Eighteen strains of extremely halophilic bacteria and three strains of moderately halophilic bacteria were isolated from four different solar salt environments. Growth tests on carbohydrates, low-molecular-weight carboxylic acids, and complex medium demonstrated that the moderate halophiles and strains of the extreme halophiles Haloarcula and Halococcus grew on most of the substrates tested. Among the Halobacterium isolates were several metabolic groups: strains that grew on a broad range of substrates and strains that were essentially confined to either amino acid (peptone) or carbohydrate oxidation. One strain (WS-4) only grew well on pyruvate and acetate. Most strains of extreme halophiles grew by anaerobic fermentation and possibly by nitrate reduction. Tests of growth potential in natural saltern brines demonstrated that none of the halobacteria grew well in brines which harbor the densest populations of these bacteria in solar salterns. All grew best in brines which were unsaturated with NaCl. The high concentrations of Na+ and Mg2+ found in saltern crystallizer brines limited bacterial growth, but the concentrations of K+ found in these brines had little effect. MgSO4 was relatively more inhibitory to the extreme halophiles than was MgCl2, but the reverse was true for the moderate halophiles.
Four species representing three genera of halophilic archaebacteria were examined for the presence of genomic sequences that encode proteins of the superoxide dismutase family. Three species, Halobacterium cutirubrum, Halobacterium sp. strain GRB, and Haloferax volcanii, contain duplicated (paralogous) genes of the sod family; a fourth species, Haloarcula marismortui, contains only a single gene. These seven genes were cloned and sequenced, and their transcripts were characterized by Northern (RNA) hybridization, S1 nuclease protection, and primer extension. The expression of one of the two genes in H. cutirubrum, Halobacterium sp. strain GRB, and Haloferax volcanii was shown to be elevated in the presence of paraquat, a generator of superoxide radicals. The other genes, including the single gene from Haloarcula marismortui, exhibited no elevated expression in the presence of paraquat. The 5' and 3' flanking regions of all the genes contain recognizable promoter and terminator elements that are appropriately positioned relative to the 5' and 3' transcript end sites. Between genera, the orthologous paraquat-responsive genes exhibit no sequence similarity in either their 5' or 3' flanking regions, whereas the orthologous nonresponsive genes exhibit limited sequence similarity but only in the 5' flanking region. Within the coding region, the two paralogous genes of Haloferax volcanii are virtually identical (99.5%) despite the absence of similarity in the flanking regions. In contrast, the paralogous genes of H. cutirubrum and Halobacterium sp. strain GRB are only about 87% identical. In the alignment of all seven sequences, there are nine codon positions where both the TCN and AGY serine codons are utilized; some or all of these may well be examples of convergent evolution.
The action of novobiocin and coumermycin (two coumarins which interact with the gyrB subunit of eubacterial DNA gyrase) and ciprofloxacin (a fluoroquinolone which interacts with the gyrA subunit of DNA gyrase) was tested on several archaebacteria, including five methanogens, two halobacteria, and a thermoacidophile. Most strains were sensitive to doses of coumarins (0.02 to 10 micrograms/ml) which specifically inhibit DNA gyrase in eubacteria. Ciprofloxacin inhibited growth of the haloalkaliphilic strain Natronobacterium gregoryi and of the methanogen Methanosarcina barkeri. In addition, ciprofloxacin partly relieved the sensitivity to coumarins (and vice versa). Novobiocin inhibited DNA replication in Halobacterium halobium rapidly and specifically. Topological analysis has shown that the 1.7-kilobase plasmid from Halobacterium sp. strain GRB is negatively supercoiled; this plasmid was relaxed after novobiocin treatment. These results support the existence in archaebacteria of a coumarin and quinolone target related to eubacterial DNA gyrase.
