Infectious Disease

O'Hare M, Amarnani D, Whitmore HAB, An M, Marino C, Ramos L, Delgado-Tirado S, Hu X, Chmielewska N, Chandrahas A, Fitzek A, Heinrich F, Steurer S, Ondruschka B, Glatzel M, Krasemann S, Sepulveda-Falla D, Lagares D, Pedron J, Bushweller JH, Liu P, Arboleda-Velasquez JF, Kim LA. Targeting RUNX1 prevents pulmonary fibrosis and reduces expression of SARS-CoV-2 host mediators. Am J Pathol 2021;Abstract
Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) can arise from unknown causes as in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), or as a consequence of infections including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Current treatments for PF slow, but do not stop disease progression. We report that treatment with a RUNX1 inhibitor (Ro24-7429), previously found to be safe, though ineffective, as a Tat inhibitor in patients with HIV, robustly ameliorates lung fibrosis and inflammation in the bleomycin-induced PF mouse model. RUNX1 inhibition blunted fundamental mechanisms downstream pathological mediators of fibrosis and inflammation including TGF-β1 and TNF-α in cultured lung epithelial cells, fibroblasts, and vascular endothelial cells indicating pleiotropic effects. RUNX1 inhibition also reduced the expression of ACE2 and FURIN, host proteins critical for SARS-CoV-2 infection, in mice and in vitro. A subset of human lungs with SARS-CoV-2 infection overexpress RUNX1. These data suggest that RUNX1 inhibition via repurposing of Ro24-7429 may be beneficial for PF and to battle SARS-CoV-2, by reducing expression of viral mediators and by preventing respiratory complications.
Odorcic S, Haas W, Gilmore MS, Dohlman CH. Fungal Infections After Boston Type 1 Keratoprosthesis Implantation: Literature Review and In Vitro Antifungal Activity of Hypochlorous Acid. Cornea 2015;34(12):1599-605.Abstract

PURPOSE: To review the current literature describing cases of fungal keratitis and endophthalmitis after Boston keratoprosthesis (KPro) implantation and to characterize the antifungal activity of 0.01% hypochlorous acid against medically relevant fungi. METHODS: A literature review of fungal keratitis or endophthalmitis in KPro patients from January 2001 to April 2015, and an in vitro time kill assay characterizing the fungicidal activity of 0.01% hypochlorous acid against fungi causing ocular infections. RESULTS: Fifteen publications, predominantly retrospective case series, were identified. Infection rates after KPro implantation ranged from 0.009 to 0.02 fungal infections per patient-year of follow-up. The largest single-surgeon series reported an incidence of 2.4% for fungal endophthalmitis during a 10-year period. Causative organisms included both yeasts and molds. Outcomes were favorable if infections were caught early and treated appropriately; less favorable outcomes were reported in developing countries where fungal species are endemic and resources are limited. 0.01% hypochlorous acid is rapidly fungicidal, reducing the number of viable yeast cells or mold conidia by at least 99.99% within 60 seconds. The antifungal activity extended to all molds (Acremonium kiliense, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Fusarium solani, and Mucor indicus) and yeast species (Candida albicans and Candida parapsilosis) tested. CONCLUSIONS: Fungal infections remain a lifelong concern in patients after KPro implantation. There is a growing need for a standard antifungal prophylaxis regimen, especially in the developing world. The rapid broad-spectrum in vitro fungicidal activity of 0.01% hypochlorous acid against all fungi tested makes it an attractive candidate as an antifungal prophylaxis in KPro patients.

