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1.  Picrophilus gen. nov., fam. nov.: a novel aerobic, heterotrophic, thermoacidophilic genus and family comprising archaea capable of growth around pH 0. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1995;177(24):7050-7059.
Two species belonging to a novel genus of archaea, designated Picrophilus oshimae and Picrophilus torridus, have been isolated from two different solfataric locations in northern Japan. One habitat harboring both organisms was a dry, extremely acidic soil (pH < 0.5) that was heated by solfataric gases to about 55 degrees C. In the laboratory both species grew heterotrophically on yeast extract and poorly on tryptone under aerobic conditions at temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees C; they grew optimally at 60 degrees C. The pH optimum was 0.7, but growth occurred even around pH 0. Under optimal conditions, the generation time was about 6 h, yielding densities of up to 10(10) cells per ml. The cells were surrounded by a highly filigreed regular tetragonal S-layer, and the core lipids of the membrane were mainly bis-phytanyltetraethers. The 16S rRNA sequences of the two species were about 3% different. The complete 16S rRNA sequence of P. oshimae was 9.3% different from that of the closest relative, Thermoplasma acidophilum. The morphology and physiological properties of the two species characterize Picrophilus as a novel genus that is a member of a novel family within the order Thermoplasmales.
PMCID: PMC177581  PMID: 8522509
2.  Characterization of the Replication Initiator Orc1/Cdc6 from the Archaeon Picrophilus torridus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2014;196(2):276-286.
Eukaryotic DNA replication is preceded by the assembly of prereplication complexes (pre-RCs) at or very near origins in G1 phase, which licenses origin firing in S phase. The archaeal DNA replication machinery broadly resembles the eukaryal apparatus, though simpler in form. The eukaryotic replication initiator origin recognition complex (ORC), which serially recruits Cdc6 and other pre-RC proteins, comprises six components, Orc1-6. In archaea, a single gene encodes a protein similar to both the eukaryotic Cdc6 and the Orc1 subunit of the eukaryotic ORC, with most archaea possessing one to three Orc1/Cdc6 orthologs. Genome sequence analysis of the extreme acidophile Picrophilus torridus revealed a single Orc1/Cdc6 (PtOrc1/Cdc6). Biochemical analyses show MBP-tagged PtOrc1/Cdc6 to preferentially bind ORB (origin recognition box) sequences. The protein hydrolyzes ATP in a DNA-independent manner, though DNA inhibits MBP-PtOrc1/Cdc6-mediated ATP hydrolysis. PtOrc1/Cdc6 exists in stable complex with PCNA in Picrophilus extracts, and MBP-PtOrc1/Cdc6 interacts directly with PCNA through a PIP box near its C terminus. Furthermore, PCNA stimulates MBP-PtOrc1/Cdc6-mediated ATP hydrolysis in a DNA-dependent manner. This is the first study reporting a direct interaction between Orc1/Cdc6 and PCNA in archaea. The bacterial initiator DnaA is converted from an active to an inactive form by ATP hydrolysis, a process greatly facilitated by the bacterial ortholog of PCNA, the β subunit of Pol III. The stimulation of PtOrc1/Cdc6-mediated ATP hydrolysis by PCNA and the conservation of PCNA-interacting protein motifs in several archaeal PCNAs suggest the possibility of a similar mechanism of regulation existing in archaea. This mechanism may involve other yet to be identified archaeal proteins.
PMCID: PMC3911243  PMID: 24187082
3.  Molecular and Biochemical Characterization of α-Glucosidase and α-Mannosidase and Their Clustered Genes from the Thermoacidophilic Archaeon Picrophilus torridus†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(20):7123-7131.
The genes encoding a putative α-glucosidase (aglA) and an α-mannosidase (manA) appear to be physically clustered in the genome of the extreme acidophile Picrophilus torridus, a situation not found previously in any other organism possessing aglA or manA homologs. While archaeal α-glucosidases have been described, no α-mannosidase enzymes from the archaeal kingdom have been reported previously. Transcription start site mapping and Northern blot analysis revealed that despite their colinear orientation and the small intergenic space, the genes are independently transcribed, both producing leaderless mRNA. aglA and manA were cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli, and the purified recombinant enzymes were characterized with respect to their physicochemical and biochemical properties. AglA displayed strict substrate specificity and hydrolyzed maltose, as well as longer α-1,4-linked maltooligosaccharides. ManA, on the other hand, hydrolyzed all possible linkage types of α-glycosidically linked mannose disaccharides and was able to hydrolyze α3,α6-mannopentaose, which represents the core structure of many triantennary N-linked carbohydrates in glycoproteins. The probable physiological role of the two enzymes in the utilization of exogenous glycoproteins and/or in the turnover of the organism's own glycoproteins is discussed.
PMCID: PMC1636218  PMID: 17015651
4.  Phylogenomic analysis of proteins that are distinctive of Archaea and its main subgroups and the origin of methanogenesis 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:86.
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.
PMCID: PMC1852104  PMID: 17394648
5.  Isolation of a New Broad-Host-Range IncQ-Like Plasmid, pTC-F14, from the Acidophilic Bacterium Acidithiobacillus caldus and Analysis of the Plasmid Replicon 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(11):3303-3309.
