• Identification of Burkholderia cepacia complex pathogens by rapid-cycle PCR with fluorescent hybridization probes.

      Vonberg, Ralf-Peter; Häussler, Susanne; Vandamme, Peter; Steinmetz, Ivo (2006-06-01)
      Members of the Burkholderia cepacia complex are important bacterial pathogens in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. The B. cepacia complex currently consists of nine genetic subgroups (genomovars) of different epidemiological relevance and possibly of different pathogenic potential in humans. In this study, a new approach was developed for the rapid identification of B. cepacia genomovar I, Burkholderia multivorans (genomovar II), Burkholderia cenocepacia (lineage III-A and III-B), Burkholderia stabilis (genomovar IV) and Burkholderia vietnamiensis (genomovar V), which cause the large majority of infections in CF patients. The method was based on the detection of differences in the recA gene sequence by using rapid-cycle PCR and genomovar-specific fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) probes. The genomovar status of all 39 B. cepacia complex strains tested (genomovars I-V) was identified by melting-curve analysis. Each FRET probe produced a specific fluorescence signal only with the respective genomovar, and not with other B. cepacia complex strains and Burkholderia spp. The identification system was easy to handle and revealed B. cepacia complex genomovar I-V status from culture isolates within about 1 h.
    • Phenotypic and genome-wide analysis of an antibiotic-resistant small colony variant (SCV) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Wei, Qing; Tarighi, Saeed; Dötsch, Andreas; Häussler, Susanne; Müsken, Mathias; Wright, Victoria J; Cámara, Miguel; Williams, Paul; Haenen, Steven; Boerjan, Bart; et al. (2011)
      Small colony variants (SCVs) are slow-growing bacteria, which often show increased resistance to antibiotics and cause latent or recurrent infections. It is therefore important to understand the mechanisms at the basis of this phenotypic switch.
    • The Pseudomonas aeruginosa Chemotaxis Methyltransferase CheR1 Impacts on Bacterial Surface Sampling.

      Schmidt, Juliane; Müsken, Mathias; Becker, Tanja; Magnowska, Zofia; Bertinetti, Daniela; Möller, Stefan; Zimmermann, Bastian; Herberg, Friedrich W; Jänsch, Lothar; Häussler, Susanne; et al. (2011)
      The characterization of factors contributing to the formation and development of surface-associated bacterial communities known as biofilms has become an area of intense interest since biofilms have a major impact on human health, the environment and industry. Various studies have demonstrated that motility, including swimming, swarming and twitching, seems to play an important role in the surface colonization and establishment of structured biofilms. Thereby, the impact of chemotaxis on biofilm formation has been less intensively studied. Pseudomonas aeruginosa has a very complex chemosensory system with two Che systems implicated in flagella-mediated motility. In this study, we demonstrate that the chemotaxis protein CheR1 is a methyltransferase that binds S-adenosylmethionine and transfers a methyl group from this methyl donor to the chemoreceptor PctA, an activity which can be stimulated by the attractant serine but not by glutamine. We furthermore demonstrate that CheR1 does not only play a role in flagella-mediated chemotaxis but that its activity is essential for the formation and maintenance of bacterial biofilm structures. We propose a model in which motility and chemotaxis impact on initial attachment processes, dispersion and reattachment and increase the efficiency and frequency of surface sampling in P. aeruginosa.
    • Pseudomonas aeruginosa cupA-encoded fimbriae expression is regulated by a GGDEF and EAL domain-dependent modulation of the intracellular level of cyclic diguanylate.

      Meissner, Andree; Wild, Verena; Simm, Roger; Rohde, Manfred; Erck, Christian; Bredenbruch, Florian; Morr, Michael; Römling, Ute; Häussler, Susanne; Division of Cell Biology and Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2007-10)
      Cyclic-diguanylate (c-di-GMP) is a widespread bacterial signal molecule that plays a major role in the modulation of cellular surface components, such as exopolysaccharides and fimbriae, and in the establishment of a sessile life style. Here, we report that intracellular c-di-GMP levels influence cupA-encoded fimbriae expression in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In an autoaggregative P. aeruginosa small colony variant (SCV) CupA fimbriae and the intracellular c-di-GMP concentration were found to be enhanced as compared with the clonal wild-type. The SCV morphology and the expression of CupA fimbriae were dependent on a functional PA1120 and morA gene both encoding a GGDEF domain. Overexpression of the GGDEF domain protein PA1120 complemented the PA1120 and the morA mutant with respect to CupA fimbriae expression. In agreement with these findings, overexpression of the EAL domain containing phenotypic variance regulator (PvrR) in the SCV resulted in a decreased intracellular level of c-di-GMP, a reduced cupA fimbriae expression and a switch to wild-type colony morphology.
    • The Pseudomonas aeruginosa quinolone signal (PQS) has an iron-chelating activity.

