Occurrence of the hsp70 (dnaK) gene was investigated in various members of the domain Archaea comprising both euryarchaeotes and crenarchaeotes and in the hyperthermophilic bacteria Aquifex pyrophilus and Thermotoga maritima representing the deepest offshoots in phylogenetic trees of bacterial 16S rRNA sequences. The gene was not detected in 8 of 10 archaea examined but was found in A. pyrophilus and T. maritima, from which it was cloned and sequenced. Comparative analyses of the HSP70 amino acid sequences encoded in these genes, and others in the databases, showed that (i) in accordance with the vicinities seen in rRNA-based trees, the proteins from A. pyrophilus and T. maritima form a thermophilic cluster with that from the green nonsulfur bacterium Thermomicrobium roseum and are unrelated to their counterparts from gram-positive bacteria, proteobacteria/mitochondria, chlamydiae/spirochetes, deinococci, and cyanobacteria/chloroplasts; (ii) the T. maritima HSP70 clusters with the homologues from the archaea Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum and Thermoplasma acidophilum, in contrast to the postulated unique kinship between archaea and gram-positive bacteria; and (iii) there are exceptions to the reported association between an insert in HSP70 and gram negativity, or vice versa, absence of insert and gram positivity. Notably, the HSP70 from T. maritima lacks the insert, although T. maritima is phylogenetically unrelated to the gram-positive bacteria. These results, along with the absence of hsp70 (dnaK) in various archaea and its presence in others, suggest that (i) different taxa retained either one or the other of two hsp70 (dnaK) versions (with or without insert), regardless of phylogenetic position; and (ii) archaea are aboriginally devoid of hsp70 (dnaK), and those that have it must have received it from phylogenetically diverse bacteria via lateral gene transfer events that did not involve replacement of an endogenous hsp70 (dnaK) gene.
The unfolding speed of some hyperthermophilic proteins is dramatically lower than that of their mesostable homologs. Ribonuclease HII from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Thermococcus kodakaraensis (Tk-RNase HII) is stabilized by its remarkably slow unfolding rate, whereas RNase HI from the thermophilic bacterium Thermus thermophilus (Tt-RNase HI) unfolds rapidly, comparable with to that of RNase HI from Escherichia coli (Ec-RNase HI).
To clarify whether the difference in the unfolding rate is due to differences in the types of RNase H or differences in proteins from archaea and bacteria, we examined the equilibrium stability and unfolding reaction of RNases HII from the hyperthermophilic bacteria Thermotoga maritima (Tm-RNase HII) and Aquifex aeolicus (Aa-RNase HII) and RNase HI from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus tokodaii (Sto-RNase HI). These proteins from hyperthermophiles are more stable than Ec-RNase HI over all the temperature ranges examined. The observed unfolding speeds of all hyperstable proteins at the different denaturant concentrations studied are much lower than those of Ec-RNase HI, which is in accordance with the familiar slow unfolding of hyperstable proteins. However, the unfolding rate constants of these RNases H in water are dispersed, and the unfolding rate constant of thermophilic archaeal proteins is lower than that of thermophilic bacterial proteins.
These results suggest that the nature of slow unfolding of thermophilic proteins is determined by the evolutionary history of the organisms involved. The unfolding rate constants in water are related to the amount of buried hydrophobic residues in the tertiary structure.
