• The Core Proteome of Biofilm-Grown Clinical Isolates.

      Erdmann, Jelena; Thöming, Janne G; Pohl, Sarah; Pich, Andreas; Lenz, Christof; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MPDI, 2019-09-23)
      Comparative genomics has greatly facilitated the identification of shared as well as unique features among individual cells or tissues, and thus offers the potential to find disease markers. While proteomics is recognized for its potential to generate quantitative maps of protein expression, comparative proteomics in bacteria has been largely restricted to the comparison of single cell lines or mutant strains. In this study, we used a data independent acquisition (DIA) technique, which enables global protein quantification of large sample cohorts, to record the proteome profiles of overall 27 whole genome sequenced and transcriptionally profiled clinical isolates of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Analysis of the proteome profiles across the 27 clinical isolates grown under planktonic and biofilm growth conditions led to the identification of a core biofilm-associated protein profile. Furthermore, we found that protein-to-mRNA ratios between different P. aeruginosa strains are well correlated, indicating conserved patterns of post-transcriptional regulation. Uncovering core regulatory pathways, which drive biofilm formation and associated antibiotic tolerance in bacterial pathogens, promise to give clues to interactions between bacterial species and their environment and could provide useful targets for new clinical interventions to combat biofilm-associated infections.
    • Production of norspermidine contributes to aminoglycoside resistance in pmrAB mutants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Bolard, Arnaud; Schniederjans, Monika; Haussler, Susanne; Triponney, Pauline; Valot, Benoît; Plesiat, Patrick; Jeannot, Katy; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Society of microbiology, 2019-08-05)
      Emergence of resistance to polymyxins in Pseudomonas aeruginosa is mainly due to mutations in two-components systems, that promote addition of 4-amino-4-deoxy-L-arabinose to the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) through upregulation of operon arnBCADTEF-ugd (arn) expression. Here, we demonstrate that mutations occurring in different domains of histidine kinase PmrB or in response regulator PmrA result in coresistance to aminoglycosides and colistin. All seventeen clinical strains tested exhibiting such a cross-resistance phenotype were found to be pmrAB mutants. As shown by gene deletion experiments, the decreased susceptibility of the mutants to aminoglycosides was independent from operon arn but required the efflux system MexXY(OprM) and the products of three genes, PA4773-PA4774-PA4775, that are cotranscribed and activated with genes pmrAB Gene PA4773 (annotated as speD2 in PAO1 genome) and PA4774 (speE2) are predicted to encode enzymes involved in biosynthesis of polyamines. Comparative analysis of cell surface extracts of an in vitro selected pmrAB mutant, called AB16.2, and derivatives lacking PA4773, PA4774 and PA4775, respectively revealed that these genes were needed for norspermidine production via a pathway that likely uses 1,3-diaminoprane, a precursor of polyamines. Altogether, our results suggest that norspermidine decreases the self-promoted uptake pathway of aminoglycosides across the outer membrane and thereby potentiates the activity of efflux pump MexXY(OprM).
    • Establishment of an induced memory response in Pseudomonas aeruginosa during infection of a eukaryotic host.

      Kordes, Adrian; Grahl, Nora; Koska, Michal; Preusse, Matthias; Arce-Rodriguez, Alejandro; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Kaever, Volkhard; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-08-01)
      In a given habitat, bacterial cells often experience recurrent exposures to the same environmental stimulus. The ability to memorize the past event and to adjust current behaviors can lead to efficient adaptation to the recurring stimulus. Here we demonstrate that the versatile bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa adopts a virulence phenotype after serial passage in the invertebrate model host Galleria mellonella. The virulence phenotype was not linked to the acquisition of genetic variations and was sustained for several generations, despite cultivation of the ex vivo virulence-adapted P. aeruginosa cells under rich medium conditions in vitro. Transcriptional reprogramming seemed to be induced by a host-specific food source, as reprogramming was also observed upon cultivation of P. aeruginosa in rich medium supplemented with polyunsaturated long-chain fatty acids. The establishment of induced memory responses adds a time dimension and seems to fill the gap between long-term evolutionary genotypic adaptation and short-term induced individual responses. Efforts to unravel the fundamental mechanisms that underlie the carry-over effect to induce such memory responses will continue to be of importance as hysteretic behavior can serve survival of bacterial populations in changing and challenging habitats.
    • Genetically diverse Pseudomonas aeruginosa populations display similar transcriptomic profiles in a cystic fibrosis explanted lung.

