/2006; 6(6):957-61. · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex includes Mycobacterium bovis, which causes tuberculosis in most mammals, including humans. In previous work, it was shown that M. bovis ATCC 35721 has a mutation in its principal sigma factor gene, sigA, causing a single amino acid change affecting binding of SigA with the accessory transcription factor WhiB3. ATCC 35721 is avirulent when inoculated subcutaneously into guinea pigs but can be restored to virulence by integration of wild-type sigA to produce M. bovis WAg320. Subsequently, it was surprising to discover that WAg320 was not virulent when inoculated intratracheally into the Australian brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), a marsupial that is normally very susceptible to infection with M. bovis. In this study, an in vivo complementation approach was used with ATCC 35721 to produce M. bovis WAg322, which was virulent in possums, and to identify the virulence-restoring gene, phoT. There are two point deletions in the phoT gene of ATCC 35721 causing frameshift inactivation, one of which is also in the phoT of BCG. Knockout of phoT from ATCC 35723, a virulent strain of M. bovis, produced M. bovis WAg758, which was avirulent in both guinea pigs and possums, confirming that phoT is a virulence gene. The effect on virulence of mode of infection versus animal species susceptibility was investigated by inoculating all the above strains by aerosol into guinea pigs and mice and comparing these to the earlier results. Characterization of PhoT indicated that it plays a role in phosphate uptake at low phosphate concentrations. At least in vitro, this role requires the presence of a wild-type sigA gene and appears separate from the ability of phoT to restore virulence to ATCC 35721. This study shows the advantages of using different animal models as tools for the molecular biological investigation of tuberculosis virulence.
    Microbiology 12/2003; 149(Pt 11):3203-12. · 2.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Molecular techniques are now available to develop new live tuberculosis vaccines by producing avirulent strains of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex with known genes deleted. Determine if removal of esat-6 from new live tuberculosis vaccines with known attenuating mutations affects their vaccine efficacy and if it could enable the development of discriminating diagnostic tests. Remove the esat-6 gene by allelic exchange from two illegitimate mutants of Mycobacterium bovis that had previously been shown to have similar vaccine efficacy to BCG in a guinea pig vaccination model. Determine the effect this removal has on virulence, vaccine efficacy and skin test reactivity in guinea pigs. Two double knockout strains of M. bovis were produced and their virulence and vaccine efficacy were compared to their parent strains. Removal of the esat-6 gene had no significant effect on vaccine efficacy. In skin tests, animals inoculated with the double knockout strains reacted to PPD but not ESAT-6, whereas those inoculated with the parent strains had similar skin test reactivity to both PPD and esat-6. Removal of esat-6 from new live tuberculosis vaccine candidates has no significant effect on vaccine properties but does enable the use of skin tests to distinguish between vaccination and infection.
    Tuberculosis 02/2003; 83(6):361-6. · 3.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous work established that the principal sigma factor (RpoV) of virulent Mycobacterium bovis, a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, restores virulence to an attenuated strain containing a point mutation (Arg-515-->His) in the 4.2 domain of RpoV. We used the 4.2 domain of RpoV as bait in a yeast two-hybrid screen of an M. tuberculosis H37Rv library and identified a putative transcription factor, WhiB3, which selectively interacts with the 4.2 domain of RpoV in virulent strains but not with the mutated (Arg-515-->His) allele. Infection of mice and guinea pigs with a M. tuberculosis H37Rv whiB3 deletion mutant strain showed that whiB3 is not necessary for in vivo bacterial replication in either animal model. In contrast, an M. bovis whiB3 deletion mutant was completely attenuated for growth in guinea pigs. However, we found that immunocompetent mice infected with the M. tuberculosis H37Rv whiB3 mutant strain had significantly longer mean survival times as compared with mice challenged with wild-type M. tuberculosis. Remarkably, the bacterial organ burdens of both mutant and wild-type infected mice were identical during the acute and persistent phases of infection. Our results imply that M. tuberculosis replication per se is not a sufficient condition for virulence in vivo. They also indicate a different role for M. bovis and M. tuberculosis whiB3 genes in pathogenesis generated in different animal models. We propose that M. tuberculosis WhiB3 functions as a transcription factor regulating genes that influence the immune response of the host.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2002; 99(5):3147-52. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Culture filtrates derived from a Mycobacterium bovis cosmid library in Mycobacterium smegmatis were screened for T cell antigens. Recognition and reactivity were measured by the levels of lymphocyte proliferation and the levels of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) produced when the culture filtrates were incubated with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) taken from cattle immunised with M. bovis BCG. The screening system was optimised to distinguish between M. bovis secreted antigens and normal M. smegmatis secreted proteins. From ten culture filtrates screened, two were identified that induced lymphocyte proliferation and IFN-gamma production. Analysis of the DNA inserts from the recombinant cosmids suggest that they may code for different proteins. The results demonstrate that screening recombinant M. smegmatis culture filtrates can be used to identify M. bovis T cell antigens that are recognised by immunised cattle. These antigens may be important for the development of vaccines with protective ability against bovine tuberculosis.
    New Zealand veterinary journal 01/1996; 43(7):360-4. · 1.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tuberculosis continues to be responsible for the deaths of millions of people, yet the virulence factors of the causative pathogens remain unknown. Genetic complementation experiments with strains of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex have identified a gene from a virulent strain that restores virulence to an attenuated strain. The gene, designated rpoV, has a high degree of homology with principal transcription or sigma factors from other bacteria, particularly Mycobacterium smegmatis and Streptomyces griseus. The homologous rpoV gene of the attenuated strain has a point mutation causing an arginine-->histidine change in a domain known to interact with promoters. To our knowledge, association of loss of bacterial virulence with a mutation in the principal sigma factor has not been previously reported. The results indicate either that tuberculosis organisms have an alternative principal sigma factor that promotes virulence genes or, more probably, that this particular mutant principal sigma factor is unable to promote expression of one or more genes required for virulence. Study of genes and proteins differentially regulated by the mutant transcription factor should facilitate identification of further virulence factors.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/1995; 92(17):8036-40. · 9.81 Impact Factor