A phylogenetic analysis of the genes encoding enzymes in the pentose
phosphate pathway (PPP), the ribulose monophosphate (RuMP) pathway,
and the chorismate pathway of aromatic amino acid biosynthesis,
employing data from 13 complete archaeal genomes, provides a potential
explanation for the enigmatic phylogenetic patterns of the PPP genes
in archaea. Genomic and biochemical evidence suggests that three
archaeal species (Methanocaldococcus jannaschii,
Thermoplasma acidophilum and Thermoplasma
volcanium) produce ribose-5-phosphate via the nonoxidative
PPP (NOPPP), whereas nine species apparently lack an NOPPP but may
employ a reverse RuMP pathway for pentose synthesis. One species
(Halobacterium sp. NRC-1) lacks both the NOPPP and
the RuMP pathway but may possess a modified oxidative PPP (OPPP), the
details of which are not yet known. The presence of transketolase in
several archaeal species that are missing the other two NOPPP genes
can be explained by the existence of differing requirements for
erythrose-4-phosphate (E4P) among archaea: six species use
transketolase to make E4P as a precursor to aromatic amino acids, six
species apparently have an alternate biosynthetic pathway and may not
require the ability to make E4P, and one species (Pyrococcus
horikoshii) probably does not synthesize aromatic amino acids
aromatic amino acid biosynthesis; chorismate; genomic analysis; nucleotide biosynthesis; pentose phosphate pathway; ribulose-5-phosphate; transketolase
Nucleoside modification has been studied in unfractionated tRNA from 11 thermophilic archaea (archaebacteria), including phylogenetically diverse representatives of thermophilic methanogens and sulfur-metabolizing hyperthermophiles which grow optimally in the temperature range of 56 (Thermoplasma acidophilum) to 105 degrees C (Pyrodictium occultum), and for comparison from the most thermophilic bacterium (eubacterium) known, Thermotoga maritima (80 degrees C). Nine nucleosides are found to be unique to the archaea, six of which are structurally novel in being modified both in the base and by methylation in ribose and occur primarily in tRNA from the extreme thermophiles in the Crenarchaeota of the archaeal phylogenetic tree. 2-Thiothymine occurs in tRNA from Thermococcus sp., and constitutes the only known occurrence of the thymine moiety in archaeal RNA, in contrast to its near-ubiquitous presence in tRNA from bacteria and eukarya. A total of 33 modified nucleosides are rigorously characterized in archaeal tRNA in the present study, demonstrating that the structural range of posttranscriptional modifications in archaeal tRNA is more extensive than previously known. From a phylogenetic standpoint, certain tRNA modifications occur in the archaea which are otherwise unique to either the bacterial or eukaryal domain, although the overall patterns of modification are more typical of eukaryotes than bacteria.
A putative transposase from T. acidophilum encoded by the Ta0474 gene was crystallized and X-ray diffraction data were collected to 1.78 Å.
IS200 transposases, originally identified in Salmonella typhimurium LT2, are present in many bacteria and archaea and are distinct from other groups of transposases. To facilitate further structural comparisons among IS200-like transposases, structural analysis has been initiated of a putative transposase from Thermoplasma acidophilum encoded by the Ta0474 gene. Its 137-residue polypeptide shows high levels of sequence similarity to other members of the IS200 transposase family. The protein was overexpressed in intact form in Escherichia coli and crystallized at 297 K using a reservoir solution consisting of 100 mM Na HEPES pH 7.5 and 20%(v/v) ethanol. X-ray diffraction data were collected to 1.78 Å. The crystals belong to the monoclinic space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 65.00, b = 34.07, c = 121.58 Å, α = 90, β = 100.20, γ = 90°. Four monomers, representing two copies of a dimeric molecule, are present in the asymmetric unit, giving a crystal volume per protein weight (V
M) of 2.02 Å3 Da−1 and a solvent content of 39.2%.
IS200 transposase; insertion sequence; Ta0474; Thermoplasma acidophilum; transposons
The genome of the halophilic archaeon Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 encodes for homologs of MutS and MutL, which are key proteins of a DNA mismatch repair pathway conserved in Bacteria and Eukarya. Mismatch repair is essential for retaining the fidelity of genetic information and defects in this pathway result in the deleterious accumulation of mutations and in hereditary diseases in humans.
We calculated the spontaneous genomic mutation rate of H. salinarum NRC-1 using fluctuation tests targeting genes of the uracil monophosphate biosynthesis pathway. We found that H. salinarum NRC-1 has a low incidence of mutation suggesting the presence of active mechanisms to control spontaneous mutations during replication. The spectrum of mutational changes found in H. salinarum NRC-1, and in other archaea, appears to be unique to this domain of life and might be a consequence of their adaption to extreme environmental conditions. In-frame targeted gene deletions of H. salinarum NRC-1 mismatch repair genes and phenotypic characterization of the mutants demonstrated that the mutS and mutL genes are not required for maintenance of the observed mutation rate.
We established that H. salinarum NRC-1 mutS and mutL genes are redundant to an alternative system that limits spontaneous mutation in this organism. This finding leads to the puzzling question of what mechanism is responsible for maintenance of the low genomic mutation rates observed in the Archaea, which for the most part do not have MutS and MutL homologs.
