Emerging evidence suggests that the TH17 subset of αβ T cells contributes to the development of allergic asthma. In this study we found that mice lacking αvβ8 on dendritic cells failed to generate TH17 cells in the lung and were protected from AHR in response to house dust mite and ovalbumin sensitization and challenge. Because loss of TH17 cells inhibited airway narrowing without obvious effects on airway inflammation or epithelial morphology, we examined the direct effects of TH17 cytokines on mouse and human airway smooth muscle function. IL-17A enhanced contractile force generation through a NF-κB/RhoA/ROCK2 signaling cascade. Mice lacking integrin αvβ8 on dendritic cells showed impaired activation of this pathway after OVA sensitization and challenge, and the diminished contraction of tracheal rings from these mice was reversed by IL-17A. These data indicate that IL-17A produced by TH17 cells contributes to allergen-induced AHR through direct effects on airway smooth muscle.
Prochlorococcus contributes significantly to ocean primary productivity. The link between primary productivity and iron in specific ocean regions is well established and iron limitation of Prochlorococcus cell division rates in these regions has been shown. However, the extent of ecotypic variation in iron metabolism among Prochlorococcus and the molecular basis for differences is not understood. Here, we examine the growth and transcriptional response of Prochlorococcus strains, MED4 and MIT9313, to changing iron concentrations. During steady state, MIT9313 sustains growth at an order-of-magnitude lower iron concentration than MED4. To explore this difference, we measured the whole-genome transcriptional response of each strain to abrupt iron starvation and rescue. Only four of the 1159 orthologs of MED4 and MIT9313 were differentially expressed in response to iron in both strains. However, in each strain, the expression of over a hundred additional genes changed, many of which are in labile genomic regions, suggesting a role for lateral gene transfer in establishing diversity of iron metabolism among Prochlorococcus. Furthermore, we found that MED4 lacks three genes near the iron-deficiency-induced gene (idiA) that are present and induced by iron stress in MIT9313. These genes are interesting targets for studying the adaptation of natural Prochlorococcus assemblages to local iron conditions as they show more diversity than other genomic regions in environmental metagenomic databases.
cyanobacteria; iron; transcriptome
This manuscript describes the NIH Human Microbiome Project, including a brief review of human microbiome research, a history of the project, and a comprehensive overview of the consortium's recent collection of publications analyzing the human microbiome.
Transplants of culture-expanded bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) combined with hydroxy-apatite tricalcium phosphate (HA/TCP) scaffolds successfully form cortico-cancellous bone to reconstruct the dog craniofacial skeleton. Yet, these transplants’ long-term stability in large animal models has not been evaluated. Theis study’s purpose was the evaluation of long-term BMSC transplant stability when used to augment the mandible. Here, autologous BMSC-HA/TCP transplants were introduced onto the unilateral dog mandible as onlay grafts, while contralateral control mandibles received HA/TCP onlays alone. Quantitative CT (qCT) scans were obtained both early and late after transplantation. Transplants were harvested up to 19 months later for histologic and mechanical analyses. In all dogs, BMSC transplants formed significantly greater amounts of bone over their control counterparts. The new bone formed an extensive union with the underlying mandible. BMSC transplants retained the majority of their initial volume, while control (HA/TCP only) transplants were nearly completely resorbed. By qCT, the extent of newly formed bone could be determined non-invasively. In summary, HA/TCP particles alone undergo a high degree of resorption, while autologous cultured BMSC- HA/TCP transplants provide long-term bony augmentation of the mandible.
AFM; Autologous cell; Bone tissue engineering; Hydroxyapatite composite; Stem cell; Transplantation
We have developed a process for transcriptome analysis of bacterial communities that accommodates both intact and fragmented starting RNA and combines efficient rRNA removal with strand-specific RNA-seq. We applied this approach to an RNA mixture derived from three diverse cultured bacterial species and to RNA isolated from clinical stool samples. The resulting expression profiles were highly reproducible, enriched up to 40-fold for non-rRNA transcripts, and correlated well with profiles representing undepleted total RNA.
Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma, affecting more than 10 million Americans. Although it is clear that mast cells have a key role in the pathogenesis of allergic asthma, the mechanisms by which they regulate airway narrowing in vivo remain to be elucidated. Here we report that mice lacking αvβ6 integrin are protected from exaggerated airway narrowing in a model of allergic asthma. Expression microarrays of the airway epithelium revealed mast cell proteases among the most prominent differentially expressed genes, with expression of mouse mast cell protease 1 (mMCP-1) induced by allergen challenge in WT mice and expression of mMCP-4, -5, and -6 increased at baseline in β6-deficient mice. These findings were most likely explained by loss of TGF-β activation, since the epithelial integrin αvβ6 is a critical activator of latent TGF-β, and in vitro–differentiated mast cells showed TGF-β–dependent expression of mMCP-1 and suppression of mMCP-4 and -6. In vitro, mMCP-1 increased contractility of murine tracheal rings, an effect that depended on intact airway epithelium, whereas mMCP-4 inhibited IL-13–induced epithelial-independent enhancement of contractility. These results suggest that intraepithelial activation of TGF-β by the αvβ6 integrin regulates airway responsiveness by modulating mast cell protease expression and that these proteases and their proteolytic substrates could be novel targets for improved treatment of allergic asthma.
ProPortal (http://proportal.mit.edu/) is a database containing genomic, metagenomic, transcriptomic and field data for the marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus. Our goal is to provide a source of cross-referenced data across multiple scales of biological organization—from the genome to the ecosystem—embracing the full diversity of ecotypic variation within this microbial taxon, its sister group, Synechococcus and phage that infect them. The site currently contains the genomes of 13 Prochlorococcus strains, 11 Synechococcus strains and 28 cyanophage strains that infect one or both groups. Cyanobacterial and cyanophage genes are clustered into orthologous groups that can be accessed by keyword search or through a genome browser. Users can also identify orthologous gene clusters shared by cyanobacterial and cyanophage genomes. Gene expression data for Prochlorococcus ecotypes MED4 and MIT9313 allow users to identify genes that are up or downregulated in response to environmental stressors. In addition, the transcriptome in synchronized cells grown on a 24-h light–dark cycle reveals the choreography of gene expression in cells in a ‘natural’ state. Metagenomic sequences from the Global Ocean Survey from Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus and phage genomes are archived so users can examine the differences between populations from diverse habitats. Finally, an example of cyanobacterial population data from the field is included.
The recently discovered PHLPP-1 (PH domain leucine-rich repeat protein phosphatase-1) selectively dephosphorylates Akt at Ser473 and terminates Akt signaling in cancer cells. The regulatory role of PHLPP-1 in the heart has not been considered.
To test the hypothesis that blockade/inhibition of PHLPP-1 could constitute a novel way to enhance Akt signals and provide cardioprotection.
Methods and Results
PHLPP-1 is expressed in neonatal rat ventricular myocytes (NRVMs) and in adult mouse ventricular myocytes (AMVMs). PHLPP-1 knockdown by small interfering RNA significantly enhances phosphorylation of Akt (p-Akt) at Ser473, but not at Thr308, in NRVMs stimulated with leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). The increased phosphorylation is accompanied by greater Akt catalytic activity. PHLPP-1 knockdown enhances LIF-mediated cardioprotection against doxorubicin and also protects cardiomyocytes against H2O2. Direct Akt effects at mitochondria have been implicated in cardioprotection and mitochondria/cytosol fractionation revealed a significant enrichment of PHLPP-1 at mitochondria. The ability of PHLPP-1 knockdown to potentiate LIF-mediated increases in p-Akt at mitochondria and an accompanying increase in mitochondrial hexokinase-II was demonstrated. We generated PHLPP-1 knockout (KO) mice and demonstrate that AMVMs isolated from KO mice show potentiated p-Akt at Ser473 in response to agonists. When isolated perfused hearts are subjected to ischemia/reperfusion, p-Akt in whole-heart homogenates and in the mitochondrial fraction is significantly increased. Additionally in PHLPP-1 KO hearts, the increase in p-Akt elicited by ischemia/reperfusion is potentiated and, concomitantly, infarct size is significantly reduced.
