All Publications

  • Fractal properties of cell surface structures: A view from AFM. Seminars in cell & developmental biology Bitler, A. n., Dover, R. S., Shai, Y. n. 2018; 73: 64?70


    Cell surfaces are densely populated with various proteins. Aggregation of these proteins to nanoscale clusters can be critical for various cellular functions such as signaling, motility and division. Quantitative characterization of corresponding structures and their changes might be useful to understand these basic cell processes and serve as an early marker of cellular stress or diseases. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) allows high-resolution imaging of cell surface structures, resolving fine details of these structures. Moreover, AFM enables simultaneous imaging of cell surface morphology and mapping of its' mechanical characteristics. This review focuses on applying the fractal dimension measure as a sensitive method to quantify single cell surface structures and their changes from AFM images.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.semcdb.2017.07.034

    View details for PubMedID 28760392

  • Multicenter Systems Analysis of Human Blood Reveals Immature Neutrophils in Males and During Pregnancy. Journal of immunology Blazkova, J., Gupta, S., Liu, Y., Gaudilliere, B., Ganio, E. A., Bolen, C. R., Saar-Dover, R., Fragiadakis, G. K., Angst, M. S., Hasni, S., Aghaeepour, N., Stevenson, D., Baldwin, N., Anguiano, E., Chaussabel, D., Altman, M. C., Kaplan, M. J., Davis, M. M., Furman, D. 2017; 198 (6): 2479-2488


    Despite clear differences in immune system responses and in the prevalence of autoimmune diseases between males and females, there is little understanding of the processes involved. In this study, we identified a gene signature of immature-like neutrophils, characterized by the overexpression of genes encoding for several granule-containing proteins, which was found at higher levels (up to 3-fold) in young (20-30 y old) but not older (60 to >89 y old) males compared with females. Functional and phenotypic characterization of peripheral blood neutrophils revealed more mature and responsive neutrophils in young females, which also exhibited an elevated capacity in neutrophil extracellular trap formation at baseline and upon microbial or sterile autoimmune stimuli. The expression levels of the immature-like neutrophil signature increased linearly with pregnancy, an immune state of increased susceptibility to certain infections. Using mass cytometry, we also find increased frequencies of immature forms of neutrophils in the blood of women during late pregnancy. Thus, our findings show novel sex differences in innate immunity and identify a common neutrophil signature in males and in pregnant women.

    View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.1601855

    View details for PubMedID 28179497

  • Mechanisms of biofilm inhibition and degradation by antimicrobial peptides. The Biochemical journal Segev-Zarko, L. n., Saar-Dover, R. n., Brumfeld, V. n., Mangoni, M. L., Shai, Y. n. 2015; 468 (2): 259?70


    Many bacteria live as biofilms to cope with unfavourable surroundings. Biofilms start from (i) a planktonic stage, (ii) initial adhesion to surfaces and (iii) formation of sessile micro-colonies that secrete extracellular polymeric substance (EPS), leading to bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are extensively studied with regard to planktonic bacteria but much less so with regard to biofilm formation. In the present study, we investigated how the above three steps are affected by the properties of the AMPs using a series of peptides composed of six lysines and nine leucines, which differ in their sequences and hence their biophysical properties. Treatment with bactericidal peptides at non-inhibitory concentrations resulted in reduced biofilm growth, for some starting from 25 nM which is 0.2 and 0.4% of their minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC 6.3 and 12.5 ?M, respectively), continuing in a dose-dependent manner. We suggest that reduced bacterial adhesion to surfaces and decreased biofilm growth are due to the peptide's ability to coat either the biomaterial surface or the bacterium itself. Degradation of established biofilms by bactericidal and non-bactericidal peptides, within 1 h of incubation, occurs by either killing of embedded bacteria or detachment of live ones. In addition to shedding light on the mechanism of biofilm inhibition and degradation, these data may assist in the design of anti-biofilm AMPs.

    View details for PubMedID 25761937

  • Multiparametric AFM reveals turgor-responsive net-like peptidoglycan architecture in live streptococci. Nature communications Dover, R. S., Bitler, A. n., Shimoni, E. n., Trieu-Cuot, P. n., Shai, Y. n. 2015; 6: 7193


    Cell-wall peptidoglycan (PG) of Gram-positive bacteria is a strong and elastic multi-layer designed to resist turgor pressure and determine the cell shape and growth. Despite its crucial role, its architecture remains largely unknown. Here using high-resolution multiparametric atomic force microscopy (AFM), we studied how the structure and elasticity of PG change when subjected to increasing turgor pressure in live Group B Streptococcus. We show a new net-like arrangement of PG, which stretches and stiffens following osmotic challenge. The same structure also exists in isogenic mutants lacking surface appendages. Cell aging does not alter the elasticity of the cell wall, yet destroys the net architecture and exposes single segmented strands with the same circumferential orientation as predicted for intact glycans. Together, we show a new functional PG architecture in live Gram-positive bacteria.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms8193

    View details for PubMedID 26018339

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4458890

  • Peptide interaction with and insertion into membranes. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) Saar-Dover, R. n., Ashkenazi, A. n., Shai, Y. n. 2013; 1033: 173?83


    Natural and synthetic membrane active peptides as well as fragments from membrane proteins interact with membranes. In several cases, such interactions cause the insertion of the peptides to the membrane and their assembly within the lipid bilayer. Here we present spectroscopic approaches utilizing NBD and rhodamine fluorescently labeled peptides to measure peptide-membrane interaction and peptide-peptide interaction within the membrane. The usage of the physical properties of NBD and rhodamine in solution and in membranes provides useful information on the interplay between peptides and lipids.