The genome sequence of the extremely thermophilic bacterium Aquifex aeolicus encodes alternative sigma factor ςN (ς54, RpoN) and five potential ςN-dependent transcriptional activators. Although A. aeolicus possesses no recognizable nitrogenase genes, two of the activators have a high degree of sequence similarity to NifA proteins from nitrogen-fixing proteobacteria. We identified five putative ςN-dependent promoters upstream of operons implicated in functions including sulfur respiration, nitrogen assimilation, nitrate reductase, and nitrite reductase activity. We cloned, overexpressed (in Escherichia coli), and purified A. aeolicus ςN and the NifA homologue, AQ_218. Purified A. aeolicus ςN bound to E. coli core RNA polymerase and bound specifically to a DNA fragment containing E. coli promoter glnHp2 and to several A. aeolicus DNA fragments containing putative ςN-dependent promoters. When combined with E. coli core RNA polymerase, A. aeolicus ςN supported A. aeolicus NifA-dependent transcription from the glnHp2 promoter. The E. coli activator PspFΔHTH did not stimulate transcription. The NifA homologue, AQ_218, bound specifically to a DNA sequence centered about 100 bp upstream of the A. aeolicus glnBA operon and so is likely to be involved in the regulation of nitrogen assimilation in this organism. These results argue that the ςN enhancer-dependent transcription system operates in at least one extreme environment, and that the activator and ςN have coevolved.
By an experimental RNomics approach, we have generated a cDNA library from small RNAs expressed from the genome of the hyperthermophilic bacterium Aquifex aeolicus. The library included RNAs that were antisense to mRNAs and tRNAs as well as RNAs encoded in intergenic regions. Substantial steady-state levels in A.aeolicus cells were confirmed for several of the cloned RNAs by northern blot analysis. The most abundant intergenic RNA of the library was identified as the 6S RNA homolog of A.aeolicus. Although shorter in size (150 nt) than its γ-proteobacterial homologs (∼185 nt), it is predicted to have the most stable structure among known 6S RNAs. As in the γ-proteobacteria, the A.aeolicus 6S RNA gene (ssrS) is located immediately upstream of the ygfA gene encoding a widely conserved 5-formyltetrahydrofolate cyclo-ligase. We identifed novel 6S RNA candidates within the γ-proteobacteria but were unable to identify reasonable 6S RNA candidates in other bacterial branches, utilizing mfold analyses of the region immediately upstream of ygfA combined with 6S RNA blastn searches. By RACE experiments, we mapped the major transcription initiation site of A.aeolicus 6S RNA primary transcripts, located within the pheT gene preceding ygfA, as well as three processing sites.
The recently published complete DNA sequence of the bacterium Thermotoga maritima provides evidence, based on protein sequence conservation, for lateral gene transfer between Archaea and Bacteria. We introduce a new method of periodicity analysis of DNA sequences, based on structural parameters, which brings independent evidence for the lateral gene transfer in the genome of T.maritima. The structural analysis relates the Archaea-like DNA sequences to the genome of Pyrococcus horikoshii. Analysis of 24 complete genomic DNA sequences shows different periodicity patterns for organisms of different origin. The typical genomic periodicity for Bacteria is 11 bp whilst it is 10 bp for Archaea. Eukaryotes have more complex spectra but the dominant period in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is 10.2 bp. These periodicities are most likely reflective of differences in chromatin structure.
Archaeal membrane lipids consist of branched, saturated hydrocarbons distinct from those found in bacteria and eukaryotes. Digeranylgeranylglycerophospholipid reductase (DGGR) catalyzes the hydrogenation process that converts unsaturated 2,3-di-O-geranylgeranylglyceryl phosphate to saturated 2,3-di-O-phytanylglyceryl phosphate as a critical step in the biosynthesis of archaeal membrane lipids. The saturation of hydrocarbon chains confers the ability to resist hydrolysis and oxidation and helps archaea withstand extreme conditions. DGGR is a member of the geranylgeranyl reductase (GGR) family that is also widely distributed in bacteria and plants, where the family members are involved in the biosynthesis of photosynthetic pigments. We have determined the crystal structure of DGGR from the thermophilic heterotrophic archaea Thermoplasma acidophilum at 1.6 Å resolution, in complex with FAD and a bacterial lipid. The DGGR structure can be assigned to the well-studied, para-hydroxybenzoate hydroxylase (PHBH) SCOP superfamily of flavoproteins that include many aromatic hydroxylases and other enzymes with diverse functions. In the DGGR complex, FAD adopts the IN conformation (closed) previously observed in other PHBH flavoproteins. DGGR contains a large substrate-binding site that extends across the entire ligand-binding domain. Electron density corresponding to a bacterial lipid was found within this cavity. The cavity consists of a large opening that tapers down to two narrow curved tunnels that closely mimic the shape of the preferred substrate. We identified a sequence motif, PxxYxWxFP, that defines a specificity pocket in the structure and precisely aligns the double bond of the geranyl group with respect to the FAD cofactor, thus providing a structural basis for the substrate specificity of GGRs. DGGR is likely to share a common mechanism with other PHBH enzymes in which FAD switches between two conformations that correspond to the reductive and oxidative half cycles. The structure provides evidence that substrate binding likely involves conformational changes, which are coupled to the two conformational states of the FAD.
