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1.  Conserved active site cysteine residue of archaeal THI4 homolog is essential for thiamine biosynthesis in Haloferax volcanii 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):260.
Background
Thiamine (vitamin B1) is synthesized de novo by certain yeast, fungi, plants, protozoans, bacteria and archaea. The pathway of thiamine biosynthesis by archaea is poorly understood, particularly the route of sulfur relay to form the thiazole ring. Archaea harbor structural homologs of both the bacterial (ThiS-ThiF) and eukaryotic (THI4) proteins that mobilize sulfur to thiazole ring precursors by distinct mechanisms.
Results
Based on comparative genome analysis, halophilic archaea are predicted to synthesize the pyrimidine moiety of thiamine by the bacterial pathway, initially suggesting that also a bacterial ThiS-ThiF type mechanism for synthesis of the thiazole ring is used in which the sulfur carrier ThiS is first activated by ThiF-catalyzed adenylation. The only ThiF homolog of Haloferax volcanii (UbaA) was deleted but this had no effect on growth in the absence of thiamine. Usage of the eukaryotic THI4-type sulfur relay was initially considered less likely for thiamine biosynthesis in archaea, since the active-site cysteine residue of yeast THI4p that donates the sulfur to the thiazole ring by a suicide mechanism is replaced by a histidine residue in many archaeal THI4 homologs and these are described as D-ribose-1,5-bisphosphate isomerases. The THI4 homolog of the halophilic archaea, including Hfx. volcanii (HVO_0665, HvThi4) was found to differ from that of methanogens and thermococci by having a cysteine residue (Cys165) corresponding to the conserved active site cysteine of yeast THI4p (Cys205). Deletion of HVO_0665 generated a thiamine auxotroph that was trans-complemented by a wild-type copy of HVO_0665, but not the modified gene encoding an HvThi4 C165A variant.
Conclusions
Based on our results, we conclude that the archaeon Hfx. volcanii uses a yeast THI4-type mechanism for sulfur relay to form the thiazole ring of thiamine. We extend this finding to a relatively large group of archaea, including haloarchaea, ammonium oxidizing archaea, and some methanogen and Pyrococcus species, by observing that these organisms code for THI4 homologs that have a conserved active site cysteine residue which is likely used in thiamine biosynthesis. Thus, archaeal members of IPR002922 THI4 family that have a conserved cysteine active site should be reexamined for a function in thiamine biosynthesis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0260-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0260-0
PMCID: PMC4215014  PMID: 25348237
Vitamin B1; Coenzyme biosynthesis; Thiamine; Sulfur relay; Archaea
2.  Haloferax volcanii, a Prokaryotic Species that Does Not Use the Shine Dalgarno Mechanism for Translation Initiation at 5′-UTRs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94979.
It was long assumed that translation initiation in prokaryotes generally occurs via the so-called Shine Dalgarno (SD) mechanism. Recently, it became clear that translation initiation in prokaryotes is more heterogeneous. In the haloarchaeon Haloferax volcanii, the majority of transcripts is leaderless and most transcripts with a 5′-UTR lack a SD motif. Nevertheless, a bioinformatic analysis predicted that 20–30% of all genes are preceded by a SD motif in haloarchaea. To analyze the importance of the SD mechanism for translation initiation in haloarchaea experimentally the monocistronic sod gene was chosen, which contains a 5′-UTR with an extensive SD motif of seven nucleotides and a length of 19 nt, the average length of 5′UTRs in this organism. A translational fusion of part of the sod gene with the dhfr reporter gene was constructed. A mutant series was generated that matched the SD motif from zero to eight positions, respectively. Surprisingly, there was no correlation between the base pairing ability between transcripts and 16S rRNA and translational efficiency in vivo under several different growth conditions. Furthermore, complete replacement of the SD motif by three unrelated sequences did not reduce translational efficiency. The results indicate that H. volcanii does not make use of the SD mechanism for translation initiation in 5′-UTRs. A genome analysis revealed that while the number of SD motifs in 5′-UTRs is rare, their fraction within open reading frames is high. Possible biological functions for intragenic SD motifs are discussed, including re-initiation of translation at distal genes in operons.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094979
PMCID: PMC3986360  PMID: 24733188
3.  Genome of the Haloarchaeon Natronomonas moolapensis, a Neutrophilic Member of a Previously Haloalkaliphilic Genus 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(2):e00095-13.
