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1.  Investigating the Effects of Simulated Martian Ultraviolet Radiation on Halococcus dombrowskii and Other Extremely Halophilic Archaebacteria 
Astrobiology  2009;9(1):104-112.
The isolation of viable extremely halophilic archaea from 250-million-year-old rock salt suggests the possibility of their long-term survival under desiccation. Since halite has been found on Mars and in meteorites, haloarchaeal survival of martian surface conditions is being explored. Halococcus dombrowskii H4 DSM 14522T was exposed to UV doses over a wavelength range of 200–400 nm to simulate martian UV flux. Cells embedded in a thin layer of laboratory-grown halite were found to accumulate preferentially within fluid inclusions. Survival was assessed by staining with the LIVE/DEAD kit dyes, determining colony-forming units, and using growth tests. Halite-embedded cells showed no loss of viability after exposure to about 21 kJ/m2, and they resumed growth in liquid medium with lag phases of 12 days or more after exposure up to 148 kJ/m2. The estimated D37 (dose of 37 % survival) for Hcc. dombrowskii was ≥ 400 kJ/m2. However, exposure of cells to UV flux while in liquid culture reduced D37 by 2 orders of magnitude (to about 1 kJ/m2); similar results were obtained with Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 and Haloarcula japonica. The absorption of incoming light of shorter wavelength by color centers resulting from defects in the halite crystal structure likely contributed to these results. Under natural conditions, haloarchaeal cells become embedded in salt upon evaporation; therefore, dispersal of potential microscopic life within small crystals, perhaps in dust, on the surface of Mars could resist damage by UV radiation.
doi:10.1089/ast.2007.0234
PMCID: PMC3182532  PMID: 19215203
Halococcus dombrowskii; Simulated martian UV radiation; LIVE/DEAD staining; Halite fluid inclusions; UV transmittance and reflectance; Desiccation
2.  Wide Distribution among Halophilic Archaea of a Novel Polyhydroxyalkanoate Synthase Subtype with Homology to Bacterial Type III Synthases▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(23):7811-7819.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are accumulated as intracellular carbon and energy storage polymers by various bacteria and a few haloarchaea. In this study, 28 strains belonging to 15 genera in the family Halobacteriaceae were investigated with respect to their ability to synthesize PHAs and the types of their PHA synthases. Fermentation results showed that 18 strains from 12 genera could synthesize polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) or poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV). For most of these haloarchaea, selected regions of the phaE and phaC genes encoding PHA synthases (type III) were cloned via PCR with consensus-degenerate hybrid oligonucleotide primers (CODEHOPs) and were sequenced. The PHA synthases were also examined by Western blotting using haloarchaeal Haloarcula marismortui PhaC (PhaCHm) antisera. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the type III PHA synthases from species of the Halobacteriaceae and the Bacteria domain clustered separately. Comparison of their amino acid sequences revealed that haloarchaeal PHA synthases differed greatly in both molecular weight and certain conserved motifs. The longer C terminus of haloarchaeal PhaC was found to be indispensable for its enzymatic activity, and two additional amino acid residues (C143 and C190) of PhaCHm were proved to be important for its in vivo function. Thus, we conclude that a novel subtype (IIIA) of type III PHA synthase with unique features that distinguish it from the bacterial subtype (IIIB) is widely distributed in haloarchaea and appears to be involved in PHA biosynthesis.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01117-10
PMCID: PMC2988587  PMID: 20889776
3.  Halococcus qingdaonensis sp. nov., a halophilic archaeon isolated from a crude sea-salt sample 
A Gram-negative, extremely halophilic, coccoid archaeal strain, CM5T, was isolated from a crude sea-salt sample collected near Qingdao, China. The organism grew optimally at 35–40 °C and pH 6.0 in the presence of 20 % (w/v) NaCl. Its colonies were red in colour and it could use glucose as a sole carbon source for growth. The 16S rRNA gene sequence of CM5T was most closely related to those of Halococcus species. Its pattern of antibiotic susceptibility was similar to those of other described Halococcus species. Biochemical tests revealed no sign of H2S production or gelatin liquefaction. The main polar lipids of strain CM5T were phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylglycerol methylphosphate and sulfated diglycosyl diether. No phosphatidylglycerol sulfate was present. The DNA G+C content of strain CM5T was 61.2 mol% and it gave DNA–DNA reassociation values of 33.7, 57.1 and 29.6 %, respectively, with Halococcus salifodinae DSM 8989T, Halococcus dombrowskii DSM 14522T and Halococcus morrhuae ATCC 17082T. Based on its morphological and chemotaxonomic properties and phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequence data, we propose that CM5T should be classified within a novel species, Halococcus qingdaonensis sp. nov., with strain CM5T (=CGMCC 1.4243T=JCM 13587T) as the type strain.
doi:10.1099/ijs.0.64673-0
PMCID: PMC3182530  PMID: 17329792
4.  Revelation of the ability of Burkholderia sp. USM (JCM 15050) PHA synthase to polymerize 4-hydroxybutyrate monomer 
AMB Express  2012;2:41.
