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1.  Short RNA half-lives in the slow-growing marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus 
Genome Biology  2010;11(5):R54.
Background
RNA turnover plays an important role in the gene regulation of microorganisms and influences their speed of acclimation to environmental changes. We investigated whole-genome RNA stability of Prochlorococcus, a relatively slow-growing marine cyanobacterium doubling approximately once a day, which is extremely abundant in the oceans.
Results
Using a combination of microarrays, quantitative RT-PCR and a new fitting method for determining RNA decay rates, we found a median half-life of 2.4 minutes and a median decay rate of 2.6 minutes for expressed genes - twofold faster than that reported for any organism. The shortest transcript half-life (33 seconds) was for a gene of unknown function, while some of the longest (approximately 18 minutes) were for genes with high transcript levels. Genes organized in operons displayed intriguing mRNA decay patterns, such as increased stability, and delayed onset of decay with greater distance from the transcriptional start site. The same phenomenon was observed on a single probe resolution for genes greater than 2 kb.
Conclusions
We hypothesize that the fast turnover relative to the slow generation time in Prochlorococcus may enable a swift response to environmental changes through rapid recycling of nucleotides, which could be advantageous in nutrient poor oceans. Our growing understanding of RNA half-lives will help us interpret the growing bank of metatranscriptomic studies of wild populations of Prochlorococcus. The surprisingly complex decay patterns of large transcripts reported here, and the method developed to describe them, will open new avenues for the investigation and understanding of RNA decay for all organisms.
doi:10.1186/gb-2010-11-5-r54
PMCID: PMC2897979  PMID: 20482874
2.  Choreography of the Transcriptome, Photophysiology, and Cell Cycle of a Minimal Photoautotroph, Prochlorococcus 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5135.
The marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus MED4 has the smallest genome and cell size of all known photosynthetic organisms. Like all phototrophs at temperate latitudes, it experiences predictable daily variation in available light energy which leads to temporal regulation and partitioning of key cellular processes. To better understand the tempo and choreography of this minimal phototroph, we studied the entire transcriptome of the cell over a simulated daily light-dark cycle, and placed it in the context of diagnostic physiological and cell cycle parameters. All cells in the culture progressed through their cell cycles in synchrony, thus ensuring that our measurements reflected the behavior of individual cells. Ninety percent of the annotated genes were expressed, and 80% had cyclic expression over the diel cycle. For most genes, expression peaked near sunrise or sunset, although more subtle phasing of gene expression was also evident. Periodicities of the transcripts of genes involved in physiological processes such as in cell cycle progression, photosynthesis, and phosphorus metabolism tracked the timing of these activities relative to the light-dark cycle. Furthermore, the transitions between photosynthesis during the day and catabolic consumption of energy reserves at night— metabolic processes that share some of the same enzymes — appear to be tightly choreographed at the level of RNA expression. In-depth investigation of these patterns identified potential regulatory proteins involved in balancing these opposing pathways. Finally, while this analysis has not helped resolve how a cell with so little regulatory capacity, and a ‘deficient’ circadian mechanism, aligns its cell cycle and metabolism so tightly to a light-dark cycle, it does provide us with a valuable framework upon which to build when the Prochlorococcus proteome and metabolome become available.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005135
PMCID: PMC2663038  PMID: 19352512
3.  FGF-23–Klotho signaling stimulates proliferation and prevents vitamin D–induced apoptosis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2008;182(3):459-465.
Fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF-23) and Klotho are secretory proteins that regulate mineral-ion metabolism. Fgf-23−/− or Klotho−/− knockout mice exhibit several pathophysiological processes consistent with premature aging including severe atrophy of tissues. We show that the signal transduction pathways initiated by FGF-23–Klotho prevent tissue atrophy by stimulating proliferation and preventing apoptosis caused by excessive systemic vitamin D. Because serum levels of active vitamin D are greatly increased upon genetic ablation of Fgf-23 or Klotho, we find that these molecules have a dual role in suppression of apoptotic actions of vitamin D through both negative regulation of 1α-hydroxylase expression and phosphoinositide-3 kinase–dependent inhibition of caspase activity. These data provide new insights into the physiological roles of FGF-23 and Klotho.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200803024
PMCID: PMC2500132  PMID: 18678710
4.  Genome-Wide Analysis of Light Sensing in Prochlorococcus▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(22):7796-7806.
Prochlorococcus MED4 has, with a total of only 1,716 annotated protein-coding genes, the most compact genome of a free-living photoautotroph. Although light quality and quantity play an important role in regulating the growth rate of this organism in its natural habitat, the majority of known light-sensing proteins are absent from its genome. To explore the potential for light sensing in this phototroph, we measured its global gene expression pattern in response to different light qualities and quantities by using high-density Affymetrix microarrays. Though seven different conditions were tested, only blue light elicited a strong response. In addition, hierarchical clustering revealed that the responses to high white light and blue light were very similar and different from that of the lower-intensity white light, suggesting that the actual sensing of high light is mediated via a blue-light receptor. Bacterial cryptochromes seem to be good candidates for the blue-light sensors. The existence of a signaling pathway for the redox state of the photosynthetic electron transport chain was suggested by the presence of genes that responded similarly to red and blue light as well as genes that responded to the addition of DCMU [3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-N-N′-dimethylurea], a specific inhibitor of photosystem II-mediated electron transport.
doi:10.1128/JB.01097-06
PMCID: PMC1636322  PMID: 16980454
5.  Global gene expression of Prochlorococcus ecotypes in response to changes in nitrogen availability 
Nitrogen (N) often limits biological productivity in the oceanic gyres where Prochlorococcus is the most abundant photosynthetic organism. The Prochlorococcus community is composed of strains, such as MED4 and MIT9313, that have different N utilization capabilities and that belong to ecotypes with different depth distributions. An interstrain comparison of how Prochlorococcus responds to changes in ambient nitrogen is thus central to understanding its ecology. We quantified changes in MED4 and MIT9313 global mRNA expression, chlorophyll fluorescence, and photosystem II photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) along a time series of increasing N starvation. In addition, the global expression of both strains growing in ammonium-replete medium was compared to expression during growth on alternative N sources. There were interstrain similarities in N regulation such as the activation of a putative NtcA regulon during N stress. There were also important differences between the strains such as in the expression patterns of carbon metabolism genes, suggesting that the two strains integrate N and C metabolism in fundamentally different ways.
doi:10.1038/msb4100087
PMCID: PMC1682016  PMID: 17016519
cyanobacteria; interstrain; nitrogen; Prochlorococcus; transcription

Results 1-5 (5)