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1.  Galactose Metabolism Plays a Crucial Role in Biofilm Formation by Bacillus subtilis 
mBio  2012;3(4):e00184-12.
Galactose is a common monosaccharide that can be utilized by all living organisms via the activities of three main enzymes that make up the Leloir pathway: GalK, GalT, and GalE. In Bacillus subtilis, the absence of GalE causes sensitivity to exogenous galactose, leading to rapid cell lysis. This effect can be attributed to the accumulation of toxic galactose metabolites, since the galE mutant is blocked in the final step of galactose catabolism. In a screen for suppressor mutants restoring viability to a galE null mutant in the presence of galactose, we identified mutations in sinR, which is the major biofilm repressor gene. These mutations caused an increase in the production of the exopolysaccharide (EPS) component of the biofilm matrix. We propose that UDP-galactose is the toxic galactose metabolite and that it is used in the synthesis of EPS. Thus, EPS production can function as a shunt mechanism for this toxic molecule. Additionally, we demonstrated that galactose metabolism genes play an essential role in B. subtilis biofilm formation and that the expressions of both the gal and eps genes are interrelated. Finally, we propose that B. subtilis and other members of the Bacillus genus may have evolved to utilize naturally occurring polymers of galactose, such as galactan, as carbon sources.
Bacteria switch from unicellular to multicellular states by producing extracellular matrices that contain exopolysaccharides. In such aggregates, known as biofilms, bacteria are more resistant to antibiotics. This makes biofilms a serious problem in clinical settings. The resilience of biofilms makes them very useful in industrial settings. Thus, understanding the production of biofilm matrices is an important problem in microbiology. In studying the synthesis of the biofilm matrix of Bacillus subtilis, we provide further understanding of a long-standing microbiological observation that certain mutants defective in the utilization of galactose became sensitive to it. In this work, we show that the toxicity observed before was because cells were grown under conditions that were not propitious to produce the exopolysaccharide component of the matrix. When cells are grown under conditions that favor matrix production, the toxicity of galactose is relieved. This allowed us to demonstrate that galactose metabolism is essential for the synthesis of the extracellular matrix.
PMCID: PMC3419520  PMID: 22893383
2.  Linking Temporal Changes in Bacterial Community Structures with the Detection and Phylogenetic Analysis of Neutral Metalloprotease Genes in the Sediments of a Hypereutrophic Lake 
Microbes and Environments  2014;29(3):314-321.
We investigated spatial and temporal variations in bacterial community structures as well as the presence of three functional proteolytic enzyme genes in the sediments of a hypereutrophic freshwater lake in order to acquire an insight into dynamic links between bacterial community structures and proteolytic functions. Bacterial communities determined from 16S rRNA gene clone libraries markedly changed bimonthly, rather than vertically in the sediment cores. The phylum Firmicutes dominated in the 4–6 cm deep sediment layer sample after August in 2007, and this correlated with increases in interstitial ammonium concentrations (p < 0.01). The Firmicutes clones were mostly composed of the genus Bacillus. npr genes encoding neutral metalloprotease, an extracellular protease gene, were detected after the phylum Firmicutes became dominant. The deduced Npr protein sequences from the retrieved npr genes also showed that most of the Npr sequences used in this study were closely related to those of the genus Bacillus, with similarities ranging from 61% to 100%. Synchronous temporal occurrences of the 16S rRNA gene and Npr sequences, both from the genus Bacillus, were positively associated with increases in interstitial ammonium concentrations, which may imply that proteolysis by Npr from the genus Bacillus may contribute to the marked increases observed in ammonium concentrations in the sediments. Our results suggest that sedimentary bacteria may play an important role in the biogeochemical nitrogen cycle of freshwater lakes.
PMCID: PMC4159043  PMID: 25130992
bacterial community structure; sediment cores; extracellular protease genes; ammonium increase; hypereutrophic freshwater lake
3.  The ComP-ComA Quorum System Is Essential For “Trojan horse” Like Pathogenesis in Bacillus nematocida 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76920.
Bacillus nematocida B16 has been shown to use “Trojan horse” mechanism in pathogenesis that has characteristics of “social” behavior. The ComP-ComA system, a conserved quorum sensing system in the genus Bacillus, functions in many physiological processes including competence development, lipopeptide antibiotic surfactin production, degradative enzyme production and even some unknown functions. Here we investigated the requirement of ComP-ComA system in B. nematocida B16 for its pathogenicity against nematodes. The ΔcomP mutant displayed deficiencies in attracting and killing nematodes, due to the absence of attractive signal molecules and the decreased expressions of virulence factors, respectively. Contrarily, a complemented comP mutant at least partially resumed its pathogenicity. Our data from transcriptional analysis further confirmed that this signaling system directly or indirectly regulated the expressions of two major virulence proteases in the infection of B. nematocida B16. Bioinformatics analyses from comparative genomics also suggested that the potential target genes of transcription factor ComA were involved in the processes such as the synthesis of attractants, production of extracellular degradative enzymes and sortase, secondary metabolites biosynthesis, regulation of transcription factors, mobility, as well as transporters, most of which were different from a saprophytic relative B. subtilis 168. Therefore, our investigation firstly revealed that the participation and necessity of ComP-ComA signaling system in bacterial pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3793909  PMID: 24130811
4.  Geobacillus zalihae sp. nov., a thermophilic lipolytic bacterium isolated from palm oil mill effluent in Malaysia 
BMC Microbiology  2007;7:77.