Palmer KL, Godfrey P, Griggs A, Kos VN, Zucker J, Desjardins C, Cerqueira G, Gevers D, Walker S, Wortman J, Feldgarden M, Haas B, Birren B, Gilmore MS. Comparative genomics of enterococci: variation in Enterococcus faecalis, clade structure in E. faecium, and defining characteristics of E. gallinarum and E. casseliflavus. MBio 2012;3(1):e00318-11.Abstract
The enterococci are Gram-positive lactic acid bacteria that inhabit the gastrointestinal tracts of diverse hosts. However, Enterococcus faecium and E. faecalis have emerged as leading causes of multidrug-resistant hospital-acquired infections. The mechanism by which a well-adapted commensal evolved into a hospital pathogen is poorly understood. In this study, we examined high-quality draft genome data for evidence of key events in the evolution of the leading causes of enterococcal infections, including E. faecalis, E. faecium, E. casseliflavus, and E. gallinarum. We characterized two clades within what is currently classified as E. faecium and identified traits characteristic of each, including variation in operons for cell wall carbohydrate and putative capsule biosynthesis. We examined the extent of recombination between the two E. faecium clades and identified two strains with mosaic genomes. We determined the underlying genetics for the defining characteristics of the motile enterococci E. casseliflavus and E. gallinarum. Further, we identified species-specific traits that could be used to advance the detection of medically relevant enterococci and their identification to the species level.
Pan H, Yan Y, Zhang J, Zhao S, Feng L, Ou J, Cao N, Li M, Zhao W, Wan C, Ismail AM, Rajaiya J, Chodosh J, Zhang Q. Rapid Construction of a Replication-Competent Infectious Clone of Human Adenovirus Type 14 by Gibson Assembly. Viruses 2018;10(10)Abstract
In 1955, Human adenovirus type 14 (HAdV-B14p) was firstly identified in a military trainee diagnosed as acute respiratory disease (ARD) in the Netherlands. Fifty years later, a genomic variant, HAdV-B14p1, re-emerged in the U.S. and caused large and fatal ARD outbreaks. Subsequently, more and more ARD outbreaks occurred in Canada, the UK, Ireland, and China, in both military and civil settings. To generate a tool for the efficient characterization of this new genomic variant, a full-length infectious genomic clone of HAdV-B14 was successfully constructed using one-step Gibson Assembly method in this study. Firstly, the full genome of HAdV-B14p1 strain GZ01, the first HAdV-B14 isolate in China, was assembled into pBR322 plasmid by Gibson Assembly. The pBRAdV14 plasmid, generated by Gibson Assembly, was analyzed and verified by PCR, restriction enzymes digestion and the sequencing. Secondly, viruses were rescued from pBRAdV14-transfected A549 cells. The integrity of the rescued viruses was identified by restriction enzyme analysis. The complete sequence of the infectious clone was further sequenced. No mutation was found in the infectious clone during the construction when compared with the parental virus and pBR322 sequences. The direct immunofluorescence assay indicated the expression of the hexon protein. Finally, typical virions were observed; the one-step growth curves further showed that the DNA replication and viral reproduction efficiency of pBRAd14 derived viruses was similar with that of wild-type HAdV-B14 strain. The successful construction of the replication-competent infectious clone of pBRAdV14 facilitates the development of vaccine and antiviral drugs against HAdV-B14, as well as provides a novel strategy for rapid construction of infectious viral clones for other large-genome DNA viruses.
Papavasileiou E, Sobrin L, Papaliodis GN. Ocular ischemic syndrome presenting as retinal vasculitis in a patient with moyamoya syndrome. Retin Cases Brief Rep 2015;9(2):170-2.Abstract

PURPOSE: To report a case of ocular ischemic syndrome presenting as retinal vasculitis in a patient with Moyamoya syndrome. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was conducted to record clinical data including fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, and serologic testing. A review of the literature from 1969 to 2014 of ocular involvement in Moyamoya syndrome was performed. RESULTS: A 51-year-old woman with long history of bilateral retinal vasculitis and refractory cystoid macular edema was eventually diagnosed with Moyamoya syndrome after sustaining a perioperative cerebrovascular accident. Moyamoya syndrome has been associated in the literature with ocular ischemic syndrome, presenting with narrowed retinal arteries, dilated veins, and midperipheral retinal hemorrhages, but retinal vasculitis with cystoid macular edema has not been reported. CONCLUSION: Moyamoya-related ocular ischemic syndrome can present as retinal vascular leakage and macular edema. Ophthalmologists should be cognizant that signs of the disease may be first observed in the eye before manifestations in the cerebrovascular system.

