Decatur, GA, United States
Decatur, GA, United States

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Kunz A.N.,Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Kunz A.N.,U.S. Army | Begum A.A.,Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Wu H.,Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Infectious Diseases | Year: 2012

Background. Quinolone-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae (QRNG) arise from mutations in gyrA (intermediate resistance) or gyrA and parC (resistance). Here we tested the consequence of commonly isolated gyrA91/95 and parC86 mutations on gonococcal fitness.Methods.Mutant gyrA91/95 and parC86 alleles were introduced into wild-type gonococci or an isogenic mutant that is resistant to macrolides due to an mtrR-79 mutation. Wild-type and mutant bacteria were compared for growth in vitro and in competitive murine infection.Results.In vitro growth was reduced with increasing numbers of mutations. Interestingly, the gyrA91/95 mutation conferred an in vivo fitness benefit to wild-type and mtrR-79 mutant gonococci. The gyrA91/95, parC86 mutant, in contrast, showed a slight fitness defect in vivo, and the gyrA91/95, parC86, mtrR-79 mutant was markedly less fit relative to the parent strains. A ciprofloxacin-resistant (Cip R) mutant was selected during infection with the gyrA91/95, parC86, mtrR-79 mutant in which the mtrR-79 mutation was repaired and the gyrA91 mutation was altered. This in vivo-selected mutant grew as well as the wild-type strain in vitro.Conclusions.gyrA91/95 mutations may contribute to the spread of QRNG. Further acquisition of a parC86 mutation abrogates this fitness advantage; however, compensatory mutations can occur that restore in vivo fitness and maintain Cip R. © 2012 The Author.


Packiam M.,Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Yedery R.D.,Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Begum A.A.,Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Carlson R.W.,University of Georgia | And 6 more authors.
Infection and Immunity | Year: 2014

The induction of an intense inflammatory response by Neisseria gonorrhoeae and the persistence of this pathogen in the presence of innate effectors is a fascinating aspect of gonorrhea. Phosphoethanolamine (PEA) decoration of lipid A increases gonococcal resistance to complement-mediated bacteriolysis and cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs), and recently we reported that wild-type N. gonorrhoeae strain FA1090 has a survival advantage relative to a PEA transferase A (lptA) mutant in the human urethral-challenge and murine lower genital tract infection models. Here we tested the immunostimulatory role of this lipid A modification. Purified lipooligosaccharide (LOS) containing lipid A devoid of the PEA modification and an lptA mutant of strain FA19 induced significantly lower levels of NF-κB in human embryonic kidney Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) cells and murine embryonic fibroblasts than wild-type LOS of the parent strain. Moreover, vaginal proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines were not elevated in female mice infected with the isogenic lptA mutant, in contrast to mice infected with the wild-type and complemented lptA mutant bacteria. We also demonstrated that lptA mutant bacteria were more susceptible to human and murine cathelicidins due to increased binding by these peptides and that the differential induction of NF-κB by wild-type and unmodified lipid A was more pronounced in the presence of CAMPs. This work demonstrates that PEA decoration of lipid A plays both protective and immunostimulatory roles and that host-derived CAMPs may further reduce the capacity of PEA-deficient lipid A to interact with TLR4 during infection. © 2014, American Society for Microbiology.


Hobbs M.M.,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Anderson J.E.,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Balthazar J.T.,Emory University | Balthazar J.T.,VA Medical Research Service | And 12 more authors.
mBio | Year: 2013

Phosphoethanolamine (PEA) on Neisseria gonorrhoeae lipid A influences gonococcal inflammatory signaling and susceptibility to innate host defenses in in vitro models. Here, we evaluated the role of PEA-decorated gonococcal lipid A in competitive infections in female mice and in male volunteers. We inoculated mice and men with mixtures of wild-type N. gonorrhoeae and an isogenic mutant that lacks the PEA transferase, LptA. LptA production conferred a marked survival advantage for wild-type gonococci in the murine female genital tract and in the human male urethra. Our studies translate results from test tube to animal model and into the human host and demonstrate the utility of the mouse model for studies of virulence factors of the human-specific pathogen N. gonorrhoeae that interact with non-host-restricted elements of innate immunity. These results validate the use of gonococcal LptA as a potential target for development of novel immunoprophylactic strategies or antimicrobial treatments. IMPORTANCE Gonorrhea is one of the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infections, and increasing antibiotic resistance threatens the use of currently available antimicrobial therapies. In this work, encompassing in vitro studies and in vivo studies of animal and human models of experimental genital tract infection, we document the importance of lipid A's structure, mediated by a single bacterial enzyme, LptA, in enhancing the fitness of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The results of these studies suggest that novel agents targeting LptA may offer urgently needed prevention or treatment strategies for gonorrhea. © 2013 Hobbs et al.


