Gut microbial induction of host immune maturation exemplifies host-microbe mutualism. We colonized germ-free (GF) mice with mouse microbiota (MMb) or human microbiota (HMb) to determine whether small intestinal immune maturation depends on a coevolved host-specific microbiota. Gut bacterial numbers and phylum abundance were similar in MMb and HMb mice, but bacterial species differed, especially the Firmicutes. HMb mouse intestines had low levels of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, few proliferating T cells, few dendritic cells, and low antimicrobial peptide expression--all characteristics of GF mice. Rat microbiota also failed to fully expand intestinal T cell numbers in mice. Colonizing GF or HMb mice with mouse-segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) partially restored T cell numbers, suggesting that SFB and other MMb organisms are required for full immune maturation in mice. Importantly, MMb conferred better protection against Salmonella infection than HMb. A host-specific microbiota appears to be critical for a healthy immune system.
Glycoconjugate vaccines have provided enormous health benefits globally, but they have been less successful in some populations at high risk for developing disease. To identify new approaches to enhancing glycoconjugate effectiveness, we investigated molecular and cellular mechanisms governing the immune response to a prototypical glycoconjugate vaccine. We found that in antigen-presenting cells a carbohydrate epitope is generated upon endolysosomal processing of group B streptococcal type III polysaccharide coupled to a carrier protein. In conjunction with a carrier protein-derived peptide, this carbohydrate epitope binds major histocompatibility class II (MHCII) and stimulates carbohydrate-specific CD4(+) T cell clones to produce interleukins 2 and 4-cytokines essential for providing T cell help to antibody-producing B cells. An archetypical glycoconjugate vaccine that we constructed to maximize the presentation of carbohydrate-specific T cell epitopes is 50-100 times more potent and substantially more protective in a neonatal mouse model of group B Streptococcus infection than a vaccine constructed by methods currently used by the vaccine industry. Our discovery of how glycoconjugates are processed resulting in presentation of carbohydrate epitopes that stimulate CD4(+) T cells has key implications for glycoconjugate vaccine design that could result in greatly enhanced vaccine efficacy.
In recent years there has been an explosion of interest to identify microbial inhabitants of human and understand their beneficial role in health. In the gut, a symbiotic host-microbial interaction has coevolved as bacteria make essential contributions to human metabolism and bacteria in turn benefits from the nutrient-rich niche in the intestine. To maintain host-microbe coexistence, the host must protect itself against microbial invasion, injury, and overreactions to foreign food antigens, and gut microbes need protection against competing microbes and the host immune system. Perturbation of this homeostatic coexistence has been strongly associated with human disease. This review discusses how gut bacteria regulate host innate and adaptive immunity, with emphasis on how this regulation contributes to host-microbe homeostasis in the gut.
3-Deoxy-D-manno-octulosonic acid (Kdo) is an eight-carbon sugar ubiquitous in Gram-negative bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS). Although its biosynthesis is well described, no protein has yet been identified as a Kdo hydrolase. However, Kdo hydrolase enzymatic activity has been detected in membranes of Helicobacter pylori and Francisella tularensis and may be responsible for the removal of side-chain Kdo from the LPS core saccharides. We now report the identification of genes encoding a Kdo hydrolase in F. tularensis Schu S4 and live vaccine strain strains, in H. pylori 26695 strain and in Legionella pneumophila Philadelphia 1 strain. We have renamed the genes kdhA for keto-deoxyoctulosonate hydrolase A. Deletion of kdhA abolished Kdo hydrolase activity in membranes of F. tularensis live vaccine strain. The F. tularensis kdhA mutant synthesized a core oligosaccharide containing a Kdo disaccharide with one of the Kdo residues being a terminal side chain. This side-chain Kdo monosaccharide was absent in the wild-type core oligosaccharide. Expression in Escherichia coli of recombinant KdhA from F. tularensis, H. pylori, and L. pneumophila resulted in a reduction of membrane-associated side-chain Kdo. The identification of this previously faceless enzyme will accelerate study of the biosynthetic basis and biologic impact for postbiosynthetic LPS structural modification.