Thermophilic Bacillus strains of phylogenetic Bacillus rRNA group 5 were described as a new genus Geobacillus. Their geographical distribution included oilfields, hay compost, hydrothermal vent or soils. The members from the genus Geobacillus have a growth temperatures ranging from 35 to 78°C and contained iso-branched saturated fatty acids (iso-15:0, iso-16:0 and iso-17:0) as the major fatty acids. The members of Geobacillus have similarity in their 16S rRNA gene sequences (96.5–99.2%). Thermophiles harboring intrinsically stable enzymes are suitable for industrial applications. The quest for intrinsically thermostable lipases from thermophiles is a prominent task due to the laborious processes via genetic modification.
Twenty-nine putative lipase producers were screened and isolated from palm oil mill effluent in Malaysia. Of these, isolate T1T was chosen for further study as relatively higher lipase activity was detected quantitatively. The crude T1 lipase showed high optimum temperature of 70°C and was also stable up to 60°C without significant loss of crude enzyme activity. Strain T1T was a Gram-positive, rod-shaped, endospore forming bacterium. On the basic of 16S rDNA analysis, strain T1T was shown to belong to the Bacillus rRNA group 5 related to Geobacillus thermoleovorans (DSM 5366T) and Geobacillus kaustophilus (DSM 7263T). Chemotaxonomic data of cellular fatty acids supported the affiliation of strain T1T to the genus Geobacillus. The results of physiological and biochemical tests, DNA/DNA hybridization, RiboPrint analysis, the length of lipase gene and protein pattern allowed genotypic and phenotypic differentiation of strain T1T from its validly published closest phylogenetic neighbors. Strain T1T therefore represents a novel species, for which the name Geobacillus zalihae sp. nov. is proposed, with the type strain T1T (=DSM 18318T; NBRC 101842T).
Strain T1T was able to secrete extracellular thermostable lipase into culture medium. The strain T1T was identified as Geobacillus zalihae T1T as it differs from its type strains Geobacillus kaustophilus (DSM 7263T) and Geobacillus thermoleovorans (DSM 5366T) on some physiological studies, cellular fatty acids composition, RiboPrint analysis, length of lipase gene and protein profile.
PMCID: PMC2000885  PMID: 17692114
5.  Isolation and identification of local Bacillus isolates for xylanase biosynthesis 
Iranian Journal of Microbiology  2014;6(2):127-132.
Background and Objectives
Bacillus species are attractive industrial organisms due to their rapid growth rates leading to a short fermentation cycle and for their capacity to secrete important enzymes and proteins such as xylanase into the extracellular medium. Considering the industrial importance of xylanase, in this current study, Bacillus spp. were isolated from different soils and were screened for their xylanase production.
Materials and Methods
Bacillus isolates used in this study were obtained from a national screening program carried out during 2006-2007 in which soil samples that covered areas throughout the interior of Syria were collected. The prepared inoculum from each of Bacillus isolates was aliquoted onto xylan agar plates, incubated at 30°C for 72 h and screened for xylanase synthesis.
Xylanolytic isolates were selected depending on the clear zones of xylan hydrolysis. Fifteen isolates having the highest clearing zone were determined and grown in a solid state fermentation. Of the 15 isolates, three bacilli namely SY30A, SY185C and SY190E that showed maximum xylanase production, were identified using the 16S rDNA sequencing method. According to 16S rDNA gene sequence data, the closest phylogenetic neighbor for SY30A was Bacillus pumilus and for SY185C and SY190E isolates was Bacillus subtilis. Optimal pH and temperature for xylanase activity was 7.0 and 55ºC for SY30A and 6.0 and 60ºC for SY185C and SY190E, respectively. Under these conditions, the following activities were found to be around 1157 ± 58, 916 ± 46 and 794 ± 39 (U/g) for SY30A, SY185C and SY190E, respectivly.
Selected local Bacillus isolates were found to be a potential source of xylanase which was proven to be quite suitable for multiple biotechnological applications. These isolates might after extensive optimization steps be an alternative to commercially available strains.
PMCID: PMC4281660  PMID: 25705364
Bacillus sp; Xylanase; Solid state culture
6.  Cloning and enhancing production of a detergent- and organic-solvent-resistant nattokinase from Bacillus subtilis VTCC-DVN-12-01 by using an eight-protease-gene-deficient Bacillus subtilis WB800 
Nattokinases/Subtilisins (EC belong to the second large family of serine proteases, which gain significant attention and play important role in many biotechnology processes. Thus, a number of nattokinases/subtilisins from various Bacillus species, especially from B. subtilis strains, extensively have been investigated to understand their biochemical and physical properties as well as to improve the production for industrial application. The purpose of this study was to clone a nattokinase gene from Bacillus subtilis strain VTCC-DVN-12-01, enhance its production in B. subtilis WB800, which is deficient in eight extracellular proteases and characterize its physicochemical properties for potential application in organic synthesis and detergent production.
