Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 217 Views Dec 20, 2022

Periodontal disease is a chronic multifactorial disease triggered by a complex of bacterial species. These interact with host tissues to cause the release of a broad array of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and tissue remodelers, such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which lead to the destruction of periodontal tissues. Patients with severe forms of periodontitis are left with a persistent pro-inflammatory transcriptional profile throughout the periodontium, even after clinical intervention, leading to the destruction of teeth-supporting tissues. The oral spirochete, Treponema denticola , is consistently found at significantly elevated levels at sites with advanced periodontal disease. Of all T. denticola virulence factors that have been described, its chymotrypsin-like protease complex, also called dentilisin, has demonstrated a multitude of cytopathic effects consistent with periodontal disease pathogenesis, including alterations in cellular adhesion activity, degradation of various endogenous extracellular matrix–substrates, degradation of host chemokines and cytokines, and ectopic activation of host MMPs. Thus, the following model of T. denticola –human periodontal ligament cell interactions may provide new knowledge about the mechanisms that drive the chronicity of periodontal disease at the protein, transcriptional, and epigenetic levels, which could afford new putative therapeutic targets.

0 Q&A 734 Views Aug 5, 2022

Microbiome studies are quickly gaining momentum. Since most of the resident microbes (consisting of bacteria, fungi, and viruses) are difficult to culture, sequencing the microbial genome is the method of choice to characterize them. It is therefore important to have efficient methodology for gDNA isolation of gut microbes. Mouse models are widely used to understand human disease etiology while avoiding human ethics-related complications. However, the widely used kit-based methods are costly, and sometimes yields (in terms of quality and quantity) are sub-optimal. To overcome this problem, we developed a straightforward, standardized DNA isolation procedure from mouse cecal content for further microbiome-related studies. The reagents we used to standardize the procedure are readily available even in a not-so-well-equipped laboratory, and the reagents are not expensive. The yield and quality of the DNA are also better than those obtained by the readily available kit-based methods.

Additionally, we modified the kit-based method of RNA isolation from the colon tissue sample of the mouse for better yield. Churning the tissue with liquid nitrogen at the beginning of the procedure improves RNA quality and quantity.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1361 Views Jul 5, 2022

Competition assays are a simple phenotyping strategy that confront two bacterial strains to evaluate their relative fitness. Because they are more accurate than single-strain growth assays, competition assays can be used to highlight slight differences that would not otherwise be detectable. In the frame of host-pathogens interactions, they can be very useful to study the contribution of individual bacterial genes to bacterial fitness and lead to the identification of new adaptive traits. Here, we describe how to perform such competition assays by taking the example of the model phytopathogenic bacterium Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris during infection of the mesophyll of its cauliflower host. This phenotypic assay is based on the use of a Competitive Index (CI) that compares the relative abundance of co-inoculated strains before and after inoculation. Since multiplication is a direct proxy for bacterial fitness, the evolution of the ratio between both strains in the mixed population is a direct way to assess differences in fitness in a given environment. In this protocol, we exploit the blue staining of GUS-expressing bacteria to count blue vs. white colonies on plates and estimate the competitiveness of the strains of interest in plant mesophyll.

0 Q&A 1145 Views May 20, 2022

Microbiologists are learning to appreciate the importance of “functional amyloids” that are produced by numerous bacterial species and have impacts beyond the microbial world. These structures are used by bacteria to link together, presumably to increase survival, protect against harsh conditions, and perhaps to influence cell-cell communication. Bacterial functional amyloids are also beginning to be appreciated in the context of host-pathogen interactions, where there is evidence that they can trigger the innate immune system and are recognized as non-self-molecular patterns. The characteristic three-dimensional fold of amyloids renders them similar across the bacterial kingdom and into the eukaryotic world, where amyloid proteins can be undesirable and have pathological consequences. The bacterial protein curli, produced by pathogenic Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli strains, was one of the first functional amyloids discovered. Curli have since been well characterized in terms of function, and we are just starting to scratch the surface about their potential impact on eukaryotic hosts. In this manuscript, we present step-by-step protocols with pictures showing how to purify these bacterial surface structures. We have described the purification process from S. enterica, acknowledging that the same method can be applied to E. coli. In addition, we describe methods for detection of curli within animal tissues (i.e., GI tract) and discuss purifying curli intermediates in a S. enterica msbB mutant strain as they are more cytotoxic than mature curli fibrils. Some of these methods were first described elsewhere, but we wanted to assemble them together in more detail to make it easier for researchers who want to purify curli for use in biological experiments. Our aim is to provide methods that are useful for specialists and non-specialists as bacterial amyloids become of increasing importance.

