The gene transfer agent (RcGTA) of Rhodobacter capsulatus is the model for a family of novel bacteriophage-related genetic elements that carry out lateral transfer of essentially random host DNA. Genuine and putative gene transfer agents have been discovered in diverse genera and are becoming recognized as potentially an important source of genetic exchange and microbial evolution in the oceans. Despite being discovered over 30 years ago, little is known about many essential aspects of RcGTA biology. Here, we validate the use of direct fluorescence reporter constructs, which express the red fluorescent protein mCherry in R. capsulatus. A construct containing the RcGTA promoter fused to mCherry was used to examine the single-cell expression profiles of wild type and RcGTA overproducer R. capsulatus populations, under different growth conditions and growth phases. The majority of RcGTA production clearly arises from a small, distinct sub-set of the population in the wild type strain and a larger sub-set in the overproducer. The most likely RcGTA release mechanism concomitant with this expression pattern is host cell lysis and we present direct evidence for the release of an intracellular enzyme accompanying RcGTA release. RcGTA ORF s is annotated as a ‘cell wall peptidase’ but we rule out a role in host lysis and propose an alternative function as a key contributor to RcGTA invasion of a target cell during infection.
Genes with homology to the transduction-like gene transfer agent (GTA) were observed in genome sequences of three cultured members of the marine Roseobacter clade. A broader search for homologs for this host-controlled virus-like gene transfer system identified likely GTA systems in cultured Alphaproteobacteria, and particularly in marine bacterioplankton representatives. Expression of GTA genes and extracellular release of GTA particles (∼50 to 70 nm) was demonstrated experimentally for the Roseobacter clade member Silicibacter pomeroyi DSS-3, and intraspecific gene transfer was documented. GTA homologs are surprisingly infrequent in marine metagenomic sequence data, however, and the role of this lateral gene transfer mechanism in ocean bacterioplankton communities remains unclear.
The purple nonsulfur photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter capsulatus has been extensively studied for its metabolic versatility as well as for production of a gene transfer agent called RcGTA. Production of RcGTA is highest in the stationary phase of growth and requires the response regulator protein CtrA. The CtrA protein in Caulobacter crescentus has been thoroughly studied for its role as an essential, master regulator of the cell cycle. Although the CtrA protein in R. capsulatus shares a high degree of sequence similarity with the C. crescentus protein, it is nonessential and clearly plays a different role in this bacterium. We have used transcriptomic and proteomic analyses of wild-type and ctrA mutant cultures to identify the genes dysregulated by the loss of CtrA in R. capsulatus. We have also characterized gene expression differences between the logarithmic and stationary phases of growth. Loss of CtrA has pleiotropic effects, with dysregulation of expression of ∼6% of genes in the R. capsulatus genome. This includes all flagellar motility genes and a number of other putative regulatory proteins but does not appear to include any genes involved in the cell cycle. Quantitative proteomic data supported 88% of the CtrA transcriptome results. Phylogenetic analysis of CtrA sequences supports the hypothesis of an ancestral ctrA gene within the alphaproteobacteria, with subsequent diversification of function in the major alphaproteobacterial lineages.
The gene transfer agent of Rhodobacter capsulatus (GTA) is a unique phage-like particle that exchanges genetic information between members of this same species of bacterium. Besides being an excellent tool for genetic mapping, the GTA has a number of advantages for biotechnological and nanoengineering purposes. To facilitate the GTA purification and identify the proteins involved in GTA expression, assembly and regulation, in the present work we construct and transform into R. capsulatus Y262 a gene coding for a C-terminally His-tagged capsid protein. The constructed protein was expressed in the cells, assembled into chimeric GTA particles inside the cells and excreted from the cells into surrounding medium. Transmission electron micrographs of phosphotungstate-stained, NiNTA-purified chimeric GTA confirm that its structure is similar to normal GTA particles, with many particles composed both of a head and a tail. The mass spectrometric proteomic analysis of polypeptides present in the GTA recovered outside the cells shows that GTA is composed of at least 9 proteins represented in the GTA gene cluster including proteins coded for by Orf’s 3, 5, 6–9, 11, 13, and 15.
