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1.  L-lactic acid production from D-xylose with Candida sonorensis expressing a heterologous lactate dehydrogenase encoding gene 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):107.
Bioplastics, like polylactic acid (PLA), are renewable alternatives for petroleum-based plastics. Lactic acid, the monomer of PLA, has traditionally been produced biotechnologically with bacteria. With genetic engineering, yeast have the potential to replace bacteria in biotechnological lactic acid production, with the benefits of being acid tolerant and having simple nutritional requirements. Lactate dehydrogenase genes have been introduced to various yeast to demonstrate this potential. Importantly, an industrial lactic acid producing process utilising yeast has already been implemented. Utilisation of D-xylose in addition to D-glucose in production of biochemicals such as lactic acid by microbial fermentation would be beneficial, as it would allow lignocellulosic raw materials to be utilised in the production processes.
The yeast Candida sonorensis, which naturally metabolises D-xylose, was genetically modified to produce L-lactic acid from D-xylose by integrating the gene encoding L-lactic acid dehydrogenase (ldhL) from Lactobacillus helveticus into its genome. In microaerobic, CaCO3-buffered conditions a C. sonorensis ldhL transformant having two copies of the ldhL gene produced 31 g l−1 lactic acid from 50 g l−1 D-xylose free of ethanol.
Anaerobic production of lactic acid from D-xylose was assessed after introducing an alternative pathway of D-xylose metabolism, i.e. by adding a xylose isomerase encoded by XYLA from Piromyces sp. alone or together with the xylulokinase encoding gene XKS1 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Strains were further modified by deletion of the endogenous xylose reductase encoding gene, alone or together with the xylitol dehydrogenase encoding gene. Strains of C. sonorensis expressing xylose isomerase produced L-lactic acid from D-xylose in anaerobic conditions. The highest anaerobic L-lactic acid production (8.5 g l−1) was observed in strains in which both the xylose reductase and xylitol dehydrogenase encoding genes had been deleted and the xylulokinase encoding gene from S. cerevisiae was overexpressed.
Integration of two copies of the ldhL gene in C. sonorensis was sufficient to obtain good L-lactic acid production from D-xylose. Under anaerobic conditions, the ldhL strain with exogenous xylose isomerase and xylulokinase genes expressed and the endogenous xylose reductase and xylitol dehydrogenase genes deleted had the highest L- lactic acid production.
PMCID: PMC4249597  PMID: 25104116
Candida sonorensis; Yeast; D-xylose; L-lactic acid production; Xylose isomerase; Pyruvate decarboxylase; Xylose reductase; Xylitol dehydrogenase
2.  Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. lactis and ssp. bulgaricus: a chronicle of evolution in action 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):407.
Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. lactis and ssp. bulgaricus are lactic acid producing bacteria that are largely used in dairy industries, notably in cheese-making and yogurt production. An earlier in-depth study of the first completely sequenced ssp. bulgaricus genome revealed the characteristics of a genome in an active phase of rapid evolution, in what appears to be an adaptation to the milk environment. Here we examine for the first time if the same conclusions apply to the ssp. lactis, and discuss intra- and inter-subspecies genomic diversity in the context of evolutionary adaptation.
Both L. delbrueckii ssp. show the signs of reductive evolution through the elimination of superfluous genes, thereby limiting their carbohydrate metabolic capacities and amino acid biosynthesis potential. In the ssp. lactis this reductive evolution has gone less far than in the ssp. bulgaricus. Consequently, the ssp. lactis retained more extended carbohydrate metabolizing capabilities than the ssp. bulgaricus but, due to high intra-subspecies diversity, very few carbohydrate substrates, if any, allow a reliable distinction of the two ssp. We further show that one of the most important traits, lactose fermentation, of one of the economically most important dairy bacteria, L. delbruecki ssp. bulgaricus, relies on horizontally acquired rather than deep ancestral genes. In this sense this bacterium may thus be regarded as a natural GMO avant la lettre.
The dairy lactic acid producing bacteria L. delbrueckii ssp. lactis and ssp. bulgaricus appear to represent different points on the same evolutionary track of adaptation to the milk environment through the loss of superfluous functions and the acquisition of functions that allow an optimized utilization of milk resources, where the ssp. bulgaricus has progressed further away from the common ancestor.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-407) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4082628  PMID: 24884896
Lactobacillus delbrueckii; Bulgaricus; Lactis; Genome; Comparative genomics; Adaptation; Evolution
3.  Genomic reconstruction of transcriptional regulatory networks in lactic acid bacteria 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:94.
Genome scale annotation of regulatory interactions and reconstruction of regulatory networks are the crucial problems in bacterial genomics. The Lactobacillales order of bacteria collates various microorganisms having a large economic impact, including both human and animal pathogens and strains used in the food industry. Nonetheless, no systematic genome-wide analysis of transcriptional regulation has been previously made for this taxonomic group.
A comparative genomics approach was used for reconstruction of transcriptional regulatory networks in 30 selected genomes of lactic acid bacteria. The inferred networks comprise regulons for 102 orthologous transcription factors (TFs), including 47 novel regulons for previously uncharacterized TFs. Numerous differences between regulatory networks of the Streptococcaceae and Lactobacillaceae groups were described on several levels. The two groups are characterized by substantially different sets of TFs encoded in their genomes. Content of the inferred regulons and structure of their cognate TF binding motifs differ for many orthologous TFs between the two groups. Multiple cases of non-orthologous displacements of TFs that control specific metabolic pathways were reported.