The nutrition-versatility of Burkholderia sp. strain USM (JCM 15050) has initiated the studies on the use of this bacterium for polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) production. To date, the Burkholderia sp. has been reported to synthesize 3-hydroxybutyrate, 3-hydroxyvalerate and 3-hydroxy-4-methylvalerate monomers. In this study, the PHA biosynthetic genes of this strain were successfully cloned and characterized. The PHA biosynthetic cluster of this strain consisted of a PHA synthase (phaC), β-ketothiolase (phaA), acetoacetyl-CoA reductase (phaB) and PHA synthesis regulator (phaR). The translated products of these genes revealed identities to corresponding proteins of Burkholderia vietnamiensis (99–100 %) and Cupriavidus necator H16 (63–89%). Heterologous expression of phaCBs conferred PHA synthesis to the PHA-negative Cupriavidus necator PHB¯4, confirming that phaCBs encoded functionally active protein. PHA synthase activity measurements revealed that the crude extracts of C. necator PHB¯4 transformant showed higher synthase activity (243 U/g) compared to that of wild-types Burkholderia sp. (151 U/g) and C. necator H16 (180 U/g). Interestingly, the transformant C. necator PHB¯4 harbouring Burkholderia sp. PHA synthase gene accumulated poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-4-hydroxybutyrate) with 4-hydroxybutyrate monomer as high as up to 87 mol% from sodium 4-hydroxybutyrate. The wild type Burkholderia sp. did not have the ability to produce this copolymer.
doi:10.1186/2191-0855-2-41
PMCID: PMC3434029  PMID: 22877240
Biopolymer; Polyhydroxyalkanoate; PHA synthase; PHA operon; Burkholderia sp.
5.  Isolation and Screening of Polyhydroxyalkanoates Producing Bacteria from Pulp, Paper, and Cardboard Industry Wastes 
Background. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are storage materials that accumulate by various bacteria as energy and carbon reserve materials. They are biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and also biocompatible bioplastics. Unlike petrochemical-based plastics that take several decades to fully degrade, PHAs can be completely degraded within a year by variety of microorganisms into CO2 and water. In the present study, we aim to utilize pulp, paper, and cardboard industry sludge and waste water for the isolation and screening of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) accumulating bacteria and production of cost-effective PHB using cardboard industry waste water. Results. A total of 42 isolates showed black-blue coloration when stained with Sudan black B, a preliminary screening agent for lipophilic compounds, and a total of 15 isolates showed positive result with Nile blue A staining, a more specific dye for PHA granules. The isolates NAP11 and NAC1 showed maximum PHA production 79.27% and 77.63% with polymer concentration of 5.236 g/L and 4.042 g/L with cardboard industry waste water. Both of the selected isolates, NAP11 and NAC1, were classified up to genus level by studying their morphological and biochemical characteristics and were found to be Enterococcus sp., Brevundimonas sp. and, respectively. Conclusion. The isolates Enterococcus sp. NAP11 and Brevundimonas sp. NAC1 can be considered as good candidates for industrial production of PHB from cardboard industry waste water. We are reporting for the first time the use of cardboard industry waste water as a cultivation medium for the PHB production.
doi:10.1155/2013/752821
PMCID: PMC3830821  PMID: 24288534
6.  Responses of Haloarchaea to Simulated Microgravity 
Astrobiology  2011;11(3):199-205.
Abstract
Various effects of microgravity on prokaryotes have been recognized in recent years, with the focus on studies of pathogenic bacteria. No archaea have been investigated yet with respect to their responses to microgravity. For exposure experiments on spacecrafts or on the International Space Station, halophilic archaea (haloarchaea) are usually embedded in halite, where they accumulate in fluid inclusions. In a liquid environment, these cells will experience microgravity in space, which might influence their viability and survival. Two haloarchaeal strains, Haloferax mediterranei and Halococcus dombrowskii, were grown in simulated microgravity (SMG) with the rotary cell culture system (RCCS, Synthecon). Initially, salt precipitation and detachment of the porous aeration membranes in the RCCS were observed, but they were avoided in the remainder of the experiment by using disposable instead of reusable vessels. Several effects were detected, which were ascribed to growth in SMG: Hfx. mediterranei's resistance to the antibiotics bacitracin, erythromycin, and rifampicin increased markedly; differences in pigmentation and whole cell protein composition (proteome) of both strains were noted; cell aggregation of Hcc. dombrowskii was notably reduced. The results suggest profound effects of SMG on haloarchaeal physiology and cellular processes, some of which were easily observable and measurable. This is the first report of archaeal responses to SMG. The molecular mechanisms of the effects induced by SMG on prokaryotes are largely unknown; haloarchaea could be used as nonpathogenic model systems for their elucidation and in addition could provide information about survival during lithopanspermia (interplanetary transport of microbes inside meteorites). Key Words: Haloferax mediterranei—Halococcus dombrowskii—Simulated microgravity—Rotary cell culture system—Antibiotic resistance—Lithopanspermia. Astrobiology 11, 199–205.
doi:10.1089/ast.2010.0536
PMCID: PMC3079168  PMID: 21417742
7.  Engineering of Chimeric Class II Polyhydroxyalkanoate Synthases 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2004;70(11):6789-6799.
