New prophylactic and therapeutic treatments to combat pathogenic Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli

Marjenberg, Zoe R. (2016) New prophylactic and therapeutic treatments to combat pathogenic Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Bacterial diarrhoeal diseases have significant influence on global human health, and are a leading cause of preventable death in the developing world. Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), pathogenic strains of E. coli that carry potent toxins, have been associated with a high number of large-scale outbreaks caused by contaminated food and water sources. This pathotype produces diarrhoea and haemorrhagic colitis in infected humans, and in some patients leads to the development of haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can result in mortality and chronic kidney disease. A major obstacle to the treatment of EHEC infections is the increased risk of HUS development that is associated with antibiotic treatment, and rehydration and renal support are often the only options available. New treatments designed to prevent or clear E. coli infections and reduce symptoms of illness would therefore have large public health and economic impacts.

The three main aims of this thesis were: to explore mouse models for pre-clinical evaluation in vivo of small compounds that inhibit a major EHEC colonisation factor, to assess the production and role of two proteins considered promising candidates for a broad-spectrum vaccine against pathogenic E. coli, and to investigate a novel compound that has recently been identified as a potential inhibitor of EHEC toxin production.

As EHEC cannot be safely tested in humans due to the risk of HUS development, appropriate small animal models are required for in vivo testing of new drugs. A number of different mouse models have been developed to replicate different features of EHEC pathogenesis, several of which we investigated with a focus on colonisation mediated by the Type III Secretion System (T3SS), a needle-like structure that translocates bacterial proteins into host cells, resulting in a tight, intimate attachment between pathogen and host, aiding colonisation of the gastrointestinal tract. As E. coli models were found not to depend significantly on the T3SS for colonisation, the Citrobacter rodentium model, a natural mouse pathogen closely related to E. coli, was deemed the most suitable mouse model currently available for in vivo testing of T3SS-targeting compounds.

Two bacterial proteins, EaeH (an outer membrane adhesin) and YghJ (a putative secreted
lipoprotein), highly conserved surface-associated proteins recently identified as III
protective antigens against E. coli infection of mice, were explored in order to determine their suitability as candidates for a human vaccine against pathogenic E. coli. We focused on the expression and function of these proteins in the EHEC O157:H7 EDL933 strain and the adherent-invasive E. coli (AIEC) LF82 strain. Although expression of EaeH by other E. coli pathotypes has recently been shown to be upregulated upon contact with host intestinal cells, no evidence of this upregulation could be demonstrated in our strains. Additionally, while YghJ was produced by the AIEC strain, it was not secreted by bacteria under conditions that other YghJ-expressing E. coli pathotypes do, despite the AIEC strain carrying all the genes required to encode the secretion system it is associated with. While our findings indicate that a vaccine that raises antibodies against EaeH and YghJ may have limited effect on the EHEC and AIEC strains we used, recent studies into these proteins in different E. coli pathogens have suggested they are still excellent candidates for a broadly effective vaccine against E. coli.

Finally, we characterised a small lead compound, identified by high-throughput screening as a possible inhibitor of Shiga toxin expression. Shiga toxin production causes both the symptoms of illness and development of HUS, and thus reduction of toxin production, release, or binding to host receptors could therefore be an effective way to treat infections and decrease the risk of HUS. Inhibition of Shiga toxin production by this compound was confirmed, and was shown to be caused by an inhibitory effect on activation of the bacterial SOS response rather than on the Shiga toxin genes themselves. The bacterial target of this compound was identified as RecA, a major regulator of the SOS response, and we hypothesise that the compound binds covalently to its target, preventing oligomerisation of RecA into an activated filament.

Altogether, the results presented here provide an improved understanding of these different approaches to combating EHEC infection, which will aid the development of safe and effective vaccines and anti-virulence treatments against EHEC.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Escherichia coli, E. coli, O157:H7, virulence, Shiga toxin, type 3 secretion.
Subjects: Q Science > QR Microbiology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation > Bacteriology
Supervisor's Name: Roe, Dr. Andrew J. and Douce, Dr. Gillian R.
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr Zoe Marjenberg
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7689
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2016 14:21
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2016 12:01

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