Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation

Santiago, Chile

Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation

Santiago, Chile
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Alvarez C.A.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Gomez F.A.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Mercado L.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Mercado L.,Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Piscirickettsia salmonis is a facultative intracellular bacterium that causes the disease called "salmon rickettsial syndrome". Attempts to control this disease have been unsuccessful, because existing vaccines have not achieved the expected effectiveness and the antibiotics used fail to completely eradicate the pathogen. This is in part the product of lack of scientific information that still lacks on the mechanisms used by this bacterium to overcome infected-cell responses and survive to induce a productive infection in macrophages. For that, this work was focused in determining if P. salmonis is able to modify the expression and the imbalance of IL-12 and IL-10 using an in vitro model. Additionally, we also evaluated the role the antimicrobial peptide hepcidin had in the control of this pathogen in infected cells. Therefore, the expression of IL-10 and IL-12 was evaluated at earlier stages of infection in the RTS11 cell line derived from Oncorhynchus mykiss macrophages. Simultaneously, the hepcidin expression and location was analyzed in the macrophages infected with the pathogen. Our results suggest that IL-10 is clearly induced at early stages of infection with values peaking at 36 hours post infection. Furthermore, infective P. salmonis downregulates the expression of antimicrobial peptide hepcidin and vesicles containing this peptide were unable to merge with the infective bacteria. Our results suggest that P. salmonis is able to manipulate the behavior of host cytokines and likely might constitute a virulence mechanism that promotes intracellular bacterial replication in leukocytes cells lines of trout and salmon. This mechanism involves the generation of an optimum environment for the microorganism and the downregulation of antimicrobial effectors like hepcidin. © 2016 Álvarez et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Ramirez R.,Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation | Gomez F.A.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Marshall S.H.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Marshall S.H.,Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation
FEMS Microbiology Letters | Year: 2015

Piscirickettsia salmonis is an aggressive fish pathogen that causes Piscirickettsiosis, a systemic disease that threatens the sustainability of salmon production in Chile. To date, the infection strategies of this bacterium are poorly characterized, a Dot/Icm Type IV Secretion System homolog for intracellular multiplication and survival in macrophages is suggested. Since an invading pathogen and its host develop a complex interaction in which the pathogen strives to survive and replicate, while the host tries to eliminate infected cells and the invading pathogen, we decided to evaluate how the bacterium enters macrophages, its preferred target in vivo, and to follow its fate while struggling with its host using actin cytoskeleton as a molecular marker. We were able to demonstrate that clathrin is required for internalization and that actin cytoskeleton plays a demonstrative role throughout the infective process. Indeed, unlike other fish pathogens, P. salmonis fully exploits the actin monomers both from the disorganized cytoskeleton and an apparently pathogen-induced de novo synthesis of actin, generating tridimensional vacuoles that are increasingly detected at later stages of infection. We expect our results to contribute to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of this important fish pathogen. © FEMS 2014.


Marshall S.H.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Marshall S.H.,Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation | Gomez F.A.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Ramirez R.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | And 3 more authors.
Research in Microbiology | Year: 2012

Piscirickettsia salmonis is a bacterial fish pathogen seriously threatening the sustainability of the Chilean salmon industry. The biology and life cycle of this bacterium is not completely understood and there are no reports explaining how it survives or persists in marine environments. This work provides descriptive data of P. salmonis behavior when it is exposed to stress conditions, producing large cell aggregates closely resembling typical biofilm structures. In order to track this putative biofilm, we used indirect fluorescence and scanning electron microscopy. Complex masses were observed over time; the bacteria appear to be embedded within a matrix which disappears when it is exposed to cellulase, suggesting a polysaccharide nature typical of biofilm formation. Two lectins (ConA and WGA) were used to characterize the matrix. Both lectins showed a strong reaction with the structure, validating the exopolysaccharide nature of the matrix. Recently, several studies have demonstrated a correlation between toxin/anti-toxin system expression at initial stages of biofilm formation. In this report, QRT-PCR analysis was used with the P. salmonis toxin/anti-toxin mazEF operon, showing induction of these genes at early stages of biofilm formation, suggesting that said formation may be an adaptive strategy for survival and persistence under stress conditions in marine environments. © 2012 Institut Pasteur.