The genus Natronomonas contains two species, one haloalkaliphile (N. pharaonis) and one neutrophile (N. moolapensis). Here, we report the genome sequence of N. moolapensis strain 8.8.11. The overall genome properties are similar for the two species. Only the neutrophile contains bacteriorhodopsin and a membrane glycolipid.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.00095-13
PMCID: PMC3623002  PMID: 23516216
4.  The immune system of halophilic archaea 
Mobile Genetic Elements  2012;2(5):228-232.
Prokaryotes have developed several strategies to defend themselves against foreign genetic elements. One of those defense mechanisms is the recently identified CRISPR/Cas system, which is used by approximately half of all bacterial and almost all archaeal organisms. The CRISPR/Cas system differs from the other defense strategies because it is adaptive, hereditary and it recognizes the invader by a sequence specific mechanism. To identify the invading foreign nucleic acid, a crRNA that matches the invader DNA is required, as well as a short sequence motif called protospacer adjacent motif (PAM). We recently identified the PAM sequences for the halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii, and found that several motifs were active in triggering the defense reaction. In contrast, selection of protospacers from the invader seems to be based on fewer PAM sequences, as evidenced by comparative sequence data. This suggests that the selection of protospacers has stricter requirements than the defense reaction. Comparison of CRISPR-repeat sequences carried by sequenced haloarchaea revealed that in more than half of the species, the repeat sequence is conserved and that they have the same CRISPR/Cas type.
doi:10.4161/mge.22530
PMCID: PMC3575430  PMID: 23446883
Haloferax volcanii; CRISPR/Cas; PAM; archaea; prokaryotic immune system; haloarchaea
5.  An Archaeal Immune System Can Detect Multiple Protospacer Adjacent Motifs (PAMs) to Target Invader DNA* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(40):33351-33363.
Background: CRISPR/Cas systems allow archaea and bacteria to resist invasion by foreign nucleic acids.
Results: The CRISPR/Cas system in Haloferax recognized six different PAM sequences that could trigger a defense response.
Conclusion: The PAM sequence specificity of the defense response in type I CRISPR systems is more relaxed than previously thought.
Significance: The PAM sequence requirements for interference and adaptation appear to differ markedly.
The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated (Cas) system provides adaptive and heritable immunity against foreign genetic elements in most archaea and many bacteria. Although this system is widespread and diverse with many subtypes, only a few species have been investigated to elucidate the precise mechanisms for the defense of viruses or plasmids. Approximately 90% of all sequenced archaea encode CRISPR/Cas systems, but their molecular details have so far only been examined in three archaeal species: Sulfolobus solfataricus, Sulfolobus islandicus, and Pyrococcus furiosus. Here, we analyzed the CRISPR/Cas system of Haloferax volcanii using a plasmid-based invader assay. Haloferax encodes a type I-B CRISPR/Cas system with eight Cas proteins and three CRISPR loci for which the identity of protospacer adjacent motifs (PAMs) was unknown until now. We identified six different PAM sequences that are required upstream of the protospacer to permit target DNA recognition. This is only the second archaeon for which PAM sequences have been determined, and the first CRISPR group with such a high number of PAM sequences. Cells could survive the plasmid challenge if their CRISPR/Cas system was altered or defective, e.g. by deletion of the cas gene cassette. Experimental PAM data were supplemented with bioinformatics data on Haloferax and Haloquadratum.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M112.377002
PMCID: PMC3460438  PMID: 22767603
Archaea; Microbiology; RNA; RNA Metabolism; RNA Processing; CRISPR/Cas; Haloferax volcanii; PAM
6.  A comparative genomics perspective on the genetic content of the alkaliphilic haloarchaeon Natrialba magadii ATCC 43099T 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:165.