These results implicate PHLPP-1 as an endogenous negative regulator of Akt activity and cell survival in the heart.
Akt; PHLPP; phosphatase; heart; protection
The response of Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough to salt adaptation (long-term NaCl exposure) was examined by performing physiological, global transcriptional, and metabolite analyses. Salt adaptation was reflected by increased expression of genes involved in amino acid biosynthesis and transport, electron transfer, hydrogen oxidation, and general stress responses (e.g., heat shock proteins, phage shock proteins, and oxidative stress response proteins). The expression of genes involved in carbon metabolism, cell growth, and phage structures was decreased. Transcriptome profiles of D. vulgaris responses to salt adaptation were compared with transcriptome profiles of D. vulgaris responses to salt shock (short-term NaCl exposure). Metabolite assays showed that glutamate and alanine accumulated under salt adaptation conditions, suggesting that these amino acids may be used as osmoprotectants in D. vulgaris. Addition of amino acids (glutamate, alanine, and tryptophan) or yeast extract to the growth medium relieved salt-related growth inhibition. A conceptual model that links the observed results to currently available knowledge is proposed to increase our understanding of the mechanisms of D. vulgaris adaptation to elevated NaCl levels.
Mechanistic target of rapamycin (MTOR) plays a critical role in the regulation of cell growth and in the response to energy state changes. Drugs inhibiting MTOR are increasingly used in antineoplastic therapies. Myocardial MTOR activity changes during hypertrophy and heart failure (HF). However, whether MTOR exerts a positive or a negative effect on myocardial function remains to be fully elucidated. Here, we show that ablation of Mtor in the adult mouse myocardium results in a fatal, dilated cardiomyopathy that is characterized by apoptosis, autophagy, altered mitochondrial structure, and accumulation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E–binding protein 1 (4E-BP1). 4E-BP1 is an MTOR-containing multiprotein complex-1 (MTORC1) substrate that inhibits translation initiation. When subjected to pressure overload, Mtor-ablated mice demonstrated an impaired hypertrophic response and accelerated HF progression. When the gene encoding 4E-BP1 was ablated together with Mtor, marked improvements were observed in apoptosis, heart function, and survival. Our results demonstrate a role for the MTORC1 signaling network in the myocardial response to stress. In particular, they highlight the role of 4E-BP1 in regulating cardiomyocyte viability and in HF. Because the effects of reduced MTOR activity were mediated through increased 4E-BP1 inhibitory activity, blunting this mechanism may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for improving cardiac function in clinical HF.
Since 2003, MicrobesOnline (http://www.microbesonline.org) has been providing a community resource for comparative and functional genome analysis. The portal includes over 1000 complete genomes of bacteria, archaea and fungi and thousands of expression microarrays from diverse organisms ranging from model organisms such as Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae to environmental microbes such as Desulfovibrio vulgaris and Shewanella oneidensis. To assist in annotating genes and in reconstructing their evolutionary history, MicrobesOnline includes a comparative genome browser based on phylogenetic trees for every gene family as well as a species tree. To identify co-regulated genes, MicrobesOnline can search for genes based on their expression profile, and provides tools for identifying regulatory motifs and seeing if they are conserved. MicrobesOnline also includes fast phylogenetic profile searches, comparative views of metabolic pathways, operon predictions, a workbench for sequence analysis and integration with RegTransBase and other microbial genome resources. The next update of MicrobesOnline will contain significant new functionality, including comparative analysis of metagenomic sequence data. Programmatic access to the database, along with source code and documentation, is available at http://microbesonline.org/programmers.html.