Gene transfer agent; Rhodobacter capsulatus; proteome
Many strains of Rhodopseudomonas capsulata are capable of exchanging genetic information via a recently discovered gene transfer process involving the release and subsequent uptake from the medium of particles containing genetic information (gene transfer agents, GTAs). No viral activities are observed to be associated with this system. An assay has been developed to quantitate gene transfer in R. capsulata. Conditions are described for which the number of cells acquiring a new genetic trait is direcly proportional to the number of GTAs and independent of the number of receipient cells. These conditions were used for the assay of the uptake and release of GTAs by cells. The maximum fraction of recipients that acquire a given genetic marker is approximately 4 X 10(-4). Free GTA appears in a growing culture in one or two abrupt waves near the time of transition from exponential to stationary phase. During these waves, the titer of GTA for a given marker may reach 2 X 103/ml. A comparison of the frequency of single- and double-marker transfers suggests that most of the cells in early-stationary-phase cultures are active recipients. The ultraviolet inactivation spectrum of GTA resembles that of the small ribonucleic acid phages. The inactivation cross section section beta, for GTA was calculated to be 1.7 X 10(-16) cm2/photon at 265 nm.
The bacterium Rhodobacter capsulatus is capable of an unusual form of genetic exchange, mediated by a transducing bacteriophage-like particle called the gene transfer agent (GTA). GTA production by R. capsulatus is controlled at the level of transcription by a cellular two-component signal transduction system that includes a putative histidine kinase (CckA) and response regulator (CtrA). We found that, in addition to regulating genetic exchange by R. capsulatus, this signal transduction system controls motility. As with the regulation of GTA production, the control of motility by CckA and CtrA occurs through modulation of gene transcription. Disruptions of the cckA and ctrA genes resulted in a loss of class II, class III, and class IV flagellar gene transcripts, suggesting that cckA and ctrA function in motility as class I flagellar genes. We also found that, analogous to the GTA genes, transcription of R. capsulatus flagellar genes appears to be growth phase dependent: class II flagellar gene transcripts are maximal in the mid-log phase of the culture growth cycle, whereas class III gene transcripts are maximal in the late-log phase of growth. We speculate that coordinate regulation of motility and GTA-mediated genetic exchange in R. capsulatus exists because these two processes are complementary mechanisms for cells to cope with unfavorable conditions in natural environments.
Horizontal gene transfer is important in the evolution of bacterial and archaeal genomes. An interesting genetic exchange process is carried out by diverse phage-like gene transfer agents (GTAs) that are found in a wide range of prokaryotes. Although GTAs resemble phages, they lack the hallmark capabilities that define typical phages, and they package random pieces of the producing cell’s genome. In this Review, we discuss the defining characteristics of the GTAs that have been identified to date, along with potential functions for these agents and the possible evolutionary forces that act on the genes involved in their production.
