Tod J Merkel's research while affiliated with U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other places

Publications (64)

Article
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Pertussis is a highly contagious disease for which prompt, point-of-care diagnosis remains an unmet clinical need. Results from conventional test modalities (nucleic acid detection, serology, and culture) take hours to days. To overcome this challenge, we identified a new biomarker (tracheal colonization factor A, TcfA) for detection of Bordetella...
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The immune response elicited by the protective whole-cell pertussis (wP) versus the less-protective acellular pertussis (aP) vaccine has been well characterized; however, important clinical problems remain unsolved, as the inability of the currently administered aP vaccine is resulting in the reemergence of clinical disease (i.e., whooping cough)....
Article
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B. pertussis is a human-specific pathogen and the causative agent of whooping cough. The ongoing resurgence in pertussis incidence in high income countries is likely due to faster waning of immunity and increased asymptomatic colonization in individuals vaccinated with acellular pertussis (aP) vaccine relative whole-cell pertussis (wP)-vaccinated i...
Article
Despite high vaccine coverage, reported cases of pertussis have increased steadily over the last twenty years. This resurgence has stimulated interest in host responses to pertussis infection and vaccination with the goal of developing more effective next-generation vaccines and vaccination strategies. Optimal protection against Bordetella pertussi...
Article
We conducted a systematic review to describe the frequency of mild, atypical and asymptomatic infection amongst household contacts of pertussis cases, and to explore the published literature for evidence of asymptomatic transmission. We included studies that obtained and tested laboratory specimens from household contacts regardless of symptom pres...
Article
Pertussis is a severe respiratory disease caused by Bordetella pertussis . The classic symptoms of pertussis include paroxysmal coughing with an inspiratory whoop, post-tussive vomiting, cyanosis, and persistent coryzal symptoms. Infants under two months of age experience more severe disease with most deaths occurring in this age group. Most of wha...
Article
Background: Bordetella pertussis is a human pathogen responsible for serious respiratory illness. The disease is most severe in infants too young to be vaccinated with most hospitalizations and deaths occurring within this age group. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization of pregnant women to protect infants from...
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The two-component response regulator RisA, encoded by open reading frame BP3554 in the Bordetella pertussis Tohama I genomic sequence, is a known activator of vrg genes, a set of genes whose expression is increased under the same environmental conditions (known as modulation) that result in repression of the bvgAS virulence regulon. Here we demonst...
Article
Whooping cough is a highly contagious, acute respiratory disease, caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Bordetella pertussis (Bp). Despite the introduction and widespread use of vaccines starting in the 1950s pertussis cases continue to be reported, with a significant global impact. The role of specific virulence factors in disease and the immune m...
Article
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Pertussis is a severe respiratory disease caused by infection with the bacterial pathogen Bordetella pertussis. The disease affects individuals of all ages but is particularly severe and sometimes fatal in unvaccinated young infants. Other Bordetella species cause diseases in humans, animals, and birds. Scientific, clinical, public health, vaccine...
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ACT is an essential virulence factor of Bordetella pertussis and antibodies to ACT protect against B. pertussis infection in mice. The toxin is, therefore, a strong candidate antigen for addition to future acellular pertussis vaccines. In order to characterize the functionality of the immunologic response to ACT after infection, we have developed a...
Article
The whooping cough agent Bordetella pertussis regulates the production of its virulence factors by the BvgA/S system. Phosphorylated BvgA activates the virulence-activated genes (vags) and represses the expression of the virulence-repressed genes (vrgs) via the activation of the bvgR gene. In modulating conditions, with MgSO4, the BvgA/S system is...
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The respiratory bacterial infection caused by Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough) is the only vaccine-preventable disease whose incidence has been increasing over the last 3 decades. To better understand the resurgence of this infection, a baboon animal model of pertussis infection has been developed. Naïve baboons that recover from experimental...
Article
Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the bacterial pathogen Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis rates in the US have escalated since the 1990s and reached a 50-year high of 48,000 cases in 2012. While this pertussis resurgence is not completely understood, we previously showed that the current acellular pertussis vaccines do n...
Article
Bordetella pertussis and B. bronchiseptica are Gram-negative bacterial respiratory pathogens. Bordetella pertussis is the causative agent of whooping cough and is considered a human-adapted variant of B. bronchiseptica. Bordetella pertussis and B. bronchiseptica share mechanisms of pathogenesis and are genetically closely related. However, despite...
