- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published over 5 years ago
Mucosal surfaces are a main entry point for pathogens and the principal sites of defense against infection. Both bacteria and phage are associated with this mucus. Here we show that phage-to-bacteria ratios were increased, relative to the adjacent environment, on all mucosal surfaces sampled, ranging from cnidarians to humans. In vitro studies of tissue culture cells with and without surface mucus demonstrated that this increase in phage abundance is mucus dependent and protects the underlying epithelium from bacterial infection. Enrichment of phage in mucus occurs via binding interactions between mucin glycoproteins and Ig-like protein domains exposed on phage capsids. In particular, phage Ig-like domains bind variable glycan residues that coat the mucin glycoprotein component of mucus. Metagenomic analysis found these Ig-like proteins present in the phages sampled from many environments, particularly from locations adjacent to mucosal surfaces. Based on these observations, we present the bacteriophage adherence to mucus model that provides a ubiquitous, but non-host-derived, immunity applicable to mucosal surfaces. The model suggests that metazoan mucosal surfaces and phage coevolve to maintain phage adherence. This benefits the metazoan host by limiting mucosal bacteria, and benefits the phage through more frequent interactions with bacterial hosts. The relationships shown here suggest a symbiotic relationship between phage and metazoan hosts that provides a previously unrecognized antimicrobial defense that actively protects mucosal surfaces.
To use a MS2 bacteriophage model to compare three hand-drying methods, paper towels (PT), a warm air dryer (WAD) and a jet air dryer (JAD), for their potential to disperse viruses and contaminate the immediate environment during use.
Human noroviruses (NoV) are the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis worldwide. Epidemiological studies of outbreaks have suggested that vomiting facilitates transmission of human NoV, but there have been no laboratory-based studies characterizing the degree of NoV release during a vomiting event. The purpose of this work was to demonstrate that virus aerosolization occurs in a simulated vomiting event, and to estimate the amount of virus that is released in those aerosols. A simulated vomiting device was constructed at one-quarter scale of the human body following similitude principles. Simulated vomitus matrices at low (6.24 mPa*s) and high (177.5 mPa*s) viscosities were inoculated with low (108 PFU/mL) and high (1010 PFU/mL) concentrations of bacteriophage MS2 and placed in the artificial “stomach” of the device, which was then subjected to scaled physiologically relevant pressures associated with vomiting. Bio aerosols were captured using an SKC Biosampler. In low viscosity artificial vomitus, there were notable differences between recovered aerosolized MS2 as a function of pressure (i.e., greater aerosolization with increased pressure), although this was not always statistically significant. This relationship disappeared when using high viscosity simulated vomitus. The amount of MS2 aerosolized as a percent of total virus “vomited” ranged from 7.2 x 10-5 to 2.67 x 10-2 (which corresponded to a range of 36 to 13,350 PFU total). To our knowledge, this is the first study to document and measure aerosolization of a NoV surrogate in a similitude-based physical model. This has implications for better understanding the transmission dynamics of human NoV and for risk modeling purposes, both of which can help in designing effective infection control measures.
Studying the coevolutionary dynamics between bacteria and the bacteriophage viruses that infect them is critical to understanding both microbial diversity and ecosystem functioning. Phages can play a key role in shaping bacterial population dynamics and can significantly alter both intra- and inter-specific competition among bacterial hosts. Predicting how phages might influence community stability and apparent competition, however, requires an understanding of how bacteria-phage interaction networks evolve as a function of host diversity and community dynamics. Here, we first review the progress that has been made in understanding phage specificity, including the use of experimental evolution, we then introduce a new dataset on natural bacteriophages collected from the phyllosphere of horse chestnut trees, and finally we highlight that bacterial sensitivity to phage is rarely a binary trait and that this variation should be taken into account and reported. We emphasize that there is currently insufficient evidence to make broad generalizations about phage host range in natural populations, the limits of phage adaptation to novel hosts, or the implications of phage specificity in shaping microbial communities. However, the combination of experimental and genomic approaches with the study of natural communities will allow new insight to the evolution and impact of phage specificity within complex bacterial communities.
The clinical relevance of nosocomially acquired infections caused by multi-resistant Achromobacter strains is rapidly increasing. Here, a diverse set of 61 Achromobacter xylosoxidans strains was characterized by MultiLocus Sequence Typing and Phenotype MicroArray technology. The strains were further analyzed in regard to their susceptibility to 35 antibiotics and to 34 different and newly isolated bacteriophages from the environment. A large proportion of strains were resistant against numerous antibiotics such as cephalosporines, aminoglycosides and quinolones, whereas piperacillin-tazobactam, ticarcillin, mezlocillin and imipenem were still inhibitory. We also present the first expanded study on bacteriophages of the genus Achromobacter that has been so far a blank slate with respect to phage research. The phages were isolated mainly from several waste water treatment plants in Germany. Morphological analysis of all of these phages by electron microscopy revealed a broad diversity with different members of the order Caudovirales, including the families Siphoviridae, Myoviridae, and Podoviridae. A broad spectrum of different host ranges could be determined for several phages that lysed up to 24 different and in part highly antibiotic resistant strains. Molecular characterisation by DNA restriction analysis revealed that all phages contain linear double-stranded DNA. Their restriction patterns display distinct differences underlining their broad diversity.
