Understanding the role of different strain types of Fusobacterium necrophorum: biofilms, glycans and metabolic pathways

Brimah, K. 2019. Understanding the role of different strain types of Fusobacterium necrophorum: biofilms, glycans and metabolic pathways. PhD thesis University of Westminster Life Sciences

TitleUnderstanding the role of different strain types of Fusobacterium necrophorum: biofilms, glycans and metabolic pathways
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsBrimah, K.

Fusobacterium necrophorum an obligate Gram-negative anaerobe has been implicated in the cause of persistent severe throat infections and the systemic life-threatening Lemierre’s syndrome; a potentially fatal periodontal disease, which results in abscess formation in the tonsils. The use of antibiotics had led to decreased incidence of F. necrophorum infections to a point that the bacterium became a forgotten pathogen; however, there has recently been a rise in interest. F. necrophorum is thought to survive the aerobic oropharynx by biofilm formation. Studies of optimal conditions for biofilm formation could be useful in improving therapeutic options. This current study determined that strains ARU 01 and JCM 3718 formed the most biofilm at 37 °C, with reduction in biofilm observed at 26 °C and 42 °C. Strain JCM 3724 on the other hand, formed most biofilm at 26 °C and 42 °C; this is an indication that strain JCM 3724 but not JCM 3718 or ARU 01 was able to survive in extreme temperatures by forming biofilms; all strains produced more biofilm at pH 4. Biofilm formation was observed in both mono and dual species culture of F. necrophorum, in dual culture the organisms became resistant to penicillin and ciprofloxacin.

As glycans are implicated in biofilm formation, bacterial adhesion to host cells and pathogenicity, the cell surface glycans and cell extracts of F. necrophorum were investigated using enzyme-linked lectin assays (ELLA) and lectin histochemical staining. No significant differences were seen in the staining patterns, but a patchy and variable staining was noted for Sambucus nigra that detects sialic acid. A surface lectin, the Galactose binding protein was identified and characterised as binding to unsubstituted beta galactosyl residues of the type carried by many bacteria suggesting a role in biofilm formation. Subsequent molecular and bioinformatic studies identified all but one key component of the lipid A pathway; lpxI was shown to substitute for lpxH in the pathway. The component genes required for expression of sialic acid on the cell surface of the organism were determined; a polymorphism, the presence or absence of siaA, suggested some but not all strains had the ability to express this sugar on the cell surface. Further studies are required to determine whether this is linked to pathogenicity.

Genomic and proteomic studies on type strains and clinical isolates revealed significant differences between subsp. necrophorum and funduliforme that will be useful in developing a simple molecular based subspeciation test. The subsp. funduliforme was split into 3 clusters (A, B and C) based on the genomic data; proteomic studies were used to determine the impact of the non-synonymous SNPs seen; two clusters were observed at the protein level, A and B+C. Most of the amino acid replacements that differentiated the clusters A from B +C were conservative or semi- conservative; more differences were noted between the two subspecies and these also included non-conservative changes that could affect protein structure and function. Clearly, there is scope for further work to elucidate the evolution of these clusters and their relevance to pathogenicity.

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Publication dates
PublishedNov 2019

Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/qzxy2/understanding-the-role-of-different-strain-types-of-fusobacterium-necrophorum-biofilms-glycans-and-metabolic-pathways

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