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1.  Transcriptome Analyses of the Honeybee Response to Nosema ceranae and Insecticides 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91686.
Honeybees (Apis mellifera) are constantly exposed to a wide variety of environmental stressors such as parasites and pesticides. Among them, Nosema ceranae and neurotoxic insecticides might act in combination and lead to a higher honeybee mortality. We investigated the molecular response of honeybees exposed to N. ceranae, to insecticides (fipronil or imidacloprid), and to a combination of both stressors. Midgut transcriptional changes induced by these stressors were measured in two independent experiments combining a global RNA-Seq transcriptomic approach with the screening of the expression of selected genes by quantitative RT-PCR. Although N. ceranae-insecticide combinations induced a significant increase in honeybee mortality, we observed that they did not lead to a synergistic effect. According to gene expression profiles, chronic exposure to insecticides had no significant impact on detoxifying genes but repressed the expression of immunity-related genes. Honeybees treated with N. ceranae, alone or in combination with an insecticide, showed a strong alteration of midgut immunity together with modifications affecting cuticle coatings and trehalose metabolism. An increasing impact of treatments on gene expression profiles with time was identified suggesting an absence of stress recovery which could be linked to the higher mortality rates observed.
PMCID: PMC3960157  PMID: 24646894
2.  Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus have Evolved Different Adaptive Mechanisms to Cope with Light and UV Stress 
Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus, which numerically dominate vast oceanic areas, are the two most abundant oxygenic phototrophs on Earth. Although they require solar energy for photosynthesis, excess light and associated high UV radiations can induce high levels of oxidative stress that may have deleterious effects on their growth and productivity. Here, we compared the photophysiologies of the model strains Prochlorococcus marinus PCC 9511 and Synechococcus sp. WH7803 grown under a bell-shaped light/dark cycle of high visible light supplemented or not with UV. Prochlorococcus exhibited a higher sensitivity to photoinactivation than Synechococcus under both conditions, as shown by a larger drop of photosystem II (PSII) quantum yield at noon and different diel patterns of the D1 protein pool. In the presence of UV, the PSII repair rate was significantly depressed at noon in Prochlorococcus compared to Synechococcus. Additionally, Prochlorococcus was more sensitive than Synechococcus to oxidative stress, as shown by the different degrees of PSII photoinactivation after addition of hydrogen peroxide. A transcriptional analysis also revealed dramatic discrepancies between the two organisms in the diel expression patterns of several genes involved notably in the biosynthesis and/or repair of photosystems, light-harvesting complexes, CO2 fixation as well as protection mechanisms against light, UV, and oxidative stress, which likely translate profound differences in their light-controlled regulation. Altogether our results suggest that while Synechococcus has developed efficient ways to cope with light and UV stress, Prochlorococcus cells seemingly survive stressful hours of the day by launching a minimal set of protection mechanisms and by temporarily bringing down several key metabolic processes. This study provides unprecedented insights into understanding the distinct depth distributions and dynamics of these two picocyanobacteria in the field.
PMCID: PMC3441193  PMID: 23024637
marine cyanobacteria; Synechococcus; Prochlorococcus; light/dark cycle; light stress; UV radiations; oxidative stress; photophysiology
3.  Parasite-insecticide interactions: a case study of Nosema ceranae and fipronil synergy on honeybee 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:326.
In ecosystems, a variety of biological, chemical and physical stressors may act in combination to induce illness in populations of living organisms. While recent surveys reported that parasite-insecticide interactions can synergistically and negatively affect honeybee survival, the importance of sequence in exposure to stressors has hardly received any attention. In this work, Western honeybees (Apis mellifera) were sequentially or simultaneously infected by the microsporidian parasite Nosema ceranae and chronically exposed to a sublethal dose of the insecticide fipronil, respectively chosen as biological and chemical stressors. Interestingly, every combination tested led to a synergistic effect on honeybee survival, with the most significant impacts when stressors were applied at the emergence of honeybees. Our study presents significant outcomes on beekeeping management but also points out the potential risks incurred by any living organism frequently exposed to both pathogens and insecticides in their habitat.
PMCID: PMC3310228  PMID: 22442753
4.  Exposure to Sublethal Doses of Fipronil and Thiacloprid Highly Increases Mortality of Honeybees Previously Infected by Nosema ceranae 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21550.
The honeybee, Apis mellifera, is undergoing a worldwide decline whose origin is still in debate. Studies performed for twenty years suggest that this decline may involve both infectious diseases and exposure to pesticides. Joint action of pathogens and chemicals are known to threaten several organisms but the combined effects of these stressors were poorly investigated in honeybees. Our study was designed to explore the effect of Nosema ceranae infection on honeybee sensitivity to sublethal doses of the insecticides fipronil and thiacloprid.
