Publications by authors named "Pearl M Swe"

11 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

First Description of the Composition and the Functional Capabilities of the Skin Microbial Community Accompanying Severe Scabies Infestation in Humans.

Microorganisms 2021 Apr 23;9(5). Epub 2021 Apr 23.

Scabies Laboratory, Infectious Diseases Program, Biology Department, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane 4006, Australia.

Epidemiological studies link infection and impetigo. Scabies mites can promote (Group A ) and infections by breaching the skin barrier and excreting molecules that inhibit host innate immune responses. However, little is known about the composition and the function of the scabies-associated microbiota. Here, high-throughput whole-metagenome sequencing was used to explore the scabies-associated microbiome. Scabies mites including their immediate microenvironments were isolated from two patients with severe scabies in Northern Australia. Two ~45-50 million paired-end reads Illumina libraries were generated of which ~2 (5.1%) and 0.7 million (1.3%) microbial reads were filtered out by mapping to human (hg19) and mite draft genomes. Taxonomic profiling revealed a microbial community dominated by the phylum Firmicutes (A: 79% and B: 59%) and genera that comprise , , and . Assembly of the metagenome reads resulted in genome bins representing reference genomes of , (Group C/G), and . The contigs contained genes relevant to pathogenicity and antibiotics resistance. Confocal microscopy of a patient skin sample confirmed , Streptococci and in scabies mite gut and faeces and the surrounding skin. The study provides fundamental evidence for the association of opportunistic pathogens with scabies infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9050907DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8146700PMC
April 2021

High-throughput metagenome analysis of the Sarcoptes scabiei internal microbiota and in-situ identification of intestinal Streptomyces sp.

Sci Rep 2019 08 13;9(1):11744. Epub 2019 Aug 13.

Infectious Diseases Program, Cell and Molecular Biology Department, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

Multiple parasitic arthropods of medical importance depend on symbiotic bacteria. While the link between scabies and secondary bacterial infections causing post infective complications of Group A streptococcal and staphylococcal pyoderma is increasingly recognized, very little is known about the microbiota of Sarcoptes scabiei. Here we analyze adult female mite and egg metagenome datasets. The majority of adult mite bacterial reads matched with Enterobacteriaceae (phylum Proteobacteria), followed by Corynebacteriaceae (phylum Actinobacteria). Klebsiella was the most dominant genus (78%) and Corynebacterium constituted 9% of the assigned sequences. Scabies mite eggs had a more diverse microbial composition with sequences from Proteobacteria being the most dominant (75%), while Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes accounted for 23% of the egg microbiome sequences. DNA sequences of a potential endosymbiont, namely Streptomyces, were identified in the metagenome sequence data of both life stages. The presence of Streptomyces was confirmed by conventional PCR. Digital droplet PCR indicated higher Streptomyces numbers in adult mites compared to eggs. Streptomyces were localized histologically in the scabies mite gut and faecal pellets by Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization (FISH). Streptomyces may have essential symbiotic roles in the scabies parasite intestinal system requiring further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47892-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6692375PMC
August 2019

Complement inhibition by Sarcoptes scabiei protects Streptococcus pyogenes - An in vitro study to unravel the molecular mechanisms behind the poorly understood predilection of S. pyogenes to infect mite-induced skin lesions.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2017 03 9;11(3):e0005437. Epub 2017 Mar 9.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Infectious Diseases Department, Herston, Brisbane, Australia.

Background: On a global scale scabies is one of the most common dermatological conditions, imposing a considerable economic burden on individuals, communities and health systems. There is substantial epidemiological evidence that in tropical regions scabies is often causing pyoderma and subsequently serious illness due to invasion by opportunistic bacteria. The health burden due to complicated scabies causing cellulitis, bacteraemia and sepsis, heart and kidney diseases in resource-poor communities is extreme. Co-infections of group A streptococcus (GAS) and scabies mites is a common phenomenon in the tropics. Both pathogens produce multiple complement inhibitors to overcome the host innate defence. We investigated the relative role of classical (CP), lectin (LP) and alternative pathways (AP) towards a pyodermic GAS isolate 88/30 in the presence of a scabies mite complement inhibitor, SMSB4.

