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Trends in Microbiology

Nandhini Saranathan, Perumal Vivekanandan
G-quadruplexes (G4s) are noncanonical nucleic acid secondary structures formed by guanine-rich DNA and RNA sequences. In this review we aim to provide an overview of the biological roles of G4s in microbial genomes with emphasis on recent discoveries. G4s are enriched and conserved in the regulatory regions of microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Importantly, G4s in hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) genomes modulate genes crucial for virus replication. Recent studies on Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) shed light on the role of G4s within the microbial transcripts as cis-acting regulatory signals that modulate translation and facilitate immune evasion...
September 14, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Shumpei Watanabe, Yuta Shirogane, Yuma Sato, Takao Hashiguchi, Yusuke Yanagi
Measles virus (MeV) may persist in the brain, causing fatal neurodegenerative diseases, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, and measles inclusion-body encephalitis. However, the mechanism of MeV propagation in the brain remains unexplained because human neurons affected by the diseases do not express the known receptors for MeV. Recent studies have revealed that certain changes in the ectodomain of the MeV fusion (F) protein play a key role in MeV spread in the brain. These changes destabilize the prefusion form of the F protein and render it hyperfusogenic, which in turn allows the virus to propagate in neurons...
September 13, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Hanne L P Tytgat, Franklin L Nobrega, John van der Oost, Willem M de Vos
Bacterial communities are known to impact human health and disease. Mixed species biofilms, mostly pathogenic in nature, have been observed in dental and gastric infections as well as in intestinal diseases, chronic gut wounds and colon cancer. Apart from the appendix, the presence of thick polymicrobial biofilms in the healthy gut mucosa is still debated. Polymicrobial biofilms containing potential pathogens appear to be an early-warning signal of developing disease and can be regarded as a tipping point between a healthy and a diseased state of the gut mucosa...
September 12, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Antonio Gregorio Dias Junior, Natalia G Sampaio, Jan Rehwinkel
Induction of interferons during viral infection is mediated by cellular proteins that recognise viral nucleic acids. MDA5 is one such sensor of virus presence and is activated by RNA. MDA5 is required for immunity against several classes of viruses, including picornaviruses. Recent work showed that mutations in the IFIH1 gene, encoding MDA5, lead to interferon-driven autoinflammatory diseases. Together with observations made in cancer cells, this suggests that MDA5 detects cellular RNAs in addition to viral RNAs...
September 7, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Michelle Meyer, Delphine C Malherbe, Alexander Bukreyev
Testing vaccine efficacy against the highly lethal Ebola virus (EBOV) in humans is almost impossible due to obvious ethical reasons and the sporadic nature of outbreaks. For such situations, the 'animal rule' was established, requiring the product be tested in animal models, expected to predict the response observed in humans. For vaccines, this testing aims to identify immune correlates of protection, such as antibody or cell-mediated responses. In the wake of the 2013-2016 EBOV epidemic, and despite advancement of promising candidates into clinical trials, protective correlates remain ambiguous...
September 7, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Francois Balloux, Ola Brønstad Brynildsrud, Lucy van Dorp, Liam P Shaw, Hongbin Chen, Kathryn A Harris, Hui Wang, Vegard Eldholm
Hospitals worldwide are facing an increasing incidence of hard-to-treat infections. Limiting infections and providing patients with optimal drug regimens require timely strain identification as well as virulence and drug-resistance profiling. Additionally, prophylactic interventions based on the identification of environmental sources of recurrent infections (e.g., contaminated sinks) and reconstruction of transmission chains (i.e., who infected whom) could help to reduce the incidence of nosocomial infections...
September 4, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Nathan T Porter, Ana S Luis, Eric C Martens
This infographic on Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (Bt) explores the ability of this microbe to digest a broad array of complex carbohydrates, alter its surface features, and its emerging role in gastrointestinal diseases. The infographic of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (Bt) illustrates two key facets of its symbiotic lifestyle in the human gut: a broad ability to digest dietary fiber polysaccharides and host glycans, and a dynamic cell-surface architecture that promotes both interactions with and evasion of the host immune system...
September 4, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Patrick A de Jonge, Franklin L Nobrega, Stan J J Brouns, Bas E Dutilh
The host range of a bacteriophage is the taxonomic diversity of hosts it can successfully infect. Host range, one of the central traits to understand in phages, is determined by a range of molecular interactions between phage and host throughout the infection cycle. While many well studied model phages seem to exhibit a narrow host range, recent ecological and metagenomics studies indicate that phages may have specificities that range from narrow to broad. There is a growing body of studies on the molecular mechanisms that enable phages to infect multiple hosts...
September 1, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
M R Gillings, M Westoby, T M Ghaly
Pollution is the dissemination of material that has harmful effects. Mobile DNA elements and antibiotic-resistance genes are being disseminated into the environment via human activity, and are increasingly being viewed as serious pollutants. These pollutants differ from conventional contaminants in important ways: they can replicate, and they can evolve.
August 28, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Clare M Smith, Christopher M Sassetti
The outcome of chronic infections is highly variable. The heterogeneous disease outcomes in natural populations differ from genetically homogeneous infection models. Here, we use tuberculosis as a 'case study' to contrast the genetic landscape in natural populations with standard infection models, discussing new strategies to bridge this gap.
