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author:("alba, Juan P.")
1.  Understanding the antimicrobial mechanism of TiO2-based nanocomposite films in a pathogenic bacterium 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4134.
Titania (TiO2)-based nanocomposites subjected to light excitation are remarkably effective in eliciting microbial death. However, the mechanism by which these materials induce microbial death and the effects that they have on microbes are poorly understood. Here, we assess the low dose radical-mediated TiO2 photocatalytic action of such nanocomposites and evaluate the genome/proteome-wide expression profiles of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 cells after two minutes of intervention. The results indicate that the impact on the gene-wide flux distribution and metabolism is moderate in the analysed time span. Rather, the photocatalytic action triggers the decreased expression of a large array of genes/proteins specific for regulatory, signalling and growth functions in parallel with subsequent selective effects on ion homeostasis, coenzyme-independent respiration and cell wall structure. The present work provides the first solid foundation for the biocidal action of titania and may have an impact on the design of highly active photobiocidal nanomaterials.
PMCID: PMC3928576  PMID: 24549289
2.  Biochemical Characterization of Hypothetical Proteins from Helicobacter pylori 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66605.
The functional characterization of Open Reading Frames (ORFs) from sequenced genomes remains a bottleneck in our effort to understand microbial biology. In particular, the functional characterization of proteins with only remote sequence homology to known proteins can be challenging, as there may be few clues to guide initial experiments. Affinity enrichment of proteins from cell lysates, and a global perspective of protein function as provided by COMBREX, affords an approach to this problem. We present here the biochemical analysis of six proteins from Helicobacter pylori ATCC 26695, a focus organism in COMBREX. Initial hypotheses were based upon affinity capture of proteins from total cellular lysate using derivatized nano-particles, and subsequent identification by mass spectrometry. Candidate genes encoding these proteins were cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli, and the recombinant proteins were purified and characterized biochemically and their biochemical parameters compared with the native ones. These proteins include a guanosine triphosphate (GTP) cyclohydrolase (HP0959), an ATPase (HP1079), an adenosine deaminase (HP0267), a phosphodiesterase (HP1042), an aminopeptidase (HP1037), and new substrates were characterized for a peptidoglycan deacetylase (HP0310). Generally, characterized enzymes were active at acidic to neutral pH (4.0–7.5) with temperature optima ranging from 35 to 55°C, although some exhibited outstanding characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3688963  PMID: 23825549
3.  iAnn: an event sharing platform for the life sciences 
Bioinformatics  2013;29(15):1919-1921.
Summary: We present iAnn, an open source community-driven platform for dissemination of life science events, such as courses, conferences and workshops. iAnn allows automatic visualisation and integration of customised event reports. A central repository lies at the core of the platform: curators add submitted events, and these are subsequently accessed via web services. Thus, once an iAnn widget is incorporated into a website, it permanently shows timely relevant information as if it were native to the remote site. At the same time, announcements submitted to the repository are automatically disseminated to all portals that query the system. To facilitate the visualization of announcements, iAnn provides powerful filtering options and views, integrated in Google Maps and Google Calendar. All iAnn widgets are freely available.
PMCID: PMC3712218  PMID: 23742982
4.  Growth of Acidithiobacillus Ferrooxidans ATCC 23270 in Thiosulfate Under Oxygen-Limiting Conditions Generates Extracellular Sulfur Globules by Means of a Secreted Tetrathionate Hydrolase 
Production of sulfur globules during sulfide or thiosulfate oxidation is a characteristic feature of some sulfur bacteria. Although their generation has been reported in Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, its mechanism of formation and deposition, as well as the physiological significance of these globules during sulfur compounds oxidation, are currently unknown. Under oxygen-sufficient conditions (OSC), A. ferrooxidans oxidizes thiosulfate to tetrathionate, which accumulates in the culture medium. Tetrathionate is then oxidized by a tetrathionate hydrolase (TTH) generating thiosulfate, elemental sulfur, and sulfate as final products. We report here a massive production of extracellular conspicuous sulfur globules in thiosulfate-grown A. ferrooxidans cultures shifted to oxygen-limiting conditions (OLC). Concomitantly with sulfur globule deposition, the extracellular concentration of tetrathionate greatly diminished and sulfite accumulated in the culture supernatant. A. ferrooxidans cellular TTH activity was negligible in OLC-incubated cells, indicating that this enzymatic activity was not responsible for tetrathionate disappearance. On the other hand, supernatants from both OSC- and OLC-incubated cells showed extracellular TTH activity, which most likely accounted for tetrathionate consumption in the culture medium. The extracellular TTH activity described here: (i) gives experimental support to the TTH-driven model for hydrophilic sulfur globule generation, (ii) explains the extracellular location of A. ferrooxidans sulfur deposits, and (iii) strongly suggests that the generation of sulfur globules in A. ferrooxidans corresponds to an early step during its adaptation to an anaerobic lifestyle.