Humans are colonized by multitudes of commensal organisms representing members of five of the six kingdoms of life; however, our gastrointestinal tract provides residence to both beneficial and potentially pathogenic microorganisms. Imbalances in the composition of the bacterial microbiota, known as dysbiosis, are postulated to be a major factor in human disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease. We report here that the prominent human symbiont Bacteroides fragilis protects animals from experimental colitis induced by Helicobacter hepaticus, a commensal bacterium with pathogenic potential. This beneficial activity requires a single microbial molecule (polysaccharide A, PSA). In animals harbouring B. fragilis not expressing PSA, H. hepaticus colonization leads to disease and pro-inflammatory cytokine production in colonic tissues. Purified PSA administered to animals is required to suppress pro-inflammatory interleukin-17 production by intestinal immune cells and also inhibits in vitro reactions in cell cultures. Furthermore, PSA protects from inflammatory disease through a functional requirement for interleukin-10-producing CD4+ T cells. These results show that molecules of the bacterial microbiota can mediate the critical balance between health and disease. Harnessing the immunomodulatory capacity of symbiosis factors such as PSA might potentially provide therapeutics for human inflammatory disorders on the basis of entirely novel biological principles.
After uptake by the endosome of an antigen-presenting cell (APC), exogenous proteins are known to be degraded into peptides by protease digestion. Here, we report the mechanism by which pure carbohydrates can be depolymerized within APC endosomes/lysosomes by nitric oxide (NO)-derived reactive nitrogen species (RNSs) and/or superoxide-derived reactive oxygen species (ROSs). Earlier studies showed that depolymerization of polysaccharide A (PSA) from Bacteroides fragilis in the endosome depends on the APC's having an intact inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) gene; the chemical mechanism underlying depolymerization of a carbohydrate within the endosome/lysosome is described here. Examining the ability of the major RNSs to degrade PSA, we determined that deamination is the predominant mechanism for PSA processing in APCs and is a required step in PSA presentation to CD4(+) T cells by MHCII molecules. Structural characterization of the NO-derived product PSA-NO indicates that partial deaminative depolymerization does not alter the zwitterionic nature of PSA. Unlike native PSA, PSA-NO is presented by iNOS-deficient APCs to induce CD4(+) T cell proliferation. Furthermore, metabolically active APCs are required for PSA-NO presentation. In contrast to PSA degradation by RNSs, dextran depolymerization in the endosome depends on ROSs, including hydrogen peroxide- and superoxide-derived ROSs. This study provides evidence that MHCII pathway-mediated carbohydrate antigen processing in APCs is achieved by chemical reactions. RNSs and ROSs may be involved in the presentation of glycopeptides by MHC molecules via the processing of other carbohydrate-containing antigens, such as bacterial or viral glycoproteins or glycoconjugate vaccines.
This article explores the fascinating relationship between the mammalian immune system and the bacteria that are present in the mammalian gut. Every human is an ecosystem that hosts 10(13)-10(14) bacteria. We review the evidence that immunomodulatory molecules produced by commensal bacteria in the gut have a beneficial influence on the development of certain immune responses, through eliciting the clonal expansion of CD4(+) T-cell populations. This process seems to contribute to the overall health of the host by offering protection against various diseases and might provide supporting evidence at a molecular level for the 'hygiene hypothesis' of allergic immune disorders.
Recent studies have shown that the synthesis of various polysaccharides by bacteria can induce immune responses that are beneficial to the bacterium, the host, or both. Here, we discuss the diverse interactions between bacterial glycans and the host immune system.
Commensalism is critical to a healthy Th1/Th2 cell balance. Polysaccharide A (PSA), which is produced by the intestinal commensal Bacteroides fragilis, activates CD4+ T cells, resulting in a Th1 response correcting the Th2 cell skew of germ-free mice. We identify Toll-like receptors as crucial to the convergence of innate and adaptive responses stimulated by PSA. Optimization of the Th1 cytokine interferon-gamma in PSA-stimulated dendritic cell-CD4+ T cell co-cultures depends on both Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2 and antigen presentation. Synergy between the innate and adaptive responses was also shown when TLR2-/- mice exhibited impaired intraabdominal abscess formation in response to B. fragilis. Commensal bacteria, using molecules like PSA, potentially modulate the Th1/Th2 cell balance and the response to infection by coordinating both the innate and adaptive pathways.
