Open reading frame (ORF) Mm2058 of the methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1 was shown in vivo and in vitro to encode the nonorthologous replacement of the α-ribazole-phosphate phosphatase (CobC; EC 18.104.22.168) enzyme of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium LT2. Bioinformatics analysis of sequences available in databases tentatively identified ORF Mm2058, which was cloned under the control of an inducible promoter and was used to support growth of an S. enterica strain under conditions that demanded CobC-like activity. The Mm2058 protein was expressed with a decahistidine tag at its N terminus and was purified to homogeneity using nickel affinity chromatography. High-performance liquid chromatography followed by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry showed that the Mm2058 protein had phosphatase activity that converted α-ribazole-5′-phosphate to α-ribazole, as reported for the bacterial CobC enzyme. On the basis of the data reported here, we refer to ORF Mm2058 as cobZ. We tested the prediction by Rodionov et al. (D. A. Rodionov, A. G. Vitreschak, A. A. Mironov, and M. S. Gelfand, J. Biol. Chem. 278:41148-41159, 2003) that ORF HSL01294 (also called Vng1577) encoded the nonorthologous replacement of the bacterial CobC enzyme in the extremely halophilic archaeon Halobacterium sp. strain NRC-1. A strain of the latter carrying an in-frame deletion of ORF Vng1577 was not a cobalamin auxotroph, suggesting that either there is redundancy of this function in Halobacterium or the gene was misannotated.
Methanogens are a diverse group of organisms that can live in a wide range of environments. Herein, cobalt and tungsten assimilation pathways have proposed to be established in the genomes of Methanococcus maripaludies C5 and Methanosarcina mazei Go1, respectively. All of the proteins involved in the proposed pathways were identified from public domain databases and then complied manually to reconstruct the pathways. The function of proteins with unknown function was assigned by a combined prediction approach. Totally, 17 proteins were identified to cobalt transport and assimilation processes whereas 7 proteins reported to tungsten assimilation system. Phylogenetic analysis of this study revealed that heavy metal transporter of methanogens could be evolved from closely related members in the different genera of methanogens. Nevertheless, genes encoding for metal resistance proteins could be originated from thermophilic and sulfur reducing bacteria. Many metalloenzymes in methanogens were very unique to the species of methanogens. It implied that these metal ions were utilized to produce the precursors for energy driven processes of methanogens. This study suggested that in combination of systems models and evolutionary inference can only correlate metabolic fluxes and physiological changes in methanogens. In silico models of this study will provide insights to design experiments for heavy metal assimilation processes of methanogens growing under heavy metal-rich environments and or in a laboratory condition.
Methanogens; Heavy metals assimilation; Metabolic behavior; Phylogeny; Metalloenzymes; Energetic metabolism
A methanogenic coccoid organism, Methanosarcina mazei LYC, was isolated from alkaline sediment obtained from an oil exploration drilling site. The isolate resembled M. mazei S-6 by exhibiting different morphophases during its normal growth cycle. It differed from M. mazei S-6 by undergoint a spontaneous shift from large, irregular aggregates of cells to small, individual, irregular, coccoid units. In batch cultures at pH 7.0, M. mazei LYC grew as aggregates during the early growth stage. As the batch culture began exponential growth, the cell aggregates spontaneously dispersed: the culture liquid became turbid, and myriads of tiny (diameter, 1 to 3 μm) coccoid units were observed under phase-contrast microscopy. Disaggregation apparently was accomplished by the production of an enzyme which hydrolyzed the heteropolysaccharide component of the cell wall; the enzyme was active on other Methanosarcina strains as well. Although the enzyme was active when tested at pH 6.0, it apparently was not produced at that pH: when strain LYC was grown at pH 6.0, only cell aggregates were present throughout batch growth. Individual coccoid cells of M. mazei LYC were sensitive to sodium dodecyl sulfate, but the large aggregates of cells were not. Strain LYC rapidly used H2-CO2, in addition to methanol, and mono-, di-, and trimethylamine as methanogenic substrates; acetate was used very slowly. Its optimum growth temperature was 40°C, and its optimum pH was 7.2.
The methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1 uses versatile carbon sources and is able to fix molecular nitrogen with methanol as carbon and energy sources. Here, we demonstrate that when growing on trimethylamine (TMA), nitrogen fixation does not occur, indicating that ammonium released during TMA degradation is sufficient to serve as a nitrogen source and represses nif gene induction. We further report on the transcriptional regulation of soluble methyltransferases, which catalyze the initial step of methylamine consumption by methanogenesis, in response to different carbon and nitrogen sources. Unexpectedly, we obtained conclusive evidence that transcription of the mtmB2C2 operon, encoding a monomethylamine (MMA) methyltransferase and its corresponding corrinoid protein, is highly increased under nitrogen limitation when methanol serves as a carbon source. In contrast, transcription of the homologous mtmB1C1 operon is not affected by the nitrogen source but appears to be increased when TMA is the sole carbon and energy source. In general, transcription of operons encoding dimethylamine (DMA) and TMA methyltransferases and methylcobalamine:coenzyme M methyltransferases is not regulated in response to the nitrogen source. However, in all cases transcription of one of the homologous operons or genes is increased by TMA or its degradation products DMA and MMA.
Trimeric PII-like signal proteins are known to be involved in bacterial regulation of ammonium assimilation and nitrogen fixation. We report here the first biochemical characterization of an archaeal GlnK protein from the diazotrophic methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1 and show that M. mazei GlnK1 is able to functionally complement an Escherichia coli glnK mutant for growth on arginine. This indicates that the archaeal GlnK protein substitutes for the regulatory function of E. coli GlnK. M. mazei GlnK1 is encoded in the glnK1-amtB1 operon, which is transcriptionally regulated by the availability of combined nitrogen and is only transcribed in the absence of ammonium. The deduced amino acid sequence of the archaeal glnK1 shows 44% identity to the E. coli GlnK and contains the conserved tyrosine residue (Tyr-51) in the T-loop structure. M. mazei glnK1 was cloned and overexpressed in E. coli, and GlnK1 was purified to apparent homogeneity. A molecular mass of 42 kDa was observed under native conditions, indicating that its native form is a trimer. GlnK1-specific antibodies were raised and used to confirm the in vivo trimeric form by Western analysis. In vivo ammonium upshift experiments and analysis of purified GlnK1 indicated significant differences compared to E. coli GlnK. First, GlnK1 from M. mazei is not covalently modified by uridylylation under nitrogen limitation. Second, heterotrimers between M. mazei GlnK1 and Klebsiella pneumoniae GlnK are not formed. Because M. mazei GlnK1 was able to complement growth of an E. coli glnK mutant with arginine as the sole nitrogen source, it is likely that uridylylation is not required for its regulatory function.
The compatible solute Nɛ-acetyl-β-lysine is unique to methanogenic archaea and is produced under salt stress only. However, the molecular basis for the salt-dependent regulation of Nɛ-acetyl-β-lysine formation is unknown. Genes potentially encoding lysine-2,3-aminomutase (ablA) and β-lysine acetyltransferase (ablB), which are assumed to catalyze Nɛ-acetyl-β-lysine formation from α-lysine, were identified on the chromosomes of the methanogenic archaea Methanosarcina mazei Gö1, Methanosarcina acetivorans, Methanosarcina barkeri, Methanococcus jannaschii, and Methanococcus maripaludis. The order of the two genes was identical in the five organisms, and the deduced proteins were very similar, indicating a high degree of conservation of structure and function. Northern blot analysis revealed that the two genes are organized in an operon (termed the abl operon) in M. mazei Gö1. Expression of the abl operon was strictly salt dependent. The abl operon was deleted in the genetically tractable M. maripaludis. Δabl mutants of M. maripaludis no longer produced Nɛ-acetyl-β-lysine and were incapable of growth at high salt concentrations, indicating that the abl operon is essential for Nɛ-acetyl-β-lysine synthesis. These experiments revealed the first genes involved in the biosynthesis of compatible solutes in methanogens.