      Kordes, Adrian; Preusse, Matthias; Willger, Sven D; Braubach, Peter; Jonigk, Danny; Haverich, Axel; Warnecke, Gregor; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-07-30)
      Previous studies have demonstrated substantial genetic diversification of Pseudomonas aeruginosa across sub-compartments in cystic fibrosis (CF) lungs. Here, we isolate P. aeruginosa from five different sampling areas in the upper and lower airways of an explanted CF lung, analyze ex vivo transcriptional profiles by RNA-seq, and use colony re-sequencing and deep population sequencing to determine the genetic diversity within and across the various sub-compartments. We find that, despite genetic variation, the ex vivo transcriptional profiles of P. aeruginosa populations inhabiting different regions of the CF lung are similar. Although we cannot estimate the extent to which the transcriptional response recorded here actually reflects the in vivo transcriptomes, our results indicate that there may be a common in vivo transcriptional profile in the CF lung environment.
    • Clustered core- and pan-genome content on Rhodobacteraceae chromosomes.

      Kopejtka, Karel; Lin, Yan; Jakubovičová, Markéta; Koblížek, Michal; Tomasch, Jürgen; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Oxford University Press, 2019-07-03)
      In Bacteria, chromosome replication starts at a single origin of replication and proceeds on both replichores. Due to its asymmetric nature, replication influences chromosome structure and gene organization, mutation rate and expression. To date, little is known about the distribution of highly conserved genes over the bacterial chromosome. Here, we used a set of 101 fully-sequenced Rhodobacteraceae representatives to analyze the relationship between conservation of genes within this family and their distance from the origin of replication. Twenty-two of the analyzed species had core genes clustered significantly closer to the origin of replication with representatives of the genus Celeribacter being the most apparent example. Interestingly, there were also eight species with the opposite organization. In particular Rhodobaca barguzinensis and Loktanella vestfoldensis showed a significant increase of core genes with distance from the origin of replication. The uneven distribution of low-conserved regions is in particular pronounced for genomes in which the halves of one replichore differ in their conserved gene content. Phage integration and horizontal gene transfer partially explain the scattered nature of Rhodobacteraceae genomes. Our findings lay the foundation for a better understanding of bacterial genome evolution and the role of replication therein.
    • Non-invasive, ratiometric determination of intracellular pH in Pseudomonas species using a novel genetically encoded indicator.

      Arce-Rodríguez, Alejandro; Volke, Daniel C; Bense, Sarina; Häussler, Susanne; Nikel, Pablo I; HZI, Helmholtz -Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley Open, 2019-07-01)
      The ability of Pseudomonas species to thrive in all major natural environments (i.e. terrestrial, freshwater and marine) is based on its exceptional capability to adapt to physicochemical changes. Thus, environmental bacteria have to tightly control the maintenance of numerous physiological traits across different conditions. The intracellular pH (pHi ) homoeostasis is a particularly important feature, since the pHi influences a large portion of the biochemical processes in the cell. Despite its importance, relatively few reliable, easy-to-implement tools have been designed for quantifying in vivo pHi changes in Gram-negative bacteria with minimal manipulations. Here we describe a convenient, non-invasive protocol for the quantification of the pHi in bacteria, which is based on the ratiometric fluorescent indicator protein PHP (pH indicator for Pseudomonas). The DNA sequence encoding PHP was thoroughly adapted to guarantee optimal transcription and translation of the indicator in Pseudomonas species. Our PHP-based quantification method demonstrated that pHi is tightly regulated over a narrow range of pH values not only in Pseudomonas, but also in other Gram-negative bacterial species such as Escherichia coli. The maintenance of the cytoplasmic pH homoeostasis in vivo could also be observed upon internal (e.g. redirection of glucose consumption pathways in P. putida) and external (e.g. antibiotic exposure in P. aeruginosa) perturbations, and the PHP indicator was also used to follow dynamic changes in the pHi upon external pH shifts. In summary, our work describes a reliable method for measuring pHi in Pseudomonas, allowing for the detailed investigation of bacterial pHi homoeostasis and its regulation.
    • Spatiotemporal control of FlgZ activity impacts Pseudomonas aeruginosa flagellar motility.