PHA synthase is a key enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). Using a combinatorial genetic strategy to create unique chimeric class II PHA synthases, we have obtained a number of novel chimeras which display improved catalytic properties. To engineer the chimeric PHA synthases, we constructed a synthetic phaC gene from Pseudomonas oleovorans (phaC1Po) that was devoid of an internal 540-bp fragment. Randomly amplified PCR products (created with primers based on conserved phaC sequences flanking the deleted internal fragment) were generated using genomic DNA isolated from soil and were substituted for the 540-bp internal region. The chimeric genes were expressed in a PHA-negative strain of Ralstonia eutropha, PHB−4 (DSM 541). Out of 1,478 recombinant clones screened for PHA production, we obtained five different chimeric phaC1Po genes that produced more PHA than the native phaC1Po. Chimeras S1-71, S4-8, S5-58, S3-69, and S3-44 exhibited 1.3-, 1.4-, 2.0-, 2.1-, and 3.0-fold-increased levels of in vivo activity, respectively. All of the mutants mediated the synthesis of PHAs with a slightly increased molar fraction of 3-hydroxyoctanoate; however, the weight-average molecular weights (Mw) of the PHAs in all cases remained almost the same. Based upon DNA sequence analyses, the various phaC fragments appear to have originated from Pseudomonas fluorescens and Pseudomonas aureofaciens. The amino acid sequence analyses showed that the chimeric proteins had 17 to 20 amino acid differences from the wild-type phaC1Po, and these differences were clustered in the same positions in the five chimeric clones. A threading model of PhaC1Po, developed based on homology of the enzyme to the Burkholderia glumae lipase, suggested that the amino acid substitutions found in the active chimeras were located mostly on the protein model surface. Thus, our combinatorial genetic engineering strategy proved to be broadly useful for improving the catalytic activities of PHA synthase enzymes.
doi:10.1128/AEM.70.11.6789-6799.2004
PMCID: PMC525123  PMID: 15528546
8.  Identification of the Haloarchaeal Phasin (PhaP) That Functions in Polyhydroxyalkanoate Accumulation and Granule Formation in Haloferax mediterranei 
The polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) granule-associated proteins (PGAPs) are important for PHA synthesis and granule formation, but currently little is known about the haloarchaeal PGAPs. This study focused on the identification and functional analysis of the PGAPs in the haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterranei. These PGAPs were visualized with two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–tandem time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/TOF MS). The most abundant protein on the granules was identified as a hypothetical protein, designated PhaP. A genome-wide analysis revealed that the phaP gene is located upstream of the previously identified phaEC genes. Through an integrative approach of gene knockout/complementation and fermentation analyses, we demonstrated that this PhaP is involved in PHA accumulation. The ΔphaP mutant was defective in both PHA biosynthesis and cell growth compared to the wild-type strain. Additionally, transmission electron microscopy results indicated that the number of PHA granules in the ΔphaP mutant cells was significantly lower, and in most of the ΔphaP cells only a single large granule was observed. These results demonstrated that the H. mediterranei PhaP was the predominant structure protein (phasin) on the PHA granules involved in PHA accumulation and granule formation. In addition, BLASTp and phylogenetic results indicate that this type of PhaP is exclusively conserved in haloarchaea, implying that it is a representative of the haloarchaeal type PHA phasin.
doi:10.1128/AEM.07114-11
PMCID: PMC3298179  PMID: 22247127
9.  Screening and Evaluation of Polyhydroxybutyrate-Producing Strains from Indigenous Isolate Cupriavidus taiwanensis Strains 
Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is a biodegradable material with many potential biomedical applications, including medical implants and drug delivery. This study developed a system for screening production strains in order to optimize PHA production in Cupriavidus taiwanensis 184, 185, 186, 187, 204, 208, 209 and Pseudomona oleovorans ATCC 29347. In this study, Sudan black B staining, Infrared (IR) and Gas Chromatography (GC) analysis indicated that the best strain for PHA synthesis is C. taiwanensis 184, which obtains polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). Cultivation of C. taiwanensis 184 under a pH of 7.0, at 30 °C, and at an agitation rate of 200 rpm, obtained a PHB content of 10% and PHB production of 0.14 g/L. The carbon and nitrogen types selected for analysis of PHB production by C. taiwanensis 184 were gluconic acid and NH4Cl, respectively. Optimal carbon/nitrogen ratio for PHB production was also determined. This study demonstrated a PHB content of 58.81% and a PHB production of 2.44 g/L when the carbon/nitrogen ratio of 8/1 was selected for C. taiwanensis 184. A two-stage fermentation strategy significantly enhanced PHB content and PHB production. Under a two-stage fermentation strategy with nutrient-limited conditions, C. taiwanensis 184 obtained a PHB content of 72% and a PHB concentration of 7 g/L. Finally, experimental results confirmed that optimizing the growth medium and fermentation conditions for cultivating the indigenous C. taiwanensis 184 strain substantially elevated PHB content from 10% to 72% and PHB production from 0.14 g/L to 7 g/L, respectively.
doi:10.3390/ijms12010252
PMCID: PMC3039951  PMID: 21339985
PHB; Sudan black B staining; IR spectra; fermentation strategy; nutrient-limited conditions
10.  Accumulation of the PhaP Phasin of Ralstonia eutropha Is Dependent on Production of Polyhydroxybutyrate in Cells 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(14):4217-4226.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are polyoxoesters that are produced by diverse bacteria and that accumulate as intracellular granules. Phasins are granule-associated proteins that accumulate to high levels in strains that are producing PHAs. The accumulation of phasins has been proposed to be dependent on PHA production, a model which is now rigorously tested for the phasin PhaP of Ralstonia eutropha. R. eutropha phaC PHA synthase and phaP phasin gene replacement strains were constructed. The strains were engineered to express heterologous and/or mutant PHA synthase alleles and a phaP-gfp translational fusion in place of the wild-type alleles of phaC and phaP. The strains were analyzed with respect to production of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), accumulation of PhaP, and expression of the phaP-gfp fusion. The results suggest that accumulation of PhaP is strictly dependent on the genetic capacity of strains to produce PHB, that PhaP accumulation is regulated at the level of both PhaP synthesis and PhaP degradation, and that, within mixed populations of cells, PhaP accumulation within cells of a given strain is not influenced by PHB production in cells of other strains. Interestingly, either the synthesis of PHB or the presence of relatively large amounts of PHB in cells (>50% of cell dry weight) is sufficient to enable PhaP synthesis. The results suggest that R. eutropha has evolved a regulatory mechanism that can detect the synthesis and presence of PHB in cells and that PhaP expression can be used as a marker for the production of PHB in individual cells.
