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Transformed Recombinant Enrichment Profiling Rapidly Identifies HMW1 as an Intracellular Invasion Locus in Haemophilus influenzae

AuthorsMell, Joshua Chang; Viadas, Cristina ; Moleres, Javier ; Sinha, Sunita; Fernández-Calvet, Ariadna ; Porsch, Eric A.; St. Geme, Joseph W.; Nislow, Corey; Redfield, Rosemary; Garmendia, Juncal
Issue Date28-Apr-2016
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS Pathogens 12(4): e1005576 (2016)
Abstract[Abstract] Many bacterial species actively take up and recombine homologous DNA into their genomes, called natural competence, a trait that offers a means to identify the genetic basis of naturally occurring phenotypic variation. Here, we describe “transformed recombinant enrichment profiling” (TREP), in which natural transformation is used to generate complex pools of recombinants, phenotypic selection is used to enrich for specific recombinants, and deep sequencing is used to survey for the genetic variation responsible. We applied TREP to investigate the genetic architecture of intracellular invasion by the human pathogen Haemophilus influenzae, a trait implicated in persistence during chronic infection. TREP identified the HMW1 adhesin as a crucial factor. Natural transformation of the hmw1 operon from a clinical isolate (86-028NP) into a laboratory isolate that lacks it (Rd KW20) resulted in ~1,000-fold increased invasion into airway epithelial cells. When a distinct recipient (Hi375, already possessing hmw1 and its paralog hmw2) was transformed by the same donor, allelic replacement of hmw2Aby hmw1Aresulted in a ~100-fold increased intracellular invasion rate. The specific role of hmw1Awas confirmed by mutant and western blot analyses. Bacterial self-aggregation and adherence to airway cells were also increased in recombinants, suggesting that the high invasiveness induced by hmw1Amight be a consequence of these phenotypes. However, immunofluorescence results found that intracellular hmw1Abacteria likely invaded as groups, instead of as individual bacterial cells, indicating an emergent invasion-specific consequence of hmw1A-mediated self-aggregation.
[Author Summary] Many bacteria are naturally competent, actively taking up DNA from their surroundings and incorporating it into their genomes by homologous recombination. This cellular process has had a large impact on the evolution of these species, for example by enabling pathogens to acquire virulence factors and antibiotic resistances from their relatives. But natural competence can also be exploited by researchers to identify the underlying genetic variation responsible for naturally varying phenotypic traits, similar to how eukaryotic geneticists use meiotic recombination during sexual reproduction to create genetically admixed populations. Here we exploited natural competence, phenotypic selection, and deep sequencing to rapidly identify the hmw1 locus as a major contributor to intracellular invasion of airway epithelial cells by the human pathogen Haemophilus influenzae, a trait that likely allows bacterial cells to evade the immune system and therapeutic interventions during chronic infections. Genetic variation in this locus can strongly modulate bacterial intracellular invasion rates, and possession of a certain allele favors adhesion and self-aggregation, which appear to prompt bacteria to invade airway cells as groups, rather than as individuals. Overall, our findings indicate that targeting HMW1 could block the ability of H. influenzae to invade airway cells, which would make antibiotic therapy to treat chronic lung infections more effective. Furthermore, our new approach to identifying the genetic basis of natural phenotypic variation is applicable to a wide-range of phenotypically selectable traits within the widely distributed naturally competent bacterial species, including pathogenesis traits in many human pathogens.
Publisher version (URL)http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1005576
Identifierse-issn: 1553-7374
issn: 1553-7366
ReferencesMell, Joshua Chang; Viadas, Cristina ; Moleres, Javier; Sinha, Sunita; Fernández-Calvet, Ariadna; Porsch, Eric A.; St. Geme, Joseph W.; Nislow, Corey; Redfield, Rosemary; Garmendia, Juncal. Correction: Transformed Recombinant Enrichment Profiling Rapidly Identifies HMW1 as an Intracellular Invasion Locus in Haemophilus influenzae. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1005681 . http://hdl.handle.net/10261/147439
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