Prichula J, Van Tyne D, Schwartzman J, Sant'Anna FH, Pereira RI, da Cunha GR, Tavares M, Lebreton F, Frazzon J, d'Azevedo PA, Seixas A, Frazzon APG, Gilmore MS. Enterococci from Wild Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) as an Indicator of Marine Ecosystem Health and Human Impact. Appl Environ Microbiol 2020;86(19)Abstract
Enterococci are commensals that proliferated as animals crawled ashore hundreds of millions of years ago. They are also leading causes of multidrug-resistant hospital-acquired infections. While most studies are driven by clinical interest, comparatively little is known about enterococci in the wild or the effect of human activity on them. Pharmaceutical pollution and runoff from other human activities are encroaching widely into natural habitats. To assess their reach into remote habitats, we investigated the identity, genetic relatedness, and presence of specific traits among 172 enterococcal isolates from wild Magellanic penguins. Four enterococcal species, 18 lineage groups, and different colonization patterns were identified. One lineage, sequence type 475 (ST475), was isolated from three different penguins, making it of special interest. Its genome was compared to those of other sequence types (ST116 and ST242) recovered from Magellanic penguins, as well as to an existing phylogeny of isolated from diverse origins over the past 100 years. No penguin-derived strains were closely related to dominant clinical lineages. Most possessed intact CRISPR defenses, few mobile elements, and antibiotic resistances limited to those intrinsic to the species and lacked pathogenic features conveyed by mobile elements. Interestingly, plasmids were identified in penguin isolates that also had been reported for other marine mammals. Enterococci isolated from penguins showed limited anthropogenic impact, indicating that they are likely representative of those naturally circulating in the ecosystem inhabited by the penguins. These findings establish an important baseline for detecting the encroachment of human activity into remote planetary environments. Enterococci are host-associated microbes that have an unusually broad range, from the built hospital environment to the guts of insects and other animals in remote locations. Despite their occurrence in the guts of animals for hundreds of millions of years, we know little about the properties that confer this range or how anthropogenic activities may be introducing new selective forces. Magellanic penguins live at the periphery of human habitation. It was of interest to examine enterococci from these animals for the presence of antibiotic resistance and other markers reflective of anthropogenic selection. Diverse enterococcal lineages found discount the existence of a single well-adapted intrinsic penguin-specific species. Instead, they appear to be influenced by a carnivorous lifestyle and enterococci present in the coastal sea life consumed. These results indicate that currently, the penguin habitat remains relatively free of pollutants that select for adaptation to human-derived stressors.
Rabe BA, Cepko C. SARS-CoV-2 detection using isothermal amplification and a rapid, inexpensive protocol for sample inactivation and purification. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020;Abstract
The current severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has had an enormous impact on society worldwide, threatening the lives and livelihoods of many. The effects will continue to grow and worsen if economies begin to open without the proper precautions, including expanded diagnostic capabilities. To address this need for increased testing, we have developed a sensitive reverse-transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) assay compatible with current reagents, which utilizes a colorimetric readout in as little as 30 min. A rapid inactivation protocol capable of inactivating virions, as well as endogenous nucleases, was optimized to increase sensitivity and sample stability. This protocol, combined with the RT-LAMP assay, has a sensitivity of at least 50 viral RNA copies per microliter in a sample. To further increase the sensitivity, a purification protocol compatible with this inactivation method was developed. The inactivation and purification protocol, combined with the RT-LAMP assay, brings the sensitivity to at least 1 viral RNA copy per microliter in a sample. This simple inactivation and purification pipeline is inexpensive and compatible with other downstream RNA detection platforms and uses readily available reagents. It should increase the availability of SARS-CoV-2 testing as well as expand the settings in which this testing can be performed.