Background
Natrialba magadii is an aerobic chemoorganotrophic member of the Euryarchaeota and is a dual extremophile requiring alkaline conditions and hypersalinity for optimal growth. The genome sequence of Nab. magadii type strain ATCC 43099 was deciphered to obtain a comprehensive insight into the genetic content of this haloarchaeon and to understand the basis of some of the cellular functions necessary for its survival.
Results
The genome of Nab. magadii consists of four replicons with a total sequence of 4,443,643 bp and encodes 4,212 putative proteins, some of which contain peptide repeats of various lengths. Comparative genome analyses facilitated the identification of genes encoding putative proteins involved in adaptation to hypersalinity, stress response, glycosylation, and polysaccharide biosynthesis. A proton-driven ATP synthase and a variety of putative cytochromes and other proteins supporting aerobic respiration and electron transfer were encoded by one or more of Nab. magadii replicons. The genome encodes a number of putative proteases/peptidases as well as protein secretion functions. Genes encoding putative transcriptional regulators, basal transcription factors, signal perception/transduction proteins, and chemotaxis/phototaxis proteins were abundant in the genome. Pathways for the biosynthesis of thiamine, riboflavin, heme, cobalamin, coenzyme F420 and other essential co-factors were deduced by in depth sequence analyses. However, approximately 36% of Nab. magadii protein coding genes could not be assigned a function based on Blast analysis and have been annotated as encoding hypothetical or conserved hypothetical proteins. Furthermore, despite extensive comparative genomic analyses, genes necessary for survival in alkaline conditions could not be identified in Nab. magadii.
Conclusions
Based on genomic analyses, Nab. magadii is predicted to be metabolically versatile and it could use different carbon and energy sources to sustain growth. Nab. magadii has the genetic potential to adapt to its milieu by intracellular accumulation of inorganic cations and/or neutral organic compounds. The identification of Nab. magadii genes involved in coenzyme biosynthesis is a necessary step toward further reconstruction of the metabolic pathways in halophilic archaea and other extremophiles. The knowledge gained from the genome sequence of this haloalkaliphilic archaeon is highly valuable in advancing the applications of extremophiles and their enzymes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-165
PMCID: PMC3403918  PMID: 22559199
7.  Haloquadratum walsbyi : Limited Diversity in a Global Pond 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20968.
Background
Haloquadratum walsbyi commonly dominates the microbial flora of hypersaline waters. Its cells are extremely fragile squares requiring >14%(w/v) salt for growth, properties that should limit its dispersal and promote geographical isolation and divergence. To assess this, the genome sequences of two isolates recovered from sites at near maximum distance on Earth, were compared.
Principal Findings
Both chromosomes are 3.1 MB in size, and 84% of each sequence was highly similar to the other (98.6% identity), comprising the core sequence. ORFs of this shared sequence were completely synteneic (conserved in genomic orientation and order), without inversion or rearrangement. Strain-specific insertions/deletions could be precisely mapped, often allowing the genetic events to be inferred. Many inferred deletions were associated with short direct repeats (4–20 bp). Deletion-coupled insertions are frequent, producing different sequences at identical positions. In cases where the inserted and deleted sequences are homologous, this leads to variant genes in a common synteneic background (as already described by others). Cas/CRISPR systems are present in C23T but have been lost in HBSQ001 except for a few spacer remnants. Numerous types of mobile genetic elements occur in both strains, most of which appear to be active, and with some specifically targetting others. Strain C23T carries two ∼6 kb plasmids that show similarity to halovirus His1 and to sequences nearby halovirus/plasmid gene clusters commonly found in haloarchaea.
Conclusions
Deletion-coupled insertions show that Hqr. walsbyi evolves by uptake and precise integration of foreign DNA, probably originating from close relatives. Change is also driven by mobile genetic elements but these do not by themselves explain the atypically low gene coding density found in this species. The remarkable genome conservation despite the presence of active systems for genome rearrangement implies both an efficient global dispersal system, and a high selective fitness for this species.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020968
PMCID: PMC3119063  PMID: 21701686
8.  Mutational and Bioinformatic Analysis of Haloarchaeal Lipobox-Containing Proteins 
Archaea  2010;2010:410975.