The response of exponentially growing Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough to pH 10 stress was studied using oligonucleotide microarrays and a study set of mutants with genes suggested by microarray data to be involved in the alkaline stress response deleted. The data showed that the response of D. vulgaris to increased pH is generally similar to that of Escherichia coli but is apparently controlled by unique regulatory circuits since the alternative sigma factors (sigma S and sigma E) contributing to this stress response in E. coli appear to be absent in D. vulgaris. Genes previously reported to be up-regulated in E. coli were up-regulated in D. vulgaris; these genes included three ATPase genes and a tryptophan synthase gene. Transcription of chaperone and protease genes (encoding ATP-dependent Clp and La proteases and DnaK) was also elevated in D. vulgaris. As in E. coli, genes involved in flagellum synthesis were down-regulated. The transcriptional data also identified regulators, distinct from sigma S and sigma E, that are likely part of a D. vulgaris Hildenborough-specific stress response system. Characterization of a study set of mutants with genes implicated in alkaline stress response deleted confirmed that there was protective involvement of the sodium/proton antiporter NhaC-2, tryptophanase A, and two putative regulators/histidine kinases (DVU0331 and DVU2580).
Previous experiments examining the transcriptional profile of the anaerobe Desulfovibrio vulgaris demonstrated up-regulation of the Fur regulon in response to various environmental stressors. To test the involvement of Fur in the growth response and transcriptional regulation of D. vulgaris, a targeted mutagenesis procedure was used for deleting the fur gene. Growth of the resulting Δfur mutant (JW707) was not affected by iron availability, but the mutant did exhibit increased sensitivity to nitrite and osmotic stresses compared to the wild type. Transcriptional profiling of JW707 indicated that iron-bound Fur acts as a traditional repressor for ferrous iron uptake genes (feoAB) and other genes containing a predicted Fur binding site within their promoter. Despite the apparent lack of siderophore biosynthesis genes within the D. vulgaris genome, a large 12-gene operon encoding orthologs to TonB and TolQR also appeared to be repressed by iron-bound Fur. While other genes predicted to be involved in iron homeostasis were unaffected by the presence or absence of Fur, alternative expression patterns that could be interpreted as repression or activation by iron-free Fur were observed. Both the physiological and transcriptional data implicate a global regulatory role for Fur in the sulfate-reducing bacterium D. vulgaris.
Prochlorococcus is a marine cyanobacterium that numerically dominates the mid-latitude oceans and is the smallest known oxygenic phototroph. Numerous isolates from diverse areas of the world's oceans have been studied and shown to be physiologically and genetically distinct. All isolates described thus far can be assigned to either a tightly clustered high-light (HL)-adapted clade, or a more divergent low-light (LL)-adapted group. The 16S rRNA sequences of the entire Prochlorococcus group differ by at most 3%, and the four initially published genomes revealed patterns of genetic differentiation that help explain physiological differences among the isolates. Here we describe the genomes of eight newly sequenced isolates and combine them with the first four genomes for a comprehensive analysis of the core (shared by all isolates) and flexible genes of the Prochlorococcus group, and the patterns of loss and gain of the flexible genes over the course of evolution. There are 1,273 genes that represent the core shared by all 12 genomes. They are apparently sufficient, according to metabolic reconstruction, to encode a functional cell. We describe a phylogeny for all 12 isolates by subjecting their complete proteomes to three different phylogenetic analyses. For each non-core gene, we used a maximum parsimony method to estimate which ancestor likely first acquired or lost each gene. Many of the genetic differences among isolates, especially for genes involved in outer membrane synthesis and nutrient transport, are found within the same clade. Nevertheless, we identified some genes defining HL and LL ecotypes, and clades within these broad ecotypes, helping to demonstrate the basis of HL and LL adaptations in Prochlorococcus. Furthermore, our estimates of gene gain events allow us to identify highly variable genomic islands that are not apparent through simple pairwise comparisons. These results emphasize the functional roles, especially those connected to outer membrane synthesis and transport that dominate the flexible genome and set it apart from the core. Besides identifying islands and demonstrating their role throughout the history of Prochlorococcus, reconstruction of past gene gains and losses shows that much of the variability exists at the “leaves of the tree,” between the most closely related strains. Finally, the identification of core and flexible genes from this 12-genome comparison is largely consistent with the relative frequency of Prochlorococcus genes found in global ocean metagenomic databases, further closing the gap between our understanding of these organisms in the lab and the wild.
