April 21, 2020  |  

Evolution of a 72-kb cointegrant, conjugative multiresistance plasmid from early community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates.

Horizontal transfer of plasmids encoding antimicrobial-resistance and virulence determinants has been instrumental in Staphylococcus aureus evolution, including the emergence of community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA). In the early 1990s the first CA-MRSA isolated in Western Australia (WA), WA-5, encoded cadmium, tetracycline and penicillin-resistance genes on plasmid pWBG753 (~30 kb). WA-5 and pWBG753 appeared only briefly in WA, however, fusidic-acid-resistance plasmids related to pWBG753 were also present in the first European CA-MRSA at the time. Here we characterized a 72-kb conjugative plasmid pWBG731 present in multiresistant WA-5-like clones from the same period. pWBG731 was a cointegrant formed from pWBG753 and a pWBG749-family conjugative plasmid. pWBG731 carried mupirocin, trimethoprim, cadmium and penicillin-resistance genes. The stepwise evolution of pWBG731 likely occurred through the combined actions of IS257, IS257-dependent miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) and the BinL resolution system of the ß-lactamase transposon Tn552 An evolutionary intermediate ~42-kb non-conjugative plasmid pWBG715, possessed the same resistance genes as pWBG731 but retained an integrated copy of the small tetracycline-resistance plasmid pT181. IS257 likely facilitated replacement of pT181 with conjugation genes on pWBG731, thus enabling autonomous transfer. Like conjugative plasmid pWBG749, pWBG731 also mobilized non-conjugative plasmids carrying oriT mimics. It seems likely that pWBG731 represents the product of multiple recombination events between the WA-5 pWBG753 plasmid and other mobile genetic elements present in indigenous CA-MSSA. The molecular evolution of pWBG731 saliently illustrates how diverse mobile genetic elements can together facilitate rapid accrual and horizontal dissemination of multiresistance in S. aureus CA-MRSA.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

The replication-competent HIV-1 latent reservoir is primarily established near the time of therapy initiation.

Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) is highly effective at suppressing HIV-1 replication, the virus persists as a latent reservoir in resting CD4+ T cells during therapy. This reservoir forms even when ART is initiated early after infection, but the dynamics of its formation are largely unknown. The viral reservoirs of individuals who initiate ART during chronic infection are generally larger and genetically more diverse than those of individuals who initiate therapy during acute infection, consistent with the hypothesis that the reservoir is formed continuously throughout untreated infection. To determine when viruses enter the latent reservoir, we compared sequences of replication-competent viruses from resting peripheral CD4+ T cells from nine HIV-positive women on therapy to viral sequences circulating in blood collected longitudinally before therapy. We found that, on average, 71% of the unique viruses induced from the post-therapy latent reservoir were most genetically similar to viruses replicating just before ART initiation. This proportion is far greater than would be expected if the reservoir formed continuously and was always long lived. We conclude that ART alters the host environment in a way that allows the formation or stabilization of most of the long-lived latent HIV-1 reservoir, which points to new strategies targeted at limiting the formation of the reservoir around the time of therapy initiation.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Novel Bacteriophage Exclusion (BREX) System Encoded by the pglX Gene in Lactobacillus casei Zhang.

