Microbiology & Immunology - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 1159
Procleave: Predicting Protease-specific Substrate Cleavage Sites by Combining Sequence and Structural Information
Proteases are enzymes that cleave and hydrolyse the peptide bonds between two specific amino acid residues of target substrate proteins. Protease-controlled proteolysis plays a key role in the degradation and recycling of proteins, which is essential for various physiological processes. Thus, solving the substrate identification problem will have important implications for the precise understanding of functions and physiological roles of proteases, as well as for therapeutic target identification and pharmaceutical applicability. Consequently, there is a great demand for bioinformatics methods that can predict novel substrate cleavage events with high accuracy by utilizing both sequence and structural information. In this study, we present Procleave, a novel bioinformatics approach for predicting protease-specific substrates and specific cleavage sites by taking into account both their sequence and 3D structural information. Structural features of known cleavage sites were represented by discrete values using a LOWESS data-smoothing optimization method, which turned out to be critical for the performance of Procleave. The optimal approximations of all structural parameter values were encoded in a conditional random field (CRF) computational framework, alongside sequence and chemical group-based features. Here, we demonstrate the outstanding performance of Procleave through extensive benchmarking and independent tests. Procleave is capable of correctly identifying most cleavage sites in the case study. Importantly, when applied to the human structural proteome encompassing 17,628 protein structures, Procleave suggests a number of potential novel target substrates and their corresponding cleavage sites of different proteases. Procleave is implemented as a webserver and is freely accessible at http://procleave.erc.monash.edu/.
Analysis of Flagellin Specific Adaptive Immnunity Reveals Links to Dysbioss in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease
(ELSEVIER INC, 2020-01-01)
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Bacterial flagellin is an important antigen in inflammatory bowel disease, but the role of flagellin-specific CD4+ T cells in disease pathogenesis remains unclear. Also unknown is how changes in intestinal microbiome intersect with those in microbiota-specific CD4+ T cells. We aimed to quantify and characterize flagellin-specific CD4+ T cells in Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) patients and study their relationship with intestinal microbiome diversity. METHODS: Blood was collected from 3 cohorts that included CD patients, UC patients, and healthy controls. Flow cytometry analyzed CD4+ T cells specific for Lachnospiraceae-derived A4-Fla2 and Escherichia coli H18 FliC flagellins, or control vaccine antigens. Serum antiflagellin IgG and IgA antibodies were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and stool samples were collected and subjected to 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing. RESULTS: Compared with healthy controls, CD and UC patients had lower frequencies of vaccine-antigen-specific CD4+ T cells and, as a proportion of vaccine-specific cells, higher frequencies of flagellin-specific CD4+ T cells. The proportion of flagellin-specific CD4+ T cells that were CXCR3negCCR4+CCR6+ Th17 cells was reduced in CD and UC patients, with increased proportions of CD39+, PD-1+, and integrin β7+ cells. Microbiome analysis showed differentially abundant bacterial species in patient groups that correlated with immune responses to flagellin. CONCLUSIONS: Both CD and UC patients have relative increases in the proportion of circulating Fla2-specific CD4+ T cells, which may be associated with changes in the intestinal microbiome. Evidence that the phenotype of these cells strongly correlate with disease severity provides insight into the potential roles of flagellin-specific CD4+ T cells in inflammatory bowel disease.
In silico characterisation of stand-alone response regulators of Streptococcus pyogenes.
(Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2020)
Bacterial "stand-alone" response regulators (RRs) are pivotal to the control of gene transcription in response to changing cytosolic and extracellular microenvironments during infection. The genome of group A Streptococcus (GAS) encodes more than 30 stand-alone RRs that orchestrate the expression of virulence factors involved in infecting multiple tissues, so causing an array of potentially lethal human diseases. Here, we analysed the molecular epidemiology and biological associations in the coding sequences (CDSs) and upstream intergenic regions (IGRs) of 35 stand-alone RRs from a collection of global GAS genomes. Of the 944 genomes analysed, 97% encoded 32 or more of the 35 tested RRs. The length of RR CDSs ranged from 297 to 1587 nucleotides with an average nucleotide diversity (π) of 0.012, while the IGRs ranged from 51 to 666 nucleotides with average π of 0.017. We present new evidence of recombination in multiple RRs including mga, leading to mga-2 switching, emm-switching and emm-like gene chimerization, and the first instance of an isolate that encodes both mga-1 and mga-2. Recombination was also evident in rofA/nra and msmR loci with 15 emm-types represented in multiple FCT (fibronectin-binding, collagen-binding, T-antigen)-types, including novel emm-type/FCT-type pairings. Strong associations were observed between concatenated RR allele types, and emm-type, MLST-type, core genome phylogroup, and country of sampling. No strong associations were observed between individual loci and disease outcome. We propose that 11 RRs may form part of future refinement of GAS typing systems that reflect core genome evolutionary associations. This subgenomic analysis revealed allelic traits that were informative to the biological function, GAS strain definition, and regional outbreak detection.
