Journal of microbiological methods

SILAC-based comparative analysis of pathogenic Escherichia coli secretomes.

PMID 26143086


Comparative studies of pathogenic bacteria and their non-pathogenic counterparts has led to the discovery of important virulence factors thereby generating insight into mechanisms of pathogenesis. Protein-based antigens for vaccine development are primarily selected among unique virulence-related factors produced by the pathogen of interest. However, recent work indicates that proteins that are not unique to the pathogen but instead selectively expressed compared to its non-pathogenic counterpart could also be vaccine candidates or targets for drug development. Modern methods in quantitative proteome analysis have the potential to discover both classes of proteins and hence form an important tool for discovering therapeutic targets. Adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) and Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) are pathogenic variants of E. coli which cause intestinal disease in humans. AIEC is associated with Crohn's disease (CD), a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract whereas ETEC is the major cause of human diarrhea which affects hundreds of millions annually. In spite of the disease burden associated with these pathogens, effective vaccines conferring long-term protection are still needed. In order to identify proteins with therapeutic potential, we have used mass spectrometry-based Stable Isotope Labeling with Amino acids in Cell culture (SILAC) quantitative proteomics method which allows us to compare the proteomes of pathogenic strains to commensal E. coli. In this study, we grew the pathogenic strains ETEC H10407, AIEC LF82 and the non-pathogenic reference strain E. coli K-12 MG1655 in parallel and used SILAC to compare protein levels in OMVs and culture supernatant. We have identified well-known virulence factors from both AIEC and ETEC, thus validating our experimental approach. In addition we find proteins that are not unique to the pathogenic strains but expressed at levels different from the commensal strain, including the colonization factor YghJ and the surface adhesin antigen 43, which is involved in pathogenesis of other Gram-negative bacteria. The described method provides a framework for further understanding E. coli pathogenesis but can also be applied to interrogate relative protein expression levels of other pathogens that have non-pathogenic counterparts thereby facilitating the discovery of new vaccine targets.