The reconstructed regulatory networks substantially expand the existing knowledge of transcriptional regulation in lactic acid bacteria. In each of 30 studied genomes the obtained regulatory network contains on average 36 TFs and 250 target genes that are mostly involved in carbohydrate metabolism, stress response, metal homeostasis and amino acids biosynthesis. The inferred networks can be used for genetic experiments, functional annotations of genes, metabolic reconstruction and evolutionary analysis. All reconstructed regulons are captured within the Streptococcaceae and Lactobacillaceae collections in the RegPrecise database (
PMCID: PMC3616900  PMID: 23398941
Transcriptional regulatory network; Comparative genomics; Carbohydrate metabolism; Lactobacillaceae; Streptococcaceae; Lactic acid bacteria; Regulon; Transcription factor
4.  Evolution of Cariogenic Character in Streptococcus mutans: Horizontal Transmission of Glycosyl Hydrolase Family 70 Genes 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:518.
Acquisition of the ability to produce polysaccharides from sucrose, i.e. the gtf gene encoding glucosyltransferase (GTF), is the key evolutionary event enabling dental biofilm formation by streptococci. To clarify the ancestry of streptococcal GTFs, time of its occurrence, and order of specific events, we investigated the distribution of GTFs among bacteria by phylogenetic analysis of the glycosyl hydrolase family 70 enzymes. We found that streptococcal GTFs were derived from other lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc, and propose the following evolutionary model: horizontal gene transfer via transposons occurred when streptococci encountered lactic acid bacteria contained in fermented food. Intra-genomic gene duplication occurred by a secondary selection pressure such as consumption of refined sugar. Our findings concerning this evolution in Streptococcus mutans provide an important background for studies of the relationship between the historical spread of dental caries and anthropological factors.
PMCID: PMC3399136  PMID: 22816041
5.  Functional genomics of lactic acid bacteria: from food to health 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(Suppl 1):S8.
Genome analysis using next generation sequencing technologies has revolutionized the characterization of lactic acid bacteria and complete genomes of all major groups are now available. Comparative genomics has provided new insights into the natural and laboratory evolution of lactic acid bacteria and their environmental interactions. Moreover, functional genomics approaches have been used to understand the response of lactic acid bacteria to their environment. The results have been instrumental in understanding the adaptation of lactic acid bacteria in artisanal and industrial food fermentations as well as their interactions with the human host. Collectively, this has led to a detailed analysis of genes involved in colonization, persistence, interaction and signaling towards to the human host and its health. Finally, massive parallel genome re-sequencing has provided new opportunities in applied genomics, specifically in the characterization of novel non-GMO strains that have potential to be used in the food industry. Here, we provide an overview of the state of the art of these functional genomics approaches and their impact in understanding, applying and designing lactic acid bacteria for food and health.
PMCID: PMC4155825  PMID: 25186768
Genome comparison; evolution; adaptation; applied genomics; pili; respiration
6.  Influence of Vaginal Bacteria and d- and l-Lactic Acid Isomers on Vaginal Extracellular Matrix Metalloproteinase Inducer: Implications for Protection against Upper Genital Tract Infections 
mBio  2013;4(4):e00460-13.
We evaluated levels of vaginal extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer (EMMPRIN) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-8) in vaginal secretions in relation to the composition of vaginal bacterial communities and d- and l-lactic acid levels. The composition of vaginal bacterial communities in 46 women was determined by pyrosequencing the V1 to V3 region of 16S rRNA genes. Lactobacilli were dominant in 71.3% of the women, followed by Gardnerella (17.4%), Streptococcus (8.7%), and Enterococcus (2.2%). Of the lactobacillus-dominated communities, 51.5% were dominated by Lactobacillus crispatus, 36.4% by Lactobacillus iners, and 6.1% each by Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus jensenii. Concentrations of l-lactic acid were slightly higher in lactobacillus-dominated vaginal samples, but most differences were not statistically significant. d-Lactic acid levels were higher in samples containing L. crispatus than in those with L. iners (P < 0.0001) or Gardnerella (P = 0.0002). The relative proportion of d-lactic acid in vaginal communities dominated by species of lactobacilli was in concordance with the proportions found in axenic cultures of the various species grown in vitro. Levels of l-lactic acid (P < 0.0001) and the ratio of l-lactic acid to d-lactic acid (P = 0.0060), but not concentrations of d-lactic acid, were also correlated with EMMPRIN concentrations. Moreover, vaginal concentrations of EMMPRIN and MMP-8 levels were highly correlated (P < 0.0001). Taken together, the data suggest the relative proportion of l- to d-lactic acid isomers in the vagina may influence the extent of local EMMPRIN production and subsequent induction of MMP-8. The expression of these proteins may help determine the ability of bacteria to transverse the cervix and initiate upper genital tract infections.
A large proportion of preterm births (>50%) result from infections caused by bacteria originating in the vagina, which requires that they traverse the cervix. Factors that influence susceptibility to these infections are not well understood; however, there is evidence that matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-8) is known to alter the integrity of the cervix. In this work, we show that concentrations of vaginal extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer (EMMPRIN) are influenced by members of the vaginal microbial community and concentrations of d- or l-lactic acid isomers in vaginal secretions. Elevated levels of d-lactic acid and the ratio of d- to l-lactic acid influence EMMPRIN concentrations as well as MMP-8 levels. Thus, isomers of lactic acid may function as signaling molecules that alter host gene expression and influence risk of infection-related preterm birth.
PMCID: PMC3735189  PMID: 23919998
7.  Phylogenetic Analysis of Glucosyltransferases and Implications for the Coevolution of Mutans Streptococci with Their Mammalian Hosts 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56305.