Reduced EGFR and increased miR-221 is associated with increased resistance to temozolomide and radiotherapy in glioblastoma
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2020-10-20)
Despite aggressive treatment with temozolomide and radiotherapy and extensive research into alternative therapies there has been little improvement in Glioblastoma patient survival. Median survival time remains between 12 and 15 months mainly due to treatment resistance and tumor recurrence. In this study, we aimed to explore the underlying mechanisms behind treatment resistance and the lack of success with anti-EGFR therapy in the clinic. After generating a number of treatment resistant Glioblastoma cell lines we observed that resistant cell lines lacked EGFR activation and expression. Furthermore, cell viability assays showed resistant cells were significantly less sensitive to the anti-EGFR agents when compared to parental cell lines. To further characterise the resistance mechanism in our cells microRNA prediction software identified miR-221 as a negative regulator of EGFR expression. miR-221 was up-regulated in our resistant cell lines, and this up-regulation led to a significant reduction in EGFR expression in both our cultured cell lines and a large cohort of glioblastoma patient tumor tissue.
An unconventional view of COVID-19 T cell immunity.
(Rockefeller University Press, 2020-12-07)
In this issue of JEM, Jouan et al. (https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20200872) report the activation and skewed function of unconventional T cells in severe COVID-19 patients. This may reflect a role in COVID-19 immunity or pathogenesis and potentially identifies new therapeutic targets for this disease.
The Dynamics of the Ferret Immune Response During H7N9 Influenza Virus Infection
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2020-09-24)
As the recent outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 has highlighted, the threat of a pandemic event from zoonotic viruses, such as the deadly influenza A/H7N9 virus subtype, continues to be a major global health concern. H7N9 virus strains appear to exhibit greater disease severity in mammalian hosts compared to natural avian hosts, though the exact mechanisms underlying this are somewhat unclear. Knowledge of the H7N9 host-pathogen interactions have mainly been constrained to natural sporadic human infections. To elucidate the cellular immune mechanisms associated with disease severity and progression, we used a ferret model to closely resemble disease outcomes in humans following influenza virus infection. Intriguingly, we observed variable disease outcomes when ferrets were inoculated with the A/Anhui/1/2013 (H7N9) strain. We observed relatively reduced antigen-presenting cell activation in lymphoid tissues which may be correlative with increased disease severity. Additionally, depletions in CD8+ T cells were not apparent in sick animals. This study provides further insight into the ways that lymphocytes maturate and traffic in response to H7N9 infection in the ferret model.
Inhibition of Radiation and Temozolomide-Induced Glioblastoma Invadopodia Activity Using Ion Channel Drugs
Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most prevalent and malignant type of primary brain cancer. The rapid invasion and dissemination of tumor cells into the surrounding normal brain is a major driver of tumor recurrence, and long-term survival of GBM patients is extremely rare. Actin-rich cell membrane protrusions known as invadopodia can facilitate the highly invasive properties of GBM cells. Ion channels have been proposed to contribute to a pro-invasive phenotype in cancer cells and may also be involved in the invadopodia activity of GBM cells. GBM cell cytotoxicity screening of several ion channel drugs identified three drugs with potent cell killing efficacy: flunarizine dihydrochloride, econazole nitrate, and quinine hydrochloride dihydrate. These drugs demonstrated a reduction in GBM cell invadopodia activity and matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) secretion. Importantly, the treatment of GBM cells with these drugs led to a significant reduction in radiation/temozolomide-induced invadopodia activity. The dual cytotoxic and anti-invasive efficacy of these agents merits further research into targeting ion channels to reduce GBM malignancy, with a potential for future clinical translation in combination with the standard therapy.
The Glycoprotease CpaA Secreted by Medically Relevant Acinetobacter Species Targets Multiple O-Linked Host Glycoproteins
(AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY, 2020-09-01)
Glycans decorate proteins and affect their biological function, including protection against proteolytic degradation. However, pathogenic, and commensal bacteria have evolved specific glycoproteases that overcome the steric impediment posed by carbohydrates, cleaving glycoproteins precisely at their glycosylation site(s). Medically relevant Acinetobacter strains employ their type II secretion system (T2SS) to secrete the glycoprotease CpaA, which contributes to virulence. Previously, CpaA was shown to cleave two O-linked glycoproteins, factors V and XII, leading to reduced blood coagulation. In this work, we show that CpaA cleaves a broader range of O-linked human glycoproteins, including several glycoproteins involved in complement activation, such as CD55 and CD46. However, only CD55 was removed from the cell surface, while CD46 remained unaltered during the Acinetobacter nosocomialis infection assay. We show that CpaA has a unique consensus target sequence that consists of a glycosylated serine or threonine residue after a proline residue (P-S/T), and its activity is not affected by sialic acids. Molecular modeling and mutagenesis analysis of CpaA suggest that the indole ring of Trp493 and the ring of the Pro residue in the substrate form a key interaction that contributes to CpaA sequence selectivity. Similar bacterial glycoproteases have recently gained attention as tools for proteomic analysis of human glycoproteins, and CpaA appears to be a robust and attractive new component of the glycoproteomics toolbox. Combined, our work provides insight into the function and possible application of CpaA, a member of a widespread class of broad-spectrum bacterial glycoproteases involved in host-pathogen interactions.IMPORTANCE CpaA is a glycoprotease expressed by members of the Acinetobacter baumannii-calcoaceticus complex, and it is the first bona fide secreted virulence factor identified in these species. Here, we show that CpaA cleaves multiple targets precisely at O-glycosylation sites preceded by a Pro residue. This feature, together with the observation that sialic acid does not impact CpaA activity, makes this enzyme an attractive tool for the analysis of O-linked human protein for biotechnical and diagnostic purposes. Previous work identified proteins involved in blood coagulation as targets of CpaA. Our work broadens the set of targets of CpaA, pointing toward additional roles in bacterium-host interactions. We propose that CpaA belongs to an expanding class of functionally defined glycoproteases that targets multiple O-linked host glycoproteins.