PMID: 22683880 CAMSID: cams2872
VSH-1 is a mitomycin C-inducible prophage of the anaerobic spirochete Brachyspira hyodysenteriae. Purified VSH-1 virions are noninfectious, contain random 7.5-kb fragments of the bacterial genome, and mediate generalized transduction of B. hyodysenteriae cells. In order to identify and sequence genes of this novel gene transfer agent (GTA), proteins associated either with VSH-1 capsids or with tails were purified by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The N-terminal amino acid sequences of 11 proteins were determined. Degenerate PCR primers were designed from the amino acid sequences and used to amplify several VSH-1 genes from B. hyodysenteriae strain B204 DNA. A λ clone library of B. hyodysenteriae B204 DNA was subsequently screened by Southern hybridization methods and used to identify and sequence overlapping DNA inserts containing additional VSH-1 genes. VSH-1 genes spanned 16.3 kb of the B. hyodysenteriae chromosome and were flanked by bacterial genes. VSH-1 identified genes and unidentified, intervening open reading frames were consecutively organized in head (seven genes), tail (seven genes), and lysis (four genes) clusters in the same transcriptional direction. Putative lysis genes encoding endolysin (Lys) and holin proteins were identified from sequence and structural similarities of their translated protein products with GenBank bacteriophage proteins. Recombinant Lys protein hydrolyzed peptidoglycan purified from B. hyodysenteriae cells. The identified VSH-1 genes exceed the DNA capacity of VSH-1 virions and do not encode traditional bacteriophage early functions involved in DNA replication. These genome properties explain the noninfectious nature of VSH-1 virions and further confirm its resemblance to known prophage-like, GTAs of other bacterial species, such as the GTA from Rhodobacter capsulatus. The identification of VSH-1 genes will enable analysis of the regulation of this GTA and should facilitate investigations of VSH-1-like prophages from other Brachyspira species.
Gene transfer agents (GTAs) randomly transfer short fragments of a bacterial genome. A novel putative GTA was recently discovered in the mouse-infecting bacterium Bartonella grahamii. Although GTAs are widespread in phylogenetically diverse bacteria, their role in evolution is largely unknown. Here, we present a comparative analysis of 16 Bartonella genomes ranging from 1.4 to 2.6 Mb in size, including six novel genomes from Bartonella isolated from a cow, two moose, two dogs, and a kangaroo. A phylogenetic tree inferred from 428 orthologous core genes indicates that the deadly human pathogen B. bacilliformis is related to the ruminant-adapted clade, rather than being the earliest diverging species in the genus as previously thought. A gene flux analysis identified 12 genes for a GTA and a phage-derived origin of replication as the most conserved innovations. These are located in a region of a few hundred kb that also contains 8 insertions of gene clusters for type III, IV, and V secretion systems, and genes for putatively secreted molecules such as cholera-like toxins. The phylogenies indicate a recent transfer of seven genes in the virB gene cluster for a type IV secretion system from a cat-adapted B. henselae to a dog-adapted B. vinsonii strain. We show that the B. henselae GTA is functional and can transfer genes in vitro. We suggest that the maintenance of the GTA is driven by selection to increase the likelihood of horizontal gene transfer and argue that this process is beneficial at the population level, by facilitating adaptive evolution of the host-adaptation systems and thereby expansion of the host range size. The process counters gene loss and forces all cells to contribute to the production of the GTA and the secreted molecules. The results advance our understanding of the role that GTAs play for the evolution of bacterial genomes.
Viruses are selfish genetic elements that replicate and transfer their own DNA, often killing the host cell in the process. Unlike viruses, gene transfer agents (GTAs) transfer random pieces of the bacterial genome rather than their own DNA. GTAs are widespread in bacterial genomes, but it is not known whether they are beneficial to the bacterium. In this study, we have used the emerging pathogen Bartonella as our model to study the evolution of GTAs. We sequenced the genomes of six isolates of Bartonella, including two new strains isolated from wild moose in Sweden. Using a comparative genomics approach, we searched for innovations in the last common ancestor that could help explain the explosive radiation of the genus. Surprisingly, we found that a gene cluster for a GTA and a phage-derived origin of replication was the most conserved innovation, indicative of strong selective constraints. We argue that the reason for the remarkable stability of the GTA is that it provides a mechanism to duplicate and recombine genes for secretion systems. This leads to adaptability to a broad range of hosts.