A moderately thermophilic (45 to 50°C), highly acidophilic (pH 1.5 to 2.5), chemolithotrophic Acidithiobacillus caldus strain, f, was isolated from a biooxidation process used to treat nickel ore. Trans-alternating field electrophoresis analysis of total DNA from the A. caldus cells revealed two plasmids of approximately 14 and 45 kb. The 14-kb plasmid, designated pTC-F14, was cloned and shown by replacement of the cloning vector with a kanamycin resistance gene to be capable of autonomous replication in Escherichia coli. Autonomous replication was also demonstrated in Pseudomonas putida and Agrobacterium tumefaciens LBA 4404, which suggested that pTC-F14 is a broad-host-range plasmid. Sequence analysis of the pTC-F14 replicon region revealed five open reading frames and a replicon organization like that of the broad-host-range IncQ plasmids. Three of the open reading frames encoded replication proteins which were most closely related to those of IncQ-like plasmid pTF-FC2 (amino acid sequence identities: RepA, 81%; RepB, 78%; RepC, 74%). However, the two plasmids were fully compatible and pTC-F14 represents a new IncQ-like plasmid replicon. Surprisingly, asymmetrical incompatibility was found with the less closely related IncQ plasmid R300B derivative pKE462 and the IncQ-like plasmid derivative pIE1108. Analysis of the pTC-F14 oriV region revealed five direct repeats consisting of three perfectly conserved 22-bp iterons flanked by iterons of 23 and 21 bp. Plasmid pTC-F14 had a copy number of 12 to 16 copies per chromosome in both E. coli, and A. caldus. The rep gene products of pTC-F14 and pTF-FC2 were unable to functionally complement each other's oriV regions, but replication occurred when the genes for each plasmid's own RepA, RepB, and RepC proteins were provided in trans. Two smaller open reading frames were found between the repB and repA genes of pTC-F14, which encode proteins with high amino acid sequence identity (PasA, 81%; PasB, 72%) to the plasmid addiction system of pTF-FC2. This is the second time a plasmid stability system of this type has been found on an IncQ-like plasmid.
PMCID: PMC99627  PMID: 11344137
6.  Drosophila innate immunity: regional and functional specialization of prophenoloxidases 
BMC Biology  2015;13:81.
The diversification of immune systems during evolution involves the expansion of particular gene families in given phyla. A better understanding of the metazoan immune system requires an analysis of the logic underlying such immune gene amplification. This analysis is now within reach due to the ease with which we can generate multiple mutations in an organism. In this paper, we analyze the contribution of the three Drosophila prophenoloxidases (PPOs) to host defense by generating single, double and triple mutants. PPOs are enzymes that catalyze the production of melanin at the site of infection and around parasites. They are the rate-limiting enzymes that contribute to the melanization reaction, a major immune mechanism of arthropods. The number of PPO-encoding genes is variable among insects, ranging from one in the bee to ten in the mosquito.
By analyzing mutations alone and in combination, we ascribe a specific function to each of the three PPOs of Drosophila. Our study confirms that two PPOs produced by crystal cells, PPO1 and PPO2, contribute to the bulk of melanization in the hemolymph, upon septic or clean injury. In contrast, PPO3, a PPO restricted to the D. melanogaster group, is expressed in lamellocytes and contributes to melanization during the encapsulation process. Interestingly, another overlapping set of PPOs, PPO2 and PPO3, achieve melanization of the capsule upon parasitoid wasp infection.
The use of single or combined mutations allowed us to show that each PPO mutant has a specific phenotype, and that knocking out two of three genes is required to abolish fully a particular function. Thus, Drosophila PPOs have partially overlapping functions to optimize melanization in at least two conditions: following injury or during encapsulation. Since PPO3 is restricted to the D. melanogaster group, this suggests that production of PPO by lamellocytes emerged as a recent defense mechanism against parasitoid wasps. We conclude that differences in spatial localization, immediate or late availability, and mode of activation underlie the functional diversification of the three Drosophila PPOs, with each of them having non-redundant but overlapping functions.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12915-015-0193-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4595066  PMID: 26437768
Drosophila; Prophenoloxidase; Melanization; Gene family; Immunity; Duplication
7.  Duplicate polyphenol oxidase genes on barley chromosome 2H and their functional differentiation in the phenol reaction of spikes and grains 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;61(14):3983-3993.
Polyphenol oxidases (PPOs) are copper-containing metalloenzymes encoded in the nucleus and transported into the plastids. Reportedly, PPOs cause time-dependent discoloration (browning) of end-products of wheat and barley, which impairs their appearance quality. For this study, two barley PPO homologues were amplified using PCR with a primer pair designed in the copper binding domains of the wheat PPO genes. The full-lengths of the respective PPO genes were cloned using a BAC library, inverse-PCR, and 3′-RACE. Linkage analysis showed that the polymorphisms in PPO1 and PPO2 co-segregated with the phenol reaction phenotype of awns. Subsequent RT-PCR experiments showed that PPO1 was expressed in hulls and awns, and that PPO2 was expressed in the caryopses. Allelic variation of PPO1 and PPO2 was analysed in 51 barley accessions with the negative phenol reaction of awns. In PPO1, amino acid substitutions of five types affecting functionally important motif(s) or C-terminal region(s) were identified in 40 of the 51 accessions tested. In PPO2, only one mutant allele with a precocious stop codon resulting from an 8 bp insertion in the first exon was found in three of the 51 accessions tested. These observations demonstrate that PPO1 is the major determinant controlling the phenol reaction of awns. Comparisons of PPO1 single mutants and the PPO1PPO2 double mutant indicate that PPO2 controls the phenol reaction in the crease on the ventral side of caryopses. An insertion of a hAT-family transposon in the promoter region of PPO2 may be responsible for different expression patterns of the duplicate PPO genes in barley.
PMCID: PMC2935872  PMID: 20616156
Gene duplication; grasses; Hordeum vulgare; mutant; phenol reaction; PPO
8.  Microbial iron management mechanisms in extremely acidic environments: comparative genomics evidence for diversity and versatility 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:203.
