Microbiology


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0 Q&A 319 Views Sep 5, 2023

Drug biotransformation by the host microbiome can impact the therapeutic success of treatment. In the context of cancer, drug degradation can take place within the microenvironment of the targeted tumor by intratumor bacteria. In pancreatic cancer, increased chemo-resistance against the frontline chemotherapy gemcitabine is thought to arise from drug degradation by the tumor microbiome. This bacterial–drug interaction highlights the need for developing rapid assays for monitoring bacterial gemcitabine breakdown. While chemical approaches such as high-performance liquid chromatography are suitable for this task, they require specialized equipment and expertise and are limited in throughput. Functional cell-based assays represent an alternate approach for performing this task. We developed a functional assay to monitor the rate of bacterial gemcitabine breakdown using a highly sensitive bacterial reporter strain. Our method relies on standard laboratory equipment and can be implemented at high throughput to monitor drug breakdown by hundreds of strains simultaneously. This functional assay can be readily adapted to monitor degradation of other drugs.


Key features

• Quantification of gemcitabine breakdown by incubating bacteria that degrades the drug and subsequently testing the growth of a reporter strain on filtered supernatant.

• Use of an optimized reporter strain that was genetically engineered to be a non-degrader strain and highly sensitive to gemcitabine.

• A high-throughput assay performed in microplates that can be adjusted for identifying bacteria with a fast or slow gemcitabine degradation rate.

• The assay results can be compared to results from a standard curve with known drug concentrations to quantify degradation rate.


Graphical overview



Protocol overview. (1) Bacteria are incubated with gemcitabine for a set period of time. (2) Samples are removed from co-incubated suspensions and filtered to remove bacteria to halt gemcitabine degradation. (3) A gemcitabine-sensitive reporter strain is then added to the conditioned supernatant and is supplemented with growth media. (4) Growth of the reporter strain is monitored over time. (5) Results from the growth experiments are used to infer the concentration of gemcitabine in the co-culture supernatant and the drug degradation rate.

0 Q&A 321 Views Aug 5, 2023

The development of antimicrobial resistance and the formation of Salmonella biofilms are serious public health problems. For this reason, new natural compounds with antimicrobial and anti-biofilm activity are being sought, and wild fungi represent an untapped potential. Various extraction agents, including organic solvents and aqueous buffers, can be used to obtain bioactive compounds from natural sources. To evaluate their bioactivity, extensive screening studies are required to determine antimicrobial and anti-biofilm activity using methods such as broth microdilution or crystal violet assay, respectively, but none of these methods allow simultaneous evaluation of both activities against bacteria. Cold water extraction from wild fungi offers the advantage of extracting water-soluble compounds. The SIMultaneous detection of antiMicrobial and anti-Biofilm Activity (SIMBA) method combines the testing of both types of activity against bacteria with the evaluation of the 20 h growth curve of the Salmonella Infantis ŽM9 strain determined with absorbance measurements at 600 nm in a 96-well plate. SIMBA method thus shortens the time to determine the bioactivity of extracts, reduces material consumption, and eliminates the need for additional reagents. SIMBA enables rapid selection of bioactive extracts for their fractionation and shortens the time to determine new natural products with antimicrobial and anti-biofilm activity.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 1127 Views Jul 5, 2023

In the environment, bacteria compete for niche occupancy and resources; they have, therefore, evolved a broad variety of antibacterial weapons to destroy competitors. Current laboratory techniques to evaluate antibacterial activity are usually labor intensive, low throughput, costly, and time consuming. Typical assays rely on the outgrowth of colonies of prey cells on selective solid media after competition. Here, we present fast, inexpensive, and complementary optimized protocols to qualitatively and quantitively measure antibacterial activity. The first method is based on the degradation of a cell-impermeable chromogenic substrate of the β-galactosidase, a cytoplasmic enzyme released during lysis of the attacked reporter strain. The second method relies on the lag time required for the attacked cells to reach a defined optical density after the competition, which is directly dependent on the initial number of surviving cells.