Roseophage RDJLΦ1 is a siphovirus isolated from South China Sea on Roseobacter denitrificans OCh114. Its virion encapsulates 62.7 kb genome that encodes 87 gene products. RDJLΦ1 shares similar genome organization and gene content with the marine bacteriophage ΦJL001 and Pseudomonas phages YuA and M6, which are different from those of typical λ- or Mu-like phages. Four hallmark genes (ORFs 81 to 84) of RDJLΦ1 were highly homologous to RcGTA-like genes 12 to 15. The largest gene (ORF 84) was predicted to encode a tail fibre protein that could be involved in host recognition. Extended phylogenetic and comparative genomic analyses based on 77 RcGTA-like element-containing bacterial genomes revealed that RcGTA-like genes 12 to 15 together appear to be a conserved modular element that could also be found in some phage or prophage genomes. Our study suggests that RcGTA-like genes-containing phages and prophages and complete RcGTAs possibly descended from a same prophage ancestor that had diverged and then evolved vertically. The complete genome of RDJLΦ1 provides evidence into the hypothesis that extant RcGTA may be a prophage remnant.
Sprague-Dawley rats which produce "naturally occurring" antibodies to glycerol teichoic acid (GTA) displayed immunosuppression of anti-sheep erythrocyte plaque-forming cell and serum antibody responses when a single dose of lipid-free GTA was administered 24 h before immunization. Such suppression was enhanced by administering GTA complexed with anti-GTA immunoglobulin G. Animals fed a GTA-free diet produced no anti-GTA immunoglobulins and failed to show GTA-mediated immunosuppression under similar experimental conditions. However, when those animals were given GTA-anti-GTA complexes, suppression was evident. The results suggested antigenic competition mediated by immune complex-activated suppressor T cells. Lipid-free GTA did not stimulate serum antibody responses under the experimental conditions employed.
Many proteobacteria use acyl-homoserine lactones as quorum-sensing signals. Traditionally, biological detection systems have been used to identify bacteria that produce acyl-homoserine lactones, although the specificities of these detection systems can limit discovery. We used a sensitive approach that did not require a bioassay to detect production of long-acyl-chain homoserine lactone production by Rhodobacter capsulatus and Paracoccus denitrificans. These long-chain acyl-homoserine lactones are not readily detected by standard bioassays. The most abundant acyl-homoserine lactone was N-hexadecanoyl-homoserine lactone. The long-chain acyl-homoserine lactones were concentrated in cells but were also found in the culture fluid. An R. capsulatus gene responsible for long-chain acyl-homoserine lactone synthesis was identified. A mutation in this gene, which we named gtaI, resulted in decreased production of the R. capsulatus gene transfer agent, and gene transfer agent production was restored by exogenous addition of N-hexadecanoyl-homoserine lactone. Thus, long-chain acyl-homoserine lactones serve as quorum-sensing signals to enhance genetic exchange in R. capsulatus.
Glutaraldehyde (GTA) is a potent virucidal disinfectant whose exact mode of action against enteroviruses is not understood. Earlier reports showed that GTA reacts preferentially with the VP1 capsid protein of echovirus 25 and poliovirus 1 and that GTA has affinity for exposed lysine residues on proteins. To investigate further the inactivation of enteroviruses by GTA, seven strains were selected on the basis of differences in their overall number and the positions of lysine residues in the amino acid sequences of the VP1 polypeptide. Inactivation kinetics experiments were performed with 0.10% GTA. The viruses grouped into three clusters and exhibited significantly different levels of sensitivity to GTA. The results were analyzed in the light of current knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of enteroviruses and the viral life cycle. The differences observed in sensitivity to GTA were related to the number of lysine residues and their locations in the VP1 protein. The overall findings suggest that the BC and DE loops, which cluster at the fivefold axis of symmetry and are the most exposed on the outer surface of the virions, are primary reactive sites for GTA.
Bacillus subtilis C6 phi R4 is an SPO1-resistant derivative of strain C6D, a left-hand macrofiber-producing strain described previously (N. H. Mendelson, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 75:2478-2482, 1978). In addition to the phage resistance property, strain C6 phi R4 differs from its parent in macrofiber organization and formation of aggregates in liquid shake cultures. The phage resistance mutation was located in the gtaC gene. The macrofiber organization and aggregation phenotypes also appear to be controlled by the gtaC locus. Strains constructed by introduction of the gtaC mutation into C6D appear to be identical to the original C6 phi R4 strain in all phenotypic properties. In contrast, other constructs carrying either gtaA or gtaB that are resistant to SPO1 do not display the characteristic C6 phi R4 morphological phenotypes.