The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a novel prokaryotic defense system against bacteriophages. To our knowledge, no study has systematically characterized the function of the BREX system in lactic acid bacteria. Lactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic bacterium originating from koumiss. By using single-molecule real-time sequencing, we previously identified N6-methyladenine (m6A) signatures in the genome of L. casei Zhang and a putative methyltransferase (MTase), namely, pglX This work further analyzed the genomic locus near the pglX gene and identified it as a component of the BREX system. To decipher the biological role of pglX, an L. casei Zhang pglX mutant (?pglX) was constructed. Interestingly, m6A methylation of the 5′-ACRCAG-3′ motif was eliminated in the ?pglX mutant. The wild-type and mutant strains exhibited no significant difference in morphology or growth performance in de Man-Rogosa-Sharpe (MRS) medium. A significantly higher plasmid acquisition capacity was observed for the ?pglX mutant than for the wild type if the transformed plasmids contained pglX recognition sites (i.e., 5′-ACRCAG-3′). In contrast, no significant difference was observed in plasmid transformation efficiency between the two strains when plasmids lacking pglX recognition sites were tested. Moreover, the ?pglX mutant had a lower capacity to retain the plasmids than the wild type, suggesting a decrease in genetic stability. Since the Rebase database predicted that the L. casei PglX protein was bifunctional, as both an MTase and a restriction endonuclease, the PglX protein was heterologously expressed and purified but failed to show restriction endonuclease activity. Taken together, the results show that the L. casei Zhang pglX gene is a functional adenine MTase that belongs to the BREX system.IMPORTANCELactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic that confers beneficial effects on the host, and it is thus increasingly used in the dairy industry. The possession of an effective bacterial immune system that can defend against invasion of phages and exogenous DNA is a desirable feature for industrial bacterial strains. The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a recently described phage resistance system in prokaryotes. This work confirmed the function of the BREX system in L. casei and that the methyltransferase (pglX) is an indispensable part of the system. Overall, our study characterizes a BREX system component gene in lactic acid bacteria. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Highly Unusual V1 Region of Env in an Elite Controller of HIV Infection.

HIV elite controllers represent a remarkable minority of patients who maintain normal CD4+ T-cell counts and low or undetectable viral loads for decades in the absence of antiretroviral therapy. To examine the possible contribution of virus attenuation to elite control, we obtained a primary HIV-1 isolate from an elite controller who had been infected for 19?years, the last 10 of which were in the absence of antiretroviral therapy. Full-length sequencing of this isolate revealed a highly unusual V1 domain in Envelope (Env). The V1 domain in this HIV-1 strain was 49 amino acids, placing it in the top 1% of lengths among the 6,112 Env sequences in the Los Alamos National Laboratory online database. Furthermore, it included two additional N-glycosylation sites and a pair of cysteines suggestive of an extra disulfide loop. Virus with this Env retained good infectivity and replicative capacity; however, analysis of recombinant viruses suggested that other sequences in Env were adapted to accommodate the unusual V1 domain. While the long V1 domain did not confer resistance to neutralization by monoclonal antibodies of the V1/V2-glycan-dependent class, it did confer resistance to neutralization by monoclonal antibodies of the V3-glycan-dependent class. Our findings support results in the literature that suggest a role for long V1 regions in shielding HIV-1 from recognition by V3-directed broadly neutralizing antibodies. In the case of the elite controller described here, it seems likely that selective pressures from the humoral immune system were responsible for driving the highly unusual polymorphisms present in this HIV-1 Envelope.IMPORTANCE Elite controllers have long provided an avenue for researchers to reveal mechanisms underlying control of HIV-1. While the role of host genetic factors in facilitating elite control is well known, the possibility of infection by attenuated strains of HIV-1 has been much less studied. Here we describe an unusual viral feature found in an elite controller of HIV-1 infection and demonstrate its role in conferring escape from monoclonal antibodies of the V3-glycan class. Our results suggest that extreme variation may be needed by HIV-1 to escape neutralization by some antibody specificities. Copyright © 2019 Silver et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Diverse Vectors and Mechanisms Spread New Delhi Metallo-ß-Lactamases among Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae in the Greater Boston Area.

New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamases (NDMs) are an uncommon but emerging cause of carbapenem resistance in the United States. Genomic factors promoting their domestic spread remain poorly characterized. A prospective genomic surveillance program among Boston-area hospitals identified multiple new occurrences of NDM-carrying strains of Escherichia coli and Enterobacter cloacae complex in inpatient and outpatient settings, representing the first occurrences of NDM-mediated resistance since initiating genomic surveillance in 2011. Cases included domestic patients with no international exposures. PacBio sequencing of isolates identified strain characteristics, resistance genes, and the complement of mobile vectors mediating spread. Analyses revealed a common 3,114-bp region containing the blaNDM gene, with carriage of this conserved region among unique strains by diverse transposon and plasmid backbones. Functional studies revealed a broad capacity for blaNDM transmission by conjugation, transposition, and complex interplasmid recombination events. NDMs represent a rapidly spreading form of drug resistance that can occur in inpatient and outpatient settings and in patients without international exposures. In contrast to Tn4401-based spread of Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemases (KPCs), diverse transposable elements mobilize NDM enzymes, commonly with other resistance genes, enabling naive strains to acquire multi- and extensively drug-resistant profiles with single transposition or plasmid conjugation events. Genomic surveillance provides effective means to rapidly identify these gene-level drivers of resistance and mobilization in order to inform clinical decisions to prevent further spread.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