      Bense, Sarina; Bruchmann, Sebastian; Steffen, Anika; Stradal, Theresia E B; Häussler, Susanne; Düvel, Juliane; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-03-12)
      The c-di-GMP-binding effector protein FlgZ has been demonstrated to control motility in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and it was suggested that c-di-GMP-bound FlgZ impedes motility via its interaction with the MotCD stator. To further understand how motility is downregulated in P. aeruginosa and to elucidate the general control mechanisms operating during bacterial growth, we examined the spatiotemporal activity of FlgZ. We re-annotated the P. aeruginosaflgZ open reading frame and demonstrated that FlgZ-mediated downregulation of motility is fine-tuned via three independent mechanisms. First, we found that flgZ gene is transcribed independently from flgMN in stationary growth phase to increase FlgZ protein levels in the cell. Second, FlgZ localizes to the cell pole upon c-di-GMP binding and third, we describe that FimV, a cell pole anchor protein, is involved in increasing the polar localized c-di-GMP bound FlgZ to inhibit both, swimming and swarming motility. Our results shed light on the complex dynamics and spatiotemporal control of c-di-GMP-dependent bacterial motility phenotypes and on how the polar anchor protein FimV, the motor brake FlgZ and the stator proteins function to repress flagella-driven swimming and swarming motility.
    • Identification and quantification of (t)RNA modifications in Pseudomonas aeruginosa by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

      Grobe, Svenja; Doberenz, Sebastian; Ferreira, Kevin; Krueger, Jonas; Brönstrup, Mark; Kaever, Volkhard; Häußler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-01-15)
      Transfer RNA (tRNA) modifications impact the structure and function of tRNAs thus affecting the efficiency and fidelity of translation. In the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa translational regulation plays an important but less defined role in the adaptation to changing environments. In this study, we explored tRNA modifications in P. aeruginosa using LC-MS/MS based approaches. Neutral Loss Scan (NLS) demonstrated the potential to identify previously unknown modifications, while Multiple Reaction Monitoring (MRM) can detect modifications with high specificity and sensitivity. In this study, the MRM-based external calibration method allowed for quantification of the 4 canonical and 32 modified ribonucleosides, of which 21 tRNA modifications were quantified in the total tRNA pool of P. aeruginosa PA14. We also purified the single tRNA isoacceptors tRNA-ArgUCU, tRNA-LeuCAA and tRNA-TrpCCA and determined, both qualitatively and quantitatively, their specific modification pattern. Deeper insights into the nature and dynamics of tRNA modifications in P. aeruginosa will pave the way for further studies on posttranscriptional gene regulation as a relatively unexplored molecular mechanism of controlling bacterial pathogenicity and life style.
    • Thermoplasmatales and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria dominate the microbial community at the surface water of a CO-rich hydrothermal spring located in Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica.

      Arce-Rodríguez, Alejandro; Puente-Sánchez, Fernando; Avendaño, Roberto; Martínez-Cruz, María; de Moor, J Maarten; Pieper, Dietmar H; Chavarría, Max; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2019-01-01)
      Here we report the chemical and microbial characterization of the surface water of a CO2-rich hydrothermal vent known in Costa Rica as Borbollones, located at Tenorio Volcano National Park. The Borbollones showed a temperature surrounding 60 °C, a pH of 2.4 and the gas released has a composition of ~ 97% CO2, ~ 0.07% H2S, ~ 2.3% N2 and ~ 0.12% CH4. Other chemical species such as sulfate and iron were found at high levels with respect to typical fresh water bodies. Analysis by 16S rRNA gene metabarcoding revealed that in Borbollones predominates an archaeon from the order Thermoplasmatales and one bacterium from the genus Sulfurimonas. Other sulfur- (genera Thiomonas, Acidithiobacillus, Sulfuriferula, and Sulfuricurvum) and iron-oxidizing bacteria (genera Sideroxydans, Gallionella, and Ferrovum) were identified. Our results show that CO2-influenced surface water of Borbollones contains microorganisms that are usually found in acid rock drainage environments or sulfur-rich hydrothermal vents. To our knowledge, this is the first microbiological characterization of a CO2-dominated hydrothermal spring from Central America and expands our understanding of those extreme ecosystems.
    • Importance of flagella in acute and chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections.