Transcription factor sigma B of Bacillus subtilis controls a large stationary-phase regulon, but in no case has the physiological function of any gene in this regulon been identified. Here we show that transcription of gtaB is partly dependent on sigma B in vivo and that gtaB encodes UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase. The gtaB reading frame was initially identified by a sigma B-dependent Tn917lacZ fusion, csb42. We cloned the region surrounding the csb42 insertion, identified the reading frame containing the transposon, and found that this frame encoded a predicted 292-residue product that shared 45% identical residues with the UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase of Acetobacter xylinum. The identified reading frame appeared to lie in a monocistronic transcriptional unit. Primer extension and promoter activity experiments identified tandem promoters, one sigma B dependent and the other sigma B independent, immediately upstream from the proposed coding region. A sequence resembling a factor-independent terminator closely followed the coding region. By polymerase chain reaction amplification of a B. subtilis genomic library carried in yeast artificial chromosomes, we located the UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase coding region near gtaB, mutations in which confer phage resistance due to decreased glycosylation of cell wall teichoic acids. Restriction mapping showed that the coding region overlapped the known location of gtaB. Sequence analysis of a strain carrying the gtaB290 allele found an alteration that would change the proposed initiation codon from AUG to AUA, and an insertion-deletion mutation in this frame conferred phage resistance indistinguishable from that elicited by the gtaB290 mutation. We conclude that gtaB encodes UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase and is partly controlled by sigma B. Because this enzyme is important for thermotolerance and osmotolerance in stationary-phase Escherichia coli cells, our results suggest that some genes controlled by sigma B may play a role in stationary-phase survival of B. subtilis.
Recognition of a thymine-adenine base pair in DNA by triplex-forming oligonucleotides can be achieved by a guanine through the formation of a G.TA triad within the parallel triple helix motif. In the present work, we provide the first characterization of the stability of individual base pairs and base triads in a DNA triple helix containing a G.TA triad. The DNA investigated is the intramolecular triple helix formed by the 32mer d(AGATAGAACCCCTTCTATCTTATATCTGTCTT). The exchange rates of imino protons in this triple helix have been measured by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy using magnetization transfer from water and real-time exchange. The exchange rates are compared with those in a homologous DNA triple helix in which the G.TA triad is replaced by a canonical C+.GC triad. The results indicate that, in the G.TA triad, the stability of the Watson–Crick TA base pair is comparable with that of AT base pairs in canonical T.AT triads. However, the presence of the G.TA triad destabilizes neighboring triads by 0.6–1.8 kcal/mol at 1°C. These effects extend to triads that are two positions removed from the site of the G.TA triad. Therefore, the lower stability of DNA triple helices containing G.TA triads originates, in large part, from the energetic effects of the G.TA triad upon the stability of canonical triads located in its vicinity.
Mutations designated gtaC and gtaE that affect α-phosphoglucomutase activity required for interconversion of glucose 6-phosphate and α-glucose 1-phosphate were mapped to the Bacillus subtilis pgcA (yhxB) gene. Backcrossing of the two mutations into the 168 reference strain was accompanied by impaired α-phosphoglucomutase activity in the soluble cell extract fraction, altered colony and cell morphology, and resistance to phages φ29 and ρ11. Altered cell morphology, reversible by additional magnesium ions, may be correlated with a deficiency in the membrane glycolipid. The deficiency in biofilm formation in gtaC and gtaE mutants may be attributed to an inability to synthesize UDP-glucose, an important intermediate in a number of cell envelope biosynthetic processes.