Five days after their emergence, honeybees were divided in 6 experimental groups: (i) uninfected controls, (ii) infected with N. ceranae, (iii) uninfected and exposed to fipronil, (iv) uninfected and exposed to thiacloprid, (v) infected with N. ceranae and exposed 10 days post-infection (p.i.) to fipronil, and (vi) infected with N. ceranae and exposed 10 days p.i. to thiacloprid. Honeybee mortality and insecticide consumption were analyzed daily and the intestinal spore content was evaluated 20 days after infection. A significant increase in honeybee mortality was observed when N. ceranae-infected honeybees were exposed to sublethal doses of insecticides. Surprisingly, exposures to fipronil and thiacloprid had opposite effects on microsporidian spore production. Analysis of the honeybee detoxification system 10 days p.i. showed that N. ceranae infection induced an increase in glutathione-S-transferase activity in midgut and fat body but not in 7-ethoxycoumarin-O-deethylase activity.
After exposure to sublethal doses of fipronil or thiacloprid a higher mortality was observed in N. ceranae-infected honeybees than in uninfected ones. The synergistic effect of N. ceranae and insecticide on honeybee mortality, however, did not appear strongly linked to a decrease of the insect detoxification system. These data support the hypothesis that the combination of the increasing prevalence of N. ceranae with high pesticide content in beehives may contribute to colony depopulation.
PMCID: PMC3125288  PMID: 21738706
5.  Genome sequence of the stramenopile Blastocystis, a human anaerobic parasite 
Genome Biology  2011;12(3):R29.
Blastocystis is a highly prevalent anaerobic eukaryotic parasite of humans and animals that is associated with various gastrointestinal and extraintestinal disorders. Epidemiological studies have identified different subtypes but no one subtype has been definitively correlated with disease.
Here we report the 18.8 Mb genome sequence of a Blastocystis subtype 7 isolate, which is the smallest stramenopile genome sequenced to date. The genome is highly compact and contains intriguing rearrangements. Comparisons with other available stramenopile genomes (plant pathogenic oomycete and diatom genomes) revealed effector proteins potentially involved in the adaptation to the intestinal environment, which were likely acquired via horizontal gene transfer. Moreover, Blastocystis living in anaerobic conditions harbors mitochondria-like organelles. An incomplete oxidative phosphorylation chain, a partial Krebs cycle, amino acid and fatty acid metabolisms and an iron-sulfur cluster assembly are all predicted to occur in these organelles. Predicted secretory proteins possess putative activities that may alter host physiology, such as proteases, protease-inhibitors, immunophilins and glycosyltransferases. This parasite also possesses the enzymatic machinery to tolerate oxidative bursts resulting from its own metabolism or induced by the host immune system.
This study provides insights into the genome architecture of this unusual stramenopile. It also proposes candidate genes with which to study the physiopathology of this parasite and thus may lead to further investigations into Blastocystis-host interactions.
PMCID: PMC3129679  PMID: 21439036
6.  The Human Microsporidian Encephalitozoon hellem Synthesizes Two Spore Wall Polymorphic Proteins Useful for Epidemiological Studies ▿ †  
Infection and Immunity  2010;78(5):2221-2230.
Microsporidia are obligate intracellular fungus-related parasites considered as emerging opportunistic human pathogens. Their extracellular infective and resistance stage is a spore surrounded by a unique plasma membrane protected by a thick cell wall consisting of two layers: the electron-lucent inner endospore which contains chitin and protein components and the outer-electron-dense and mainly proteinaceous exospore. We identified the whole sequences of two spore wall proteins in the microsporidian species Encephalitozoon hellem, designated EhSWP1a and EhSWP1b. Isolation of the genes encoding these SWP1-like proteins was performed using degenerate oligonucleotides based on the amino acid sequence alignment of the previously reported Encephalitozoon cuniculi and Encephalitozoon intestinalis SWP1s. Sequences lacking the 5′ and 3′ ends were then identified by PCR and reverse transcription (RT)-PCR amplifications. The swp1a and swp1b genes encode proteins of 509 and 533 amino acids, respectively, which present an identical N-terminal domain of 382 residues and a variable C-terminal extension mainly characterized by a 26-amino-acid (aa) deletion/insertion containing glutamate- and lysine-rich repeats. Using polyclonal antibodies raised against recombinant polypeptides, we showed that EhSWP1a and EhSWP1b appear as dithiothreitol (DTT)-soluble bands of 55 and 60 kDa in size, respectively. Immunolocalization experiments by IFA and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) indicated that both proteins are present at the onset of sporogony and are specifically located to the spore wall exospore in mature spores. Analysis of four E. hellem human isolates revealed that the C-terminal regions of both EhSWP1a and EhSWP1b are polymorphic, which is of interest for epidemiological studies.
PMCID: PMC2863520  PMID: 20231418
7.  Ultraviolet stress delays chromosome replication in light/dark synchronized cells of the marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus marinus PCC9511 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:204.
The marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus is very abundant in warm, nutrient-poor oceanic areas. The upper mixed layer of oceans is populated by high light-adapted Prochlorococcus ecotypes, which despite their tiny genome (~1.7 Mb) seem to have developed efficient strategies to cope with stressful levels of photosynthetically active and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. At a molecular level, little is known yet about how such minimalist microorganisms manage to sustain high growth rates and avoid potentially detrimental, UV-induced mutations to their DNA. To address this question, we studied the cell cycle dynamics of P. marinus PCC9511 cells grown under high fluxes of visible light in the presence or absence of UV radiation. Near natural light-dark cycles of both light sources were obtained using a custom-designed illumination system (cyclostat). Expression patterns of key DNA synthesis and repair, cell division, and clock genes were analyzed in order to decipher molecular mechanisms of adaptation to UV radiation.
The cell cycle of P. marinus PCC9511 was strongly synchronized by the day-night cycle. The most conspicuous response of cells to UV radiation was a delay in chromosome replication, with a peak of DNA synthesis shifted about 2 h into the dark period. This delay was seemingly linked to a strong downregulation of genes governing DNA replication (dnaA) and cell division (ftsZ, sepF), whereas most genes involved in DNA repair (such as recA, phrA, uvrA, ruvC, umuC) were already activated under high visible light and their expression levels were only slightly affected by additional UV exposure.
Prochlorococcus cells modified the timing of the S phase in response to UV exposure, therefore reducing the risk that mutations would occur during this particularly sensitive stage of the cell cycle. We identified several possible explanations for the observed timeshift. Among these, the sharp decrease in transcript levels of the dnaA gene, encoding the DNA replication initiator protein, is sufficient by itself to explain this response, since DNA synthesis starts only when the cellular concentration of DnaA reaches a critical threshold. However, the observed response likely results from a more complex combination of UV-altered biological processes.
PMCID: PMC2921402  PMID: 20670397
8.  Diversity and evolution of phycobilisomes in marine Synechococcus spp.: a comparative genomics study 
Genome Biology  2007;8(12):R259.
By comparing Synechococcus genomes, candidate genes required for the production of phycobiliproteins, which are part of the light-harvesting antenna complexes called phycobilisomes, were identified. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the phycobilisome core evolved together with the core genome, whereas rods evolved independently.
Marine Synechococcus owe their specific vivid color (ranging from blue-green to orange) to their large extrinsic antenna complexes called phycobilisomes, comprising a central allophycocyanin core and rods of variable phycobiliprotein composition. Three major pigment types can be defined depending on the major phycobiliprotein found in the rods (phycocyanin, phycoerythrin I or phycoerythrin II). Among strains containing both phycoerythrins I and II, four subtypes can be distinguished based on the ratio of the two chromophores bound to these phycobiliproteins. Genomes of eleven marine Synechococcus strains recently became available with one to four strains per pigment type or subtype, allowing an unprecedented comparative genomics study of genes involved in phycobilisome metabolism.
By carefully comparing the Synechococcus genomes, we have retrieved candidate genes potentially required for the synthesis of phycobiliproteins in each pigment type. This includes linker polypeptides, phycobilin lyases and a number of novel genes of uncharacterized function. Interestingly, strains belonging to a given pigment type have similar phycobilisome gene complements and organization, independent of the core genome phylogeny (as assessed using concatenated ribosomal proteins). While phylogenetic trees based on concatenated allophycocyanin protein sequences are congruent with the latter, those based on phycocyanin and phycoerythrin notably differ and match the Synechococcus pigment types.
We conclude that the phycobilisome core has likely evolved together with the core genome, while rods must have evolved independently, possibly by lateral transfer of phycobilisome rod genes or gene clusters between Synechococcus strains, either via viruses or by natural transformation, allowing rapid adaptation to a variety of light niches.
PMCID: PMC2246261  PMID: 18062815
9.  High-affinity DNA binding sites for H-NS provide a molecular basis for selective silencing within proteobacterial genomes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(18):6330-6337.
The global transcriptional regulator H-NS selectively silences bacterial genes associated with pathogenicity and responses to environmental insults. Although there is ample evidence that H-NS binds preferentially to DNA containing curved regions, we show here that a major basis for this selectivity is the presence of a conserved sequence motif in H-NS target transcriptons. We further show that there is a strong tendency for the H-NS binding sites to be clustered, both within operons and in genes contained in the pathogenicity-associated islands. In accordance with previously published findings, we show that these motifs occur in AT-rich regions of DNA. On the basis of these observations, we propose that H-NS silences extensive regions of the bacterial chromosome by binding first to nucleating high-affinity sites and then spreading along AT-rich DNA. This spreading would be reinforced by the frequent occurrence of the motif in such regions. Our findings suggest that such an organization enables the silencing of extensive regions of the genetic material, thereby providing a coherent framework that unifies studies on the H-NS protein and a concrete molecular basis for the genetic control of H-NS transcriptional silencing.
PMCID: PMC2094087  PMID: 17881364

Results 1-9 (9)