Halophiles are found in all three domains of life. Within the Bacteria we know halophiles within the phyla Cyanobacteria, Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Spirochaetes, and Bacteroidetes. Within the Archaea the most salt-requiring microorganisms are found in the class Halobacteria. Halobacterium and most of its relatives require over 100–150 g/l salt for growth and structural stability. Also within the order Methanococci we encounter halophilic species. Halophiles and non-halophilic relatives are often found together in the phylogenetic tree, and many genera, families and orders have representatives with greatly different salt requirement and tolerance. A few phylogenetically coherent groups consist of halophiles only: the order Halobacteriales, family Halobacteriaceae (Euryarchaeota) and the anaerobic fermentative bacteria of the order Halanaerobiales (Firmicutes). The family Halomonadaceae (Gammaproteobacteria) almost exclusively contains halophiles. Halophilic microorganisms use two strategies to balance their cytoplasm osmotically with their medium. The first involves accumulation of molar concentrations of KCl. This strategy requires adaptation of the intracellular enzymatic machinery, as proteins should maintain their proper conformation and activity at near-saturating salt concentrations. The proteome of such organisms is highly acidic, and most proteins denature when suspended in low salt. Such microorganisms generally cannot survive in low salt media. The second strategy is to exclude salt from the cytoplasm and to synthesize and/or accumulate organic 'compatible' solutes that do not interfere with enzymatic activity. Few adaptations of the cells' proteome are needed, and organisms using the 'organic-solutes-in strategy' often adapt to a surprisingly broad salt concentration range. Most halophilic Bacteria, but also the halophilic methanogenic Archaea use such organic solutes. A variety of such solutes are known, including glycine betaine, ectoine and other amino acid derivatives, sugars and sugar alcohols. The 'high-salt-in strategy' is not limited to the Halobacteriaceae. The Halanaerobiales (Firmicutes) also accumulate salt rather than organic solutes. A third, phylogenetically unrelated organism accumulates KCl: the red extremely halophilic Salinibacter (Bacteroidetes), recently isolated from saltern crystallizer brines. Analysis of its genome showed many points of resemblance with the Halobacteriaceae, probably resulting from extensive horizontal gene transfer. The case of Salinibacter shows that more unusual types of halophiles may be waiting to be discovered.
The levels of six water-soluble vitamins of seven archaebacterial species were determined and compared with the levels found in a eubacterium, Escherichia coli. Biotin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, nicotinic acid, pyridoxine, and lipoic acid contents of Halobacterium volcanii, Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum delta H, "Archaeoglobus fulgidus" VC-16, Thermococcus celer, Pyrodictium occultum, Thermoproteus tenax, and Sulfolobus solfataricus were measured by using bioassays. The archaebacteria examined were found to contain these vitamins at levels similar to or significantly below the levels found in in E. coli. Riboflavin was found at levels comparable to those in E. coli. Pyridoxine was as abundant among the archaebacteria of the methanogenhalophile branch as in E. coli. It was only one-half as abundant in the sulfur-metabolizing branch. "A. fulgidus," however, contained only 4% as much pyridoxine as E. coli. Nicotinic and pantothenic acids were approximately 10-fold less abundant (except for a 200-fold-lower nicotinic acid level in "A. fulgidus"). Nicotinic acid may be replaced by an 8-hydroxy-5-deazaflavin coenzyme (factor F420) in some archaebacteria (such as "A. fulgidus"). Compared with the level in E. coli, biotin was equally as abundant in Thermococcus celer and Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum, about one-fourth less abundant in P. occultum and "A. fulgidus," and 25 to over 100 times less abundant in the others. The level of lipoic acid was up to 20 times lower in H. volcanii, Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum, and Thermococcus celer. It was over two orders of magnitude lower among the remaining organisms. With the exception of "A. fulgidus," lipoic acid, pantothenic acid, and pyridoxine were more abundant in the members of the methanogen-halophile branch of the archaebacteria than in the sulfur-metabolizing branch.