Article
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Bordetella pertussis is the causative agent of whooping cough, a highly contagious, acute respiratory illness that has seen resurgence despite the use of vaccines. We present the complete genome sequence of a clinical strain of B. pertussis, D420, which is representative of a currently circulating clade of this pathogen.
Article
The USA is experiencing a pertussis resurgence that resulted in a 60-year high of 48,000 cases in 2012. Our ability to counteract this resurgence is hampered by the fact that pertussis pathogenesis and immunity to pertussis infection are not well studied. Studies in humans are difficult due to the low frequency of pertussis in the population, the c...
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The current candidate vaccine against Yersinia pestis infection consists of two subunit proteins: the capsule protein or F1 protein and the low calcium response V protein or V-antigen. Little is known of the recognition of the vaccine by the host's innate immune system and how it affects the acquired immune response to the vaccine. Thus, we vaccina...
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Pertussis is a worldwide public health threat. Bordetella pertussis produces multiple virulence factors that have been studied individually, and many have recently been found to have additional biological activities. Nevertheless, how they interact to cause the disease pertussis remains unknown. New animal models, particularly the infection of infa...
Article
Despite pertussis vaccination rates in excess of 95%, pertussis rates in the United States have been rising over the last 30 years, with increasingly larger outbreaks in 2004, 2010, and 2012. The reasons for this resurgence of pertussis are not clearly understood. The recent development of a baboon model of pertussis, along with the future developm...
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Subunit vaccines against anthrax based on recombinant protective antigen (PA) potentially offer more consistent and less reactogenic anthrax vaccines but require adjuvants to achieve optimal immunogenicity. This study sought to determine in a murine model of pulmonary anthrax infection whether the polysaccharide adjuvant Advax™ or the innate immune...
Article
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We developed a nonhuman primate model to study whether pertussis vaccination is able to disrupt Bordetella pertussis colonization and transmission, and demonstrated that baboons vaccinated with the acellular pertussis vaccines (aP) were protected from classic pertussis symptoms (i.e., coughing and leukocytosis) but were highly colonized and transmi...
Article
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Background: The United States is experiencing a pertussis resurgence that resulted in a 60-year high of 48 000 cases in 2012. The majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur in infants too young to be vaccinated. Neonatal and maternal vaccination have been proposed to protect newborns until the first vaccination, currently recommended at 2 month...
Article
Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the bacterial pathogen Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis rates in the United States have been rising and reached a 50-y high of 42,000 cases in 2012. Although pertussis resurgence is not completely understood, we hypothesize that current acellular pertussis (aP) vaccines fail to prevent c...
Article
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An intense effort has been launched to develop a more optimal anthrax vaccine that can be rapidly deployed because of the inadequacies associated with the currently licensed vaccine. Protective antigen (PA)-based vaccines are most favored as immune responses directed against PA are singularly protective, although the actual protective mechanism rem...
Article
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Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen and a leading cause of nosocomial and community-acquired infections. Development of a vaccine against this pathogen is an important goal. While S. aureus protective antigens have been identified in the literature, the majority have only been tested in a single animal model of disease. We wished to eva...
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In vivo bioluminescent imaging permits the visualization of bacteria in live animals, allowing researchers to monitor, both temporally and spatially, the progression of infection in each animal. We sought to engineer stably luminescent clinical strains of Staphylococcus aureus, with the goal of using such strains in mouse models. The gram-positive...
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Whooping cough results from infection of the respiratory tract with Bordetella pertussis, and the secreted adenylate cyclase toxin (ACT) is essential for the bacterium to establish infection. Despite extensive study of the mechanism of ACT cytotoxicity and its effects over a range of concentrations in vitro, ACT has not been observed or quantified...
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Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most common etiological agents of community-acquired skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI). Although the majority of S. aureus community-acquired SSTIs are uncomplicated and self-clearing in nature, some percentage of these cases progress into life-threatening invasive infections. Current animal models of S. aure...
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Despite near universal vaccine coverage, the bacterial pathogen Bordetella pertussis has re-emerged as a major public health concern. We recently developed a baboon (Papio anubis) model of pertussis that provides an excellent model of human pertussis. Using this model, the immune response to pertussis was characterized by measuring cytokines in the...
Article
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Pertussis is a contagious, acute respiratory illness caused by the bacterial pathogen Bordetella pertussis. Although it is widely believed that transmission of B. pertussis occurs via aerosolized respiratory droplets, no controlled study has ever documented airborne transmission of pertussis. We set out to determine if airborne transmission occurs...