Glucosyltransferases (Gtfs) catalyze the synthesis of glucans from sucrose and are produced by several species of lactic-acid bacteria. The oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans produces large amounts of glucans through the action of three Gtfs. GtfD produces water-soluble glucan (WSG), GtfB synthesizes water-insoluble glucans (WIG) and GtfC produces mainly WIG but also WSG. These enzymes, especially those synthesizing WIG, are of particular interest because of their role in the formation of dental plaque, an environment where S. mutans can thrive and produce lactic acid, promoting the formation of dental caries. We sequenced the gtfB, gtfC and gtfD genes from several mutans streptococcal strains isolated from the oral cavity of humans and searched for their homologues in strains isolated from chimpanzees and macaque monkeys. The sequence data were analyzed in conjunction with the available Gtf sequences from other bacteria in the genera Streptococcus, Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc to gain insights into the evolutionary history of this family of enzymes, with a particular emphasis on S. mutans Gtfs. Our analyses indicate that streptococcal Gtfs arose from a common ancestral progenitor gene, and that they expanded to form two clades according to the type of glucan they synthesize. We also show that the clade of streptococcal Gtfs synthesizing WIG appeared shortly after the divergence of viviparous, dentate mammals, which potentially contributed to the formation of dental plaque and the establishment of several streptococci in the oral cavity. The two S. mutans Gtfs capable of WIG synthesis, GtfB and GtfC, are likely the product of a gene duplication event. We dated this event to coincide with the divergence of the genomes of ancestral early primates. Thus, the acquisition and diversification of S. mutans Gtfs predates modern humans and is unrelated to the increase in dietary sucrose consumption.
PMCID: PMC3572963  PMID: 23457545
8.  The Genomic Analysis of Lactic Acidosis and Acidosis Response in Human Cancers 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(12):e1000293.
The tumor microenvironment has a significant impact on tumor development. Two important determinants in this environment are hypoxia and lactic acidosis. Although lactic acidosis has long been recognized as an important factor in cancer, relatively little is known about how cells respond to lactic acidosis and how that response relates to cancer phenotypes. We develop genome-scale gene expression studies to dissect transcriptional responses of primary human mammary epithelial cells to lactic acidosis and hypoxia in vitro and to explore how they are linked to clinical tumor phenotypes in vivo. The resulting experimental signatures of responses to lactic acidosis and hypoxia are evaluated in a heterogeneous set of breast cancer datasets. A strong lactic acidosis response signature identifies a subgroup of low-risk breast cancer patients having distinct metabolic profiles suggestive of a preference for aerobic respiration. The association of lactic acidosis response with good survival outcomes may relate to the role of lactic acidosis in directing energy generation toward aerobic respiration and utilization of other energy sources via inhibition of glycolysis. This “inhibition of glycolysis” phenotype in tumors is likely caused by the repression of glycolysis gene expression and Akt inhibition. Our study presents a genomic evaluation of the prognostic information of a lactic acidosis response independent of the hypoxic response. Our results identify causal roles of lactic acidosis in metabolic reprogramming, and the direct functional consequence of lactic acidosis pathway activity on cellular responses and tumor development. The study also demonstrates the utility of genomic analysis that maps expression-based findings from in vitro experiments to human samples to assess links to in vivo clinical phenotypes.
Author Summary
It is well recognized that tumor microenvironments play an important role in modulating tumor progression in human cancers. Although previous studies have highlighted the importance of hypoxia, there is limited knowledge on the effects of other components in tumor microenvironments. Therefore, we use gene expression to compare and analyze how cells respond to lactate, acidity, and hypoxia, as well as how these responses can be utilized to predict the clinical outcomes of patients with breast cancers. We uncover an unexpected association with better clinical outcome of the strong lactic acidosis and acidosis response in breast cancers as a result of their abilities to inhibit glycolysis and favor oxidative phosphorylation for energy generation. This effect is caused by not only the repression of the gene expression of glycolysis genes but also the inhibition of Akt activation of cells exposed to lactic acidosis and acidosis. In conclusion, we propose that lactic acidosis and acidosis to be considered as independent prognostic factors for human cancers.
PMCID: PMC2585811  PMID: 19057672
9.  Homofermentative production of optically pure L-lactic acid from xylose by genetically engineered Escherichia coli B 
Polylactic acid (PLA), a biodegradable polymer, has the potential to replace (at least partially) traditional petroleum-based plastics, minimizing “white pollution”. However, cost-effective production of optically pure L-lactic acid is needed to achieve the full potential of PLA. Currently, starch-based glucose is used for L-lactic acid fermentation by lactic acid bacteria. Due to its competition with food resources, an alternative non-food substrate such as cellulosic biomass is needed for L-lactic acid fermentation. Nevertheless, the substrate (sugar stream) derived from cellulosic biomass contains significant amounts of xylose, which is unfermentable by most lactic acid bacteria. However, the microorganisms that do ferment xylose usually carry out heterolactic acid fermentation. As a result, an alternative strain should be developed for homofermentative production of optically pure L-lactic acid using cellulosic biomass.
