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Trends in Microbiology

Laura Villanueva
Bacteria and Archaea have membrane lipids with an opposite stereochemistry. The most plausible explanation for this differentiation implies an unstable heterochiral membrane stage. A recent study engineered Escherichia coli with a significant abundance of archaeal lipids showing higher robustness, disproving heterochirality as the driving force for this differentiation.
May 19, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Beatrice Mercorelli, Giorgio Palù, Arianna Loregian
Despite the recent advances in controlling some viral pathogens, most viral infections still lack specific treatment. Indeed, the need for effective therapeutic strategies to combat 'old', emergent, and re-emergent viruses is not paralleled by the approval of new antivirals. In the past years, drug repurposing combined with innovative approaches for drug validation, and with appropriate animal models, significantly contributed to the identification of new antiviral molecules and targets for therapeutic intervention...
May 11, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Shi-Qi An, Gabriele Berg
This infographic describes the key regulated traits of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, important for beneficial plant interactions, and also its increasing incidence as a nosocomial and community-acquired infection. Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a cosmopolitan and ubiquitous bacterium found in a range of environmental habitats, including extreme ones, although in nature it is mainly associated with plants. S. maltophilia fulfils important ecosystem functions in the sulfur and nitrogen cycles, in degradation of complex compounds and pollutants, and in promoti on of plant growth and health...
May 10, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Rafael R da Costa, Michael Poulsen
Understanding how microbial symbiont community assemblies are shaped over evolutionary time is challenging. The current state of the art involves exploring similarities and differences in communities within and between host species, often aiming to link these to host ecology and evolution. However, this masks the evolutionary histories of individual bacterial lineages.
May 8, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Cherilyn Elwell, Joanne Engel
Intracellular pathogens have developed elegant mechanisms to modulate host endosomal trafficking. The highly conserved retromer pathway has emerged as an important target of viruses and intravacuolar bacteria. Some pathogens require retromer function to survive. For others, retromer activity restricts intracellular growth; these pathogens must disrupt retromer function to survive. In this review, we discuss recent paradigm changes to the current model for retromer assembly and cargo selection. We highlight how the study of pathogen effectors has contributed to these fundamental insights, with a special focus on the biology and structure of two recently described bacterial effectors, Chlamydia trachomatis IncE and Legionella pneumophila RidL...
April 24, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Valerie J Kinchen, Andrea L Cox, Justin R Bailey
While licensed vaccines elicit protective antibody responses against a variety of viral infections, an effective vaccine for hepatitis C virus (HCV) has remained elusive. The extraordinary genetic diversity of HCV and the ability of the virus to evade the immune response have hindered vaccine development efforts. However, recent studies have greatly expanded the number of well characterized broadly neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies (bNAbs) against HCV. These bNAbs target relatively conserved HCV epitopes, prevent HCV infection in animal models, and are associated with spontaneous clearance of human HCV infection...
April 24, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Wenqiang Wang, Guan-Zhu Han
The diversity of RNA viruses in vertebrates remains largely unexplored. The discovery of 214 novel vertebrate-associated RNA viruses will likely help us to understand the diversity and evolution of RNA viruses in vertebrates.
April 24, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Charles J Russell, Meng Hu, Faten A Okda
For decades, hemagglutinin (HA) protein structure and its refolding mechanism have served as a paradigm for understanding protein-mediated membrane fusion. HA trimers are in a high-energy state and are functionally activated by low pH. Over the past decade, HA stability (or the pH at which irreversible conformational changes are triggered) has emerged as an important determinant in influenza virus host range, infectivity, transmissibility, and human pandemic potential. Here, we review HA protein structure, assays to measure its stability, measured HA stability values, residues and mutations that regulate its stability, the effect of HA stability on interspecies adaptation and transmissibility, and mechanistic insights into this process...
April 19, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Liang Wang, Shuo Su, Yuhai Bi, Gary Wong, George F Gao
Infections with bat-origin coronaviruses have caused severe illness in humans by 'host jump'. Recently, novel bat-origin coronaviruses were found in pigs. The large number of mutations on the receptor-binding domain allowed the viruses to infect the new host, posing a potential threat to both agriculture and public health.
April 18, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Anne-Kathrin Dietel, Martin Kaltenpoth, Christian Kost
Endosymbionts are organisms that live inside the cells of other species. This lifestyle is ubiquitous across the tree of life and is featured by unicellular eukaryotes, prokaryotes, and by extrachromosomal genetic elements such as plasmids. Given that all of these elements dwell in the cytoplasm of their host cell, they should be subject to similar selection pressures. Here we show that strikingly similar features have evolved in both bacterial endosymbionts and plasmids. Since host and endosymbiont are often metabolically tightly intertwined, they are difficult to disentangle experimentally...
April 10, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Louis F Taylor, Yan Yuan
The atomic resolution structure of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) capsid reveals that protein-protein interfaces (PPIs) are essential for its structural stability. This structural information guided a mutagenesis study that identified novel drug targets interrupting PPIs essential for capsid assembly.