      Lorenz, Anne; Preuße, Matthias; Bruchmann, Sebastian; Pawar, Vinay; Grahl, Nora; Pils, Marina C; Nolan, Laura M; Filloux, Alain; Weiss, Siegfried; Häussler, Susanne; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018-11-08)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an environmental microorganism and a causative agent of diverse acute and chronic, biofilm-associated infections. Advancing research-based knowledge on its adaptation to conditions within the human host is bound to reveal novel strategies and targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we investigated the traits that P. aeruginosa PA14 as well as a virulence attenuated ΔlasR mutant need to survive in selected murine infection models. Experimentally, the genetic programs that the bacteria use to adapt to biofilm-associated versus acute infections were dissected by passaging transposon mutant libraries through mouse lungs (acute) or mouse tumours (biofilm-infection). Adaptive metabolic changes of P. aeruginosa were generally required during both infection processes. Counter-selection against flagella expression was observed during acute lung infections. Obviously, avoidance of flagella-mediated activation of host immunity is advantageous for the wildtype bacteria. For the ΔlasR mutant, loss of flagella did not confer a selective advantage. Apparently, other pathogenesis mechanisms are active in this virulence attenuated strain. In contrast, the infective process of P. aeruginosa in the chronic biofilm model apparently required expression of flagellin. Together, our findings imply that the host immune reactions against the infectious agent are very decisive for acuteness and duration of the infectious disease. They direct disease outcome.
    • Determining lineage-specific bacterial growth curves with a novel approach based on amplicon reads normalization using internal standard (ARNIS).

      Piwosz, Kasia; Shabarova, Tanja; Tomasch, Jürgen; Šimek, Karel; Kopejtka, Karel; Kahl, Silke; Pieper, Dietmar H; Koblížek, Michal; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-11-01)
      The growth rate is a fundamental characteristic of bacterial species, determining its contributions to the microbial community and carbon flow. High-throughput sequencing can reveal bacterial diversity, but its quantitative inaccuracy precludes estimation of abundances and growth rates from the read numbers. Here, we overcame this limitation by normalizing Illumina-derived amplicon reads using an internal standard: a constant amount of Escherichia coli cells added to samples just before biomass collection. This approach made it possible to reconstruct growth curves for 319 individual OTUs during the grazer-removal experiment conducted in a freshwater reservoir Římov. The high resolution data signalize significant functional heterogeneity inside the commonly investigated bacterial groups. For instance, many Actinobacterial phylotypes, a group considered to harbor slow-growing defense specialists, grew rapidly upon grazers' removal, demonstrating their considerable importance in carbon flow through food webs, while most Verrucomicrobial phylotypes were particle associated. Such differences indicate distinct life strategies and roles in food webs of specific bacterial phylotypes and groups. The impact of grazers on the specific growth rate distributions supports the hypothesis that bacterivory reduces competition and allows existence of diverse bacterial communities. It suggests that the community changes were driven mainly by abundant, fast, or moderately growing, and not by rare fast growing, phylotypes. We believe amplicon read normalization using internal standard (ARNIS) can shed new light on in situ growth dynamics of both abundant and rare bacteria.
    • Breaking the vicious cycle of antibiotic killing and regrowth of biofilm-residing .

      Müsken, Mathias; Pawar, Vinay; Schwebs, Timo; Bähre, Heike; Felgner, Sebastian; Weiss, Siegfried; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-10-08)
      Biofilm-residing bacteria embedded in an extracellular matrix are protected from diverse physico-chemical insults. In addition to the general recalcitrance of biofilm-bacteria, high bacterial loads in biofilm-associated infections significantly diminishes the efficacy of antimicrobials due to a low per-cell antibiotic concentration. Accordingly, present antimicrobial treatment protocols, that have been established to serve the eradication of acute infections, fail to clear biofilm-associated chronic infections. In the present study, we applied automated confocal microscopy on Pseudomonas aeruginosa to monitor dynamic killing of biofilm-grown bacteria by tobramycin and colistin in real-time. We revealed that the time required for surviving bacteria to repopulate the biofilm could be taken as measure for effectiveness of the antimicrobial treatment. It depends on the: i) nature and concentration of the antibiotic, ii) duration of antibiotic treatment; iii) application as mono or combination therapy and iv) time intervals of drug administration. The vicious cycle of killing and repopulation of biofilm bacteria could also be broken in an in vivo model system by applying successive antibiotic dosages with time intervals that do not allow full reconstitution of the biofilm communities. Treatment regimens that consider the important aspects of antimicrobial killing kinetics bear the potential to improve control of biofilm regrowth. This is an important and underestimated factor that is bound to ensure sustainable treatment success of chronic infections.
    • BACTOME-a reference database to explore the sequence- and gene expression-variation landscape of Pseudomonas aeruginosa clinical isolates.

