Fabian M Meyer, Marc Bramkamp
Members of the order Mycobacteriales are distinguished by a characteristic diderm cell envelope, setting them apart from other Actinobacteria species. In addition to the conventional peptidoglycan cell wall, these organisms feature an extra polysaccharide polymer composed of arabinose and galactose, termed arabinogalactan. The nonreducing ends of arabinose are covalently linked to mycolic acids (MAs), forming the immobile inner leaflet of the highly hydrophobic MA membrane. The contiguous outer leaflet of the MA membrane comprises trehalose mycolates and various lipid species...
April 22, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Michelle Jagst, Lilli Pottkämper, André Gömer, Kalliopi Pitarokoili, Eike Steinmann
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019, contributes to neurological pathologies in nearly 30% of patients, extending beyond respiratory symptoms. These manifestations encompass disorders of both the peripheral and central nervous systems, causing among others cerebrovascular issues and psychiatric manifestations during the acute and/or post-acute infection phases. Despite ongoing research, uncertainties persist about the precise mechanism the virus uses to infiltrate the central nervous system and the involved entry portals...
April 13, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Valentin A Bärreiter, Toni L Meister
In recent years, multiple coronaviruses have emerged, with the latest one, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causing a global pandemic. Besides respiratory symptoms, some patients experienced extrapulmonary effects, such as cardiac damage or renal injury, indicating the broad tropism of SARS-CoV-2. The ability of the virus to effectively invade the renal cellular environment can eventually cause tissue-specific damage and disease. Indeed, patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 exhibited a variety of symptoms such as acute proximal tubular injury, ischemic collapse, and severe acute tubular necrosis resulting in irreversible kidney failure...
April 13, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Molly Elkins, Neha Jain, Çagla Tükel
Bacteria are known to produce amyloids, proteins characterized by a conserved cross-beta sheet structure, which exhibit structural and functional similarities to human amyloids. The deposition of human amyloids into fibrillar plaques within organs is closely linked to several debilitating human diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Recently, bacterial amyloids have garnered significant attention as potential initiators of human amyloid-associated diseases as well as autoimmune diseases. This review aims to explore how bacterial amyloid, particularly curli found in gut biofilms, can act as a trigger for neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases...
April 10, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Amy Prichard, Joe Pogliano
Nucleus-forming phages (chimalliviruses) encode numerous genes responsible for creating intricate structures for viral replication. Research on this newly appreciated family of phages has begun to reveal the mechanisms underlying the subcellular organization of the nucleus-based phage replication cycle. These discoveries include the structure of the phage nuclear shell, the identification of a membrane-bound early phage infection intermediate, the dynamic localization of phage RNA polymerases, the phylogeny and core genome of chimalliviruses, and the variation in replication mechanisms across diverse nucleus-forming phages...
April 5, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Victoria Jeffers
Apicomplexan parasites have complex life cycles, often requiring transmission between two different hosts, facing periods of dormancy within the host or in the environment to maximize chances of transmission. To support survival in these different conditions, tightly regulated and correctly timed gene expression is critical. The modification of histones and nucleosome composition makes a significant contribution to this regulation, and as eukaryotes, the fundamental mechanisms underlying this process in apicomplexans are similar to those in model eukaryotic organisms...
April 5, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Gregory B Whitfield, Yves V Brun
Bacteria utilize type IV pili (T4P) to interact with their environment, where they facilitate processes including motility, adherence, and DNA uptake. T4P require multisubunit, membrane-spanning nanomachines for assembly. The tight adherence (Tad) pili are an Archaea-derived T4P subgroup whose machinery exhibits significant mechanistic and architectural differences from bacterial type IVa and IVb pili. Most Tad biosynthetic genes are encoded in a single locus that is widespread in bacteria due to facile acquisition via horizontal gene transfer...
April 4, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Till S Voss, Nicolas Mb Brancucci
Malaria blood stage parasites commit to either one of two distinct cellular fates while developing within erythrocytes of their mammalian host: they either undergo another round of asexual replication or they differentiate into nonreplicative transmissible gametocytes. Depending on the state of infection, either path may support or impair the ultimate goal of human-to-human transmission via the mosquito vector. Malaria parasites therefore evolved strategies to control investments into asexual proliferation versus gametocyte formation...
April 3, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Jennifer Amstutz, Elizaveta Krol, Audrey Verhaeghe, Xavier De Bolle, Anke Becker, Pamela Jb Brown
The governing principles and suites of genes for lateral elongation or incorporation of new cell wall material along the length of a rod-shaped cell are well described. In contrast, relatively little is known about unipolar elongation or incorporation of peptidoglycan at one end of the rod. Recent work in three related model systems of unipolar growth (Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Brucella abortus, and Sinorhizobium meliloti) has clearly established that unipolar growth in the Hyphomicrobiales order relies on a set of genes distinct from the canonical elongasome...
April 2, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Alessandra G de Melo, Carlee Morency, Sylvain Moineau
Bacterial pathogens can infect a wide range of hosts and pose a threat to public and animal health as well as to agriculture. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains has increased this risk by making the treatment of bacterial infections even more challenging. Pathogenic bacteria thrive in various ecological niches, but they can also be specifically targeted and killed by bacteriophages (phages). Lytic phages are now investigated and even used, in some cases, as alternatives or complements to antibiotics for preventing or treating bacterial infections (phage therapy)...