PMCID: PMC3153044  PMID: 21833324
Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans; sulfur globules; extracellular tetrathionate hydrolase; thiosulfate oxidation
5.  NMR characterisation of the minimal interacting regions of centrosomal proteins 4.1R and NuMA1: effect of phosphorylation 
BMC Biochemistry  2010;11:7.
Some functions of 4.1R in non-erythroid cells are directly related with its distinct sub-cellular localisation during cell cycle phases. During mitosis, 4.1R is implicated in cell cycle progression and spindle pole formation, and co-localizes with NuMA1. However, during interphase 4.1R is located in the nucleus and only partially co-localizes with NuMA1.
We have characterized by NMR the structural features of the C-terminal domain of 4.1R and those of the minimal region (the last 64 residues) involved in the interaction with NuMA1. This subdomain behaves as an intrinsically unfolded protein containing a central region with helical tendency. The specific residues implicated in the interaction with NuMA1 have been mapped by NMR titrations and involve the N-terminal and central helical regions. The segment of NuMA1 that interacts with 4.1R is phosphorylated during mitosis. Interestingly, NMR data indicates that the phosphorylation of NuMA1 interacting peptide provokes a change in the interaction mechanism. In this case, the recognition occurs through the central helical region as well as through the C-terminal region of the subdomain meanwhile the N-terminal region do not interact.
These changes in the interaction derived from the phosphorylation state of NuMA1 suggest that phosphorylation can act as subtle mechanism of temporal and spatial regulation of the complex 4.1R-NuMA1 and therefore of the processes where both proteins play a role.
PMCID: PMC2834593  PMID: 20109190
6.  New structural and functional defects in polyphosphate deficient bacteria: A cellular and proteomic study 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:7.
Inorganic polyphosphate (polyP), a polymer of tens or hundreds of phosphate residues linked by ATP-like bonds, is found in all organisms and performs a wide variety of functions. PolyP is synthesized in bacterial cells by the actions of polyphosphate kinases (PPK1 and PPK2) and degraded by exopolyphosphatase (PPX). Bacterial cells with polyP deficiencies due to knocking out the ppk1 gene are affected in many structural and important cellular functions such as motility, quorum sensing, biofilm formation and virulence among others. The cause of this pleiotropy is not entirely understood.
The overexpression of exopolyphosphatase in bacteria mimicked some pleitropic defects found in ppk1 mutants. By using this approach we found new structural and functional defects in the polyP-accumulating bacteria Pseudomonas sp. B4, which are most likely due to differences in the polyP-removal strategy. Colony morphology phenotype, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) structure changes and cellular division malfunction were observed. Finally, we used comparative proteomics in order to elucidate the cellular adjustments that occurred during polyP deficiency in this bacterium and found some clues that helped to understand the structural and functional defects observed.
The results obtained suggest that during polyP deficiency energy metabolism and particularly nucleoside triphosphate (NTP) formation were affected and that bacterial cells overcame this problem by increasing the flux of energy-generating metabolic pathways such as tricarboxilic acid (TCA) cycle, β-oxidation and oxidative phosphorylation and by reducing energy-consuming ones such as active transporters and amino acid biosynthesis. Furthermore, our results suggest that a general stress response also took place in the cell during polyP deficiency.
PMCID: PMC2817675  PMID: 20067623
7.  Overexpression of the Multidrug Efflux Pumps MexCD-OprJ and MexEF-OprN Is Associated with a Reduction of Type III Secretion in Pseudomonas aeruginosa 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(4):1384-1391.