A gene coding for the nattokinase (Nk) from B. subtilis strain VTCC-DVN-12-01 consisted of an ORF of 1146 nucleotides, encoding a pre-pro-protein enzyme (30-aa pre-signal peptide, 76-aa pro-peptide and 275-aa mature protein with a predicted molecular mass of 27.7 kDa and pI 6.6). The nattokinase showed 98-99% identity with other nattokinases/subtilisins from B. subtilis strains in GenBank. Nk was expressed in B. subtilis WB800 under the control of acoA promoter at a high level of 600 mg protein per liter culture medium which is highest yield of proteins expressed in any extracellular-protease-deficient B. subtilis system till date. Nk was purified to homogeneity with 3.25 fold purification, a specific activity of 12.7 U/mg, and a recovery of 54.17%. The purified Nk was identified by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry through three peptides, which showed 100% identity to corresponding peptides of the B. subtilis nattokinase (CAC41625). An optimal activity for Nk was observed at 65°C and pH 9. The nattokinase was stable at temperature up to 50°C and in pH range of 5–11 and retained more than 85% of its initial activity after incubation for 1 h. Mg2+ activated Nk up to 162% of its activity. The addition of Triton X-100, Tween 20, and Tween 80 showed an activation of Nk up to 141% of its initial activity but SDS strongly inhibited. The enzyme was highly resistant to organic solvents.
Our findings demonstrated that an eight-protease-gene-deficient Bacillus subtilis WB800 could overproduce the nattokinase from B. subtilis VTCC-DVN-12-01. Due to high resistance to detergents and organic solvents of this nattokinase, it could be potentially applied in organic synthesis and detergent production.
PMCID: PMC3848721  PMID: 24021098
Bacillus subtilis; Nattokinase gene; High-level Expression; Characterization; Detergent- and organic-solvent resistance
7.  Isolated fibrils rescue cohesion and development in the Dsp mutant of Myxococcus xanthus. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1994;176(23):7190-7196.
Extracellular fibrils are involved in cell cohesion and cell development in Myxococcus xanthus. One group of social motility mutants, Dsp, is unable to produce extracellular fibrils; these mutants also lose the abilities to cohere and to develop. Extracellular fibrils isolated from vegetative wild-type cells and added to Dsp cells fully restored the abilities of these cells to cohere and to undergo normal morphological development. The fibrils thus mimic the ability of intact, wild-type cells to carry out the same rescue. Optimal cohesion rescue by fibrils required calcium and magnesium ions, did not require protein synthesis, but was energy dependent, i.e., sodium azide and sodium cyanide blocked rescue. Cohesion rescue was also blocked by the diazo dye Congo red. Cohesion rescue is genus specific, i.e., isolated fibrils did not cause the cohesion of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus subtilis, Proteus mirabilis, Escherichia coli, or the related myxobacterium Stigmatella aurantiaca. Developmental rescue of Dsp by isolated fibrils included aggregation, fruiting body formation, and myxospore morphogenesis. Developmental gene expression in the Dsp mutant was only partially rescued by the isolated fibrils.
PMCID: PMC197106  PMID: 7961490
8.  The EpsE Flagellar Clutch Is Bifunctional and Synergizes with EPS Biosynthesis to Promote Bacillus subtilis Biofilm Formation 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(12):e1001243.
Many bacteria inhibit motility concomitant with the synthesis of an extracellular polysaccharide matrix and the formation of biofilm aggregates. In Bacillus subtilis biofilms, motility is inhibited by EpsE, which acts as a clutch on the flagella rotor to inhibit motility, and which is encoded within the 15 gene eps operon required for EPS production. EpsE shows sequence similarity to the glycosyltransferase family of enzymes, and we demonstrate that the conserved active site motif is required for EPS biosynthesis. We also screen for residues specifically required for either clutch or enzymatic activity and demonstrate that the two functions are genetically separable. Finally, we show that, whereas EPS synthesis activity is dominant for biofilm formation, both functions of EpsE synergize to stabilize cell aggregates and relieve selective pressure to abolish motility by genetic mutation. Thus, the transition from motility to biofilm formation may be governed by a single bifunctional enzyme.
Author Summary
Bacteria form persistent and antibiotic-resistant cell aggregates known as biofilms. Biofilms can form in environmental settings on plant and animal tissues, in industrial settings on pipes and the hulls of ships, and in clinical settings on catheters and medical devices. Biofilms are characterized by two features: the cells within the aggregates are non-motile, and they produce an extracellular polysaccharide (EPS) matrix. We have found a bifunctional enzyme EpsE that contributes to both features of biofilm formation in Bacillus subtilis. EpsE interacts with the flagella rotor to inhibit motility and also cooperates with other enzymes to synthesize the EPS matrix. Thus, the transition from motility to biofilm formation may be governed by a single bifunctional protein. In the past decade, research on biofilms has been focused on biofilm eradication. Understanding how cells transition into the biofilm state may provide additional approaches of preventing the formation of a biofilm in the first place.