d-Tartrate dehydrase of Salmonella java is an oxygen-sensitive enzyme active in cultures incubated under the poorly aerated conditions of static culture but not in fully aerated shaken cultures nor on plates incubated aerobically. On plates of d-tartrate minimal agar incubated anaerobically the enzyme or the degradation products of d-tartrate are exported from d-tartrate-positive cells and are available to d-tartrate-negative bacteria. This may give misleading growth results when d-tartrate-positive and d-tartrate-negative strains are tested for growth on the same plate of d-tartrate minimal agar. The lead-acetate test terminated at 24 h, the 24 h turbidity test and the ability to grow on d-tartrate minimal agar within 48 h differentiated 53 S. paratyphi B strains that were negative in each of the three tests from 76 S. java that were positive in each of the tests. An intermediate group of eight strains utilized d-tartrate in Difco bacto-peptone water to give a positive lead acetate reaction at 2 days, were stimulated to a varying degree by d-tartrate in Oxoid peptone water within the same period of incubation and grew poorly on d-tartrate minimal agar. These latter strains may be deficient in a permease controlling uptake of d-tartrate or export of d-tartrate dehydrase. Inability to utilize d-tartrate is unlikely to be the single character accountable for the reputed enhanced pathogenicity of S. paratyphi B when compared with S. java. Indications for the existence of an enzyme, complementary to and mutually exclusive with d-tartrate dehydrase, that has a positive correlation with pathogenicity are discussed.
The protein sequences of seven members of the superoxide dismutase (SOD) family from halophilic archaebacteria have been aligned and compared with each other and with the homologous Mn and Fe SOD sequences from eubacteria and the methanogenic archaebacterium Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum. Of 199 common residues in the SOD proteins from halophilic archaebacteria, 125 are conserved in all seven sequences, and 64 of these are encoded by single unique triplets. The 74 remaining positions exhibit a high degree of variability, and for almost half of these, the encoding triplets are connected by at least two nonsynonymous nucleotide substitutions. The majority of nucleotide substitutions within the seven genes are nonsynonymous and result in amino acid replacement in the respective protein; silent third-codon-position (synonymous) substitutions are unexpectedly rare. Halophilic SODs contain 30 specific residues that are not found at the corresponding positions of the methanogenic or eubacterial SOD proteins. Seven of these are replacements of highly conserved amino acids in eubacterial SODs that are believed to play an important role in the three-dimensional structure of the protein. Residues implicated in formation of the active site, catalysis, and metal ion binding are conserved in all Mn and Fe SODs. Molecular phylogenies based on parsimony and neighbor-joining methods coherently group the halophile sequences but surprisingly fail to distinguish between the Mn SOD of Escherichia coli and the Fe SOD of M. thermoautotrophicum as the outgroup. These comparisons indicate that as a group, the SODs of halophilic archaebacteria have many unique and characteristic features. At the same time, the patterns of nucleotide substitution and amino acid replacement indicate that these genes and the proteins that they encode continue to be subject to strong and changing selection. This selection may be related to the presence of oxygen radicals and the inter- and intracellular composition and concentration of metal cations.
Techniques for the transformation of halophilic archaebacteria have been developed recently and hold much promise for the characterization of these organisms at the molecular level. In order to understand genome organization and gene regulation in halobacteria, we have begun the characterization of genes involved in amino acid biosynthesis in Halobacterium (Haloferax) volcanii. These studies are facilitated by the many auxotrophic mutants of H. volcanii that have been isolated. In this project we demonstrate that cosmid DNA prepared from Escherichia coli can be used to transform an H. volcanii histidine auxotroph to prototrophy. A set of cosmid clones covering most of the genome of H. volcanii was used to isolate the gene which is defective in H. volcanii WR256. Subcloning identified a 1.6-kilobase region responsible for transformation. DNA sequence analysis of this region revealed an open reading frame encoding a putative protein 361 amino acids in length. A search of the DNA and protein data bases revealed that this open reading frame encodes histidinol-phosphate aminotransferase (EC 188.8.131.52), the sequence of which is also known for E. coli, Bacillus subtilis, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
A selective medium (LUSM medium) for the isolation of Leuconostoc spp. was developed. This medium contained 1.0% glucose, 1.0% Bacto Peptone (Difco), 0.5% yeast extract (BBL), 0.5% meat extract (Difco), 0.25% gelatin (Difco), 0.5% calcium lactate, 0.05% sorbic acid, 75 ppm of sodium azide (Sigma), 0.25% sodium acetate, 0.1% (vol/vol) Tween 80, 15% tomato juice, 30 micrograms of vancomycin (Sigma) per ml, 0.20 microgram of tetracycline (Serva) per ml, 0.5 mg of cysteine hydrochloride per ml, and 1.5% agar (Difco). LUSM medium was used successfully for isolation and enumeration of Leuconostoc spp. in dairy products and vegetables. Of 116 colony isolates obtained from fresh raw milk, curdled milk, or various vegetables, 115 were identified as members of the genus Leuconostoc. A total of 89 of these isolates were identified to species; 13.5% of the isolates were Leuconostoc cremoris, 7.9% were Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides, 11.2% were Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. dextranicum, 16.9% were Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. paramesenteroides, 10.1% were leuconostoc lactis, and 40.4% were Leuconostoc oenos. When we compared the counts obtained for two Leuconostoc strains, Leuconostoc dextranicum 181 and L. cremoris JLL8, on MRS agar and LUSM medium, we found no significant difference between the values obtained on the two media.