Rahimkhoei V, Jabbari N, Nourani A, Sharifi S, Akbari A. Potential small-molecule drugs as available weapons to fight novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV): A review. Cell Biochem Funct 2021;39(1):4-9.Abstract
Since the new coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2) has widely spread in Wuhan, China, with severe pneumonia, scientists and physicians have made remarkable efforts to use various options such as monoclonal antibodies, peptides, vaccines, small-molecule drugs and interferon therapies to control, prevent or treatment infections of 2019-nCoV. However, no vaccine or drug has yet been confirmed to completely treat 2019-nCoV. In this review, we focus on the use of potential available small-molecule drug candidates for treating infections caused by 2019-nCoV.
Rajagopal M, Martin MJ, Santiago M, Lee W, Kos VN, Meredith T, Gilmore MS, Walker S. Multidrug Intrinsic Resistance Factors in Staphylococcus aureus Identified by Profiling Fitness within High-Diversity Transposon Libraries. MBio 2016;7(4)Abstract

UNLABELLED: Staphylococcus aureus is a leading cause of life-threatening infections worldwide. The MIC of an antibiotic against S. aureus, as well as other microbes, is determined by the affinity of the antibiotic for its target in addition to a complex interplay of many other cellular factors. Identifying nontarget factors impacting resistance to multiple antibiotics could inform the design of new compounds and lead to more-effective antimicrobial strategies. We examined large collections of transposon insertion mutants in S. aureus using transposon sequencing (Tn-Seq) to detect transposon mutants with reduced fitness in the presence of six clinically important antibiotics-ciprofloxacin, daptomycin, gentamicin, linezolid, oxacillin, and vancomycin. This approach allowed us to assess the relative fitness of many mutants simultaneously within these libraries. We identified pathways/genes previously known to be involved in resistance to individual antibiotics, including graRS and vraFG (graRS/vraFG), mprF, and fmtA, validating the approach, and found several to be important across multiple classes of antibiotics. We also identified two new, previously uncharacterized genes, SAOUHSC_01025 and SAOUHSC_01050, encoding polytopic membrane proteins, as important in limiting the effectiveness of multiple antibiotics. Machine learning identified similarities in the fitness profiles of graXRS/vraFG, SAOUHSC_01025, and SAOUHSC_01050 mutants upon antibiotic treatment, connecting these genes of unknown function to modulation of crucial cell envelope properties. Therapeutic strategies that combine a known antibiotic with a compound that targets these or other intrinsic resistance factors may be of value for enhancing the activity of existing antibiotics for treating otherwise-resistant S. aureus strains. IMPORTANCE: Bacterial resistance to every major class of antibiotics has emerged, and we are entering a "post-antibiotic era" where relatively minor infections can lead to serious complications or even death. The utility of an antibiotic for a specific pathogen is limited by both intrinsic and acquired factors. Identifying the repertoire of intrinsic resistance factors of an antibiotic for Staphylococcus aureus, a leading cause of community- and hospital-acquired infections, would inform the design of new drugs as well as the identification of compounds that enhance the activity of existing drugs. To identify factors that limit the activity of antibiotics against S. aureus, we used Tn-Seq to simultaneously assess fitness of transposon mutants in every nonessential gene in the presence of six clinically important antibiotics. This work provides an efficient approach for identifying promising targets for drugs that can enhance susceptibility or restore sensitivity to existing antibiotics.

Rajaiya J, Yousuf MA, Singh G, Stanish H, Chodosh J. Heat shock protein 27 mediated signaling in viral infection. Biochemistry 2012;51(28):5695-702.Abstract
Heat shock proteins (HSPs) play a critical role in many intracellular processes, including apoptosis and delivery of other proteins to intracellular compartments. Small HSPs have been shown previously to participate in many cellular functions, including IL-8 induction. Human adenovirus infection activates intracellular signaling, involving particularly the c-Src and mitogen-activated protein kinases [Natarajan, K., et al. (2003) J. Immunol. 170, 6234-6243]. HSP27 and MK2 are also phosphorylated, and c-Src, and its downstream targets, p38, ERK1/2, and c-Jun-terminal kinase (JNK), differentially mediate IL-8 and MCP-1 expression. Specifically, activation and translocation of transcription factor NFκB-p65 occurs in a p38-dependent fashion [Rajaiya, J., et al. (2009) Mol. Vision 15, 2879-2889]. Herein, we report a novel role for HSP27 in an association of p38 with NFκB-p65. Immunoprecipitation assays of virus-infected but not mock-infected cells revealed a signaling complex including p38 and NFκB-p65. Transfection with HSP27 short interfering RNA (siRNA) but not scrambled RNA disrupted this association and reduced the level of IL-8 expression. Transfection with HSP27 siRNA also reduced the level of nuclear localization of NFκB-p65 and p38. By use of tagged p38 mutants, we found that amino acids 279-347 of p38 are necessary for the association of p38 with NFκB-p65. These studies strongly suggest that HSP27, p38, and NFκB-p65 form a signalosome in virus-infected cells and influence downstream expression of pro-inflammatory mediators.