Methodology/principal Findings: Opsonophagocytosis assays in fresh blood showed baseline immunity towards GAS. The role of innate immunity was investigated by deposition of the first complement components of each pathway, specifically C1q, FB and MBL from normal human serum on GAS. C1q deposition was the highest followed by FB deposition while MBL deposition was undetectable, suggesting that CP and AP may be mainly activated by GAS. We confirmed this result using sera depleted of either C1q or FB, and serum deficient in MBL. Recombinant SMSB4 was produced and purified from Pichia pastoris. SMSB4 reduced the baseline immunity against GAS by decreasing the formation of CP- and AP-C3 convertases, subsequently affecting opsonisation and the release of anaphylatoxin.

Conclusions/significance: Our results indicate that the complement-inhibitory function of SMSB4 promotes the survival of GAS in vitro and inferably in the microenvironment of the mite-infested skin. Understanding the tripartite interactions between host, parasite and microbial pathogens at a molecular level may serve as a basis to develop improved intervention strategies targeting scabies and associated bacterial infections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0005437DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5360341PMC
March 2017

A scabies mite serpin interferes with complement-mediated neutrophil functions and promotes staphylococcal growth.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2014 Jun 19;8(6):e2928. Epub 2014 Jun 19.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Infectious Diseases Program, Biology Department, Herston, Brisbane, Australia.

Background: Scabies is a contagious skin disease caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei. The disease is highly prevalent worldwide and known to predispose to secondary bacterial infections, in particular by Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus. Reports of scabies patients co-infected with methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) pose a major concern for serious down-stream complications. We previously reported that a range of complement inhibitors secreted by the mites promoted the growth of S. pyogenes. Here, we show that a recently characterized mite serine protease inhibitor (SMSB4) inhibits the complement-mediated blood killing of S. aureus.

Methodology/principal Findings: Blood killing of S. aureus was measured in whole blood bactericidal assays, counting viable bacteria recovered after treatment in fresh blood containing active complement and phagocytes, treated with recombinant SMSB4. SMSB4 inhibited the blood killing of various strains of S. aureus including methicillin-resistant and methicillin-sensitive isolates. Staphylococcal growth was promoted in a dose-dependent manner. We investigated the effect of SMSB4 on the complement-mediated neutrophil functions, namely phagocytosis, opsonization and anaphylatoxin release, by flow cytometry and in enzyme linked immuno sorbent assays (ELISA). SMSB4 reduced phagocytosis of S. aureus by neutrophils. It inhibited the deposition of C3b, C4b and properdin on the bacteria surface, but did not affect the depositions of C1q and MBL. SMSB4 also inhibited C5 cleavage as indicated by a reduced C5b-9 deposition.

Conclusions/significance: We postulate that SMSB4 interferes with the activation of all three complement pathways by reducing the amount of C3 convertase formed. We conclude that SMSB4 interferes with the complement-dependent killing function of neutrophils, thereby reducing opsonization, phagocytosis and further recruitment of neutrophils to the site of infection. As a consequence secreted scabies mites complement inhibitors, such as SMSB4, provide favorable conditions for the onset of S. aureus co-infection in the scabies-infected microenvironment by suppressing the immediate host immune response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0002928DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4063749PMC
June 2014