A detailed analysis of the folate coenzymes in the nonmethanogenic archaebacteria has been performed. By using the Lactobacillus casei microbiological assay for folates, the levels of folates in Sulfolobus solfataricus and Sulfolobus acidocaldarius were found to be 3.7 and 8.3 ng/g (dry weight) of cells, respectively, compared with 88,000 and 28,000 ng/g (dry weight) of cells in Halobacterium halobium and Halobacterium strain GN-1, respectively. The levels of folates found in the Sulfolobus spp. were approximately 100 times less than those found in the typical eubacterium, whereas the levels in the halobacteria were approximately 10 times higher. The folate in Sulfolobus solfataricus was shown to consist of only 5-formyltetrahydropteroylglutamate, and the folate in Halobacterium strain GN-1 was shown to consist of only pteroyldiglutamate. The low folate levels in the Sulfolobus spp. are the same as those found in the methanogenic bacteria, suggesting that another C1 carrier may function in these cells.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are accumulated in many prokaryotes. Several members of the Halobacteriaceae produce poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB), but it is not known if this is a general property of the family. We evaluated identification methods for PHAs with 20 haloarchaeal species, three of them isolates from Permian salt. Staining with Sudan Black B, Nile Blue A, or Nile Red was applied to screen for the presence of PHAs. Transmission electron microscopy and 1H-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy were used for visualization of PHB granules and chemical confirmation of PHAs in cell extracts, respectively. We report for the first time the production of PHAs by Halococcus sp. (Halococcus morrhuae DSM 1307T, Halococcus saccharolyticus DSM 5350T, Halococcus salifodinae DSM 8989T, Halococcus dombrowskii DSM 14522T, Halococcus hamelinensis JCM 12892T, Halococcus qingdaonensis JCM 13587T), Halorubrum sp. (Hrr. coriense DSM 10284T, Halorubrum chaoviator DSM 19316T, Hrr. chaoviator strains NaxosII and AUS-1), haloalkaliphiles (Natronobacterium gregoryi NCMB 2189T, Natronococcus occultus DSM 3396T) and Halobacterium noricense DSM 9758T. No PHB was detected in Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 ATCC 700922, Hbt. salinarum R1 and Haloferax volcanii DSM 3757T. Most species synthesized PHAs when growing in synthetic as well as in complex medium. The polyesters were generally composed of PHB and poly-ß-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate (PHBV). Available genomic data suggest the absence of PHA synthesis in some haloarchaea and in all other Euryarchaeota and Crenarchaeota. Homologies between haloarchaeal and bacterial PHA synthesizing enzymes had indicated to some authors probable horizontal gene transfer, which, considering the data obtained in this study, may have occurred already before Permian times.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00253-010-2611-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Polyhydroxybutyrate; Haloarchaea; Halococcus; Halobacterium; Haloalkaliphile
The antibiotic sensitivity of the archaebacterial factors catalyzing the binding of aminoacyl-tRNA to ribosomes (elongation factor Tu [EF-Tu] for eubacteria and elongation factor 1 [EF1] for eucaryotes) and the translocation of peptidyl-tRNA (elongation factor G [EF-G] for eubacteria and elongation factor 2 [EF2] for eucaryotes) was investigated by using two EF-Tu and EF1 [EF-Tu(EF1)]-targeted drugs, kirromycin and pulvomycin, and the EF-G and EF2 [EF-G(EF2)]-targeted drug fusidic acid. The interaction of the inhibitors with the target factors was monitored by using polyphenylalanine-synthesizing cell-free systems. A survey of methanogenic, halophilic, and sulfur-dependent archaebacteria showed that elongation factors of organisms belonging to the methanogenic-halophilic and sulfur-dependent branches of the "third kingdom" exhibit different antibiotic sensitivity spectra. Namely, the methanobacterial-halobacterial EF-Tu(EF1)-equivalent protein was found to be sensitive to pulvomycin but insensitive to kirromycin, whereas the methanobacterial-halobacterial EF-G(EF2)-equivalent protein was found to be sensitive to fusidic acid. By contrast, sulfur-dependent thermophiles were unaffected by all three antibiotics, with two exceptions; Thermococcus celer, whose EF-Tu(EF1)-equivalent factor was blocked by pulvomycin, and Thermoproteus tenax, whose EF-G(EF2)-equivalent factor was sensitive to fusidic acid. On the whole, the results revealed a remarkable intralineage heterogeneity of elongation factors not encountered within each of the two reference (eubacterial and eucaryotic) kingdoms.