April 2, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
I W Rathnayaka-Mudiyanselage, V Nandana, J M Schrader
Bacterial cells have a unique challenge to organize their cytoplasm without the use of membrane-bound organelles. Biomolecular condensates (henceforth BMCs) are a class of nonmembrane-bound organelles, which, through the physical process of phase separation, can form liquid-like droplets with proteins/nucleic acids. BMCs have been broadly characterized in eukaryotic cells, and BMCs have been recently identified in bacteria, with the first and best studied example being bacterial ribonucleoprotein bodies (BR-bodies)...
April 2, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Helene Hoenigsperger, Rinu Sivarajan, Konstantin Mj Sparrer
So far, seven coronaviruses have emerged in humans. Four recurring endemic coronaviruses cause mild respiratory symptoms. Infections with epidemic Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV)-1 are associated with high mortality rates. SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. To establish an infection, coronaviruses evade restriction by human innate immune defenses, such as the interferon system, autophagy and the inflammasome...
March 30, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Xiaoyan Cui, Ya-Ting Wang
Mucosal immunity is posed to constantly interact with commensal microbes and invading pathogens. As a fundamental cell biological pathway affecting immune response, autophagy regulates the interaction between mucosal immunity and microbes through multiple mechanisms, including direct elimination of microbes, control of inflammation, antigen presentation and lymphocyte homeostasis, and secretion of immune mediators. Some of these physiologically important functions do not involve canonical degradative autophagy but rely on certain autophagy genes and their 'autophagy gene-specific functions...
March 29, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Natalie Heinen, Mara Klöhn, Saskia Westhoven, Richard Jp Brown, Stephanie Pfaender
Hepatic sequelae are frequently reported in coronavirus disease 2019 cases and are correlated with increased disease severity. Therefore, a detailed exploration of host factors contributing to hepatic impairment and ultimately infection outcomes in patients is essential for improved clinical management. The causes of hepatic injury are not limited to drug-mediated toxicity or aberrant host inflammatory responses. Indeed, multiple studies report the presence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in liver autopsies and the susceptibility of explanted human hepatocytes to infection...
March 23, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Lin Lin
Contractile injection systems (CISs) are phage tail-like machineries found in a wide range of bacteria. They are often deployed by bacteria to translocate effectors into the extracellular space or into target cells. CISs are classified into intracellular type VI secretion systems (T6SSs) and extracellular CIS (eCISs). eCISs are assembled in cytoplasm and released into the extracellular milieu upon cell lysis, while T6SSs are the secretion systems widespread among Gram-negative bacteria and actively translocate effectors into the environment or into the adjacent cell, without lysis of T6SS-producing cells...
March 22, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Allen Caobi, Mohsan Saeed
SARS-CoV-2 exhibits a remarkable capability to subvert the host antiviral innate immune system. This adeptness is orchestrated by viral proteins, which initially attempt to obstruct the activation of the antiviral immune program and then act as a fail-safe mechanism to mitigate the downstream effects of the activated immune response. This dual strategy leads to delayed expression and enfeebled action of type-I and -III interferons at the infection site, enabling the virus to replicate extensively in the lungs and subsequently disseminate to other organs...
March 21, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Mayra C Obando, Diego O Serra
Bacterial biofilms consist of large, self-formed aggregates where resident bacteria can exhibit very different physiological states and phenotypes. This heterogeneity of cell types is crucial for many structural and functional emergent properties of biofilms. Consequently, it becomes essential to understand what drives cells to differentiate and how they achieve it within the three-dimensional landscape of the biofilms. Here, we discuss recent advances in comprehending two forms of cell heterogeneity that, while recognized to coexist within biofilms, have proven challenging to distinguish...
April 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Melina Tangos, Muhammad Jarkas, Ibrahim Akin, Ibrahim El-Battrawy, Nazha Hamdani
Until now, the World Health Organization registered over 771 million cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection worldwide, of which 6.97 million resulted in death. Virus-related cardiovascular events and pre-existing heart problems have been identified as major contributing factors to global infection-related morbidity and mortality, emphasizing the necessity for risk assessment and future prevention. In this review, we highlight cardiac manifestations that might arise from an infection with SARS-CoV-2 and provide an overview of known comorbidities that worsen the outcome...
April 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Hazel M Sisson, Simon A Jackson, Robert D Fagerlund, Suzanne L Warring, Peter C Fineran
Our ability to control the growth of Gram-negative bacterial pathogens is challenged by rising antimicrobial resistance and requires new approaches. Endolysins are phage-derived enzymes that degrade peptidoglycan and therefore offer potential as antimicrobial agents. However, the outer membrane (OM) of Gram-negative bacteria impedes the access of externally applied endolysins to peptidoglycan. This review highlights recent advances in the discovery and characterization of natural endolysins that can breach the OM, as well as chemical and engineering approaches that increase antimicrobial efficacy of endolysins against Gram-negative pathogens...
April 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
María I Marchesini, Juan M Spera, Diego J Comerci
Members of the genus Brucella are the causative agents of brucellosis, a worldwide zoonosis affecting wild and domestic animals and humans. These facultative intracellular pathogens cause long-lasting chronic infections by evolving sophisticated strategies to counteract, evade, or subvert host bactericidal mechanisms in order to establish a secure replicative niche necessary for their survival. In this review, we present recent findings on selected Brucella effectors to illustrate how this pathogen modulates host cell signaling pathways to gain control of the vacuole, promote the formation of a safe intracellular replication niche, alter host cell metabolism to its advantage, and exploit various cellular pathways to ensure egress from the infected cell...
April 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
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