The mammalian gastrointestinal tract harbors a complex ecosystem consisting of countless bacteria in homeostasis with the host immune system. Shaped by evolution, this partnership has potential for symbiotic benefit. However, the identities of bacterial molecules mediating symbiosis remain undefined. Here we show that, during colonization of animals with the ubiquitous gut microorganism Bacteroides fragilis, a bacterial polysaccharide (PSA) directs the cellular and physical maturation of the developing immune system. Comparison with germ-free animals reveals that the immunomodulatory activities of PSA during B. fragilis colonization include correcting systemic T cell deficiencies and T(H)1/T(H)2 imbalances and directing lymphoid organogenesis. A PSA mutant of B. fragilis does not restore these immunologic functions. PSA presented by intestinal dendritic cells activates CD4+ T cells and elicits appropriate cytokine production. These findings provide a molecular basis for host-bacterial symbiosis and reveal the archetypal molecule of commensal bacteria that mediates development of the host immune system.
The adaptive immune system functions through the combined action of antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and T cells. Specifically, class I major histocompatibility complex antigen presentation to CD8(+) T cells is limited to proteosome-generated peptides from intracellular pathogens while the class II (MHCII) endocytic pathway presents only proteolytic peptides from extracellular pathogens to CD4(+) T cells. Carbohydrates have been thought to stimulate immune responses independently of T cells; however, zwitterionic polysaccharides (ZPSs) from the capsules of some bacteria can activate CD4(+) T cells. Here we show that ZPSs are processed to low molecular weight carbohydrates by a nitric oxide-mediated mechanism and presented to T cells through the MHCII endocytic pathway. Furthermore, these carbohydrates bind to MHCII inside APCs for presentation to T cells. Our observations begin to elucidate the mechanisms by which some carbohydrates induce important immunologic responses through T cell activation, suggesting a fundamental shift in the MHCII presentation paradigm.
Polysaccharides of pathogenic extracellular bacteria commonly have negatively charged groups or no charged groups at all. These molecules have been considered classic T cell-independent Ags that do not elicit cell-mediated immune responses in mice. However, bacterial polysaccharides with a zwitterionic charge motif (ZPSs), such as the capsular polysaccharides of many strains of Bacteroides fragilis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pneumoniae type 1 elicit potent CD4(+) T cell responses in vivo and in vitro. The cell-mediated response to ZPS depends on the presence of both positively charged and negatively charged groups on each repeating unit of the polysaccharide. In this study, we define some of the requirements for the presentation of ZPS to CD4(+) T cells. We provide evidence that direct interactions of T cells with APCs are essential for T cell activation by ZPS. Monocytes, dendritic cells, and B cells are all able to serve as APCs for ZPS-mediated T cell activation. APCs lacking MHC class II molecules do not support this activity. Furthermore, mAb to HLA-DR specifically blocks ZPS-mediated T cell activation, while mAbs to other MHC class II and class I molecules do not. Immunoprecipitation of lysates of MHC class II-expressing cells following incubation with ZPS shows binding of ZPS and HLA-DR. Electron microscopy reveals colocalization of ZPS with HLA-DR on the cell surface and in compartments of the endocytic pathway. These results indicate that MHC class II molecules expressing HLA-DR on professional APCs are required for ZPS-induced T cell activation. The implication is that binding of ZPS to HLA-DR may be required for T cell activation.