Article
Inhalational anthrax is caused by the sporulating bacterium Bacillus anthracis. A current model for progression in mammalian hosts includes inhalation of bacterial spores, phagocytosis of spores in the nasal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT) and lungs by macrophages and dendritic cells, trafficking of phagocytes to draining lymph nodes, germ...
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Moraxella catarrhalis is a gram negative bacterium and a leading causative agent of otitis media (OM) in children. Several recent reports have provided strong evidence for an association between toll like receptors and OM. It has been found that both Streptococcus pneumoniae and nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae activate host protective immune res...
Article
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Pertussis is a highly contagious, acute respiratory illness caused by the bacterial pathogen Bordetella pertussis. Despite nearly universal vaccine coverage, pertussis rates in the United States have been rising steadily over the last 20 years. Our failure to comprehend and counteract this important public health concern is due in large part to gap...
Article
We describe the development of a highly specific enzyme-based fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) assay for easy and rapid detection both in vitro and in vivo of Bacillus spp., among which are the members of the B. cereus group. Synthetic substrates for B. anthracis proteases were designed and exposed to secreted enzymes of a broad spectr...
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Bacillus anthracis, the etiological agent of anthrax, is a spore-forming, Gram-positive bacterium and a category A biothreat agent. Screening of a library of transposon-mutagenized B. anthracis spores identified a mutant displaying an altered phenotype that harbored a mutated gene encoding the purine biosynthetic enzyme PurH. PurH is a bifunctional...
Article
Bioterrorism poses a daunting challenge to global security and public health in the 21st century. Variola major virus, the etiological agent of smallpox, and Bacillus anthracis, the bacterial pathogen responsible for anthrax, remain at the apex of potential pathogens that could be used in a bioterror attack to inflict mass casualties. Although lice...
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During advanced stages of inhalation anthrax, Bacillus anthracis accumulates at high levels in the bloodstream of the infected host. This bacteremia leads to sepsis during late-stage anthrax; however, the mechanisms through which B. anthracis-derived factors contribute to the pathology of infected hosts are poorly defined. Peptidoglycan, a major co...
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Toll-like receptors and Nod-like receptors (NLR) play an important role in sensing invading microorganisms for pathogen clearance and eliciting adaptive immunity for protection against rechallenge. Nod1 and Nod2, members of the NLR family, are capable of detecting bacterial peptidoglycan motifs in the host cytosol for triggering proinflammatory cyt...
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Bacillus anthracis, the etiological agent of anthrax disease, is a proven weapon of bioterrorism. Currently, the only licensed vaccine against anthrax in the United States is AVA Biothrax, which, although efficacious, suffers from several limitations. This vaccine requires six injectable doses over 18 months to stimulate protective immunity, requir...
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Anthrax toxins significantly contribute to anthrax disease pathogenesis, and mechanisms by which the toxins affect host cellular responses have been identified with purified toxins. However, the contribution of anthrax toxin proteins to dissemination, disease progression, and subsequent immunity after aerosol infection with spores has not been clea...
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The threat of bioterrorist use of Bacillus anthracis has focused urgent attention on the efficacy and mechanisms of protective immunity induced by available vaccines. However, the mechanisms of infection-induced immunity have been less well studied and defined. We used a combination of complement depletion along with immunodeficient mice and adopti...
Article
Anthrax is caused by the gram-negative bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. Infection by this microbe results from delivery of the endospore form of the bacillus through direct contact, either topical or inhalation. With regard to the latter route of administration, it is proposed that endospores of B. anthracis enter the lungs and are phagocytized by ho...
Article
Improved vaccines and adjuvants are being developed to reduce the threat posed by a terrorist attack involving aerosolized anthrax spores. Nevertheless, uncertainty persists concerning the relative benefits of inducing mucosal vs systemic immunity to host survival following inhalational exposure to anthrax spores. This work examines the effect of d...
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The availability of relevant and useful animal models is critical for progress in the development of effective vaccines and therapeutics. The infection of rabbits and non-human primates with fully virulent Bacillus anthracis spores provides two excellent models of anthrax disease. However, the high cost of procuring and housing these animals and th...