    View details for PubMedID 23996178

  • D-alanylation of lipoteichoic acids confers resistance to cationic peptides in group B streptococcus by increasing the cell wall density. PLoS pathogens Saar-Dover, R. n., Bitler, A. n., Nezer, R. n., Shmuel-Galia, L. n., Firon, A. n., Shimoni, E. n., Trieu-Cuot, P. n., Shai, Y. n. 2012; 8 (9): e1002891


    Cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) serve as the first line of defense of the innate immune system against invading microbial pathogens. Gram-positive bacteria can resist CAMPs by modifying their anionic teichoic acids (TAs) with D-alanine, but the exact mechanism of resistance is not fully understood. Here, we utilized various functional and biophysical approaches to investigate the interactions of the human pathogen Group B Streptococcus (GBS) with a series of CAMPs having different properties. The data reveal that: (i) D-alanylation of lipoteichoic acids (LTAs) enhance GBS resistance only to a subset of CAMPs and there is a direct correlation between resistance and CAMPs length and charge density; (ii) resistance due to reduced anionic charge of LTAs is not attributed to decreased amounts of bound peptides to the bacteria; and (iii) D-alanylation most probably alters the conformation of LTAs which results in increasing the cell wall density, as seen by Transmission Electron Microscopy, and reduces the penetration of CAMPs through the cell wall. Furthermore, Atomic Force Microscopy reveals increased surface rigidity of the cell wall of the wild-type GBS strain to more than 20-fold that of the dltA mutant. We propose that D-alanylation of LTAs confers protection against linear CAMPs mainly by decreasing the flexibility and permeability of the cell wall, rather than by reducing the electrostatic interactions of the peptide with the cell surface. Overall, our findings uncover an important protective role of the cell wall against CAMPs and extend our understanding of mechanisms of bacterial resistance.

    View details for PubMedID 22969424

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3435245

  • The GBS PI-2a pilus is required for virulence in mice neonates. PloS one Papasergi, S. n., Brega, S. n., Mistou, M. Y., Firon, A. n., Oxaran, V. n., Dover, R. n., Teti, G. n., Shai, Y. n., Trieu-Cuot, P. n., Dramsi, S. n. 2011; 6 (4): e18747


    Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Streptococcus) is a leading cause of sepsis and meningitis in newborns. Most bacterial pathogens, including gram-positive bacteria, have long filamentous structures known as pili extending from their surface. Although pili are described as adhesive organelles, they have been also implicated in many other functions including thwarting the host immune responses. We previously characterized the pilus-encoding operon PI-2a (gbs1479-1474) in strain NEM316. This pilus is composed of three structural subunit proteins: PilA (Gbs1478), PilB (Gbs1477), and PilC (Gbs1474), and its assembly involves two class C sortases (SrtC3 and SrtC4). PilB, the bona fide pilin, is the major component whereas PilA, the pilus associated adhesin, and PilC the pilus anchor are both accessory proteins incorporated into the pilus backbone.In this study, the role of the major pilin subunit PilB was tested in systemic virulence using 6-weeks old and newborn mice. Notably, the non-piliated ?pilB mutant was less virulent than its wild-type counterpart in the newborn mice model. Next, we investigated the possible role(s) of PilB in resistance to innate immune host defenses, i.e. resistance to macrophage killing and to antimicrobial peptides. Phagocytosis and survival of wild-type NEM316 and its isogenic ?pilB mutant in immortalized RAW 264.7 murine macrophages were not significantly different whereas the isogenic ?sodA mutant was more susceptible to killing. These results were confirmed using primary peritoneal macrophages. We also tested the activities of five cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMP-1D, LL-37, colistin, polymyxin B, and mCRAMP) and found no significant difference between WT and ?pilB strains whereas the isogenic dltA mutant showed increased sensitivity.These results question the previously described role of PilB pilus in resistance to the host immune defenses. Interestingly, PilB was found to be important for virulence in the neonatal context.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0018747

    View details for PubMedID 21525979

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3078112

  • Bistable bacterial growth dynamics in the presence of antimicrobial agents Bistable bacterial growth dynamics in the presence of antimicrobial agents Frenkel, N., Saar Dover, R., Titon, E., Shai, Y., Rom-Kedar, V. 2018: 330035

    View details for DOI 10.1101/330035

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