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Biomechanical and Structural features of CS2 fimbriae of Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli 
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Umeå Centre for Microbial Research (UCMR).
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics.
Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
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2015 (English)In: Biophysical Journal, ISSN 0006-3495, E-ISSN 1542-0086, Vol. 109, no 1, 49-56 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) are a major cause of diarrhea worldwide, and infection of children in underdeveloped countries often leads to high mortality rates. Isolated ETEC express a plethora of colonization factors (fimbriae/pili), of which CFA/I and CFA/II that are assembled via the alternate chaperone pathway (ACP), are amongst the most common. Fimbriae are filamentous structures, whose shafts are primarily composed of helically arranged single pilin-protein subunits, with a unique biomechanical capability allowing them to unwind and rewind. A sustained ETEC infection, under adverse conditions of dynamic shear forces, is primarily attributed to this biomechanical feature of ETEC fimbriae. Recent understandings about the role of fimbriae as virulence factors are pointing to an evolutionary adaptation of their structural and biomechanical features. In this work, we investigated the biophysical properties of CS2 fimbriae from the CFA/II group. Homology modelling its major structural subunit CotA reveals structural clues and these are related to the niche in which they are expressed. Using optical tweezers force spectroscopy we found that CS2 fimbriae unwind at a constant force of 10 pN and have a corner velocity of 1300 nm/s, i.e., the velocity at which the force required for unwinding rises exponentially with increased speed. The biophysical properties of CS2 fimbriae assessed in this work classify them into a low-force unwinding group of fimbriae together with the CFA/I and CS20 fimbriae expressed by ETEC strains. The three fimbriae are expressed by ETEC, colonize in similar gut environments, and exhibit similar biophysical features, but differ in their biogenesis. Our observation suggests that the environment has a strong impact on the biophysical characteristics of fimbriae expressed by ETEC.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2015. Vol. 109, no 1, 49-56 p.
Keyword [en]
pili, optical tweezers, bacteria, pathogenesis, virulence factors
National Category
Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Physics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-103247DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2015.05.022OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-103247DiVA: diva2:812483
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 621-2013-5379
Note

This work was supported by NIH (GM05722 and RR025434 to E.B.), the Swedish Research Council (621-2013-5379 to M.A. and the Carl Trygger foundation to M.A.