PMCID: PMC3000366  PMID: 21170308
9.  Export of extracellular levansucrase by Bacillus subtilis: inhibition by cerulenin and quinacrine. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1979;138(2):345-351.
Bacillus subtilis B secretes an inducible, extracellular enzyme, levansucrase. Inhibition studies were undertaken to investigate the possible mechanism of release of this enzyme. The antibiotic cerulenin, at a concentration of 10 micrograms/ml, totally inhibited de novo lipid synthesis in B. subtilis B for at least 1 h, while only slightly reducing protein and RNA synthesis. At this concentration cerulenin, added concomitantly with the inducer sucrose, prevented the release of levansucrase for at least 150 min. This was not due to the prevention of inducer uptake by the cells. The release of the enzyme was also independent of cell division. In B. subtilis 1007 the induction of beta-galactosidase by 5 mM lactose was not prevented by cerulenin. Preliminary evidence indicated the association of a lipid moiety with the enzyme as it passes through the cytoplasmic membrane. Quinacrine (0.2 mM), which inhibits the penicillinase-releasing protease of Bacillus licheniformis, inhibited levansucrase release from B. subtilis B, but had no effect on lipid synthesis.
PMCID: PMC218184  PMID: 108256
10.  Characteristics of Penicillinase Secretion by Growing Cells and Protoplasts of Bacillus licheniformis 
Journal of Bacteriology  1969;97(2):820-826.
Cultures of the inducible penicillinase-producing strain 749 of Bacillus licheniformis, induced with small amounts of benzylpenicillin, synthesized penicillinase at a high rate for a short period, after which the rate of synthesis slowly declined. During the period of active synthesis, the rate of secretion, as a fraction of the level of cell-bound penicillinase (which is originally high), gradually decreased to a constant level. Chloramphenicol, at a concentration (40 μg/ml) which completely inhibited synthesis of penicillinase, partially inhibited secretion if added during the period of active synthesis. During the phase of reduced synthesis, chloramphenicol was without effect on secretion. Penicillinase secretion, by actively growing cultures of the constitutive penicillinase-producing mutant 749/C, was inhibited by 75% immediately after addition of chloramphenicol. The secretion of part of the penicillinase released during active growth is probably dependent on synthesis of penicillinase, but part of the secreted penicillinase can be released in the absence of synthesis. Protoplasts were obtained from which periplasmic penicillinase has been removed, and these protoplasts were capable of substantial growth and penicillinase synthesis without lysis. At pH 7.5, there was no net incorporation of penicillinase into the cell membrane; the enzyme released was almost entirely of the exo form and was roughly equivalent to the amount of new enzyme formed. At pH 6.0, there was some incorporation of penicillinase into the plasma membrane, and approximately half of the extracellular penicillinase was in the exo form; the remainder perhaps represented membrane fragments. In the presence of chloramphenicol, a small amount of penicillinase was released at pH 7.5 as the exo form; at pH 6.0, practically none was released. We suggest that, with the removal from protoplasts of the periplasmic penicillinase-containing particles, a restriction on secretion has been lifted.
PMCID: PMC249766  PMID: 5773030
11.  Genetic Control of the Rate of α-Amylase Synthesis in Bacillus subtilis 
Journal of Bacteriology  1974;119(2):410-415.
The level of extracellular α-amylase (EC of Bacillus subtilis Marburg was increased about fivefold by introducing the amyR marker from B. natto 1212 through transformation. amyR2 of B. natto 1212 has been assumed to determine a high level of α-amylase of the organism. The gene acts specifically on α-amylase synthesis but not on the production of other extracellular enzymes. α-Amylase of an amyR2-carrying strain was found to be quite similar to that of an isogenic amyR1-carrying strain in the thermostability and electrophoretic behavior of whichever amylase the strain produces. Marburg-type α-amylase (amyEm) or B. natto-α-amylase (amyEn). Anti-amylase serum titration indicates that a high level of the enzyme activity in the amyR2-carrying strain is caused by the existence of more enzyme rather than the presence of an enzyme having higher efficiency. This is supported further by the fact that amyR controls the synthesis of the amyE gene product in mutant M9, which synthesizes a temperature-sensitive-α-amylase, and in mutant M07, which secretes cross-reacting material. The results indicate that amyR regulates the rate of α-amylase synthesis.
PMCID: PMC245622  PMID: 4212030
12.  Phylogeny in Aid of the Present and Novel Microbial Lineages: Diversity in Bacillus 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(2):e4438.
