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1.  Potato yield enhancement through intensification of sink and source performances 
Breeding Science  2015;65(1):77-84.
The combined total annual yield of six major crops (maize, rice, wheat, cassava, soybean, and potato; Solanum tuberosum L.) amounts to 3.1 billion tons. In recent years, staple crops have begun to be used as substitutes for fossil fuel and feedstocks. The diversion of crop products to fuels and industrial feedstocks has become a concern in many countries because of competition for arable lands and increased food prices. These concerns are definitely justified; however, if plant biotechnology succeeds in increasing crop yields to double the current yields, it will be possible to divert the surplus to purposes other than food without detrimental effects. Maize, rice, wheat, and soybean bear their sink organs in the aerial parts of the plant, and potato in the underground parts. Plants with aerial storage organs cannot accumulate products beyond their capacity to support the weight of these organs. In contrast, potato has heavy storage organs that are supported by the soil. In this mini-review, we introduce strategies of intensifying potato productivity and discuss recent advances in this research area.
PMCID: PMC4374566  PMID: 25931982
Solanum tuberosum L.; yield intensification; sink; source; stolon; tuber
2.  MtnBD Is a Multifunctional Fusion Enzyme in the Methionine Salvage Pathway of Tetrahymena thermophila 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67385.
To recycle reduced sulfur to methionine in the methionine salvage pathway (MSP), 5-methylthioribulose-1-phosphate is converted to 2-keto-4-methylthiobutyrate, the methionine precursor, by four steps; dehydratase, enolase, phosphatase, and dioxygenase reactions (catalyzed by MtnB, MtnW, MtnX and MtnD, respectively, in Bacillus subtilis). It has been proposed that the MtnBD fusion enzyme in Tetrahymena thermophila catalyzes four sequential reactions from the dehydratase to dioxygenase steps, based on the results of molecular biological analyses of mutant yeast strains with knocked-out MSP genes, suggesting that new catalytic function can be acquired by fusion of enzymes. This result raises the question of how the MtnBD fusion enzyme can catalyze four very different reactions, especially since there are no homologous domains for enolase and phosphatase (MtnW and MtnX, respectively, in B. subtilis) in the peptide. Here, we tried to identify the domains responsible for catalyzing the four reactions using recombinant proteins of full-length MtnBD and each domain alone. UV-visible and 1H-NMR spectral analyses of reaction products revealed that the MtnB domain catalyzes dehydration and enolization and the MtnD domain catalyzes dioxygenation. Contrary to a previous report, conversion of 5-methylthioribulose-1-phosphate to 2-keto-4-methylthiobutyrate was dependent on addition of an exogenous phosphatase from B. subtilis. This was observed for both the MtnB domain and full-length MtnBD, suggesting that MtnBD does not catalyze the phosphatase reaction. Our results suggest that the MtnB domain of T. thermophila MtnBD acquired the new function to catalyze both the dehydratase and enolase reactions through evolutionary gene mutations, rather than fusion of MSP genes.
PMCID: PMC3698126  PMID: 23840871
3.  Shape-based alignment of genomic landscapes in multi-scale resolution 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(14):6435-6448.
Due to dramatic advances in DNA technology, quantitative measures of annotation data can now be obtained in continuous coordinates across the entire genome, allowing various heterogeneous ‘genomic landscapes’ to emerge. Although much effort has been devoted to comparing DNA sequences, not much attention has been given to comparing these large quantities of data comprehensively. In this article, we introduce a method for rapidly detecting local regions that show high correlations between genomic landscapes. We overcame the size problem for genome-wide data by converting the data into series of symbols and then carrying out sequence alignment. We also decomposed the oscillation of the landscape data into different frequency bands before analysis, since the real genomic landscape is a mixture of embedded and confounded biological processes working at different scales in the cell nucleus. To verify the usefulness and generality of our method, we applied our approach to well investigated landscapes from the human genome, including several histone modifications. Furthermore, by applying our method to over 20 genomic landscapes in human and 12 in mouse, we found that DNA replication timing and the density of Alu insertions are highly correlated genome-wide in both species, even though the Alu elements have amplified independently in the two genomes. To our knowledge, this is the first method to align genomic landscapes at multiple scales according to their shape.
PMCID: PMC3413149  PMID: 22561376
4.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of 2,3-diketo-5-methylthiopentyl-1-phosphate enolase from Bacillus subtilis  
Crystals of the 45.1 kDa functional form of 2,3-diketo-5-methylthiopentyl-1-phosphate enolase from B. subtilis diffracted to 2.30 Å resolution.