The dynamic interactions between a host and its intestinal microflora that lead to commensalism are unclear. Bacteria that colonize the intestinal tract do so despite the development of a specific immune response by the host. The mechanisms used by commensal organisms to circumvent this immune response have yet to be established. Here we demonstrate that the human colonic microorganism, Bacteroides fragilis, is able to modulate its surface antigenicity by producing at least eight distinct capsular polysaccharides-a number greater than any previously reported for a bacterium-and is able to regulate their expression in an on-off manner by the reversible inversion of DNA segments containing the promoters for their expression. This means of generating surface diversity allows the organism to exhibit a wide array of distinct surface polysaccharide combinations, and may have broad implications for how the predominant human colonic microorganisms, the Bacteroides species, maintain an ecological niche in the intestinal tract.
Zwitterionic capsular polysaccharides from pathogenic bacteria have peculiar immunological properties. They are capable of eliciting T-cell proliferation and modulating the course of abscess formation. To understand the molecular basis of this characteristic immune response, we are conducting detailed structure-function studies on these polysaccharides. We have identified, purified, and characterized an abscess-modulating polysaccharide, PS A2, from the clinical strain Bacteroides fragilis 638R. Here, we report the elucidation of both the chemical and three-dimensional structures of PS A2 by NMR spectroscopy, chemical methods, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and restrained molecular dynamics calculations. PS A2 consists of a pentasaccharide repeating unit containing mannoheptose, N-acetylmannosamine, 3-acetamido-3,6-dideoxyglucose, 2-amino-4-acetamido-2,4,6-trideoxygalactose, fucose, and 3-hydroxybutanoic acid. PS A2 is zwitterionic and carries one cationic free amine and one anionic carboxylate in each repeating unit. It forms an extended right-handed helix with two repeating units per turn and a pitch of 20 A. Positive and negative charges are exposed on the outer surface of the polymer in a regularly spaced pattern, which renders them easily accessible to other molecules. The helix is characterized by repeated large grooves whose lateral boundaries are occupied by the charges. The three-dimensional structure of PS A2 explicitly suggests mechanisms of interaction between zwitterionic polysaccharides and proteins.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is an important perinatal pathogen. Because transplacentally acquired maternal antibodies to the GBS capsular polysaccharides (CPS) confer protection, prevention of infant disease may be possible after immunization of women. Unfortunately, the purified CPS of GBS are only variably immunogenic in adults; therefore to enhance immunogenicity we have designed and developed a CPS-protein conjugate vaccine. The lability of a conformationally dependent epitope on the III CPS containing a critical sialic acid residue was important to consider in vaccine design. 100 women were randomized to receive GBS type III CPS-tetanus toxoid conjugate (III-TT) vaccine at one of three doses; unconjugated GBS type III CPS; or saline. Serum samples were obtained before immunization and 2, 4, 8, and 26 wk thereafter, and specific antibody to type III CPS was measured. Vaccines were well tolerated. In sera from recipients of the highest dose of III-TT, CPS-specific IgG levels rose from a geometric mean of 0.09 microg/ml before immunization to 4.53 microg/ml 8 wk later, whereas levels in recipients of unconjugated type III CPS rose from 0.21 microg/ml to 1.41 microg/ml. Lower doses resulted in lower antibody levels. A > or = 4-fold rise in antibody concentration was achieved in 90% of recipients of III-TT compared with 50% of those that received III CPS (P = 0.0015). Antibodies evoked by the conjugate vaccine recognized a conformationally dependent epitope of the III-CPS, promoted opsonophagocytosis and killing of GBS, and, after maternal immunization, protected neonatal mice from lethal challenge with type III GBS. We conclude that directed coupling of type III GBS polysaccharide to a carrier protein yielded a conjugate vaccine with preserved expression of a highly labile conformational epitope involving sialic acid and enhanced immunogenicity compared with uncoupled CPS.
