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1.  Adaptation of the Black Yeast Wangiella dermatitidis to Ionizing Radiation: Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48674.
Observations of enhanced growth of melanized fungi under low-dose ionizing radiation in the laboratory and in the damaged Chernobyl nuclear reactor suggest they have adapted the ability to survive or even benefit from exposure to ionizing radiation. However, the cellular and molecular mechanism of fungal responses to such radiation remains poorly understood. Using the black yeast Wangiella dermatitidis as a model, we confirmed that ionizing radiation enhanced cell growth by increasing cell division and cell size. Using RNA-seq technology, we compared the transcriptomic profiles of the wild type and the melanin-deficient wdpks1 mutant under irradiation and non-irradiation conditions. It was found that more than 3000 genes were differentially expressed when these two strains were constantly exposed to a low dose of ionizing radiation and that half were regulated at least two fold in either direction. Functional analysis indicated that many genes for amino acid and carbohydrate metabolism and cell cycle progression were down-regulated and that a number of antioxidant genes and genes affecting membrane fluidity were up-regulated in both irradiated strains. However, the expression of ribosomal biogenesis genes was significantly up-regulated in the irradiated wild-type strain but not in the irradiated wdpks1 mutant, implying that melanin might help to contribute radiation energy for protein translation. Furthermore, we demonstrated that long-term exposure to low doses of radiation significantly increased survivability of both the wild-type and the wdpks1 mutant, which was correlated with reduced levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), increased production of carotenoid and induced expression of genes encoding translesion DNA synthesis. Our results represent the first functional genomic study of how melanized fungal cells respond to low dose ionizing radiation and provide clues for the identification of biological processes, molecular pathways and individual genes regulated by radiation.
PMCID: PMC3490873  PMID: 23139812
2.  Function and Regulation of Vibrio campbellii Proteorhodopsin: Acquired Phototrophy in a Classical Organoheterotroph 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38749.
Proteorhodopsins (PRs) are retinal-binding photoproteins that mediate light-driven proton translocation across prokaryotic cell membranes. Despite their abundance, wide distribution and contribution to the bioenergy budget of the marine photic zone, an understanding of PR function and physiological significance in situ has been hampered as the vast majority of PRs studied to date are from unculturable bacteria or culturable species that lack the tools for genetic manipulation. In this study, we describe the presence and function of a horizontally acquired PR and retinal biosynthesis gene cluster in the culturable and genetically tractable bioluminescent marine bacterium Vibrio campbellii. Pigmentation analysis, absorption spectroscopy and photoinduction assays using a heterologous over-expression system established the V. campbellii PR as a functional green light absorbing proton pump. In situ analyses comparing PR expression and function in wild type (WT) V. campbellii with an isogenic ΔpR deletion mutant revealed a marked absence of PR membrane localization, pigmentation and light-induced proton pumping in the ΔpR mutant. Comparative photoinduction assays demonstrated the distinct upregulation of pR expression in the presence of light and PR-mediated photophosphorylation in WT cells that resulted in the enhancement of cellular survival during respiratory stress. In addition, we demonstrate that the master regulator of adaptive stress response and stationary phase, RpoS1, positively regulates pR expression and PR holoprotein pigmentation. Taken together, the results demonstrate facultative phototrophy in a classical marine organoheterotrophic Vibrio species and provide a salient example of how this organism has exploited lateral gene transfer to further its adaptation to the photic zone.
PMCID: PMC3380642  PMID: 22741028
3.  Proteomic Analysis and Identification of the Structural and Regulatory Proteins of the Rhodobacter capsulatus Gene Transfer Agent 
Journal of proteome research  2009;8(2):967-973.
The gene transfer agent of Rhodobacter capsulatus (GTA) is a unique phage-like particle that exchanges genetic information between members of this same species of bacterium. Besides being an excellent tool for genetic mapping, the GTA has a number of advantages for biotechnological and nanoengineering purposes. To facilitate the GTA purification and identify the proteins involved in GTA expression, assembly and regulation, in the present work we construct and transform into R. capsulatus Y262 a gene coding for a C-terminally His-tagged capsid protein. The constructed protein was expressed in the cells, assembled into chimeric GTA particles inside the cells and excreted from the cells into surrounding medium. Transmission electron micrographs of phosphotungstate-stained, NiNTA-purified chimeric GTA confirm that its structure is similar to normal GTA particles, with many particles composed both of a head and a tail. The mass spectrometric proteomic analysis of polypeptides present in the GTA recovered outside the cells shows that GTA is composed of at least 9 proteins represented in the GTA gene cluster including proteins coded for by Orf’s 3, 5, 6–9, 11, 13, and 15.
PMCID: PMC2850816  PMID: 19105630
Gene transfer agent; Rhodobacter capsulatus; proteome

Results 1-3 (3)