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Title:The cellular and mechanistic study of nisin inhibition of bacillus anthracis spore outgrowth, nisin alteration of infection, and native producer immunity
Author(s):Gut, Ian M.
Director of Research:Blanke, Steven R.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):van der Donk, Wilfred A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Blanke, Steven R.; Wilson, Brenda A.; Imlay, James A.; Olsen, Gary J.
Department / Program:Microbiology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bacillus anthracis
Abstract:A critical step during Bacillus anthracis infection is the outgrowth of germinated spores into vegetative bacilli that proliferate and disseminate rapidly within the host. An important challenge exists for developing chemotherapeutic agents that act upon and kill B. anthracis immediately after germination initiation when antibiotic resistance is lost, but prior to the outgrowth into vegetative bacilli, which is accompanied by toxin production. Chemical agents must also function in a manner refractive to the development of antimicrobial resistance. In this thesis we have identified the lantibiotics as a class of chemotherapeutics that are predicted to satisfy these two criteria. The objective of this thesis was to evaluate the efficacy of nisin, a prototypical lantibiotic, in prevention of outgrowth of germinated B. anthracis spores. Like all lantibiotics, nisin is a ribosomally translated peptide that undergoes post-translational modification to form (methyl)lanthionine rings that are critical for antimicrobial activity. Our studies indicate that nisin rapidly inhibits the in vitro outgrowth of germinated B. anthracis Sterne 7702 spores. Although germination initiation was shown to be essential for nisin-dependent antimicrobial activity, nisin did not inhibit or promote germination initiation. Nisin irreversibly killed germinated spores by blocking the establishment of a membrane potential and oxidative metabolism, while not affecting the dissolution of the outer spore structures. The membrane permeability of the spore was increased by nisin, but germinated spores did not undergo full lysis. Nisin was demonstrated to localize to lipid II, which is the penultimate precursor for cell wall biogenesis. This localization suggests two possible independent mechanisms of action, membrane pore formation and inhibition of peptidoglycan synthesis. Structure-activity studies with a truncated form of nisin lacking the two C-terminal (methyl)lanthionine rings and with non-pore forming mutants indicated that membrane disruption is essential for nisin-dependent inhibition of spore outgrowth to prevent membrane potential establishment. Finally, utilizing an in vitro infection model, it was shown that nisin reduced the viability of B. anthracis spores within an infection resulting in increased survival of immune cells while reducing infection-mediated cytokine expression. Fluorescence microscopy indicated that nisin localizes with spores within phagosomes of peritioneal macrophages in germinating conditions. These data demonstrate the effectiveness of nisin, as a model lantibiotic, for preventing spore outgrowth. It is speculated that nisin targeting of lipid II, resulting in membrane perturbations, may be effective at inhibiting the outgrowth of spores prepared from bacteria across a number of species.
Issue Date:2011-05-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Ian M. Gut
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-25
Date Deposited:2011-05

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