Infectious Disease

La Rosa SL, Snipen L-G, Murray BE, Willems RJL, Gilmore MS, Diep DB, Nes IF, Brede DA. A Genomic Virulence Reference Map of Enterococcus faecalis Reveals an Important Contribution of Phage03-Like Elements in Nosocomial Genetic Lineages to Pathogenicity in a Caenorhabditis elegans Infection Model. Infect Immun 2015;83(5):2156-67.Abstract
In the present study, the commensal and pathogenic host-microbe interaction of Enterococcus faecalis was explored using a Caenorhabditis elegans model system. The virulence of 28 E. faecalis isolates representing 24 multilocus sequence types (MLSTs), including human commensal and clinical isolates as well as isolates from animals and of insect origin, was investigated using C. elegans strain glp-4 (bn2ts); sek-1 (km4). This revealed that 6 E. faecalis isolates behaved in a commensal manner with no nematocidal effect, while the remaining strains showed a time to 50% lethality ranging from 47 to 120 h. Principal component analysis showed that the difference in nematocidal activity explained 94% of the variance in the data. Assessment of known virulence traits revealed that gelatinase and cytolysin production accounted for 40.8% and 36.5% of the observed pathogenicity, respectively. However, coproduction of gelatinase and cytolysin did not increase virulence additively, accounting for 50.6% of the pathogenicity and therefore indicating a significant (26.7%) saturation effect. We employed a comparative genomic analysis approach using the 28 isolates comprising a collection of 82,356 annotated coding sequences (CDS) to identify 2,325 patterns of presence or absence among the investigated strains. Univariate statistical analysis of variance (ANOVA) established that individual patterns positively correlated (n = 61) with virulence. The patterns were investigated to identify potential new virulence traits, among which we found five patterns consisting of the phage03-like gene clusters. Strains harboring phage03 showed, on average, 17% higher killing of C. elegans (P = 4.4e(-6)). The phage03 gene cluster was also present in gelatinase-and-cytolysin-negative strain E. faecalis JH2-2. Deletion of this phage element from the JH2-2 clinical strain rendered the mutant apathogenic in C. elegans, and a similar mutant of the nosocomial V583 isolate showed significantly attenuated virulence. Bioinformatics investigation indicated that, unlike other E. faecalis virulence traits, phage03-like elements were found at a higher frequency among nosocomial isolates. In conclusion, our report provides a valuable virulence map that explains enhancement in E. faecalis virulence and contributes to a deeper comprehension of the genetic mechanism leading to the transition from commensalism to a pathogenic lifestyle.
Shainheit MG, Valentino MD, Gilmore MS, Camilli A. Mutations in Pneumococcal cpsE Generated via In Vitro Serial Passaging Reveal a Potential Mechanism of Reduced Encapsulation Utilized by a Conjunctival Isolate. J Bacteriol 2015;197(10):1781-91.Abstract
UNLABELLED: The polysaccharide capsule of Streptococcus pneumoniae is required for nasopharyngeal colonization and for invasive disease in the lungs, blood, and meninges. In contrast, the vast majority of conjunctival isolates are acapsular. The first serotype-specific gene in the capsule operon, cpsE, encodes the initiating glycosyltransferase and is one of the few serotype-specific genes that can tolerate null mutations. This report characterizes a spontaneously arising TIGR4 mutant exhibiting a reduced capsule, caused by a 6-nucleotide duplication in cpsE which results in duplication of Ala and Ile at positions 45 and 46. This strain (AI45dup) possessed more exposed phosphorylcholine and was hypersusceptible to C3 complement deposition compared to the wild type. Accordingly, the mutant was significantly better at forming abiotic biofilms and binding epithelial cells in vitro but was avirulent in a sepsis model. In vitro serial passaging of the wild-type strain failed to reproduce the AI45dup mutation but instead led to a variety of mutants with reduced capsule harboring single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in cpsE. A single passage in the sepsis model after high-dose inoculation readily yielded revertants of AI45dup with restored wild-type capsule level, but the majority of SNP alleles of cpsE could not revert, suppress, or bypass. Analysis of cpsE in conjunctival isolates revealed a strain with a single missense mutation at amino acid position 377, which was responsible for reduced encapsulation. This study supports the hypothesis that spontaneous, nonreverting mutations in cpsE serve as a form of adaptive mutation by providing a selective advantage to S. pneumoniae in niches where expression of capsule is detrimental. IMPORTANCE: While the capsule of Streptococcus pneumoniae is required for colonization and invasive disease, most conjunctival isolates are acapsular by virtue of deletion of the entire capsular operon. We show that spontaneous acapsular mutants isolated in vitro harbor mostly nonrevertible single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) null mutations in cpsE, encoding the initiating glycosyltransferase. From a small collection of acapsular conjunctival isolates, we identified one strain with a complete capsular operon but containing a SNP in cpsE that we show is responsible for the acapsular phenotype. We propose that acapsular conjunctival isolates may arise initially from such nonreverting SNP null mutations in cpsE, which can be followed later by deletion of portions or all of the cps operon.
Bispo PJM, Haas W, Gilmore MS. Biofilms in infections of the eye. Pathogens 2015;4(1):111-36.Abstract

