ISSN / EISSN : 1553-7366 / 1553-7374
Current Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS) (10.1371)
Total articles ≅ 8,834
Latest articles in this journal
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1009584
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1009565
Here, we assessed the efficacy of a short-course multimodal therapy (enrofloxacin, azithromycin, fenbendazole, and paromomycin) to eliminate common macaque endemic pathogens (EPs) and evaluated its impact on gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota, mucosal integrity, and local and systemic inflammation in sixteen clinically healthy macaques. Treatment combined with expanded practices resulted in successful maintenance of rhesus macaques (RM) free of common EPs, with no evidence of overt microbiota diversity loss or dysbiosis and instead resulted in a more defined luminal microbiota across study subjects. Creation of a GI pathogen free (GPF) status resulted in improved colonic mucosal barrier function (histologically, reduced colonic MPO+, and reduced pan-bacterial 16s rRNA in the MLN), reduced local and systemic innate and adaptive inflammation with reduction of colonic Mx1 and pSTAT1, decreased intermediate (CD14+CD16+) and non-classical monocytes (CD14-CD16+), reduced populations of peripheral dendritic cells, Ki-67+ and CD38+ CD4+ T cells, Ki-67+IgG+, and Ki-67+IgD+ B cells indicating lower levels of background inflammation in the distal descending colon, draining mesenteric lymph nodes, and systemically in peripheral blood, spleen, and axillary lymph nodes. A more controlled rate of viral acquisition resulted when untreated and treated macaques were challenged by low dose intrarectal SIVmac239x, with an ~100 fold increase in dose required to infect 50% (AID50) of the animals receiving treatment compared to untreated controls. Reduction in and increased consistency of number of transmitted founder variants resulting from challenge seen in the proof of concept study directly correlated with post-treatment GPF animal’s improved barrier function and reduction of key target cell populations (Ki-67+ CD4+T cells) at the site of viral acquisition in the follow up study. These data demonstrate that a therapeutic and operational strategy can successfully eliminate varying background levels of EPs and their associated aberrant immunomodulatory effects within a captive macaque cohort, leading to a more consistent, better defined and reproducible research model.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1009528
Tradeoff theory, which postulates that virulence provides both transmission costs and benefits for pathogens, has become widely adopted by the scientific community. Although theoretical literature exploring virulence-tradeoffs is vast, empirical studies validating various assumptions still remain sparse. In particular, truncation of transmission duration as a cost of virulence has been difficult to quantify with robust controlled in vivo studies. We sought to fill this knowledge gap by investigating how transmission rate and duration were associated with virulence for infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Using host mortality to quantify virulence and viral shedding to quantify transmission, we found that IHNV did not conform to classical tradeoff theory. More virulent genotypes of the virus were found to have longer transmission durations due to lower recovery rates of infected hosts, but the relationship was not saturating as assumed by tradeoff theory. Furthermore, the impact of host mortality on limiting transmission duration was minimal and greatly outweighed by recovery. Transmission rate differences between high and low virulence genotypes were also small and inconsistent. Ultimately, more virulent genotypes were found to have the overall fitness advantage, and there was no apparent constraint on the evolution of increased virulence for IHNV. However, using a mathematical model parameterized with experimental data, it was found that host culling resurrected the virulence tradeoff and provided low virulence genotypes with the advantage. Human-induced or natural culling, as well as host population fragmentation, may be some of the mechanisms by which virulence diversity is maintained in nature. This work highlights the importance of considering non-classical virulence tradeoffs.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1009575
HIV-infected infants are at an increased risk of progressing rapidly to AIDS in the first weeks of life. Here, we evaluated immunological and virological parameters in 25 SIV-infected infant rhesus macaques to understand the factors influencing a rapid disease outcome. Infant macaques were infected with SIVmac251 and monitored for 10 to 17 weeks post-infection. SIV-infected infants were divided into either typical (TypP) or rapid (RP) progressor groups based on levels of plasma anti-SIV antibody and viral load, with RP infants having low SIV-specific antibodies and high viral loads. Following SIV infection, 11 out of 25 infant macaques exhibited an RP phenotype. Interestingly, TypP had lower levels of total CD4 T cells, similar reductions in CD4/CD8 ratios and elevated activation of CD8 T cells, as measured by the levels of HLA-DR, compared to RP. Differences between the two groups were identified in other immune cell populations, including a failure to expand activated memory (CD21-CD27+) B cells in peripheral blood in RP infant macaques, as well as reduced levels of germinal center (GC) B cells and T follicular helper (Tfh) cells in spleens (4- and 10-weeks post-SIV). Reduced B cell proliferation in splenic germinal GCs was associated with increased SIV+ cell density and follicular type 1 interferon (IFN)-induced immune activation. Further analyses determined that at 2-weeks post SIV infection TypP infants exhibited elevated levels of the GC-inducing chemokine CXCL13 in plasma, as well as significantly lower levels of viral envelope diversity compared to RP infants. Our findings provide evidence that early viral and immunologic events following SIV infection contributes to impairment of B cells, Tfh cells and germinal center formation, ultimately impeding the development of SIV-specific antibody responses in rapidly progressing infant macaques.