Ramos Y, Rocha J, Hael AL, van Gestel J, Vlamakis H, Cywes-Bentley C, Cubillos-Ruiz JR, Pier GB, Gilmore MS, Kolter R, Morales DK. PolyGlcNAc-containing exopolymers enable surface penetration by non-motile Enterococcus faecalis. PLoS Pathog 2019;15(2):e1007571.Abstract
Bacterial pathogens have evolved strategies that enable them to invade tissues and spread within the host. Enterococcus faecalis is a leading cause of local and disseminated multidrug-resistant hospital infections, but the molecular mechanisms used by this non-motile bacterium to penetrate surfaces and translocate through tissues remain largely unexplored. Here we present experimental evidence indicating that E. faecalis generates exopolysaccharides containing β-1,6-linked poly-N-acetylglucosamine (polyGlcNAc) as a mechanism to successfully penetrate semisolid surfaces and translocate through human epithelial cell monolayers. Genetic screening and molecular analyses of mutant strains identified glnA, rpiA and epaX as genes critically required for optimal E. faecalis penetration and translocation. Mechanistically, GlnA and RpiA cooperated to generate uridine diphosphate N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) that was utilized by EpaX to synthesize polyGlcNAc-containing polymers. Notably, exogenous supplementation with polymeric N-acetylglucosamine (PNAG) restored surface penetration by E. faecalis mutants devoid of EpaX. Our study uncovers an unexpected mechanism whereby the RpiA-GlnA-EpaX metabolic axis enables production of polyGlcNAc-containing polysaccharides that endow E. faecalis with the ability to penetrate surfaces. Hence, targeting carbohydrate metabolism or inhibiting biosynthesis of polyGlcNAc-containing exopolymers may represent a new strategy to more effectively confront enterococcal infections in the clinic.
Robinson CM, Zhou X, Rajaiya J, Yousuf MA, Singh G, DeSerres JJ, Walsh MP, Wong S, Seto D, Dyer DW, Chodosh J, Jones MS. Predicting the next eye pathogen: analysis of a novel adenovirus. MBio 2013;4(2):e00595-12.Abstract
UNLABELLED: For DNA viruses, genetic recombination, addition, and deletion represent important evolutionary mechanisms. Since these genetic alterations can lead to new, possibly severe pathogens, we applied a systems biology approach to study the pathogenicity of a novel human adenovirus with a naturally occurring deletion of the canonical penton base Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) loop, thought to be critical to cellular entry by adenoviruses. Bioinformatic analysis revealed a new highly recombinant species D human adenovirus (HAdV-D60). A synthesis of in silico and laboratory approaches revealed a potential ocular tropism for the new virus. In vivo, inflammation induced by the virus was dramatically greater than that by adenovirus type 37, a major eye pathogen, possibly due to a novel alternate ligand, Tyr-Gly-Asp (YGD), on the penton base protein. The combination of bioinformatics and laboratory simulation may have important applications in the prediction of tissue tropism for newly discovered and emerging viruses. IMPORTANCE: The ongoing dance between a virus and its host distinctly shapes how the virus evolves. While human adenoviruses typically cause mild infections, recent reports have described newly characterized adenoviruses that cause severe, sometimes fatal human infections. Here, we report a systems biology approach to show how evolution has affected the disease potential of a recently identified novel human adenovirus. A comprehensive understanding of viral evolution and pathogenicity is essential to our capacity to foretell the potential impact on human disease for new and emerging viruses.
