0 Q&A 341 Views Nov 20, 2022

Babesiosis is a tick-borne disease caused by pathogens belonging to the genus Babesia. In humans, the disease presents as a malaria-like illness and can be fatal in immunocompromised and elderly people. In the past few years, human babesiosis has been a rising concern worldwide. The disease is transmitted through tick bite, blood transfusion, and transplacentally in rare cases, with several species of Babesia causing human infection. Babesia microti, Babesia duncani, and Babesia divergens are of particular interest because of their important health impact and amenability to research inquiries. B. microti, the most commonly reported Babesia pathogen infecting humans, can be propagated in immunocompetent and immunocompromised mice but so far has not been successfully continuously propagated in vitro in human red blood cells (hRBCs). Conversely, B. divergens can be propagated in vitro in hRBCs but lacks a mouse model to study its virulence. Recent studies have highlighted the uniqueness of B. duncani as an ideal model organism to study intraerythrocytic parasitism in vitro and in vivo. An optimized B. duncani in culture and in mouse (ICIM) model has recently been described, combining long-term continuous in vitro culture of the parasite in human red blood cells with an animal model of parasitemia (P) and lethal infection in C3H/HeJ mice. Here, we provide a detailed protocol for the use of the B. duncani ICIM model in research. This model provides a unique and sound foundation to gain further insights into the biology, pathogenesis, and virulence of Babesia and other intraerythrocytic parasites, and has been validated as an efficient system to evaluate novel strategies for the treatment of human babesiosis and possibly other parasitic diseases.

Graphical abstract:

ICIM model [Adapted and modified from Pal et al. (2022)]

0 Q&A 2171 Views Jan 20, 2022

Basic and translational research needs rapid methods to test antimicrobial formulations. Bioluminescent bacteria and advanced imaging systems capable of acquiring bioluminescence enable us to quickly and longitudinally evaluate the efficacy of antimicrobials. Conventional approaches, such as radial diffusion and viable count assays, are time-consuming and do not allow for longitudinal analysis. Bioluminescence imaging is sensitive and gives vital spatial and temporal information on the infection status in the body. Here, using bioluminescent Pseudomonas aeruginosa, we describe an in vitro and an in vivo approach to rapidly evaluate the antimicrobial efficacy of the host-defense peptide TCP-25.

Graphic abstract:

Evaluation of antimicrobials using bioluminescent bacteria.

0 Q&A 2286 Views Jan 5, 2022

Experimental pneumonia models are important tools to study the pathophysiology of lung inflammation caused by microbial infections and the efficacy of (novel) drugs. We have applied a murine model of pneumonia induced by Pseudomonas (P.) aeruginosa infection to study acute host antibacterial defense in lungs, and assess epithelial cell specific responses as well as leukocyte recruitment to the alveolar space. To study host responses during disseminating pneumonia, we also applied a model of infecting mice with hypermucoviscous Klebsiella (K.) pneumoniae. In the latter model, K. pneumoniae is restricted to lung during the early phase of infection and at the later time points disseminates to the circulation and distal organs resulting in sepsis. Detailed procedures for induction of pneumonia in mice by Pseudomonas and Klebsiella and for isolation and analysis of infected organs, bronchoalveolar fluid, and bronchial brushes are provided in this article.

0 Q&A 1720 Views Dec 20, 2021

The engineering of poxvirus genomes is fundamental to primary and applied virology research. Indeed, recombinant poxviruses form the basis for many novel vaccines and virotherapies but producing and purifying these viruses can be arduous. In recent years, CRISPR/Cas9 has become the favoured approach for genome manipulation due to its speed and high success rate. However, recent data suggests poxvirus genomes are not repaired well following Cas9 cleavage. As a result, CRISPR/Cas9 is inefficient as an editing tool, but very effective as a programmable selection agent. Here, we describe protocols for the generation and enrichment of recombinant vaccinia viruses using targeted Cas9 as a selection tool. This novel use of Cas9 is a simple addition to current homologous recombination-based methods that are widespread in the field, facilitating implementation in laboratories already working with poxviruses. This is also the first method that allows for isolation of new vaccinia viruses in less than a fortnight, without the need to incorporate a marker gene or manipulation of large poxvirus genomes in vitro and reactivation with helper viruses. Whilst this protocol describes applications for laboratory strains of vaccinia virus, it should be readily adaptable to other poxviruses.