doi:10.1128/JB.183.14.4217-4226.2001
PMCID: PMC95311  PMID: 11418562
11.  New Insight into the Role of the PhaP Phasin of Ralstonia eutropha in Promoting Synthesis of Polyhydroxybutyrate 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(7):2394-2397.
Phasins are proteins that are proposed to play important roles in polyhydroxyalkanoate synthesis and granule formation. Here the phasin PhaP of Ralstonia eutropha has been analyzed with regard to its role in the synthesis of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). Purified recombinant PhaP, antibodies against PhaP, and an R. eutropha phaP deletion strain have been generated for this analysis. Studies with the phaP deletion strain show that PhaP must accumulate to high levels in order to play its normal role in PHB synthesis and that the accumulation of PhaP to low levels is functionally equivalent to the absence of PhaP. PhaP positively affects PHB synthesis under growth conditions which promote production of PHB to low, intermediate, or high levels. The levels of PhaP generally parallel levels of PHB in cells. The results are consistent with models whereby PhaP promotes PHB synthesis by regulating the surface/volume ratio of PHB granules or by interacting with polyhydroxyalkanoate synthase and indicate that PhaP plays an important role in PHB synthesis from the early stages in PHB production and across a range of growth conditions.
doi:10.1128/JB.183.7.2394-2397.2001
PMCID: PMC95152  PMID: 11244085
12.  A transferable heterogeneous two-hybrid system in Escherichia coli based on polyhydroxyalkanoates synthesis regulatory protein PhaR 
Background
Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) synthesis regulatory protein PhaR contains a DNA binding domain (DBD) and a PHA granule binding domain (GBD), it anchors to the promoter region of PHA granule-associated protein (PhaP) to repress phaP expression. However, PhaR will bind to PHB granules and be released from phaP promoter region when PHA granules are formed in vivo, initiating expression of phaP gene. Based on this regulatory mechanism, a bacterial two-hybrid system was developed: PhaR was separated into two parts: DBD was used to fuse with the bait, GBD with the prey, and phaP was replaced by a reporter gene lacZ. However, GBD protein expressed in vivo formed inclusion bodies. Thus, PhaP with strong binding ability to PHB granules was employed to replace GBD.
Results
Three model interaction partners bFos, bJun and bATF2 were used to study the feasibility of this bacterial two-hybrid system compared with the controls lacking one or more essential elements of this system. Results showed that bFos, bJun and bATF2 bound tightly in pairs to allow strong expression of β-galactosidase in different expression levels. In contrast, very weak β-galactosidase activity was detected in all control groups.
Conclusion
β-Galactosidase activity level precisely correlated with the interaction force of tested protein pairs, and very weak β-galactosidase expression was detected throughout the control groups, which demonstrated the feasibility of this system for studying protein interactions.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-10-21
PMCID: PMC3079617  PMID: 21477323
13.  The “Intracellular” Poly(3-Hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) Depolymerase of Rhodospirillum rubrum Is a Periplasm-Located Protein with Specificity for Native PHB and with Structural Similarity to Extracellular PHB Depolymerases†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(21):7243-7253.
Rhodospirillum rubrum possesses a putative intracellular poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) depolymerase system consisting of a soluble PHB depolymerase, a heat-stable activator, and a 3-hydroxybutyrate dimer hydrolase (J. M. Merrick and M. Doudoroff, J. Bacteriol. 88:60-71, 1964). In this study we reinvestigated the soluble R. rubrum PHB depolymerase (PhaZ1). It turned out that PhaZ1 is a novel type of PHB depolymerase with unique properties. Purified PhaZ1 was specific for amorphous short-chain-length polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) such as native PHB, artificial PHB, and oligomer esters of (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate with 3 or more 3-hydroxybutyrate units. Atactic PHB, (S)-3-hydroxybutyrate oligomers, medium-chain-length PHA, and lipase substrates (triolein, tributyrin) were not hydrolyzed. The PHB depolymerase structural gene (phaZ1) was cloned. Its deduced amino acid sequence (37,704 Da) had no significant similarity to those of intracellular PHB depolymerases of Wautersia eutropha or of other PHB-accumulating bacteria. PhaZ1 was found to have strong amino acid homology with type-II catalytic domains of extracellular PHB depolymerases, and Ser42, Asp138, and His178 were identified as catalytic-triad amino acids, with Ser42 as the putative active site. Surprisingly, the first 23 amino acids of the PHB depolymerase previously assumed to be intracellular revealed features of classical signal peptides, and Edman sequencing of purified PhaZ1 confirmed the functionality of the predicted cleavage site. Extracellular PHB depolymerase activity was absent, and analysis of cell fractions unequivocally showed that PhaZ1 is a periplasm-located enzyme. The previously assumed intracellular activator/depolymerase system is unlikely to have a physiological function in PHB mobilization in vivo. A second gene, encoding the putative true intracellular PHB depolymerase (PhaZ2), was identified in the genome sequence of R. rubrum.
doi:10.1128/JB.186.21.7243-7253.2004
PMCID: PMC523223  PMID: 15489436
14.  Biochemical and molecular characterization of the Pseudomonas lemoignei polyhydroxyalkanoate depolymerase system. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1995;177(3):596-607.
