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Concept: Mycobacterium

209

Disulfides from Allium stipitatum, commonly known as Persian shallot, were previously reported to possess antibacterial properties. Analogues of these compounds, produced by S-methylthiolation of appropriate thiols using S-methyl methanethiosulfonate, exhibited antimicrobial activity, with one compound inhibiting the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis at 17 µM (4 mg L-1) and other compounds inhibiting Escherichia coli and multi-drug-resistant (MDR) Staphylococcus aureus at concentrations ranging between 32-138 µM (8-32 mg L-1). These compounds also displayed moderate inhibitory effects on Klebsiella and Proteus species. Whole-cell phenotypic bioassays such as the spot-culture growth inhibition assay (SPOTi), drug efflux inhibition, biofilm inhibition and cytotoxicity assays were used to evaluate these compounds. Of particular note was their ability to inhibit mycobacterial drug efflux and biofilm formation, while maintaining a high selectivity towards M. tuberculosis H37Rv. These results suggest that methyl disulfides are novel scaffolds which could lead to the development of new drugs against tuberculosis (TB).

Concepts: Microbiology, Antibiotic resistance, Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Enterobacteriaceae, Inhibitor, Disinfectant

202

We have examined the remains of a Pilgrim burial from St Mary Magdalen, Winchester. The individual was a young adult male, aged around 18-25 years at the time of death. Radiocarbon dating showed the remains dated to the late 11th-early 12th centuries, a time when pilgrimages were at their height in Europe. Several lines of evidence in connection with the burial suggested this was an individual of some means and prestige. Although buried within the leprosarium cemetery, the skeleton showed only minimal skeletal evidence for leprosy, which was confined to the bones of the feet and legs. Nonetheless, molecular testing of several skeletal elements, including uninvolved bones all showed robust evidence of DNA from Mycobacterium leprae, consistent with the lepromatous or multibacillary form of the disease. We infer that in life, this individual almost certainly suffered with multiple soft tissue lesions. Genotyping of the M.leprae strain showed this belonged to the 2F lineage, today associated with cases from South-Central and Western Asia. During osteological examination it was noted that the cranium and facial features displayed atypical morphology for northern European populations. Subsequently, geochemical isotopic analyses carried out on tooth enamel indicated that this individual was indeed not local to the Winchester region, although it was not possible to be more specific about their geographic origin.

Concepts: Bone, Mycobacterium, Isotope, Skeleton, Leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae, The Passion of the Christ, Mary Magdalene

198

Understanding Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) transmission is essential to guide efficient tuberculosis control strategies. Traditional strain typing lacks sufficient discriminatory power to resolve large outbreaks. Here, we tested the potential of using next generation genome sequencing for identification of outbreak-related transmission chains.

Concepts: DNA, Epidemiology, Molecular biology, Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Outbreak, Shotgun sequencing

179

Nine burials excavated from the Magdalen Hill Archaeological Research Project (MHARP) in Winchester, UK, showing skeletal signs of lepromatous leprosy (LL) have been studied using a multidisciplinary approach including osteological, geochemical and biomolecular techniques. DNA from Mycobacterium leprae was amplified from all nine skeletons but not from control skeletons devoid of indicative pathology. In several specimens we corroborated the identification of M. leprae with detection of mycolic acids specific to the cell wall of M. leprae and persistent in the skeletal samples. In five cases, the preservation of the material allowed detailed genotyping using single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and multiple locus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA). Three of the five cases proved to be infected with SNP type 3I-1, ancestral to contemporary M. leprae isolates found in southern states of America and likely carried by European migrants. From the remaining two burials we identified, for the first time in the British Isles, the occurrence of SNP type 2F. Stable isotope analysis conducted on tooth enamel taken from two of the type 3I-1 and one of the type 2F remains revealed that all three individuals had probably spent their formative years in the Winchester area. Previously, type 2F has been implicated as the precursor strain that migrated from the Middle East to India and South-East Asia, subsequently evolving to type 1 strains. Thus we show that type 2F had also spread westwards to Britain by the early medieval period.

Concepts: Middle East, Mycobacterium, Europe, Variable number tandem repeat, Islam, British Isles, Leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae

171

Leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease) is an infectious peripheral neurological disorder caused by Mycobacterium leprae that even today leaves millions of individuals worldwide with life-long disabilities. The specific mechanisms by which this bacterium induces nerve injury remain largely unknown, mainly owing to ethical and practical limitations in obtaining affected human nerve samples. In addition to humans, nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) are the only other natural host of M. leprae, and they develop a systemically disseminated disease with extensive neurological involvement. M. leprae is an obligate intracellular parasite that cannot be cultivated in vitro. Because of the heavy burdens of bacilli they harbor, nine-banded armadillos have become the organism of choice for propagating large quantities of M. leprae, and they are now advancing as models of leprosy pathogenesis and nerve damage. Although armadillos are exotic laboratory animals, the recently completed whole genome sequence for this animal is enabling researchers to undertake more sophisticated molecular studies and to develop armadillo-specific reagents. These advances will facilitate the use of armadillos in piloting new therapies and diagnostic regimens, and will provide new insights into the oldest known infectious neurodegenerative disorder.