Key features

• First method utilizes the release of β-galactosidase as a proxy for bacterial lysis.

• Second method is based on the growth timing of surviving cells.

• Combination of two methods discriminates between cell death and lysis, cell death without lysis, or survival to quasi-lysis.

• Methods optimized to various bacterial species such as Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Myxococcus xanthus.


Graphical overview



0 Q&A 2000 Views Jul 20, 2022

Bacteriocins are antimicrobial peptides with activity against antibiotic resistant bacterial pathogens. Here, we describe a set of methods aimed at purifying, identifying, and characterizing new bacteriocins. The purification consists of ammonium sulphate precipitation, cation-exchange chromatography, and reversed-phase chromatography. The yield of the bacteriocin is quantified by bacteriocin antimicrobial activity in a microtiter plate assay after each purification step. The mass of the purified bacteriocin is assessed by MALDI TOF MS analysis of the active fractions after reversed-phase chromatography. The mass is compared with the theoretical mass based on genetic information from the whole genome sequencing of the bacteriocin producer strain. Physicochemical characterization is performed by assessing antimicrobial activity following heat and protease treatments. Fluorescent techniques are used to examine the capacity of the bacteriocin to disrupt membrane integrity. Herein a set of protocols for purification and characterization of the bacteriocin nisin Z is used as a typical example in this paper.

0 Q&A 4584 Views May 5, 2022

Bacterial studies based on growth curves are common in microbiology and related fields. Compared to the standard photometer and cuvette based protocols, bacterial growth curve measurements with microplate readers provide better temporal resolution, higher efficiency, and are less laborious, while analysis and interpretation of the microplate-based measurements are less straightforward. Recently, we developed a new analysis method for evaluating bacterial growth with microplate readers based on time derivatives. Here, we describe a detailed protocol for this development and provide the homemade program for the new analysis method.

0 Q&A 4456 Views Feb 5, 2022

Coronaviruses are important human pathogens, among which the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent for the COVID-19 pandemic. To combat the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, there is a pressing need for antivirals, especially broad-spectrum antivirals that are active against all seven human coronaviruses (HCoVs). For this reason, we are interested in developing antiviral assays to expedite the drug discovery process. Here, we provide the detailed protocol for the cytopathic effect (CPE) assay and the plaque assay for human coronaviruses 229E (HCoV-229E), HCoV-OC43, and HCoV-NL63, to identify novel antivirals against HCoVs. Neutral red was used in the CPE assay, as it is relatively inexpensive and more sensitive than other reagents. Multiple parameters including multiplicity of infection, incubation time and temperature, and staining conditions have been optimized for CPE and plaque assays for HCoV-229E in MRC-5, Huh-7, and RD cell lines; HCoV-OC43 in RD, MRC-5, and BSC-1 cell lines, and HCoV-NL63 in Vero E6, Huh-7, MRC-5, and RD cell lines. Both CPE and plaque assays have been calibrated with the positive control compounds remdesivir and GC-376. Both CPE and plaque assays have high sensitivity, excellent reproducibility, and are cost-effective. The protocols described herein can be used as surrogate assays in the biosafety level 2 facility to identify entry inhibitors and protease inhibitors for SARS-CoV-2, as HCoV-NL63 also uses ACE2 as the receptor for cell entry, and the main proteases of HCoV-OC43 and SARS-CoV-2 are highly conserved. In addition, these assays can also be used as secondary assays to profile the broad-spectrum antiviral activity of existing SARS-CoV-2 drug candidates.