Scabies mites alter the skin microbiome and promote growth of opportunistic pathogens in a porcine model.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2014 29;8(5):e2897. Epub 2014 May 29.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Infectious Diseases Program, Biology Department and Genetics and Computational Biology Department, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Background: The resident skin microbiota plays an important role in restricting pathogenic bacteria, thereby protecting the host. Scabies mites (Sarcoptes scabiei) are thought to promote bacterial infections by breaching the skin barrier and excreting molecules that inhibit host innate immune responses. Epidemiological studies in humans confirm increased incidence of impetigo, generally caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes, secondary to the epidermal infestation with the parasitic mite. It is therefore possible that mite infestation could alter the healthy skin microbiota making way for the opportunistic pathogens. A longitudinal study to test this hypothesis in humans is near impossible due to ethical reasons. In a porcine model we generated scabies infestations closely resembling the disease manifestation in humans and investigated the scabies associated changes in the skin microbiota over the course of a mite infestation.

Methodology/principal Findings: In a 21 week trial, skin scrapings were collected from pigs infected with S. scabies var. suis and scabies-free control animals. A total of 96 skin scrapings were collected before, during infection and after acaricide treatment, and analyzed by bacterial 16S rDNA tag-encoded FLX-titanium amplicon pyrosequencing. We found significant changes in the epidermal microbiota, in particular a dramatic increase in Staphylococcus correlating with the onset of mite infestation in animals challenged with scabies mites. This increase persisted beyond treatment from mite infection and healing of skin. Furthermore, the staphylococci population shifted from the commensal S. hominis on the healthy skin prior to scabies mite challenge to S. chromogenes, which is increasingly recognized as being pathogenic, coinciding with scabies infection in pigs. In contrast, all animals in the scabies-free cohort remained relatively free of Staphylococcus throughout the trial.

Conclusions/significance: This is the first experimental in vivo evidence supporting previous assumptions that establishment of pathogens follow scabies infection. Our findings provide an explanation for a biologically important aspect of the disease pathogenesis. The methods developed from this pig trial will serve as a guide to analyze human clinical samples. Studies building on this will offer implications for development of novel intervention strategies against the mites and the secondary infections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0002897DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4038468PMC
March 2015

Creation and screening of a multi-family bacterial oxidoreductase library to discover novel nitroreductases that efficiently activate the bioreductive prodrugs CB1954 and PR-104A.

Biochem Pharmacol 2013 Apr 8;85(8):1091-103. Epub 2013 Feb 8.

School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Kelburn Parade, Wellington, New Zealand.

Two potentially complementary approaches to improve the anti-cancer strategy gene-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (GDEPT) are discovery of more efficient prodrug-activating enzymes, and development of more effective prodrugs. Here we demonstrate the utility of a flexible screening system based on the Escherichia coli SOS response to evaluate novel nitroreductase enzymes and prodrugs in concert. To achieve this, a library of 47 candidate genes representing 11 different oxidoreductase families was created and screened to identify the most efficient activators of two different nitroaromatic prodrugs, CB1954 and PR-104A. The most catalytically efficient nitroreductases were found in the NfsA and NfsB enzyme families, with NfsA homologues generally more active than NfsB. Some members of the AzoR, NemA and MdaB families also exhibited low-level activity with one or both prodrugs. The results of SOS screening in our optimised E. coli reporter strain SOS-R2 were generally predictive of the ability of nitroreductase candidates to sensitise E. coli to CB1954, and of the kcat/Km for each prodrug substrate at a purified protein level. However, we also found that not all nitroreductases express stably in human (HCT-116 colon carcinoma) cells, and that activity at a purified protein level did not necessarily predict activity in stably transfected HCT-116. These results highlight a need for all enzyme-prodrug partners for GDEPT to be assessed in the specific context of the vector and cell line that they are intended to target. Nonetheless, our oxidoreductase library and optimised screens provide valuable tools to identify preferred nitroreductase-prodrug combinations to advance to preclinical evaluation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2013.01.029DOI Listing
April 2013

Novel scabies mite serpins inhibit the three pathways of the human complement system.