Guzman F.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Guzman F.,Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation | Marshall S.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Marshall S.,Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Peptide Science | Year: 2013

In the selection or design of antimicrobial peptides, the key role played by cationic amino acids and chain length on the inhibitory potency and specificity is not clear. A fundamental study was conducted using chemically synthesized homopeptides of l-Lys and l-Arg ranging from 7 to 14 residues. Their effect on growth inhibition was evaluated over a wide range of Gram-positive bacteria at different levels of concentration. Interestingly, at lower concentrations (10 μM), Lys homopeptides with odd number of residues, especially with 11 residues, showed a broader inhibitory activity than those with even number of residues. At higher peptide concentrations (>20 μM), the inhibitory activity of Lys homopeptides was directly related to the number of residues in the chain. In contrast, Arg homopeptides, at lower concentrations, did not exhibit a defined pattern of bacterial inhibition related to the number of residues; however, at higher concentrations (>20 μM), the inhibitory effects were more pronounced. Lys homopeptides at concentrations up to 300 μM showed a remarkably lower toxicity against CHSE-214 cells. Arg homopeptides exhibited negligible cytotoxicity up to chain length of 11 residues at concentrations lower than 100 μM, but an abrupt increase in toxicity resulted when the peptide chain length reached 12 amino acid residues and higher concentrations. All synthesized homopeptides displayed characteristic polyproline II helix conformation in both buffer and liposomes, as shown by CD spectroscopy. This result suggests that short Lys homopeptides with an odd number of residues (9 and 11) have a broad spectrum of activity against Gram-positive bacterial cells compared with Arg homopeptides, which in turn showed a considerably higher selectivity toward those cells. By investigating the differences between Lys and Arg homopeptides, this study contributes to the understanding of their mechanism of growth inhibition and selectivity. Thus, it provides further guidelines for a rational design of short antimicrobial peptides. Copyright © 2013 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Labra A.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Arredondo-Zelada O.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Flores-Herrera P.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Marshall S.H.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | And 2 more authors.
Microbial Pathogenesis | Year: 2016

Piscirickettsia salmonis seriously affects the Chilean salmon industry. The bacterium is phylogenetically related to Legionella pneumophila and Coxiella burnetii, sharing a Dot/Icm secretion system with them. Although it is well documented that L. pneumophila and C. burnetii secrete different virulence effectors via this Dot/Icm system in order to attenuate host cell responses, to date there have been no reported virulence effectors secreted by the Dot/Icm system of P. salmonis. Using several annotations of P. salmonis genome, here we report an in silico analyses of 4 putative Dot/Icm effectors. Three of them contain ankyrin repeat domains and the typical conserved 3D structures of this protein family. The fourth one is highly similar to one of the Dot/Icm-dependent effectors of L. pneumophila. Additionally, all the potential P. salmonis effectors contain a classical Dot/Icm secretion signal in their C-terminus, consisting of: an E-Block, a hydrophobic residue in -3 or -4 and an electronegative charge. Finally, qPCR analysis demonstrated that these proteins are overexpressed early in infection, perhaps contributing to the generation of a replicative vacuole, a key step in the neutralizing strategy proposed for the Dot/Icm system. In summary, this report identifies four Dot/Icm-dependent effectors in P. salmonis. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


Gomez F.A.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Tobar J.A.,Laboratorio Centrovet | Henriquez V.,Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso | Sola M.,Laboratorio Centrovet | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Piscirickettsia salmonis is a fish bacterial pathogen that has severely challenged the sustainability of the Chilean salmon industry since its appearance in 1989. As this Gram-negative bacterium has been poorly characterized, relevant aspects of its life cycle, virulence and pathogenesis must be identified in order to properly design prophylactic procedures. This report provides evidence of the functional presence in P. salmonis of four genes homologous to those described for Dot/Icm Type IV Secretion Systems. The Dot/Icm System, the major virulence mechanism of phylogenetically related pathogens Legionella pneumophila and Coxiella burnetii, is responsible for their intracellular survival and multiplication, conditions that may also apply to P. salmonis. Our results demonstrate that the four P. salmonis dot/icm homologues (dotB, dotA, icmK and icmE) are expressed both during in vitro tissue culture cells infection and growing in cell-free media, suggestive of their putative constitutive expression. Additionally, as it happens in other referential bacterial systems, temporal acidification of cell-free media results in over expression of all four P. salmonis genes, a well-known strategy by which SSTIV-containing bacteria inhibit phagosome-lysosome fusion to survive. These findings are very important to understand the virulence mechanisms of P. salmonis in order to design new prophylactic alternatives to control the disease. © 2013 Gómez et al.