A conserved lipid-modified cysteine found in a protein motif commonly referred to as a lipobox mediates the membrane anchoring of a subset of proteins transported across the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane via the Sec pathway. Sequenced haloarchaeal genomes encode many putative lipoproteins and recent studies have confirmed the importance of the conserved lipobox cysteine for signal peptide processing of three lipobox-containing proteins in the model archaeon Haloferax volcanii. We have extended these in vivo analyses to additional Hfx. volcanii substrates, supporting our previous in silico predictions and confirming the diversity of predicted Hfx. volcanii lipoproteins. Moreover, using extensive comparative secretome analyses, we identified genes encodining putative lipoproteins across a wide range of archaeal species. While our in silico analyses, supported by in vivo data, indicate that most haloarchaeal lipoproteins are Tat substrates, these analyses also predict that many crenarchaeal species lack lipoproteins altogether and that other archaea, such as nonhalophilic euryarchaeal species, transport lipoproteins via the Sec pathway. To facilitate the identification of genes that encode potential haloarchaeal Tat-lipoproteins, we have developed TatLipo, a bioinformatic tool designed to detect lipoboxes in haloarchaeal Tat signal peptides. Our results provide a strong foundation for future studies aimed at identifying components of the archaeal lipoprotein biogenesis pathway.
doi:10.1155/2010/410975
PMCID: PMC2945643  PMID: 20886060
9.  Characterization of Growth and Metabolism of the Haloalkaliphile Natronomonas pharaonis 
PLoS Computational Biology  2010;6(6):e1000799.
Natronomonas pharaonis is an archaeon adapted to two extreme conditions: high salt concentration and alkaline pH. It has become one of the model organisms for the study of extremophilic life. Here, we present a genome-scale, manually curated metabolic reconstruction for the microorganism. The reconstruction itself represents a knowledge base of the haloalkaliphile's metabolism and, as such, would greatly assist further investigations on archaeal pathways. In addition, we experimentally determined several parameters relevant to growth, including a characterization of the biomass composition and a quantification of carbon and oxygen consumption. Using the metabolic reconstruction and the experimental data, we formulated a constraints-based model which we used to analyze the behavior of the archaeon when grown on a single carbon source. Results of the analysis include the finding that Natronomonas pharaonis, when grown aerobically on acetate, uses a carbon to oxygen consumption ratio that is theoretically near-optimal with respect to growth and energy production. This supports the hypothesis that, under simple conditions, the microorganism optimizes its metabolism with respect to the two objectives. We also found that the archaeon has a very low carbon efficiency of only about 35%. This inefficiency is probably due to a very low P/O ratio as well as to the other difficulties posed by its extreme environment.
Author Summary
Extremophiles are organisms that thrive in physically or geochemically extreme conditions that are detrimental, even lethal, to the majority of life on Earth. Natronomonas pharaonis is one that has been able to adapt to both high salt concentration and an alkaline pH. In this study, we investigate the chemical reactions that occur within the microorganism, collectively referred to as its metabolic network, that allow it to convert the nutrients in its environment to biomass and energy. Specifically, we reconstructed the network by collecting evidence for the existence of reactions from the literature, and then supplemented them with computational approaches, for example by searching the genome of Natronomonas pharaonis for genes that could potentially encode analogs of known enzymes from other organisms. Finally, with the network in hand, we developed a computational model which we used to simulate growth. Among other results, we found indications that Natronomonas pharaonis regulates its metabolism such that energy production and growth are maximized. Despite this however, we also found that Natronomonas pharaonis is only able to incorporate a very small fraction of the total carbon that it consumes (approximately 35%), likely in no small part due to the difficulties posed by its environment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000799
PMCID: PMC2881530  PMID: 20543878
10.  The Complete Genome Sequence of Haloferax volcanii DS2, a Model Archaeon 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9605.