Iron is an essential nutrient but can be toxic at high intracellular concentrations and organisms have evolved tightly regulated mechanisms for iron uptake and homeostasis. Information on iron management mechanisms is available for organisms living at circumneutral pH. However, very little is known about how acidophilic bacteria, especially those used for industrial copper bioleaching, cope with environmental iron loads that can be 1018 times the concentration found in pH neutral environments. This study was motivated by the need to fill this lacuna in knowledge. An understanding of how microorganisms thrive in acidic ecosystems with high iron loads requires a comprehensive investigation of the strategies to acquire iron and to coordinate this acquisition with utilization, storage and oxidation of iron through metal responsive regulation. In silico prediction of iron management genes and Fur regulation was carried out for three Acidithiobacilli: Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans (iron and sulfur oxidizer) A. thiooxidans and A. caldus (sulfur oxidizers) that can live between pH 1 and pH 5 and for three strict iron oxidizers of the Leptospirillum genus that live at pH 1 or below.
Acidithiobacilli have predicted FeoB-like Fe(II) and Nramp-like Fe(II)-Mn(II) transporters. They also have 14 different TonB dependent ferri-siderophore transporters of diverse siderophore affinity, although they do not produce classical siderophores. Instead they have predicted novel mechanisms for dicitrate synthesis and possibly also for phosphate-chelation mediated iron uptake. It is hypothesized that the unexpectedly large number and diversity of Fe(III)-uptake systems confers versatility to this group of acidophiles, especially in higher pH environments (pH 4–5) where soluble iron may not be abundant. In contrast, Leptospirilla have only a FtrI-Fet3P-like permease and three TonB dependent ferri-dicitrate siderophore systems. This paucity of iron uptake systems could reflect their obligatory occupation of extremely low pH environments where high concentrations of soluble iron may always be available and were oxidized sulfur species might not compromise iron speciation dynamics. Presence of bacterioferritin in the Acidithiobacilli, polyphosphate accumulation functions and variants of FieF-like diffusion facilitators in both Acidithiobacilli and Leptospirilla, indicate that they may remove or store iron under conditions of variable availability. In addition, the Fe(II)-oxidizing capacity of both A. ferrooxidans and Leptospirilla could itself be a way to evade iron stress imposed by readily available Fe(II) ions at low pH. Fur regulatory sites have been predicted for a number of gene clusters including iron related and non-iron related functions in both the Acidithiobacilli and Leptospirilla, laying the foundation for the future discovery of iron regulated and iron-phosphate coordinated regulatory control circuits.
In silico analyses of the genomes of acidophilic bacteria are beginning to tease apart the mechanisms that mediate iron uptake and homeostasis in low pH environments. Initial models pinpoint significant differences in abundance and diversity of iron management mechanisms between Leptospirilla and Acidithiobacilli, and begin to reveal how these two groups respond to iron cycling and iron fluctuations in naturally acidic environments and in industrial operations. Niche partitions and ecological successions between acidophilic microorganisms may be partially explained by these observed differences. Models derived from these analyses pave the way for improved hypothesis testing and well directed experimental investigation. In addition, aspects of these models should challenge investigators to evaluate alternative iron management strategies in non-acidophilic model organisms.
PMCID: PMC2631029  PMID: 19025650
9.  The polyphenol oxidase gene family in land plants: Lineage-specific duplication and expansion 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:395.
Plant polyphenol oxidases (PPOs) are enzymes that typically use molecular oxygen to oxidize ortho-diphenols to ortho-quinones. These commonly cause browning reactions following tissue damage, and may be important in plant defense. Some PPOs function as hydroxylases or in cross-linking reactions, but in most plants their physiological roles are not known. To better understand the importance of PPOs in the plant kingdom, we surveyed PPO gene families in 25 sequenced genomes from chlorophytes, bryophytes, lycophytes, and flowering plants. The PPO genes were then analyzed in silico for gene structure, phylogenetic relationships, and targeting signals.
Many previously uncharacterized PPO genes were uncovered. The moss, Physcomitrella patens, contained 13 PPO genes and Selaginella moellendorffii (spike moss) and Glycine max (soybean) each had 11 genes. Populus trichocarpa (poplar) contained a highly diversified gene family with 11 PPO genes, but several flowering plants had only a single PPO gene. By contrast, no PPO-like sequences were identified in several chlorophyte (green algae) genomes or Arabidopsis (A. lyrata and A. thaliana). We found that many PPOs contained one or two introns often near the 3’ terminus. Furthermore, N-terminal amino acid sequence analysis using ChloroP and TargetP 1.1 predicted that several putative PPOs are synthesized via the secretory pathway, a unique finding as most PPOs are predicted to be chloroplast proteins. Phylogenetic reconstruction of these sequences revealed that large PPO gene repertoires in some species are mostly a consequence of independent bursts of gene duplication, while the lineage leading to Arabidopsis must have lost all PPO genes.
Our survey identified PPOs in gene families of varying sizes in all land plants except in the genus Arabidopsis. While we found variation in intron numbers and positions, overall PPO gene structure is congruent with the phylogenetic relationships based on primary sequence data. The dynamic nature of this gene family differentiates PPO from other oxidative enzymes, and is consistent with a protein important for a diversity of functions relating to environmental adaptation.
PMCID: PMC3472199  PMID: 22897796
10.  Thermostable and site-specific DNA binding of the gene product ORF56 from the Sulfolobus islandicus plasmid pRN1, a putative archael plasmid copy control protein 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(4):904-913.