The ability to form biofilms in a variety of environments is a common trait of bacteria, and may represent one of the earliest defenses against predation. Biofilms are multicellular communities usually held together by a polymeric matrix, ranging from capsular material to cell lysate. In a structure that imposes diffusion limits, environmental microgradients arise to which individual bacteria adapt their physiologies, resulting in the gamut of physiological diversity. Additionally, the proximity of cells within the biofilm creates the opportunity for coordinated behaviors through cell-cell communication using diffusible signals, the most well documented being quorum sensing. Biofilms form on abiotic or biotic surfaces, and because of that are associated with a large proportion of human infections. Biofilm formation imposes a limitation on the uses and design of ocular devices, such as intraocular lenses, posterior contact lenses, scleral buckles, conjunctival plugs, lacrimal intubation devices and orbital implants. In the absence of abiotic materials, biofilms have been observed on the capsule, and in the corneal stroma. As the evidence for the involvement of microbial biofilms in many ocular infections has become compelling, developing new strategies to prevent their formation or to eradicate them at the site of infection, has become a priority.

Hamrah P, Sahin A, Dastjerdi MH, Shahatit BM, Bayhan HA, Dana R, Pavan-Langston D. InVivo confocal microscopic changes of the corneal epithelium and stroma in patients with herpes zoster ophthalmicus. Am J Ophthalmol 2015;159(6):1036-1044.e1.Abstract

PURPOSE: To analyze the density and morphology of corneal epithelial cells and keratocytes by in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) in patients with herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO) as associated with corneal innervation. DESIGN: Prospective, controlled and masked cross-sectional study. METHODS: setting: Single-center study. PATIENTS: Thirty eyes with the diagnosis HZO and their contralateral clinically unaffected eyes, 15 eyes of 15 normal controls. intervention procedures: In vivo confocal microscopy and corneal esthesiometry of the central cornea. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Changes in morphology and density of the superficial and basal epithelial cells and stromal keratocytes, and correlation with corneal sensation. RESULTS: The density of superficial epithelial cells in HZO eyes with severe sensation loss (766.5 ± 25.2 cells/mm(2)) was significantly lower than both healthy control eyes (1450.23 ± 150.83 cells/mm(2)) and contralateral unaffected eyes (1974.13 ± 298.24 cells/mm(2)) (P = .003). Superficial epithelial cell size (1162.5 μm(2)) was significantly larger in HZO eyes with severe loss of sensation, as compared to contralateral (441.46 ± 298.14) or healthy eyes (407.4 ± 47.2μm(2); all P < .05). The density of basal epithelial cells, anterior keratocytes, and posterior keratocytes did not show statistical significance between patients, controls, and contralateral unaffected eyes. Changes in superficial epithelial cell density and morphology correlated strongly with corneal sensation. CONCLUSIONS: In vivo confocal microscopy reveals profound HZO-induced changes in the superficial epithelium, as demonstrated by increase in cell size, decrease in cell density, and squamous metaplasia. We demonstrate that these changes strongly correlate with changes in corneal innervation in eyes affected by HZO.