Pseudomonas lemoignei has five different polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) depolymerase genes (phaZ1 to phaZ5), which encode the extracellularly localized poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) depolymerases C, B, and D, poly(3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHV) depolymerase, and PHB depolymerase A, respectively. Four of the five genes (phaZ1 to phaZ4) have been cloned, and one of them (phaZ1) was studied in detail earlier (D. Jendrossek, B. Müller, and H. G. Schlegel, Eur. J. Biochem. 218:701-710, 1993). The fifth PHA depolymerase gene (phaZ5) was identified by colony hybridization of recombinant Escherichia coli clones with a phaZ5-specific oligonucleotide. The nucleotide sequence of a 3,704-bp EcoRI fragment was determined and found to contain two large open reading frames (ORFs) which coded for a polypeptide with significant similarities to glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenases of various sources (313 amino acids; M(r), 32,193) and for the precursor of PHB depolymerase A (PhaZ5; 433 amino acids; M(r), 44,906). The PHV depolymerase gene (phaZ4) was subcloned, and the nucleotide sequence of a 3,109-bp BamHI fragment was determined. Two large ORFs (ORF3 and ORF4) that represent putative coding regions were identified. The deduced amino acid sequence of ORF3 (134 amino acids; M(r), 14,686) revealed significant similarities to the branched-chain amino acid aminotransferase (IlfE) of enterobacteria. ORF4 (1,712 bp) was identified as the precursor of a PHV depolymerase (567 amino acids; M(r), 59,947). Analysis of primary structures of the five PHA depolymerases of P. lemoignei and of the PHB depolymerases of Alcaligenes faecalis and Pseudomonas pickettii revealed homologies of 25 to 83% to each other and a domain structure: at their N termini, they have typical signal peptides of exoenzymes. The adjacent catalytic domains are characterized by several conserved amino acids that constitute putative catalytic triads which consist of the consensus sequence of serine-dependent hydrolases including the pentapeptide G-X-S-X-G, a conserved histidine and aspartate, and a conserved region resembling the oxyanion hole of lipases. C terminal of the catalytic domain an approximately 40-amino-acid-long threonine-rich region (22 to 27 threonine residues) is present in PhaZ1, PhaZ2, PhaZ3, and PhaZ5. Instead of the threonine-rich region PhaZ4 and the PHB depolymerases of A. faecalis and P. pickettii contain an approximately 90-amino-acid-long sequence resembling the fibronectin type III module of eucaryotic extracellular matrix proteins. The function of the fibronectin type III module in PHA depolymerases remains obscure. Two types of C-terminal sequences apparently represent substrate-binding sites; the PHB type is present in the PHB depolymerases of A. faecalis and P. pickettii and in PhaZ2, PhaZ3, and PhaZ5 and the PHV type is present in the PHV-hydrolyzing depolymerases (PhaZ4 and PhaZ1). phaZ1 was transferred to A. eutrophus H16 and JMP222. All transconjugants of both strains were able to grow with extracellular PHB as a carbon source and produced translucent halos on PHB-containing solid media. PhaZ1, PhaZ2, PhaZ4, and PhaZ5 were purified from P. lemoignei and from recombinant E. coli; the processing sites of the precursors in E. coli were the same as in P. lemoignei, and similar substrate specificities were determined for the wild-type and the recombinant proteins. All PHA depolymerases hydrolyzed PHB at high specific activities. PhaZ1 and PhaZ4 additionally cleaved PHV, and PhaZ4 hydrolyzed poly(4-hydroxybutyrate). None of the depolymerases was able to hydrolyze polyactide or PHA consisting of monomers with more than five carbon atoms. While the wild-type depolymerase proteins were glycosylated and found to contain glucose and N-acetylglucosamine, none of the recombinant proteins was glycosylated. PHB hydrolysis was dependent on divalent cations such as Ca2+ and was inhibited by the presence of EDTA.
PMCID: PMC176633  PMID: 7836292
15.  Molecular Characterization of the phaECHm Genes, Required for Biosynthesis of Poly(3-Hydroxybutyrate) in the Extremely Halophilic Archaeon Haloarcula marismortui▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(19):6058-6065.