The gene sequences encoding disaggregatase (Dag), the enzyme
responsible for dispersion of cell aggregates of
Methanosarcina mazei to single cells, were determined
for three strains of M. mazei (S-6T, LYC
and TMA). The dag genes of the three strains were
3234 bp in length and had almost the same sequences with 97% amino
acid sequence identities. Dag was predicted to comprise 1077 amino
acid residues and to have a molecular mass of 120 kDa containing three
repeats of the DNRLRE domain in the C terminus, which is specific to
the genus Methanosarcina and may be responsible for
structural organization and cell wall function. Recombinant Dag was
overexpressed in Escherichia coli and preparations of
the expressed protein exhibited enzymatic activity. The RT-PCR
analysis showed that dag was transcribed to mRNA in
M. mazei LYC and indicated that the gene was
expressed in vivo. This is the first time the gene involved in the
morphological change of Methanosarcina spp. from
aggregate to single cells has been identified.
methanochondroitin; morphological change
The salt adaptation of the methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina mazei Gö1 was studied at the physiological and molecular levels. The freshwater organism M. mazei Gö1 was able to adapt to salt concentrations up to 1 M, and the addition of the compatible solute glycine betaine to the growth medium facilitated adaptation to higher salt concentrations. Transport studies with cell suspensions revealed a salt-induced glycine betaine uptake activity in M. mazei Gö1, and inhibitor studies argue for a primary transport device. Analysis of the genome of M. mazei Gö1 identified a homolog of known primary glycine betaine transporters. This gene cluster was designated Ota (osmoprotectant transporter A). Its sequence and gene organization are very similar to those of the glycine betaine transporter OpuA of Bacillus subtilis. Northern blot analysis of otaC revealed a salt-dependent transcription of this gene. Ota is the first identified salt-induced transporter for compatible solutes in Archaea.
Methanosarcina mazei is a strictly anaerobic methanogen from the Methanosarcinales order, which is known for its broad catabolic range among methanogens and is widespread throughout diverse environments. The draft genome of the strain presented here was cultivated from sediment samples collected from the Tucuruí hydroelectric power station reservoir.
Three microtitration plate enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) have been developed: a competitive ELISA and a two-site (or indirect sandwich) ELISA for Methanosarcina mazei S6 and a two-site ELISA for Methanobacterium bryantii FR-2. The assays were sensitive, with limits of cell protein detection of 3 ng ml−1, 5 ng ml−1, and 50 ng ml−1, respectively, and showed good precision. The M. mazei assays used monoclonal antibodies and were entirely species specific, showing no cross-reaction with methanogens of other genera or with other species of the same genus. The Methanobacterium bryantii assay, which used two polyclonal antisera, showed only a slight cross-reaction with one other Methanobacterium species but no cross-reaction with methanogens of other genera. The use of the ELISAs for quantitative analysis of mixed cultures and of sewage sludge samples was investigated. Sludge diluted at 1:103 or more caused no significant interference in any of the three ELISAs. Various cultures of bacteria, methanogens, and nonmethanogens at a protein concentration of 50 μg ml−1 showed no significant interference in the M. mazei competitive assay and the Methanobacterium bryantii two-site assay, although they did cause falsely low results in the M. mazei two-site assay.
Although methanogenic archaea use B12 extensively as a methyl carrier for methanogenesis, little is known about B12 metabolism in these prokaryotes or any other archaea. To improve our understanding of how B12 metabolism differs between bacteria and archaea, the gene encoding the ATP:co(I)rrinoid adenosyltransferase in Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1 (open reading frame MM3138, referred to as cobAMm here) was cloned and used to restore coenzyme B12 synthesis in a Salmonella enterica strain lacking the housekeeping CobA enzyme. cobAMm protein was purified and its initial biochemical analysis performed. In vitro, the activity is enhanced 2.5-fold by the addition of Ca2+ ions, but the activity was not enhanced by Mg2+ and, unlike the S. enterica CobA enzyme, it was >50% inhibited by Mn2+. The CobAMm enzyme had a KmATP of 3 μM and a KmHOCbl of 1 μM. Unlike the S. enterica enzyme, CobAMm used cobalamin (Cbl) as a substrate better than cobinamide (Cbi; a Cbl precursor); the β phosphate of ATP was required for binding to the enzyme. A striking difference between CobASe and CobAMm was the use of ADP as a substrate by CobAMm, suggesting an important role for the γ phosphate of ATP in binding. The results from 31P-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy experiments showed that triphosphate (PPPi) is the reaction by-product; no cleavage of PPPi was observed, and the enzyme was only slightly inhibited by pyrophosphate (PPi). The data suggested substantial variations in ATP binding and probably corrinoid binding between CobASe and CobAMm enzymes.
