• Single molecule super-resolution imaging of proteins in living Salmonella enterica using self-labelling enzymes.

      Barlag, Britta; Beutel, Oliver; Janning, Dennis; Czarniak, Frederik; Richter, Christian P; Kommnick, Carina; Göser, Vera; Kurre, Rainer; Fabiani, Florian; Erhardt, Marc; Piehler, Jacob; Hensel, Michael; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      The investigation of the subcellular localization, dynamics and interaction of proteins and protein complexes in prokaryotes is complicated by the small size of the cells. Super-resolution microscopy (SRM) comprise various new techniques that allow light microscopy with a resolution that can be up to ten-fold higher than conventional light microscopy. Application of SRM techniques to living prokaryotes demands the introduction of suitable fluorescent probes, usually by fusion of proteins of interest to fluorescent proteins with properties compatible to SRM. Here we describe an approach that is based on the genetically encoded self-labelling enzymes HaloTag and SNAP-tag. Proteins of interest are fused to HaloTag or SNAP-tag and cell permeable substrates can be labelled with various SRM-compatible fluorochromes. Fusions of the enzyme tags to subunits of a type I secretion system (T1SS), a T3SS, the flagellar rotor and a transcription factor were generated and analysed in living Salmonella enterica. The new approach is versatile in tagging proteins of interest in bacterial cells and allows to determine the number, relative subcellular localization and dynamics of protein complexes in living cells.
    • Strategies to Block Bacterial Pathogenesis by Interference with Motility and Chemotaxis.

      Erhardt, Marc; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Infections by motile, pathogenic bacteria, such as Campylobacter species, Clostridium species, Escherichia coli, Helicobacter pylori, Listeria monocytogenes, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella species, Vibrio cholerae, and Yersinia species, represent a severe economic and health problem worldwide. Of special importance in this context is the increasing emergence and spread of multidrug-resistant bacteria. Due to the shortage of effective antibiotics for the treatment of infections caused by multidrug-resistant, pathogenic bacteria, the targeting of novel, virulence-relevant factors constitutes a promising, alternative approach. Bacteria have evolved distinct motility structures for movement across surfaces and in aqueous environments. In this review, I will focus on the bacterial flagellum, the associated chemosensory system, and the type-IV pilus as motility devices, which are crucial for bacterial pathogens to reach a preferred site of infection, facilitate biofilm formation, and adhere to surfaces or host cells. Thus, those nanomachines constitute potential targets for the development of novel anti-infectives that are urgently needed at a time of spreading antibiotic resistance. Both bacterial flagella and type-IV pili (T4P) are intricate macromolecular complexes made of dozens of different proteins and their motility function relies on the correct spatial and temporal assembly of various substructures. Specific type-III and type-IV secretion systems power the export of substrate proteins of the bacterial flagellum and type-IV pilus, respectively, and are homologous to virulence-associated type-III and type-II secretion systems. Accordingly, bacterial flagella and T4P represent attractive targets for novel antivirulence drugs interfering with synthesis, assembly, and function of these motility structures.
    • Tumour-targeting bacteria-based cancer therapies for increased specificity and improved outcome.

      Felgner, Sebastian; Pawar, Vinay; Kocijancic, Dino; Erhardt, Marc; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-03)
    • Variability in bacterial flagella re-growth patterns after breakage.

      Paradis, Guillaume; Chevance, Fabienne F V; Liou, Willisa; Renault, Thibaud T; Hughes, Kelly T; Rainville, Simon; Erhardt, Marc; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-04-28)
      Many bacteria swim through liquids or crawl on surfaces by rotating long appendages called flagella. Flagellar filaments are assembled from thousands of subunits that are exported through a narrow secretion channel and polymerize beneath a capping scaffold at the tip of the growing filament. The assembly of a flagellum uses a significant proportion of the biosynthetic capacities of the cell with each filament constituting ~1% of the total cell protein. Here, we addressed a significant question whether a flagellar filament can form a new cap and resume growth after breakage. Re-growth of broken filaments was visualized using sequential 3-color fluorescent labeling of filaments after mechanical shearing. Differential electron microscopy revealed the formation of new cap structures on broken filaments that re-grew. Flagellar filaments are therefore able to re-grow if broken by mechanical shearing forces, which are expected to occur frequently in nature. In contrast, no re-growth was observed on filaments that had been broken using ultrashort laser pulses, a technique allowing for very local damage to individual filaments. We thus conclude that assembly of a new cap at the tip of a broken filament depends on how the filament was broken.
    • YopN and TyeA Hydrophobic Contacts Required for Regulating Ysc-Yop Type III Secretion Activity by Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

      Amer, Ayad A A; Gurung, Jyoti M; Costa, Tiago R D; Ruuth, Kristina; Zavialov, Anton V; Forsberg, Åke; Francis, Matthew S; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Yersinia bacteria target Yop effector toxins to the interior of host immune cells by the Ysc-Yop type III secretion system. A YopN-TyeA heterodimer is central to controlling Ysc-Yop targeting activity. A + 1 frameshift event in the 3-prime end of yopN can also produce a singular secreted YopN-TyeA polypeptide that retains some regulatory function even though the C-terminal coding sequence of this YopN differs greatly from wild type. Thus, this YopN C-terminal segment was analyzed for its role in type III secretion control. Bacteria producing YopN truncated after residue 278, or with altered sequence between residues 279 and 287, had lost type III secretion control and function. In contrast, YopN variants with manipulated sequence beyond residue 287 maintained full control and function. Scrutiny of the YopN-TyeA complex structure revealed that residue W279 functioned as a likely hydrophobic contact site with TyeA. Indeed, a YopN W279G mutant lost all ability to bind TyeA. The TyeA residue F8 was also critical for reciprocal YopN binding. Thus, we conclude that specific hydrophobic contacts between opposing YopN and TyeA termini establishes a complex needed for regulating Ysc-Yop activity.