PLoS One 2012 11;7(7):e40489. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Infectious Diseases Program, Biology Department, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Scabies is a parasitic infestation of the skin by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei that causes significant morbidity worldwide, in particular within socially disadvantaged populations. In order to identify mechanisms that enable the scabies mite to evade human immune defenses, we have studied molecules associated with proteolytic systems in the mite, including two novel scabies mite serine protease inhibitors (SMSs) of the serpin superfamily. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that within mite-infected human skin SMSB4 (54 kDa) and SMSB3 (47 kDa) were both localized in the mite gut and feces. Recombinant purified SMSB3 and SMSB4 did not inhibit mite serine and cysteine proteases, but did inhibit mammalian serine proteases, such as chymotrypsin, albeit inefficiently. Detailed functional analysis revealed that both serpins interfered with all three pathways of the human complement system at different stages of their activation. SMSB4 inhibited mostly the initial and progressing steps of the cascades, while SMSB3 showed the strongest effects at the C9 level in the terminal pathway. Additive effects of both serpins were shown at the C9 level in the lectin pathway. Both SMSs were able to interfere with complement factors without protease function. A range of binding assays showed direct binding between SMSB4 and seven complement proteins (C1, properdin, MBL, C4, C3, C6 and C8), while significant binding of SMSB3 occurred exclusively to complement factors without protease function (C4, C3, C8). Direct binding was observed between SMSB4 and the complement proteases C1s and C1r. However no complex formation was observed between either mite serpin and the complement serine proteases C1r, C1s, MASP-1, MASP-2 and MASP-3. No catalytic inhibition by either serpin was observed for any of these enzymes. In summary, the SMSs were acting at several levels mediating overall inhibition of the complement system and thus we propose that they may protect scabies mites from complement-mediated gut damage.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0040489PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3394726PMC
April 2013

Identification of DysI, the immunity factor of the streptococcal bacteriocin dysgalacticin.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2010 Dec 8;76(23):7885-9. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

DysI is identified as the protein that confers specific immunity to dysgalacticin, a plasmid-encoded streptococcal bacteriocin. dysI is transcribed as part of the copG-repB-dysI replication-associated operon. DysI appears to function at the membrane level to prevent the inhibitory effects of dysgalacticin on glucose transport, membrane integrity, and intracellular ATP content.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01707-10DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2988609PMC
December 2010

Mode of action of dysgalacticin: a large heat-labile bacteriocin.

J Antimicrob Chemother 2009 Apr 12;63(4):679-86. Epub 2009 Feb 12.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Otago School of Medical Sciences, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Objectives: The mode of action of dysgalacticin, a large (21.5 kDa), heat-labile bacteriocin that is active against the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, was investigated.

Methods: We used recombinant dysgalacticin to determine its mode of action against S. pyogenes. Antimicrobial activity of dysgalacticin was determined by MIC assays and viability counts. The extracellular pH of glucose-energized S. pyogenes cell suspensions was measured to determine the influence of dysgalacticin on glucose fermentation. To examine the effect of dysgalacticin on glucose transport, uptake of [14C]glucose and the non-metabolizable analogue [3H]2-deoxyglucose (2DG) was measured. Furthermore, the effect of dysgalacticin on membrane integrity, intracellular potassium concentration, membrane potential and [14C]serine uptake was determined.

Results: Dysgalacticin was bactericidal towards S. pyogenes and inhibited glucose fermentation by non-growing cell suspensions. Dysgalacticin blocked transport of both glucose and 2DG, indicating that dysgalacticin targets the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent glucose- and mannose-phosphotransferase system (PTS) of S. pyogenes. This inhibitory activity was voltage-independent, and in addition to the inhibition of glucose transport, dysgalacticin increased the permeability of the cytoplasmic membrane mediating leakage of intracellular potassium ions. Moreover, dysgalacticin dissipated the membrane potential and inhibited [14C]serine uptake, a membrane potential-dependent process in S. pyogenes.