The membrane-bound H2:heterodisulfide oxidoreductase system of the methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina mazei Gö1 catalyzed the H2-dependent reduction of 2-hydroxyphenazine and the dihydro-2-hydroxyphenazine-dependent reduction of the heterodisulfide of HS-CoM and HS-CoB (CoM-S-S-CoB). Washed inverted vesicles of this organism were found to couple both processes with the transfer of protons across the cytoplasmic membrane. The maximal H+/2e− ratio was 0.9 for each reaction. The electrochemical proton gradient (ΔμH+) thereby generated was shown to drive ATP synthesis from ADP plus Pi, exhibiting stoichiometries of 0.25 ATP synthesized per two electrons transported for both partial reactions. ATP synthesis and the generation of ΔμH+ were abolished by the uncoupler 3,5-di-tert-butyl-4-hydroxybenzylidenemalononitrile (SF 6847). The ATP synthase inhibitor N,N′-dicyclohexylcarbodiimide did not affect H+ translocation but led to an almost complete inhibition of ATP synthesis and decreased the electron transport rates. The latter effect was relieved by the addition of SF 6847. Thus, the energy-conserving systems showed a stringent coupling which resembles the phenomenon of respiratory control. The results indicate that two different proton-translocating segments are present in the H2:heterodisulfide oxidoreductase system; the first involves the 2-hydroxyphenazine-dependent hydrogenase, and the second involves the heterodisulfide reductase.
Methanosarcina barkeri MS and 227 and Methanosarcina mazei S-6 produced acetate when grown on H2-CO2, methanol, or trimethylamine. Marked differences in acetate production by the two bacterial species were found, even though methane and cell yields were nearly the same. M. barkeri produced 30 to 75 μmol of acetate per mmol of CH4 formed, but M. mazei produced only 8 to 9 μmol of acetate per mmol of CH4.
The outermost cell envelope structure of many archaea and bacteria contains a proteinaceous lattice termed the surface layer or S-layer. It is typically composed of only one or two abundant, often post-translationally modified proteins that self-assemble to form the highly organized arrays. Surprisingly, over a hundred proteins were annotated to be S-layer components in the archaeal species Methanosarcina acetivorans C2A and Methanosarcina mazei Gö1, reflecting limitations of current predictions. An in vivo biotinylation methodology was devised to affinity tag surface-exposed proteins while overcoming unique challenges in working with these fragile organisms. Cells were adapted to growth under N2 fixing conditions, thus minimizing free amines reactive to the NHS-label, and high pH media compatible with the acylation chemistry was used. A 3-phase separation procedure was employed to isolate intact, labeled cells from lysed-cell derived proteins. Streptavidin affinity enrichment followed by stringent wash conditions removed non-specifically bound proteins. This methodology revealed S-layer proteins in M. acetivorans C2A and M. mazei Gö1 to be MA0829 and MM1976, respectively. Each was demonstrated to exist as multiple glycosylated forms using SDS-PAGE coupled with glycoprotein-specific staining, and by interaction with the lectin, Concanavalin A. A number of additional surface-exposed proteins and glycoproteins were identified and included all three subunits of the thermosome: the latter suggests that the chaperonin complex is both surface- and cytoplasmically-localized. This approach provides an alternative strategy to study surface proteins in the archaea.
S-layer; surface proteins; Methanosarcina acetivorans; Methanosarcina mazei; biotinylation; mass spectrometry; glycoproteins; Concanavalin A
Pyrrolysine, the 22nd genetically-encoded amino acid, is charged onto its specific tRNA by PylS, a pyrrolysyl-tRNA synthetase. While PylS is found as a single protein in certain archaeal methanogens, in the Gram-positive bacterium Desulfitobacterium hafniense, PylS is divided into two separate proteins, PylSn and PylSc, corresponding to the N-terminal and C-terminal domains of the single PylS protein found in methanogens. Previous crystallographic studies have provided the structure of a truncated C-terminal portion of the archaeal Methanosarcina mazei PylS associated with catalysis. Here we report the apo 2.1 Å resolution structure of the intact D. hafniense PylSc protein and compare it to structures of the C-terminal truncated PylS from methanogenic species. In PylSc, the hydrophobic pocket binding the ring of pyrrolysine is more constrained than in the archaeal enzyme; other structural differences are also apparent.