Antisera were raised in rabbits against ribosomal proteins of Methanobacterium bryantii and used to analyze immunological relationships to ribosomes from other archaebacteria, from eubacteria, and from yeasts. Cross-reaction could be detected within the methanogens and with a member of the extreme halophiles; the degree of immunological similarity reflected the relationship delineated by 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid oligonucleotide analysis (Fox et al., Science 209:457-463, 1980). With the methods and the anti-total-protein sera employed, there was no detectable cross-reaction with ribosomal proteins or ribosomes from Sulfolobus sp., eubacteria, or yeast.
Many hypersaline environments are often contaminated with petroleum compounds. Among these, oil and natural gas production sites all over the world and hundreds of kilometers of coastlines in the more arid regions of Gulf countries are of major concern due to the extent and magnitude of contamination. Because conventional microbiological processes do not function well at elevated salinities, bioremediation of hypersaline environments can only be accomplished using high salt-tolerant microorganisms capable of degrading petroleum compounds. In the last two decades, there have been many reports on the biodegradation of hydrocarbons in moderate to high salinity environments. Numerous microorganisms belonging to the domain Bacteria and Archaea have been isolated and their phylogeny and metabolic capacity to degrade a variety of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons in varying salinities have been demonstrated. This article focuses on our growing understanding of bacteria and archaea responsible for the degradation of hydrocarbons under aerobic conditions in moderate to high salinity conditions. Even though organisms belonging to various genera have been shown to degrade hydrocarbons, members of the genera Halomonas Alcanivorax, Marinobacter, Haloferax, Haloarcula, and Halobacterium dominate the published literature. Despite rapid advances in understanding microbial taxa that degrade hydrocarbons under aerobic conditions, not much is known about organisms that carry out similar processes in anaerobic conditions. Also, information on molecular mechanisms and pathways of hydrocarbon degradation in high salinity is scarce and only recently there have been a few reports describing genes, enzymes and breakdown steps for some hydrocarbons. These limited studies have clearly revealed that degradation of oxygenated and non-oxygenated hydrocarbons by halophilic and halotolerant microorganisms occur by pathways similar to those found in non-halophiles.
hypersaline environments; biodegradation; oxygenated and non-oxygenated hydrocarbons; halophilic and halotolerant bacteria and archaea; molecular mechanism of degradation
Goa is a coastal state in India and salt making is being practiced for many years. This investigation aimed in determining the culturable haloarchaeal diversity during two different phases of salt production in a natural solar saltern of Ribandar, Goa. Water and sediment samples were collected from the saltern during pre-salt harvesting phase and salt harvesting phase. Salinity and pH of the sampling site was determined. Isolates were obtained by plating of the samples on complex and synthetic haloarchaeal media. Morphology of the isolates was determined using Gram staining and electron microscopy. Response of cells to distilled water was studied spectrophotometrically at 600nm. Molecular identification of the isolates was performed by sequencing the 16S rRNA.