There is still a lack of information on the specific characteristics of DNA-binding proteins from hyperthermophiles. Here we report on the product of the gene orf56 from plasmid pRN1 of the acidophilic and thermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus islandicus. orf56 has not been characterised yet but low sequence similarily to several eubacterial plasmid-encoded genes suggests that this 6.5 kDa protein is a sequence-specific DNA-binding protein. The DNA-binding properties of ORF56, expressed in Escherichia coli, have been investigated by EMSA experiments and by fluorescence anisotropy measurements. Recombinant ORF56 binds to double-stranded DNA, specifically to an inverted repeat located within the promoter of orf56. Binding to this site could down-regulate transcription of the orf56 gene and also of the overlapping orf904 gene, encoding the putative initiator protein of plasmid replication. By gel filtration and chemical crosslinking we have shown that ORF56 is a dimeric protein. Stoichiometric fluorescence anisotropy titrations further indicate that ORF56 binds as a tetramer to the inverted repeat of its target binding site. CD spectroscopy points to a significant increase in ordered secondary structure of ORF56 upon binding DNA. ORF56 binds without apparent cooperativity to its target DNA with a dissociation constant in the nanomolar range. Quantitative analysis of binding isotherms performed at various salt concentrations and at different temperatures indicates that approximately seven ions are released upon complex formation and that complex formation is accompanied by a change in heat capacity of –6.2 kJ/mol. Furthermore, recombinant ORF56 proved to be highly thermostable and is able to bind DNA up to 85°C.
PMCID: PMC29613  PMID: 11160922
11.  Characterization of the MCM homohexamer from the thermoacidophilic euryarchaeon Picrophilus torridus 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:9057.
The typical archaeal MCM exhibits helicase activity independently in vitro. This study characterizes MCM from the euryarchaeon Picrophilus torridus. While PtMCM hydrolyzes ATP in DNA-independent manner, it displays very poor ability to unwind DNA independently, and then too only under acidic conditions. The protein exists stably in complex with PtGINS in whole cell lysates, interacting directly with PtGINS under neutral and acidic conditions. GINS strongly activates MCM helicase activity, but only at low pH. In consonance with this, PtGINS activates PtMCM-mediated ATP hydrolysis only at low pH, with the amount of ATP hydrolyzed during the helicase reaction increasing more than fifty-fold in the presence of GINS. While the stimulation of MCM-mediated helicase activity by GINS has been reported in MCMs from P.furiosus, T.kodakarensis, and very recently, T.acidophilum, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of an MCM helicase demonstrating DNA unwinding activity only at such acidic pH, across all archaea and eukaryotes. PtGINS may induce/stabilize a conducive conformation of PtMCM under acidic conditions, favouring PtMCM-mediated DNA unwinding coupled to ATP hydrolysis. Our findings underscore the existence of divergent modes of replication regulation among archaea and the importance of investigating replication events in more archaeal organisms.
PMCID: PMC4356968  PMID: 25762096
12.  The Nonphosphorylative Entner-Doudoroff Pathway in the Thermoacidophilic Euryarchaeon Picrophilus torridus Involves a Novel 2-Keto-3-Deoxygluconate- Specific Aldolase▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;192(4):964-974.
The pathway of glucose degradation in the thermoacidophilic euryarchaeon Picrophilus torridus has been studied by in vivo labeling experiments and enzyme analyses. After growth of P. torridus in the presence of [1-13C]- and [3-13C]glucose, the label was found only in the C-1 and C-3 positions, respectively, of the proteinogenic amino acid alanine, indicating the exclusive operation of an Entner-Doudoroff (ED)-type pathway in vivo. Cell extracts of P. torridus contained all enzyme activities of a nonphosphorylative ED pathway, which were not induced by glucose. Two key enzymes, gluconate dehydratase (GAD) and a novel 2-keto-3-deoxygluconate (KDG)-specific aldolase (KDGA), were characterized. GAD is a homooctamer of 44-kDa subunits, encoded by Pto0485. KDG aldolase, KDGA, is a homotetramer of 32-kDa subunits. This enzyme was highly specific for KDG with up to 2,000-fold-higher catalytic efficiency compared to 2-keto-3-deoxy-6-phosphogluconate (KDPG) and thus differs from the bifunctional KDG/KDPG aldolase, KD(P)GA of crenarchaea catalyzing the conversion of both KDG and KDPG with a preference for KDPG. The KDGA-encoding gene, kdgA, was identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) as Pto1279, and the correct translation start codon, an ATG 24 bp upstream of the annotated start codon of Pto1279, was determined by N-terminal amino acid analysis. The kdgA gene was functionally overexpressed in Escherichia coli. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that KDGA is only distantly related to KD(P)GA, both enzymes forming separate families within the dihydrodipicolinate synthase superfamily. From the data we conclude that P. torridus degrades glucose via a strictly nonphosphorylative ED pathway with a novel KDG-specific aldolase, thus excluding the operation of the branched ED pathway involving a bifunctional KD(P)GA as a key enzyme.
PMCID: PMC2812977  PMID: 20023024
13.  Metal resistance in Acidocella strains and plasmid-mediated transfer of this characteristic to Acidiphilium multivorum and Escherichia coli. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1997;63(11):4523-4527.
Acidophilic heterotrophic strain GS19h of the genus Acidocella exhibited extremely high resistance to CdSO4 and ZnSO4, with a MIC of 1 M for each. The respective MICs for an Acidocella aminolytica strain were 400 and 600 mM. The MICs of NiSO4 for the above strains were 200 and 175 mM, respectively. These strains were also resistant to CuSO4, the MICs being 20 and 40 mM, respectively. An Acidocella facilis strain showed resistance only to ZnSO4, with a MIC of 150 mM. The metal salts, in general, extended the lag period, log period, and generation time, with decreases in growth rate and optimum growth. A. aminolytica and strain GS19h each contain more than one plasmid, while A. facilis contains none. After transformation by electroporation with the plasmid preparation from strain GS19h, an Acidiphilium multivorum strain became highly resistant to cadmium and zinc, and the plasmid profile of the transformed cells was found to differ from that of the original Acidiphilium multivorum strain. Escherichia coli HB101 and DH5 alpha also exhibited more resistance to these metals, especially zinc, after transformation with the total plasmid preparation of strain GS19h or a 24.0-MDa plasmid of the same strain, although no plasmid was detected in the transformed cells. Thus, the results derived mainly through genetic experiments demonstrate for the first time the plasmid-mediated transfer of metal resistance for an acidophilic bacterium.