Roh M, Yasa C, Cho H, Nicholson L, Uchiyama E, Young LHY, Lobo A-M, Papaliodis GN, Durand ML, Sobrin L. The role of serological titres in the diagnosis of ocular toxoplasmosis. Acta Ophthalmol 2016;94(5):521-2.
S DR, P G, DA G, BR H, V K, IF N, M S. Transcriptional and Post Transcriptional Control of Enterococcal Gene Regulation. In: Enterococci: From Commensals to Leading Causes of Drug Resistant Infection [Internet] Boston: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary; 2014-. 2014Abstract
Sadaka A, Durand ML, Sisk R, Gilmore MS. Staphylococcus aureus and its Bearing on Ophthalmic Disease. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2017;25(1):111-121.Abstract

PURPOSE: To review antibiotic resistance associated with S. aureus endophthalmitis and the virulence of S. aureus. METHODS: Review of the current and prospective approaches for treating S. aureus endophthalmitis. RESULTS: Bacterial endophthalmitis remains to be a major threat for vision. S. aureus endophthalmitis specifically, carries a poor visual prognosis making early diagnosis and treatment crucial. Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) endophthalmitis represents a significant number of S. aureus endophthalmitis cases. MRSA with reduced susceptibility to glycopeptide antibiotics such as vancomycin (vancomycin intermediate S. aureus, VISA) have also emerged in the ocular infections, and there has been a rise in S. aureus resistance to new and old generation fluoroquinolones that are commonly used for prophylaxis after intravitreal injections and intraocular surgeries. CONCLUSIONS: With the rise in the number of penetrating procedures in the ophthalmology practice and the parallel rise in antibiotic resistance, prophylaxis and awareness of the antimicrobial resistance profiles remain crucial and the identification of novel antimicrobials is essential.

Sadaka A, Durand ML, Gilmore MS. Bacterial endophthalmitis in the age of outpatient intravitreal therapies and cataract surgeries: host-microbe interactions in intraocular infection. Prog Retin Eye Res 2012;31(4):316-31.Abstract
Bacterial endophthalmitis is a sight threatening infection of the interior structures of the eye. Incidence in the US has increased in recent years, which appears to be related to procedures being performed on an aging population. The advent of outpatient intravitreal therapy for management of age-related macular degeneration raises yet additional risks. Compounding the problem is the continuing progression of antibiotic resistance. Visual prognosis for endophthalmitis depends on the virulence of the causative organism, the severity of intraocular inflammation, and the timeliness of effective therapy. We review the current understanding of the pathogenesis of bacterial endophthalmitis, highlighting opportunities for the development of improved therapeutics and preventive strategies.
Sadaka A, Palmer K, Suzuki T, Gilmore MS. In vitro and in vivo models of Staphylococcus aureus endophthalmitis implicate specific nutrients in ocular infection. PLoS One 2014;9(10):e110872.Abstract
PURPOSE: To define global transcriptional responses of Staphylococcus aureus and its codY mutant (CodY is a transcription regulator of virulence and metabolic genes in response to branched-chain amino acids) when growing in bovine aqueous (AH) and vitreous humor (VH) in vitro, and to investigate the impact of codY deletion on S. aureus virulence in a novel murine anterior chamber (AC) infection model. METHODS: For the in vitro model, differential transcriptomic gene expression of S. aureus and its codY mutant grown in chemically defined medium (CDM), AH, and VH was analyzed. Furthermore, the strains were inoculated into the AC of mice. Changes in bacterial growth, electroretinography and inflammation scores were monitored. RESULTS: Bovine AH and VH provide sufficient nutrition for S. aureus growth in vitro. Transcriptome analysis identified 72 unique open reading frames differentially regulated ≥10-fold between CDM, AH, and VH. In the AC model, we found comparable growth of the codY mutant and wild type strains in vivo. Average inflammation scores and retinal function were significantly worse for codY mutant-infected eyes at 24 h post-infection. CONCLUSION: Our in vitro bovine AH and VH models identified likely nutrient sources for S. aureus in the ocular milieu. The in vivo model suggests that control of branched-chain amino acid availability has therapeutic potential in limiting S. aureus endophthalmitis severity.