In this study, an ethanologenic Escherichia coli strain, SZ470 (ΔfrdBC ΔldhA ΔackA ΔpflB ΔpdhR ::pflBp6-acEF-lpd ΔmgsA), was reengineered for homofermentative production of L-lactic acid from xylose (1.2 mole xylose = > 2 mole L-lactic acid), by deleting the alcohol dehydrogenase gene (adhE) and integrating the L-lactate dehydrogenase gene (ldhL) of Pediococcus acidilactici. The resulting strain, WL203, was metabolically evolved further through serial transfers in screw-cap tubes containing xylose, resulting in the strain WL204 with improved anaerobic cell growth. When tested in 70 g L-1 xylose fermentation (complex medium), WL204 produced 62 g L-1 L-lactic acid, with a maximum production rate of 1.631 g L-1 h-1 and a yield of 97% based on xylose metabolized. HPLC analysis using a chiral column showed that an L-lactic acid optical purity of 99.5% was achieved by WL204.
These results demonstrated that WL204 has the potential for homofermentative production of L-lactic acid using cellulosic biomass derived substrates, which contain a significant amount of xylose.
PMCID: PMC3693985  PMID: 23758664
E. coli; Genetic engineering; L-lactic acid; PLA; Xylose fermentation
10.  Transport Capabilities of Eleven Gram-positive Bacteria: Comparative Genomic Analyses 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2007;1768(6):1342-1366.
The genomes of eleven Gram-positive bacteria that are important for human health and the food industry, nine low G+C lactic acid bacteria and two high G+C Gram-positive organisms, were analyzed for their complement of genes encoding transport proteins. Thirteen to eighteen percent of their genes encode transport proteins, larger percentages than observed for most other bacteria. All of these bacteria possess channel proteins, some of which probably function to relieve osmotic stress. Amino acid uptake systems predominate over sugar and peptide cation symporters, and of the sugar uptake porters, those specific for oligosaccharides and glycosides often outnumber those for free sugars. About 10% of the total transport proteins are constituents of putative multidrug efflux pumps with Major Facilitator Superfamily (MFS)-type pumps (55%) being more prevalent than ATP-binding cassette (ABC)-type pumps (33%), which, however, usually greatly outnumber all other types. An exception to this generalization is Streptococcus thermophilus with 54% of its drug efflux pumps belonging to the ABC superfamily and 23% belonging each to the Multidrug/Oligosaccharide/Polysaccharide (MOP) superfamily and the MFS. These bacteria also display peptide efflux pumps that may function in intercellular signalling, and macromolecular efflux pumps, many of predictable specificities. Most of the bacteria analyzed have no pmf-coupled or transmembrane flow electron carriers. The one exception is Brevibacterium linens, which in addition to these carriers, also has transporters of several families not represented in the other ten bacteria examined. Comparisons with the genomes of organisms from other bacterial kingdoms revealed that lactic acid bacteria possess distinctive proportions of recognized transporter types (e.g., more porters specific for glycosides than reducing sugars). Some homologues of transporters identified had previously been identified only in Gram-negative bacteria or in eukaryotes. Our studies reveal unique characteristics of the lactic acid bacteria such as the universal presence of genes encoding mechanosensitive channels, competence systems and large numbers of sugar transporters of the phosphotransferase system. The analyses lead to important physiological predictions regarding the preferred signalling and metabolic activities of these industrially important bacteria.
PMCID: PMC2592090  PMID: 17490609
Lactic acid bacteria; transport proteins; genomic analyses; energetics
11.  Organism-Adapted Specificity of the Allosteric Regulation of Pyruvate Kinase in Lactic Acid Bacteria 
PLoS Computational Biology  2013;9(7):e1003159.
Pyruvate kinase (PYK) is a critical allosterically regulated enzyme that links glycolysis, the primary energy metabolism, to cellular metabolism. Lactic acid bacteria rely almost exclusively on glycolysis for their energy production under anaerobic conditions, which reinforces the key role of PYK in their metabolism. These organisms are closely related, but have adapted to a huge variety of native environments. They include food-fermenting organisms, important symbionts in the human gut, and antibiotic-resistant pathogens. In contrast to the rather conserved inhibition of PYK by inorganic phosphate, the activation of PYK shows high variability in the type of activating compound between different lactic acid bacteria. System-wide comparative studies of the metabolism of lactic acid bacteria are required to understand the reasons for the diversity of these closely related microorganisms. These require knowledge of the identities of the enzyme modifiers. Here, we predict potential allosteric activators of PYKs from three lactic acid bacteria which are adapted to different native environments. We used protein structure-based molecular modeling and enzyme kinetic modeling to predict and validate potential activators of PYK. Specifically, we compared the electrostatic potential and the binding of phosphate moieties at the allosteric binding sites, and predicted potential allosteric activators by docking. We then made a kinetic model of Lactococcus lactis PYK to relate the activator predictions to the intracellular sugar-phosphate conditions in lactic acid bacteria. This strategy enabled us to predict fructose 1,6-bisphosphate as the sole activator of the Enterococcus faecalis PYK, and to predict that the PYKs from Streptococcus pyogenes and Lactobacillus plantarum show weaker specificity for their allosteric activators, while still having fructose 1,6-bisphosphate play the main activator role in vivo. These differences in the specificity of allosteric activation may reflect adaptation to different environments with different concentrations of activating compounds. The combined computational approach employed can readily be applied to other enzymes.
Author Summary
Some lactic acid bacteria are antibiotic resistant pathogens causing severe diseases whereas others are healthy probiotics used in the food industry. What makes an LAB a friend or a foe and how do they adapt to survive in such different environments? Here, we addressed this problem by focusing on the enzyme pyruvate kinase, which plays a central role in the metabolism of lactic acid bacteria. This enzyme needs to react quickly to changes in the environment and, therefore, its activity is strictly regulated. In this study, we used computational techniques to predict the cellular substances, called allosteric activators that are responsible for the quick and effective activation of pyruvate kinase. We modeled the three dimensional structures of pyruvate kinases from different bacteria and computed interactions with possible activators. We simulated the dynamic behavior of the pyruvate kinase activity and, considering the cellular concentrations of metabolites in the different organisms, predicted the activators. We found that different lactic acid bacteria have different preferences for activators and that the level of activator specificity can be related to the environment in which the bacteria live.