0 Q&A 1977 Views Jan 20, 2022

Caenorhabditis elegans is a ubiquitous free-living nematode that feeds on bacteria. The organism was introduced into a laboratory setting in the 1970s and has since gained popularity as a model to study host-bacteria interactions. One advantage of using C. elegans is that its intestine can be colonized by the bacteria on which it feeds. Quantifying the bacterial load within C. elegans is an important and easily obtainable metric when investigating host-bacteria interactions. Although quantification of bacteria harbored in C. elegans via whole-worm lysis is not a novel assay, there is great variation between existing methods. To lyse C. elegans, many protocols rely on the use of a hand-held homogenizer, which could introduce systematic error and subsequent variation between researchers performing the same experiment. Here, we describe a method of lysing the intestines of C. elegans to quantify the bacterial load within the intestine. Our method has been optimized for removing exogenous bacteria while maintaining worm paralysis, to ensure no bactericidal agents are swallowed, which could kill bacteria within the intestine and affect results. We utilize and compare the efficiency of two different homogenization tools: a battery-powered hand-held homogenizer, and a benchtop electric homogenizer, where the latter minimizes variability. Thus, our protocol has been optimized to reduce systematic error and decrease the potential for variability among experimenters.

Graphic abstract:

Simplified overview of the procedure used to quantify the bacterial load within C. elegans.

The two different methods are herein described for worm lysis: “Option 1” is a hand-held homogenizer, and “Option 2” is a benchtop homogenizer.

0 Q&A 2043 Views Dec 5, 2021

Pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or protozoa can cause acute and chronic infections in their hosts. The intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes serves as a model pathogen to assess the molecular mechanisms regulating CD8 T cell activation, differentiation, and function. We set up an experimental workflow to investigate cell-intrinsic roles of the nuclear receptor NR2F6 in CD8 T cell memory formation upon Listeria monocytogenes (LmOVA) infection (Jakic et al., 2021). The current protocol details how to cultivate ovalbumin-expressing LmOVA, infect naïve C57BL/6 mice with these bacteria and determine the bacterial load in host organs. Furthermore, we describe how to evaluate antigen-specific CD8 T cell responses and discriminate between short-lived effector and memory precursor cells in vivo following LmOVA infection (Figure 1). To assess CD8 T cell-intrinsic molecular mechanisms, we integrated an adoptive cell transfer (ACT) experiment of genetically modified naïve OT-I CD8 T cells into congenic hosts before LmOVA infection.

Graphic abstract:

Figure 1. Experimental workflow depicting the steps for infection of mice with Listeria and subsequent analysis of antigen-specific CD8 memory responses.

Bacteria (ovalbumin expressing Listeria monocytogenes) are thawed and grown on lysogeny broth (LB) plates overnight (ON). A single colony is picked and grown in LB medium ON. Bacteria from the exponential growth phase are then injected into a C57BL/6 mouse via tail vein injection. Colony forming units (CFU) of the bacteria can be detected in the spleen on day 3 post injection. Antigen-specific CD8 T cell immune response can be investigated during the acute phase (d3 after infection), during the peak of the adaptive immune response (d7), the clearance phase (d26), or the memory phase (d70) by flow cytometry. Created with BioRender.com.