August 27, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Michael D Stutz, Marc Pellegrini
Mycobacterium tuberculosis interferes with the ability of its host cell to undergo apoptosis. Arnett et al. report that the pathogen promotes macrophage survival by engaging the nuclear receptor PPARγ to induce the antiapoptotic protein MCL-1, yielding insights into the pathogenesis of tuberculosis and potentially unlocking new avenues for therapeutic intervention.
August 14, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Allison Palmer, Alison K Criss
Neisseria gonorrhoeae initiates a strong local immune response that is characterized by copious recruitment of neutrophils to the site of infection. Neutrophils neutralize microbes by mechanisms that include phagocytosis, extracellular trap formation, production of reactive oxygen species, and the delivery of antimicrobial granular contents. However, neutrophils do not clear infection with N. gonorrhoeae. N. gonorrhoeae not only expresses factors that defend against neutrophil bactericidal components, but it also manipulates neutrophil production and release of these components...
August 13, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Kirstyn Brunker, Nardus Mollentze
This infographic describes the transmission cycle of rabies virus in domestic dogs and the necessity of a One Health approach, integrating medical and veterinary interventions, to control and eliminate human rabies deaths. Rabies virus (RABV) causes an acute, fatal neurological infection in humans and other mammals, transmitted through the saliva of rabid animals via a bite or scratch. From the site of infection the virus travels along neurons to the central nervous system (CNS), where viral replication leads to symptoms and systemic spread...
July 30, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Alvaro San Millan
Antibiotic-resistant infections are an urgent problem in clinical settings because they sharply increase mortality risk in critically ill patients. The horizontal spread of antibiotic resistance genes among bacteria is driven by bacterial plasmids, promoting the evolution of resistance. Crucially, particular associations exist between resistance plasmids and bacterial clones that become especially successful in clinical settings. However, the factors underlying the success of these associations remain unknown...
July 23, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Rafał J Mostowy, Kathryn E Holt
Bacterial pathogens and commensals are surrounded by diverse surface polysaccharides which include capsules and lipopolysaccharides. These carbohydrates play a vital role in bacterial ecology and interactions with the environment. Here, we review recent rapid advancements in this field, which have improved our understanding of the roles, structures, and genetics of bacterial polysaccharide antigens. Genetic loci encoding the biosynthesis of these antigens may have evolved as bacterial diversity-generating machines, driven by selection from a variety of forces, including host immunity, bacteriophages, and cell-cell interactions...
July 20, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Derek Walsh, Mojgan H Naghavi
Being dependent upon host transport systems to navigate the cytoplasm, viruses have evolved various strategies to manipulate cytoskeletal functions. Generally, viruses use the actin cytoskeleton to control entry and short-range transport at the cell periphery and exploit microtubules (MTs) for longer-range cytosolic transport, in some cases to reach the nucleus. While earlier studies established the fundamental importance of these networks to successful infection, the mechanistic details and true extent to which viruses usurp highly specialized host cytoskeletal regulators and motor adaptors is only beginning to emerge...
July 19, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Timothy J Foster
The use of β-lactam antibiotics to treat infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus has been severely compromised by the acquisition by horizontal gene transfer of a gene that encodes the β-lactam-insensitive penicillin-binding protein PBP2a. This allows methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) to proliferate in the presence of β-lactam antibiotics. Paradoxically the dependence on PBP2a for the essential transpeptidase activity in cell wall peptidoglycan biosynthesis is the 'Achilles heel' of MRSA. Compounds that disrupt the divisome, wall teichoic acid, and functional membrane microdomains act synergistically with β-lactams against MRSA...
July 18, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
David Berry, Alexander Loy
Humans and animals host diverse communities of microorganisms important to their physiology and health. Despite extensive sequencing-based characterization of host-associated microbiomes, there remains a dramatic lack of understanding of microbial functions. Stable-isotope probing (SIP) is a powerful strategy to elucidate the ecophysiology of microorganisms in complex host-associated microbiotas. Here, we suggest that SIP methodologies should be more frequently exploited as part of a holistic functional microbiomics approach...
July 9, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Jennifer R Tanner, Robert A Kingsley
Within-host evolution has resulted in thousands of variants of Salmonella that exhibit remarkable diversity in host range and disease outcome, from broad host range to exquisite host restriction, causing gastroenteritis to disseminated disease such as typhoid fever. Within-host evolution is a continuing process driven by genomic variation that occurs during each infection, potentiating adaptation to a new niche resulting from changes in animal husbandry, the use of antimicrobials, and emergence of immune compromised populations...
June 25, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
François-Olivier Hébert, Brian Boyle, Roger C Levesque
The challenge in infectious diseases is monitoring infection in the host. Omics-based genomics and transcriptomics can define microbial genes expressed during infection and treatment with antimicrobials. Recent studies pinpoint a direct in situ in vivo approach revolutionizing infection monitoring and optimizing antimicrobial therapy using machine learning.
September 2018: Trends in Microbiology
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