The mal genes that encode maltose transporters have undergone extensive lateral transfer among ancestors of the archaea Thermococcus litoralis and Pyrococcus furiosus. Bacterial hyperthermophiles of the order Thermotogales live among these archaea and so may have shared in these transfers. The genome sequence of Thermotoga maritima bears evidence of extensive acquisition of archaeal genes, so its ancestors clearly had the capacity to do so. We examined deep phylogenetic relationships among the mal genes of these hyperthermophiles and their close relatives to look for evidence of shared ancestry.
We demonstrate that the two maltose ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporter operons now found in Tc. litoralis and P. furiosus (termed mal and mdx genes, respectively) are not closely related to one another. The Tc. litoralis and P. furiosus mal genes are most closely related to bacterial mal genes while their respective mdx genes are archaeal. The genes of the two mal operons in Tt. maritima are not related to genes in either of these archaeal operons. They are highly similar to one another and belong to a phylogenetic lineage that includes mal genes from the enteric bacteria. A unique domain of the enteric MalF membrane spanning proteins found also in these Thermotogales MalF homologs supports their relatively close relationship with these enteric proteins. Analyses of genome sequence data from other Thermotogales species, Fervidobacterium nodosum, Thermosipho melanesiensis, Thermotoga petrophila, Thermotoga lettingae, and Thermotoga neapolitana, revealed a third apparent mal operon, absent from the published genome sequence of Tt. maritima strain MSB8. This third operon, mal3, is more closely related to the Thermococcales' bacteria-derived mal genes than are mal1 and mal2. F. nodosum, Ts. melanesiensis, and Tt. lettingae have only one of the mal1-mal2 paralogs. The mal2 operon from an unknown species of Thermotoga appears to have been horizontally acquired by a Thermotoga species that had only mal1.
These data demonstrate that the Tc. litoralis and P. furiosus mdx maltodextrin transporter operons arose in the Archaea while their mal maltose transporter operons arose in a bacterial lineage, but not the same lineage as the two maltose transporter operons found in the published Tt. maritima genome sequence. These Tt. maritima maltose transporters are phylogenetically and structurally similar to those found in enteric bacteria and the mal2 operon was horizontally transferred within the Thermotoga lineage. Other Thermotogales species have a third mal operon that is more closely related to the bacterial Thermococcales mal operons, but the data do not support a recent horizontal sharing of that operon between these groups.
The pathway of cysteine biosynthesis in archaea is still unexplored. Complementation of a cysteine auxotrophic Escherichia coli strain NK3 led to the isolation of the Methanosarcina barkeri cysK gene [encoding O-acetylserine (thiol)-lyase-A], which displays great similarity to bacterial cysK genes. Adjacent to cysK is an open reading frame orthologous to bacterial cysE (serine transacetylase) genes. These two genes could account for cysteine biosynthesis in this archaeon. Analysis of recent genome data revealed the presence of bacteria-like cysM genes [encoding O-acetylserine (thiol)-lyase-B] in Pyrococcus spp., Sulfolobus solfataricus, and Thermoplasma acidophilum. However, no orthologs for these genes can be found in Methanococcus jannaschii, Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum, and Archaeoglobus fulgidus, implying the existence of unrecognizable genes for the same function or a different cysteine biosynthesis pathway.