Concepts: Bacteria, Neurology, Mycobacterium, Leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae, Dapsone, Armadillo, Dasypus

171

Mycobacteria are shaped by a thick envelope made of an array of uniquely structured lipids and polysaccharides. However, the spatial organizations of these molecules remain unclear. Here we show that exposure to an esterase from Mycobacterium smegmatis (Msmeg_1529), hydrolyzing the ester linkage of trehalose dimycolate (TDM) in vitro, triggers rapid and efficient lysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis BCG, and Mycobacterium marinum. Exposure to the esterase immediately releases free mycolic acids, while concomitantly depleting trehalose mycolates. Moreover, lysis could be competitively inhibited by an excess of purified TDM and was abolished by a S124A mutation affecting the catalytic activity of the esterase. These findings are consistent with an indispensible structural role of trehalose mycolates in architectural design of the exposed surface of mycobacterial envelope. Importantly, we also demonstrate that the esterase-mediated rapid lysis of M. tuberculosis significantly improves its detection in paucibacillary samples.

Concepts: Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium smegmatis, Mycobacterium bovis, Corynebacterineae, Acid fast bacilli, Mycobacterium marinum

170

Multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) is useful to establish transmission routes and sources of infections for various microorganisms including Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC). The recently released SITVITWEB database contains 12-loci Mycobacterial Interspersed Repetitive Units–Variable Number of Tandem DNA Repeats (MIRU-VNTR) profiles and spoligotype patterns for thousands of MTC strains; it uses MIRU International Types (MIT) and Spoligotype International Types (SIT) to designate clustered patterns worldwide. Considering existing doubts on the ability of spoligotyping alone to reveal exact phylogenetic relationships between MTC strains, we developed a MLVA based classification for MTC genotypic lineages. We studied 6 different subsets of MTC isolates encompassing 7793 strains worldwide. Minimum spanning trees (MST) were constructed to identify major lineages, and the most common representative located as a central node was taken as the prototype defining different phylogenetic groups. A total of 7 major lineages with their respective prototypes were identified: Indo-Oceanic/MIT57, East Asian and African Indian/MIT17, Euro American/MIT116, West African-I/MIT934, West African-II/MIT664, M. bovis/MIT49, M.canettii/MIT60. Further MST subdivision identified an additional 34 sublineage MIT prototypes. The phylogenetic relationships among the 37 newly defined MIRU-VNTR lineages were inferred using a classification algorithm based on a bayesian approach. This information was used to construct an updated phylogenetic and phylogeographic snapshot of worldwide MTC diversity studied both at the regional, sub-regional, and country level according to the United Nations specifications. We also looked for IS6110 insertional events that are known to modify the results of the spoligotyping in specific circumstances, and showed that a fair portion of convergence leading to the currently observed bias in phylogenetic classification of strains may be traced back to the presence of IS6110. These results shed new light on the evolutionary history of the pathogen in relation to the history of peopling and human migration.

Concepts: Evolution, Species, Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Phylogenetic tree, Phylogenetics, Bayesian inference

169

Badgers are involved in the transmission to cattle of bovine tuberculosis (TB), a serious problem for the UK farming industry. Cross-sectional studies have shown an association between bite wounds and TB infection in badgers which may have implications for M. bovis transmission and control, although the sequence of these two events is unclear. Transmission during aggressive encounters could potentially reduce the effectiveness of policies which increase the average range of a badger and thus its opportunities for interaction with other social groups.

Concepts: Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Cattle, Mycobacterium bovis, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, Tuberculosis treatment, Badger

168

Mycobacterium tuberculosis has the remarkable capacity to survive within the hostile environment of the macrophage, and to resist potent antibacterial molecules such as reactive oxygen species (ROS). Thus, understanding mycobacterial resistance mechanisms against ROS may contribute to the development of new anti-tuberculosis therapies. Here we identified genes involved in such mechanisms by screening a high-density transposon mutant library, and we show that several of them are involved in the intracellular lifestyle of the pathogen. Many of these genes were found to play a part in cell envelope functions, further strengthening the important role of the mycobacterial cell envelope in protection against aggressions such as the ones caused by ROS inside host cells.

Concepts: DNA, Oxygen, Gene, Bacteria, Mitochondrion, Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis

167

BACKGROUND: Mycobacterium tuberculosis encodes 11 putative serine-threonine proteins Kinases (STPK) which regulates transcription, cell development and interaction with the host cells. From the 11 STPKs three kinases namely PknA, PknB and PknG have been related to the mycobacterial growth. From previous studies it has been observed that PknB is essential for mycobacterial growth and expressed during log phase of the growth and phosphorylates substrates involved in peptidoglycan biosynthesis. In recent years many high affinity inhibitors are reported for PknB. Previously implementation of data fusion has shown effective enrichment of active compounds in both structure and ligand based approaches .In this study we have used three types of data fusion ranking algorithms on the PknB dataset namely, sum rank, sum score and reciprocal rank. We have identified reciprocal rank algorithm is capable enough to select compounds earlier in a virtual screening process. We have also screened the Asinex database with reciprocal rank algorithm to identify possible inhibitors for PknB. RESULTS: In our work we have used both structure-based and ligand-based approaches for virtual screening, and have combined their results using a variety of data fusion methods. We found that data fusion increases the chance of actives being ranked highly. Specifically, we found that the ranking of Pharmacophore search, ROCS and Glide XP fused with a reciprocal ranking algorithm not only outperforms structure and ligand based approaches but also capable of ranking actives better than the other two data fusion methods using the BEDROC, robust initial enhancement (RIE) and AUC metrics. These fused results were used to identify 45 candidate compounds for further experimental validation. CONCLUSION: We show that very different structure and ligand based methods for predicting drug-target interactions can be combined effectively using data fusion, outperforming any single method in ranking of actives. Such fused results show promise for a coherent selection of candidates for biological screening.

Concepts: Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Tuberculosis, Non-parametric statistics, Mycobacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Ranking, RANK