Salinity of salt pans varied from 3-4% (non-salt production phase) to 30% (salt production phase) and pH varied from 7.0-8.0. Seven haloarchaeal strains were isolated from water and sediment samples during non-salt production phase and seventeen haloarchaeal strains were isolated during the salt production phase. All the strains stained uniformly Gram negative. The orange-red acetone extract of the pigments showed similar spectrophotometric profile with absorption maxima at 393, 474, 501 and 535 nm. All isolates obtained from the salt dilute phase were grouped within the genus Halococcus. This was validated using both total lipid profiling and 16S rRNA data sequencing. The isolates obtained from pre-salt harvesting phase were resistant to lysis. 16S rRNA data showed that organisms belonging to Halorubrum, Haloarcula, Haloferax and Halococcus genera were obtained during the salt concentrated phase. The isolates obtained from salt harvesting phase showed varied lysis on suspension in distilled water and /or 3.5% NaCl.
Salterns in Goa are transiently operated during post monsoon season from January to May. During the pre-salt harvesting phase, all the isolates obtained belonged to Halococcus sp. During the salt harvesting phase, isolates belonging to Halorubrum, Haloarcula, Haloferax and Halococcus genera were obtained. This study clearly indicates that Halococcus sp. dominates during the low salinity conditions.
Archaea; Haloarchaea; Hypersaline; Solar saltern
A DNA fragment containing the trpEGC gene cluster was isolated from the thermoacidophilic archaebacterium Sulfolobus solfataricus. The products of trpE, trpG, and trpC from S. solfataricus were compared to the homologous products from a eukaryote, a eubacterium, and two archaebacteria, namely, a methanogen and an extreme halophile. They appeared to be equally related to the proteins from Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the percentages of conserved amino acids being roughly the same as those measured when comparing the eubacterial and eukaryotic sequences directly. These percentages did not rise significantly when a comparison with the proteins from Haloferax volcanii was drawn, while a slightly closer relationship with the proteins from Methanococcus thermoautotrophicum was found.
Twenty-two extremely halophilic aerobic archaeal strains were isolated from enrichments prepared from Dead Sea water samples collected 57 years ago. The isolates were phenotypically clustered into five different groups, and a representative from each group was chosen for further study. Almost the entire sequences of the 16S rRNA genes of these representatives, and of Haloarcula hispanica ATCC 33960, were determined to establish their phylogenetic positions. The sequences of these strains were compared to previously published sequences of 27 reference halophilic archaea (members of the family Halobacteriaceae) and two other archaea, Methanobacterium formicicum DSM 1312 and Methanospirillum hungatei DSM 864. Phylogenetic analysis using approximately 1,400 base comparisons of 16S rRNA-encoding gene sequences demonstrated that the five isolates clustered closely to species belonging to three different genera--Haloferax, Halobacterium, and Haloarcula. Strains E1 and E8 were closely related and identified as members of the species Haloferax volcanii, and strain E12 was closely related and identified as a member of the species Halobacterium salinarum. However, strains E2 and E11 clustered in the Haloarcula branch with Haloarcula hispanica as the closest relative at 98.9 and 98.8% similarity, respectively. Strains E2 and E11 could represent two new species of the genus Haloarcula. However, because strains of these two new species were isolated from a single source, they will not be named until additional strains are isolated from other sources and fully characterized.
Saccharomycopsis lipolytica CX161-1B produced at least three extracellular acid proteases during exponential growth in medium containing glycerol, Difco Proteose Peptone, and mineral salts at pH 3.4 (Difco Laboratories, Detroit, Mich.). Little extracellular acid protease activity was produced with glutamic acid as the sole nitrogen source, somewhat higher levels were obtained with peptone, and much higher levels were obtained with Difco Proteose Peptone. The relative amounts of the three proteases varied during growth on Difco Proteose Peptone, which suggested that the proteases were not coordinately regulated. The proteases were purified to near homogeneity (as determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis) by use of ultrafiltration, gel filtration, and DEAE-Sephacel and hydroxylapatite chromatography. Protease I had a molecular weight near 28,000, an isoelectric point of pH 4.9, and a pH optimum of 3.5. Protease II had a molecular weight near 32,000 and a pH optimum of 4.2. Protease III had a molecular weight near 36,000, an isoelectric point of 3.8, and a pH optimum of 3.1. All three proteases were glycoproteins; proteases I, II, and III contained 25, 12, and 1.2% carbohydrate, respectively. The proteases were inhibited by pepstatin and 1,2-epoxy-3-(4-nitrophenoxy) propane and were largely insensitive to diazoacetyl-DL-norleucine methylester and to compounds which inhibit the serine, sulfhydryl, or metallo-proteases.