Bacillus represents microbes of high economic, medical and biodefense importance. Bacillus strain identification based on 16S rRNA sequence analyses is invariably limited to species level. Secondly, certain discrepancies exist in the segregation of Bacillus subtilis strains. In the RDP/NCBI databases, out of a total of 2611 individual 16S rDNA sequences belonging to the 175 different species of the genus Bacillus, only 1586 have been identified up to species level. 16S rRNA sequences of Bacillus anthracis (153 strains), B. cereus (211 strains), B. thuringiensis (108 strains), B. subtilis (271 strains), B. licheniformis (131 strains), B. pumilus (83 strains), B. megaterium (47 strains), B. sphaericus (42 strains), B. clausii (39 strains) and B. halodurans (36 strains) were considered for generating species-specific framework and probes as tools for their rapid identification. Phylogenetic segregation of 1121, 16S rDNA sequences of 10 different Bacillus species in to 89 clusters enabled us to develop a phylogenetic frame work of 34 representative sequences. Using this phylogenetic framework, 305 out of 1025, 16S rDNA sequences presently classified as Bacillus sp. could be identified up to species level. This identification was supported by 20 to 30 nucleotides long signature sequences and in silico restriction enzyme analysis specific to the 10 Bacillus species. This integrated approach resulted in identifying around 30% of Bacillus sp. up to species level and revealed that B. subtilis strains can be segregated into two phylogenetically distinct groups, such that one of them may be renamed.
PMCID: PMC2639701  PMID: 19212464
13.  Macromolecular Synthesis During Microcycle Sporogenesis of Bacillus cereus T 
Journal of Bacteriology  1970;101(1):24-34.
Microcycle sporogenesis induced in Bacillus cereus T by phosphate limitation occurs over a narrow range of phosphate to spore inoculum ratios. Sufficient phosphate is required to satisfy the demands for a twofold increase in deoxyribonucleic acid; net ribonucleic acid synthesis is not required. The total ribonucleic acid content of the culture was variable, and deoxyribonucleic acid synthesis was restricted to a twofold increase. Developmental changes during outgrowth occurred synchronously, whereas enzyme synthesis was periodic. The timing of the synthesis of tricarboxylic cycle enzymes, extracellular protease, arginase, histidase, and alkaline phosphatase was measured. Histidase could be induced after 2.5 hr throughout microcycle sporogenesis. Several other features of macromolecular synthesis during microcycle sporogenesis are described. Differences between this pattern and those observed during outgrowth leading to cell division are discussed. A technique for accurately estimating the levels and time of synthesis of incompletely extractable, labile enzymes is also presented.
PMCID: PMC250446  PMID: 4983651
14.  Regulation of Polyglutamic Acid Synthesis by Glutamate in Bacillus licheniformis and Bacillus subtilis 
The synthesis of polyglutamic acid (PGA) was repressed by exogenous glutamate in strains of Bacillus licheniformis but not in strains of Bacillus subtilis, indicating a clear difference in the regulation of synthesis of capsular slime in these two species. Although extracellular γ-glutamyltranspeptidase (GGT) activity was always present in PGA-producing cultures of B. licheniformis under various growth conditions, there was no correlation between the quantity of PGA and enzyme activity. Moreover, the synthesis of PGA in the absence of detectable GGT activity in B. subtilis S317 indicated that this enzyme was not involved in PGA biosynthesis in this bacterium. Glutamate repression of PGA biosynthesis may offer a simple means of preventing unwanted slime production in industrial fermentations using B. licheniformis.
PMCID: PMC92683  PMID: 11157279
15.  Cell-Bound Thiaminase I of Bacillus thiaminolyticus 
Journal of Bacteriology  1973;115(3):949-956.
The distribution of the extracellular enzyme, thiaminase I, was determined for logarithmically growing cultures of Bacillus thiaminolyticus. About 60% of the enzyme is associated with the cells throughout the growth cycle. The remainder of the enzyme is in the culture medium. The release of the cell-bound thiaminase I is examined under a variety of conditions. The rate and extent of release is dependent on the pH and the nature of the incubation solution. The release process appears to be relatively independent of de novo protein synthesis, energy derived from oxidative phosphorylation, or divalent metal ions. The absence of carbon or nitrogen sources has little effect on the release of the enzyme. Cell-bound thiaminase I probably is the immediate precursor for extracellular thiaminase I found in the culture medium. Washed cells continue to release thiaminase I at the expense of cell-bound enzyme. In addition, purified cell-bound thiaminase I is indistinguishable from purified extracellular thiaminase I by a number of physical and kinetic criteria.
PMCID: PMC246341  PMID: 4199520
16.  Structural and Spectral Features of Selenium Nanospheres Produced by Se-Respiring Bacteria 
Certain anaerobic bacteria respire toxic selenium oxyanions and in doing so produce extracellular accumulations of elemental selenium [Se(0)]. We examined three physiologically and phylogenetically diverse species of selenate- and selenite-respiring bacteria, Sulfurospirillum barnesii, Bacillus selenitireducens, and Selenihalanaerobacter shriftii, for the occurrence of this phenomenon. When grown with selenium oxyanions as the electron acceptor, all of these organisms formed extracellular granules consisting of stable, uniform nanospheres (diameter, ∼300 nm) of Se(0) having monoclinic crystalline structures. Intracellular packets of Se(0) were also noted. The number of intracellular Se(0) packets could be reduced by first growing cells with nitrate as the electron acceptor and then adding selenite ions to washed suspensions of the nitrate-grown cells. This resulted in the formation of primarily extracellular Se nanospheres. After harvesting and cleansing of cellular debris, we observed large differences in the optical properties (UV-visible absorption and Raman spectra) of purified extracellular nanospheres produced in this manner by the three different bacterial species. The spectral properties in turn differed substantially from those of amorphous Se(0) formed by chemical oxidation of H2Se and of black, vitreous Se(0) formed chemically by reduction of selenite with ascorbate. The microbial synthesis of Se(0) nanospheres results in unique, complex, compacted nanostructural arrangements of Se atoms. These arrangements probably reflect a diversity of enzymes involved in the dissimilatory reduction that are subtly different in different microbes. Remarkably, these conditions cannot be achieved by current methods of chemical synthesis.