Balthazar J.T.,VA Medical Research Service | Balthazar J.T.,Emory University | Gusa A.,Emory University | Martin L.E.,VA Medical Research Service | And 6 more authors.
Frontiers in Microbiology | Year: 2011

The strict human pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae has caused the sexually transmitted infection termed gonorrhea for thousands of years. Over the millennia, the gonococcus has likely evolved mechanisms to evade host defense systems that operate on the genital mucosal surfaces in both males and females. Past research has shown that the presence or modification of certain cell envelope structures can significantly impact levels of gonococcal susceptibility to host-derived antimicrobial compounds that bathe genital mucosal surfaces and participate in innate host defense against invading pathogens. In order to facilitate the identification of gonococcal genes that are important in determining levels of bacterial susceptibility to mediators of innate host defense, we used the Himar I mariner in vitro mutagenesis system to construct a transposon insertion library in strain F62. As proof of principle that this strategy would be suitable for this purpose, we screened the library for mutants expressing decreased susceptibility to the bacteriolytic action of normal human serum (NHS). We found that a transposon insertion in the lgtD gene, which encodes an N-acetylgalactosamine transferase involved in the extension of the α-chain of lipooligosaccharide (LOS), could confer decreased susceptibility of strain F62 to complement-mediated killing by NHS. By complementation and chemical analyses, we demonstrated both linkage of the transposon insertion to the NHS-resistance phenotype and chemical changes in LOS structure that resulted from loss of LgtD production. Further truncation of the LOS α-chain or loss of phosphoethanolamine (PEA) from the lipid A region of LOS also impacted levels of NHS-resistance. PEA decoration of lipid A also increased gonococcal resistance to the model cationic antimicrobial polymyxin B. Taken together, we conclude that the Himar I mariner in vitro mutagenesis procedure can facilitate studies on structures involved in gonococcal pathogenesis. © 2011 Balthazar, Gusa, Martin, Choudhury, Carlson and Shafer.


The strict human pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae has caused the sexually transmitted infection termed gonorrhea for thousands of years. Over the millennia, the gonococcus has likely evolved mechanisms to evade host defense systems that operate on the genital mucosal surfaces in both males and females. Past research has shown that the presence or modification of certain cell envelope structures can significantly impact levels of gonococcal susceptibility to host-derived antimicrobial compounds that bathe genital mucosal surfaces and participate in innate host defense against invading pathogens. In order to facilitate the identification of gonococcal genes that are important in determining levels of bacterial susceptibility to mediators of innate host defense, we used the Himar I mariner in vitro mutagenesis system to construct a transposon insertion library in strain F62. As proof of principle that this strategy would be suitable for this purpose, we screened the library for mutants expressing decreased susceptibility to the bacteriolytic action of normal human serum (NHS). We found that a transposon insertion in the lgtD gene, which encodes an N-acetylgalactosamine transferase involved in the extension of the -chain of lipooligosaccharide (LOS), could confer decreased susceptibility of strain F62 to complement-mediated killing by NHS. By complementation and chemical analyses, we demonstrated both linkage of the transposon insertion to the NHS-resistance phenotype and chemical changes in LOS structure that resulted from loss of LgtD production. Further truncation of the LOS -chain or loss of phosphoethanolamine (PEA) from the lipid A region of LOS also impacted levels of NHS-resistance. PEA decoration of lipid A also increased gonococcal resistance to the model cationic antimicrobial polymyxin B. Taken together, we conclude that the Himar I mariner in vitro mutagenesis procedure can facilitate studies on structures involved in gonococcal pathogenesis.

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