Ursea R, De Castro D, Bowen TJ, Chan C-C. The role of conjunctival biopsy in the diagnosis of granulomatosis with polyangiitis. J Ophthalmic Inflamm Infect 2015;5(1):1.Abstract

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study is to describe a patient who was diagnosed with granulomatosis with polyangiitis based on conjunctival biopsy. This study is a case report and review of the literature. FINDINGS: A 48-year-old Caucasian woman presented with a 2-week history of a left eye peripheral corneal ulcer with adjacent conjunctivitis and a 4-month history of a non-resolving productive cough. Given her elevated serum perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (P-ANCA) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) levels as well as a chest computed topography (CT) that showed bilateral patchy infiltrates, suspicion of limited granulomatosis with polyangiitis with lung and ocular involvement was high. Because bronchoalveolar lavage was nondiagnostic for granulomatous disease, conjunctival biopsy was initially attempted in order to avoid a more invasive lung biopsy. The conjunctival biopsy revealed mixed subacute inflammatory mediators and vasculitis consistent with granulomatosis with polyangiitis. CONCLUSIONS: Conjunctival biopsy may be a valuable, minimally invasive method for diagnosing systemic granulomatosis with polyangiitis.

Letko E, Yeh S, Foster SC, Pleyer U, Brigell M, Grosskreutz CL, Grosskreutz CL. Efficacy and safety of intravenous secukinumab in noninfectious uveitis requiring steroid-sparing immunosuppressive therapy. Ophthalmology 2015;122(5):939-48.Abstract
PURPOSE: Secukinumab, a fully human anti-interleukin-17A monoclonal antibody, exhibited promising activity in a proof-of-concept study when administered in intravenous (IV) doses to patients with active, chronic, noninfectious uveitis. This study compared the efficacy and safety of different IV and subcutaneous (SC) doses of secukinumab in patients with noninfectious uveitis. DESIGN: Multicenter, randomized, double-masked, dose-ranging, phase 2 clinical trial. PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-seven patients with active noninfectious intermediate uveitis, posterior uveitis, or panuveitis who required corticosteroid-sparing immunosuppressive therapy. METHODS: Patients were randomized to secukinumab 300 mg SC every 2 weeks for 4 doses, secukinumab 10 mg/kg IV every 2 weeks for 4 doses, or secukinumab 30 mg/kg IV every 4 weeks for 2 doses. Intravenous or SC saline was administered to maintain masking. Efficacy was assessed on day 57 (2-4 weeks after last dose). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Percentage of patients with treatment response, defined as (1) at least a 2-grade reduction in vitreous haze score or trace or absent vitreous haze in the study eye without an increase in corticosteroid dose and without uveitis worsening or (2) reduction in corticosteroid dosages to prespecified levels without uveitis worsening. Percentage of patients with remission, defined as anterior chamber cell and vitreous haze scores of 0 or 0.5+ in both eyes without corticosteroid therapy or uveitis worsening. RESULTS: Secukinumab 30 mg/kg IV and 10 mg/kg IV, compared with the 300 mg SC dose, produced higher responder rates (72.7% and 61.5% vs. 33.3%, respectively) and remission rates (27.3% and 38.5% vs. 16.7%, respectively). Statistical and clinical superiority for the 30 mg/kg IV dose compared with the 300 mg SC dose was established in a Bayesian probability model. Other measures, including time to response onset, change in visual acuity, and change in vitreous haze score, showed numeric trends favoring IV dosing. Secukinumab, administered in IV or SC formulations, appeared safe and was well tolerated. CONCLUSIONS: Intravenous secukinumab was effective and well tolerated in noninfectious uveitis requiring systemic corticosteroid-sparing immunosuppressive therapy. Greater activity with IV dosing suggests that patients may not receive sufficient drug with SC administration. High-dose IV secukinumab may be necessary to deliver secukinumab in therapeutic concentrations.
Mukherjee S, Zhou X, Rajaiya J, Chodosh J. Ultrastructure of adenovirus keratitis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2015;56(1):472-7.Abstract