PMCID: PMC168771  PMID: 9361438
14.  Isolation and Characterization of Two Novel Plasmids from Pathogenic Leptospira interrogans Serogroup Canicola Serovar Canicola Strain Gui44 
Previous genomic analysis of pathogenic Leptospira has identified two circular chromosomes but no plasmid. This study aims to investigate potential extrachromosomal elements of L.interrogans serovar Canicola strain Gui44.
Two novel plasmids, pGui1 and pGui2, were isolated from the pathogenic strain Gui44, using a modified alkaline lysis method. Southern blotting was performed to determine the presence and size of them. Then, 454 and Hiseq sequencing were applied to obtain and analyze the complete sequences of the two plasmids. Furthermore, real-time quantitative PCR and next-generation sequencing were used to compare relative copy numbers of the two plasmids with that of the chromosomes. Finally, after serial passages in vitro for more than 2 years, the strain Gui44 was subsequently re-sequenced to estimate stability of the two plasmids.
Principal Findings
The larger plasmid, pGui1, 74,981 base pairs (bp) in length with GC content of 34.63%, possesses 62 open reading frames (ORFs). The smaller plasmid, pGui2, is 66,851 bp in length with GC content of 33.33%, and contains 63 ORFs. The replication initiation proteins encoded by pGui1 and pGui2 demonstrate significant sequence similarity with LA1839 (86% and 88%), a well-known replication protein in another pathogenic L.interrogans serovar Lai strain Lai, suggesting the ability for autonomous plasmid replication. Quantitative PCR and next-generation sequencing confirms a single copy of both plasmids and their stable presence in the strain Gui44 with in vitro serial passages after more than 2 years. Interestingly, the two plasmids both contain a significant number of novel genes (35 in pGui1 and 52 in pGui2).
This report confirms the presence of two separate circular plasmids in serovar Canicola strain Gui44 and provides a new understanding of genomic organization, adaptation, evolution and pathogenesis of Leptospira, which will aid in the development of in vivo genetic manipulation systems in pathogenic Leptospira species.
Author Summary
Leptospira species are the causative agent of leptospirosis, one of the most common animal to human transmitted diseases. Previous genomic analysis of L.interrogans serovar Lai and Copenhageni has identified the presence of large (4.33 mega base) and small (350 kilo base) circular chromosomes without evidence of any plasmids. Detailed understanding of Leptospira and its pathogenicity was delayed by the lack of available genetic tools. In this study we confirm the existence of two novel plasmids in L.interrogans serovar Canicola strain Gui44, an epidemic strain in China. Some novel genes identified in the two plasmids may play important roles in the characterization of the strain. The two plasmids will provide useful information in understanding the diversity of Leptospira genome and markedly improve our understanding of the evolution and pathogenesis of L.interrogans. In particular, it will contribute to the development of genetic manipulation systems in pathogenic Leptospira species.
PMCID: PMC4140679  PMID: 25144555
15.  The protein ORF80 from the acidophilic and thermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus islandicus binds highly site-specifically to double-stranded DNA and represents a novel type of basic leucine zipper protein 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(24):4973-4982.
The cryptic high copy number plasmid pRN1 from the thermophilic and acidophilic crenarchaeote Sulfolobus islandicus shares three conserved open reading frames with other S.islandicus plasmids. One of the open reading frames, namely orf80, encodes a 9.5 kDa protein that has no homology to any characterised protein. Recombinant ORF80 purified from Escherichia coli binds to double-stranded DNA in a sequence-specific manner as suggested by EMSA experiments and DNase I footprints. Two highly symmetrical binding sites separated by ∼60 bp were found upstream of the orf80 gene. Both binding sites contain two TTAA motifs as well as other conserved bases. Fluorescence measurements show that short duplex DNAs derived from a single binding site sequence are bound with submicromolar affinity and moderate cooperativity by ORF80. On DNA fragments carrying both binding sites, a rather large protein–DNA complex is formed in a highly cooperative manner. ORF80 contains an N-terminal leucine zipper motif and a highly basic domain at its C-terminus. Compared to all known basic leucine zipper proteins the order of the domains is reversed in ORF80. ORF80 may therefore constitute a new subclass of basic leucine zipper DNA-binding proteins.
PMCID: PMC97583  PMID: 11812827
16.  A Multiprotein DNA Translocation Complex Directs Intramycelial Plasmid Spreading during Streptomyces Conjugation 
mBio  2015;6(3):e02559-14.
Conjugative DNA transfer in mycelial Streptomyces is a unique process involving the transfer of a double-stranded plasmid from the donor into the recipient and the subsequent spreading of the transferred plasmid within the recipient mycelium. This process is associated with growth retardation of the recipient and manifested by the formation of circular inhibition zones, named pocks. To characterize the unique Streptomyces DNA transfer machinery, we replaced each gene of the conjugative 12.1-kbp Streptomyces venezuelae plasmid pSVH1, with the exception of the rep gene required for plasmid replication, with a hexanucleotide sequence. Only deletion of traB, encoding the FtsK-like DNA translocase, affected efficiency of the transfer dramatically and abolished pock formation. Deletion of spdB3, spd79, or spdB2 had a minor effect on transfer but prevented pock formation and intramycelial plasmid spreading. Biochemical characterization of the encoded proteins revealed that the GntR-type regulator TraR recognizes a specific sequence upstream of spdB3, while Orf108, SpdB2, and TraR bind to peptidoglycan. SpdB2 promoted spheroplast formation by T7 lysozyme and formed pores in artificial membranes. Bacterial two-hybrid analyses and chemical cross-linking revealed that most of the pSVH1-encoded proteins interacted with each other, suggesting a multiprotein DNA translocation complex of TraB and Spd proteins which directs intramycelial plasmid spreading.