PMCID: PMC321302  PMID: 14711625
17.  Evidence linking penicillinase formation and secretion to lipid metabolism in Bacillus licheniformis. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1978;134(2):434-439.
The formation of penicillinase by cultures of Bacillus licheniformis was preferentially suppressed by cerulenin, an antibiotic known to specifically inhibit fatty acid synthesis in microorganisms. The effect was studied at cerulenin concentrations that had almost no effect on the rate of cell growth and overall protein synthesis, but that reduced the rate of [14C]acetate incorporation (by 50 to 70%), indicating partial inhibition of lipid synthesis. The levels of both the released enzyme (exopenicillinase) and its cell-bound precursor were reduced to the same extent (70% to 80%). Enzyme formation was gradually resumed after the removal of cerulenin or the addition of a mixture of fatty acids prepared from lipids extracted from B. licheniformis. Reversal was less effective as the time interval between treatment with cerulenin and addition of fatty acids increased. We conclude that de novo synthesis of fatty acids is required for the formation of both the membrane-bound and extracellular penicillinase. Suppression of the membrane-bound enzyme is a likely consequence of the altered membrane (decreased lipid-to-lipid ratio and increased density) seen in cerulenin-treated preparations. The corresponding suppression of exopenicillinase is consistent with the view that it is derived from the membrane-bound form. A mechanism linking the general class of exportable proteins to specific aspects of lipid synthesis is discussed.
PMCID: PMC222270  PMID: 659359
18.  Importance of the Long-Chain Fatty Acid Beta-Hydroxylating Cytochrome P450 Enzyme YbdT for Lipopeptide Biosynthesis in Bacillus subtilis Strain OKB105 
Bacillus species produce extracellular, surface-active lipopeptides such as surfactin that have wide applications in industry and medicine. The steps involved in the synthesis of 3-hydroxyacyl-coenzyme A (CoA) substrates needed for surfactin biosynthesis are not understood. Cell-free extracts of Bacillus subtilis strain OKB105 synthesized lipopeptide biosurfactants in presence of l-amino acids, myristic acid, coenzyme A, ATP, and H2O2, which suggested that 3-hydroxylation occurs prior to CoA ligation of the long chain fatty acids (LCFAs). We hypothesized that YbdT, a cytochrome P450 enzyme known to beta-hydroxylate LCFAs, functions to form 3-hydroxy fatty acids for lipopeptide biosynthesis. An in-frame mutation of ybdT was constructed and the resulting mutant strain (NHY1) produced predominantly non-hydroxylated lipopeptide with diminished biosurfactant and beta-hemolytic activities. Mass spectrometry showed that 95.6% of the fatty acids in the NHY1 biosurfactant were non-hydroxylated compared to only ∼61% in the OKB105 biosurfactant. Cell-free extracts of the NHY1 synthesized surfactin containing 3-hydroxymyristic acid from 3-hydroxymyristoyl-CoA at a specific activity similar to that of the wild type (17 ± 2 versus 17.4 ± 6 ng biosurfactant min−1·ng·protein−1, respectively). These results showed that the mutation did not affect any function needed to synthesize surfactin once the 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA substrate was formed and that YbdT functions to supply 3-hydroxy fatty acid for surfactin biosynthesis. The fact that YbdT is a peroxidase could explain why biosurfactant production is rarely observed in anaerobically grown Bacillus species. Manipulation of LCFA specificity of YbdT could provide a new route to produce biosurfactants with activities tailored to specific functions.
PMCID: PMC3111633  PMID: 21673922
cytochrome P450; YbdT; long chain fatty acids; beta hydroxylation; Bacillus subtilis; surfactin