Analysis of the fluorescent compounds extracted from six different species of halobacteria and one species each of Sulfolobus and Thermoplasma revealed the universal occurrence of coenzyme F420, (N-[N-[O-[5-(8-hydroxy-5-deazaisoalloxazin-10-yl)-2,3,4-trihydroxy -4-pentoxyhydroxyphosphinyl]-L-lactyl]-L-gamma-glutamyl]-L -glutamic acid), or its gamma-monoglutamyl derivative or both. The total amount (approximately 100 pmol/mg [dry weight]) of these compounds found in the halobacteria studied was approximately 5% of the amount previously reported for methanogenic bacteria. The amount of F420 found in the Sulfolobus and Thermoplasma strains was approximately 1% of that found in the halobacteria. The major compound in all but one of the examined strains was the gamma-monoglutamyl derivative of F420; one strain of halobacteria contained only F420. For the halobacterium-derived samples, the additional glutamic acid was shown to be linked by a gamma-glutamyl peptide bond to the terminal glutamic acid of the F420 core structure by enzymatic hydrolysis of the samples with three different gamma-glutamyltranspeptidases. The product of this enzymatic hydrolysis was F420 with one less glutamic acid in the side chain.
Accumulation of compatible solutes, by uptake or de novo synthesis, enables bacteria to reduce the difference between osmotic potentials of the cell cytoplasm and the extracellular environment. To examine this process in the halophilic and halotolerant methanogenic archaebacteria, 14 strains were tested for the accumulation of compatible solutes in response to growth in various extracellular concentrations of NaCl. In external NaCl concentrations of 0.7 to 3.4 M, the halophilic methanogens accumulated K+ ion and low-molecular-weight organic compounds. beta-Glutamate was detected in two halotolerant strains that grew below 1.5 M NaCl. Two unusual beta-amino acids, N epsilon-acetyl-beta-lysine and beta-glutamine (3-aminoglutaramic acid), as well as L-alpha-glutamate were compatible solutes among all of these strains. De novo synthesis of glycine betaine was also detected in several strains of moderately and extremely halophilic methanogens. The zwitterionic compounds (beta-glutamine, N epsilon-acetyl-beta-lysine, and glycine betaine) and potassium were the predominant compatible solutes among the moderately and extremely halophilic methanogens. This is the first report of beta-glutamine as a compatible solute and de novo biosynthesis of glycine betaine in the methanogenic archaebacteria.
Vibrio alginolyticus produces an extracellular collagenase which requires specific induction by collagen or its high-molecular-weight fragments. Peptone also induces collagenase during the late exponential and early stationary growth phases. The peptone inducers have been shown to have a broad molecular weight range between 1,000 and 60,000. The peptone inducers supported slow growth of V. alginolyticus when supplied as the sole nitrogen source in minimal medium. Digestion of the peptone inducers with purified V. alginolyticus collagenase resulted in a decrease in their inducing ability, whereas digestion with trypsin or α-chymotrypsin did not. This indicated that induction by the inducers required the presence of collagenase-sensitive bonds. Prolonged digestion of the inducers with collagenase did not completely eliminate the inducing ability of the inducers. The peptone inducers acted as inhibitors of collagenase. A minimal medium induction system has been developed which involves resuspending cells at high density in a medium containing succinate, (NH4)2SO4, KH2PO4, and the peptone inducer. Cells grown in minimal medium induce earlier than cells grown on peptone, Casamino Acids, or tryptone. Collagenase production was shown to occur for 30 to 60 min in the presence of rifampin at levels which completely inhibit the incorporation of [3H]uracil into trichloroacetic acid-precipitable material. Chloramphenicol completely and immediately abolished collagenase production, which together with labeling studies has confirmed that collagenase production involves de novo synthesis of the enzyme. Both glucose and Casamino Acids repressed collagenase production, although synthesis of the enzyme continued for 30 to 60 min after their addition. The repression of collagenase production by glucose and Casamino Acids was more severe than the inhibition of enzyme formation due to addition of rifampin.