Santa Maria JP, Sadaka A, Moussa SH, Brown S, Zhang YJ, Rubin EJ, Gilmore MS, Walker S. Compound-gene interaction mapping reveals distinct roles for Staphylococcus aureus teichoic acids. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2014;111(34):12510-5.Abstract
Staphylococcus aureus contains two distinct teichoic acid (TA) polymers, lipoteichoic acid (LTA) and wall teichoic acid (WTA), which are proposed to play redundant roles in regulating cell division. To gain insight into the underlying biology of S. aureus TAs, we used a small molecule inhibitor to screen a highly saturated transposon library for cellular factors that become essential when WTA is depleted. We constructed an interaction network connecting WTAs with genes involved in LTA synthesis, peptidoglycan synthesis, surface protein display, and D-alanine cell envelope modifications. Although LTAs and WTAs are synthetically lethal, we report that they do not have the same synthetic interactions with other cell envelope genes. For example, D-alanylation, a tailoring modification of both WTAs and LTAs, becomes essential when the former, but not the latter, are removed. Therefore, D-alanine-tailored LTAs are required for survival when WTAs are absent. Examination of terminal phenotoypes led to the unexpected discovery that cells lacking both LTAs and WTAs lose their ability to form Z rings and can no longer divide. We have concluded that the presence of either LTAs or WTAs on the cell surface is required for initiation of S. aureus cell division, but these polymers act as part of distinct cellular networks.
Sassoubre LM, Ramsey MM, Gilmore MS, Boehm AB. Transcriptional response of Enterococcus faecalis to sunlight. J Photochem Photobiol B 2014;130:349-56.Abstract
Microarrays were used to investigate the transcriptional response of Enterococcus faecalis to photostress. E. faecalis are Gram-positive bacteria used as indicators of water quality and have been shown to vary diurnally in response to sunlight. E. faecalis in filtered seawater microcosms were exposed to artificial sunlight for 12h and then placed in the dark for 12h. Transcript abundance was measured at 0, 2, 6, 12, and 24h in the sunlit microcosm and a dark control using microarrays. Culturable E. faecalis concentrations decreased 6-7 orders of magnitude within the first 6h of light exposure. After 12h in the dark, no evidence of dark-repair was observed. Expression data collected after 12h of sunlight exposure revealed a difference in transcript abundance in the light relative to dark microcosms for 35 unique ORFs, 33 ORFs showed increased transcript abundance and 2 ORFs showed reduced transcript abundance. A majority (51%) of the ORFs with increased transcript abundance in the sunlit relative to dark microcosms encoded hypothetical proteins; others were associated with protein synthesis, oxidative stress and DNA repair. Results suggest that E. faecalis exposed to sunlight actively transcribe RNA in response to photostress.
Selleck EM, Gilmore MS. Oxygen as a Virulence Determinant in Polymicrobial Infections. MBio 2016;7(4)Abstract

Infections caused by multiple organisms, or polymicrobial infections, are likely more common than is broadly appreciated. Interaction among microbial communities (and with their host) can change the infection landscape by subverting immunity, providing nutrients and inhibiting competing microbes. Stacy et al. (A. Stacy, D. Fleming, R. J. Lamont, K. P. Rumbaugh, and M. Whiteley, mBio 7:e00782-16, 2016, described a novel mechanism that results in synergistic growth of oral microbes Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans and Streptococcus gordonii The authors used whole-genome fitness profiling by transposon sequencing (Tn-seq) to identify genes differentially required for growth in vitro versus in a mono- or coinfection in a thigh abscess model. They found that coinfection with S. gordonii allowed A. actinomycetemcomitans to shift from an anaerobic to an aerobic mode of growth. This shift involved the production of a terminal electron acceptor H2O2 by S. gordonii and increased A. actinomycetemcomitans persistence-an interaction termed "cross-respiration."