March 27, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Anastasia Koch, Valerie Mizrahi
In this infographic, the genetics, phylogeny, physiology, and pathogenesis mechanisms of Mycobacterium tuberculosis are shown. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the etiological agent of tuberculosis (TB), the leading cause of death due to a single infectious agent, claiming 1.7 million lives in 2016. Of the deaths attributable to TB in 2016, 22% occurred in people coinfected with HIV, and close to 5% of the 10.4 million incident cases of this disease were resistant to at least two of the first-line TB drugs. In this infographic, we describe the fundamental features of the genetics, phylogeny, and physiology of this member of the phylum Actinobacteria, which is associated increasingly with drug resistance mediated by mutations and rearrangements in its single, circular chromosome...
March 23, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Xiu Jia, Francisco Dini-Andreote, Joana Falcão Salles
Our planet teems with microorganisms that often present a skewed abundance distribution in a local community, with relatively few dominant species coexisting alongside a high number of rare species. Recent studies have demonstrated that these rare taxa serve as limitless reservoirs of genetic diversity, and perform disproportionate types of functions despite their low abundances. However, relatively little is known about the mechanisms controlling rarity and the processes promoting the development of the rare biosphere...
March 14, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Katherine S Xue, Louise H Moncla, Trevor Bedford, Jesse D Bloom
The rapid global evolution of influenza virus begins with mutations that arise de novo in individual infections, but little is known about how evolution occurs within hosts. We review recent progress in understanding how and why influenza viruses evolve within human hosts. Advances in deep sequencing make it possible to measure within-host genetic diversity in both acute and chronic influenza infections. Factors like antigenic selection, antiviral treatment, tissue specificity, spatial structure, and multiplicity of infection may affect how influenza viruses evolve within human hosts...
March 10, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Jian Sun, Huimin Zhang, Ya-Hong Liu, Youjun Feng
Antibiotic resistance has become a global public health priority. Polymyxins, a family of cationic polypeptide antibiotics, act as a final line of refuge against severe infections by Gram-negative pathogens with pan-drug resistance. Unfortunately, this last-resort antibiotic has been challenged by the emergence and global spread of mobilized colistin resistance determinants (mcr). Given the fact that it has triggered extensive concerns worldwide, we present here an updated view of MCR-like colistin resistance...
March 7, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Max Teplitski, Marcos de Moraes
Outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness, linked to the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and sprouts, continue to capture the attention of the general public and scientists. The recurrence of these outbreaks, despite heightened producer and consumer awareness, combined with improved sanitation protocols and technology, can be explained by the hypothesis that enteric pathogens, such as nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. and enterovirulent Escherichia coli, have evolved to exploit plants as alternative hosts. This review explores the genetic and genomic context for this hypothesis...
March 1, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Timothy J Nice, Bridget A Robinson, Jacob A Van Winkle
Persistent viral infections result from evasion or avoidance of sterilizing immunity, extend the timeframe of virus transmission, and can trigger disease. Prior studies in mouse models of persistent infection have suggested that ineffective adaptive immune responses are necessary for persistent viral infection. However, recent work in the murine norovirus (MNV) model of persistent infection demonstrates that innate immunity can control both early and persistent viral replication independently of adaptive immune effector functions...
June 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Chandra Shekhar Kumar, Debajit Dey, Sukanya Ghosh, Manidipa Banerjee
Disruption of host membranes by nonenveloped viruses, which allows the nucleocapsid or genome to enter the cytosol, is a mechanistically diverse process. Although the membrane-penetrating agents are usually small, hydrophobic or amphipathic peptides deployed from the capsid interior during entry, their manner of membrane interaction varies substantially. In this review, we discuss recent data about the molecular pathways for externalization of viral peptides amidst conformational alterations in the capsid, as well as mechanisms of membrane penetration, which is influenced by structural features of the peptides themselves as well as physicochemical properties of membranes, and other host factors...
June 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Charles Y Wang, Suzanne Dawid
Many streptococci have evolved the ability for natural genetic competence. Recent studies have uncovered regulatory links between competence and the production of antimicrobial peptides called bacteriocins in multiple streptococcal species. This reveals a broadly distributed strategy among streptococci to exploit bacteriocin-mediated killing during competence for adaptive gain.
May 2018: Trends in Microbiology
James A Tsatsaronis, Sandra Franch-Arroyo, Ulrike Resch, Emmanuelle Charpentier
Both extracellular RNAs and extracellular vesicles (EVs) have recently garnered attention as novel mediators of intercellular communication in eukaryotes and prokaryotes alike. EVs not only permit export of RNA, but also facilitate delivery and trans-kingdom exchange of these and other biomolecules, for instance between microbes and their hosts. In this Opinion article, we propose that EV-mediated export of RNA represents a universal mechanism for interkingdom and intrakingdom communication that is conserved among bacterial, archaeal, and eukaryotic microbes...
May 2018: Trends in Microbiology
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