Although the extent of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in complete genomes has been widely studied, its influence in the evolution of natural communities of prokaryotes remains unknown. The availability of metagenomic sequences allows us to address the study of global patterns of prokaryotic evolution in samples from natural communities. However, the methods that have been commonly used for the study of HGT are not suitable for metagenomic samples. Therefore it is important to develop new methods or to adapt existing ones to be used with metagenomic sequences.
We have created two different methods that are suitable for the study of HGT in metagenomic samples. The methods are based on phylogenetic and DNA compositional approaches, and have allowed us to assess the extent of possible HGT events in metagenomes for the first time. The methods are shown to be compatible and quite precise, although they probably underestimate the number of possible events. Our results show that the phylogenetic method detects HGT in between 0.8% and 1.5% of the sequences, while DNA compositional methods identify putative HGT in between 2% and 8% of the sequences. These ranges are very similar to these found in complete genomes by related approaches. Both methods act with a different sensitivity since they probably target HGT events of different ages: the compositional method mostly identifies recent transfers, while the phylogenetic is more suitable for the detections of older events. Nevertheless, the study of the number of HGT events in metagenomic sequences from different communities shows a consistent trend for both methods: the lower amount is found for the sequences of the Sargasso Sea metagenome, while the higher quantity is found in the whale fall metagenome from the bottom of the ocean. The significance of these observations is discussed.
The computational approaches that are used to find possible HGT events in complete genomes can be adapted to work with metagenomic samples, where a level of high performance is shown in different metagenomic samples. The percentage of possible HGT events that were observed is close to that found for complete genomes, and different microbiomes show diverse ratios of putative HGT events. This is probably related with both environmental factors and the composition in the species of each particular community.
Guinea pigs which were injected with either whole bacilli or purified soluble glycerol teichoic acid (GTA) usually exhibited a rise in hemolysin titer to GTA-coated erythrocytes. The only exceptions were those animals having high baseline titers of natural anti-GTA antibodies. Rats yielded better responses than guinea pigs and produced significantly higher responses to the soluble antigen than to the cellular GTA. Rats reared on a GTA-free diet were predominantly free of natural antibodies to GTA and furnished a more clear-cut model for assaying immune responses. Using this model, it was shown that adsorption of GTA to homologous erythrocytes before injection resulted in poor responses, suggesting that such spontaneous adsorption does not account for the good responses to soluble antigen. In GTA-deprived rats, positive skin tests were induced only with bacilli, whereas migration inhibitory factor was induced with both bacilli and soluble antigen. Hemolytic plaques in immunized rats were increased over controls with both kinds of immunogen, but the GTA-deprived rats responded better than conventional ones, and hemolytic plaque responses to bacilli were better than those to soluble antigen. This reversal of the serum hemolysin results may be due to delayed suppression by soluble GTA or to antibody cycling. The guinea pig data, combined with results from GTA-deprived rats, suggest that high antibody levels resulted in depressed antibody synthesis, perhaps because antibody cycling was initiated. No evidence was found to explain the superior responses to soluble antigen, but it did not seem related to formation of immune complexes or adsorption to erythrocyte membranes.
Strains of Bacillus subtilis 168 deficient in glucosylated teichoic acid vary in their resistance to bacteriophage infection. Although glucosylated teichoic acid is important for bacteriophage attachment, the results demonstrate that alternate receptor sites exist. Non-glucosylated cell wall mutants could be assigned to specific classes (gtaA, gtaB, gtaC) by their pattern of resistance to three closely related bacteriophages (phi25, phie, SP82). In addition to glucosylation, the type of teichoic acid was also important for bacteriophage attachment. B. subtilis strains 168 and W23 have different teichoic acids in their cell walls and have varied susceptibilities to bacteriophage infection. Transfer of bacteriophage resistance from strain W23 into a derivative of strain 168 was accomplished. The resistant bacteria obtained were imparied in their ability to adsorb bacteriophage and in their capacity to be transfected by bacteriophage deoxyribonucleic acid.