Graphic abstract:

Pipeline for Cas9 selection of recombinant poxviruses.

0 Q&A 1341 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 1824 Views Nov 20, 2021

In this protocol, we describe the analysis of protein stability over time, using synthesis shutoff. As an example, we express HA-tagged yeast mitofusin Fzo1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and inhibit translation via cycloheximide (CHX). Proteasomal inhibition with MG132 is performed, as an optional step, before the addition of CHX. Proteins are extracted via trichloroacetic acid (TCA) precipitation and subsequently separated via SDS-PAGE. Immunoblotting and antibody-decoration are performed to detect Fzo1 using HA-specific antibodies. We have adapted the method of blocking protein translation with cycloheximide to analyze the stability of high molecular weight proteins, including post-translational modifications and their impact on protein turnover.

0 Q&A 3137 Views May 5, 2021

Hypnozoites are dormant liver-stage parasites unique to relapsing malarial species, including the important human pathogen Plasmodium vivax, and pose a barrier to the elimination of malaria. Little is known regarding the biology of these stages, largely due to their inaccessible location. Hypnozoites can be cultured in vitro but these cultures always consist of a mixture of hepatocytes, developing forms, and hypnozoites. Here, using a GFP-expressing line of the hypnozoite model parasite Plasmodium cynomolgi, we describe a protocol for the FACS-based isolation of malarial hypnozoites. The purified hypnozoites can be used for a range of ‘-omics’ studies to dissect the biology of this cryptic stage of the malarial life cycle.

0 Q&A 4395 Views Apr 5, 2021

Most vaccines require co-delivery of an adjuvant in order to generate the desired immune responses. However, many currently available adjuvants are non-biodegradable, have limited efficacy, and/or poor safety profile. Thus, new adjuvants, or self-adjuvanting vaccine delivery systems, are required. Here, we proposed a self-adjuvanting delivery system that is fully defined, biodegradable, and non-toxic. The system is produced by conjugation of polyleucine to peptide antigen, followed by self-assembly of the conjugate into nanoparticles. The protocol includes solid-phase peptide synthesis of the vaccine conjugate, purification, self-assembly and physicochemical characterization of the product. Overall, this protocol describes, in detail, the production of a well-defined and effective self-adjuvanting delivery system for peptide antigens, along with tips for troubleshooting.

0 Q&A 3099 Views Feb 5, 2021

Several in-cell spectroscopic techniques have been developed recently to investigate the structure and mechanism of proteins in their native environment. Conditions in vivo differ dramatically from those selected for in vitro experiments. Accordingly, the cellular environment can affect the protein mechanism for example by molecular crowding or binding of small molecules. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) difference spectroscopy is a well-suited method to study the light-induced structural responses of photoreceptors including changes in cofactor, side chains and secondary structure. Here, we describe a protocol to study the response of cofactor and protein in living E. coli cells via in-cell infrared difference (ICIRD) spectroscopy using the attenuated total reflection (ATR) configuration. Proteins are overexpressed in E. coli, the cells are transferred into saline solution and the copy number per cell is determined using fluorescence spectroscopy. The suspension is centrifuged and the concentrated cells transferred onto the ATR cell inside the FTIR spectrometer. The thermostatted cell is sealed and illuminated from the top with an LED. Intensity spectra are recorded before and after illumination to generate the difference spectrum of the receptor inside the living cell. With ICIRD spectroscopy, structural changes of soluble photoreceptors are resolved in a near-native environment. The approach works in H2O at ambient conditions, is label free, without any limitations in protein size and does not require any purification step.

Graphic abstract:

In-cell infrared difference spectroscopy on photoreceptors in living E. coli using attenuated total reflection.

0 Q&A 2387 Views Nov 5, 2020
Animal infection models play significant roles in studying bacterial pathogenic mechanisms, host pathogen interaction as well as evaluating drug and vaccine efficacies. We have been utilizing an acute pneumonia model to study bacterial colonization in lungs and assess virulence to the host by determination of bacterial loads and survival assays, as well as examine the bacterial gene expression in vivo. Additionally, the host's immune response to the pathogen can be explored through this infection model.