PURPOSE: We determined the ultrastructure of mouse adenovirus keratitis, a model for human adenovirus keratitis. METHODS: Adenovirus keratitis was induced in C57Bl/6j mice by intrastromal injection of human adenovirus species D type 37 (HAdV-D37) with a heat-pulled, glass, micropipette needle under compressed air. At select time points after infection, mice were euthanized and their corneas removed, fixed, and sectioned at 70-nm thickness for electron microscopy. RESULTS: Injection of HAdV-D37 into the mouse corneal stroma placed virus predominantly in the pericellular corneal stromal matrix. Virus was seen bound to and entering stromal cells at 1 and 2 hours after infection, respectively. Cell membrane transit by virus was seen to involve two distinct structures resembling caveolae and macropinosomes. However, later during infection intracellular virus was not seen within membrane-bound organelles. By 8 hours after infection, intracellular virus had accumulated into densely packed, perinuclear arrays. Virus disassembly was not obvious at any time point after infection. Infiltrating neutrophils seen by one day after infection had engulfed degraded stromal cells by 4 days after infection. CONCLUSIONS: By transmission electron microscopy, injected HAdV-D37 readily enters stromal cells in the C57Bl/6j mouse cornea and induces stromal inflammation, as was shown previously by light microscopy. However, electron microscopy also revealed dense, static arrays of intracytoplasmic virus, suggesting a block in viral capsid disassembly and viral DNA nuclear entry. These findings may explain why human adenoviruses do not replicate in the mouse corneal stroma.

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.
Mott KR, Allen SJ, Zandian M, Akbari O, Hamrah P, Maazi H, Wechsler SL, Sharpe AH, Freeman GJ, Ghiasi H. Inclusion of CD80 in HSV targets the recombinant virus to PD-L1 on DCs and allows productive infection and robust immune responses. PLoS One 2014;9(1):e87617.Abstract
CD80 plays a critical role in stimulation of T cells and subsequent control of infection. To investigate the effect of CD80 on HSV-1 infection, we constructed a recombinant HSV-1 virus that expresses two copies of the CD80 gene in place of the latency associated transcript (LAT). This mutant virus (HSV-CD80) expressed high levels of CD80 and had similar virus replication kinetics as control viruses in rabbit skin cells. In contrast to parental virus, this CD80 expressing recombinant virus replicated efficiently in immature dendritic cells (DCs). Additionally, the susceptibility of immature DCs to HSV-CD80 infection was mediated by CD80 binding to PD-L1 on DCs. This interaction also contributed to a significant increase in T cell activation. Taken together, these results suggest that inclusion of CD80 as a vaccine adjuvant may promote increased vaccine efficacy by enhancing the immune response directly and also indirectly by targeting to DC.
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.
Van Tyne D, Gilmore MS. A delicate balance: maintaining mutualism to prevent disease. Cell Host Microbe 2014;16(4):425-7.Abstract

The intestinal microbial ecosystem is complex, and few of the principles that contribute to homeostasis in health are well understood. Pham et al. (2014) show that a network including the epithelial interleukin-22 receptor protects against infection with the opportunistic pathogen Enterococcus faecalis through promotion of host-microbiota mutualism.

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.