Available from: 2015-05-19 Created: 2015-05-19 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The mechanics of adhesion polymers and their role in bacterial attachment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The mechanics of adhesion polymers and their role in bacterial attachment
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is increasing at a high rate in both developing and developed countries. To circumvent the problem of drug-resistant bacterial pathogens, we need to develop new effective methods, substances, and materials that can disarm and prevent them from causing infections. However, to do this we first need to find new possible targets in bacteria to approach and novel strategies to apply.Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria is a normal member of the intestinal microflora of humans and mammals, but frequently cause diverse intestinal and external diseases by means of virulence factors, which leads to hundreds of million sick people each year with a high mortality rate. An E. coli bacterial infection starts with adhesion to a host cell using cell surface expressed adhesion polymers, called adhesion pili. Depending on the local environment different types of pili are expressed by the bacteria. For example, bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract commonly express different pili in comparison to those found in the urinary tract and respiratory tract. These pili, which are vital for bacterial adhesion, thereby serve as a new possible approach in the fight against bacterial infections by targeting and disabling these structures using novel chemicals. However, in order to develop such chemicals, better understanding of these pili is needed.Optical tweezers (OT) can measure and apply forces up to a few hundred pN with sub-pN force resolution and have shown to be an excellent tool for investigating mechanical properties of adhesion pili. It has been found that pili expressed by E. coli have a unique and complex force-extension response that is assumed to be important for the ability of bacteria to initiate and maintain attachment to the host cells. However, their mechanical functions and the advantage of specific mechanical functions, especially in the initial attachment process, have not yet been fully understood.In this work, a detailed description of the pili mechanics and their role during cell adhesion is presented. By using results from optical tweezers force spectroscopy experiments in combination with physical modeling and numerical simulations, we investigated how pili can act as “shock absorbers” through uncoiling and thereby lower the fluid force acting on a bacterium. Our result demonstrate that the dynamic uncoiling capability of the helical part of the adhesion pili modulate the force to fit the optimal lifetime of its adhesin (the protein that binds to the receptor on the host cell), ensuring a high survival probability of the bond.iiiSince the attachment process is in proximity of a surface we also investigated the influence of tether properties and the importance of different surface corrections and additional force components to the Stokes drag force during simulations. The investigation showed that the surface corrections to the Stokes drag force and the Basset force cannot be neglected when simulating survival probability of a bond, since that can overestimate the probability by more than an order of magnitude.Finally, a theoretical and experimental framework for two separate methods was developed. The first method can detect the presence of pili on single cells using optical tweezers. We verified the method using silica microspheres coated with a polymer brush and E. coli bacteria expressing; no pili, P pili, and type 1 pili, respectively. The second method was based on digital holography microscopy. Using the diffraction of semi-transparent object such as red blood cells, we showed that this method can reconstruct the axial position and detect morphological changes of cells.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2015. 65 p.
Keyword
Pili, optical tweezers, bacterial adhesion, fimbriae, uncoiling
National Category
Other Physics Topics Biophysics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-109524 (URN)978-91-7601-331-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-10-23, Naturvetarhuset, N420, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-10-02 Created: 2015-09-30 Last updated: 2015-10-02Bibliographically approved
2. Exploring the impact of antibodies on the mechanics of bacterial fimbriae
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring the impact of antibodies on the mechanics of bacterial fimbriae
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The discovery of antibiotics in 1928 seemed like a win in the battle against infectious diseases. But, the ability of bacterial pathogens to adapt to these life-saving medicines was underestimated. The bacterial evolution, indeed, led to the emergence of antibiotic resistance as soon as the clinical consumption of antibiotics started. Today, certain bacteria including some strains of the gram-negative Escherichia coli are resistant to all major antibiotics. To overcome this problem, identifying new therapeutic targets in bacteria is essential, which necessitates scrutinizing the bacterial infection mechanism. An initial step in the bacterial infection mechanism is identification of and adherence to host tissue. Thus, blocking bacterial adhesion is considered as a potential target in the battle against infectious diseases. Gram-negative bacteria generally establish their adhesion by variety of proteinaceous structures known as fimbriae. The strains of Escherichia coli associated with gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections, for instance, colonize their host via a variety of adhesion fimbriae. These adhesion organelles are comprised of subunits assembled into a helix-like structure with remarkable biomechanical properties. For example, fimbriae can be significantly extended under force and are therefore very flexible. Fimbrial flexibility is considered to be beneficial for attachment and adhesion of bacteria in fluidic regions.

The aims of this thesis are: to provide insight into the structural and biomechanical differences of fimbriae expressed by enterotoxigenic and uropathogenic Escherichia coli, and to investigate how fimbrial mechanics are affected in the presence of anti-fimbrial antibodies. To achieve these aims we put together data acquired using different technical approaches. We used force measuring optical tweezers to characterize the force-extension responses of fimbriae in the absence and presence of antibodies. High-resolution imaging was employed to explore the structural features of fimbriae as well as monitoring the antibody-fimbriae interactions. Our results demonstrate that each type of fimbria explored shows unique force spectroscopy responses. For example, the fimbriae expressed by uropathogenic Escherichia coli require a higher unwinding force in comparison to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli fimbriae. These observations suggest that bacteria adapt to the environment wherein they establish colonization by expressing fimbriae with different biophysical features. Such evolutionary adaptation can thereby help in the bacterial adhesion process. Furthermore, we found that antibodies significantly alter the biophysical features of fimbriae, implying that antibodies significantly interfere with the mechanics of fimbriae. We suggest further elucidation of how antibodies disrupt fimbrial mechanics, providing insights for the development of antibody-based therapeutics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2016. 70 p.
National Category
Biophysics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-119694 (URN)978-91-7601-464-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-05-20, Naturvetarhuset N420, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-04-29 Created: 2016-04-25 Last updated: 2016-04-29Bibliographically approved

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Mortezaei, NargesSingh, BhupenderZakrisson, JohanAndersson, Magnus

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