Although many haloarchaea produce biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), the genes involved in PHA synthesis in the domain of Archaea have not yet been experimentally investigated yet. In this study, we revealed that Haloarcula marismortui was able to accumulate poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) up to 21% of cellular dry weight when cultured in a minimal medium with excessive glucose and identified the phaEHm and phaCHm genes, probably encoding two subunits of a class III PHA synthase. These two genes were adjacent and directed by a single promoter located 26 bp upstream of the transcriptional start site and were constitutively expressed under both nutrient-rich and -limited conditions. Interestingly, PhaCHm was revealed to be strongly bound with the PHB granules, but PhaEHm seemed not to be. Introduction of either the phaEHm or phaCHm gene into Haloarcula hispanica, which harbors highly homologous phaECHh genes, could enhance the PHB synthesis in the recombinant strains, while coexpression of the both genes always generated the highest PHB yield. Significantly, knockout of the phaECHh genes in H. hispanica led to a complete loss of the PHA synthase activity. Complementation with phaECHm genes, but not a single one, restored the capability of PHB accumulation as well as the PHA synthase activity in this phaEC-deleted haloarchaeon. These results indicated that the phaEC genes are required for biosynthesis of PHB and might encode an active PHA synthase in the Haloarcula species.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00953-07
PMCID: PMC2075026  PMID: 17675423
16.  Poly(3-Hydroxyvalerate) Depolymerase of Pseudomonas lemoignei 
Pseudomonas lemoignei is equipped with at least five polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) depolymerase structural genes (phaZ1 to phaZ5) which enable the bacterium to utilize extracellular poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB), poly(3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHV), and related polyesters consisting of short-chain-length hxdroxyalkanoates (PHASCL) as the sole sources of carbon and energy. Four genes (phaZ1, phaZ2, phaZ3, and phaZ5) encode PHB depolymerases C, B, D, and A, respectively. It was speculated that the remaining gene, phaZ4, encodes the PHV depolymerase (D. Jendrossek, A. Frisse, A. Behrends, M. Andermann, H. D. Kratzin, T. Stanislawski, and H. G. Schlegel, J. Bacteriol. 177:596–607, 1995). However, in this study, we show that phaZ4 codes for another PHB depolymeraes (i) by disagreement of 5 out of 41 amino acids that had been determined by Edman degradation of the PHV depolymerase and of four endoproteinase GluC-generated internal peptides with the DNA-deduced sequence of phaZ4, (ii) by the lack of immunological reaction of purified recombinant PhaZ4 with PHV depolymerase-specific antibodies, and (iii) by the low activity of the PhaZ4 depolymerase with PHV as a substrate. The true PHV depolymerase-encoding structural gene, phaZ6, was identified by screening a genomic library of P. lemoignei in Escherichia coli for clearing zone formation on PHV agar. The DNA sequence of phaZ6 contained all 41 amino acids of the GluC-generated peptide fragments of the PHV depolymerase. PhaZ6 was expressed and purified from recombinant E. coli and showed immunological identity to the wild-type PHV depolymerase and had high specific activities with PHB and PHV as substrates. To our knowledge, this is the first report on a PHASCL depolymerase gene that is expressed during growth on PHV or odd-numbered carbon sources and that encodes a protein with high PHV depolymerase activity. Amino acid analysis revealed that PhaZ6 (relative molecular mass [Mr], 43,610 Da) resembles precursors of other extracellular PHASCL depolymerases (28 to 50% identical amino acids). The mature protein (Mr, 41,048) is composed of (i) a large catalytic domain including a catalytic triad of S136, D211, and H269 similar to serine hydrolases; (ii) a linker region highly enriched in threonine residues and other amino acids with hydroxylated or small side chains (Thr-rich region); and (iii) a C-terminal domain similar in sequence to the substrate-binding domain of PHASCL depolymerases. Differences in the codon usage of phaZ6 for some codons from the average codon usage of P. lemoignei indicated that phaZ6 might be derived from other organisms by gene transfer. Multialignment of separate domains of bacterial PHASCL depolymerases suggested that not only complete depolymerase genes but also individual domains might have been exchanged between bacteria during evolution of PHASCL depolymerases.
PMCID: PMC91997  PMID: 10742216
17.  Genome Sequence of the Halophilic Archaeon Halococcus hamelinensis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(8):2100-2101.
Halococcus hamelinensis was isolated from hypersaline stromatolites in Shark Bay, Australia. Here we report the genome sequence (3,133,046 bp) of H. hamelinensis, which provides insights into the ecology, evolution, and adaptation of this novel microorganism.
doi:10.1128/JB.06599-11
PMCID: PMC3318460  PMID: 22461544
18.  Genetic and physiological characterization of a Rhizobium etli mutant strain unable to synthesize poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1996;178(6):1646-1654.
Rhizobium etli accumulates poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) in symbiosis and in free life. PHB is a reserve material that serves as a carbon and/or electron sink when optimal growth conditions are not met. It has been suggested that in symbiosis PHB can prolong nitrogen fixation until the last stages of seed development, but experiments to test this proposition have not been done until now. To address these questions in a direct way, we constructed an R. etli PHB-negative mutant by the insertion of an Omega-Km interposon within the PHB synthase structural gene (phaC). The identification and sequence of the R. etli phaC gene are also reported here. Physiological studies showed that the PHB-negative mutant strain was unable to synthesize PHB and excreted more lactate, acetate, pyruvate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, fumarate, and malate than the wild-type strain. The NAD+/NADH ratio in the mutant strain was lower than that in the parent strain. The oxidative capacity of the PHB-negative mutant was reduced. Accordingly, the ability to grow in minimal medium supplemented with glucose or pyruvate was severely diminished in the mutant strain. We propose that in free life PHB synthesis sequesters reductive power, allowing the tricarboxylic acid cycle to proceed under conditions in which oxygen is a limiting factor. In symbiosis with Phaseolus vulgaris, the PHB-negative mutant induced nodules that prolonged the capacity to fix nitrogen.
PMCID: PMC177850  PMID: 8626293
19.  Production and characterization of bacterial polyhydroxyalkanoate copolymers and evaluation of their blends by fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy 
Indian Journal of Microbiology  2009;49(3):251-258.