2,3-Diketo-5-methylthiopentyl-1-phosphate enolase (DK-MTP-1P enolase) from Bacillus subtilis was crystallized using the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. Crystals grew using PEG 3350 as the precipitant at 293 K. The crystals diffracted to 2.3 Å resolution at 100 K using synchrotron radiation and were found to belong to the monoclinic space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 79.3, b = 91.5, c = 107.0 Å, β = 90.8°. The asymmetric unit contained four molecules of DK-MTP-1P enolase, with a V M value of 2.2 Å3 Da−1 and a solvent content of 43%.
PMCID: PMC2635871  PMID: 19194007
methionine-salvage pathway; Bacillus subtilis; RuBisCO; RuBisCO-like proteins; 2,3-diketo-5-methylthiopentyl-1-phosphate enolase
5.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of methylthioribose-1-phosphate isomerase from Bacillus subtilis  
Crystals of the 39 kDa functional form of methylthioribose-1-phosphate isomerase from B. subtilis diffracted to 2.50 Å.
Methylthioribose-1-phosphate isomerase (MtnA) from Bacillus subtilis, the first enzyme in the downstream section of the methionine-salvage pathway, was crystallized using the sitting-drop vapour-diffusion method. Crystals grew using ammonium sulfate as the precipitant at 293 K. They diffracted to 2.5 Å at 100 K using synchrotron radiation and were found to belong to the tetragonal space group P41, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 69.2, c = 154.7 Å. The asymmetric unit contains two molecules of MtnA, with a V M value of 2.4 Å3 Da−1 and a solvent content of 48%.
PMCID: PMC1952323  PMID: 16511105
methylthioribose-1-phosphate; methylthioribulose-1-phosphate; methylthioadenosine
6.  Bacterial variations on the methionine salvage pathway 
BMC Microbiology  2004;4:9.
The thiomethyl group of S-adenosylmethionine is often recycled as methionine from methylthioadenosine. The corresponding pathway has been unravelled in Bacillus subtilis. However methylthioadenosine is subjected to alternative degradative pathways depending on the organism.
This work uses genome in silico analysis to propose methionine salvage pathways for Klebsiella pneumoniae, Leptospira interrogans, Thermoanaerobacter tengcongensis and Xylella fastidiosa. Experiments performed with mutants of B. subtilis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa substantiate the hypotheses proposed. The enzymes that catalyze the reactions are recruited from a variety of origins. The first, ubiquitous, enzyme of the pathway, MtnA (methylthioribose-1-phosphate isomerase), belongs to a family of proteins related to eukaryotic intiation factor 2B alpha. mtnB codes for a methylthioribulose-1-phosphate dehydratase. Two reactions follow, that of an enolase and that of a phosphatase. While in B. subtilis this is performed by two distinct polypeptides, in the other organisms analyzed here an enolase-phosphatase yields 1,2-dihydroxy-3-keto-5-methylthiopentene. In the presence of dioxygen an aci-reductone dioxygenase yields the immediate precursor of methionine, ketomethylthiobutyrate. Under some conditions this enzyme produces carbon monoxide in B. subtilis, suggesting a route for a new gaseous mediator in bacteria. Ketomethylthiobutyrate is finally transaminated by an aminotransferase that exists usually as a broad specificity enzyme (often able to transaminate aromatic aminoacid keto-acid precursors or histidinol-phosphate).
A functional methionine salvage pathway was experimentally demonstrated, for the first time, in P. aeruginosa. Apparently, methionine salvage pathways are frequent in Bacteria (and in Eukarya), with recruitment of different polypeptides to perform the needed reactions (an ancestor of a translation initiation factor and RuBisCO, as an enolase, in some Firmicutes). Many are highly dependent on the presence of oxygen, suggesting that the ecological niche may play an important role for the existence and/or metabolic steps of the pathway, even in phylogenetically related bacteria. Further work is needed to uncover the corresponding steps when dioxygen is scarce or absent (this is important to explore the presence of the pathway in Archaea). The thermophile T. tengcongensis, that thrives in the absence of oxygen, appears to possess the pathway. It will be an interesting link to uncover the missing reactions in anaerobic environments.
PMCID: PMC395828  PMID: 15102328

Results 1-6 (6)