Austin Center for Infection Research

Heidelberg, Australia

Austin Center for Infection Research

Heidelberg, Australia
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Tomasini A.,University of Strasbourg | Francois P.,University of Geneva | Howden B.P.,Austin Center for Infection Research | Howden B.P.,Austin Health | And 5 more authors.
Infection, Genetics and Evolution | Year: 2014

RNA molecules with regulatory functions in pathogenic bacteria have benefited from a renewed interest these two last decades. In Staphylococcus aureus, recent genome-wide approaches have led to the discovery that almost 10-20% of genes code for RNAs with critical regulatory roles in adaptive processes. These RNAs include trans-acting RNAs, which mostly act through binding to target mRNAs, and cis-acting RNAs, which include regulatory regions of mRNAs responding to various metabolic signals. Besides recent analysis of S. aureus transcriptome has revealed an unprecedented existence of pervasive transcription generating a high number of weakly expressed antisense RNAs along the genome as well as numerous mRNAs with overlapped regions. Here, we will illustrate the diversity of trans-acting RNAs and illustrate how they are integrated into complex regulatory circuits, which link metabolism, stress response and virulence. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Kelley P.G.,Austin Health | Kelley P.G.,Austin Center for Infection Research | Gao W.,Austin Health | Gao W.,Austin Center for Infection Research | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy | Year: 2011

Objectives: The aim of this study was to establish the relationship between reduced vancomycin and daptomycin susceptibility among Australasian vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (VISA) and heterogeneous-VISA (hVISA) isolates from patients never exposed to daptomycin. Methods: Forty-seven stored clinical isolates of hVISA/VISAcollected beforeNovember 2008 fromaroundAustralia andNewZealandwere selected. Daptomycinand vancomycinMICtestingwas performed using broth microdilution (BMD) and Etest methods. Daptomycin population analysis was performed on a subset of isolates. Results: The percentage of daptomycin non-susceptible isolates was 0% for vancomycin-susceptible S. aureus (VSSA) (Etest and BMD), for hVISA it was 26% by Etest and 15% by BMD, and for VISA 62% by Etest and 38% by BMD. Population analysis profile testing demonstrated daptomycin heteroresistance among the hVISA and VISA strains tested. Conclusions: This is the highest rate of daptomycin non-susceptibility reported among hVISA isolates to date. Clinicians should exhibit caution when using daptomycin in situations where serious hVISA or VISA infection is a possibility. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. All rights reserved.


Howden B.P.,University of Melbourne | Howden B.P.,Austin Center for Infection Research | Howden B.P.,Austin Health | Howden B.P.,Monash University | And 16 more authors.
PLoS Pathogens | Year: 2011

Antimicrobial resistance in Staphylococcus aureus is a major public health threat, compounded by emergence of strains with resistance to vancomycin and daptomycin, both last line antimicrobials. Here we have performed high throughput DNA sequencing and comparative genomics for five clinical pairs of vancomycin-susceptible (VSSA) and vancomycin-intermediate ST239 S. aureus (VISA); each pair isolated before and after vancomycin treatment failure. These comparisons revealed a frequent pattern of mutation among the VISA strains within the essential walKR two-component regulatory locus involved in control of cell wall metabolism. We then conducted bi-directional allelic exchange experiments in our clinical VSSA and VISA strains and showed that single nucleotide substitutions within either walK or walR lead to co-resistance to vancomycin and daptomycin, and caused the typical cell wall thickening observed in resistant clinical isolates. Ion Torrent genome sequencing confirmed no additional regulatory mutations had been introduced into either the walR or walK VISA mutants during the allelic exchange process. However, two potential compensatory mutations were detected within putative transport genes for the walK mutant. The minimal genetic changes in either walK or walR also attenuated virulence, reduced biofilm formation, and led to consistent transcriptional changes that suggest an important role for this regulator in control of central metabolism. This study highlights the dramatic impacts of single mutations that arise during persistent S. aureus infections and demonstrates the role played by walKR to increase drug resistance, control metabolism and alter the virulence potential of this pathogen. © 2011 Howden et al.


Sherry N.L.,Austin Health | Sherry N.L.,Austin Center for Infection Research | Porter J.L.,University of Melbourne | Seemann T.,Monash University | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology | Year: 2013