Background
Haloferax volcanii is an easily culturable moderate halophile that grows on simple defined media, is readily transformable, and has a relatively stable genome. This, in combination with its biochemical and genetic tractability, has made Hfx. volcanii a key model organism, not only for the study of halophilicity, but also for archaeal biology in general.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We report here the sequencing and analysis of the genome of Hfx. volcanii DS2, the type strain of this species. The genome contains a main 2.848 Mb chromosome, three smaller chromosomes pHV1, 3, 4 (85, 438, 636 kb, respectively) and the pHV2 plasmid (6.4 kb).
Conclusions/Significance
The completed genome sequence, presented here, provides an invaluable tool for further in vivo and in vitro studies of Hfx. volcanii.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009605
PMCID: PMC2841640  PMID: 20333302
11.  Systems Analysis of Bioenergetics and Growth of the Extreme Halophile Halobacterium salinarum 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(4):e1000332.
Halobacterium salinarum is a bioenergetically flexible, halophilic microorganism that can generate energy by respiration, photosynthesis, and the fermentation of arginine. In a previous study, using a genome-scale metabolic model, we have shown that the archaeon unexpectedly degrades essential amino acids under aerobic conditions, a behavior that can lead to the termination of growth earlier than necessary. Here, we further integratively investigate energy generation, nutrient utilization, and biomass production using an extended methodology that accounts for dynamically changing transport patterns, including those that arise from interactions among the supplied metabolites. Moreover, we widen the scope of our analysis to include phototrophic conditions to explore the interplay between different bioenergetic modes. Surprisingly, we found that cells also degrade essential amino acids even during phototropy, when energy should already be abundant. We also found that under both conditions considerable amounts of nutrients that were taken up were neither incorporated into the biomass nor used as respiratory substrates, implying the considerable production and accumulation of several metabolites in the medium. Some of these are likely the products of forms of overflow metabolism. In addition, our results also show that arginine fermentation, contrary to what is typically assumed, occurs simultaneously with respiration and photosynthesis and can contribute energy in levels that are comparable to the primary bioenergetic modes, if not more. These findings portray a picture that the organism takes an approach toward growth that favors the here and now, even at the cost of longer-term concerns. We believe that the seemingly “greedy” behavior exhibited actually consists of adaptations by the organism to its natural environments, where nutrients are not only irregularly available but may altogether be absent for extended periods that may span several years. Such a setting probably predisposed the cells to grow as much as possible when the conditions become favorable.
Author Summary
Living cells can produce usable energy through various means. For example, animals derive energy, through respiration, from nutrients that they consume, and plants from light using photosynthesis. The particular microorganism that we study, Halobacterium salinarum, is a model organism for the archaeal domain of life. It is bioenergetically flexible in that it can perform both respiration and photosynthesis and in addition can also derive energy using fermentation. Accordingly, it is a good model system for investigating the interplay between different energy generating mechanisms. In this study, we investigate these relationships as well as how energy production is linked to the other processes involved in growth, including the consumption of nutrients and the production of cellular material. Because Halobacterium salinarum thrives in salt-saturated solutions, such as those that may be found in salt lakes and solar salterns, our study yields insight on how these cellular processes operate in environments that are lethal to most life on Earth.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000332
PMCID: PMC2674319  PMID: 19401785
12.  Genome information management and integrated data analysis with HaloLex 
Archives of Microbiology  2008;190(3):281-299.
HaloLex is a software system for the central management, integration, curation, and web-based visualization of genomic and other -omics data for any given microorganism. The system has been employed for the manual curation of three haloarchaeal genomes, namely Halobacterium salinarum (strain R1), Natronomonas pharaonis, and Haloquadratum walsbyi. HaloLex, in particular, enables the integrated analysis of genome-wide proteomic results with the underlying genomic data. This has proven indispensable to generate reliable gene predictions for GC-rich genomes, which, due to their characteristically low abundance of stop codons, are known to be hard targets for standard gene finders, especially concerning start codon assignment. The proteomic identification of more than 600 N-terminal peptides has greatly increased the reliability of the start codon assignment for Halobacterium salinarum. Application of homology-based methods to the published genome of Haloarcula marismortui allowed to detect 47 previously unidentified genes (a problem that is particularly serious for short protein sequences) and to correct more than 300 start codon misassignments.
doi:10.1007/s00203-008-0389-z
PMCID: PMC2516542  PMID: 18592220
Halophilic archaea; Genome information system; Genome browser; Proteomics; Biological data curation; Start codon assignment; Dinucleotide bias
13.  Metabolism of halophilic archaea 
Extremophiles   2008;12(2):177-196.
