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1.  Genetic Identification of a High-Affinity Ni Transporter and the Transcriptional Response to Ni Deprivation in Synechococcus sp. Strain WH8102 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(22):7822-7832.
One biological need for Ni in marine cyanobacteria stems from the utilization of the Ni metalloenzyme urease for the assimilation of urea as a nitrogen source. In many of the same cyanobacteria, including Synechococcus sp. strain WH8102, an additional and obligate nutrient requirement for Ni results from usage of a Ni superoxide dismutase (Ni-SOD), which is encoded by sodN. To better understand the effects of Ni deprivation on WH8102, parallel microarray-based analysis of gene expression and gene knockout experiments were conducted. The global transcriptional response to Ni deprivation depends upon the nitrogen source provided for growth; fewer than 1% of differentially expressed genes for Ni deprivation on ammonium or urea were concordantly expressed. Surprisingly, genes for putative Ni transporters, including one colocalized on the genome with sodN, sodT, were not induced despite an increase in Ni transport. Knockouts of the putative Ni transporter gene sodT appeared to be lethal in WH8102, so the genes for sodT and sodN in WH8102 were interrupted with the gene for Fe-SOD, sodB, and its promoter from Synechococcus sp. strain WH7803. The sodT::sodB exconjugants were unable to grow at low Ni concentrations, confirming that SodT is a Ni transporter. The sodN::sodB exconjugants displayed higher growth rates at low Ni concentrations than did the wild type, presumably due to a relaxed competition between urease and Ni-SOD for Ni. Both sodT::sodB and sodN::sodB lines exhibited an impaired ability to grow at low Fe concentrations. We propose a posttranslational allosteric SodT regulation involving the binding of Ni to a histidine-rich intracellular protein loop.
PMCID: PMC3485950  PMID: 22904052
2.  Statistical Analysis of Microarray Data with Replicated Spots: A Case Study with Synechococcus WH8102 
Until recently microarray experiments often involved relatively few arrays with only a single representation of each gene on each array. A complete genome microarray with multiple spots per gene (spread out spatially across the array) was developed in order to compare the gene expression of a marine cyanobacterium and a knockout mutant strain in a defined artificial seawater medium. Statistical methods were developed for analysis in the special situation of this case study where there is gene replication within an array and where relatively few arrays are used, which can be the case with current array technology. Due in part to the replication within an array, it was possible to detect very small changes in the levels of expression between the wild type and mutant strains. One interesting biological outcome of this experiment is the indication of the extent to which the phosphorus regulatory system of this cyanobacterium affects the expression of multiple genes beyond those strictly involved in phosphorus acquisition.
PMCID: PMC2673484  PMID: 19404483
3.  Operon prediction by comparative genomics: an application to the Synechococcus sp. WH8102 genome 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(7):2147-2157.
We present a computational method for operon prediction based on a comparative genomics approach. A group of consecutive genes is considered as a candidate operon if both their gene sequences and functions are conserved across several phylogenetically related genomes. In addition, various supporting data for operons are also collected through the application of public domain computer programs, and used in our prediction method. These include the prediction of conserved gene functions, promoter motifs and terminators. An apparent advantage of our approach over other operon prediction methods is that it does not require many experimental data (such as gene expression data and pathway data) as input. This feature makes it applicable to many newly sequenced genomes that do not have extensive experimental information. In order to validate our prediction, we have tested the method on Escherichia coli K12, in which operon structures have been extensively studied, through a comparative analysis against Haemophilus influenzae Rd and Salmonella typhimurium LT2. Our method successfully predicted most of the 237 known operons. After this initial validation, we then applied the method to a newly sequenced and annotated microbial genome, Synechococcus sp. WH8102, through a comparative genome analysis with two other cyanobacterial genomes, Prochlorococcus marinus sp. MED4 and P.marinus sp. MIT9313. Our results are consistent with previously reported results and statistics on operons in the literature.
PMCID: PMC407844  PMID: 15096577
4.  Swimming Marine Synechococcus Strains with Widely Different Photosynthetic Pigment Ratios Form a Monophyletic Group 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1999;65(12):5247-5251.