We have developed a cloning vector for use in halophilic archaebacteria which has a novobiocin resistance determinant as a selectable marker. The resistance determinant, which was derived from the genome of a resistant mutant strain, was mapped to a site within a 6.7-kb DNA clone by using a recombination assay and was sequenced. An open reading frame of 1.920 nucleotides (640 amino acids) was identified, with the predicted protein being highly homologous to the DNA gyrase B subunit (i.e., GyrB) of eubacteria. Three mutations were identified in the GyrB protein of the resistant mutant compared with the wild type (at amino acids 82, 122, and 137) which together enable Haloferax cells to grow in concentrations of novobiocin some 1,000 times higher than that possible for cells carrying only the wild-type enzyme. One base beyond the stop codon of gyrB was the start of gyrA, coding for the gyrase A subunit.
Heat shock induces the synthesis of a set of proteins in Halobacterium marismortui whose molecular sizes correspond to the known major heat shock proteins. By using the polymerase chain reaction and degenerate oligonucleotide primers for conserved regions of the 70-kDa heat shock protein (HSP70) family, we have successfully cloned and sequenced a gene fragment containing the entire coding sequence for HSP70 from H. marismortui. HSP70 from H. marismortui shows between 44 and 47% amino acid identity with various eukaryotic HSP70s and between 51 and 58% identity with its eubacterial and archaebacterial homologs. On the basis of a comparison of all available HSP70 sequences, we have identified a number of unique sequence signatures in this protein family that provide a clear distinction between eukaryotic organisms and prokaryotic organisms (archaebacteria and eubacteria). The archaebacterial (viz., H. marismortui and Methanosarcina mazei) HSP70s have been found to contain all of the signature sequences characteristic of eubacteria (particularly the gram-positive bacteria), which suggests a close evolutionary relationship between these groups. In addition, detailed analyses of HSP70 sequences that we have carried out have revealed a number of additional novel features of the HSP70 protein family. These include (i) the presence of an insertion of about 25 to 27 amino acids in the N-terminal quadrants of all known eukaryotic and prokaryotic HSP70s except those from archaebacteria and the gram-positive group of bacteria, (ii) significant sequence similarity in HSP70 regions comprising its first and second quadrants from organisms lacking the above insertion, (iii) highly significant similarity between a protein, MreB, of Escherichia coli and the N-terminal half of HSP70s, (iv) significant sequence similarity between the N-terminal quadrant of HSP70 (from gram-positive bacteria and archaebacteria) and the m-type thioredoxin of plant chloroplasts. To account for these and other observations, a model for the evolution of HSP70 proteins involving gene duplication is proposed. The model proposes that HSP70 from archaebacteria (H. marismortui and M. mazei) and the gram-positive group of bacteria constitutes the ancestral form of the protein and that all other HSP70s (viz., other eubacteria as well as eukaryotes) containing the insert have evolved from this ancient protein.
Halophilic archea (halobacteriae) thrive in hypersaline environments, avoiding osmotic shock by increasing the ion concentration of their cytoplasm by up to 3–6 M. To remain folded and active, their constitutive proteins have evolved towards a biased amino acid composition. High salt concentration affects catalytic activity in an enzyme-dependent way and a unified molecular mechanism remains elusive. Here, we have investigated a DNA ligase from Haloferax volcanii (Hv LigN) to show that K+ triggers catalytic activity by preferentially stabilising a specific conformation in the reaction coordinate. Sodium ions, in turn, do not populate such isoform and the enzyme remains inactive in the presence of this co-solute. Our results show that the halophilic amino acid signature enhances the enzyme's thermodynamic stability, with an indirect effect on its catalytic activity. This model has been successfully applied to reengineer Hv LigN into an enzyme that is catalytically active in the presence of NaCl.
Cell extracts of methanogens and the thermoacidophile Sulfolobus solfataricus contained little or no folic acid (pteroylglutamate) or pteroylpolyglutamate activity (less than 0.1 nmol/g [dry weight]). However, the halophile Halobacterium salinarum contained pteroylmono- or pteroyldiglutamates, and Halobacterium volcanii and Halobacterium halobium contained pteroyltriglutamates at levels equivalent to those in eubacteria (greater than 1 nmol/g [dry weight]).