19.  Osmotically Regulated Synthesis of the Compatible Solute Ectoine in Bacillus pasteurii and Related Bacillus spp. 
By using natural-abundance 13C-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis we have investigated the types of compatible solutes that are synthesized de novo in a variety of Bacillus species under high-osmolality growth conditions. Five different patterns of compatible solute production were found among the 13 Bacillus species we studied. Bacillus subtilis, B. licheniformis, and B. megaterium produced proline; B. cereus, B. circulans, B. thuringiensis, Paenibacillus polymyxa, and Aneurinibacillus aneurinilyticus synthesized glutamate; B. alcalophilus, B. psychrophilus, and B. pasteurii synthesized ectoine; and Salibacillus (formerly Bacillus) salexigens produced both ectoine and hydroxyectoine, whereas Virgibacillus (formerly Bacillus) pantothenticus synthesized both ectoine and proline. Hence, the ability to produce the tetrahydropyrimidine ectoine under hyperosmotic growth conditions is widespread within the genus Bacillus and closely related taxa. To study ectoine biosynthesis within the group of Bacillus species in greater detail, we focused on B. pasteurii. We cloned and sequenced its ectoine biosynthetic genes (ectABC). The ectABC genes encode the diaminobutyric acid acetyltransferase (EctA), the diaminobutyric acid aminotransferase (EctB), and the ectoine synthase (EctC). Together these proteins constitute the ectoine biosynthetic pathway, and their heterologous expression in B. subtilis led to the production of ectoine. Northern blot analysis demonstrated that the ectABC genes are genetically organized as an operon whose expression is strongly enhanced when the osmolality of the growth medium is raised. Primer extension analysis allowed us to pinpoint the osmoregulated promoter of the B. pasteurii ectABC gene cluster. HPLC analysis of osmotically challenged B. pasteurii cells revealed that ectoine production within this bacterium is finely tuned and closely correlated with the osmolality of the growth medium. These observations together with the osmotic control of ectABC transcription suggest that the de novo synthesis of ectoine is an important facet in the cellular adaptation of B. pasteurii to high-osmolarity surroundings.
PMCID: PMC126723  PMID: 11823218
20.  Purification and characterization of an extracellular esterase with organic solvent tolerance from a halotolerant isolate, Salimicrobium sp. LY19 
BMC Biotechnology  2013;13:108.
Halotolerant bacteria are excellent sources for selecting novel enzymes. Being intrinsically stable and active under high salinities, enzymes from these prokaryotes have evolved to function optimally under extreme conditions, making them robust biocatalysts with potential applications in harsh industrial processes.
A halotolerant strain LY19 showing lipolytic activity was isolated from saline soil of Yuncheng Salt Lake, China. It was identified as belonging to the genus of Salimicrobium by 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. The extracellular enzyme was purified to homogeneity with molecular mass of 57 kDa by SDS-PAGE. Substrate specificity test revealed that the enzyme preferred short-chain p-nitrophenyl esters and exhibited maximum activity towards p-nitrophenyl butyrate (p-NPB), indicating an esterase activity. The esterase was highly active and stable over broad temperature (20°C-70°C), pH (7.0-10.0) and NaCl concentration (2.5%-25%) ranges, with an optimum at 50°C, pH 7.0 and 5% NaCl. Significant inhibition of the esterase was shown by ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride (PMSF) and phenylarsine oxide (PAO), which indicated that it was a metalloenzyme with serine and cysteine residues essential for enzyme activity. Moreover, the esterase displayed high activity and stability in the presence of hydrophobic organic solvents with log Pow ≥ 0.88 than in the absence of an organic solvent or in the presence of hydrophilic solvents.
Results from the present study indicated the novel extracellular esterase from Salimicrobium sp. LY19 exhibited thermostable, alkali-stable, halotolerant and organic solvent-tolerant properties. These features led us to conclude that the esterase may have considerable potential for industrial applications in organic synthesis reactions.
PMCID: PMC4029450  PMID: 24325447
Halotolerant; Esterase; Purification; Salimicrobium; Organic solvent tolerance
21.  Accumulation of Messenger Ribonucleic Acid Specific for Extracellular Protease in Bacillus subtilis 168 
Journal of Bacteriology  1973;116(2):531-534.
Production of extracellular protease by Bacillus subtilis 168 in a medium containing low concentrations of amino acids is essentially linear, whereas in a medium containing high levels of amino acids the time course of production is biphasic. Cells harvested from the growth medium are capable of secreting enzyme for 30 min in the presence of rifampin, but the appearance of the enzyme is sensitive to chloramphenicol and pactamycin. The protease messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), nevertheless, appears to have a short half-life typical of bacterial messengers, and this indicates that these cells contain a relatively large pool of protease-specific mRNA. This pattern of results is identical to that observed previously with B. amyloliquefaciens. Because it has now been found in two distinct organisms, it is concluded that the accumulation of mRNA for extracellular protease, supported by rapid transcription, is a biologically meaningful phenomenon related to extracellular enzyme synthesis rather than aberrant behavior due to a transcriptional control mutation.
PMCID: PMC285414  PMID: 4200848
22.  Staphylococcus aureus Mutants Lacking the LytR-CpsA-Psr Family of Enzymes Release Cell Wall Teichoic Acids into the Extracellular Medium 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(20):4650-4659.