Hyperthermophilic bacteria from the Thermotogales lineage can produce hydrogen by fermenting a wide range of carbohydrates. Previous experimental studies identified a large fraction of genes committed to carbohydrate degradation and utilization in the model bacterium Thermotoga maritima. Knowledge of these genes enabled comprehensive reconstruction of biochemical pathways comprising the carbohydrate utilization network. However, transcriptional factors (TFs) and regulatory mechanisms driving this network remained largely unknown. Here, we used an integrated approach based on comparative analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data for the reconstruction of the carbohydrate utilization regulatory networks in 11 Thermotogales genomes. We identified DNA-binding motifs and regulons for 19 orthologous TFs in the Thermotogales. The inferred regulatory network in T. maritima contains 181 genes encoding TFs, sugar catabolic enzymes and ABC-family transporters. In contrast to many previously described bacteria, a transcriptional regulation strategy of Thermotoga does not employ global regulatory factors. The reconstructed regulatory network in T. maritima was validated by gene expression profiling on a panel of mono- and disaccharides and by in vitro DNA-binding assays. The observed upregulation of genes involved in catabolism of pectin, trehalose, cellobiose, arabinose, rhamnose, xylose, glucose, galactose, and ribose showed a strong correlation with the UxaR, TreR, BglR, CelR, AraR, RhaR, XylR, GluR, GalR, and RbsR regulons. Ultimately, this study elucidated the transcriptional regulatory network and mechanisms controlling expression of carbohydrate utilization genes in T. maritima. In addition to improving the functional annotations of associated transporters and catabolic enzymes, this research provides novel insights into the evolution of regulatory networks in Thermotogales.
carbohydrate metabolism; transcriptional regulation; regulon; comparative genomics; Thermotoga
S-Adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (AdoMetDC) is a critical enzyme in the polyamine biosynthetic pathway and a subject of many structural and biochemical investigations for anti-cancer and anti-parasitic therapy. The enzyme undergoes an internal serinolysis reaction as a post-translational modification to generate the active site pyruvoyl group for the decarboxylation process. The crystal structures of AdoMetDC from Homo sapiens, Solanum tuberosum, Thermotoga maritima, and Aquifex aeolicus have been determined. Numerous crystal structures of human AdoMetDC and mutants have provided insights into the mechanism of autoprocessing, putrescine activation, substrate specificity, and inhibitor design to the enzyme. The comparison of the human and potato enzyme with the T. maritima and A. aeolicus enzymes supports the hypothesis that the eukaryotic enzymes evolved by gene duplication and fusion. The residues implicated in processing and activity are structurally conserved in all forms of the enzyme, suggesting a divergent evolution of AdoMetDC.
polyamines; protein evolution; putrescine activation; cation-pi interactions; pyruvoyl cofactor
The gene encoding a type I pullulanase was identified from the genome sequence of the anaerobic thermoalkaliphilic bacterium Anaerobranca gottschalkii. In addition, the homologous gene was isolated from a gene library of Anaerobranca horikoshii and sequenced. The proteins encoded by these two genes showed 39% amino acid sequence identity to the pullulanases from the thermophilic anaerobic bacteria Fervidobacterium pennivorans and Thermotoga maritima. The pullulanase gene from A. gottschalkii (encoding 865 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of 98 kDa) was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli strain BL21(DE3) so that the protein did not have the signal peptide. Accordingly, the molecular mass of the purified recombinant pullulanase (rPulAg) was 96 kDa. Pullulan hydrolysis activity was optimal at pH 8.0 and 70°C, and under these physicochemical conditions the half-life of rPulAg was 22 h. By using an alternative expression strategy in E. coli Tuner(DE3)(pLysS), the pullulanase gene from A. gottschalkii, including its signal peptide-encoding sequence, was cloned. In this case, the purified recombinant enzyme was a truncated 70-kDa form (rPulAg′). The N-terminal sequence of purified rPulAg′ was found 252 amino acids downstream from the start site, presumably indicating that there was alternative translation initiation or N-terminal protease cleavage by E. coli. Interestingly, most of the physicochemical properties of rPulAg′ were identical to those of rPulAg. Both enzymes degraded pullulan via an endo-type mechanism, yielding maltotriose as the final product, and hydrolytic activity was also detected with amylopectin, starch, β-limited dextrins, and glycogen but not with amylose. This substrate specificity is typical of type I pullulanases. rPulAg was inhibited by cyclodextrins, whereas addition of mono- or bivalent cations did not have a stimulating effect. In addition, rPulAg′ was stable in the presence of 0.5% sodium dodecyl sulfate, 20% Tween, and 50% Triton X-100. The pullulanase from A. gottschalkii is the first thermoalkalistable type I pullulanase that has been described.
