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  • Journal article
    Murphy R, Coates M, Thrane S, Sabnis A, Harrison J, Schelenz S, Edwards A, Vorup-Jensen T, Davies Jet al., 2022,

    Synergistic activity of repurposed peptide drug glatiramer acetate with tobramycin against cystic fibrosis Pseudomonas aeruginosa

    , Microbiology Spectrum, Vol: 10, ISSN: 2165-0497

    Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most common pathogen infecting the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis (CF), causing both acute and chronic infections. Intrinsic and acquired antibiotic resistance, coupled with the physical barriers resulting from desiccated CF sputum, allow P. aeruginosa to colonize and persist in spite of antibiotic treatment. As well as the specific difficulties in eradicating P. aeruginosa from CF lungs, P. aeruginosa is also subject to the wider, global issue of antimicrobial resistance. Glatiramer acetate (GA) is a peptide drug, used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), which has been shown to have moderate antipseudomonal activity. Other antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been shown to be antibiotic resistance breakers, potentiating the activities of antibiotics when given in combination, restoring and/or enhancing antibiotic efficacy. Growth, viability, MIC determinations, and synergy analysis showed that GA improved the efficacy of tobramycin (TOB) against reference strains of P. aeruginosa, reducing TOB MICs and synergizing with the aminoglycoside. This was also the case for clinical strains from people with CF. GA significantly reduced the MIC50 of TOB for viable cells from 1.69 mg/L (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.26 to 8.97) to 0.62 mg/L (95% CI, 0.15 to 3.94; P = 0.002) and the MIC90 for viable cells from 7.00 mg/L (95% CI, 1.18 to 26.50) to 2.20 mg/L (95% CI, 0.99 to 15.03; P = 0.001), compared to results with TOB only. Investigation of mechanisms of GA activity showed that GA resulted in significant disruption of outer membranes, depolarization of cytoplasmic membranes, and permeabilization of P. aeruginosa and was the only agent tested (including cationic AMPs) to significantly affect all three mechanisms.

  • Journal article
    Mullish BH, McDonald JAK, Marchesi JR, 2022,

    Mechanisms of efficacy of intestinal microbiota transplant: do not forget the metabolites

    , The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Vol: 7, Pages: 594-594, ISSN: 2468-1253
  • Journal article
    Tonkin R, Kloeckner A, Najer A, Simoes da Silva CJ, Echalier C, Dionne MS, Edwards AM, Stevens Met al., 2022,

    Bacterial toxin-triggered release of antibiotics from capsosomes protects a fly model from lethal methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection

    , Advanced Healthcare Materials, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 2192-2640

    Antibiotic resistance is a severe global health threat and hence demands rapid action to develop novel therapies, including microscale drug delivery systems. Herein, a hierarchical microparticle system is developed to achieve bacteria-activated single- and dual-antibiotic drug delivery for preventing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacterial infections. The designed system is based on a capsosome structure, which consists of a mesoporous silica microparticle coated in alternating layers of oppositely charged polymers and antibiotic-loaded liposomes. The capsosomes are engineered and shown to release their drug payloads in the presence of MRSA toxins controlled by the Agr quorum sensing system. MRSA-activated single drug delivery of vancomycin and synergistic dual delivery of vancomycin together with an antibacterial peptide successfully kills MRSA in vitro. The capability of capsosomes to selectively deliver their cargo in the presence of bacteria, producing a bactericidal effect to protect the host organism, is confirmed in vivo using a Drosophila melanogaster MRSA infection model. Thus, the capsosomes serve as a versatile multidrug, subcompartmentalized microparticle system for preventing antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, with potential applications to protect wounds or medical device implants from infections.

