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1.  The genome sequence of E. coli W (ATCC 9637): comparative genome analysis and an improved genome-scale reconstruction of E. coli 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:9.
Escherichia coli is a model prokaryote, an important pathogen, and a key organism for industrial biotechnology. E. coli W (ATCC 9637), one of four strains designated as safe for laboratory purposes, has not been sequenced. E. coli W is a fast-growing strain and is the only safe strain that can utilize sucrose as a carbon source. Lifecycle analysis has demonstrated that sucrose from sugarcane is a preferred carbon source for industrial bioprocesses.
We have sequenced and annotated the genome of E. coli W. The chromosome is 4,900,968 bp and encodes 4,764 ORFs. Two plasmids, pRK1 (102,536 bp) and pRK2 (5,360 bp), are also present. W has unique features relative to other sequenced laboratory strains (K-12, B and Crooks): it has a larger genome and belongs to phylogroup B1 rather than A. W also grows on a much broader range of carbon sources than does K-12. A genome-scale reconstruction was developed and validated in order to interrogate metabolic properties.
The genome of W is more similar to commensal and pathogenic B1 strains than phylogroup A strains, and therefore has greater utility for comparative analyses with these strains. W should therefore be the strain of choice, or 'type strain' for group B1 comparative analyses. The genome annotation and tools created here are expected to allow further utilization and development of E. coli W as an industrial organism for sucrose-based bioprocesses. Refinements in our E. coli metabolic reconstruction allow it to more accurately define E. coli metabolism relative to previous models.
PMCID: PMC3032704  PMID: 21208457
2.  Computational Models of the Notch Network Elucidate Mechanisms of Context-dependent Signaling 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(5):e1000390.
The Notch signaling pathway controls numerous cell fate decisions during development and adulthood through diverse mechanisms. Thus, whereas it functions as an oscillator during somitogenesis, it can mediate an all-or-none cell fate switch to influence pattern formation in various tissues during development. Furthermore, while in some contexts continuous Notch signaling is required, in others a transient Notch signal is sufficient to influence cell fate decisions. However, the signaling mechanisms that underlie these diverse behaviors in different cellular contexts have not been understood. Notch1 along with two downstream transcription factors hes1 and RBP-Jk forms an intricate network of positive and negative feedback loops, and we have implemented a systems biology approach to computationally study this gene regulation network. Our results indicate that the system exhibits bistability and is capable of switching states at a critical level of Notch signaling initiated by its ligand Delta in a particular range of parameter values. In this mode, transient activation of Delta is also capable of inducing prolonged high expression of Hes1, mimicking the “ON” state depending on the intensity and duration of the signal. Furthermore, this system is highly sensitive to certain model parameters and can transition from functioning as a bistable switch to an oscillator by tuning a single parameter value. This parameter, the transcriptional repression constant of hes1, can thus qualitatively govern the behavior of the signaling network. In addition, we find that the system is able to dampen and reduce the effects of biological noise that arise from stochastic effects in gene expression for systems that respond quickly to Notch signaling.
This work thus helps our understanding of an important cell fate control system and begins to elucidate how this context dependent signaling system can be modulated in different cellular settings to exhibit entirely different behaviors.
Author Summary
The Notch signaling pathway is an evolutionarily conserved signaling system that is involved in various cell fate decisions, both during development of an organism and during adulthood. While the same core circuit functions in various different cellular contexts, it has experimentally been shown to elicit varied behaviors and responses. On the one hand, it functions as a cellular oscillator critical for somitogenesis, whereas in other situations, it can function as a cell fate switch to pattern developing tissue, for example in the Drosophila eye. Furthermore, malfunctioning of Notch signaling is implicated in various cancers. To better understand the underlying mechanisms that allow the network to function distinctly in different contexts, we have mathematically modeled the behavior of the Notch network, encompassing the Notch gene along with two of its downstream effector transcription factors, which together form a network of positive and negative feedback loops. Our results indicate that the qualitative and quantitative behavior of the system can readily be tuned based on key parameters to reflect its multiple roles. Furthermore, our results provide insights into alterations in the signaling system that lead to malfunction and hence disease, which could be used to identify potential drug targets for therapy.
PMCID: PMC2680760  PMID: 19468305
3.  Proteome analysis of the hyaluronic acid-producing bacterium, Streptococcus zooepidemicus 
Proteome Science  2009;7:13.
Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus (S. zooepidemicus) is a commensal of horses and an opportunistic pathogen in many animals and humans. Some strains produce copious amounts of hyaluronic acid, making S. zooepidemicus an important industrial microorganism for the production of this valuable biopolymer used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. Encapsulation by hyaluronic acid is considered an important virulence factor in other streptococci, though the importance in S. zooepidemicus remains poorly understood. Proteomics may provide a better understanding of virulence factors in S. zooepidemicus, facilitate the design of better diagnostics and treatments, and guide engineering of superior production strains.
Using hyaluronidase to remove the capsule and by optimising cellular lysis, a reference map for S. zooepidemicus was completed. This protocol significantly increased protein recovery, allowing for visualisation of 682 spots and the identification of 86 proteins using mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS and MALDI-TOF/TOF); of which 16 were membrane proteins.
The data presented constitute the first reference map for S. zooepidemicus and provide new information on the identity and characteristics of the more abundantly expressed proteins.
PMCID: PMC2670282  PMID: 19327162

Results 1-3 (3)