Group B streptococci (GBS) are the most common cause of neonatal sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis. The alpha C protein is a surface-associated antigen; the gene (bca) for this protein contains a series of tandem repeats (each encoding 82 aa) that are identical at the nucleotide level and express a protective epitope. We previously reported that GBS isolates from two of 14 human maternal and neonatal pairs differed in the number of repeats contained in their alpha C protein; in both pairs, the alpha C protein of the neonatal isolate was smaller in molecular size. We now demonstrate by PCR that the neonatal isolates contain fewer tandem repeats. Maternal isolates were susceptible to opsonophagocytic killing in the presence of alpha C protein-specific antiserum, whereas the discrepant neonatal isolates proliferated. An animal model was developed to further study this phenomenon. Adult mice passively immunized with antiserum to the alpha C protein were challenged with an alpha C protein-expressing strain of GBS. Splenic isolates of GBS from these mice showed a high frequency of mutation in bca--most commonly a decrease in repeat number. Isolates from non-immune mice were not altered. Spontaneous deletions in the repeat region were observed at a much lower frequency (6 x 10(-4)); thus, deletions in that region are selected for under specific antibody pressure and appear to lower the organism's susceptibility to killing by antibody specific to the alpha C protein. This mechanism of antigenic variation may provide a means whereby GBS evade host immunity.
Group B streptococcal infection is a major cause of neonatal mortality. Antibody to the capsular polysaccharide protects against invasive neonatal disease, but immunization with capsular polysaccharides fails to elicit protective antibody in many recipients. Conjugation of the polysaccharide to tetanus toxoid has been shown to increase immune response to the polysaccharide. In animal models, C proteins of group B streptococci are also protective determinants. We examined the ability of the beta C protein to serve in the dual role of carrier for the polysaccharide and protective immunogen. Type III polysaccharide was covalently coupled to beta C protein by reductive amination. Immunization of rabbits with the polysaccharide-protein conjugate elicited high titers of antibody to both components, and the serum induced opsonophagocytic killing of type III, Ia/C, and Ib/C strains of group B streptococci. Female mice were immunized with the conjugate vaccine and then bred; 93% of neonatal pups born to these dams vaccinated with conjugate survived type III group B streptococcal challenge and 76% survived type Ia/C challenge, compared with 3% and 8% survival, respectively, in controls (P < 0.001). The beta C protein acted as an effective carrier for the type III polysaccharide while simultaneously induced protective immunity against beta C protein--containing strains of group B streptococci.
The capsular polysaccharide complex from Bacteroides fragilis promotes the formation of intra-abdominal abscesses--a pathologic host response to infecting microorganisms. This complex consists of two distinct polysaccharides, each with repeating units that have positively charged amino groups and negatively charged carboxyl or phosphate groups. Analysis of these polysaccharides as well as other charged carbohydrates before and after chemical modification revealed that these oppositely charged groups are required for the induction of intra-abdominal abscesses in a rat model.
Recently, we have shown that the capsular polysaccharide of Bacteroides fragilis NCTC 9343 is composed of an aggregate of two discrete large molecular weight polysaccharides (designated polysaccharides A and B). Following disaggregation of this capsular complex by very mild acid treatment, high resolution NMR spectroscopy demonstrated that polysaccharides A and B consist of highly charged repeating unit structures with unusual substituent groups (Baumann, H., Tzianabos, A. O., Brisson, J.-R., Kasper, D.L., and Jennings, H.J. (1992) Biochemistry 31, 4081-4089). Presently, we report that the capsular polysaccharide of B. fragilis represents a complex structure that is formed as a result of ionic interactions between polysaccharides A and B. Electron microscopy of immunogold-labeled organisms (with monoclonal antibodies specific for polysaccharides A and B) demonstrated that the two polysaccharides are co-expressed on the cell surface of B. fragilis. We have shown that the purified capsule complex is made up exclusively of polysaccharide A and polysaccharide B (no other macromolecular structure was detected) in a 1:3.3 ratio and that disaggregation of this complex into the native forms of the constituent polysaccharides could be accomplished by preparative isoelectric focusing. Structural analyses of the native polysaccharides A and B showed that they possessed the same repeating unit structures as the respective acid-derived polysaccharides. The ionic nature of the linkage between polysaccharides A and B was demonstrated by reassociation of the native polysaccharides to form an aggregated polymer comparable to the original complex. The distinctive composition of this macromolecule may provide a rationale for the unusual biologic properties associated with the B. fragilis capsular polysaccharide.