Pyrrolysine; PylS; pyrrolysyl-tRNA synthetase
Tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene, PCE) is a suspected carcinogen and a common groundwater contaminant. Although PCE is highly resistant to aerobic biodegradation, it is subject to reductive dechlorination reactions in a variety of anaerobic habitats. The data presented here clearly establish that axenic cultures of Methanosarcina sp. strain DCM dechlorinate PCE to trichloroethylene and that this is a biological reaction. Growth on methanol, acetate, methylamine, and trimethylamine resulted in PCE dechlorination. The reductive dechlorination of PCE occurred only during methanogenesis, and no dechlorination was noted when CH4 production ceased. There was a clear dependence of the extent of PCE dechlorination on the amount of methanogenic substrate (methanol) consumed. The amount of trichloroethylene formed per millimole of CH4 formed remained essentially constant for a 20-fold range of methanol concentrations and for growth on acetate, methylamine, and trimethylamine. These results suggest that the reducing equivalents for PCE dechlorination are derived from CH4 biosynthesis and that the extent of chloroethylene dechlorination can be enhanced by stimulating methanogenesis. It is proposed that electrons transferred during methanogenesis are diverted to PCE by a reduced electron carrier involved in methane formation.
A thermophilic strain of Methanosarcina, designated Methanosarcina strain TM-1, was isolated from a laboratory-scale 55°C anaerobic sludge digestor by the Hungate roll-tube technique. Penicillin and d-cycloserine, inhibitors of peptidoglycan synthesis, were used as selective agents to eliminate contaminating non-methanogens. Methanosarcina strain TM-1 had a temperature optimum for methanogenesis near 50°C and grew at 55°C but not at 60°C. Substrates used for methanogenesis and growth by Methanosarcina strain TM-1 were acetate (12-h doubling time), methanol (7- to 10-h doubling time), methanol-acetate mixtures (5-h doubling time), methylamine, and trimethylamine. When radioactively labeled acetate was the sole methanogenic substrate added to the growth medium, it was predominantly split to methane and carbon dioxide. When methanol was also present in the medium, the metabolism of acetate shifted to its oxidation and incorporation into cell material. Electrons derived from acetate oxidation apparently were used to reduce methanol. H2-CO2 was not used for growth and methanogenesis by Methanosarcina strain TM-1. When presented with both H2-CO2 and methanol, Methanosarcina strain TM-1 was capable of limited hydrogen metabolism during growth on methanol, but hydrogen metabolism ceased once the methanol was depleted. Methanosarcina strain TM-1 required a growth factor (or growth factors) present in the supernatant of anaerobic digestor sludge. Growth factor requirements and the inability to use H2-CO2 are characteristics not found in other described Methanosarcina strains. The high numbers of Methanosarcina-like clumps in sludges from thermophilic digestors and the fast generation times reported here for Methanosarcina TM-1 indicate that Methanosarcina may play an important role in thermophilic methanogenesis.
Methanogens represented about 0.5% of the total bacteria in sediments from a Georgia salt marsh in which Spartina alterniflora is the predominant vegetation. The population of methanogens was composed of at least two groups of nearly equal size. One group was represented by cocci which were able to utilize trimethylamine and were unable to use H2 or acetate. The second group was composed of two subgroups which were able to utilize H2 but were unable to use trimethylamine or acetate. The more common subgroup included rod- or plate-shaped methanogens which could utilize isopropanol in addition to H2 and formate. The second subgroup included Methanococcus maripaludis, which utilized only H2 and formate. Other groups of methanogens were also present, including Methanosarcina sp. which utilized acetate, H2, and methylamines. In addition to the overall variability in the types of methanogens, the numbers of methanogens in sediments also exhibited significant spatial variability both within and between tall- and short-Spartina zones.