  • Journal article
    Ciechonska M, Sturrock M, Grob A, Larrouy-Maumus G, Shahrezaei V, Isalan Met al., 2022,

    Emergent expression of fitness-conferring genes by phenotypic selection

    , PNAS Nexus, Vol: 1, Pages: 1-13, ISSN: 2752-6542

    Genotypic and phenotypic adaptation is the consequence of ongoing natural selection in populations and is key to predicting and preventing drug resistance. Whereas classic antibiotic persistence is all-or-nothing, here we demonstrate that an antibiotic resistance gene displays linear dose-responsive selection for increased expression in proportion to rising antibiotic concentration in growing E. coli populations. Furthermore, we report the potentially wide-spread nature of this form of emergent gene expression by instantaneous phenotypic selection process under bactericidal and bacteriostatic antxibiotic treatment, as well as an amino acid synthesis pathway enzyme under a range of auxotrophic conditions. We propose an analogy to Ohm’s law in electricity (V=IR) where selection pressure acts similarly to voltage (V), gene expression to current (I), and resistance (R) to cellular machinery constraints and costs. Lastly, mathematical modelling using agent-based models of stochastic gene expression in growing populations and Bayesian model selection reveal that the emergent gene expression mechanism requires variability in gene expression within an isogenic population, and a cellular ‘memory’ from positive feedbacks between growth and expression of any fitness-conferring gene. Finally, we discuss the connection of the observed phenomenon to a previously described general fluctuation-response relationship in biology.

  • Journal article
    David S, Wong JLC, Sanchez-Garrido J, Kwong H-S, Low WW, Morecchiato F, Giani T, Rossolini GM, Brett SJ, Clements A, Beis K, Aanensen DM, Frankel Get al., 2022,

    Widespread emergence of OmpK36 loop 3 insertions among multidrug-resistant clones of Klebsiella pneumoniae.

    , PLoS Pathogens, Vol: 18, Pages: 1-23, ISSN: 1553-7366

    Mutations in outer membrane porins act in synergy with carbapenemase enzymes to increase carbapenem resistance in the important nosocomial pathogen, Klebsiella pneumoniae (KP). A key example is a di-amino acid insertion, Glycine-Aspartate (GD), in the extracellular loop 3 (L3) region of OmpK36 which constricts the pore and restricts entry of carbapenems into the bacterial cell. Here we combined genomic and experimental approaches to characterise the diversity, spread and impact of different L3 insertion types in OmpK36. We identified L3 insertions in 3588 (24.1%) of 14,888 KP genomes with an intact ompK36 gene from a global collection. GD insertions were most common, with a high concentration in the ST258/512 clone that has spread widely in Europe and the Americas. Aspartate (D) and Threonine-Aspartate (TD) insertions were prevalent in genomes from Asia, due in part to acquisitions by KP sequence types ST16 and ST231 and subsequent clonal expansions. By solving the crystal structures of novel OmpK36 variants, we found that the TD insertion causes a pore constriction of 41%, significantly greater than that achieved by GD (10%) or D (8%), resulting in the highest levels of resistance to selected antibiotics. We show that in the absence of antibiotics KP mutants harbouring these L3 insertions exhibit both an in vitro and in vivo competitive disadvantage relative to the isogenic parental strain expressing wild type OmpK36. We propose that this explains the reversion of GD and TD insertions observed at low frequency among KP genomes. Finally, we demonstrate that strains expressing L3 insertions remain susceptible to drugs targeting carbapenemase-producing KP, including novel beta lactam-beta lactamase inhibitor combinations. This study provides a contemporary global view of OmpK36-mediated resistance mechanisms in KP, integrating surveillance and experimental data to guide treatment and drug development strategies.

  • Journal article
    Penades J, Gallego del Sol F, Quiles-Puchalt N, Brady A, Marina Aet al., 2022,

    Insights into the mechanism of action of the arbitrium communication system in SPbeta phages

    , Nature Communications, Vol: 13, ISSN: 2041-1723

    The arbitrium system is employed by phages of the SPbeta family to communicate with their progeny during infection to decide either to follow the lytic or the lysogenic cycle. The system is controlled by a peptide, AimP, that binds to the regulator AimR, inhibiting its DNA-binding activity and expression of aimX. Although the structure of AimR has been elucidated for phages SPβ and phi3T, there is still controversy regarding the molecular mechanism of AimR function, with two different proposed models for SPβ. In this study, we deepen our understanding of the system by solving the structure of an additional AimR that shows chimerical characteristics with the SPβ receptor. The crystal structures of this AimR (apo, AimP-bound and DNA-bound) together with in vitro and in vivo analyses confirm a mechanism of action by AimP-induced conformational restriction, shedding light on peptide specificity and cross regulation with relevant biological implications.