Prochlorococcus—the most abundant photosynthetic microbe living in the vast, nutrient-poor areas of the ocean—is a major contributor to the global carbon cycle. Prochlorococcus is composed of closely related, physiologically distinct lineages whose differences enable the group as a whole to proliferate over a broad range of environmental conditions. We compare the genomes of 12 strains of Prochlorococcus representing its major lineages in order to identify genetic differences affecting the ecology of different lineages and their evolutionary origin. First, we identify the core genome: the 1,273 genes shared among all strains. This core set of genes encodes the essentials of a functional cell, enabling it to make living matter out of sunlight and carbon dioxide. We then create a genomic tree that maps the gain and loss of non-core genes in individual strains, showing that a striking number of genes are gained or lost even among the most closely related strains. We find that lost and gained genes commonly cluster in highly variable regions called genomic islands. The level of diversity among the non-core genes, and the number of new genes added with each new genome sequenced, suggest far more diversity to be discovered.
Two-component systems including histidine protein kinases represent the primary signal transduction paradigm in prokaryotic organisms. To understand how these systems adapt to allow organisms to detect niche-specific signals, we analyzed the phylogenetic distribution of nearly 5,000 histidine protein kinases from 207 sequenced prokaryotic genomes. We found that many genomes carry a large repertoire of recently evolved signaling genes, which may reflect selective pressure to adapt to new environmental conditions. Both lineage-specific gene family expansion and horizontal gene transfer play major roles in the introduction of new histidine kinases into genomes; however, there are differences in how these two evolutionary forces act. Genes imported via horizontal transfer are more likely to retain their original functionality as inferred from a similar complement of signaling domains, while gene family expansion accompanied by domain shuffling appears to be a major source of novel genetic diversity. Family expansion is the dominant source of new histidine kinase genes in the genomes most enriched in signaling proteins, and detailed analysis reveals that divergence in domain structure and changes in expression patterns are hallmarks of recent expansions. Finally, while these two modes of gene acquisition are widespread across bacterial taxa, there are clear species-specific preferences for which mode is used.
Pathways containing histidine protein kinases (HPKs) represent a key mechanism for signal transduction, especially in bacteria. These systems help cells to sense and respond to their environment by detecting external cues and effecting internal responses such as changes in gene expression. As such, they are believed to play a key role in niche adaptation, yet their evolution is difficult to study due to the large number of paralogous subfamilies. This work extends previous large-scale gene evolution studies by considering complex paralogy relationships, and uncovers an abundance of horizontal transfers, gene duplications, and domain shuffling that have marked the evolutionary history of HPKs. An important finding of this study is qualitative differences between the main strategies for acquiring new HPKs (horizontal gene transfer and gene duplication). Hallmarks of the latter process include domain shuffling and the generation of “orphan” HPKs not co-transcribed with a cognate response regulator.
The ability of Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough to reduce, and therefore contain, toxic and radioactive metal waste has made all factors that affect the physiology of this organism of great interest. Increased salinity is an important and frequent fluctuation faced by D. vulgaris in its natural habitat. In liquid culture, exposure to excess salt resulted in striking elongation of D. vulgaris cells. Using data from transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolite assays, phospholipid fatty acid profiling, and electron microscopy, we used a systems approach to explore the effects of excess NaCl on D. vulgaris. In this study we demonstrated that import of osmoprotectants, such as glycine betaine and ectoine, is the primary mechanism used by D. vulgaris to counter hyperionic stress. Several efflux systems were also highly up-regulated, as was the ATP synthesis pathway. Increases in the levels of both RNA and DNA helicases suggested that salt stress affected the stability of nucleic acid base pairing. An overall increase in the level of branched fatty acids indicated that there were changes in cell wall fluidity. The immediate response to salt stress included up-regulation of chemotaxis genes, although flagellar biosynthesis was down-regulated. Other down-regulated systems included lactate uptake permeases and ABC transport systems. The results of an extensive NaCl stress analysis were compared with microarray data from a KCl stress analysis, and unlike many other bacteria, D. vulgaris responded similarly to the two stresses. Integration of data from multiple methods allowed us to develop a conceptual model for the salt stress response in D. vulgaris that can be compared to those in other microorganisms.