PMCID: PMC3738050  PMID: 23946717
12.  Systems solutions by lactic acid bacteria: from paradigms to practice 
Microbial Cell Factories  2011;10(Suppl 1):S2.
Lactic acid bacteria are among the powerhouses of the food industry, colonize the surfaces of plants and animals, and contribute to our health and well-being. The genomic characterization of LAB has rocketed and presently over 100 complete or nearly complete genomes are available, many of which serve as scientific paradigms. Moreover, functional and comparative metagenomic studies are taking off and provide a wealth of insight in the activity of lactic acid bacteria used in a variety of applications, ranging from starters in complex fermentations to their marketing as probiotics. In this new era of high throughput analysis, biology has become big science. Hence, there is a need to systematically store the generated information, apply this in an intelligent way, and provide modalities for constructing self-learning systems that can be used for future improvements. This review addresses these systems solutions with a state of the art overview of the present paradigms that relate to the use of lactic acid bacteria in industrial applications. Moreover, an outlook is presented of the future developments that include the transition into practice as well as the use of lactic acid bacteria in synthetic biology and other next generation applications.
PMCID: PMC3231926  PMID: 21995776
13.  Precision genome engineering in lactic acid bacteria 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(Suppl 1):S10.
Innovative new genome engineering technologies for manipulating chromosomes have appeared in the last decade. One of these technologies, recombination mediated genetic engineering (recombineering) allows for precision DNA engineering of chromosomes and plasmids in Escherichia coli. Single-stranded DNA recombineering (SSDR) allows for the generation of subtle mutations without the need for selection and without leaving behind any foreign DNA. In this review we discuss the application of SSDR technology in lactic acid bacteria, with an emphasis on key factors that were critical to move this technology from E. coli into Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactococcus lactis. We also provide a blueprint for how to proceed if one is attempting to establish SSDR technology in a lactic acid bacterium. The emergence of CRISPR-Cas technology in genome engineering and its potential application to enhancing SSDR in lactic acid bacteria is discussed. The ability to perform precision genome engineering in medically and industrially important lactic acid bacteria will allow for the genetic improvement of strains without compromising safety.
PMCID: PMC4155826  PMID: 25185700
14.  Heme and menaquinone induced electron transport in lactic acid bacteria 
For some lactic acid bacteria higher biomass production as a result of aerobic respiration has been reported upon supplementation with heme and menaquinone. In this report, we have studied a large number of species among lactic acid bacteria for the existence of this trait.
Heme- (and menaquinone) stimulated aerobic growth was observed for several species and genera of lactic acid bacteria. These include Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacilllus brevis, Lactobacillus paralimentarius, Streptococcus entericus and Lactococcus garviae. The increased biomass production without further acidification, which are respiration associated traits, are suitable for high-throughput screening as demonstrated by the screening of 8000 Lactococcus lactis insertion mutants. Respiration-negative insertion-mutants were found with noxA, bd-type cytochrome and menaquinol biosynthesis gene-disruptions. Phenotypic screening and in silico genome analysis suggest that respiration can be considered characteristic for certain species.
We propose that the cyd-genes were present in the common ancestor of lactic acid bacteria, and that multiple gene-loss events best explains the observed distribution of these genes among the species.
PMCID: PMC2696406  PMID: 19480672
15.  Changes in SAM2 expression affect lactic acid tolerance and lactic acid production in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):147.
The great interest in the production of highly pure lactic acid enantiomers comes from the application of polylactic acid (PLA) for the production of biodegradable plastics. Yeasts can be considered as alternative cell factories to lactic acid bacteria for lactic acid production, despite not being natural producers, since they can better tolerate acidic environments. We have previously described metabolically engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains producing high amounts of L-lactic acid (>60 g/L) at low pH. The high product concentration represents the major limiting step of the process, mainly because of its toxic effects. Therefore, our goal was the identification of novel targets for strain improvement possibly involved in the yeast response to lactic acid stress.
The enzyme S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) synthetase catalyses the only known reaction leading to the biosynthesis of SAM, an important cellular cofactor. SAM is involved in phospholipid biosynthesis and hence in membrane remodelling during acid stress. Since only the enzyme isoform 2 seems to be responsive to membrane related signals (e.g. myo-inositol), Sam2p was tagged with GFP to analyse its abundance and cellular localization under different stress conditions. Western blot analyses showed that lactic acid exposure correlates with an increase in protein levels. The SAM2 gene was then overexpressed and deleted in laboratory strains. Remarkably, in the BY4741 strain its deletion conferred higher resistance to lactic acid, while its overexpression was detrimental. Therefore, SAM2 was deleted in a strain previously engineered and evolved for industrial lactic acid production and tolerance, resulting in higher production.
Here we demonstrated that the modulation of SAM2 can have different outcomes, from clear effects to no significant phenotypic responses, upon lactic acid stress in different genetic backgrounds, and that at least in one genetic background SAM2 deletion led to an industrially relevant increase in lactic acid production. Further work is needed to elucidate the molecular basis of these observations, which underline once more that strain robustness relies on complex cellular mechanisms, involving regulatory genes and proteins. Our data confirm cofactor engineering as an important tool for cell factory improvement.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-014-0147-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4230512  PMID: 25359316
Lactic acid production; Lactic acid stress; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM); SAM2
16.  In vaginal fluid, bacteria associated with bacterial vaginosis can be suppressed with lactic acid but not hydrogen peroxide 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:200.