  • Journal article
    Macé K, Vadakkepat AK, Redzej A, Lukoyanova N, Oomen C, Braun N, Ukleja M, Lu F, Dias da Costa T, Orlova EV, Baker D, Cong Q, Waksman Get al., 2022,

    Cryo-EM structure of a type IV secretion system

    , Nature, Vol: 607, ISSN: 0028-0836

    Bacterial conjugation is the fundamental process of unidirectional transfer of DNAs, often plasmid DNAs, from a donor cell to a recipient cell1. It is the primary means by which antibiotic resistance genes spread among bacterial populations2,3. In Gram-negative bacteria, conjugation is mediated by a large transport apparatus-the conjugative type IV secretion system (T4SS)-produced by the donor cell and embedded in both its outer and inner membranes. The T4SS also elaborates a long extracellular filament-the conjugative pilus-that is essential for DNA transfer4,5. Here we present a high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of a 2.8 megadalton T4SS complex composed of 92 polypeptides representing 8 of the 10 essential T4SS components involved in pilus biogenesis. We added the two remaining components to the structural model using co-evolution analysis of protein interfaces, to enable the reconstitution of the entire system including the pilus. This structure describes the exceptionally large protein-protein interaction network required to assemble the many components that constitute a T4SS and provides insights on the unique mechanism by which they elaborate pili.

  • Journal article
    Gerovasili V, Shah A, Singanayagam A, George PM, Njafuh R, Prendecki M, Carby M, Willicombe M, Kelleher P, Reed Aet al., 2022,

    Impaired Humoral and Cellular Responses to COVID-19 Vaccine in Heart and Lung Transplant Recipients

    , AMERICAN JOURNAL OF RESPIRATORY AND CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE, Vol: 205, Pages: 1476-1479, ISSN: 1073-449X
  • Journal article
    Faiez TS, Singanayagam A, 2022,

    Down to a T: The Functional Importance of Lymphopenia in Severe COVID-19

    , AMERICAN JOURNAL OF RESPIRATORY AND CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE, Vol: 205, Pages: 1370-1372, ISSN: 1073-449X
  • Journal article
    Low WW, Wong J, Beltran L, Seddon C, David S, Kwong H-S, Bizeau T, Wang F, Pena A, Costa TRD, Pham B, Chen M, Egelman E, Beis K, Frankel Get al., 2022,

    Mating pair stabilization mediates bacterial conjugation species specificity

    , Nature Microbiology, Vol: 7, Pages: 1016-1027, ISSN: 2058-5276

    Bacterial conjugation mediates contact-dependent transfer of DNA from donor to recipient bacteria, thus facilitating thespread of virulence and resistance plasmids. Here we describe how variants of the plasmid-encoded donor outer membrane(OM) protein TraN cooperate with distinct OM receptors in recipients to mediate mating pair stabilization and efficient DNAtransfer. We show that TraN from the plasmids pKpQIL (Klebsiella pneumoniae), R100-1 (Shigella flexneri) and pSLT (SalmonellaTyphimurium), and the prototypical F plasmid (Escherichia coli) interact with OmpK36, OmpW and OmpA, respectively.Cryo-EM analysis revealed that TraN pKpQIL interacts with OmpK36 through the insertion of a β-hairpin in the tip of TraN intoa monomer of the OmpK36 trimer. Combining bioinformatic analysis with AlphaFold structural predictions, we identified afourth TraN structural variant that mediates mating pair stabilization by binding OmpF. Accordingly, we devised a classifica-tion scheme for TraN homologues on the basis of structural similarity and their associated receptors: TraNα (OmpW), TraNβ(OmpK36), TraNγ (OmpA), TraNδ (OmpF). These TraN-OM receptor pairings have real-world implications as they reflect thedistribution of resistance plasmids within clinical Enterobacteriaceae isolates, demonstrating the importance of mating pairstabilization in mediating conjugation species specificity. These findings will allow us to predict the distribution of emergingresistance plasmids in high-risk bacterial pathogens.

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