Many of the proteins that are candidates for bioenergetic pathways involved with sulfate respiration in Desulfovibrio spp. have been studied, but complete pathways and overall cell physiology remain to be resolved for many environmentally relevant conditions. In order to understand the metabolism of these microorganisms under adverse environmental conditions for improved bioremediation efforts, Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough was used as a model organism to study stress response to nitrite, an important intermediate in the nitrogen cycle. Previous physiological studies demonstrated that growth was inhibited by nitrite and that nitrite reduction was observed to be the primary mechanism of detoxification. Global transcriptional profiling with whole-genome microarrays revealed coordinated cascades of responses to nitrite in pathways of energy metabolism, nitrogen metabolism, oxidative stress response, and iron homeostasis. In agreement with previous observations, nitrite-stressed cells showed a decrease in the expression of genes encoding sulfate reduction functions in addition to respiratory oxidative phosphorylation and ATP synthase activity. Consequently, the stressed cells had decreased expression of the genes encoding ATP-dependent amino acid transporters and proteins involved in translation. Other genes up-regulated in response to nitrite include the genes in the Fur regulon, which is suggested to be involved in iron homeostasis, and genes in the Per regulon, which is predicted to be responsible for oxidative stress response.
The molecular response of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 to variations in extracellular pH was investigated based on genomewide gene expression profiling. Microarray analysis revealed that cells elicited both general and specific transcriptome responses when challenged with environmental acid (pH 4) or base (pH 10) conditions over a 60-min period. Global responses included the differential expression of genes functionally linked to amino acid metabolism, transcriptional regulation and signal transduction, transport, cell membrane structure, and oxidative stress protection. Response to acid stress included the elevated expression of genes encoding glycogen biosynthetic enzymes, phosphate transporters, and the RNA polymerase sigma-38 factor (rpoS), whereas the molecular response to alkaline pH was characterized by upregulation of nhaA and nhaR, which are predicted to encode an Na+/H+ antiporter and transcriptional activator, respectively, as well as sulfate transport and sulfur metabolism genes. Collectively, these results suggest that S. oneidensis modulates multiple transporters, cell envelope components, and pathways of amino acid consumption and central intermediary metabolism as part of its transcriptome response to changing external pH conditions.
The physiology and transcriptome dynamics of the metal ion-reducing bacterium Shewanella oneidensis strain MR-1 in response to nonradioactive strontium (Sr) exposure were investigated. Studies indicated that MR-1 was able to grow aerobically in complex medium in the presence of 180 mM SrCl2 but showed severe growth inhibition at levels above that concentration. Temporal gene expression profiles were generated from aerobically grown, mid-exponential-phase MR-1 cells shocked with 180 mM SrCl2 and analyzed for significant differences in mRNA abundance with reference to data for nonstressed MR-1 cells. Genes with annotated functions in siderophore biosynthesis and iron transport were among the most highly induced (>100-fold [P < 0.05]) open reading frames in response to acute Sr stress, and a mutant (SO3032::pKNOCK) defective in siderophore production was found to be hypersensitive to SrCl2 exposure, compared to parental and wild-type strains. Transcripts encoding multidrug and heavy metal efflux pumps, proteins involved in osmotic adaptation, sulfate ABC transporters, and assimilative sulfur metabolism enzymes also were differentially expressed following Sr exposure but at levels that were several orders of magnitude lower than those for iron transport genes. Precipitate formation was observed during aerobic growth of MR-1 in broth cultures amended with 50, 100, or 150 mM SrCl2 but not in cultures of the SO3032::pKNOCK mutant or in the abiotic control. Chemical analysis of this precipitate using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy and static secondary ion mass spectrometry indicated extracellular solid-phase sequestration of Sr, with at least a portion of the heavy metal associated with carbonate phases.