Rhizobium meliloti produced a copolymer of short chain length polyhydroxyalkanoate (scl-PHA) on sucrose and rice bran oil as carbon substrates. Recombinant Escherichia coli (JC7623ABC1J4), bearing PHA synthesis genes, was used to synthesize short chain length-co-medium chain length PHA (scl-co-mcl-PHA) on glucose and decanoic acid. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) spectra of the PHAs indicated strong characteristic bands at 1282, 1723, and 2934 cm−1 for scl-PHA and at 2933 and 2976 cm−1 for scl-co-mcl-PHA polymer. Differentiation of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and polyhydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate-P(HB-co-HV) copolymer was obseverd using FTIR, with absorption bands at 1723 and 1281 for PHB, and at 1738, 1134, 1215 cm−1 for HV-copolymer. The copolymers were analyzed by GC and 1H NMR spectroscopy. Films of polymer blends of PHA produced by R. meliloti and recombinant E. coli were prepared using glycerol, polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl acetate, individually (1:1 ratio), to modify the mechanical properties of the films and these films were evaluated by FTIR and scanning electron microscopy.
doi:10.1007/s12088-009-0031-z
PMCID: PMC3450024  PMID: 23100778
Polyhydroxyalkanoate; Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy; PHA blends; Rhizobium meliloti; Recombinant Escherichia coli; Scanning electron microscopy
20.  Effects of Granule-Associated Protein PhaP on Glycerol-Dependent Growth and Polymer Production in Poly(3-Hydroxybutyrate)-Producing Escherichia coli▿ † 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(24):7912-7916.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are accumulated as intracellular granules by many bacteria under unfavorable conditions, enhancing their fitness and stress resistance. Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) is the most widespread and best-known PHA. Apart from the genes that catalyze polymer biosynthesis, natural PHA producers have several genes for proteins involved in granule formation and/or with regulatory functions, such as phasins, that have been shown to affect polymer synthesis. This study evaluates the effect of PhaP, a phasin, on bacterial growth and PHB accumulation from glycerol in bioreactor cultures of recombinant Escherichia coli carrying phaBAC from Azotobacter sp. strain FA8. Cells expressing phaP grew more, and accumulated more PHB, both using glucose and using glycerol as carbon sources. When cultures were grown in a bioreactor using glycerol, PhaP-bearing cells produced more polymer (2.6 times) and more biomass (1.9 times) than did those without the phasin. The effect of this protein on growth promotion and polymer accumulation is expected to be even greater in high-density cultures, such as those used in the industrial production of the polymer. The recombinant strain presented in this work has been successfully used for the production of PHB from glycerol in bioreactor studies, allowing the production of 7.9 g/liter of the polymer in a semisynthetic medium in 48-h batch cultures. The development of bacterial strains that can efficiently use this substrate can help to make the industrial production of PHAs economically feasible.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01900-07
PMCID: PMC2168153  PMID: 17965215
21.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of a novel thermoalkalophilic poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) depolymerase (PhaZ7) from Paucimonas lemoignei  
A novel thermoalkalophilic depolymerase, PhaZ7, from P. lemoignei was crystallized by the microdialysis technique. Crystals belong to space group C2 and diffract to 2.75 Å resolution at a synchrotron source.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are biodegradable polyesters that have attracted commercial and academic interest as environmentally friendly materials. A number of enzymes are able to degrade polyhydroxyalkanoates to water-soluble products. PhaZ7 poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) depolymerase (EC 3.1.1.75), a 342-amino-acid hydrolase from the PHA-degrading bacterium Paucimonas lemoignei, has been found to possess substrate specificity for amorphous PHA. PhaZ7 was crystallized by the microdialysis method. Thin rod-like crystals were grown in low ionic strength solution and found to belong to the monoclinic space group C2, with unit-cell parameters a = 225.8, b = 46.5, c = 171.3, β = 128.9°. A complete data set was collected to 2.75 Å resolution at 100 K using synchrotron radiation.
doi:10.1107/S174430910501016X
PMCID: PMC1952301  PMID: 16511073
biopolymers; biodegradation; Paucimonas lemoignei; serine hydrolases; depolymerase
22.  A traditional Japanese-style salt field is a niche for haloarchaeal strains that can survive in 0.5% salt solution 
Saline Systems  2007;3:2.
Background
Most of the haloarchaeal strains have been isolated from hypersaline environments such as solar evaporation ponds, salt lakes, or salt deposits, and they, with some exceptions, lyse or lose viability in very low-salt concentrations. There are no salty environments suitable for the growth of haloarchaea in Japan. Although Natrialba asiatica and Haloarcula japonica were isolated many years ago, the question, "Are haloarchaea really thriving in natural environments of Japan?" has remained unanswered.
Results
Ten strains were isolated from a traditional Japanese-style salt field at Nie, Noto Peninsula, Japan by plating out the soil samples directly on agar plates containing 30% (w/v) salts and 0.5% yeast extract. They were most closely related to strains of three genera, Haladaptatus, Halococcus, and Halogeometricum. Survival rates in 3% and 0.5% SW (Salt Water, solutions containing salts in approximately the same proportions as found in seawater) solutions at 37°C differed considerably depending on the strains. Two strains belonging to Halogeometricum as well as the type strain Hgm. borinquense died and lysed immediately after suspension. Five strains that belonged to Halococcus and a strain that may be a member of Halogeometricum survived for 1–2 days in 0.5% SW solution. Two strains most closely related to Haladaptatus possessed extraordinary strong tolerance to low salt conditions. About 20 to 34% of the cells remained viable in 0.5% SW after 9 days incubation.