0 Q&A 2149 Views Dec 5, 2021

Control of malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax can be improved by the discovery and development of novel drugs against the parasite’s liver stage, which includes relapse-causing hypnozoites. Several recent reports describe breakthroughs in the culture of the P. vivax liver stage in 384-well microtiter plates, with the goal of enabling a hypnozoite-focused drug screen. Herein we describe assay details, protocol developments, and different assay formats to interrogate the chemical sensitivity of the P. vivax liver stage in one such medium-throughput platform. The general assay protocol includes seeding of primary human hepatocytes which are infected with P. vivax sporozoites generated from the feeding of Anopheles dirus mosquitoes on patient isolate bloodmeals. This protocol is unique in that, after source drug plates are supplied, all culture-work steps have been optimized to preclude the need for automated liquid handling, thereby allowing the assay to be performed within resource-limited laboratories in malaria-endemic countries. Throughput is enhanced as complex culture methods, such as extracellular matrix overlays, multiple cell types in co-culture, or hepatic spheroids, are excluded as the workflow consists entirely of routine culture methods for adherent cells. Furthermore, installation of a high-content imager at the study site enables assay data to be read and transmitted with minimal logistical delays. Herein we detail distinct assay improvements which increase data quality, provide a means to limit the confounding effect of hepatic metabolism on assay data, and detect activity of compounds with a slow-clearance phenotype.


Graphical abstract:



Overview of P. vivax liver stage screening assay performed at the Institute Pasteur of Cambodia.


0 Q&A 2531 Views Jun 5, 2021

Plasmodium falciparum is a unicellular eukaryotic parasite that causes malaria in humans. The parasite is spread by Anopheles mosquitoes after ingestion of sexual stage parasites known as gametocytes. Malaria transmission depends on parasites switching from the disease-causing asexual blood forms to male and female gametocytes. The current protocol allows the simultaneous isolation of male and female parasites from the same population to study this critical lifecycle stage in a sex-specific manner. We have generated a transgenic P. falciparum cell line that expresses a GFP-tagged parasite protein in female, but not male, parasites. Gametocyte production is stress induced and, through a series of steps, sexual stage parasites are enriched relative to uninfected red blood cells or red blood cells infected with asexual stage parasites. Finally, male and female gametocytes are separated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. This protocol allows for the separation of up to 12 million live male and female parasites from the same population, which are amenable to further analysis.

0 Q&A 3047 Views May 20, 2021

Antimicrobial-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) causes over 200,000 deaths globally each year. Current assays of antimicrobial resistance require knowledge of the mutations that confer drug resistance or long periods of culture time to test growth under drug pressure. We present ODELAM (One-cell Doubling Evaluation of Living Arrays of Mycobacterium), a time-lapse microscopy-based method that observes individual cells growing into microcolonies. This protocol describes sample and media preparation and contains instructions for assembling the ODELAM sample chamber. The ODELAM sample chamber is designed to provide a controlled environment to safely observe the growth of Mtb by time-lapse microscopy on an inverted wide-field microscope. A brief description of the ODELAM software is also provided here. ODELAM tracks up to 1500 colony forming units per region of interest and can observe up to 96 regions for up to seven days in a single experiment. This technique allows the quantification of population heterogeneity. ODELAM enables rapid quantitative measurements of growth kinetics in as few as 30 h under a wide variety of environmental conditions.


Graphic abstract:



Schematic representation of the ODELAM platform


1 Q&A 6830 Views Apr 20, 2021

Lysogenic phages can integrate into their bacterial host’s genome, potentially transferring any genetic information they possess including virulence or resistance genes, and are therefore routinely excluded from therapeutic applications. Lysogenic behavior is typically seen in phages that create turbid plaques or possess subpar bactericidal activity; yet, these are not definitive indicators. As a result, the presence of integrase genes is often used as a hallmark for lysogenic behavior; however, the accuracy of genetic screening for lysogeny depends on the quality of the extraction, sequencing and assembly of the phage genome, and database comparison. The present protocol describes a simple phenotypic test that can be used to screen therapeutically relevant phages for lysogenic behavior. This test relies on the identification of spontaneous phage release from their lysogenized host and can be reliably used in cases where no sequencing data are available. The protocol does not require specialized equipment, is not work-intensive, and is broadly applicable to any phage with an easily culturable bacterial host, making it particularly amenable to settings with limited resources.

Graphical abstract:

Screening pipeline for lysogen activity of a given phage




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