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) of bacterial genomes has recently become more accessible and is now available to the routine diagnostic microbiology laboratory. However, questions remain regarding its feasibility, particularly with respect to data analysis in nonspecialist centers. To test the applicability of NGS to outbreak investigations, Ion Torrent sequencing was used to investigate a putative multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli outbreak in the neonatal unit of the Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne, Australia. Four suspected outbreak strains and a comparator strain were sequenced. Genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis demonstrated that the four neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) strains were identical and easily differentiated from the comparator strain. Genome sequence data also determined that the NICU strains belonged to multilocus sequence type 131 and carried the blaCTX-M-15 extended-spectrum beta-lactamase. Comparison of the outbreak strains to all publicly available complete E. coli genome sequences showed that they clustered with neonatal meningitis and uropathogenic isolates. The turnaround time from a positive culture to the completion of sequencing (prior to data analysis) was 5 days, and the cost was approximately $300 per strain (for the reagents only). The main obstacles to a mainstream adoption of NGS technologies in diagnostic microbiology laboratories are currently cost (although this is decreasing), a paucity of user-friendly and clinically focused bioinformatics platforms, and a lack of genomics expertise outside the research environment. Despite these hurdles, NGS technologies provide unparalleled high-resolution genotyping in a short time frame and are likely to be widely implemented in the field of diagnostic microbiology in the next few years, particularly for epidemiological investigations (replacing current typing methods) and the characterization of resistance determinants. Clinical microbiologists need to familiarize themselves with these technologies and their applications. Copyright © 2013, American Society for Microbiology.


Howden B.P.,Austin Center for Infection Research | Howden B.P.,Austin Health | Howden B.P.,University of Melbourne | Howden B.P.,Monash University | And 8 more authors.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy | Year: 2013

The critical role of noncoding small RNAs (sRNAs) in the bacterial response to changing conditions is increasingly recognized. However, a specific role for sRNAs during antibiotic exposure has not been investigated in Staphylococcus aureus. Here, we used Illumina RNA-Seq to examine the sRNA response of multiresistant sequence type 239 (ST239) S. aureus after exposure to four antibiotics (vancomycin, linezolid, ceftobiprole, and tigecycline) representing the major classes of antimicrobials used to treat methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infections. We identified 409 potential sRNAs and then compared global sRNA and mRNA expression profiles at 2 and 6 h, without antibiotic exposure and after exposure to each antibiotic, for a vancomycin-susceptible strain (JKD6009) and a vancomycin-intermediate strain (JKD6008). Exploration of this data set by multivariate analysis using a novel implementation of nonnegative matrix factorization (NMF) revealed very different responses for mRNA and sRNA. Where mRNA responses clustered with strain or growth phase conditions, the sRNA responses were predominantly linked to antibiotic exposure, including sRNA responses that were specific for particular antibiotics. A remarkable feature of the antimicrobial response was the prominence of antisense sRNAs to genes encoding proteins involved in protein synthesis and ribosomal function. This study has defined a large sRNA repertoire in epidemic ST239 MRSA and shown for the first time that a subset of sRNAs are part of a coordinated transcriptional response to specific antimicrobial exposures in S. aureus. These data provide a framework for interrogating the role of staphylococcal sRNAs in antimicrobial resistance and exploring new avenues for sRNA-based antimicrobial therapies. Copyright © 2013, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


Howden B.P.,Austin Center for Infection Research | Howden B.P.,Austin Health | Howden B.P.,University of Melbourne | Howden B.P.,Monash University | And 5 more authors.
Infection, Genetics and Evolution | Year: 2014

Resistance to new antimicrobials is generally recognized in Staphylococcus aureus soon after they are released for clinical use. In the case of vancomycin, which was first released in the 1950s, resistance was not reported until the mid 1990s, with the description of vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (VISA), and heterogenous-VISA (hVISA). Unraveling the complex genetic and cell wall structural changes conferring low-level vancomycin resistance in S. aureus has proved challenging. However the recent advances in high throughput whole-genome sequencing has played a key role in determining the breadth of bacterial chromosomal changes linked with resistance. Diverse mutations in a small number of staphylococcal regulatory genes, in particular walKR, graRS, vraSR and rpoB, have been associated with hVISA and VISA. Only a small number of these mutations have been experimentally proven to confer the resistance phenotype and some of these only partially contribute to resistance. It also appears that the evolution of VISA from VSSA is a step-wise process. Transcriptomics studies, and analysis of host pathogen interactions, indicate that the evolution of vancomycin-susceptible S. aureus to VISA is associated not only with antibiotic resistance, but with other changes likely to promote persistent infection. These include predicted alterations in central metabolism, altered expression of virulence associated factors, attenuated virulence in vivo, and alterations in susceptibility to host innate immune responses, together with reduced susceptibility to other antibiotics. In fact, current data suggests that hVISA and VISA represent a bacterial evolutionary state favoring persistence in the face of not only antibiotics, but also the host environment. The additional knowledge of staphylococcal biology that has been uncovered during the study of hVISA and VISA is significant. The present review will detail the current understanding of the evolutionary process in the generation of hVISA and VISA, and explore the diverse additional changes that occur in these strains. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Omansen T.F.,University of Melbourne | Omansen T.F.,University of Groningen | Porter J.L.,University of Melbourne | Johnson P.D.R.,University of Melbourne | And 4 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2015