Conclusions: Taken together, these data indicate that dysgalacticin targets the glucose- and/or mannose-PTS as a receptor leading to inhibition of sugar uptake. As a result of this interaction, dysgalacticin perturbs membrane integrity leading to loss of intracellular K+ ions and dissipation of the membrane potential, ultimately leading to cell death.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jac/dkn552DOI Listing
April 2009

ef1097 and ypkK encode enterococcin V583 and corynicin JK, members of a new family of antimicrobial proteins (bacteriocins) with modular structure from Gram-positive bacteria.

Microbiology (Reading) 2007 Oct;153(Pt 10):3218-3227

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Otago School of Medical Sciences, The University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Unlike the colicins, microcins and related peptide antibiotics, little is known about antibiotic proteins (M(r)>10,000) from Gram-positive bacteria, since only few examples have been described to date. In this study we used heterologous expression of recombinant proteins to access the 17 kDa antibiotic protein SA-M57 from Streptococcus pyogenes, along with two proteins of unknown function identified in publicly available databases: EF1097 from Enterococcus faecalis and YpkK from Corynebacterium jeikeium. Here we show that all three are antibiotic proteins with different spectra of antimicrobial activity that kill sensitive bacteria at nanomolar concentrations. In silico structure predictions indicate that although the three proteins share little sequence similarity, they may be composed of conserved secondary structural elements: a relatively unstructured, acidic N-terminal portion and a basic C-terminal portion characterized by two helical elements separated by a loop structure and stabilized by an essential disulphide. Expression of individual segments as well as protein chimaeras revealed that, at least in the case of YpkK, the C-terminal portion is responsible for the killing action of the protein, whereas the role of the N-terminal portion remains unclear. Both scnM57 and ef1097 appear to be widely distributed in Strep. pyogenes and Ent. faecalis (respectively), whereas ypkK is found only rarely amongst clinical isolates of C. jeikeium. Finally, we determined that the proteins kill sensitive bacteria without lysis, a feature that distinguishes them from known murolytic proteins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/mic.0.2007/010777-0DOI Listing
October 2007

Dysgalacticin: a novel, plasmid-encoded antimicrobial protein (bacteriocin) produced by Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis.

Microbiology (Reading) 2006 Jul;152(Pt 7):1991-2001

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Dysgalacticin is a novel bacteriocin produced by Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis strain W2580 that has a narrow spectrum of antimicrobial activity directed primarily against the principal human streptococcal pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes. Unlike many previously described bacteriocins of Gram-positive bacteria, dysgalacticin is a heat-labile 21.5 kDa anionic protein that kills its target without inducing lysis. The N-terminal amino acid sequence of dysgalacticin [Asn-Glu-Thr-Asn-Asn-Phe-Ala-Glu-Thr-Gln-Lys-Glu-Ile-Thr-Thr-Asn-(Asn)-Glu-Ala] has no known homologue in publicly available sequence databases. The dysgalacticin structural gene, dysA, is located on the indigenous plasmid pW2580 of strain W2580 and encodes a 220 aa preprotein which is probably exported via a Sec-dependent transport system. Natural dysA variants containing conservative amino acid substitutions were also detected by sequence analyses of dysA elements from S. dysgalactiae strains displaying W2580-like inhibitory profiles. Production of recombinant dysgalacticin by Escherichia coli confirmed that this protein is solely responsible for the inhibitory activity exhibited by strain W2580. A combination of in silico secondary structure prediction and reductive alkylation was employed to demonstrate that dysgalacticin has a novel structure containing a disulphide bond essential for its biological activity. Moreover, dysgalacticin displays similarity in predicted secondary structure (but not primary amino acid sequence or inhibitory spectrum) with another plasmid-encoded streptococcal bacteriocin, streptococcin A-M57 from S. pyogenes, indicating that dysgalacticin represents a prototype of a new class of antimicrobial proteins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/mic.0.28823-0DOI Listing
July 2006
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