Mycelial soil bacteria of the genus Streptomyces evolved specific resistance genes as part of the biosynthetic gene clusters to protect themselves from their own antibiotic, making streptomycetes a huge natural reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes for dissemination by horizontal gene transfer. Streptomyces conjugation is a unique process, visible on agar plates with the mere eye by the formation of circular inhibition zones, called pocks. To understand the Streptomyces conjugative DNA transfer machinery, which does not involve a type IV secretion system (T4SS), we made a thorough investigation of almost all genes/proteins of the model plasmid pSVH1. We identified all genes involved in transfer and intramycelial plasmid spreading and showed that the FtsK-like DNA translocase TraB interacts with multiple plasmid-encoded proteins. Our results suggest the existence of a macromolecular DNA translocation complex that directs intramycelial plasmid spreading.
PMCID: PMC4447253  PMID: 26015502
17.  Identification of an extensive gene cluster among a family of PPOs in Trifolium pratense L. (red clover) using a large insert BAC library 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:94.
Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) activity in plants is a trait with potential economic, agricultural and environmental impact. In relation to the food industry, PPO-induced browning causes unacceptable discolouration in fruit and vegetables: from an agriculture perspective, PPO can protect plants against pathogens and environmental stress, improve ruminant growth by increasing nitrogen absorption and decreasing nitrogen loss to the environment through the animal's urine. The high PPO legume, red clover, has a significant economic and environmental role in sustaining low-input organic and conventional farms. Molecular markers for a range of important agricultural traits are being developed for red clover and improved knowledge of PPO genes and their structure will facilitate molecular breeding.
A bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library comprising 26,016 BAC clones with an average 135 Kb insert size, was constructed from Trifolium pratense L. (red clover), a diploid legume with a haploid genome size of 440–637 Mb. Library coverage of 6–8 genome equivalents ensured good representation of genes: the library was screened for polyphenol oxidase (PPO) genes.
Two single copy PPO genes, PPO4 and PPO5, were identified to add to a family of three, previously reported, paralogous genes (PPO1–PPO3). Multiple PPO1 copies were identified and characterised revealing a subfamily comprising three variants PPO1/2, PPO1/4 and PPO1/5. Six PPO genes clustered within the genome: four separate BAC clones could be assembled onto a predicted 190–510 Kb single BAC contig.
A PPO gene family in red clover resides as a cluster of at least 6 genes. Three of these genes have high homology, suggesting a more recent evolutionary event. This PPO cluster covers a longer region of the genome than clusters detected in rice or previously reported in tomato. Full-length coding sequences from PPO4, PPO5, PPO1/5 and PPO1/4 will facilitate functional studies and provide genetic markers for plant breeding.
PMCID: PMC3224681  PMID: 19619287
18.  Complete DNA Sequence and Comparative Analysis of the 50-Kilobase Virulence Plasmid of Salmonella enterica Serovar Choleraesuis 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(4):2612-2620.
The complete nucleotide sequence of pKDSC50, a large virulence plasmid from Salmonella enterica serovar Choleraesuis strain RF-1, has been determined. We identified 48 of the open reading frames (ORFs) encoded by the 49,503-bp molecule. pKDSC50 encodes a known virulence-associated operon, the spv operon, which is composed of genes essential for systemic infection by nontyphoidal Salmonella. Analysis of the genetic organization of pKDSC50 suggests that the plasmid is composed of several virulence-associated genes, which include the spvRABCD genes, plasmid replication and maintenance genes, and one insertion sequence element. A second virulence-associated region including the pef (plasmid-encoded fimbria) operon and rck (resistance to complement killing) gene, which has been identified on the virulence plasmid of S. enterica serovar Typhimurium, was absent. Two different replicon regions, similar to the RepFIIA and RepFIB replicons, were found. Both showed high similarity to those of the pO157 plasmid of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 and the enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) adherence factor plasmid harbored by EPEC strain B171 (O111:NM), as well as the virulence plasmids of Salmonella serovars Typhimurium and Enteritidis. Comparative analysis of the nucleotide sequences of the 50-kb virulence plasmid of serovar Choleraesuis and the 94-kb virulence plasmid of serovar Typhimurium revealed that 47 out of 48 ORFs of the virulence plasmid of serovar Choleraesuis are highly homologous to the corresponding ORFs of the virulence plasmid of serovar Typhimurium, suggesting a common ancestry.
PMCID: PMC98198  PMID: 11254626
19.  Complete sequence and detailed analysis of the first indigenous plasmid from Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15:233.
Bacterial plasmids have a major impact on metabolic function and adaptation of their hosts. An indigenous plasmid was identified in a Chinese isolate (GX01) of the invasive phytopathogen Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola (Xoc), the causal agent of rice bacterial leaf streak (BLS). To elucidate the biological functions of the plasmid, we have sequenced and comprehensively annotated the plasmid.
The plasmid DNA was extracted from Xoc strain GX01 by alkaline lysis and digested with restriction enzymes. The cloned and subcloned DNA fragments in pUC19 were sequenced by Sanger sequencing. Sequences were assembled by using Sequencher software. Gaps were closed by primer walking and sequencing, and multi-PCRs were conducted through the whole plasmid sequence for verification. BLAST, phylogenetic analysis and dinucleotide calculation were performed for gene annotation and DNA structure analysis. Transformation, transconjugation and stress tolerance tests were carried out for plasmid function assays.