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1009557
We report a rapid reduction in blink reflexes during in vivo ocular Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection, which is commonly attributed and indicative of functional neuronal damage. Sensory neurons derived in vitro from trigeminal ganglia (TG) were able to directly respond to P. aeruginosa but reacted significantly less to strains of P. aeruginosa that lacked virulence factors such as pili, flagella, or a type III secretion system. These observations led us to explore the impact of neurons on the host’s susceptibility to P. aeruginosa keratitis. Mice were treated with Resiniferatoxin (RTX), a potent activator of Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channels, which significantly ablated corneal sensory neurons, exhibited delayed disease progression that was exemplified with decreased bacterial corneal burdens and altered neutrophil trafficking. Sensitization to disease was due to the increased frequencies of CGRP-induced ICAM-1+ neutrophils in the infected corneas and reduced neutrophil bactericidal activities. These data showed that sensory neurons regulate corneal neutrophil responses in a tissue-specific matter affecting disease progression during P. aeruginosa keratitis. Hence, therapeutic modalities that control nociception could beneficially impact anti-infective therapy.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1009510
Protein conformational diseases are characterized by misfolding and toxic aggregation of metastable proteins, often culminating in neurodegeneration. Enteric bacteria influence the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases; however, the complexity of the human microbiome hinders our understanding of how individual microbes influence these diseases. Disruption of host protein homeostasis, or proteostasis, affects the onset and progression of these diseases. To investigate the effect of bacteria on host proteostasis, we used Caenorhabditis elegans expressing tissue-specific polyglutamine reporters that detect changes in the protein folding environment. We found that colonization of the C. elegans gut with enteric bacterial pathogens disrupted proteostasis in the intestine, muscle, neurons, and the gonad, while the presence of bacteria that conditionally synthesize butyrate, a molecule previously shown to be beneficial in neurodegenerative disease models, suppressed aggregation and the associated proteotoxicity. Co-colonization with this butyrogenic strain suppressed bacteria-induced protein aggregation, emphasizing the importance of microbial interaction and its impact on host proteostasis. Further experiments demonstrated that the beneficial effect of butyrate depended on the bacteria that colonized the gut and that this protective effect required SKN-1/Nrf2 and DAF-16/FOXO transcription factors. We also found that bacteria-derived protein aggregates contribute to the observed disruption of host proteostasis. Together, these results reveal the significance of enteric infection and gut dysbiosis on the pathogenesis of protein conformational diseases and demonstrate the potential of using butyrate-producing microbes as a preventative and treatment strategy for neurodegenerative disease.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1008807
Natural killer (NK) cells are innate immune lymphocytes capable of killing target cells without prior sensitization. One pivotal activating NK receptor is NKG2D, which binds a family of eight ligands, including the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-related chain A (MICA). Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitous betaherpesvirus causing morbidity and mortality in immunosuppressed patients and congenitally infected infants. HCMV encodes multiple antagonists of NK cell activation, including many mechanisms targeting MICA. However, only one of these mechanisms, the HCMV protein US9, counters the most prevalent MICA allele, MICA*008. Here, we discover that a hitherto uncharacterized HCMV protein, UL147A, specifically downregulates MICA*008. UL147A primarily induces MICA*008 maturation arrest, and additionally targets it to proteasomal degradation, acting additively with US9 during HCMV infection. Thus, UL147A hinders NKG2D-mediated elimination of HCMV-infected cells by NK cells. Mechanistic analyses disclose that the non-canonical GPI anchoring pathway of immature MICA*008 constitutes the determinant of UL147A specificity for this MICA allele. These findings advance our understanding of the complex and rapidly evolving HCMV immune evasion mechanisms, which may facilitate the development of antiviral drugs and vaccines.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1009550