CD8 T cells targeting adapted epitopes in chronic HIV infection promote dendritic cell maturation and CD4 T cell trans-infection.

HIV-1 frequently escapes from CD8 T cell responses via HLA-I restricted adaptation, leading to the accumulation of adapted epitopes (AE). We previously demonstrated that AE compromise CD8 T cell responses during acute infection and are associated with poor clinical outcomes. Here, we examined the impact of AE on CD8 T cell responses and their biological relevance in chronic HIV infection (CHI). In contrast to acute infection, the majority of AE are immunogenic in CHI. Longitudinal analyses from acute to CHI showed an increased frequency and magnitude of AE-specific IFN? responses compared to NAE-specific ones. These AE-specific CD8 T cells also were more cytotoxic to CD4 T cells. In addition, AE-specific CD8 T cells expressed lower levels of PD1 and CD57, as well as higher levels of CD28, suggesting a more activated and less exhausted phenotype. During CHI, viral sequencing identified AE-encoding strains as the dominant quasispecies. Despite increased CD4 T cell cytotoxicity, CD8 T cells responding to AE promoted dendritic cell (DC) maturation and CD4 T cell trans-infection perhaps explaining why AE are predominant in CHI. Taken together, our data suggests that the emergence of AE-specific CD8 T cell responses in CHI confers a selective advantage to the virus by promoting DC-mediated CD4 T cell trans-infection.


April 21, 2020  |  

A systematic review of the Trypanosoma cruzi genetic heterogeneity, host immune response and genetic factors as plausible drivers of chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy.

Chagas disease is a complex tropical pathology caused by the kinetoplastid Trypanosoma cruzi. This parasite displays massive genetic diversity and has been classified by international consensus in at least six Discrete Typing Units (DTUs) that are broadly distributed in the American continent. The main clinical manifestation of the disease is the chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy (CCC) that is lethal in the infected individuals. However, one intriguing feature is that only 30-40% of the infected individuals will develop CCC. Some authors have suggested that the immune response, host genetic factors, virulence factors and even the massive genetic heterogeneity of T. cruzi are responsible of this clinical pattern. To date, no conclusive data support the reason why a few percentages of the infected individuals will develop CCC. Therefore, we decided to conduct a systematic review analysing the host genetic factors, immune response, cytokine production, virulence factors and the plausible association of the parasite DTUs and CCC. The epidemiological and clinical implications are herein discussed.


April 21, 2020  |  

Vaccine-induced protection from homologous tier 2 SHIV challenge in nonhuman primates depends on serum-neutralizing antibody titers.

Passive administration of HIV neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) can protect macaques from hard-to-neutralize (tier 2) chimeric simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge. However, conditions for nAb-mediated protection after vaccination have not been established. Here, we selected groups of 6 rhesus macaques with either high or low serum nAb titers from a total of 78 animals immunized with recombinant native-like (SOSIP) Env trimers. Repeat intrarectal challenge with homologous tier 2 SHIVBG505 led to rapid infection in unimmunized and low-titer animals. High-titer animals, however, demonstrated protection that was gradually lost as nAb titers waned over time. An autologous serum ID50 nAb titer of ~1:500 afforded more than 90% protection from medium-dose SHIV infection. In contrast, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and T cell activity did not correlate with protection. Therefore, Env protein-based vaccination strategies can protect against hard-to-neutralize SHIV challenge in rhesus macaques by inducing tier 2 nAbs, provided appropriate neutralizing titers can be reached and maintained. Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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