The indigenous plasmid from Xoc strain GX01, designated pXOCgx01, is 53,206-bp long and has been annotated to possess 64 open reading frames (ORFs), including genes encoding type IV secretion system, heavy metal exporter, plasmid stability factors, and DNA mobile factors, i.e., the Tn3-like transposon. Bioinformatics analysis showed that pXOCgx01 has a mosaic structure containing different genome contexts with distinct genomic heterogeneities. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the closest relative of pXOCgx01 is pXAC64 from Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri str. 306. It was estimated that there are four copies of pXOCgx01 per cell of Xoc GX01 by PCR assay and the calculation of whole genome shotgun sequencing data. We demonstrate that pXOCgx01 is a self-transmissible plasmid and can replicate in some Xanthomonas spp. strains, but not in Escherichia coli DH5α. It could significantly enhance the tolerance of Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae PXO99A to the stresses of heavy metal ions. The plasmid survey indicated that nine out of 257 Xoc Chinese isolates contain plasmids.
pXOCgx01 is the first report of indigenous plasmid from Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola, and the first completely sequenced plasmid from Xanthomonas oryzae species. It is a self-transmissible plasmid and has a mosaic structure, containing genes for macromolecule secretion, heavy metal exportation, and DNA mobile factors, especially the Tn3-like transposon which may provide transposition function for mobile insertion cassette and play a major role in the spread of pathogenicity determinants. The results will be helpful to elucidate the biological significance of this cryptic plasmid and the adaptive evolution of Xoc.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-015-0562-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4619425  PMID: 26498126
Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola; Indigenous plasmid; Self-transmissible; Tn3-like transposon; Heavy metal tolerance
20.  Identification of replication origins in archaeal genomes based on the Z-curve method 
Archaea  2004;1(5):335-346.
The Z-curve is a three-dimensional curve that constitutes a unique representation of a DNA sequence, i.e., both the Z-curve and the given DNA sequence can be uniquely reconstructed from the other. We employed Z-curve analysis to identify one replication origin in the Methanocaldococcus jannaschii genome, two replication origins in the Halobacterium species NRC-1 genome and one replication origin in the Methanosarcina mazei genome. One of the predicted replication origins of Halobacterium species NRC-1 is the same as a replication origin later identified by in vivo experiments. The Z-curve analysis of the Sulfolobus solfataricus P2 genome suggested the existence of three replication origins, which is also consistent with later experimental results. This review aims to summarize applications of the Z-curve in identifying replication origins of archaeal genomes, and to provide clues about the locations of as yet unidentified replication origins of the Aeropyrum pernix K1, Methanococcus maripaludis S2, Picrophilus torridus DSM 9790 and Pyrobaculum aerophilum str. IM2 genomes.
PMCID: PMC2685548  PMID: 15876567
Halobacterium; Methanocaldococcus jannaschii; Methanosarcina mazei
21.  Cloning and Expression Analysis of Litchi (Litchi Chinensis Sonn.) Polyphenol Oxidase Gene and Relationship with Postharvest Pericarp Browning 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93982.
Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) plays a key role in the postharvest pericarp browning of litchi fruit, but its underlying mechanism remains unclear. In this study, we cloned the litchi PPO gene (LcPPO, JF926153), and described its expression patterns. The LcPPO cDNA sequence was 2120 bps in length with an open reading frame (ORF) of 1800 bps. The ORF encoded a polypeptide with 599 amino acid residues, sharing high similarities with other plant PPO. The DNA sequence of the ORF contained a 215-bp intron. After carrying out quantitative RT-PCR, we proved that the LcPPO expression was tissue-specific, exhibiting the highest level in the flower and leaf. In the pericarp of newly-harvested litchi fruits, the LcPPO expression level was relatively high compared with developing fruits. Regardless of the litchi cultivar and treatment conditions, the LcPPO expression level and the PPO activity in pericarp of postharvest fruits exhibited the similar variations. When the fruits were stored at room temperature without packaging, all the pericarp browning index, PPO activity and the LcPPO expression level of litchi pericarps were reaching the highest in Nandaowuhe (the most rapid browning cultivar), but the lowest in Ziniangxi (the slowest browning cultivar) within 2 d postharvest. Preserving the fruits of Feizixiao in 0.2-μm plastic bag at room temperature would decrease the rate of pericarp water loss, delay the pericarp browning, and also cause the reduction of the pericarp PPO activity and LcPPO expression level within 3 d postharvest. In addition, postharvest storage of Feizixiao fruit stored at 4°C delayed the pericarp browning while decreasing the pericarp PPO activity and LcPPO expression level within 2 d after harvest. Thus, we concluded that the up-regulation of LcPPO expression in pericarp at early stage of postharvest storage likely enhanced the PPO activity and further accelerated the postharvest pericarp browning of litchi fruit.
PMCID: PMC3998928  PMID: 24763257
22.  Relationships between the physicochemical properties of an amphiphilic triblock copolymers/DNA complexes and their intramuscular transfection efficiency 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;35(3):728-739.
Poly(ethyleneoxide)-poly(propyleneoxide)-poly(ethyleneoxide) triblock copolymer (PEO-PPO-PEO) based plasmid delivery systems are increasingly drawing attention in the field of nonviral gene transfer because of their proven in vivo transfection capability. They result from the simple association of DNA molecules with uncharged polymers. We examined the physicochemical properties of PEO-PPO-PEO/DNA mixtures, in which the PEO-PPO-PEO is Lutrol® (PEO75-PPO30-PEO75), formulated under various conditions. We found that interactions between PEO-PPO-PEO and DNA are mediated by the central hydrophobic block within the block copolymer. Dynamic light scattering and cryo-electron microscopy showed that the mean diameter of transfecting particles as well as their stability depended on the PEO-PPO-PEO/DNA ratio and on the ionic composition of the formulating medium. The most active formulation promoting a good tissue-distribution and an optimal transfection was characterized by a reduced electrophoretic mobility, a mean hydrodynamic diameter of ∼250–300 nm and by a conserved B-DNA form as shown by circular dichroism studies. Our study also revealed that the stability of these formulations strongly depended on a concentration balance between the DNA and the PEO-PPO-PEO, over which the DNA conformation was modified, micron-sized particles were generated, and the transgene expression was declined. We showed that the physicochemical properties of PEO-PPO-PEO/DNA formulations directly impact the level of gene expression in transfected muscles.