Bacteriophages are the most abundant biological entities on the planet, playing crucial roles in the shaping of bacterial populations. Phages have smaller genomes than their bacterial hosts, yet there are currently fewer fully sequenced phage than bacterial genomes. We assessed the suitability of Illumina technology for high-throughput sequencing and subsequent assembly of phage genomes. In silico datasets reveal that 30× coverage is sufficient to correctly assemble the complete genome of ~98.5% of known phages, with experimental data confirming that the majority of phage genomes can be assembled at 30× coverage. Furthermore, in silico data demonstrate it is possible to co-sequence multiple phages from different hosts, without introducing assembly errors.
Based on complete bacterial genome sequence data, we demonstrate a correlation between bacterial chromosome length and the G+C content of the genome, with longer genomes having higher G+C contents. The correlation value decreases at shorter genome sizes, where there is a wider spread of G+C values. However, although significant (P<0.001), the correlation value (Pearson R=0.58) suggests that other factors also have a significant influence. A similar pattern was seen for plasmids; longer plasmids had higher G+C values, although the large number of shorter plasmids had a wide spread of G+C values. There was also a significant (P<0.0001) correlation between the G+C content of plasmids and the G+C content of their bacterial host. Conversely, the G+C content of bacteriophages tended to reduce with larger genome sizes, and although there was a correlation between host genome G+C content and that of the bacteriophage, it was not as strong as that seen between plasmids and their hosts.
Increasing prevalence and severity of multi-drug-resistant (MDR) bacterial infections has necessitated novel antibacterial strategies. Ideally, new approaches would target bacterial pathogens while exerting selection for reduced pathogenesis when these bacteria inevitably evolve resistance to therapeutic intervention. As an example of such a management strategy, we isolated a lytic bacteriophage, OMKO1, (family Myoviridae) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that utilizes the outer membrane porin M (OprM) of the multidrug efflux systems MexAB and MexXY as a receptor-binding site. Results show that phage selection produces an evolutionary trade-off in MDR P. aeruginosa, whereby the evolution of bacterial resistance to phage attack changes the efflux pump mechanism, causing increased sensitivity to drugs from several antibiotic classes. Although modern phage therapy is still in its infancy, we conclude that phages, such as OMKO1, represent a new approach to phage therapy where bacteriophages exert selection for MDR bacteria to become increasingly sensitive to traditional antibiotics. This approach, using phages as targeted antibacterials, could extend the lifetime of our current antibiotics and potentially reduce the incidence of antibiotic resistant infections.
With an increase in cases of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, alternative and adjunct treatments are needed, leading to renewed interest in bacteriophage therapy. There have been few clinically relevant studies of phage therapy against chronic lung infections. Using a novel murine model that uses a natural respiratory inhalation route of infection, we show that phage therapy is an effective treatment against chronic P. aeruginosa lung infections. We also show efficacy against P. aeruginosa in a biofilm-associated cystic fibrosis lung-like environment. These studies demonstrate the potential for phage therapy in the treatment of established and recalcitrant chronic respiratory tract infections.
Bacterial viruses are among the most numerous biological entities within the human body. These viruses are found within regions of the body that have conventionally been considered sterile, including the blood, lymph, and organs. However, the primary mechanism that bacterial viruses use to bypass epithelial cell layers and access the body remains unknown. Here, we used in vitro studies to demonstrate the rapid and directional transcytosis of diverse bacteriophages across confluent cell layers originating from the gut, lung, liver, kidney, and brain. Bacteriophage transcytosis across cell layers had a significant preferential directionality for apical-to-basolateral transport, with approximately 0.1% of total bacteriophages applied being transcytosed over a 2-h period. Bacteriophages were capable of crossing the epithelial cell layer within 10 min with transport not significantly affected by the presence of bacterial endotoxins. Microscopy and cellular assays revealed that bacteriophages accessed both the vesicular and cytosolic compartments of the eukaryotic cell, with phage transcytosis suggested to traffic through the Golgi apparatus via the endomembrane system. Extrapolating from these results, we estimated that 31 billion bacteriophage particles are transcytosed across the epithelial cell layers of the gut into the average human body each day. The transcytosis of bacteriophages is a natural and ubiquitous process that provides a mechanistic explanation for the occurrence of phages within the body.IMPORTANCE Bacteriophages (phages) are viruses that infect bacteria. They cannot infect eukaryotic cells but can penetrate epithelial cell layers and spread throughout sterile regions of our bodies, including the blood, lymph, organs, and even the brain. Yet how phages cross these eukaryotic cell layers and gain access to the body remains unknown. In this work, epithelial cells were observed to take up and transport phages across the cell, releasing active phages on the opposite cell surface. Based on these results, we posit that the human body is continually absorbing phages from the gut and transporting them throughout the cell structure and subsequently the body. These results reveal that phages interact directly with the cells and organs of our bodies, likely contributing to human health and immunity.