      Hornischer, Klaus; Khaledi, Ariane; Pohl, Sarah; Schniederjans, Monika; Pezoldt, Lorena; Casilag, Fiordiligie; Muthukumarasamy, Uthayakumar; Bruchmann, Sebastian; Thöming, Janne; Kordes, Adrian; et al. (2018-10-01)
      Extensive use of next-generation sequencing (NGS) for pathogen profiling has the potential to transform our understanding of how genomic plasticity contributes to phenotypic versatility. However, the storage of large amounts of NGS data and visualization tools need to evolve to offer the scientific community fast and convenient access to these data. We introduce BACTOME as a database system that links aligned DNA- and RNA-sequencing reads of clinical Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates with clinically relevant pathogen phenotypes. The database allows data extraction for any single isolate, gene or phenotype as well as data filtering and phenotypic grouping for specific research questions. With the integration of statistical tools we illustrate the usefulness of a relational database structure for the identification of phenotype-genotype correlations as an essential part of the discovery pipeline in genomic research. Furthermore, the database provides a compilation of DNA sequences and gene expression values of a plethora of clinical isolates to give a consensus DNA sequence and consensus gene expression signature. Deviations from the consensus thereby describe the genomic landscape and the transcriptional plasticity of the species P. aeruginosa. The database is available at https://bactome.helmholtz-hzi.de.
    • Regulation of Flagellum Biosynthesis in Response to Cell Envelope Stress in Serovar Typhimurium.

      Spöring, Imke; Felgner, Sebastian; Preuße, Matthias; Eckweiler, Denitsa; Rohde, M; Häussler, Susanne; Weiss, Siegfried; Erhardt, Marc (2018-05-01)
      Flagellum-driven motility of serovar Typhimurium facilitates host colonization. However, the large extracellular flagellum is also a prime target for the immune system. As consequence, expression of flagella is bistable within a population of , resulting in flagellated and nonflagellated subpopulations. This allows the bacteria to maximize fitness in hostile environments. The degenerate EAL domain protein RflP (formerly YdiV) is responsible for the bistable expression of flagella by directing the flagellar master regulatory complex FlhDC with respect to proteolytic degradation. Information concerning the environmental cues controlling expression of and thus about the bistable flagellar biosynthesis remains ambiguous. Here, we demonstrated that RflP responds to cell envelope stress and alterations of outer membrane integrity. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) truncation mutants of Typhimurium exhibited increasing motility defects due to downregulation of flagellar gene expression. Transposon mutagenesis and genetic profiling revealed that σ (RpoE) and Rcs phosphorelay-dependent cell envelope stress response systems sense modifications of the lipopolysaccaride, low pH, and activity of the complement system. This subsequently results in activation of RflP expression and degradation of FlhDC via ClpXP. We speculate that the presence of diverse hostile environments inside the host might result in cell envelope damage and would thus trigger the repression of resource-costly and immunogenic flagellum biosynthesis via activation of the cell envelope stress response. Pathogenic bacteria such as Typhimurium sense and adapt to a multitude of changing and stressful environments during host infection. At the initial stage of gastrointestinal colonization, uses flagellum-mediated motility to reach preferred sites of infection. However, the flagellum also constitutes a prime target for the host's immune response. Accordingly, the pathogen needs to determine the spatiotemporal stage of infection and control flagellar biosynthesis in a robust manner. We found that uses signals from cell envelope stress-sensing systems to turn off production of flagella. We speculate that downregulation of flagellum synthesis after cell envelope damage in hostile environments aids survival of during late stages of infection and provides a means to escape recognition by the immune system.
    • Use of Single-Frequency Impedance Spectroscopy to Characterize the Growth Dynamics of Biofilm Formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      van Duuren, Jozef B J H; Müsken, Mathias; Karge, Bianka; Tomasch, Jürgen; Wittmann, Christoph; Häussler, Susanne; Brönstrup, Mark (2017-07-12)
      Impedance spectroscopy has been applied in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cytometry as a label-free method for the investigation of adherent cells. In this paper, its use for characterizing the growth dynamics of P. aeruginosa biofilms is described and compared to crystal violet staining and confocal microscopy. The method allows monitoring the growth of biofilm-forming P. aeruginosa in a continuous and label-free manner over a period of 72 h in a 96 well plate format. Impedance curves obtained for P. aeruginosa PA14 wild type and mutant strains with a transposon insertion in pqsA and pelA genes exhibited distinct phases. We propose that the slope of the declining curve following a maximum at ca. 35-40 h is a measure of biofilm formation. Transplant experiments with P. aeruginosa biofilms and paraffin suggest that the impedance also reflects pellicle formation at the liquid-air interface, a barely considered contributor to impedance. Finally, the impairment of biofilm formation upon treatment of cultures with L-arginine and with ciprofloxacin, tobramycin and meropenem was studied by single frequency impedance spectroscopy. We suggest that these findings qualify impedance spectroscopy as an additional technique to characterize biofilm formation and its modulation by small molecule drugs.
    • Identification of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 DNA Methyltransferase, Its Targets, and Physiological Roles.