Mycobacterium ulcerans causes Buruli ulcer (BU), a debilitating infection of subcutaneous tissue. There is a WHO-recommended antibiotic treatment requiring an 8-week course of streptomycin and rifampicin. This regime has revolutionized the treatment of BU but there are problems that include reliance on daily streptomycin injections and side effects such as ototoxicity. Trials of all-oral treatments for BU show promise but additional drug combinations that make BU treatment safer and shorter would be welcome. Following on from reports that avermectins have activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, we tested the in-vitro efficacy of ivermectin and moxidectin on M. ulcerans. We observed minimum inhibitory concentrations of 4–8 μg/ml and time-kill assays using wild type and bioluminescent M. ulcerans showed a significant dose-dependent reduction in M. ulcerans viability over 8-weeks. A synergistic killing-effect with rifampicin was also observed. Avermectins are well tolerated, widely available and inexpensive. Based on our in vitro findings we suggest that avermectins should be further evaluated for the treatment of BU. © 2015 Omansen et al.


Holmes N.E.,Austin Center for Infection Research | Davis J.S.,John Hunter Hospital | Hal S.J.V.,Royal Prince Alfred Hospital | Hal S.J.V.,University of Western Sydney
Seminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine | Year: 2015

There has been a welcome increase in the number of agents available for the treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Vancomycin remains an acceptable treatment option, with moves toward individualized dosing to a pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) target. Numerous practicalities, however, would need to be resolved before implementation. Lipoglycopeptides as a class show excellent in vitro potency. Their long half-lives and complex PKs may preclude these agents being used in critically ill patients. Anti-MRSA cephalosporins provide great promise in the treatment of MRSA. These agents, despite broad-spectrum activity, should be reserved for patients with MRSA infections as it is likely that usage will be associated with increased rates of resistance. Daptomycin is currently the only antibiotic to have shown noninferiority to vancomycin in the treatment of MRSA bacteremia. The results of an open-labeled trial to address the superiority of daptomycin compared with vancomycin in reduced vancomycin susceptibility infections are eagerly anticipated. No drug to date has shown superiority to vancomycin in the treatment of MRSA infections with the possible exception of linezolid in hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP), making linezolid an important option in the treatment of MRSA-proven HAP. Whether these strengths and features are agent or class specific are unclear but will likely be answered with the marketing of tedizolid. There are insufficient data to recommend either quinupristin/dalfopristin or tigecycline, as first line in the treatment of severe MRSA infections. These agents however remain options in patients with no other alternatives. © 2015 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.


Holmes N.E.,Austin Center for Infection Research | Howden B.P.,Austin Center for Infection Research | Howden B.P.,University of Melbourne | Howden B.P.,Monash University
Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases | Year: 2014

Purpose of review Vancomycin has been the cornerstone of treatment for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. This review describes new MRSA-active antibiotics that have recently been introduced and highlights emerging resistance. Recent findings Elevations in the vancomycin minimum inhibitory concentration within the susceptible range are associated with treatment failure and mortality in the treatment of MRSA infections. Ceftaroline and ceftobiprole are anti-MRSA cephalosporins and are noninferior to comparator agents in the treatment of acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSIs) and pneumonia. Tedizolid is more potent than linezolid, has improved pharmacokinetics and reduced toxicity and is active against cfr-containing S. aureus. Telavancin now has approval for treatment of hospital-acquired pneumonia, and recent phase 2 trial data showed similar cure rates in S. Aureus bacteremia. Dalbavancin and oritavancin are administered once weekly and are noninferior to comparators for acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections. Resistance has emerged against many new anti-MRSA antimicrobials including ceftaroline. Combination therapy of b-lactams with vancomycin or daptomycin is increasing. Summary Several new MRSA-active agents are now approved for use, although much of the data is derived from treatment of acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections or pneumonia. Further studies are required for more invasive infections, such as bacteremia and endocarditis. © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health-Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Holmes N.E.,Austin Center for Infection Research | Howden B.P.,Austin Center for Infection Research | Howden B.P.,University of Melbourne | Howden B.P.,Monash University
Expert Review of Anti-Infective Therapy | Year: 2011

The Australian Society for Antimicrobials aims to facilitate the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in the field of antimicrobials. Members and delegates come from a diverse range of professions including physicians, microbiologists, scientists, pharmacists, veterinarians and industry representatives from pharmaceutical and biomedical companies. Membership is primarily based in Australia and New Zealand, but extends to Asia, North America, Europe and the UK. A total of 330 participants attended the 2011 Annual Scientific Meeting with plenary speakers from the USA, Spain and Australia. This meeting report focuses on two key areas of antimicrobial resistance: community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and resistance in Gram-negative organisms. © 2011 Expert Reviews Ltd.

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