Conclusion
In this study we have demonstrated that haloarchaea are really thriving in the soil of Japanese-style salt field. The haloarchaeal cells, particularly the fragile strains are suggested to survive in the micropores of smaller size silt fraction, one of the components of soil. The inside of the silt particles is filled with concentrated salt solution and kept intact even upon suspension in rainwater. Possible origins of the haloarchaea isolated in this study are discussed.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-3-2
PMCID: PMC1828056  PMID: 17346353
23.  Roles of Multiple Acetoacetyl Coenzyme A Reductases in Polyhydroxybutyrate Biosynthesis in Ralstonia eutropha H16 ▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(20):5319-5328.
The bacterium Ralstonia eutropha H16 synthesizes polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) from acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) through reactions catalyzed by a β-ketothiolase (PhaA), an acetoacetyl-CoA reductase (PhaB), and a polyhydroxyalkanoate synthase (PhaC). An operon of three genes encoding these enzymatic steps was discovered in R. eutropha and has been well studied. Sequencing and analysis of the R. eutropha genome revealed putative isologs for each of the PHB biosynthetic genes, many of which had never been characterized. In addition to the previously identified phaB1 gene, the genome contains the isologs phaB2 and phaB3 as well as 15 other potential acetoacetyl-CoA reductases. We have investigated the roles of the three phaB isologs by deleting them from the genome individually and in combination. It was discovered that the gene products of both phaB1 and phaB3 contribute to PHB biosynthesis in fructose minimal medium but that in plant oil minimal medium and rich medium, phaB3 seems to be unexpressed. This raises interesting questions concerning the regulation of phaB3 expression. Deletion of the gene phaB2 did not result in an observable phenotype under the conditions tested, although this gene does encode an active reductase. Addition of the individual reductase genes to the genome of the ΔphaB1 ΔphaB2 ΔphaB3 strain restored PHB production, and in the course of our complementation experiments, we serendipitously created a PHB-hyperproducing mutant. Measurement of the PhaB and PhaA activities of the mutant strains indicated that the thiolase reaction is the limiting step in PHB biosynthesis in R. eutropha H16 during nitrogen-limited growth on fructose.
doi:10.1128/JB.00207-10
PMCID: PMC2950492  PMID: 20729355
24.  Mutations Derived from the Thermophilic Polyhydroxyalkanoate Synthase PhaC Enhance the Thermostability and Activity of PhaC from Cupriavidus necator H16 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(10):2620-2629.
The thermophile Cupriavidus sp. strain S-6 accumulated polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) from glucose at 50°C. A 9.0-kbp EcoRI fragment cloned from the genomic DNA of Cupriavidus sp. S-6 enabled Escherichia coli XL1-Blue to synthesize PHB at 45°C. Nucleotide sequence analysis showed a pha locus in the clone. The thermophilic polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) synthase (PhaCCsp) shared 81% identity with mesophilic PhaC of Cupriavidus necator H16. The diversity between these two strains was found dominantly on their N and C termini, while the middle regions were highly homologous (92% identity). We constructed four chimeras of mesophilic and thermophilic phaC genes to explore the mutations related to its thermostability. Among the chimeras, only PhaCH16β, which was PhaCH16 bearing 30 point mutations derived from the middle region of PhaCCsp, accumulated a high content of PHB (65% [dry weight]) at 45°C. The chimera phaCH16β and two parental PHA synthase genes were overexpressed in E. coli BLR(DE3) cells and purified. At 30°C, the specific activity of the chimera PhaCH16β (172 ± 17.8 U/mg) was 3.45-fold higher than that of the parental enzyme PhaCH16 (50 ± 5.2 U/mg). At 45°C, the half-life of the chimera PhaCH16β (11.2 h) was 127-fold longer than that of PhaCH16 (5.3 min). Furthermore, the chimera PhaCH16β accumulated 1.55-fold (59% [dry weight]) more PHA content than the parental enzyme PhaCH16 (38% [dry weight]) at 37°C. This study reveals a limited number of point mutations which enhance not only thermostability but also PhaCH16 activity. The highly thermostable and active PHA synthase will provide advantages for its promising applications to in vitro PHA synthesis and recombinant E. coli PHA fermentation.
doi:10.1128/JB.06543-11
PMCID: PMC3347165  PMID: 22408158
25.  Comparative analysis of ribonuclease P RNA structure in Archaea. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1996;24(7):1252-1259.
Although the structure of the catalytic RNA component of ribonuclease P has been well characterized in Bacteria, it has been little studied in other organisms, such as the Archaea. We have determined the sequences encoding RNase P RNA in eight euryarchaeal species: Halococcus morrhuae, Natronobacterium gregoryi, Halobacterium cutirubrum, Halobacteriurn trapanicum, Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum strains deltaH and Marburg, Methanothermus fervidus and Thermococcus celer strain AL-1. On the basis of these and previously available sequences from Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, Haloferax volcanii and Methanosarcina barkeri the secondary structure of RNase P RNA in Archaea has been analyzed by phylogenetic comparative analysis. The archaeal RNAs are similar in both primary and secondary structure to bacterial RNase P RNAs, but unlike their bacterial counterparts these archaeal RNase P RNAs are not by themselves catalytically proficient in vitro.
PMCID: PMC145784  PMID: 8614627

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