In spite of their common hypersaline environment, halophilic archaea are surprisingly different in their nutritional demands and metabolic pathways. The metabolic diversity of halophilic archaea was investigated at the genomic level through systematic metabolic reconstruction and comparative analysis of four completely sequenced species: Halobacterium salinarum, Haloarcula marismortui, Haloquadratum walsbyi, and the haloalkaliphile Natronomonas pharaonis. The comparative study reveals different sets of enzyme genes amongst halophilic archaea, e.g. in glycerol degradation, pentose metabolism, and folate synthesis. The carefully assessed metabolic data represent a reliable resource for future system biology approaches as it also links to current experimental data on (halo)archaea from the literature.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00792-008-0138-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00792-008-0138-x
PMCID: PMC2262144  PMID: 18278431
Metabolism; Archaea; Haloarchaea; Halobacterium salinarum; Pathway database; Metabolic pathways; Enzymes; Comparative genomics
14.  A small protein from the bop–brp intergenic region of Halobacterium salinarum contains a zinc finger motif and regulates bop and crtB1 transcription 
Molecular Microbiology  2008;67(4):772-780.
Bacteriorhodopsin, the photosynthetic protein of Halobacterium salinarum, is optimally expressed under anaerobic growth conditions. We identified Brz (OE3104F, bacteriorhodopsin-regulating zinc finger protein), a new regulator of the bop gene. It is a small protein with a zinc finger motif, encoded directly upstream of the bop gene in the same orientation. Deletion of the brz gene caused a large decrease of bop mRNA levels as shown by Northern blot and microarray analysis. A similar effect was obtained by site-directed mutagenesis of Cys and His residues in the zinc finger motif, indicating the importance of this motif for the function of the protein. In silico analysis of the genomes from H. salinarum and other archaea revealed a large family of similar small zinc finger motif proteins, some of which may also be involved in transcription regulation of their adjacent genes.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2958.2007.06081.x
PMCID: PMC2253796  PMID: 18179416
15.  Microarray Analysis in the Archaeon Halobacterium salinarum Strain R1 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(10):e1064.
Background
Phototrophy of the extremely halophilic archaeon Halobacterium salinarum was explored for decades. The research was mainly focused on the expression of bacteriorhodopsin and its functional properties. In contrast, less is known about genome wide transcriptional changes and their impact on the physiological adaptation to phototrophy. The tool of choice to record transcriptional profiles is the DNA microarray technique. However, the technique is still rarely used for transcriptome analysis in archaea.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We developed a whole-genome DNA microarray based on our sequence data of the Hbt. salinarum strain R1 genome. The potential of our tool is exemplified by the comparison of cells growing under aerobic and phototrophic conditions, respectively. We processed the raw fluorescence data by several stringent filtering steps and a subsequent MAANOVA analysis. The study revealed a lot of transcriptional differences between the two cell states. We found that the transcriptional changes were relatively weak, though significant. Finally, the DNA microarray data were independently verified by a real-time PCR analysis.
