• Haemophilus influenzae genome evolution during persistence in the human airways in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

      Pettigrew, M.M.; Ahearn, C.P.; Gent, J.F. (National Academy of Sciences, 2018)
      Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) exclusively colonize and infect humans and are critical to the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In vitro and animal models do not accurately capture the complex environments encountered by NTHi during human infection. We conducted whole-genome sequencing of 269 longitudinally collected cleared and persistent NTHi from a 15-y prospective study of adults with COPD. Genome sequences were used to elucidate the phylogeny of NTHi isolates, identify genomic changes that occur with persistence in the human airways, and evaluate the effect of selective pressure on 12 candidate vaccine antigens. Strains persisted in individuals with COPD for as long as 1,422 d. Slipped-strand mispairing, mediated by changes in simple sequence repeats in multiple genes during persistence, regulates expression of critical virulence functions, including adherence, nutrient uptake, and modification of surface molecules, and is a major mechanism for survival in the hostile environment of the human airways. A subset of strains underwent a large 400-kb inversion during persistence. NTHi does not undergo significant gene gain or loss during persistence, in contrast to other persistent respiratory tract pathogens. Amino acid sequence changes occurred in 8 of 12 candidate vaccine antigens during persistence, an observation with important implications for vaccine development. These results indicate that NTHi alters its genome during persistence by regulation of critical virulence functions primarily by slipped-strand mispairing, advancing our understanding of how a bacterial pathogen that plays a critical role in COPD adapts to survival in the human respiratory tract. Copyright 2018 National Academy of Sciences. All Rights Reserved.
    • Induction of Susceptibility to Disseminated Infection with IgA1 Protease-Producing Encapsulated Pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae Type b, and Neisseria meningitidis.

      Kilian, Mogens; Husby, Steffen; Andersen, Jesper; Moldoveanu, Zina; Sørensen, Uffe B Skov; Reinholdt, Jesper; Tettelin, Hervé (American Society for Microbiology, 2022-04-14)
      Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, and Haemophilus influenzae are the principal causes of bacterial meningitis. It is unexplained why only occasional individuals develop invasive infection, while the vast majority remain healthy and develop immunity when encountering these pathogens. A capsular polysaccharide and an IgA1 protease are common to these pathogens. We tested the hypothesis that patients are primed to susceptibility to invasive infection by other bacteria that express the same capsular polysaccharide but no IgA1 protease. Thereby, the subsequently colonizing pathogen may protect its surface with IgA1 protease-generated Fab fragments of IgA1 devoid of Fc-mediated effector functions. Military recruits who remained healthy when acquiring meningococci showed a significant response of inhibitory antibodies against the IgA1 protease of the colonizing clone concurrent with serum antibodies against its capsular polysaccharide. At hospitalization, 70.8% of meningitis patients carried fecal bacteria cross-reactive with the capsule of the actual pathogen, in contrast to 6% of controls (P < 0.0001). These were Escherichia coli K100, K1, and K92 in patients with infection caused by H. influenzae type b and N. meningitidis groups B and C, respectively. This concurred with a significant IgA1 response to the capsule but not to the IgA1 protease of the pathogen. The demonstrated multitude of relationships between capsular types and distinct IgA1 proteases in pneumococci suggests an alternative route of immunological priming associated with recombining bacteria. The findings support the model and offer an explanation for the rare occurrence of invasive diseases in spite of the comprehensive occurrence of the pathogens. IMPORTANCE Why some individuals develop invasive infection, including meningitis, with Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, and Haemophilus influenzae type b is unexplained. The vast majority of humans are colonized with the three pathogens but remain healthy and develop immunity. The findings of this study support the hypothesis that patients are primed for disease by time-shifted acquisition of two different bacteria, an immunogenic commensal followed by the pathogen, but both expressing the same capsular polysaccharide. The IgA1 protease common to the three pathogens cleaves the preexisting IgA1 antibodies induced by the commensal. This eliminates Fc-mediated protective mechanisms and releases capsule-binding monomeric Fab fragments that enhance bacterial adherence and block access of other isotypes of antibody molecules. This concept provides new insight into the pathogenesis of bacterial meningitis and potential new strategies for prevention.