In vivo bioluminescence imaging of the spatial and temporal colonization of lactobacillus plantarum 423 and enterococcus mundtii ST4SA in the intestinal tract of mice

Van Zyl, Winschau F ; Deane, Shelly M ; Dicks, Leon M T (2018-10-30)

Journal Article

Abstract Background Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are major inhabitants and part of the normal microflora of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of humans and animals. Despite substantial evidence supporting the beneficial properties of LAB, only a few studies have addressed the migration and colonization of probiotic bacteria in the GIT. The reason for this is mostly due to the limitations, or lack of, efficient reporter systems. Here we describe the development and application of a non-invasive in vivo bioluminescence reporter system to study, in real-time, the spatial and temporal persistence of Lactobacillus plantarum 423 and Enterococcus mundtii ST4SA in the intestinal tract of mice. Results This study reports on the application of the firefly luciferase gene (ffluc) from Photinus pyralis to develop luciferase-expressing L. plantarum 423 and E. mundtii ST4SA, using a Lactococcus lactis NICE system on a high copy number plasmid (pNZ8048) and strong constitutive lactate dehydrogenase gene promoters (Pldh and STldh). The reporter system was used for in vivo and ex vivo monitoring of both probiotic LAB strains in the GIT of mice after single and multiple oral administrations. Enterococcus mundtii ST4SA reached the large intestine 45 min after gavage, while L. plantarum 423 reached the cecum/colon after 90 min. Both strains predominantly colonized the cecum and colon after five consecutive daily administrations. Enterococcus mundtii ST4SA persisted in faeces at higher numbers and for more days compared to L. plantarum 423. Conclusions Our findings demonstrate the efficiency of a high-copy number vector, constitutive promoters and bioluminescence imaging to study the colonization and persistence of L. plantarum 423 and E. mundtii ST4SA in the murine GIT. The system allowed us to differentiate between intestinal transit times of the two strains in the digestive tract. This is the first report of bioluminescence imaging of a luciferase-expressing E. mundtii strain to study colonization dynamics in the murine model. The bioluminescence system developed in this study may be used to study the in vivo colonization dynamics of other probiotic LAB.

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