We combine comparative genomic measures and the distance separating adjacent genes to predict operons in 124 completely sequenced prokaryotic genomes. Our method automatically tailors itself to each genome using sequence information alone, and thus can be applied to any prokaryote. For Escherichia coli K12 and Bacillus subtilis, our method is 85 and 83% accurate, respectively, which is similar to the accuracy of methods that use the same features but are trained on experimentally characterized transcripts. In Halobacterium NRC-1 and in Helicobacter pylori, our method correctly infers that genes in operons are separated by shorter distances than they are in E.coli, and its predictions using distance alone are more accurate than distance-only predictions trained on a database of E.coli transcripts. We use microarray data from six phylogenetically diverse prokaryotes to show that combining intergenic distance with comparative genomic measures further improves accuracy and that our method is broadly effective. Finally, we survey operon structure across 124 genomes, and find several surprises: H.pylori has many operons, contrary to previous reports; Bacillus anthracis has an unusual number of pseudogenes within conserved operons; and Synechocystis PCC 6803 has many operons even though it has unusually wide spacings between conserved adjacent genes.
Exposure to solar radiation can cause mortality in natural communities of pico-phytoplankton, both at the surface and to a depth of at least 30 m. DNA damage is a significant cause of death, mainly due to cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer formation, which can be lethal if not repaired. While developing a UV mutagenesis protocol for the marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus, we isolated a UV-hyper-resistant variant of high light-adapted strain MED4. The hyper-resistant strain was constitutively upregulated for expression of the mutT-phrB operon, encoding nudix hydrolase and photolyase, both of which are involved in repair of DNA damage that can be caused by UV light. Photolyase (PhrB) breaks pyrimidine dimers typically caused by UV exposure, using energy from visible light in the process known as photoreactivation. Nudix hydrolase (MutT) hydrolyses 8-oxo-dGTP, an aberrant form of GTP that results from oxidizing conditions, including UV radiation, thus impeding mispairing and mutagenesis by preventing incorporation of the aberrant form into DNA. These processes are error-free, in contrast to error-prone SOS dark repair systems that are widespread in bacteria. The UV-hyper-resistant strain contained only a single mutation: a 1 bp deletion in the intergenic region directly upstream of the mutT-phrB operon. Two subsequent enrichments for MED4 UV-hyper-resistant strains from MED4 wild-type cultures gave rise to strains containing this same 1 bp deletion, affirming its connection to the hyper-resistant phenotype. These results have implications for Prochlorococcus DNA repair mechanisms, genome stability and possibly lysogeny.
T4-like myoviruses are ubiquitous, and their genes are among the most abundant documented in ocean systems. Here we compare 26 T4-like genomes, including 10 from non-cyanobacterial myoviruses, and 16 from marine cyanobacterial myoviruses (cyanophages) isolated on diverse Prochlorococcus or Synechococcus hosts. A core genome of 38 virion construction and DNA replication genes was observed in all 26 genomes, with 32 and 25 additional genes shared among the non-cyanophage and cyanophage subsets, respectively. These hierarchical cores are highly syntenic across the genomes, and sampled to saturation. The 25 cyanophage core genes include six previously described genes with putative functions (psbA, mazG, phoH, hsp20, hli03, cobS), a hypothetical protein with a potential phytanoyl-CoA dioxygenase domain, two virion structural genes, and 16 hypothetical genes. Beyond previously described cyanophage-encoded photosynthesis and phosphate stress genes, we observed core genes that may play a role in nitrogen metabolism during infection through modulation of 2-oxoglutarate. Patterns among non-core genes that may drive niche diversification revealed that phosphorus-related gene content reflects source waters rather than host strain used for isolation, and that carbon metabolism genes appear associated with putative mobile elements. As well, phages isolated on Synechococcus had higher genome-wide %G+C and often contained different gene subsets (e.g. petE, zwf, gnd, prnA, cpeT) than those isolated on Prochlorococcus. However, no clear diagnostic genes emerged to distinguish these phage groups, suggesting blurred boundaries possibly due to cross-infection. Finally, genome-wide comparisons of both diverse and closely related, co-isolated genomes provide a locus-to-locus variability metric that will prove valuable for interpreting metagenomic data sets.