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1.  Versatile Transformation System That Is Applicable to both Multiple Transgene Expression and Gene Targeting for Thraustochytrids 
A versatile transformation system for thraustochytrids, a promising producer for polyunsaturated fatty acids and fatty acid-derived fuels, was established. G418, hygromycin B, blasticidin, and zeocin inhibited the growth of thraustochytrids, indicating that multiple selectable marker genes could be used in the transformation system. A neomycin resistance gene (neor), driven with an ubiquitin or an EF-1α promoter-terminator from Thraustochytrium aureum ATCC 34304, was introduced into representatives of two thraustochytrid genera, Aurantiochytrium and Thraustochytrium. The neor marker was integrated into the chromosomal DNA by random recombination and then functionally translated into neor mRNA. Additionally, we confirmed that another two genera, Parietichytrium and Schizochytrium, could be transformed by the same method. By this method, the enhanced green fluorescent protein was functionally expressed in thraustochytrids. Meanwhile, T. aureum ATCC 34304 could be transformed by two 18S ribosomal DNA-targeting vectors, designed to cause single- or double-crossover homologous recombination. Finally, the fatty acid Δ5 desaturase gene was disrupted by double-crossover homologous recombination in T. aureum ATCC 34304, resulting in an increase of dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (C20:3n-6) and eicosatetraenoic acid (C20:4n-3), substrates for Δ5 desaturase, and a decrease of arachidonic acid (C20:4n-6) and eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5n-3), products for the enzyme. These results clearly indicate that a versatile transformation system which could be applicable to both multiple transgene expression and gene targeting was established for thraustochytrids.
doi:10.1128/AEM.07129-11
PMCID: PMC3346472  PMID: 22344656
2.  Increase of Eicosapentaenoic Acid in Thraustochytrids through Thraustochytrid Ubiquitin Promoter-Driven Expression of a Fatty Acid Δ5 Desaturase Gene▿† 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(11):3870-3876.
Thraustochytrids, marine protists known to accumulate polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in lipid droplets, are considered an alternative to fish oils as a source of PUFAs. The major fatty acids produced in thraustochytrids are palmitic acid (C16:0), n − 6 docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) (C22:5n − 6), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (C22:6n − 3), with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (C20:5n − 3) and arachidonic acid (AA) (C20:4n − 6) as minor constituents. We attempted here to alter the fatty acid composition of thraustochytrids through the expression of a fatty acid Δ5 desaturase gene driven by the thraustochytrid ubiquitin promoter. The gene was functionally expressed in Aurantiochytrium limacinum mh0186, increasing the amount of EPA converted from eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA) (C20:4n − 3) by the Δ5 desaturase. The levels of EPA and AA were also increased by 4.6- and 13.2-fold in the transgenic thraustochytrids compared to levels in the mock transfectants when ETA and dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA) (C20:3n − 6) were added to the culture at 0.1 mM. Interestingly, the amount of EPA in the transgenic thraustochytrids increased in proportion to the amount of ETA added to the culture up to 0.4 mM. The rates of conversion and accumulation of EPA were much higher in the thraustochytrids than in baker's yeasts when the desaturase gene was expressed with the respective promoters. This report describes for the first time the finding that an increase of EPA could be accomplished by introducing the Δ5 desaturase gene into thraustochytrids and indicates that molecular breeding of thraustochytrids is a promising strategy for generating beneficial PUFAs.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02664-10
PMCID: PMC3127612  PMID: 21478316
3.  Molecular Cloning and Expression of Mn2+-Dependent Sphingomyelinase/Hemolysin of an Aquatic Bacterium, Pseudomonas sp. Strain TK4 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(2):540-546.
We report here the molecular cloning and expression of a hemolytic sphingomyelinase from an aquatic bacterium, Pseudomonas sp. strain TK4. The sphingomyelinase gene was found to consist of 1,548 nucleotides encoding 516 amino acid residues. The recombinant 57.7-kDa enzyme hydrolyzed sphingomyelin but not phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidic acid, or phosphatidylethanolamine, indicating that the enzyme is a sphingomyelin-specific sphingomyelinase C. The hydrolysis of sphingomyelin by the enzyme was found to be most efficient at pH 8.0 and activated by Mn2+. The enzyme shows quite a broad specificity, i.e., it hydrolyzed 4-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazole (NBD)-sphingomyelin with short-chain fatty acids and NBD-sphingosylphosphorylcholine, the latter being completely resistant to hydrolysis by any sphingomyelinase reported so far. Significant sequence similarities were found in sphingomyelinases from Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria ivanovii, and Leptospira interrogans, as well as a hypothetical protein encoded in Chromobacterium violaceum, although the first three lacked one-third of the sequence corresponding to that from the C terminus of the TK4 enzyme. Interestingly, the deletion mutant of strain TK4 lacking 186 amino acids at the C-terminal end hydrolyzed sphingomyelin, whereas it lost all hemolytic activity, indicating that the C-terminal region of the TK4 enzyme is indispensable for the hemolytic activity.
doi:10.1128/JB.184.2.540-546.2002
PMCID: PMC139580  PMID: 11751833

Results 1-3 (3)