Mangold S.,Umeå University | Valdes J.,Center for Bioinformatics and Genome Biology | Valdes J.,Andrés Bello University | Valdes J.,Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation | And 4 more authors.
Frontiers in Microbiology | Year: 2011

Given the challenges to life at low pH, an analysis of inorganic sulfur compound (ISC) oxidation was initiated in the chemolithoautotrophic extremophile Acidithiobacillus caldus. A. caldus is able to metabolize elemental sulfur and a broad range of ISCs. It has been implicated in the production of environmentally damaging acidic solutions as well as participating in industrial bioleaching operations where it forms part of microbial consortia used for the recovery of metal ions. Based upon the recently published A. caldus type strain genome sequence, a bioinformatic reconstruction of elemental sulfur and ISC metabolism predicted genes included: sulfide-quinone reductase (sqr), tetrathionate hydrolase (tth), two sox gene clusters potentially involved in thiosulfate oxidation (soxABXYZ), sulfur oxygenase reductase (sor), and various electron transport components. RNA transcript profiles by semi quantitative reverse transcription PCR suggested up-regulation of sox genes in the presence of tetrathionate. Extensive gel based proteomic comparisons of total soluble and membrane enriched protein fractions during growth on elemental sulfur and tetrathionate identified differential protein levels from the two Sox clusters as well as several chaperone and stress proteins up-regulated in the presence of elemental sulfur. Proteomics results also suggested the involvement of heterodisulfide reductase (HdrABC) in A. caldus ISC metabolism. A putative new function of Hdr in acidophiles is discussed. Additional proteomic analysis evaluated protein expression differences between cells grown attached to solid, elemental sulfur versus planktonic cells. This study has provided insights into sulfur metabolism of this acidophilic chemolithotroph and gene expression during attachment to solid elemental sulfur. © 2011 Mangold, Valdés, Holmes and Dopson.


PubMed | Umeå University, Andrés Bello University, Linnaeus University and Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation
Type: Journal Article | Journal: FEMS microbiology ecology | Year: 2015

An acid mine drainage (pH 2.5-2.7) stream biofilm situated 250 m below ground in the low-temperature (6-10C) Kristineberg mine, northern Sweden, contained a microbial community equipped for growth at low temperature and acidic pH. Metagenomic sequencing of the biofilm and planktonic fractions identified the most abundant microorganism to be similar to the psychrotolerant acidophile, Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans. In addition, metagenome contigs were most similar to other Acidithiobacillus species, an Acidobacteria-like species, and a Gallionellaceae-like species. Analyses of the metagenomes indicated functional characteristics previously characterized as related to growth at low temperature including cold-shock proteins, several pathways for the production of compatible solutes and an anti-freeze protein. In addition, genes were predicted to encode functions related to pH homeostasis and metal resistance related to growth in the acidic metal-containing mine water. Metagenome analyses identified microorganisms capable of nitrogen fixation and exhibiting a primarily autotrophic lifestyle driven by the oxidation of the ferrous iron and inorganic sulfur compounds contained in the sulfidic mine waters. The study identified a low diversity of abundant microorganisms adapted to a low-temperature acidic environment as well as identifying some of the strategies the microorganisms employ to grow in this extreme environment.


PubMed | Andrés Bello University, Linnaeus University and Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Research in microbiology | Year: 2014

Acidophilic microorganisms inhabit low pH environments such as acid mine drainage that is generated when sulfide minerals are exposed to air. The genome sequence of the psychrotolerant Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans SS3 was compared to a metagenome from a low temperature acidic stream dominated by an A. ferrivorans-like strain. Stretches of genomic DNA characterized by few matches to the metagenome, termed metagenomic islands, encoded genes associated with metal efflux and pH homeostasis. The metagenomic islands were enriched in mobile elements such as phage proteins, transposases, integrases and in one case, predicted to be flanked by truncated tRNAs. Cus gene clusters predicted to be involved in copper efflux and further Cus-like RND systems were predicted to be located in metagenomic islands and therefore, constitute part of the flexible gene complement of the species. Phylogenetic analysis of Cus clusters showed both lineage specificity within the Acidithiobacillus genus as well as niche specificity associated with an acidic environment. The metagenomic islands also contained a predicted copper efflux P-type ATPase system and a polyphosphate kinase potentially involved in polyphosphate mediated copper resistance. This study identifies genetic variability of low temperature acidophiles that likely reflects metal resistance selective pressures in the copper rich environment.


PubMed | Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation, Technical State University of Quevedo, Institute Investigaciones Agropecuarias and Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso
Type: | Journal: Standards in genomic sciences | Year: 2016

A new plant commensal

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