Unicellular marine cyanobacteria are ubiquitous in both coastal and oligotrophic regimes. The contribution of these organisms to primary production and nutrient cycling is substantial on a global scale. Natural populations of marine Synechococcus strains include multiple genetic lineages, but the link, if any, between unique phenotypic traits and specific genetic groups is still not understood. We studied the genetic diversity (as determined by the DNA-dependent RNA polymerase rpoC1 gene sequence) of a set of marine Synechococcus isolates that are able to swim. Our results show that these isolates form a monophyletic group. This finding represents the first example of correspondence between a physiological trait and a phylogenetic group in marine Synechococcus. In contrast, the phycourobilin (PUB)/phycoerythrobilin (PEB) pigment ratios of members of the motile clade varied considerably. An isolate obtained from the California Current (strain CC9703) displayed a pigment signature identical to that of nonmotile strain WH7803, which is considered a model for low-PUB/PEB-ratio strains, whereas several motile strains had higher PUB/PEB ratios than strain WH8103, which is considered a model for high-PUB/PEB-ratio strains. These findings indicate that the PUB/PEB pigment ratio is not a useful characteristic for defining phylogenetic groups of marine Synechococcus strains.
PMCID: PMC91712  PMID: 10583972
5.  Synechococcus diversity in the California current as seen by RNA polymerase (rpoC1) gene sequences of isolated strains. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1997;63(11):4298-4303.
Because they are ubiquitous in a range of aquatic environments and culture methods are relatively advanced, cyanobacteria may be useful models for understanding the extent of evolutionary adaptation of prokaryotes in general to environmental gradients. The roles of environmental variables such as light and nutrients in influencing cyanobacterial genetic diversity are still poorly characterized, however. In this study, a total of 15 Synechococcus strains were isolated from the oligotrophic edge of the California Current from two depths (5 and 95 m) with large differences in light intensity, light quality, and nutrient concentrations. RNA polymerase gene (rpoC1) fragment sequences of the strains revealed two major genetic lineages, distinct from other marine or freshwater cyanobacterial isolates or groups seen in shotgun-cloned sequences from the oligotrophic Atlantic Ocean. The California Current low-phycourobilin (CCLPUB) group represented by six isolates in a single lineage was less diverse than the California Current high-phycourobilin (CCHPUB) group with nine isolates in three relatively divergent lineages. The former was found to be the closest known genetic group to Prochlorococcus spp., a chlorophyll b-containing cyanobacterial group. Having an isolate from this group will be valuable for looking at the molecular changes necessary for the transition from the use of phycobiliproteins to chlorophyll b as light-harvesting pigments. Both of the CCHPUB and CCLPUB groups included strains obtained from surface (5 m) and deep (95 m) samples. Thus, contrary to expectations, there was no clear correlation between sampling depth and isolation of genetic groups, despite the large environmental gradients present. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration with isolates that genetically divergent Synechococcus groups coexist in the same seawater sample.
PMCID: PMC168750  PMID: 9361417
6.  Characterization of a Nitrogen-Regulated Protein Identified by Cell Surface Biotinylation of a Marine Phytoplankton 
The biotinylating reagent succinimidyl 6-(biotinamido)hexanoate was used to label the cell surfaces of the cosmopolitan, marine, eukaryotic microorganism Emiliania huxleyi under different growth conditions. Proteins characteristic of different nutrient conditions could be identified. In particular, a nitrogen-regulated protein, nrp1, has an 82-kDa subunit that is present under nitrogen limitation and during growth on urea. It is absent under phosphate limitation or during exponential growth on nitrate or ammonia. nrp1 is the major membrane or wall protein in nitrogen-limited cells and is found in several strains of E. huxleyi. It may be a useful biomarker for examining the physiological state of E. huxleyi cells in their environment.
PMCID: PMC1388574  PMID: 16535120
7.  Cyanobacterial community structure as seen from RNA polymerase gene sequence analysis. 
PCR was used to amplify DNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene sequences specifically from the cyanobacterial population in a seawater sample from the Sargasso Sea. Sequencing and analysis of the cloned fragments suggest that the population in the sample consisted of two distinct clusters of Prochlorococcus-like cyanobacteria and four clusters of Synechococcus-like cyanobacteria. The diversity within these clusters was significantly different, however. Clones within each Synechococcus-like cluster were 99 to 100% identical, while each Prochlorococcus-like cluster was only 91% identical at the nucleotide level. One Prochlorococcus-like cluster was significantly more closely related to a Mediterranean Sea (surface) Prochlorococcus isolate than to the other cluster, showing the highly divergent nature of this group even in one sample. The approach described here can be used as a general method for examining cyanobacterial diversity, while an oligotrophic ocean ecosystem such as the Sargasso Sea may be an ideal model for examining diversity in relation to environmental parameters.
PMCID: PMC201791  PMID: 7944363

Results 1-7 (7)