Invasive salmonellosis caused by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium ST313 is a major health crisis in sub-Saharan Africa, with multidrug resistance and atypical clinical presentation challenging current treatment regimens and resulting in high mortality. Moreover, the increased risk of spreading ST313 pathovars worldwide is of major concern, given global public transportation networks and increased populations of immunocompromised individuals (as a result of HIV infection, drug use, cancer therapy, aging, etc). While it is unclear as to how Salmonella ST313 strains cause invasive disease in humans, it is intriguing that the genomic profile of some of these pathovars indicates key differences between classic Typhimurium (broad host range), but similarities to human-specific typhoidal Salmonella Typhi and Paratyphi. In an effort to advance fundamental understanding of the pathogenesis mechanisms of ST313 in humans, I report characterization of the molecular genetic, phenotypic and virulence profiles of D23580 (a representative ST313 strain). Preliminary studies to characterize D23580 virulence, baseline stress responses, and biochemical profiles, and in vitro infection profiles in human surrogate 3-D tissue culture models were done using conventional bacterial culture conditions; while subsequent studies integrated a range of incrementally increasing fluid shear levels relevant to those naturally encountered by D23580 in the infected host to understand the impact of biomechanical forces in altering these characteristics. In response to culture of D23580 under these conditions, distinct differences in transcriptional biosignatures, pathogenesis-related stress responses, in vitro infection profiles and in vivo virulence in mice were observed as compared to those of classic Salmonella pathovars tested.
Collectively, this work represents the first characterization of in vivo virulence and in vitro pathogenesis properties of D23580, the latter using advanced human surrogate models that mimic key aspects of the parental tissue. Results from these studies highlight the importance of studying infectious diseases using an integrated approach that combines actions of biological and physical networks that mimic the host-pathogen microenvironment and regulate pathogen responses.