• Novel drug targets in cell wall biosynthesis exploited by gene disruption in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Elamin, Ayssar A; Steinicke, Susanne; Oehlmann, Wulf; Braun, Yvonne; Wanas, Hanaa; Shuralev, Eduard A; Huck, Carmen; Maringer, Marko; Rohde, M; Singh, Mahavir; et al. (2017)
      For clinicians, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a nightmare pathogen that is one of the top three causes of opportunistic human infections. Therapy of P. aeruginosa infections is complicated due to its natural high intrinsic resistance to antibiotics. Active efflux and decreased uptake of drugs due to cell wall/membrane permeability appear to be important issues in the acquired antibiotic tolerance mechanisms. Bacterial cell wall biosynthesis enzymes have been shown to be essential for pathogenicity of Gram-negative bacteria. However, the role of these targets in virulence has not been identified in P. aeruginosa. Here, we report knockout (k.o) mutants of six cell wall biosynthesis targets (murA, PA4450; murD, PA4414; murF, PA4416; ppiB, PA1793; rmlA, PA5163; waaA, PA4988) in P. aeruginosa PAO1, and characterized these in order to find out whether these genes and their products contribute to pathogenicity and virulence of P. aeruginosa. Except waaA k.o, deletion of cell wall biosynthesis targets significantly reduced growth rate in minimal medium compared to the parent strain. The k.o mutants showed exciting changes in cell morphology and colonial architectures. Remarkably, ΔmurF cells became grossly enlarged. Moreover, the mutants were also attenuated in vivo in a mouse infection model except ΔmurF and ΔwaaA and proved to be more sensitive to macrophage-mediated killing than the wild-type strain. Interestingly, the deletion of the murA gene resulted in loss of virulence activity in mice, and the virulence was restored in a plant model by unknown mechanism. This study demonstrates that cell wall targets contribute significantly to intracellular survival, in vivo growth, and pathogenesis of P. aeruginosa. In conclusion, these findings establish a link between cell wall targets and virulence of P. aeruginosa and thus may lead to development of novel drugs for the treatment of P. aeruginosa infection.
    • Production of infectious genotype 1b virus particles in cell culture and impairment by replication enhancing mutations.

      Pietschmann, Thomas; Zayas, Margarita; Meuleman, Philip; Long, Gang; Appel, Nicole; Koutsoudakis, George; Kallis, Stephanie; Leroux-Roels, Geert; Lohmann, Volker; Bartenschlager, Ralf (2009-06)
      With the advent of subgenomic hepatitis C virus (HCV) replicons, studies of the intracellular steps of the viral replication cycle became possible. These RNAs are capable of self-amplification in cultured human hepatoma cells, but save for the genotype 2a isolate JFH-1, efficient replication of these HCV RNAs requires replication enhancing mutations (REMs), previously also called cell culture adaptive mutations. These mutations cluster primarily in the central region of non-structural protein 5A (NS5A), but may also reside in the NS3 helicase domain or at a distinct position in NS4B. Most efficient replication has been achieved by combining REMs residing in NS3 with distinct REMs located in NS4B or NS5A. However, in spite of efficient replication of HCV genomes containing such mutations, they do not support production of infectious virus particles. By using the genotype 1b isolate Con1, in this study we show that REMs interfere with HCV assembly. Strongest impairment of virus formation was found with REMs located in the NS3 helicase (E1202G and T1280I) as well as NS5A (S2204R), whereas a highly adaptive REM in NS4B still allowed virus production although relative levels of core release were also reduced. We also show that cells transfected with the Con1 wild type genome or the genome containing the REM in NS4B release HCV particles that are infectious both in cell culture and in vivo. Our data provide an explanation for the in vitro and in vivo attenuation of cell culture adapted HCV genomes and may open new avenues for the development of fully competent culture systems covering the therapeutically most relevant HCV genotypes.