Abstract: Heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) belongs to the EGF family of growth factors. It is biologically active either as a molecule anchored to the membrane or as a soluble form released by proteolytic cleavage of the extracellular domain. HB-EGF is involved in relevant physiological and pathological processes spanning from proliferation and apoptosis to morphogenesis. We outline here the main activities of HB-EGF in connection with normal or neoplastic differentiative or proliferative events taking place primitively in the hematopoietic microenvironment.
Abstract: Cytotoxic necrotizing factors from E. coli (CNF1, CNF2) and Yersinia (CNFy) share N-terminal sequence similarity with Pasteurella multocida toxin (PMT). This common N-terminal region harbors the receptor-binding and translocation domains that mediate uptake and delivery of the C-terminal catalytic cargo domains into the host cytosol. Subtle variations in the N-terminal ~500 amino acids of CNFs and PMT could allow for selective recognition of cellular receptors and thus, selective target cell specificity. Through studies with cellular inhibitors, we have identified an additional novel function for this region in modulating responses of these toxin proteins to changes in pH during intoxication and delivery of the catalytic cargo domain into the cytosol.
Abstract: Staphylococcus aureus secretes a number of host-injurious toxins, among the most prominent of which is the small β-barrel pore-forming toxin α-hemolysin. Initially named based on its properties as a red blood cell lytic toxin, early studies suggested a far greater complexity of α-hemolysin action as nucleated cells also exhibited distinct responses to intoxication. The hemolysin, most aptly referred to as α-toxin based on its broad range of cellular specificity, has long been recognized as an important cause of injury in the context of both skin necrosis and lethal infection. The recent identification of ADAM10 as a cellular receptor for α-toxin has provided keen insight on the biology of toxin action during disease pathogenesis, demonstrating the molecular mechanisms by which the toxin causes tissue barrier disruption at host interfaces lined by epithelial or endothelial cells. This review highlights both the historical studies that laid the groundwork for nearly a century of research on α-toxin and key findings on the structural and functional biology of the toxin, in addition to discussing emerging observations that have significantly expanded our understanding of this toxin in S. aureus disease. The identification of ADAM10 as a proteinaceous receptor for the toxin not only provides a greater appreciation of truths uncovered by many historic studies, but now affords the opportunity to more extensively probe and understand the role of α-toxin in modulation of the complex interaction of S. aureus with its human host.
Abstract: The Bacillus cereus sensu lato group contains diverse Gram-positive spore-forming bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal diseases and severe eye infections in humans. They have also been incriminated in a multitude of other severe, and frequently fatal, clinical infections, such as osteomyelitis, septicaemia, pneumonia, liver abscess and meningitis, particularly in immuno-compromised patients and preterm neonates. The pathogenic properties of this organism are mediated by the synergistic effects of a number of virulence products that promote intestinal cell destruction and/or resistance to the host immune system. This review focuses on the pore-forming haemolysins produced by B. cereus: haemolysin I (cereolysin O), haemolysin II, haemolysin III and haemolysin IV (CytK). Haemolysin I belongs to the cholesterol-dependent cytolysin (CDC) family whose best known members are listeriolysin O and perfringolysin O, produced by L. monocytogenes and C. perfringens respectively. HlyII and CytK are oligomeric ß-barrel pore-forming toxins related to the α-toxin of S. aureus or the ß-toxin of C. perfringens. The structure of haemolysin III, the least characterized haemolytic toxin from the B. cereus, group has not yet been determined.
Abstract: Pore-forming toxins are utilized by bacterial and mammalian cells to exert pathogenic effects and induce cell lysis. In addition to rapid plasma membrane repair, macrophages respond to pore-forming toxins through activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, leading to IL-1β secretion and pyroptosis. The structural determinants of pore-forming toxins required for NLRP3 activation remain unknown. Here, we demonstrate using streptolysin O (SLO) that pore-formation controls IL-1β secretion and direct toxicity. An SLO mutant incapable of pore-formation did not promote direct killing, pyroptosis or IL-1β production. This indicated that pore formation is necessary for inflammasome activation. However, a partially active mutant (SLO N402C) that was less toxic to macrophages than wild-type SLO, even at concentrations that directly lysed an equivalent number of red blood cells, enhanced IL-1β production but did not alter pyroptosis. This suggests that direct lysis may attenuate immune responses by preventing macrophages from successfully repairing their plasma membrane and elaborating more robust cytokine production. We suggest that mutagenesis of pore-forming toxins represents a strategy to enhance adjuvant activity.
Abstract: The occurrence of diverse oligopeptides in cyanobacteria, including the cyanotoxins microcystins, has been recently used to classify individual clones into sub-specific oligopeptide chemotypes, whose composition and dynamics modulate microcystin concentrations in cyanobacterial blooms. Cyanobacterial chemotyping allows the study of the ecology of chemotypical subpopulations, which have been shown to possess dissimilar ecological traits. However, the stability of chemotypes under changing abiotic conditions is usually assumed and has not been assessed in detail. We monitored oligopeptide patterns of three strains of Microcystis aeruginosa under different nutrient and light conditions. MALDI-TOF MS revealed alterations in the microcystins signatures under N and P poor conditions and high light intensities (150 and 400 μmol photons m−2s−1). Variations in the general oligopeptide composition were caused by a gradual disappearance of microcystins with low relative intensity signals from the fingerprint. The extent of such variations seems to be closely related to physiological stress caused by treatments. Under identical clonal compositions, alterations in the oligopeptide fingerprint may be misinterpreted as apparent shifts in chemotype succession. We discuss the nature of such variations, as well as the consequent implications in the use of cyanobacterial chemotyping in studies at the subpopulation level and propose new guidance for the definition of chemotypes as a consistent subpopulation marker.