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) produced by vaginal lactobacilli is generally believed to protect against bacteria associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV), and strains of lactobacilli that can produce H2O2 are being developed as vaginal probiotics. However, evidence that led to this belief was based in part on non-physiological conditions, antioxidant-free aerobic conditions selected to maximize both production and microbicidal activity of H2O2. Here we used conditions more like those in vivo to compare the effects of physiologically plausible concentrations of H2O2 and lactic acid on a broad range of BV-associated bacteria and vaginal lactobacilli.
Anaerobic cultures of seventeen species of BV-associated bacteria and four species of vaginal lactobacilli were exposed to H2O2, lactic acid, or acetic acid at pH 7.0 and pH 4.5. After two hours, the remaining viable bacteria were enumerated by growth on agar media plates. The effect of vaginal fluid (VF) on the microbicidal activities of H2O2 and lactic acid was also measured.
Physiological concentrations of H2O2 (< 100 μM) failed to inactivate any of the BV-associated bacteria tested, even in the presence of human myeloperoxidase (MPO) that increases the microbicidal activity of H2O2. At 10 mM, H2O2 inactivated all four species of vaginal lactobacilli but only one of seventeen species of BV-associated bacteria. Moreover, the addition of just 1% vaginal fluid (VF) blocked the microbicidal activity of 1 M H2O2. In contrast, lactic acid at physiological concentrations (55-111 mM) and pH (4.5) inactivated all the BV-associated bacteria tested, and had no detectable effect on the vaginal lactobacilli. Also, the addition of 10% VF did not block the microbicidal activity of lactic acid.
Under optimal, anaerobic growth conditions, physiological concentrations of lactic acid inactivated BV-associated bacteria without affecting vaginal lactobacilli, whereas physiological concentrations of H2O2 produced no detectable inactivation of either BV-associated bacteria or vaginal lactobacilli. Moreover, at very high concentrations, H2O2 was more toxic to vaginal lactobacilli than to BV-associated bacteria. On the basis of these in vitro observations, we conclude that lactic acid, not H2O2, is likely to suppress BV-associated bacteria in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3161885  PMID: 21771337
17.  Occurrence and Properties of Lactic Dehydrogenases of Fermentative Mycoplasmas 
Journal of Bacteriology  1972;111(3):633-640.
Eight fermentative mycoplasmas differing in genome size, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) base composition, or sterol dependence were examined for lactic dehydrogenase composition by spectrophotometric assay and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Three completely different patterns of lactic dehydrogenase composition were found. (i) A nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)-dependent l(+)-lactic dehydrogenase was found in Mycoplasma pneumoniae, M. gallisepticum, M. mycoides var. mycoides, mycoplasma UM 30847, M. neurolyticum, and Acholeplasma axanthum. Electrophoresis of cell-free extracts of each of these mycoplasmas produced, with the exception of M. mycoides var. mycoides and UM 30847, single, different enzyme bands. M. mycoides var. mycoides and UM 30847 were similar and formed multiple bands of enzyme activity. We were unable to establish whether these multiple bands were due to lactic dehydrogenase isoenzymes or artifacts. (ii) An NAD-dependent d(−)-lactic dehydrogenase which could not be reversed to oxidize lactate was found in M. fermentans. (iii) A. laidlawii A possessed an NAD-independent d(−)-lactic dehydrogenase capable of reducing dichlorophenol-indophenol, and an NAD-dependent l(+)-lactic dehydrogenase which is specifically activated by fructose-1,6-diphosphate. Heretofore, this enzyme regulatory mechanism was known to occur only among the Lactobacillaceae. No yeast-type lactic dehydrogenase activity was found in any of the mycoplasmas examined. The stereoisomer of lactic acid accumulated during growth correlated perfectly with the type of NAD-dependent lactic dehydrogenase found in each mycoplasma. The types of lactic dehydrogenase activity found in these mycoplasmas were not related to genome size, DNA base composition, or sterol dependence.
PMCID: PMC251334  PMID: 4115465
18.  CRISPR–Cas9-assisted recombineering in Lactobacillus reuteri 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(17):e131.
Clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) and the CRISPR-associated (Cas) nuclease protect bacteria and archeae from foreign DNA by site-specific cleavage of incoming DNA. Type-II CRISPR–Cas systems, such as the Streptococcus pyogenes CRISPR–Cas9 system, can be adapted such that Cas9 can be guided to a user-defined site in the chromosome to introduce double-stranded breaks. Here we have developed and optimized CRISPR–Cas9 function in the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC PTA 6475. We established proof-of-concept showing that CRISPR–Cas9 selection combined with single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) recombineering is a realistic approach to identify at high efficiencies edited cells in a lactic acid bacterium. We show for three independent targets that subtle changes in the bacterial genome can be recovered at efficiencies ranging from 90 to 100%. By combining CRISPR–Cas9 and recombineering, we successfully applied codon saturation mutagenesis in the L. reuteri chromosome. Also, CRISPR–Cas9 selection is critical to identify low-efficiency events such as oligonucleotide-mediated chromosome deletions. This also means that CRISPR–Cas9 selection will allow identification of recombinant cells in bacteria with low recombineering efficiencies, eliminating the need for ssDNA recombineering optimization procedures. We envision that CRISPR–Cas genome editing has the potential to change the landscape of genome editing in lactic acid bacteria, and other Gram-positive bacteria.