An endonuclease IV homolog was identified as the product of a conceptual open reading frame in the genome of the hyperthermophilic bacterium Thermotoga maritima. The T. maritima endonuclease IV gene encodes a 287-amino-acid protein with 32% sequence identity to Escherichia coli endonuclease IV. The gene was cloned, and the expressed protein was purified and shown to have enzymatic activities that are characteristic of the endonuclease IV family of DNA repair enzymes, including apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease activity and repair activities on 3′-phosphates, 3′-phosphoglycolates, and 3′-trans-4-hydroxy-2-pentenal-5-phosphates. The T. maritima enzyme exhibits enzyme activity at both low and high temperatures. Circular dichroism spectroscopy indicates that T. maritima endonuclease IV has secondary structure similar to that of E. coli endonuclease IV and that the T. maritima endonuclease IV structure is more stable than E. coli endonuclease IV by almost 20°C, beginning to rapidly denature only at temperatures approaching 90°C. The presence of this enzyme, which is part of the DNA base excision repair pathway, suggests that thermophiles use a mechanism similar to that used by mesophiles to deal with the large number of abasic sites that arise in their chromosomes due to the increased rates of DNA damage at elevated temperatures.
To elucidate the organization of the transcription units encoding the 16S, 23S and 5S rRNAs in the archaebacterium Thermoplasma acidophilum, the nucleotide sequences flanking the three rRNA genes were determined, and the 5' and 3' termini of the rRNA transcripts were mapped by primer extension and nuclease S1 protection. The results show that each of the rRNAs is transcribed separately, consistent with the lack of physical proximity among them in the T. acidophilum genome. The transcription initiation sites are preceded at an interval of approximately 25 base pairs by conserved A + T-rich sequences of the form CTTATATA, which strongly resemble the archaebacterial promoter consensus, TTTAT/AATA. In all three cases, transcription termination occurs within T-rich tracts just downstream from inverted repeats which can be folded into relatively stable stem-loop structures. While no partially processed intermediates of the 16S or 5S rRNA transcripts were detected, the 23S rRNA transcript appears to be processed by a RNase III-like activity prior to final maturation. This is the only organism known in the prokaryotic world in which the 16S, 23S and 5S rRNAs are all expressed from separate transcription units.
The ubiquitous Rad50 and Mre11 proteins play a key role in many processes involved in the maintenance of genome integrity in Bacteria and Eucarya, but their function in the Archaea is presently unknown. We showed previously that in most hyperthermophilic archaea, rad50-mre11 genes are linked to nurA encoding both a single-strand endonuclease and a 5' to 3' exonuclease, and herA, encoding a bipolar DNA helicase which suggests the involvement of the four proteins in common molecular pathway(s). Since genetic tools for hyperthermophilic archaea are just emerging, we utilized immuno-detection approaches to get the first in vivo data on the role(s) of these proteins in the hyperthermophilic crenarchaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius.
We first showed that S. acidocaldarius can repair DNA damage induced by high doses of gamma rays, and we performed a time course analysis of the total levels and sub-cellular partitioning of Rad50, Mre11, HerA and NurA along with the RadA recombinase in both control and irradiated cells. We found that during the exponential phase, all proteins are synthesized and display constant levels, but that all of them exhibit a different sub-cellular partitioning. Following gamma irradiation, both Mre11 and RadA are immediately recruited to DNA and remain DNA-bound in the course of DNA repair. Furthermore, we show by immuno-precipitation assays that Rad50, Mre11 and the HerA helicase interact altogether.
Our analyses strongly support that in Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, the Mre11 protein and the RadA recombinase might play an active role in the repair of DNA damage introduced by gamma rays and/or may act as DNA damage sensors. Moreover, our results demonstrate the functional interaction between Mre11, Rad50 and the HerA helicase and suggest that each protein play different roles when acting on its own or in association with its partners. This report provides the first in vivo evidence supporting the implication of the Mre11 protein in DNA repair processes in the Archaea and showing its interaction with both Rad50 and the HerA bipolar helicase. Further studies on the functional interactions between these proteins, the NurA nuclease and the RadA recombinase, will allow us to define their roles and mechanism of action.