Methanosarcina barkeri 227 and Methanosarcina mazei S-6 grew with acetate as the substrate; we found little effect of H2 on the rate of aceticlastic growth in the presence of various H2 pressures between 2 and 810 Pa. We used physical (H2 addition or flushing the headspace to remove H2) and biological (H2-producing or -utilizing bacteria in cocultures) methods for controlling H2 pressure in Methanosarcina cultures growing on acetate. Added H2 (ca. 100 Pa) was removed rapidly (a few hours) by M. barkeri and slowly (within a day) by M. mazei. When the H2 produced by the aceticlastic methanogens was removed by coculturing with an H2-using Desulfovibrio sp., the H2 pressure was about 2.2 Pa. Under these conditions the stoichiometry of aceticlastic methanogenesis did not change. H2-grown inocula of M. barkeri grew with acetate as the sole catabolic substrate if the inoculum culture was transferred during logarithmic growth to acetate-containing medium or if the transfer was accomplished within 1 or 2 days after exhaustion of H2. H2-grown cultures incubated for 4 or more days after exhaustion of H2 were able to grow with H2 but not with acetate as the sole catabolic substrate. Addition of small quantities of H2 to acetate-containing medium permitted these cultures to initiate growth on acetate.
Methanogenesis from ethanol by defined mixed continuous cultures was studied. Under sulfate-free conditions, a Desulfovibrio strain was used as the ethanol-degrading species producing acetic acid and hydrogen. In a two-membered mutualistic coculture, the hydrogen was converted to methane by a Methanobacterium sp. and pH was maintained at neutrality by the addition of alkali. Introduction of a third species, the acetate-utilizing Methanosarcina mazei, obviated the need for external pH control. Methanogenesis by the co-and triculture was studied at various dilution rates in the steady state. The mutualistic coculture performed like a composite single species, as predicted from the theory of mutualistic interactions. Coupling between the mutualistic coculture and the acetate-utilizing methanogen was less tight. Increasing the dilution rate destabilized the triculture; at low dilution rates, instability was soon recovered, but at higher dilution rates imbalance between the rates of production and removal of acetic acid led to a drop in pH. Flocs formed in the triculture. An annulus of the Methanobacterium sp. and Desulfovibrio sp. was retained around the Methanosarcina sp. by strands of material probably derived from the Methanosarcina sp.
The common substrate structure for the functionally diverse Nudix protein superfamily is nucleotide-diphosphate-X, where X is a large variety of leaving groups. The substrate specificity is known for less than 1% of the 29,400 known members. Most activities result in the release of an inorganic phosphate ion or of a product bearing a terminal phosphate moiety. Reactions have typically been monitored by a modification of the discontinuous Fiske–SubbaRow assay, which is relatively insensitive and slow. We report here the development of a continuous fluorescence assay that enables the rapid and accurate determination of substrate specificities in a 96-well format. We used this novel assay to confirm the reported substrate characterizations of MutT and NudD of Escherichia coli and to characterize DR_1025 of Deinococcus radiodurans and MM_0920 of Methanosarcina mazei. Novel findings enabled by the new assay include the following. First, in addition to the well-characterized hydrolysis of 8-oxo-dGTP at the α–β position, MutT cleaves at the β–γ phosphate bond at a rate of 3% of that recorded for hydrolysis at the α–β position. Second, MutT also catalyzes the hydrolysis of 5-methyl-dCTP. Third, 8-oxo-dGTP was observed to be the best substrate for DR_1025 of the 41 compounds screened.
Nudix; Continuous assay; Fluorescence; Substrate screening; Kinetics
Analysis of genome sequence data from the methanogenic archaeon
Methanosarcina mazei Gö1 revealed the existence
of two open reading frames encoding proton-translocating
pyrophosphatases (PPases). These open reading frames are linked by a
750-bp intergenic region containing TC-rich stretches and are
transcribed in opposite directions. The corresponding polypeptides are
referred to as Mvp1 and Mvp2 and consist of 671 and 676 amino acids,
respectively. Both enzymes represent extremely hydrophobic, integral
membrane proteins with 15 predicted transmembrane segments and an
overall amino acid sequence similarity of 50.1%. Multiple sequence
alignments revealed that Mvp1 is closely related to eukaryotic PPases,
whereas Mvp2 shows highest homologies to bacterial PPases. Northern
blot experiments with RNA from methanol-grown cells harvested in the
mid-log growth phase indicated that only Mvp2 was produced under these
conditions. Analysis of washed membranes showed that Mvp2 had a
specific activity of 0.34 U mg (protein)–1. Proton
translocation experiments with inverted membrane vesicles prepared
from methanol-grown cells showed that hydrolysis of 1 mol of
pyrophosphate was coupled to the translocation of about 1 mol of
protons across the cytoplasmic membrane. Appropriate conditions for
mvp1 expression could not be determined yet. The
pyrophosphatases of M. mazei Gö1 represent the
first examples of this enzyme class in methanogenic archaea and may be
part of their energy-conserving system. Abbreviations: DCCD,
PPase, inorganic pyrophosphatase; PPi, inorganic pyrophosphate;
Δp, proton motive force.