PMCID: PMC4176153  PMID: 25074379
19.  Antagonism Between Osmophilic Lactic Acid Bacteria and Yeasts in Brine Fermentation of Soy Sauce 
Brine fermentation by osmophilic lactic acid bacteria and yeasts for long periods of time is essential to produce a good quality of shoyu (Japanese fermented soy sauce). It is well known that lactic acid fermentation by osmophilic lactic acid bacteria results in the depression of alcoholic fermentation by osmophilic yeasts, but the nature of the interaction between osmophilic lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in brine fermentation of shoyu has not been revealed. The inhibitory effect of osmophilic lactic acid bacteria on the growth of osmophilic yeasts was investigated. It was recognized that osmophilic shoyu yeasts such as Saccharomyces rouxii and Torulopsis versatilis were inhibited by a metabolite produced by osmophilic lactic acid bacteria (belonging to Pediococcus halophilus) in brine fermentation of shoyu. The primary inhibitor was considered to be acetic acid, although lactic acid was slightly inhibitory.
PMCID: PMC291603  PMID: 16345625
20.  Evolutionary history of the OmpR/IIIA family of signal transduction two component systems in Lactobacillaceae and Leuconostocaceae 
Two component systems (TCS) are signal transduction pathways which typically consist of a sensor histidine kinase (HK) and a response regulator (RR). In this study, we have analyzed the evolution of TCS of the OmpR/IIIA family in Lactobacillaceae and Leuconostocaceae, two families belonging to the group of lactic acid bacteria (LAB). LAB colonize nutrient-rich environments such as foodstuffs, plant materials and the gastrointestinal tract of animals thus driving the study of this group of both basic and applied interest.
The genomes of 19 strains belonging to 16 different species have been analyzed. The number of TCS encoded by the strains considered in this study varied between 4 in Lactobacillus helveticus and 17 in Lactobacillus casei. The OmpR/IIIA family was the most prevalent in Lactobacillaceae accounting for 71% of the TCS present in this group. The phylogenetic analysis shows that no new TCS of this family has recently evolved in these Lactobacillaceae by either lineage-specific gene expansion or domain shuffling. Furthermore, no clear evidence of non-orthologous replacements of either RR or HK partners has been obtained, thus indicating that coevolution of cognate RR and HKs has been prevalent in Lactobacillaceae.
The results obtained suggest that vertical inheritance of TCS present in the last common ancestor and lineage-specific gene losses appear as the main evolutionary forces involved in their evolution in Lactobacillaceae, although some HGT events cannot be ruled out. This would agree with the genomic analyses of Lactobacillales which show that gene losses have been a major trend in the evolution of this group.
PMCID: PMC3040137  PMID: 21284862
21.  Analysis, Characterization, and Loci of the tuf Genes in Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium Species and Their Direct Application for Species Identification 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2003;69(11):6908-6922.
We analyzed the tuf gene, encoding elongation factor Tu, from 33 strains representing 17 Lactobacillus species and 8 Bifidobacterium species. The tuf sequences were aligned and used to infer phylogenesis among species of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. We demonstrated that the synonymous substitution affecting this gene renders elongation factor Tu a reliable molecular clock for investigating evolutionary distances of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. In fact, the phylogeny generated by these tuf sequences is consistent with that derived from 16S rRNA analysis. The investigation of a multiple alignment of tuf sequences revealed regions conserved among strains belonging to the same species but distinct from those of other species. PCR primers complementary to these regions allowed species-specific identification of closely related species, such as Lactobacillus casei group members. These tuf gene-based assays developed in this study provide an alternative to present methods for the identification for lactic acid bacterial species. Since a variable number of tuf genes have been described for bacteria, the presence of multiple genes was examined. Southern analysis revealed one tuf gene in the genomes of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, but the tuf gene was arranged differently in the genomes of these two taxa. Our results revealed that the tuf gene in bifidobacteria is flanked by the same gene constellation as the str operon, as originally reported for Escherichia coli. In contrast, bioinformatic and transcriptional analyses of the DNA region flanking the tuf gene in four Lactobacillus species indicated the same four-gene unit and suggested a novel tuf operon specific for the genus Lactobacillus.
PMCID: PMC262312  PMID: 14602655
22.  The sensitivity and significance analysis of parameters in the model of pH regulation on lactic acid production by Lactobacillus bulgaricus 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15(Suppl 13):S5.
The excessive production of lactic acid by L. bulgaricus during yogurt storage is a phenomenon we are always tried to prevent. The methods used in industry either control the post-acidification inefficiently or kill the probiotics in yogurt. Genetic methods of changing the activity of one enzyme related to lactic acid metabolism make the bacteria short of energy to growth, although they are efficient ways in controlling lactic acid production.
A model of pH-induced promoter regulation on the production of lactic acid by L. bulgaricus was built. The modelled lactic acid metabolism without pH-induced promoter regulation fitted well with wild type L. bulgaricus (R2LAC = 0.943, R2LA = 0.942). Both the local sensitivity analysis and Sobol sensitivity analysis indicated parameters Tmax, GR, KLR, S, V0, V1 and dLR were sensitive. In order to guide the future biology experiments, three adjustable parameters, KLR, V0 and V1, were chosen for further simulations. V0 had little effect on lactic acid production if the pH-induced promoter could be well induced when pH decreased to its threshold. KLR and V1 both exhibited great influence on the producing of lactic acid.
The proposed method of introducing a pH-induced promoter to regulate a repressor gene could restrain the synthesis of lactic acid if an appropriate strength of promoter and/or an appropriate strength of ribosome binding sequence (RBS) in lacR gene has been designed.
