0 Q&A 188 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 285 Views Dec 5, 2022

Pathogen invasion of the central nervous system (CNS) is an important cause of infection-related mortality worldwide and can lead to severe neurological sequelae. To gain access to the CNS cells, pathogens have to overcome the blood–brain barrier (BBB), a protective fence from blood-borne factors. To study host–pathogen interactions, a number of cell culture and animal models were developed. However, in vitro models do not recapitulate the 3D architecture of the BBB and CNS tissue, and in vivo mammalian models present cellular and technical complexities as well as ethical issues, rendering systematic and genetic approaches difficult. Here, we present a two-pronged methodology allowing and validating the use of Drosophila larvae as a model system to decipher the mechanisms of infection in a developing CNS. First, an ex vivo protocol based on whole CNS explants serves as a fast and versatile screening platform, permitting the investigation of molecular and cellular mechanisms contributing to the crossing of the BBB and consequences of infection on the CNS. Then, an in vivo CNS infection protocol through direct pathogen microinjection into the fly circulatory system evaluates the impact of systemic parameters, including the contribution of circulating immune cells to CNS infection, and assesses infection pathogenicity at the whole host level. These combined complementary approaches identify mechanisms of BBB crossing and responses of a diversity of CNS cells contributing to infection, as well as novel virulence factors of the pathogen.

Graphical abstract

Procedures flowchart.
Mammalian neurotropic pathogens could be tested in two Drosophila central nervous system (CNS) infection setups (ex vivo and in vivo) for their ability to: (1) invade the CNS (pathogen quantifications), (2) disturb blood–brain barrier permeability, (3) affect CNS host cell behaviour (gene expression), and (4) alter host viability.

0 Q&A 1064 Views Aug 5, 2022

Cryptococcus neoformans is a human pathogenic fungus that can cause pulmonary infections and meningitis in both immunocompromised and otherwise healthy individuals. Limited treatment options and a high mortality rate underlie the necessity for extensive research of the virulence of C. neoformans. Here we describe a detailed protocol for using the Galleria mellonella (Greater Wax Moth) larvae as a model organism for the virulence analysis of the cryptococcal infections. This protocol describes in detail the evaluation of G. mellonella larvae viability and the alternatives for troubleshooting the infection procedure. This protocol can be easily modified to study different inocula or fungal species, or the effects of a drug or antifungal agent on fungal disease within the larvae. We describe modified alternative versions of the protocol that allow using G. mellonella to study fungal diseases with different inocula and at different temperatures.

0 Q&A 703 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 2140 Views Jul 5, 2022

Profiling the specificities of antibodies can reveal a wealth of information about humoral immune responses and the antigens they target. Here, we present a protocol for VirScan, an application of the phage immunoprecipitation sequencing (PhIP-Seq) method for profiling the specificities of human antiviral antibodies. Accompanying this protocol is a video of the experimental procedure. VirScan and, more generally, PhIP-Seq are techniques that enable high-throughput antibody profiling by combining high-throughput DNA oligo synthesis and bacteriophage display with next-generation sequencing. In the VirScan method, human sera samples are screened against a library of peptides spanning the entire human viral proteome. Bound phage are immunoprecipitated and sequenced, identifying the viral peptides recognized by the antibodies. VirScan Is a powerful tool for uncovering individual viral exposure histories, mapping the epitope landscape of viruses of interest, and studying fundamental mechanisms of viral immunity.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1308 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 1103 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 971 Views May 5, 2022

Although herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is a well-studied virus, how the virus invades its human host via skin and mucosa to reach its receptors and initiate infection remains an open question. For studies of HSV-1 infection in skin, mice have been used as animal models. Murine skin infection can be induced after injection or scratching of the skin, which provides insights into disease pathogenesis but is clearly distinct from the natural entry route in human tissue. To explore the invasion route of HSV-1 on the tissue level, we established an ex vivo infection assay using skin explants. Here, we detail a protocol allowing the investigation of how the virus overcomes mechanical barriers in human skin to penetrate in keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts. The protocol includes the preparation of total skin samples, skin shaves, and of separated epidermis and dermis, which is followed by incubation in virus suspension. The ex vivo infection assay allows the visualization, quantification, and characterization of single infected cells in the epidermis and dermis prior to viral replication and the virus-induced tissue damage. Hence, this experimental approach enables the identification of primary viral entry portals.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1359 Views Apr 20, 2022

The absence of long term, primary untransformed in vitro models that support hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and replication have hampered HBV pre-clinical research, which was reflected in the absence of a curative therapy until recently. One of the limitations for in vitro HBV research has been the absence of high titer and pure recombinant HBV stocks, which, as we describe here, can be generated using simple, and reproducible protocols. In addition to infection of more conventional in vitro and in vivo liver model systems, recombinant high titer purified HBV stocks can also be used to efficiently infect differentiated human liver organoids, whose generation, maintenance, and infection is discussed in detail in a companion organoid protocol. Here, we also describe the protocols for the detection of specific viral read-outs, including HBV DNA in the supernatant of the cultures, covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) from intracellular DNA preparations, and HBV viral proteins and viral RNA, which can be detected within the cells, demonstrating the presence of a complete viral replication cycle in infected liver organoids. Although an evolving platform, the human liver organoid model system presents great potential as an exciting new tool to study HBV infection and progression to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in primary cells, when combined with the use of high-titer and pure recombinant HBV stock for infection.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1819 Views Mar 20, 2022

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection represents a major public health problem infecting approximately 400 million people worldwide. Despite the availability of a preventive vaccine and anti-viral therapies, chronic HBV infection remains a major health issue because it increases the risk of developing liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The lack of a relevant in vitro model for the study of the molecular mechanisms that drive HBV replication and latency, as well as HBV-related carcinogenesis, has been one of the major obstacles to the development of curative strategies. Here, we propose the use of human liver organoids as a platform for modeling HBV infection and related tumorigenesis. Human liver organoids can be seeded from both healthy and cirrhotic liver biopsies. They can be expanded in vitro when culturing in a medium containing a specific set of growth factors. When the culture medium is changed into a new medium containing growth factors that promote differentiation, organoids differentiate into functional hepatocytes, which makes them susceptible to infection with recombinant HBV. The novel in vitro primary model system described in this protocol can be utilized as a platform to study HBV pathogenesis and drug screening. Organoids generated from cirrhotic liver biopsies can be a potential tool for personalized medicine, and for modeling HCC and other liver diseases.

Graphic abstract: