Publications

by Keyword: Biofilm


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Prieto, Alejandro, Bernabeu, Manuel, Sánchez-Herrero, José Francisco, Pérez-Bosque, Anna, Miró, Lluïsa, Bäuerl, Christine, Collado, Carmen, Hüttener, Mário, Juárez, Antonio, (2021). Modulation of AggR levels reveals features of virulence regulation in enteroaggregative E. coli Commun Biol 4, 1295

Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) strains are one of the diarrheagenic pathotypes. EAEC strains harbor a virulence plasmid (pAA2) that encodes, among other virulence determinants, the aggR gene. The expression of the AggR protein leads to the expression of several virulence determinants in both plasmids and chromosomes. In this work, we describe a novel mechanism that influences AggR expression. Because of the absence of a Rho-independent terminator in the 3?UTR, aggR transcripts extend far beyond the aggR ORF. These transcripts are prone to PNPase-mediated degradation. Structural alterations in the 3?UTR result in increased aggR transcript stability, leading to increased AggR levels. We therefore investigated the effect of increased AggR levels on EAEC virulence. Upon finding the previously described AggR-dependent virulence factors, we detected novel AggR-regulated genes that may play relevant roles in EAEC virulence. Mutants exhibiting high AggR levels because of structural alterations in the aggR 3?UTR show increased mobility and increased pAA2 conjugation frequency. Furthermore, among the genes exhibiting increased fold change values, we could identify those of metabolic pathways that promote increased degradation of arginine, fatty acids and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), respectively. In this paper, we discuss how the AggR-dependent increase in specific metabolic pathways activity may contribute to EAEC virulence.

Keywords: aggregative adherence, arginine metabolism, biofilm formation, escherichia-coli, gene-expression, messenger-rna, operon, persistent diarrhea, untranslated region, Fimbria-i expression


Cendra MdM, Torrents E, (2021). Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms and their partners in crime Biotechnology Advances 49, 107734

Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms and the capacity of the bacterium to coexist and interact with a broad range of microorganisms have a substantial clinical impact. This review focuses on the main traits of P. aeruginosa biofilms, such as the structural composition and regulatory networks involved, placing particular emphasis on the clinical challenges they represent in terms of antimicrobial susceptibility and biofilm infection clearance. Furthermore, the ability of P. aeruginosa to grow together with other microorganisms is a significant pathogenic attribute with clinical relevance; hence, the main microbial interactions of Pseudomonas are especially highlighted and detailed throughout this review. This article also explores the infections caused by single and polymicrobial biofilms of P. aeruginosa and the current models used to recreate them under laboratory conditions. Finally, the antimicrobial and antibiofilm strategies developed against P. aeruginosa mono and multispecies biofilms are detailed at the end of this review.

Keywords: aeruginosa models, antibiotic-resistance, antimicrobials, bacterial biofilms, biofilms, c-di-gmp, chronic infections, enterococcus-faecalis, extracellular dna, in-vitro, lectin pa-iil, p, p. aeruginosa models, polymicrobial, polymicrobial interactions, staphylococcus-aureus, Antimicrobials, Biofilms, Chronic infections, P. aeruginosa models, Polymicrobial, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Urinary-tract-infection


Vilela D, Blanco-Cabra N, Eguskiza A, Hortelao AC, Torrents E, Sanchez S, (2021). Drug-Free Enzyme-Based Bactericidal Nanomotors against Pathogenic Bacteria Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces 13, 14964-14973

The low efficacy of current conventional treatments for bacterial infections increases mortality rates worldwide. To alleviate this global health problem, we propose drug-free enzyme-based nanomotors for the treatment of bacterial urinary-tract infections. We develop nanomotors consisting of mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNPs) that were functionalized with either urease (U-MSNPs), lysozyme (L-MSNPs), or urease and lysozyme (M-MSNPs), and use them against nonpathogenic planktonic Escherichia coli. U-MSNPs exhibited the highest bactericidal activity due to biocatalysis of urea into NaHCO3 and NH3, which also propels U-MSNPs. In addition, U-MSNPs in concentrations above 200 μg/mL were capable of successfully reducing 60% of the biofilm biomass of a uropathogenic E. coli strain. This study thus provides a proof-of-concept, demonstrating that enzyme-based nanomotors are capable of fighting infectious diseases. This approach could potentially be extended to other kinds of diseases by selecting appropriate biomolecules.

Keywords: biofilms, carbonate, e. coli, enzymatic nanomotors, infections, lysozyme, micromotors, nanomachines, proteins, self-propulsion, Biofilms, E. coli, Eliminate escherichia-coli, Enzymatic nanomotors, Infections, Nanomachines, Self-propulsion


Blanco-Cabra, N., Vega-Granados, K., Moya-Andérico, L., Vukomanovic, M., Parra, A., Álvarez De Cienfuegos, L., Torrents, E., (2019). Novel oleanolic and maslinic acid derivatives as a promising treatment against Bacterial biofilm in nosocomial infections: An in vitro and in vivo study ACS Infectious Diseases 5, (9), 1581-1589

Oleanolic acid (OA) and maslinic acid (MA) are pentacyclic triterpenic compounds that abound in industrial olive oil waste. These compounds have renowned antimicrobial properties and lack cytotoxicity in eukaryotic cells as well as resistance mechanisms in bacteria. Despite these advantages, their antimicrobial activity has only been tested in vitro, and derivatives improving this activity have not been reported. In this work, a set of 14 OA and MA C-28 amide derivatives have been synthesized. Two of these derivatives, MA-HDA and OA-HDA, increase the in vitro antimicrobial activity of the parent compounds while reducing their toxicity in most of the Gram-positive bacteria tested, including a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus-MRSA. MA-HDA also shows an enhanced in vivo efficacy in a Galleria mellonella invertebrate animal model of infection. A preliminary attempt to elucidate their mechanism of action revealed that these compounds are able to penetrate and damage the bacterial cell membrane. More significantly, their capacity to reduce antibiofilm formation in catheters has also been demonstrated in two sets of conditions: a static and a more challenged continuous-flow S. aureus biofilm.

Keywords: Antibiofilm, Galleria mellonella, In vitro and in vivo antimicrobials, Maslinic and oleanolic acids, Natural products, Staphylococcus aureus


Cendra, Maria del Mar, Blanco-Cabra, Núria, Pedraz, Lucas, Torrents, Eduard, (2019). Optimal environmental and culture conditions allow the in vitro coexistence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus in stable biofilms Scientific Reports 9, (1), 16284

The coexistence between species that occurs in some infections remains hard to achieve in vitro since bacterial fitness differences eventually lead to a single organism dominating the mixed culture. Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus are major pathogens found growing together in biofilms in disease-affected lungs or wounds. Herein, we tested and analyzed different culture media, additives and environmental conditions to support P. aeruginosa and S. aureus coexistence in vitro. We have unraveled the potential of DMEM to support the growth of these two organisms in mature cocultured biofilms (three days old) in an environment that dampens the pH rise. Our conditions use equal initial inoculation ratios of both strains and allow the stable formation of separate S. aureus microcolonies that grow embedded in a P. aeruginosa biofilm, as well as S. aureus biofilm overgrowth when bovine serum albumin is added to the system. Remarkably, we also found that S. aureus survival is strictly dependent on a well-characterized phenomenon of oxygen stratification present in the coculture biofilm. An analysis of differential tolerance to gentamicin and ciprofloxacin treatment, depending on whether P. aeruginosa and S. aureus were growing in mono- or coculture biofilms, was used to validate our in vitro coculture conditions.

