Identification of Klebsiella pneumoniae virulence determinants using an intranasal infection model
Article first published online: 14 OCT 2005
Volume 58, Issue 4, pages 1054–1073, November 2005
How to Cite
Lawlor, M. S., Hsu, J., Rick, P. D. and Miller, V. L. (2005), Identification of Klebsiella pneumoniae virulence determinants using an intranasal infection model. Molecular Microbiology, 58: 1054–1073. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2005.04918.x
- Issue published online: 14 OCT 2005
- Article first published online: 14 OCT 2005
- Accepted 15 September, 2005.
Klebsiella pneumoniae is a Gram-negative enterobacterium that has historically been, and currently remains, a significant cause of human disease. It is a frequent cause of urinary tract infections and pneumonia, and subsequent systemic infections can have mortality rates as high as 60%. Despite its clinical significance, few virulence factors of K. pneumoniae have been identified or characterized. In this study we present a mouse model of acute K. pneumoniae respiratory infection using an intranasal inoculation method, and examine the progression of both pulmonary and systemic disease. Wild-type infection recapitulates many aspects of clinical disease, including significant bacterial growth in both the trachea and lungs, an inflammatory immune response characterized by dramatic neutrophil influx, and a steady progression to systemic disease with ensuing mortality. These observations are contrasted with an infection by an isogenic capsule-deficient strain that shows an inability to cause disease in either pulmonary or systemic tissues. The consistency and clinical accuracy of the intranasal mouse model proved to be a useful tool as we conducted a genetic screen to identify novel virulence factors of K. pneumoniae. A total of 4800 independent insertional mutants were evaluated using a signature-tagged mutagenesis protocol. A total of 106 independent mutants failed to be recovered from either the lungs or spleens of infected mice. Small scale independent infections proved to be helpful as a secondary screening method, as opposed to the more traditional competitive index assay. Those mutants showing verified attenuation contained insertions in loci with a variety of putative functions, including a large number of hypothetical open reading frames. Subsequent experiments support the premise that the central mechanism of K. pneumoniae pathogenesis is the production of a polysaccharide-rich cell surface that provides protection from the inflammatory response.