      Doberenz, Sebastian; Eckweiler, Denitsa; Reichert, Olga; Jensen, Vanessa; Bunk, Boyke; Spröer, Cathrin; Kordes, Adrian; Frangipani, Emanuela; Luong, Khai; Korlach, Jonas; et al. (2017-02-21)
      DNA methylation is widespread among prokaryotes, and most DNA methylation reactions are catalyzed by adenine DNA methyltransferases, which are part of restriction-modification (R-M) systems. R-M systems are known for their role in the defense against foreign DNA; however, DNA methyltransferases also play functional roles in gene regulation. In this study, we used single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing to uncover the genome-wide DNA methylation pattern in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. We identified a conserved sequence motif targeted by an adenine methyltransferase of a type I R-M system and quantified the presence of N(6)-methyladenine using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Changes in the PAO1 methylation status were dependent on growth conditions and affected P. aeruginosa pathogenicity in a Galleria mellonella infection model. Furthermore, we found that methylated motifs in promoter regions led to shifts in sense and antisense gene expression, emphasizing the role of enzymatic DNA methylation as an epigenetic control of phenotypic traits in P. aeruginosa Since the DNA methylation enzymes are not encoded in the core genome, our findings illustrate how the acquisition of accessory genes can shape the global P. aeruginosa transcriptome and thus may facilitate adaptation to new and challenging habitats.IMPORTANCE With the introduction of advanced technologies, epigenetic regulation by DNA methyltransferases in bacteria has become a subject of intense studies. Here we identified an adenosine DNA methyltransferase in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1, which is responsible for DNA methylation of a conserved sequence motif. The methylation level of all target sequences throughout the PAO1 genome was approximated to be in the range of 65 to 85% and was dependent on growth conditions. Inactivation of the methyltransferase revealed an attenuated-virulence phenotype in the Galleria mellonella infection model. Furthermore, differential expression of more than 90 genes was detected, including the small regulatory RNA prrF1, which contributes to a global iron-sparing response via the repression of a set of gene targets. Our finding of a methylation-dependent repression of the antisense transcript of the prrF1 small regulatory RNA significantly expands our understanding of the regulatory mechanisms underlying active DNA methylation in bacteria.
    • The Anaerobically Induced sRNA PaiI Affects Denitrification in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14.

      Tata, Muralidhar; Amman, Fabian; Pawar, Vinay; Wolfinger, Michael T; Weiss, Siegfried; Häussler, Susanne; Bläsi, Udo; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that can thrive by anaerobic respiration in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients using nitrate as terminal electron acceptor. Here, we report the identification and characterization of the small RNA PaiI in the P. aeruginosa strain 14 (PA14). PaiI is anaerobically induced in the presence of nitrate and depends on the two-component system NarXL. Our studies revealed that PaiI is required for efficient denitrification affecting the conversion of nitrite to nitric oxide. In the absence of PaiI anaerobic growth was impaired on glucose, which can be reconciled with a decreased uptake of the carbon source under these conditions. The importance of PaiI for anaerobic growth is further underlined by the observation that a paiI deletion mutant was impaired in growth in murine tumors.
    • An oral multispecies biofilm model for high content screening applications.