Conclusion/Significance
This is the first DNA microarray analysis of Hbt. salinarum cells that were actually grown under phototrophic conditions. By comparing the transcriptomics data with current knowledge we could show that our DNA microarray tool is well applicable for transcriptome analysis in the extremely halophilic archaeon Hbt. salinarum. The reliability of our tool is based on both the high-quality array of DNA probes and the stringent data handling including MAANOVA analysis. Among the regulated genes more than 50% had unknown functions. This underlines the fact that haloarchaeal phototrophy is still far away from being completely understood. Hence, the data recorded in this study will be subject to future systems biology analysis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001064
PMCID: PMC2020435  PMID: 17957248
16.  Autoinducer-2-Producing Protein LuxS, a Novel Salt- and Chloride-Induced Protein in the Moderately Halophilic Bacterium Halobacillus halophilus▿  
The moderately halophilic bacterium Halobacillus halophilus carries a homologue of LuxS, a protein involved in the activated methyl cycle and the production of autoinducer-2, which mediates quorum sensing between certain species. luxS of H. halophilus is part of an operon that encodes an S-adenosylmethionine-dependent methyltransferase, a cysteine synthase, and a β-cystathionine lyase. Expression of luxS was growth phase dependent, with maximal expression in the mid-exponential growth phase. In addition, transcription of luxS was strictly salt dependent; maximal mRNA concentrations were observed with 2.0 M NaCl in the growth medium. Chloride ions stimulated luxS transcription by a factor of three. Western blot analyses demonstrated a growth phase- and salinity-dependent production of LuxS. Moreover, cellular LuxS levels were strictly chloride dependent. Maximal accumulation of LuxS was observed at 0.5 to 1.0 M Cl− and depended on the salinity.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01625-06
PMCID: PMC1796989  PMID: 17085700
17.  Biochemical and Molecular Characterization of the Biosynthesis of Glutamine and Glutamate, Two Major Compatible Solutes in the Moderately Halophilic Bacterium Halobacillus halophilus†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(19):6808-6815.
The moderately halophilic, chloride-dependent bacterium Halobacillus halophilus produces glutamate and glutamine as main compatible solutes at external salinities of 1.0 to 1.5 M NaCl. The routes for the biosynthesis of these solutes and their regulation were examined. The genome contains two genes potentially encoding glutamate dehydrogenases and two genes for the small subunit of a glutamate synthase, but only one gene for the large subunit. However, the expression of these genes was not salt dependent, nor were the corresponding enzymatic activities detectable in cell extracts of cells grown at different salinities. In contrast, glutamine synthetase activity was readily detectable in H. halophilus. Induction of glutamine synthetase activity was strictly salt dependent and reached a maximum at 3.0 M NaCl; chloride stimulated the production of active enzyme by about 300%. Two potential genes encoding a glutamine synthetase, glnA1 and glnA2, were identified. The expression of glnA2 but not of glnA1 was increased up to fourfold in cells adapted to high salt, indicating that GlnA2 is the glutamine synthetase involved in the synthesis of the solutes glutamate and glutamine. Furthermore, expression of glnA2 was stimulated twofold by the presence of chloride ions. Chloride exerted an even more pronounced effect on the enzymatic activity of preformed enzyme: in the absence of chloride in the assay buffer, glutamine synthetase activity was decreased by as much as 90%. These data demonstrate for the first time a regulatory role of a component of common salt, chloride, in the biosynthesis of compatible solutes.
doi:10.1128/JB.00781-06
PMCID: PMC1595520  PMID: 16980483
18.  The genome of the square archaeon Haloquadratum walsbyi : life at the limits of water activity 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:169.
Background
The square halophilic archaeon Haloquadratum walsbyi dominates NaCl-saturated and MgCl2 enriched aquatic ecosystems, which imposes a serious desiccation stress, caused by the extremely low water activity. The genome sequence was analyzed and physiological and physical experiments were carried out in order to reveal how H. walsbyi has specialized into its narrow and hostile ecological niche and found ways to cope with the desiccation stress.
Results
A rich repertoire of proteins involved in phosphate metabolism, phototrophic growth and extracellular protective polymers, including the largest archaeal protein (9159 amino acids), a homolog to eukaryotic mucins, are amongst the most outstanding features. A relatively low GC content (47.9%), 15–20% less than in other halophilic archaea, and one of the lowest coding densities (76.5%) known for prokaryotes might be an indication for the specialization in its unique environment
Conclusion
Although no direct genetic indication was found that can explain how this peculiar organism retains its square shape, the genome revealed several unique adaptive traits that allow this organism to thrive in its specific and extreme niche.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-169
PMCID: PMC1544339  PMID: 16820047
19.  Protein Information Resource: a community resource for expert annotation of protein data 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(1):29-32.