Keywords: Applied microbiology, Biofilms


Crespo, Anna, Blanco-Cabra, N., Torrents, Eduard, (2018). Aerobic vitamin B12 biosynthesis is essential for pseudomonas aeruginosa class II ribonucleotide reductase activity during planktonic and biofilm growth Frontiers in Microbiology 9, (986), Article 986

P. aeruginosa is a major pathogenic bacterium in chronic infections and is a model organism for studying biofilms. P. aeruginosa is considered an aerobic bacterium, but in the presence of nitrate, it also grows in anaerobic conditions. Oxygen diffusion through the biofilm generates metabolic and genetic diversity in P. aeruginosa growth, such as in ribonucleotide reductase activity. These essential enzymes are necessary for DNA synthesis and repair. Oxygen availability determines the activity of the three-ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) classes. Class II and III RNRs are active in the absence of oxygen; however, class II RNRs, which are important in P. aeruginosa biofilm growth, require a vitamin B12 cofactor for their enzymatic activity. In this work, we elucidated the conditions in which class II RNRs are active due to vitamin B12 concentration constraints (biosynthesis or environmental availability). We demonstrated that increased vitamin B12 levels during aerobic, stationary and biofilm growth activate class II RNR activity. We also established that the cobN gene is essentially responsible for B12 biosynthesis under planktonic and biofilm growth. Our results unravel the mechanisms of dNTP synthesis by P. aeruginosa during biofilm growth, which appear to depend on the bacterial strain (laboratory-type or clinical isolate).

Keywords: Vitamin B12, Adenosylcobalamin, Ribonucleotide Reductases, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, NrdJ, Bacterial growth, Biofilm,Anaerobiosis


Hüttener, Mário, Prieto, Alejandro, Espelt, Joan, Bernabeu, Manuel, Juárez, Antonio, (2018). Stringent response and AggR-dependent virulence regulation in the enteroaggregative escherichia coli strain 042 Frontiers in Microbiology 9, (717), Article 717

Virulence expression in the enteroaggregative E. coli strain 042 requires the transcriptional activator AggR. We show in this report that, as reported for other virulence factors, the nucleotide second messenger (p)ppGpp is needed for a high expression level of AggR. As expected from these findings, expression of AggR-activated genes such as the AafA pilin subunit is downregulated in the absence of (p)ppGpp. Considering the fact that biofilm formation in strain 042 requires the AafA protein, biofilm development in strain 042 is impaired in derivatives that lack either the AggR protein, the virulence plasmid that encodes AggR (pAA2) or the ability to synthesize (p)ppGpp. These results show a direct correlation between (p)ppGpp, expression of AggR and biofilm development in strain 042.

Keywords: (p)ppGpp, AggR, EAEC, Biofilm, AAF/II


Crespo, Anna, Pedraz, Lucas, Astola, Josep, Torrents, Eduard, (2016). Pseudomonas aeruginosa exhibits deficient biofilm formation in the absence of class II and III ribonucleotide reductases due to hindered anaerobic growth Frontiers in Microbiology 7, Article 688

Chronic lung infections by the ubiquitous and extremely adaptable opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa correlate with the formation of a biofilm, where bacteria grow in association with an extracellular matrix and display a wide range of changes in gene expression and metabolism. This leads to increased resistance to physical stress and antibiotic therapies, while enhancing cell-to-cell communication. Oxygen diffusion through the complex biofilm structure generates an oxygen concentration gradient, leading to the appearance of anaerobic microenvironments. Ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) are a family of highly sophisticated enzymes responsible for the synthesis of the deoxyribonucleotides, and they constitute the only de novo pathway for the formation of the building blocks needed for DNA synthesis and repair. P. aeruginosa is one of the few bacteria encoding all three known RNR classes (Ia, II, and III). Class Ia RNRs are oxygen dependent, class II are oxygen independent, and class III are oxygen sensitive. A tight control of RNR activity is essential for anaerobic growth and therefore for biofilm development. In this work we explored the role of the different RNR classes in biofilm formation under aerobic and anaerobic initial conditions and using static and continuous-flow biofilm models. We demonstrated the importance of class II and III RNR for proper cell division in biofilm development and maturation. We also determined that these classes are transcriptionally induced during biofilm formation and under anaerobic conditions. The molecular mechanism of their anaerobic regulation was also studied, finding that the Anr/Dnr system is responsible for class II RNR induction. These data can be integrated with previous knowledge about biofilms in a model where these structures are understood as a set of layers determined by oxygen concentration and contain cells with different RNR expression profiles, bringing us a step closer to the understanding of this complex growth pattern, essential for P. aeruginosa chronic infections.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Ribonucleotide Reductases, Vitamin B 12, Anaerobic metabolism, Biofilm formation, DNA Synthesis, Oxygen diffusion, nrd genes.


