Pathogenicity of Plesiomonas shigelloides : interactions with eukaryotic host cells in vitro

Theodoropoulos, Christina (2003) Pathogenicity of Plesiomonas shigelloides : interactions with eukaryotic host cells in vitro. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in populations in developing countries and is a significant health issue throughout the world. Despite the frequency and the severity of the diarrhoeal disease, mechanisms of pathogenesis for many of the causative agents have been poorly characterised. Although implicated in a number of intestinal and extra-intestinal infections in humans, Plesiomonas shigelloides generally has been dismissed as an enteropathogen due to the lack of clearly demonstrated virulence-associated properties such as production of cytotoxins and enterotoxins or invasive abilities. However, evidence from a number of sources has indicated that this species may be the cause of a number of clinical infections. The work described in this thesis seeks to resolve this discrepancy by investigating the pathogenic potential of P. shigelloides using in vitro cell models. The focus of this research centres on how this organism interacts with human host cells in an experimental model. Very little is known about the pathogenic potential of P. shigel/oides and its mechanisms in human infections and disease. However, disease manifestations mimic those of other related microorganisms. Chapter 2 reviews microbial pathogenesis in general, with an emphasis on understanding the mechanisms resulting from infection with bacterial pathogens and the alterations in host cell biology. In addition, this review analyses the pathogenic status of a poorly-defined enteropathogen, P. shigelloides. Key stages of pathogenicity must occur in order for a bacterial pathogen to cause disease. Such stages include bacterial adherence to host tissue, bacterial entry into host tissues (usually required), multiplication within host tissues, evasion of host defence mechanisms and the causation of damage. In this study, these key strategies in infection and disease were sought to help assess the pathogenic potential of P. shigelloides (Chapter 3). Twelve isolates of P. shigelloides, obtained from clinical cases of gastroenteritis, were used to infect monolayers of human intestinal epithelial cells in vitro. Ultrastructural analysis demonstrated that P. shigelloides was able to adhere to the microvilli at the apical surface of the epithelial cells and also to the plasma membranes of both apical and basal surfaces. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that these isolates were able to enter intestinal epithelial cells. Internalised bacteria often were confined within vacuoles surrounded by single or multiple membranes. Observation of bacteria within membranebound vacuoles suggests that uptake of P. shigelloides into intestinal epithelial cells occurs via a process morphologically comparable to phagocytosis. Bacterial cells also were observed free in the host cell cytoplasm, indicating that P. shige/loides is able to escape from the surrounding vacuolar membrane and exist within the cytosol of the host. Plesiomonas shigelloides has not only been implicated in gastrointestinal infections, but also in a range of non-intestinal infections such as cholecystitis, proctitis, septicaemia and meningitis. The mechanisms by which P. shigelloides causes these infections are not understood. Previous research was unable to ascertain the pathogenic potential of P. shigel/oides using cells of non-intestinal origin (HEp-2 cells derived from a human larynx carcinoma and Hela cells derived from a cervical carcinoma). However, with the recent findings (from this study) that P. shigelloides can adhere to and enter intestinal cells, it was hypothesised, that P. shigel/oides would be able to enter Hela and HEp-2 cells. Six clinical isolates of P. shigelloides, which previously have been shown to be invasive to intestinally derived Caco-2 cells (Chapter 3) were used to study interactions with Hela and HEp-2 cells (Chapter 4). These isolates were shown to adhere to and enter both nonintestinal host cell lines. Plesiomonas shigelloides were observed within vacuoles surrounded by single and multiple membranes, as well as free in the host cell cytosol, similar to infection by P. shigelloides of Caco-2 cells. Comparisons of the number of bacteria adhered to and present intracellularly within Hela, HEp-2 and Caco-2 cells revealed a preference of P. shigelloides for Caco-2 cells. This study conclusively showed for the first time that P. shigelloides is able to enter HEp-2 and Hela cells, demonstrating the potential ability to cause an infection and/or disease of extra-intestinal sites in humans. Further high resolution ultrastructural analysis of the mechanisms involved in P. shigelloides adherence to intestinal epithelial cells (Chapter 5) revealed numerous prominent surface features which appeared to be involved in the binding of P. shige/loides to host cells. These surface structures varied in morphology from small bumps across the bacterial cell surface to much longer filaments. Evidence that flagella might play a role in bacterial adherence also was found. The hypothesis that filamentous appendages are morphologically expressed when in contact with host cells also was tested. Observations of bacteria free in the host cell cytosol suggests that P. shigelloides is able to lyse free from the initial vacuolar compartment. The vacuoles containing P. shigel/oides within host cells have not been characterised and the point at which P. shigelloides escapes from the surrounding vacuolar compartment has not been determined. A cytochemical detection assay for acid phosphatase, an enzymatic marker for lysosomes, was used to analyse the co-localisation of bacteria-containing vacuoles and acid phosphatase activity (Chapter 6). Acid phosphatase activity was not detected in these bacteria-containing vacuoles. However, the surface of many intracellular and extracellular bacteria demonstrated high levels of acid phosphatase activity, leading to the proposal of a new virulence factor for P. shigelloides. For many pathogens, the efficiency with which they adhere to and enter host cells is dependant upon the bacterial phase of growth. Such dependency reflects the timing of expression of particular virulence factors important for bacterial pathogenesis. In previous studies (Chapter 3 to Chapter 6), an overnight culture of P. shigelloides was used to investigate a number of interactions, however, it was unknown whether this allowed expression of bacterial factors to permit efficient P. shigelloides attachment and entry into human cells. In this study (Chapter 7), a number of clinical and environmental P. shigelloides isolates were investigated to determine whether adherence and entry into host cells in vitro was more efficient during exponential-phase or stationary-phase bacterial growth. An increase in the number of adherent and intracellular bacteria was demonstrated when bacteria were inoculated into host cell cultures in exponential phase cultures. This was demonstrated clearly for 3 out of 4 isolates examined. In addition, an increase in the morphological expression of filamentous appendages, a suggested virulence factor for P. shigel/oides, was observed for bacteria in exponential growth phase. These observations suggest that virulence determinants for P. shigel/oides may be more efficiently expressed when bacteria are in exponential growth phase. This study demonstrated also, for the first time, that environmental water isolates of P. shigelloides were able to adhere to and enter human intestinal cells in vitro. These isolates were seen to enter Caco-2 host cells through a process comparable to the clinical isolates examined. These findings support the hypothesis of a water transmission route for P. shigelloides infections. The results presented in this thesis contribute significantly to our understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms involved in P. shigelloides infections and disease. Several of the factors involved in P. shigelloides pathogenesis have homologues in other pathogens of the human intestine, namely Vibrio, Aeromonas, Salmonella, Shigella species and diarrhoeaassociated strains of Escherichia coli. This study emphasises the relevance of research into Plesiomonas as a means of furthering our understanding of bacterial virulence in general. As well it provides tantalising clues on normal and pathogenic host cell mechanisms.

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ID Code: 37160
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Stenzel, Deborah, Jones, Malcolm, O'Brien, Carolyn, & Walsh, Terence
Additional Information: Presented to the School of Life Sciences, Queensland University of Technology.
Keywords: Plesiomones shigelloides, Pathogenic microorganisms, Diarrhea Etiology, Plesiomonas shigelloides, electron microscopy, intracellular pathogen, bacterial uptake, cellular microbiology, acid phosphatase, fimbriae, thesis, doctoral
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Christina Theodoropoulos
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2010 13:07
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2015 04:56

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