The Protein Information Resource, in collaboration with the Munich Information Center for Protein Sequences (MIPS) and the Japan International Protein Information Database (JIPID), produces the most comprehensive and expertly annotated protein sequence database in the public domain, the PIR-International Protein Sequence Database. To provide timely and high quality annotation and promote database interoperability, the PIR-International employs rule-based and classification-driven procedures based on controlled vocabulary and standard nomenclature and includes status tags to distinguish experimentally determined from predicted protein features. The database contains about 200 000 non-redundant protein sequences, which are classified into families and superfamilies and their domains and motifs identified. Entries are extensively cross-referenced to other sequence, classification, genome, structure and activity databases. The PIR web site features search engines that use sequence similarity and database annotation to facilitate the analysis and functional identification of proteins. The PIR-Inter­national databases and search tools are accessible on the PIR web site at http://pir.georgetown.edu/ and at the MIPS web site at http://www.mips.biochem.mpg.de. The PIR-International Protein Sequence Database and other files are also available by FTP.
PMCID: PMC29802  PMID: 11125041
20.  The Protein Information Resource (PIR) 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(1):41-44.
The Protein Information Resource (PIR) produces the largest, most comprehensive, annotated protein sequence database in the public domain, the PIR-International Protein Sequence Database, in collaboration with the Munich Information Center for Protein Sequences (MIPS) and the Japan International Protein Sequence Database (JIPID). The expanded PIR WWW site allows sequence similarity and text searching of the Protein Sequence Database and auxiliary databases. Several new web-based search engines combine searches of sequence similarity and database annotation to facilitate the analysis and functional identification of proteins. New capabilities for searching the PIR sequence databases include annotation-sorted search, domain search, combined global and domain search, and interactive text searches. The PIR-International databases and search tools are accessible on the PIR WWW site at http://pir.georgetown.edu and at the MIPS WWW site at http://www.mips.biochem.mpg.de . The PIR-International Protein Sequence Database and other files are also available by FTP.
PMCID: PMC102418  PMID: 10592177
21.  A blueprint of ectoine metabolism from the genome of the industrial producer Halomonas elongata DSM 2581T 
Environmental Microbiology  2011;13(8):1973-1994.
The halophilic γ-proteobacterium Halomonas elongata DSM 2581T thrives at high salinity by synthesizing and accumulating the compatible solute ectoine. Ectoine levels are highly regulated according to external salt levels but the overall picture of its metabolism and control is not well understood. Apart from its critical role in cell adaptation to halophilic environments, ectoine can be used as a stabilizer for enzymes and as a cell protectant in skin and health care applications and is thus produced annually on a scale of tons in an industrial process using H. elongata as producer strain. This paper presents the complete genome sequence of H. elongata (4 061 296 bp) and includes experiments and analysis identifying and characterizing the entire ectoine metabolism, including a newly discovered pathway for ectoine degradation and its cyclic connection to ectoine synthesis. The degradation of ectoine (doe) proceeds via hydrolysis of ectoine (DoeA) to Nα-acetyl-l-2,4-diaminobutyric acid, followed by deacetylation to diaminobutyric acid (DoeB). In H. elongata, diaminobutyric acid can either flow off to aspartate or re-enter the ectoine synthesis pathway, forming a cycle of ectoine synthesis and degradation. Genome comparison revealed that the ectoine degradation pathway exists predominantly in non-halophilic bacteria unable to synthesize ectoine. Based on the resulting genetic and biochemical data, a metabolic flux model of ectoine metabolism was derived that can be used to understand the way H. elongata survives under varying salt stresses and that provides a basis for a model-driven improvement of industrial ectoine production.
doi:10.1111/j.1462-2920.2010.02336.x
PMCID: PMC3187862  PMID: 20849449

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