      Bredenbruch, Florian; Geffers, Robert; Nimtz, Manfred; Buer, Jan; Häussler, Susanne (2006-08-01)
      Virulence factor production and the development of biofilms in Pseudomonas aeruginosa have been shown to be regulated by two hierarchically organized quorum-sensing systems activated by two types of small acyl-homoserine lactone signal molecules. Recently, a third type of bacterial signal molecule, the Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS), has been identified, which positively regulates a subset of genes dependent on the quorum-sensing systems. However, the molecular mechanism underlying PQS signalling has remained poorly understood. In this study the global transcriptional profile of P. aeruginosa in response to PQS revealed a marked upregulation of genes belonging to the tightly interdependent functional groups of the iron acquisition and the oxidative stress response. Remarkably, most of the differentially regulated genes, as well as the induction of rhlR, could be traced back to an iron-chelating effect of PQS. Our results amount to the elucidation of how PQS affects P. aeruginosa and have important implications for the understanding of the complex regulatory circuits involved in P. aeruginosa gene regulation.
    • The pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) balances life and death in Pseudomonas aeruginosa populations.

      Häussler, Susanne; Becker, Tanja; Department of Cell Biology, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. susanne.haeussler@helmholtz-hzi.de (2008)
      When environmental conditions deteriorate and become inhospitable, generic survival strategies for populations of bacteria may be to enter a dormant state that slows down metabolism, to develop a general tolerance to hostile parameters that characterize the habitat, and to impose a regime to eliminate damaged members. Here, we provide evidence that the pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) mediates induction of all of these phenotypes. For individual cells, PQS, an interbacterial signaling molecule of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, has both deleterious and beneficial activities: on the one hand, it acts as a pro-oxidant and sensitizes the bacteria towards oxidative and other stresses and, on the other, it efficiently induces a protective anti-oxidative stress response. We propose that this dual function fragments populations into less and more stress tolerant members which respond differentially to developing stresses in deteriorating habitats. This suggests that a little poison may be generically beneficial to populations, in promoting survival of the fittest, and in contributing to bacterial multi-cellular behavior. It further identifies PQS as an essential mediator of the shaping of the population structure of Pseudomonas and of its response to and survival in hostile environmental conditions.
    • Quorum-sensing antagonistic activities of azithromycin in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1: a global approach.

      Nalca, Yusuf; Jänsch, Lothar; Bredenbruch, Florian; Geffers, Robert; Buer, Jan; Häussler, Susanne (2006-05-01)
      The administration of macrolides such as azithromycin for chronic pulmonary infection of cystic fibrosis patients has been reported to be of benefit. Although the mechanisms of action remain obscure, anti-inflammatory effects as well as interference of the macrolide with Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence factor production have been suggested to contribute to an improved clinical outcome. In this study we used a systematic approach and analyzed the impact of azithromycin on the global transcriptional pattern and the protein expression profile of P. aeruginosa PAO1 cultures versus those in untreated controls. The most remarkable result of this study is the finding that azithromycin exhibited extensive quorum-sensing antagonistic activities. In accordance with the inhibition of the quorum-sensing systems, virulence factor production was diminished and the oxidative stress response was impaired, whereas the type III secretion system was strongly induced. Moreover, P. aeruginosa motility was reduced, which probably accounts for the previously observed impaired biofilm formation capabilities of azithromycin-treated cultures. The interference of azithromycin with quorum-sensing-dependent virulence factor production, biofilm formation, and oxidative stress resistance in P. aeruginosa holds great promise for macrolide therapy in cystic fibrosis. Clearly quorum-sensing antagonist macrolides should be paid more attention in the management of chronic P. aeruginosa infections, and as quorum-sensing antagonists, macrolides might gain vital importance for more general application against chronic infections.