The genomes of 28 bacterial strains, including mycobacterial species Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis, were analyzed for the presence of a special class of microsatellite, that of trinucleotide repeat sequences (TRS). Results of a search of all 10 possible TRS motifs (i.e., CCT, CGG, CTG, GAA, GAT, GTA, GTC, GTG, GTT, and TAT) with five or more repeating units showed that (CGG)5 was highly represented within the genomic DNA of M. tuberculosis and M. bovis. Most of the (CGG)5 repeats in the genome were within the open reading frames of two large gene families encoding PE_PGRS and PPE proteins that have the motifs Pro-Glu (PE) and Pro-Pro-Glu (PPE). (CGG)5-probed Southern hybridization showed that some mycobacterial species, such as Mycobacterium marinum, Mycobacterium kansasii, and Mycobacterium szulgai, possess many copies of (CGG)5 in their genomes. Analysis of clinical isolates obtained from Tokyo and Warsaw with both IS6110 and (CGG)5 probes showed that there is an association between the fingerprinting patterns and the geographic origin of the isolates and that (CGG)5 fingerprinting patterns were relatively more stable than IS6110 patterns. The (CGG)5 repeat is a unique sequence for some mycobacterial species, and (CGG)5 fingerprinting can be used as an epidemiologic method for these species as well as IS6110 fingerprinting can. If these two fingerprinting methods are used together, the precise analysis of M. tuberculosis isolates will be accomplished. (CGG)5-based fingerprinting is particularly useful for M. tuberculosis isolates with few or no insertion elements and for the identification of other mycobacterial species when informative probes are lacking.
Significant intratypic differences in the glutaraldehyde (GTA) sensitivity of echovirus isolates have been shown. While exploring ways to optimize the study of GTA sensitivity of enteroviruses, we also observed intratypic differences in poliovirus type 1 isolates collected in France. A suspension procedure was used for assessing the virucidal effect of GTA at low concentrations (< or = 0.10%) against purified viruses. Two recent isolates of poliovirus type 1 tested were first fully characterized by the PCR restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) test. The RFLP pattern of clinical isolate 5617 was similar to that of poliovirus type 1 LS-c, 2ab (Sabin strain), confirming the vaccine origin of strain 5617. The RFLP pattern of strain 5915 recovered from sewage was different from that of the Mahoney strain, suggesting a genetic variation in this wild isolate. We then analyzed under the same controlled conditions the GTA sensitivities of both isolates and their respective prototype strains. The wild Mahoney and 5915 strains exhibited significantly lower sensitivities to GTA than did the vaccine Sabin and 5617 strains. The inactivation rates of clinical isolates 5617 and 5915 were very similar to those of their corresponding reference Sabin and Mahoney strains. Both the conformational structure of the capsid of each strain and the amino acid constitution of structural polypeptides could be involved in the variations observed. The relevance of our comparative sensitivity studies to standardization of virucidal tests is discussed.
The extent of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) among marine pelagic prokaryotes and the role that HGT may have played in their adaptation to this particular environment remain open questions. This is partly due to the paucity of cultured species and genomic information for many widespread groups of marine bacteria and archaea. Molecular studies have revealed a large diversity and relative abundance of marine planktonic archaea, in particular of Thaumarchaeota (also known as group I Crenarchaeota) and Euryarchaeota of groups II and III, but only one species (the thaumarchaeote Candidatus Nitrosopumilus maritimus) has been isolated in pure culture so far. Therefore, metagenomics remains the most powerful approach to study these environmental groups. To investigate the impact of HGT in marine archaea, we carried out detailed phylogenetic analyses of all open reading frames of 21 archaeal 16S rRNA gene-containing fosmids and, to extend our analysis to other genomic regions, also of fosmid-end sequences of 12 774 fosmids from three different deep-sea locations (South Atlantic and Adriatic Sea at 1000 m depth, and Ionian Sea at 3000 m depth). We found high HGT rates in both marine planktonic Thaumarchaeota and Euryarchaeota, with remarkable converging values estimated from complete-fosmid and fosmid-end sequence analysis (25 and 21% of the genes, respectively). Most HGTs came from bacterial donors (mainly from Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and Chloroflexi) but also from other archaea and eukaryotes. Phylogenetic analyses showed that in most cases HGTs are shared by several representatives of the studied groups, implying that they are ancient and have been conserved over relatively long evolutionary periods. This, together with the functions carried out by these acquired genes (mostly related to energy metabolism and transport of metabolites across membranes), suggests that HGT has played an important role in the adaptation of these archaea to the cold and nutrient-depleted deep marine environment.