PMCID: PMC1807968  PMID: 17182627
23.  Two novel families of plasmids from hyperthermophilic archaea encoding new families of replication proteins 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(15):5088-5104.
Thermococcales (phylum Euryarchaeota) are model organisms for physiological and molecular studies of hyperthermophiles. Here we describe three new plasmids from Thermococcales that could provide new tools and model systems for genetic and molecular studies in Archaea. The plasmids pTN2 from Thermococcus nautilus sp. 30-1 and pP12-1 from Pyrococcus sp. 12-1 belong to the same family. They have similar size (∼12 kb) and share six genes, including homologues of genes encoded by the virus PAV1 from Pyrococcus abyssi. The plasmid pT26-2 from Thermococcus sp. 26-2 (21.5 kb), that corresponds to another plasmid family, encodes many proteins having homologues in virus-like elements integrated in several genomes of Thermococcales and Methanococcales. Our analyses confirm that viruses and plasmids are evolutionary related and co-evolve with their hosts. Whereas all plasmids previously isolated from Thermococcales replicate by the rolling circle mechanism, the three plasmids described here probably replicate by the theta mechanism. The plasmids pTN2 and pP12-1 encode a putative helicase of the SFI superfamily and a new family of DNA polymerase, whose activity was demonstrated in vitro, whereas pT26-2 encodes a putative new type of helicase. This strengthens the idea that plasmids and viruses are a reservoir of novel protein families involved in DNA replication.
PMCID: PMC2926602  PMID: 20403814
24.  Genetic Analysis of Transfer-Related Regions of the Vancomycin Resistance Enterococcus Conjugative Plasmid pHTβ: Identification of oriT and a Putative Relaxase Gene†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(22):7727-7737.
The pHT plasmids pHTα (65.9 kbp), pHTβ (63.7 kbp), and pHTγ (66.5 kbp) are highly conjugative pheromone-independent pMG1-like plasmids that carry Tn1546-like transposons encoding vancomycin resistance. pHTβ is the prototype plasmid, and the pHTα and pHTγ plasmids are derivatives of the insertion into pHTβ of an IS232-like (2.2 kbp) element and a group II intron (2.8 kbp), respectively. The complete nucleotide sequence of the pHTβ plasmid was determined and, with the exception of the Tn1546-like insertion (10,851 bp), was found to be 52,890 bp. Sixty-one open reading frames (ORFs) having the same transcript orientation were identified. A homology search revealed that 22 of the pHTβ (pHT) plasmid ORFs showed similarities to the ORFs identified on the pXO2 plasmid (96.2 kbp), which is the virulence plasmid essential for capsule formation by Bacillus anthracis; however, the functions of most of the ORFs remain unknown. Most other ORFs did not show any significant homology to reported genes for which functions have been analyzed. To investigate the highly efficient transfer mechanism of the pHT plasmid, mutations with 174 unique insertions of transposon Tn917-lac insertion mutants of pHTβ were obtained. Of the 174 derivatives, 92 showed decrease or loss in transfer frequency, and 74 showed normal transfer frequency and LacZ expression. Eight derivatives showed normal transfer and no LacZ expression. Inserts within the 174 derivatives were mapped to 124 different sites on pHTβ. The Tn917-lac insertions which resulted in altered transfer frequency mapped to three separate regions designated I, II, and III, which were separated by segments in which insertions of Tn917-lac did not affect transfer. There was no region homologous to the previously reported oriT sequences in the pHT plasmid. The oriT was cloned by selection for the ability to mobilize the vector plasmid pAM401. The oriT region resided in a noncoding region (192 bp) between ORF31 and ORF32 and contained three direct repeat sequences and two inverted repeat sequences. ORF34, encoding a 506-amino-acid protein which was located downstream of the oriT region, contains the three conserved motifs (I to III) of the DNA relaxase/nickase of mobile plasmids. The transfer abilities of the Tn917-lac-insertion mutants of ORF34 or a mutant of ORF34 with an in-frame motif III deletion were completely abolished. The sequence of the oriT region and the deduced relaxase/nickase protein of ORF34 showed no significant similarity to the oriT and relaxase/nickase of other conjugative plasmids, respectively. The putative relaxase/nickase protein of ORF34 could be classified as a new member of the MOBMG family.
PMCID: PMC1280310  PMID: 16267297
25.  Protective role of TNF-α, IL-10 and IL-2 in mice infected with the Oshima strain of Tick-borne encephalitis virus 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5344.
Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) causes acute central nervous system disease. Here, we investigated the roles of the TNF-α, IL-10 and other cytokines in appropriate KO mice following infection with Oshima and Sofjin strains of TBEV. Following infection with the Oshima strain, mortality rates were significantly increased in TNF-α KO and IL-10 KO mice compared with wild type (WT) mice. These results suggested that TNF-α and IL-10 play protective roles against fatal infection due to Oshima strain infection. However, viral loads and proinflammatory cytokine levels in the brain of TNF-α KO andIL-10 KO mice were not significantly different compared with those of WT mice. On the other hand, all WT, TNF-α KO and IL-10 KO mice died following infection with Sofjin strain. Interestingly, Sofjin-infected mice did not exhibit an up-regulated mRNA level of IL-2 in the spleen in all groups of mice, whereas Oshima-infected mice showed significantly increased level of IL-2 compared with mock-infected mice. From these results, we suggest that TNF-α, IL-10 and IL-2 are key factors for disease remission from fatal encephalitis due to infection with Oshima strain of TBEV.
PMCID: PMC4061546  PMID: 24938868

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