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We describe a microfluidic genetic analysis system that represents a previously undescribed integrated microfluidic device capable of accepting whole blood as a crude biological sample with the endpoint generation of a genetic profile. Upon loading the sample, the glass microfluidic genetic analysis system device carries out on-chip DNA purificatio...
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Bacillus anthracis is a spore-forming, gram-positive organism that is the causative agent of the disease anthrax. Recognition of Bacillus anthracis by the host innate immune system likely plays a key protective role following infection. In the present study, we examined the role of TLR2, TLR4, and MyD88 in the response to B. anthracis. Heat-killed...
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Concerns regarding safety and control of virulent Bacillus anthracis have created substantial hurdles to the study of anthrax. The Sterne strain is considered relatively safe to study, but this acapsular strain has a defect in normal mice and is often studied in A/J mice. A/J mice are highly susceptible to the Sterne strain, due to a defect in the...
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The BvgAS two-component system positively regulates the expression of the virulence genes of Bordetella pertussis and negatively regulates a second set of genes whose function is unknown. The BvgAS-mediated regulation of the bvg-repressed genes is accomplished through the activation of expression of the negative regulator, BvgR. A second two-compon...
Article
Full-text available
Bacillus anthracis, the etiological agent of anthrax, is a gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium. The inhalational form of anthrax is the most severe and is associated with rapid progression of the disease and the outcome is frequently fatal. Transfer from the respiratory epithelium to regional lymph nodes appears to be an essential early step in...
Article
Herein we report that infection of a murine macrophage cell line with Bacillus anthracis results in the production of tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-12 (IL-12). When infected with B. anthracis spores in combination with lipopolysaccharide, macrophages release increased amounts of IL-12. We found no evidence of inhibition of cytokine re...
Article
Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough, produces a wide array of factors that are associated with its ability to cause disease. The expression and regulation of these virulence factors are dependent upon the bvg locus, which encodes three proteins: BvgA, a 23-kDa cytoplasmic protein; BvgS, a 135-kDa transmembrane protein; and B...
Article
Whooping cough is an acute respiratory disease caused by the small, gram-negative bacterium Bordetella pertussis. B. pertussis expresses several factors that contribute to its ability to cause disease. These factors include surface-associated molecules, which are involved in the adherence of the organism to respiratory epithelial cells, as well as...
Article
Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough, produces a wide array of factors that are associated with its ability to cause disease. The expression and regulation of these virulence factors is dependent upon the bvg locus (originally designated the vir locus), which encodes two proteins: BvgA, a 23-kDa cytoplasmic protein, and BvgS,...
Article
In Bordetella pertussis, the coordinate regulation of virulence factor expression is controlled by the products of the bvgAS locus. In the presence of modulating signals such as MgSO4, nicotinic acid, or reduced temperature, the expression of bvg-activated genes is reduced while the expression of bvg-repressed genes is induced. One model for the re...
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Transport and utilization of sugar phosphates in Escherichia coli depend on the transport protein encoded by the uhpT gene. Transmembrane induction of uhpT expression by external glucose 6-phosphate is positively regulated by the promoter-specific activator protein UhpA and the global regulator catabolite gene activator protein (CAP). Activation by...
Article
CAP-dependent promoters can be divided into classes based on the position of the DNA site for CAP. In class I CAP-dependent promoters, the DNA site for CAP is located upstream of the DNA site for polymerase; the DNA site for CAP can be located at various distances from the transcription start point, provided that the DNS site for CAP and the DNA si...
Article
The uhpABCT locus of Escherichia coli encodes the transport system which allows the cell to accumulate a variety of sugar phosphates in unaltered form. The expression of uhpT, the gene encoding the transport protein, is regulated by the uhpABC gene products. The UhpA protein is required for expression; its deduced amino acid sequence shows that it...

Citations

... Lastly, in these experiments, we also included a previously described megapool of Bordetella pertussis (BP) epitopes. 41 Children in our cohort, based on their year of birth, are expected to have been vaccinated with the acellular pertussis (aP) vaccine which is associated with a predominantly Th2 response. 42,43 As expected, and shown in Figure S4a, polarization that are antigen/allergen-specific. ...
... Identifier: NCT03942406). As pertussis is one of the most contagious respiratory diseases [78], it may be important for a pertussis vaccine to provide protection against both pertussis disease and infection in order to ultimately control whooping cough [79]. Mucosal immunization with attenuated pertussis vaccines producing genetically inactivated PT may therefore perhaps be helpful in achieving this goal. ...