Salmonella Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) is an enteric bacterium capable of invading a wide range of hosts, including rodents and humans. It targets different host cell types showing different intracellular lifestyles. S. Typhimurium colonizes different intracellular niches and is able to either actively divide at various rates or remain dormant to persist. A comprehensive tool to determine these distinct S. Typhimurium lifestyles remains lacking. Here we developed a novel fluorescent reporter, Salmonella INtracellular Analyzer (SINA), compatible for fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry in single-bacterium level quantification. This identified a S. Typhimurium subpopulation in infected epithelial cells that exhibits a unique phenotype in comparison to the previously documented vacuolar or cytosolic S. Typhimurium. This subpopulation entered a dormant state in a vesicular compartment distinct from the conventional Salmonella-containing vacuoles (SCV) as well as the previously reported niche of dormant S. Typhimurium in macrophages. The dormant S. Typhimurium inside enterocytes were viable and expressed Salmonella Pathogenicity Island 2 (SPI-2) virulence factors at later time points. We found that the formation of these dormant S. Typhimurium is not triggered by the loss of SPI-2 effector secretion but it is regulated by (p)ppGpp-mediated stringent response through RelA and SpoT. We predict that intraepithelial dormant S. Typhimurium represents an important pathogen niche and provides an alternative strategy for S. Typhimurium pathogenicity and its persistence.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1009537
Klebsiella pneumoniae (Kp) is an important cause of healthcare-associated infections, which increases patient morbidity, mortality, and hospitalization costs. Gut colonization by Kp is consistently associated with subsequent Kp disease, and patients are predominantly infected with their colonizing strain. Our previous comparative genomics study, between disease-causing and asymptomatically colonizing Kp isolates, identified a plasmid-encoded tellurite (TeO3 -2)-resistance (ter) operon as strongly associated with infection. However, TeO3 -2 is extremely rare and toxic to humans. Thus, we used a multidisciplinary approach to determine the biological link between ter and Kp infection. First, we used a genomic and bioinformatic approach to extensively characterize Kp plasmids encoding the ter locus. These plasmids displayed substantial variation in plasmid incompatibility type and gene content. Moreover, the ter operon was genetically independent of other plasmid-encoded virulence and antibiotic resistance loci, both in our original patient cohort and in a large set (n = 88) of publicly available ter operon-encoding Kp plasmids, indicating that the ter operon is likely playing a direct, but yet undescribed role in Kp disease. Next, we employed multiple mouse models of infection and colonization to show that 1) the ter operon is dispensable during bacteremia, 2) the ter operon enhances fitness in the gut, 3) this phenotype is dependent on the colony of origin of mice, and 4) antibiotic disruption of the gut microbiota eliminates the requirement for ter. Furthermore, using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, we show that the ter operon enhances Kp fitness in the gut in the presence of specific indigenous microbiota, including those predicted to produce short chain fatty acids. Finally, administration of exogenous short-chain fatty acids in our mouse model of colonization was sufficient to reduce fitness of a ter mutant. These findings indicate that the ter operon, strongly associated with human infection, encodes factors that resist stress induced by the indigenous gut microbiota during colonization. This work represents a substantial advancement in our molecular understanding of Kp pathogenesis and gut colonization, directly relevant to Kp disease in healthcare settings.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1009560
Herpes-Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1) infects most humans when they are young, sometimes with fatal consequences. Gene expression occurs in a temporal order upon lytic HSV-1 infection: immediate early (IE) genes are expressed, then early (E) genes, followed by late (L) genes. During this infection cycle, the HSV-1 genome has the potential for exposure to APOBEC3 (A3) proteins, a family of cytidine deaminases that cause C>U mutations on single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), often resulting in a C>T transition. We developed a computational model for the mutational pressure of A3 on the lytic cycle of HSV-1 to determine which viral kinetic gene class is most vulnerable to A3 mutations. Using in silico stochastic methods, we simulated the infectious cycle under varying intensities of A3 mutational pressure. We found that the IE and E genes are more vulnerable to A3 than L genes. We validated this model by analyzing the A3 evolutionary footprints in 25 HSV-1 isolates. We find that IE and E genes have evolved to underrepresent A3 hotspot motifs more so than L genes, consistent with greater selection pressure on IE and E genes. We extend this model to two-step infections, such as those of polyomavirus, and find that the same pattern holds for over 25 human Polyomavirus (HPyVs) genomes. Genes expressed earlier during infection are more vulnerable to mutations than those expressed later.