Baelo, Aida, Levato, Riccardo, Julián, Esther, Crespo, Anna, Astola, José, Gavaldà, Joan, Engel, Elisabeth, Mateos-Timoneda, Miguel Angel, Torrents, Eduard, (2015). Disassembling bacterial extracellular matrix with DNase-coated nanoparticles to enhance antibiotic delivery in biofilm infections Journal of Controlled Release 209, 150-158

Abstract Infections caused by biofilm-forming bacteria are a major threat to hospitalized patients and the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis. There is an urgent necessity for novel therapeutic approaches, since current antibiotic delivery fails to eliminate biofilm-protected bacteria. In this study, ciprofloxacin-loaded poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles, which were functionalized with DNase I, were fabricated using a green-solvent based method and their antibiofilm activity was assessed against Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms. Such nanoparticles constitute a paradigm shift in biofilm treatment, since, besides releasing ciprofloxacin in a controlled fashion, they are able to target and disassemble the biofilm by degrading the extracellular DNA that stabilize the biofilm matrix. These carriers were compared with free-soluble ciprofloxacin, and ciprofloxacin encapsulated in untreated and poly(lysine)-coated nanoparticles. DNase I-activated nanoparticles were not only able to prevent biofilm formation from planktonic bacteria, but they also successfully reduced established biofilm mass, size and living cell density, as observed in a dynamic environment in a flow cell biofilm assay. Moreover, repeated administration over three days of DNase I-coated nanoparticles encapsulating ciprofloxacin was able to reduce by 95% and then eradicate more than 99.8% of established biofilm, outperforming all the other nanoparticle formulations and the free-drug tested in this study. These promising results, together with minimal cytotoxicity as tested on J774 macrophages, allow obtaining novel antimicrobial nanoparticles, as well as provide clues to design the next generation of drug delivery devices to treat persistent bacterial infections.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Biofilm, Ciprofloxacin, DNase I, Nanoparticles


Barniol-Xicota, M., Escandell, A., Valverde, E., Julián, E., Torrents, E., Vázquez, S., (2015). Antibacterial activity of novel benzopolycyclic amines Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry , 23, (2), 290-296

Staphylococcus aureus, especially strains resistant to multiple antibiotics, is a major pathogen for humans and animals. In this paper we have synthesized and evaluated the antibacterial activity of a new series of benzopolycyclic amines. Some of them exhibited μM MIC values against Staphylococcus aureus and other bacteria, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus MRSA. Compound 8 that displayed a good selectivity index, showed to be active in eliminating bacterial cells forming a preexisting biofilm.

Keywords: Antibacterials, Minimal biofilm inhibitory concentration, Polycyclic compounds, Staphylococcus aureus


Sjoberg, B. M., Torrents, E., (2011). Shift in ribonucleotide reductase gene expression in pseudomonas aeruginosa during infection Infection and Immunity , 79, (7), 2663-2669

The roles of different ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) in bacterial pathogenesis have not been studied systematically. In this work we analyzed the importance of the different Pseudomonas aeruginosa RNRs in pathogenesis using the Drosophila melanogaster host-pathogen interaction model. P. aeruginosa codes for three different RNRs with different environmental requirements. Class II and III RNR chromosomal mutants exhibited reduced virulence in this model. Translational reporter fusions of RNR gene nrdA, nrdJ, or nrdD to the green fluorescent protein were constructed to measure the expression of each class during the infection process. Analysis of the P. aeruginosa infection by flow cytometry revealed increased expression of nrdJ and nrdD and decreased nrdA expression during the infection process. Expression of each RNR class fits with the pathogenicities of the chromosomal deletion mutants. An extended understanding of the pathogenicity and physiology of P. aeruginosa will be important for the development of novel drugs against infections in cystic fibrosis patients.

Keywords: Broad-host-range, Anaerobic growth, Drosophila-melanogaster, Bacterial biofilms, Escherichia-coli, Cystic-fibrosis, Model host, Virulence, Promoter, Vectors