      Kommerein, Nadine; Stumpp, Sascha N; Müsken, Mathias; Ehlert, Nina; Winkel, Andreas; Häussler, Susanne; Behrens, Peter; Buettner, Falk F R; Stiesch, Meike; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      Peri-implantitis caused by multispecies biofilms is a major complication in dental implant treatment. The bacterial infection surrounding dental implants can lead to bone loss and, in turn, to implant failure. A promising strategy to prevent these common complications is the development of implant surfaces that inhibit biofilm development. A reproducible and easy-to-use biofilm model as a test system for large scale screening of new implant surfaces with putative antibacterial potency is therefore of major importance. In the present study, we developed a highly reproducible in vitro four-species biofilm model consisting of the highly relevant oral bacterial species Streptococcus oralis, Actinomyces naeslundii, Veillonella dispar and Porphyromonas gingivalis. The application of live/dead staining, quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and urea-NaCl fluorescence in situ hybridization (urea-NaCl-FISH) revealed that the four-species biofilm community is robust in terms of biovolume, live/dead distribution and individual species distribution over time. The biofilm community is dominated by S. oralis, followed by V. dispar, A. naeslundii and P. gingivalis. The percentage distribution in this model closely reflects the situation in early native plaques and is therefore well suited as an in vitro model test system. Furthermore, despite its nearly native composition, the multispecies model does not depend on nutrient additives, such as native human saliva or serum, and is an inexpensive, easy to handle and highly reproducible alternative to the available model systems. The 96-well plate format enables high content screening for optimized implant surfaces impeding biofilm formation or the testing of multiple antimicrobial treatment strategies to fight multispecies biofilm infections, both exemplary proven in the manuscript.
    • Towards individualized diagnostics of biofilm-associated infections: a case study.

      Müsken, Mathias; Klimmek, Kathi; Sauer-Heilborn, Annette; Donnert, Monique; Sedlacek, Ludwig; Suerbaum, Sebastian; Häussler, Susanne; H-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      Organized within biofilm communities, bacteria exhibit resistance towards a broad spectrum of antibiotics. Thus, one might argue that bacteria isolated from biofilm-associated chronic infections should be subjected to resistance profiling under biofilm growth conditions. Various test systems have been developed to determine the biofilm-associated resistance; however, it is not clear to what extent the in vitro results reflect the situation in vivo, and whether the biofilm-resistance profile should guide clinicians in their treatment choice. To address this issue, we used confocal microscopy in combination with live/dead staining, and profiled biofilm-associated resistance of a large number (>130) of clinical Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates from overall 15 cystic fibrosis patients. Our results demonstrate that in addition to a general non-responsiveness of bacteria when grown under biofilm conditions, there is an isolate-specific and antibiotic-specific biofilm-resistance profile. This individual resistance profile is independent on the structural properties of the biofilms. Furthermore, biofilm resistance is not linked to the resistance profile under planktonic growth conditions, or a mucoid, or small colony morphology of the tested isolates. Instead, it seems that individual biofilm structures evolve during biofilm-associated growth and are shaped by environment-specific cues. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that biofilm resistance profiles are isolate specific and cannot be deduced from commonly studied phenotypes. Further clinical studies will have to show the added value of biofilm-resistance profiling. Individualized diagnosis of biofilm resistance might lead to more rational recommendations for antimicrobial therapy and, thus, increased effectiveness of the treatment of chronically infected patients.
    • Cross-regulation by CrcZ RNA controls anoxic biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Pusic, Petra; Tata, Muralidhar; Wolfinger, Michael T; Sonnleitner, Elisabeth; Häussler, Susanne; Bläsi, Udo; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-12-21)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) can thrive in anaerobic biofilms in the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Here, we show that CrcZ is the most abundant PA14 RNA bound to the global regulator Hfq in anoxic biofilms grown in cystic fibrosis sputum medium. Hfq was crucial for anoxic biofilm formation. This observation complied with an RNAseq based transcriptome analysis and follow up studies that implicated Hfq in regulation of a central step preceding denitrification. CrcZ is known to act as a decoy that sequesters Hfq during relief of carbon catabolite repression, which in turn alleviates Hfq-mediated translational repression of catabolic genes. We therefore inferred that CrcZ indirectly impacts on biofilm formation by competing for Hfq. This hypothesis was supported by the findings that over-production of CrcZ mirrored the biofilm phenotype of the hfq deletion mutant, and that deletion of the crcZ gene augmented biofilm formation. To our knowledge, this is the first example where competition for Hfq by CrcZ cross-regulates an Hfq-dependent physiological process unrelated to carbon metabolism.