0 Q&A 1383 Views Dec 5, 2021

Pneumococcal (PN) meningitis is a life-threatening disease with high mortality rates that leads to permanent neurological sequelae. Studies of the process of bacterial crossing of the blood brain barrier (BBB) are hampered by the lack of relevant in vitro and in vivo models of meningitis that recapitulate the human disease. PN meningitis involves bacterial access to the bloodstream preceding translocation across the BBB. A large number of PN meningitis models have been developed in mice, with intravenous administration via the lateral tail vein representing the main way to study BBB crossing by PN. While in humans, meningitis is not always associated with bacteremia, PN meningitis after intravenous injection in mice usually develops following sustained and very high bacteremic titers. High grade bacteremia, however, is known to favor inflammation and BBB permeabilization, thereby increasing PN translocation across the BBB and associated damages. Therefore, specific processes associated with early events of PN translocation may be blurred by overall changes in the inflammatory environment and potentially systemic dysfunction in the case of severe sepsis. Here, we report a mouse meningitis model induced by PN injection in the retro-orbital (RO) sinus. We show that, in this model, mice appear to control bacteremic levels during the first 13 h post-infection, while PN crossing of the BBB can be clearly detected by fluorescence confocal microscopy analysis of brain slices as early as 6 h post-infection. Because of the low frequency of events, however, PN translocation across brain parenchymal vessels at early time points requires a rigorous and systematic examination of the brain volume.

0 Q&A 1839 Views Sep 20, 2021

Bacterial swarming refers to a rapid spread, with coordinated motion, of flagellated bacteria on a semi-solid surface (Harshey, 2003). There has been extensive study on this particular mode of motility because of its interesting biological and physical relevance, e.g., enhanced antibiotic resistance (Kearns, 2010) and turbulent collective motion (Steager et al., 2008). Commercial equipment for the live recording of swarm expansion can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars (Morales-Soto et al., 2015); yet, often the conditions are not accurately controlled, resulting in poor robustness and a lack of reproducibility. Here, we describe a reliable design and operations protocol to perform reproducible bacterial swarming assays using time-lapse photography. This protocol consists of three main steps: 1) building a “homemade,” environment-controlled photographing incubator; 2) performing a bacterial swarming assay; and 3) calculating the swarming rate from serial photos taken over time. An efficient way of calculating the bacterial swarming rate is crucial in performing swarming phenotype-related studies, e.g., screening swarming-deficient isogenic mutant strains. The incubator is economical, easy to operate, and has a wide range of applications. In fact, this system can be applied to many slowly evolving processes, such as biofilm formation and fungal growth, which need to be monitored by camera under a controlled temperature and ambient humidity.

0 Q&A 2524 Views Sep 5, 2021

An inflammasome is an intracellular multiprotein complex that plays important roles in host defense and inflammatory responses. Inflammasomes are typically composed of the adaptor protein apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC), cytoplasmic sensor protein, and the effector protein pro-caspase-1. ASC assembly into a protein complex termed ASC speck is a readout for inflammasome activation. Here, we provide a step-by-step protocol for the detection of ASC speck by confocal microscopy in Bone marrow derived macrophages (BMBDs) triggered by chemical stimuli and bacterial pathogens. We also describe the detailed procedure for the generation of BMDMs, stimulating conditions for inflammasome activation, immunofluorescence cell staining of ASC protein, and microscopic examination. Thus far, this method is a simple and reliable manner to visualize and quantify the intracellular localization of ASC speck.

Graphic abstract:

Figure 1. Confocal microscopy detection of ASC speck formation in untreated WT BMDMs and WT BMDMs stimulated with LPS and ATP, transfected with dsDNA, and infected with F. novicida or Salmonella as indicated. Arrow indicates the ASC speck. Scale bars: 10 μm.

0 Q&A 2049 Views Aug 20, 2021

Ralstonia solanacearum is a soil-borne pathogen with worldwide distribution that causes bacterial wilt disease in more than 250 plant species. R. solanacearum invades plants through the roots, reaches the vascular system, and colonizes the whole plant by moving through the xylem, where it eventually replicates rapidly, causing plant death. Usual assays to measure the virulence of R. solanacearum under laboratory conditions rely on soil-drenching inoculation followed by observation and scoring of disease symptoms. Here, we describe a protocol to assess the replication of R. solanacearum following injection into tomato stems. This protocol includes four major steps: 1) growth of tomato plants; 2) R. solanacearum injection into tomato stems; 3) collection of tomato xylem samples and bacterial quantitation; and 4) data analysis and representation. This method bypasses the natural penetration process of the pathogen, thus minimizing variation associated with stochastic events during bacterial invasion, and provides a sensitive and accurate measurement of bacterial fitness inside xylem vessels.

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