Prophage exotoxins enhance colonization fitness in epidemic scarlet fever-causing Streptococcus pyogenes
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2020-10-06)
The re-emergence of scarlet fever poses a new global public health threat. The capacity of North-East Asian serotype M12 (emm12) Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Streptococcus, GAS) to cause scarlet fever has been linked epidemiologically to the presence of novel prophages, including prophage ΦHKU.vir encoding the secreted superantigens SSA and SpeC and the DNase Spd1. Here, we report the molecular characterization of ΦHKU.vir-encoded exotoxins. We demonstrate that streptolysin O (SLO)-induced glutathione efflux from host cellular stores is a previously unappreciated GAS virulence mechanism that promotes SSA release and activity, representing the first description of a thiol-activated bacterial superantigen. Spd1 is required for resistance to neutrophil killing. Investigating single, double and triple isogenic knockout mutants of the ΦHKU.vir-encoded exotoxins, we find that SpeC and Spd1 act synergistically to facilitate nasopharyngeal colonization in a mouse model. These results offer insight into the pathogenesis of scarlet fever-causing GAS mediated by prophage ΦHKU.vir exotoxins.
Nuclear response to divergent mitochondrial DNA genotypes modulates the interferon immune response
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2020-10-08)
Mitochondrial OXPHOS generates most of the energy required for cellular function. OXPHOS biogenesis requires the coordinated expression of the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. This represents a unique challenge that highlights the importance of nuclear-mitochondrial genetic communication to cellular function. Here we investigated the transcriptomic and functional consequences of nuclear-mitochondrial genetic divergence in vitro and in vivo. We utilized xenomitochondrial cybrid cell lines containing nuclear DNA from the common laboratory mouse Mus musculus domesticus and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from Mus musculus domesticus, or exogenous mtDNA from progressively divergent mouse species Mus spretus, Mus terricolor, Mus caroli and Mus pahari. These cybrids model a wide range of nuclear-mitochondrial genetic divergence that cannot be achieved with other research models. Furthermore, we used a xenomitochondrial mouse model generated in our laboratory that harbors wild-type, C57BL/6J Mus musculus domesticus nuclear DNA and homoplasmic mtDNA from Mus terricolor. RNA sequencing analysis of xenomitochondrial cybrids revealed an activation of interferon signaling pathways even in the absence of OXPHOS dysfunction or immune challenge. In contrast, xenomitochondrial mice displayed lower baseline interferon gene expression and an impairment in the interferon-dependent innate immune response upon immune challenge with herpes simplex virus, which resulted in decreased viral control. Our work demonstrates that nuclear-mitochondrial genetic divergence caused by the introduction of exogenous mtDNA can modulate the interferon immune response both in vitro and in vivo, even when OXPHOS function is not compromised. This work may lead to future insights into the role of mitochondrial genetic variation and the immune function in humans, as patients affected by mitochondrial disease are known to be more susceptible to immune challenges.
Clinical presentation of asymptomatic and symptomatic women who tested positive for genital gonorrhoea at a sexual health service in Melbourne, Australia
(CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, 2020-01-01)
Gonorrhoea cases in women have been rising in Australia in the 2010s but the cause of the increase is not well understood. This cross-sectional study aimed to describe the characteristics of genital gonorrhoea infection in women attending the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Australia. Gonorrhoea cases were diagnosed by nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) and/or culture. Genitourinary specimens were obtained in 12 869 clinic visits in women aged 16 years or above between August 2017 and August 2018. Genital gonorrhoea was detected in 142 (1.1%) of the visits. Almost half of the cases were asymptomatic, 47.9% [95% confidence interval (CI) 39.8-56.1%]; yellow, green or pus-like vaginal discharge was present in 11.3% (95% CI 7.0-17.6%) and other genital symptoms in 40.8% (95% CI 33.1-49.1%) of the cases. The mean time between last sexual contact and onset of symptoms was 7.3 days and between the onset of symptoms to presentation to the clinic was 12.1 days. Half of the cases of genital gonorrhoea among women are asymptomatic and these cases would have been missed by testing of only symptomatic women. Further epidemiological and behavioural research is required to understand the temporal changes in sexual practices among women in Australia.