Hippea maritima (Miroshnichenko et al. 1999) is the type species of the genus Hippea, which belongs to the family Desulfurellaceae within the class Deltaproteobacteria. The anaerobic, moderately thermophilic marine sulfur-reducer was first isolated from shallow-water hot vents in Matipur Harbor, Papua New Guinea. H. maritima was of interest for genome sequencing because of its isolated phylogenetic location, as a distant next neighbor of the genus Desulfurella. Strain MH2T is the first type strain from the order Desulfurellales with a completely sequenced genome. The 1,694,430 bp long linear genome with its 1,723 protein-coding and 57 RNA genes consists of one circular chromosome and is a part of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea project.
anaerobic; motile; rod-shaped; Gram-negative; marine; moderately thermophilic; sulfur-reducer; Desulfurellaceae; GEBA
The ability of archaea to salvage cobinamide has been under question because archaeal genomes lack orthologs to the bacterial nucleoside triphosphate:5′-deoxycobinamide kinase enzyme (cobU in Salmonella enterica). The latter activity is required for cobinamide salvaging in bacteria. This paper reports evidence that archaea salvage cobinamide from the environment by using a pathway different from the one used by bacteria. These studies demanded the functional characterization of two genes whose putative function had been annotated based solely on their homology to the bacterial genes encoding adenosylcobyric acid and adenosylcobinamide-phosphate synthases (cbiP and cbiB, respectively) of S. enterica. A cbiP mutant strain of the archaeon Halobacterium sp. strain NRC-1 was auxotrophic for adenosylcobyric acid, a known intermediate of the de novo cobamide biosynthesis pathway, but efficiently salvaged cobinamide from the environment, suggesting the existence of a salvaging pathway in this archaeon. A cbiB mutant strain of Halobacterium was auxotrophic for adenosylcobinamide-GDP, a known de novo intermediate, and did not salvage cobinamide. The results of the nutritional analyses of the cbiP and cbiB mutants suggested that the entry point for cobinamide salvaging is adenosylcobyric acid. The data are consistent with a salvaging pathway for cobinamide in which an amidohydrolase enzyme cleaves off the aminopropanol moiety of adenosylcobinamide to yield adenosylcobyric acid, which is converted by the adenosylcobinamide-phosphate synthase enzyme to adenosylcobinamide-phosphate, a known intermediate of the de novo biosynthetic pathway. The existence of an adenosylcobinamide amidohydrolase enzyme would explain the lack of an adenosylcobinamide kinase in archaea.
Despite the fact that phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) activity has been measured and in some cases even purified from some Archaea, the gene responsible for this activity has not been elucidated. Using sensitive sequence comparison methods, we detected a highly conserved, uncharacterized archaeal gene family that is distantly related to the catalytic core of the canonical PEPC. To verify the predicted function of this archaeal gene family, we cloned a representative from the hyperthermophilic acidophile Sulfolobus solfataricus and functionally produced the corresponding enzyme as a fusion with the Escherichia coli maltose-binding protein. The purified fusion protein indeed displayed highly thermostable PEPC activity. The structural and biochemical properties of the characterized archaeal-type PEPC (atPEPC) from S. solfataricus are in good agreement with previously reported biochemical analyses of other archaeal PEPC enzymes. The newly identified atPEPC, with its distinct properties, constitutes yet another example of the versatility of the enzymes of the central carbon metabolic pathways in the archaeal domain.
The Archaea are highly diverse in terms of their physiology, metabolism and ecology. Presently, very few molecular characteristics are known that are uniquely shared by either all archaea or the different main groups within archaea. The evolutionary relationships among different groups within the Euryarchaeota branch are also not clearly understood.
We have carried out comprehensive analyses on each open reading frame (ORFs) in the genomes of 11 archaea (3 Crenarchaeota – Aeropyrum pernix, Pyrobaculum aerophilum and Sulfolobus acidocaldarius; 8 Euryarchaeota – Pyrococcus abyssi, Methanococcus maripaludis, Methanopyrus kandleri, Methanococcoides burtonii, Halobacterium sp. NCR-1, Haloquadratum walsbyi, Thermoplasma acidophilum and Picrophilus torridus) to search for proteins that are unique to either all Archaea or for its main subgroups. These studies have identified 1448 proteins or ORFs that are distinctive characteristics of Archaea and its various subgroups and whose homologues are not found in other organisms. Six of these proteins are unique to all Archaea, 10 others are only missing in Nanoarchaeum equitans and a large number of other proteins are specific for various main groups within the Archaea (e.g. Crenarchaeota, Euryarchaeota, Sulfolobales and Desulfurococcales, Halobacteriales, Thermococci, Thermoplasmata, all methanogenic archaea or particular groups of methanogens). Of particular importance is the observation that 31 proteins are uniquely present in virtually all methanogens (including M. kandleri) and 10 additional proteins are only found in different methanogens as well as A. fulgidus. In contrast, no protein was exclusively shared by various methanogen and any of the Halobacteriales or Thermoplasmatales. These results strongly indicate that all methanogenic archaea form a monophyletic group exclusive of other archaea and that this lineage likely evolved from Archaeoglobus. In addition, 15 proteins that are uniquely shared by M. kandleri and Methanobacteriales suggest a close evolutionary relationship between them. In contrast to the phylogenomics studies, a monophyletic grouping of archaea is not supported by phylogenetic analyses based on protein sequences.
