Abstract: Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is the second most prevalent causative agent of pediatric respiratory infections worldwide. Currently, there are no vaccines or antiviral drugs against this virus. One of the major hurdles in hMPV research is the difficulty to identify a robust small animal model to accurately evaluate the efficacy and safety of vaccines and therapeutics. In this study, we compared the replication and pathogenesis of hMPV in BALB/c mice, Syrian golden hamsters, and cotton rats. It was found that BALB/c mice are not permissive for hMPV infection despite the use of a high dose (6.5 log10 PFU) of virus for intranasal inoculation. In hamsters, hMPV replicated efficiently in nasal turbinates but demonstrated only limited replication in lungs. In cotton rats, hMPV replicated efficiently in both nasal turbinate and lung when intranasally administered with three different doses (4, 5, and 6 log10 PFU) of hMPV. Lungs of cotton rats infected by hMPV developed interstitial pneumonia with mononuclear cells infiltrates and increased lumen exudation. By immunohistochemistry, viral antigens were detected at the luminal surfaces of the bronchial epithelial cells in lungs. Vaccination of cotton rats with hMPV completely protected upper and lower respiratory tract from wildtype challenge. The immunization also elicited elevated serum neutralizing antibody. Collectively, these results demonstrated that cotton rat is a robust small animal model for hMPV infection.
Abstract: Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli are the most prevalent Gram-negative biofilm forming medical device associated pathogens, particularly with respect to catheter associated urinary tract infections. In a similar manner to Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative biofilm formation is fundamentally determined by a series of steps outlined more fully in this review, namely adhesion, cellular aggregation, and the production of an extracellular polymeric matrix. More specifically this review will explore the biosynthesis and role of pili and flagella in Gram-negative adhesion and accumulation on surfaces in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli. The process of biofilm maturation is compared and contrasted in both species, namely the production of the exopolysaccharides via the polysaccharide synthesis locus (Psl), pellicle Formation (Pel) and alginic acid synthesis in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and UDP-4-amino-4-deoxy-l-arabinose and colonic acid synthesis in Escherichia coli. An emphasis is placed on the importance of the LuxR homologue sdiA; the luxS/autoinducer-II; an autoinducer-III/epinephrine/norepinephrine and indole mediated Quorum sensing systems in enabling Gram-negative bacteria to adapt to their environments. The majority of Gram-negative biofilms consist of polysaccharides of a simple sugar structure (either homo- or heteropolysaccharides) that provide an optimum environment for the survival and maturation of bacteria, allowing them to display increased resistance to antibiotics and predation.
Abstract: Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (Map) causes Johne’s disease in animals and is significantly associated with Crohn’s disease (CD) in humans. Our previous studies have shown Map to be present in U.K. rivers due to land deposition from chronic livestock infection and runoff driven by rainfall. The epidemiology of CD in Cardiff showed a significant association with the River Taff, in which Map can be detected on a regular basis. We have previously hypothesized that aerosols from the river might influence the epidemiology of CD. In this preliminary study, we detected Map by quantitative PCR in one of five aerosol samples collected above the River Taff. In addition, we examined domestic showers from different regions in the U.K. and detected Map in three out of 30 independent samples. In detecting Map in river aerosols and those from domestic showers, this is the first study to provide evidence that aerosols are an exposure route for Map to humans and may play a role in the epidemiology of CD.
Abstract: CD1d-restricted invariant NKT (iNKT) cells are a group of innate-like regulatory T cells that recognize lipid antigens. Both mouse modeling experiments and human clinical studies have suggested a key role for iNKT cells in anti-HBV immunity and these potent T cells can be explored as a novel therapeutic target for anti-HBV treatment. We aim to humanize mice in the CD1d/iNKT cell lipid presentation system and provide new research tools for identifying novel anti-HBV agents.
Abstract: Pathogenic fungi cause superficial infections but pose a significant public health risk when infections spread to deeper tissues, such as the lung. Within the last three decades, fungi have been identified as the leading cause of nosocomial infections making them the focus of research. This review outlines the model systems such as the mouse, zebrafish larvae, flies, and nematodes, as well as ex vivo and in vitro systems available to study common fungal pathogens.
Abstract: Airborne dust from feedlots is a potential mechanism of contamination of nearby vegetable crops with Escherichia coli O157:H7 (EcO157). We compared the fitness of clinical and environmental strains of EcO157 in <45 µm soil from a spinach farm. Differences in survival were observed among the 35 strains with D-values (days for 90% decreases) ranging from 1–12 days. Strains that survived longer, generally, were from environmental sources and lacked expression of curli, a protein associated with attachment and virulence. Furthermore, the proportion of curli-positive (C+) variants of EcO157 strains decreased with repeated soil exposure and the strains that were curli-negative (C−) remained C− post-soil exposure. Soil exposure altered expression of stress-response genes linked to fitness of EcO157, but significant clonal variation in expression was measured. Mutations were detected in the stress-related sigma factor, rpoS, with a greater percentage occurring in parental strains of clinical origin prior to soil exposure. We speculate that these mutations in rpoS may confer a differential expression of genes, associated with mechanisms of survival and/or virulence, and thus may influence the fitness of EcO157.