The LytR-CpsA-Psr (LCP) proteins are thought to transfer bactoprenol-linked biosynthetic intermediates of wall teichoic acid (WTA) to the peptidoglycan of Gram-positive bacteria. In Bacillus subtilis, mutants lacking all three LCP enzymes do not deposit WTA in the envelope, while Staphylococcus aureus Δlcp mutants display impaired growth and reduced levels of envelope phosphate. We show here that the S. aureus Δlcp mutant synthesized WTA yet released ribitol phosphate polymers into the extracellular medium. Further, Δlcp mutant staphylococci no longer restricted the deposition of LysM-type murein hydrolases to cell division sites, which was associated with defects in cell shape and increased autolysis. Mutations in S. aureus WTA synthesis genes (tagB, tarF, or tarJ2) inhibit growth, which is attributed to the depletion of bactoprenol, an essential component of peptidoglycan synthesis (lipid II). The growth defect of S. aureus tagB and tarFJ mutants was alleviated by inhibition of WTA synthesis with tunicamycin, whereas the growth defect of the Δlcp mutant was not relieved by tunicamycin treatment or by mutation of tagO, whose product catalyzes the first committed step of WTA synthesis. Further, sortase A-mediated anchoring of proteins to peptidoglycan, which also involves bactoprenol and lipid II, was not impaired in the Δlcp mutant. We propose a model whereby the S. aureus Δlcp mutant, defective in tethering WTA to the cell wall, cleaves WTA synthesis intermediates, releasing ribitol phosphate into the medium and recycling bactoprenol for peptidoglycan synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3807444  PMID: 23935043
23.  Cultivation-Dependant Assessment, Diversity, and Ecology of Haloalkaliphilic Bacteria in Arid Saline Systems of Southern Tunisia 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:648141.
Haloalkaliphiles are polyextremophiles adapted to grow at high salt concentrations and alkaline pH values. In this work, we isolated 122 haloalkaliphilic bacteria upon enrichments of 23 samples from 5 distinct saline systems of southern Tunisia, growing optimally in media with 10% salt and at pH 10. The collection was classified into 44 groups based on the amplification of the 16S–23S rRNA internal transcribed spacers (ITS-PCR). Phylogenetic analysis and sequencing of the 16S rRNA genes allowed the identification of 13 genera and 20 distinct species. Three gram-positive isolates showing between 95 and 96% of 16S rRNA sequence homology with Bacillus saliphilus could represent new species or genus. Beside the difference in bacterial diversity between the studied sites, several species ecological niches correlations were demonstrated such as Oceanobacillus in salt crust, Nesterenkonia in sand, and Salinicoccus in the rhizosphere of the desert plant Salicornia. The collection was further evaluated for the production of extracellular enzymes. Activity tests showed that gram-positive bacteria were mostly active, particularly for protease, lipase, DNase, and amylase production. Our overall results demonstrate the huge phenotypic and phylogenetic diversity of haloalkaliphiles in saline systems of southern Tunisia which represent a valuable source of new lineages and metabolites.
PMCID: PMC3842069  PMID: 24324969
24.  Coexpression and Secretion of Endoglucanase and Phytase Genes in Lactobacillus reuteri 
A multifunctional transgenic Lactobacillus with probiotic characteristics and an ability to degrade β-glucan and phytic acid (phytate) was engineered to improve nutrient utilization, increase production performance and decrease digestive diseases in broiler chickens. The Bacillus subtilis WL001 endoglucanase gene (celW) and Aspergillus fumigatus WL002 phytase gene (phyW) mature peptide (phyWM) were cloned into an expression vector with the lactate dehydrogenase promoter of Lactobacillus casei and the secretion signal peptide of the Lactococcus lactis usp45 gene. This construct was then transformed into Lactobacillus reuteri XC1 that had been isolated from the gastrointestinal tract of broilers. Heterologous enzyme production and feed effectiveness of this genetically modified L. reuteri strain were investigated and evaluated. Sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis showed that the molecular mass of phyWM and celW was approximately 48.2 and 55 kDa, respectively, consistent with their predicted molecular weights. Endoglucanase and phytase activities in the extracellular fraction of the transformed L. reuteri culture were 0.68 and 0.42 U/mL, respectively. Transformed L. reuteri improved the feed conversion ratio of broilers from 21 to 42 days of age and over the whole feeding period. However, there was no effect on body weight gain and feed intake of chicks. Transformed L. reuteri supplementation improved levels of ash, calcium and phosphorus in tibiae at day 21 and of phosphorus at day 42. In addition, populations of Escherichia coli, Veillonella spp. and Bacteroides vulgatus were decreased, while populations of Bifidobacterium genus and Lactobacillus spp. were increased in the cecum at day 21.
PMCID: PMC4139877  PMID: 25050780
coexpression; secretion; endoglucanase; phytase; Lactobacillus reuteri; broiler
25.  Isolation and Characterization of Thermophilic Bacterial Strains with Inulinase Activity 
Nine bacterial strains growing on inulin as the sole carbon and energy source were isolated from soil samples by enrichment culture on a mineral medium. Four of the strains were thermophilic and belong to the genus Bacillus. The thermophilic strains synthesized a β-fructosidase that was active on both inulin and sucrose. The presence of inulin in the culture medium is necessary for enzyme synthesis. Most of the activity on inulin was recovered in the culture medium, and the enzyme was synthesized during cell growth.
PMCID: PMC203790  PMID: 16347353

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