PMCID: PMC4248659  PMID: 25434877
23.  Stability of Lactic Acid Bacteria to Freezing as Related to Their Fatty Acid Composition 
The viability of Streptococcus lactis and Lactobacillus sp. A-12 after freezing at -17°C for 48 h was better preserved when the cells were grown in medium supplemented with oleic acid or Tween 80 (polyoxyethylene sorbitan monooleate). A pronounced change in the cellular fatty acid composition was noted when the bacteria were grown in the presence of Tween 80. In S. lactis the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids increased from 1.18 to 2.55 and in Lactobacillus sp. A-12 it increased from 0.85 to 1.67 when Tween 80 was added to the growth medium. The antibiotic cerulenin markedly inhibited the growth of lactic acid bacteria in tomato juice (TJ) medium but had almost no effect on the growth of the bacteria in TJ medium containing Tween 80 (or oleic acid). The antibiotic inhibited markedly the incorporation of [1-14C]acetate but had no inhibitory effect on the incorporation of exogenous [1-14C]oleate (or [1-14C]palmitate) into the lipid fractions of lactic acid bacteria. Thus, the fatty acid composition of lactic acid bacteria, inhibited by the antibiotic cerulenin, can be modulated by exogenously added oleic acid (or Tween 80) without the concurrent endogenous fatty acid synthesis from acetate. The data obtained suggest that cerulenin inhibits neither cyclopropane fatty acid synthesis nor elongation of fatty acid acyl intermediates. The radioactivity of cells grown in the presence of [1-14C]oleate and cerulenin was associated mainly with cyclopropane Δ19:0, 20:0 + 20:1, and 21:0 acids. As a consequence, cerulenin caused a decrease in the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids in lactic acid bacteria as compared with cells grown in TJ medium plus Tween 80 but without cerulenin. Cerulenin caused a decrease in the viability of S. lactis and Lactobacillus sp. A-12 after freezing at -17°C for 48 h only when Tween 80 was present in the growth medium. We conclude that the sensitivity of lactic acid bacteria to damage from freezing can be correlated with specific alterations in the cellular fatty acids.
PMCID: PMC170714  PMID: 16345196
24.  Oxidation of Metabolites Highlights the Microbial Interactions and Role of Acetobacter pasteurianus during Cocoa Bean Fermentation 
Four cocoa-specific acetic acid bacterium (AAB) strains, namely, Acetobacter pasteurianus 386B, Acetobacter ghanensis LMG 23848T, Acetobacter fabarum LMG 24244T, and Acetobacter senegalensis 108B, were analyzed kinetically and metabolically during monoculture laboratory fermentations. A cocoa pulp simulation medium (CPSM) for AAB, containing ethanol, lactic acid, and mannitol, was used. All AAB strains differed in their ethanol and lactic acid oxidation kinetics, whereby only A. pasteurianus 386B performed a fast oxidation of ethanol and lactic acid into acetic acid and acetoin, respectively. Only A. pasteurianus 386B and A. ghanensis LMG 23848T oxidized mannitol into fructose. Coculture fermentations with A. pasteurianus 386B or A. ghanensis LMG 23848T and Lactobacillus fermentum 222 in CPSM for lactic acid bacteria (LAB) containing glucose, fructose, and citric acid revealed oxidation of lactic acid produced by the LAB strain into acetic acid and acetoin that was faster in the case of A. pasteurianus 386B. A triculture fermentation with Saccharomyces cerevisiae H5S5K23, L. fermentum 222, and A. pasteurianus 386B, using CPSM for LAB, showed oxidation of ethanol and lactic acid produced by the yeast and LAB strain, respectively, into acetic acid and acetoin. Hence, acetic acid and acetoin are the major end metabolites of cocoa bean fermentation. All data highlight that A. pasteurianus 386B displayed beneficial functional roles to be used as a starter culture, namely, a fast oxidation of ethanol and lactic acid, and that these metabolites play a key role as substrates for A. pasteurianus in its indispensable cross-feeding interactions with yeast and LAB during cocoa bean fermentation.
PMCID: PMC3957632  PMID: 24413595
25.  Predicting cis-acting elements of Lactobacillus plantarum by comparative genomics with different taxonomic subgroups 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(7):1947-1958.
Cis-acting elements in Lactobacillus plantarum were predicted by comparative analysis of the upstream regions of conserved genes and predicted transcriptional units (TUs) in different bacterial genomes. TUs were predicted for two species sets, with different evolutionary distances to L.plantarum. TUs were designated ‘cluster of orthologous transcriptional units’ (COT) when >50% of the genes were orthologous in different species. Conserved DNA sequences were detected in the upstream regions of different COTs. Subsequently, conserved motifs were used to scan upstream regions of all TUs. This method revealed 18 regulatory motifs only present in lactic acid bacteria (LAB). The 18 LAB-specific candidate regulatory motifs included 13 that were not described previously. These LAB-specific different motifs were found in front of genes encoding functions varying from cold shock proteins to RNA and DNA polymerases, and many unknown functions. The best-described LAB-specific motif found was the CopR-binding site, regulating expression of copper transport ATPases. Finally, all detected motifs were used to predict co-regulated TUs (regulons) for L.plantarum, and transcriptome profiling data were analyzed to provide regulon prediction validation. It is demonstrated that phylogenetic footprinting using different species sets can identify and distinguish between general regulatory motifs and LAB-specific regulatory motifs.
PMCID: PMC1435977  PMID: 16614445

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