Thaumarchaeota; marine Euryarchaeota; metagenomics; deep ocean; planktonic archaea; horizontal gene transfer
The transient expression of three novel plant amber suppressors derived from a cloned Nicotiana tRNASer(CGA), an Arabidopsis intron-containing tRNATyr(GTA) and an Arabidopsis intron-containing tRNAMet(CAT) gene, respectively, was studied in a homologous plant system that utilized the Agro bacterium-mediated gene transfer to Arabidopsis hypocotyl explants. This versatile system allows the detection of β-glucuronidase (GUS) activity by histochemical and enzymatic analyses. The activity of the suppressors was demonstrated by the ability to suppress a premature amber codon in a modified GUS gene. Co-transformation of Arabidopsis hypocotyls with the amber suppressor tRNASer gene and the GUS reporter gene resulted in ∼10% of the GUS activity found in the same tissue transformed solely with the functional control GUS gene. Amber suppressor tRNAs derived from intron-containing tRNATyr or tRNAMet genes were functional in vivo only after some additional gene manipulations. The G3:C70 base pair in the acceptor stem of tRNAMet(CUA) had to be converted to a G3:U70 base pair, which is the major determinant for alanine tRNA identity. The inability of amber suppressor tRNATyr to show any activity in vivo predominantly results from a distorted intron secondary structure of the corresponding pre-tRNA that could be cured by a single nucleotide exchange in the intervening sequence. The improved amber suppressors tRNATyr and tRNAMet were subsequently employed for studying various aspects of the plant-specific mechanism of pre-tRNA splicing as well as for demonstrating the influence of intron-dependent base modifications on suppressor activity.
Gastrointestinal tract acid-446 (GTA-446) is a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid present in the serum. A reduction of GTA-446 levels in colorectal cancer (CRC) patients has been reported previously. Our study compared GTA-446 levels in subjects diagnosed with CRC at the time of colonoscopy to the general population. Serum samples and pathology data were collected from 4,923 representative subjects undergoing colonoscopy and from 964 subjects from the general population. Serum GTA-446 levels were determined using a triple-quadrupole tandem mass spectrometry method. A low-serum GTA-446 level was based on the bottom tenth percentile of subjects with low risk based on age (40–49 years old) in the general population. Eighty-six percent of newly diagnosed CRC subjects (87% for stages 0–II and 85% for stages III–IV) showed low-serum GTA-446 levels. A significant increase in the CRC incidence rate with age was observed in subjects with low GTA-446 levels (p = 0.019), but not in subjects with normal levels (p = 0.86). The relative risk of CRC given a low GTA-446 level was the highest for subjects under age 50 (10.1, 95% confidence interval [C.I.] = 6.4–16.4 in the reference population, and 7.7, 95% C.I. = 4.4–14.1 in the colonoscopy population, both p < 0.0001), and declined with age thereafter. The CRC incidence rate in subjects undergoing colonoscopy with low GTA-446 levels was over six times higher than for subjects with normal GTA-446 levels and twice that of subjects with gastrointestinal symptoms. The results show that a low-serum GTA-446 level is a significant risk factor for CRC, and a sensitive predictor of early-stage disease.
colorectal cancer; screening; biomarker; inflammation; fatty acid; GTA-446