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1.  Tracking a refined eIF4E-binding motif reveals Angel1 as a new partner of eIF4E 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(16):7783-7792.
The initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) is implicated in most of the crucial steps of the mRNA life cycle and is recognized as a pivotal protein in gene regulation. Many of these roles are mediated by its interaction with specific proteins generally known as eIF4E-interacting partners (4E-IPs), such as eIF4G and 4E-BP. To screen for new 4E-IPs, we developed a novel approach based on structural, in silico and biochemical analyses. We identified the protein Angel1, a member of the CCR4 deadenylase family. Immunoprecipitation experiments provided evidence that Angel1 is able to interact in vitro and in vivo with eIF4E. Point mutation variants of Angel1 demonstrated that the interaction of Angel1 with eIF4E is mediated through a consensus eIF4E-binding motif. Immunofluorescence and cell fractionation experiments showed that Angel1 is confined to the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus, where it partially co-localizes with eIF4E and eIF4G, but not with 4E-BP. Furthermore, manipulating Angel1 levels in living cells had no effect on global translation rates, suggesting that the protein has a more specific function. Taken together, our results illustrate that we developed a powerful method for identifying new eIF4E partners and open new perspectives for understanding eIF4E-specific regulation.
PMCID: PMC3763552  PMID: 23814182
2.  CyanoLyase: a database of phycobilin lyase sequences, motifs and functions 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(D1):D396-D401.
CyanoLyase ( is a manually curated sequence and motif database of phycobilin lyases and related proteins. These enzymes catalyze the covalent ligation of chromophores (phycobilins) to specific binding sites of phycobiliproteins (PBPs). The latter constitute the building bricks of phycobilisomes, the major light-harvesting systems of cyanobacteria and red algae. Phycobilin lyases sequences are poorly annotated in public databases. Sequences included in CyanoLyase were retrieved from all available genomes of these organisms and a few others by similarity searches using biochemically characterized enzyme sequences and then classified into 3 clans and 32 families. Amino acid motifs were computed for each family using Protomata learner. CyanoLyase also includes BLAST and a novel pattern matching tool (Protomatch) that allow users to rapidly retrieve and annotate lyases from any new genome. In addition, it provides phylogenetic analyses of all phycobilin lyases families, describes their function, their presence/absence in all genomes of the database (phyletic profiles) and predicts the chromophorylation of PBPs in each strain. The site also includes a thorough bibliography about phycobilin lyases and genomes included in the database. This resource should be useful to scientists and companies interested in natural or artificial PBPs, which have a number of biotechnological applications, notably as fluorescent markers.
PMCID: PMC3531064  PMID: 23175607
3.  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
4.  Genetic regulation of life cycle transitions in the brown alga Ectocarpus 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(11):1858-1860.
The life cycle of an organism is one of its most elemental features, underpinning a broad range of phenomena including developmental processes, reproductive fitness, mode of dispersal and adaptation to the local environment. Life cycle modification may have played an important role during the evolution of several eukaryotic groups, including the terrestrial plants. Brown algae are potentially interesting models to study life cycle evolution because this group exhibits a broad range of different life cycles. Currently, life cycle studies are focused on the emerging brown algal model Ectocarpus. Two life cycle mutants have been described in this species, both of which cause the sporophyte generation to exhibit gametophyte characteristics. The ouroboros mutation is particularly interesting because it induces complete conversion of the sporophyte generation into a functional, gamete-producing gametophyte, a class of mutation that has not been described so far in other systems. Analysis of Ectocarpus life cycle mutants is providing insights into several life-cycle-related processes including parthenogenesis, symmetric/asymmetric initial cell divisions and sex determination.
PMCID: PMC3329369  PMID: 22067105
brown algae; gametophyte; homeotic mutation; initial cell polarisation; life cycle; multicellularity; parthenogenesis; Phaeophyceae; sporophyte
5.  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
6.  Plastid genomes of two brown algae, Ectocarpus siliculosus and Fucus vesiculosus: further insights on the evolution of red-algal derived plastids 
Heterokont algae, together with cryptophytes, haptophytes and some alveolates, possess red-algal derived plastids. The chromalveolate hypothesis proposes that the red-algal derived plastids of all four groups have a monophyletic origin resulting from a single secondary endosymbiotic event. However, due to incongruence between nuclear and plastid phylogenies, this controversial hypothesis remains under debate. Large-scale genomic analyses have shown to be a powerful tool for phylogenetic reconstruction but insufficient sequence data have been available for red-algal derived plastid genomes.
The chloroplast genomes of two brown algae, Ectocarpus siliculosus and Fucus vesiculosus, have been fully sequenced. These species represent two distinct orders of the Phaeophyceae, which is a major group within the heterokont lineage. The sizes of the circular plastid genomes are 139,954 and 124,986 base pairs, respectively, the size difference being due principally to the presence of longer inverted repeat and intergenic regions in E. siliculosus. Gene contents of the two plastids are similar with 139-148 protein-coding genes, 28-31 tRNA genes, and 3 ribosomal RNA genes. The two genomes also exhibit very similar rearrangements compared to other sequenced plastid genomes. The tRNA-Leu gene of E. siliculosus lacks an intron, in contrast to the F. vesiculosus and other heterokont plastid homologues, suggesting its recent loss in the Ectocarpales. Most of the brown algal plastid genes are shared with other red-algal derived plastid genomes, but a few are absent from raphidophyte or diatom plastid genomes. One of these regions is most similar to an apicomplexan nuclear sequence. The phylogenetic relationship between heterokonts, cryptophytes and haptophytes (collectively referred to as chromists) plastids was investigated using several datasets of concatenated proteins from two cyanobacterial genomes and 18 plastid genomes, including most of the available red algal and chromist plastid genomes.
The phylogenetic studies using concatenated plastid proteins still do not resolve the question of the monophyly of all chromist plastids. However, these results support both the monophyly of heterokont plastids and that of cryptophyte and haptophyte plastids, in agreement with nuclear phylogenies.
PMCID: PMC2765969  PMID: 19835607

Results 1-6 (6)