The identified archaea-specific proteins provide novel molecular markers or signature proteins that are distinctive characteristics of Archaea and all of its major subgroups. The species distributions of these proteins provide novel insights into the evolutionary relationships among different groups within Archaea, particularly regarding the origin of methanogenesis. Most of these proteins are of unknown function and further studies should lead to discovery of novel biochemical and physiological characteristics that are unique to either all archaea or its different subgroups.
The gene encoding the type I pullulanase from the extremely thermophilic anaerobic bacterium Fervidobacterium pennavorans Ven5 was cloned and sequenced in Escherichia coli. The pulA gene from F. pennavorans Ven5 had 50.1% pairwise amino acid identity with pulA from the anaerobic hyperthermophile Thermotoga maritima and contained the four regions conserved among all amylolytic enzymes. The pullulanase gene (pulA) encodes a protein of 849 amino acids with a 28-residue signal peptide. The pulA gene was subcloned without its signal sequence and overexpressed in E. coli under the control of the trc promoter. This clone, E. coli FD748, produced two proteins (93 and 83 kDa) with pullulanase activity. A second start site, identified 118 amino acids downstream from the ATG start site, with a Shine-Dalgarno-like sequence (GGAGG) and TTG translation initiation codon was mutated to produce only the 93-kDa protein. The recombinant purified pullulanases (rPulAs) were optimally active at pH 6 and 80°C and had a half-life of 2 h at 80°C. The rPulAs hydrolyzed α-1,6 glycosidic linkages of pullulan, starch, amylopectin, glycogen, α-β-limited dextrin. Interestingly, amylose, which contains only α-1,4 glycosidic linkages, was not hydrolyzed by rPulAs. According to these results, the enzyme is classified as a debranching enzyme, pullulanase type I. The extraordinary high substrate specificity of rPulA together with its thermal stability makes this enzyme a good candidate for biotechnological applications in the starch-processing industry.
Sugar phosphorylation is an indispensable committed step in a large variety of sugar catabolic pathways, which are major suppliers of carbon and energy in heterotrophic species. Specialized sugar kinases that are indispensable for most of these pathways can be utilized as signature enzymes for the reconstruction of carbohydrate utilization machinery from microbial genomic and metagenomic data. Sugar kinases occur in several structurally distinct families with various partially overlapping as well as yet unknown substrate specificities that often cannot be accurately assigned by homology-based techniques. A subsystems-based metabolic reconstruction combined with the analysis of genome context and followed by experimental testing of predicted gene functions is a powerful approach of functional gene annotation. Here we applied this integrated approach for functional mapping of all sugar kinases constituting an extensive and diverse sugar kinome in the thermophilic bacterium Thermotoga maritima. Substrate preferences of 14 kinases mainly from the FGGY and PfkB families were inferred by bioinformatics analysis and biochemically characterized by screening with a panel of 45 different carbohydrates. Most of the analyzed enzymes displayed narrow substrate preferences corresponding to their predicted physiological roles in their respective catabolic pathways. The observed consistency supports the choice of kinases as signature enzymes for genomics-based identification and reconstruction of sugar utilization pathways. Use of the integrated genomic and experimental approach greatly speeds up the identification of the biochemical function of unknown proteins and improves the quality of reconstructed pathways.
We present a comparative analysis of two genome fragments isolated from a diverse and widely distributed group of uncultured euryarchaea from deep-sea hydrothermal vents. The optimal activity and thermostability of a DNA polymerase predicted in one fragment were close to that of the thermophilic archaeon Thermoplasma acidophilum, providing evidence for a thermophilic way of life of this group of uncultured archaea.