energy conservation; inorganic pyrophosphate; methanogenesis; proton pump; pyrophosphatase
The genome of Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus, as a hitherto unique case, is apparently devoid of genes coding for general uracil DNA glycosylases, the universal mediators of base excision repair following hydrolytic deamination of DNA cytosine residues. We have now identified protein Mth212, a member of the ExoIII family of nucleases, as a possible initiator of DNA uracil repair in this organism. This enzyme, in addition to bearing all the enzymological hallmarks of an ExoIII homologue, is a DNA uridine endonuclease (U-endo) that nicks double-stranded DNA at the 5′-side of a 2′-d-uridine residue, irrespective of the nature of the opposing nucleotide. This type of activity has not been described before; it is absent from the ExoIII homologues of Escherichia coli, Homo sapiens and Methanosarcina mazei, all of which are equipped with uracil DNA repair glycosylases. The U-endo activity of Mth212 is served by the same catalytic center as its AP-endo activity.
The genomic expression patterns of Methanosarcina mazei growing with trimethylamine were measured in comparison to those of cells grown with methanol. We identified a total of 72 genes with either an increased level (49 genes) or a decreased level (23 genes) of mRNA during growth on trimethylamine with methanol-grown cells as the control. Major differences in transcript levels were observed for the mta, mtb, mtt, and mtm genes, which encode enzymes involved in methane formation from methanol and trimethylamine, respectively. Other differences in mRNA abundance were found for genes encoding enzymes involved in isopentenyl pyrophosphate synthesis and in the formation of aromatic amino acids, as well as a number of proteins with unknown functions. The results were verified by in-depth analysis of methyltransferase genes using specific primers for real-time quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). The monitored transcript levels of genes encoding corrinoid proteins involved in methyl group transfer from methylated C1 compounds (mtaC, mtbC, mttC, and mtmC) indicated increased amounts of mRNA from the mtaBC1, mtaBC2, and mtaBC3 operons in methanol-grown cells, whereas mRNA of the mtb1-mtt1 operon was found in high concentrations during trimethylamine consumption. The genes of the mtb1-mtt1 operon encode methyltransferases that are responsible for sequential demethylation of trimethylamine. The analysis of product formation of trimethylamine-grown cells at different optical densities revealed that large amounts of dimethylamine and monomethylamine were excreted into the medium. The intermediate compounds were consumed only in the very late exponential growth phase. RT-PCR analysis of key genes involved in methanogenesis led to the conclusion that M. mazei is able to adapt to changing trimethylamine concentrations and the consumption of intermediate compounds. Hence, we assume that the organism possesses a regulatory network for optimal substrate utilization.
The mesophilic methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina
mazei strain Gö1 is able to utilize molecular nitrogen
(N2) as its sole nitrogen source. We have identified and
characterized a single nitrogen fixation (nif) gene
cluster in M. mazei Gö1 with an approximate
length of 9 kbp. Sequence analysis revealed seven genes with sequence
similarities to nifH, nifI1,
nifK, nifE and
nifN, similar to other diazotrophic methanogens and
certain bacteria such as Clostridium acetobutylicum,
with the two glnB-like genes
nifI2) located between
nifH and nifD. Phylogenetic analysis
of deduced amino acid sequences for the nitrogenase structural genes
of M. mazei Gö1 showed that they are most
closely related to Methanosarcina barkeri
nif2 genes, and also closely resemble those for the
corresponding nif products of the gram-positive
bacterium C. acetobutylicum. Northern blot analysis
and reverse transcription PCR analysis demonstrated that the
M. mazei nif genes constitute an operon transcribed
only under nitrogen starvation as a single 8 kb transcript. Sequence
analysis revealed a palindromic sequence at the transcriptional start
site in front of the M. mazei nifH gene, which may
have a function in transcriptional regulation of the
GlnB-like proteins; nif genes; nitrogen fixation; nitrogen regulation