The Pseudomonas aeruginosa genome contains several different multidrug resistance (MDR) efflux pumps. Overproduction of these pumps reduces susceptibility to a variety of antibiotics. Some recently published works have analyzed the effect of the overproduction of MDR efflux pumps on bacterial virulence. Here we have studied the effect of overproduction of the efflux pumps MexAB-OprM, MexCD-OprJ, MexEF-OprN, and MexXY on type III secretion (T3S) in P. aeruginosa. The type III secretion system (T3SS) is used by P. aeruginosa to deliver toxins directly into the cytoplasm of the host cell. Our data indicate that overexpression of either MexCD-OprJ or MexEF-OprN is associated with the impairment of T3S in P. aeruginosa. No effect on overexpression of either MexAB-OprM or MexXY was detected. The observed defect in T3S was due to a lack of expression of genes belonging to the T3SS regulon. Transcription of this regulon is activated by ExsA in response to environmental signals. Overexpression of this transcriptional regulator complemented the defect in T3S observed in the MexCD-OprJ- and MexEF-OprN-overproducing strains. Taken together, these results suggest that overproduction of either MexCD-OprJ or MexEF-OprN is associated with a reduction in the transcription of the T3SS regulon due to the lack of expression of the exsA gene, encoding the master regulator of the system. The relevance of potential metabolic and quorum-sensing imbalances due to overexpression of MDR pumps associated with this phenotype is also discussed.
PMCID: PMC545608  PMID: 15687203
8.  MAL2, a novel raft protein of the MAL family, is an essential component of the machinery for transcytosis in hepatoma HepG2 cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2002;159(1):37-44.
Transcytosis is used alone (e.g., hepatoma HepG2 cells) or in combination with a direct pathway from the Golgi (e.g., epithelial MDCK cells) as an indirect route for targeting proteins to the apical surface. The raft-associated MAL protein is an essential element of the machinery for the direct route in MDCK cells. Herein, we present the functional characterization of MAL2, a member of the MAL protein family, in polarized HepG2 cells. MAL2 resided selectively in rafts and is predominantly distributed in a compartment localized beneath the subapical F-actin cytoskeleton. MAL2 greatly colocalized in subapical endosome structures with transcytosing molecules en route to the apical surface. Depletion of endogenous MAL2 drastically blocked transcytotic transport of exogenous polymeric immunoglobulin receptor and endogenous glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein CD59 to the apical membrane. MAL2 depletion did not affect the internalization of these molecules but produced their accumulation in perinuclear endosome elements that were accessible to transferrin. Normal transcytosis persisted in cells that expressed exogenous MAL2 designed to resist the depletion treatment. MAL2 is therefore essential for transcytosis in HepG2 cells.
PMCID: PMC2173496  PMID: 12370246
hepatocytes; transcytosis; lipid rafts; MAL family; polarized transport
9.  The MAL Proteolipid Is Necessary for Normal Apical Transport and Accurate Sorting of the Influenza Virus Hemagglutinin in Madin-Darby Canine Kidney Cells  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1999;145(1):141-151.
The MAL (MAL/VIP17) proteolipid is a nonglycosylated integral membrane protein expressed in a restricted pattern of cell types, including T lymphocytes, myelin-forming cells, and polarized epithelial cells. Transport of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) to the apical surface of epithelial Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells appears to be mediated by a pathway involving glycolipid- and cholesterol- enriched membranes (GEMs). In MDCK cells, MAL has been proposed previously as being an element of the protein machinery for the GEM-dependent apical transport pathway. Using an antisense oligonucleotide-based strategy and a newly generated monoclonal antibody to canine MAL, herein we have approached the effect of MAL depletion on HA transport in MDCK cells. We have found that MAL depletion diminishes the presence of HA in GEMs, reduces the rate of HA transport to the cell surface, inhibits the delivery of HA to the apical surface, and produces partial missorting of HA to the basolateral membrane. These effects were corrected by ectopic expression of MAL in MDCK cells whose endogenous MAL protein was depleted. Our results indicate that MAL is necessary for both normal apical transport and accurate sorting of HA.
PMCID: PMC2148211  PMID: 10189374
apical transport; glycolipid-enriched membranes; sorting; Madin-Darby canine kidney cells; proteolipids
10.  Identification of a Late Stage of Small Noncycling pTα−  Pre-T Cells as Immediate Precursors of T Cell Receptor α/β+  Thymocytes  
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1998;188(8):1401-1412.
During thymocyte development, progression from T cell receptor (TCR)β to TCRα rearrangement is mediated by a CD3-associated pre-TCR composed of the TCRβ chain paired with pre-TCRα (pTα). A major issue is how surface expression of the pre-TCR is regulated during normal thymocyte development to control transition through this checkpoint. Here, we show that developmental expression of pTα is time- and stage-specific, and is confined in vivo to a limited subset of large cycling human pre-T cells that coexpress low density CD3. This restricted expression pattern allowed the identification of a novel subset of small CD3− thymocytes lacking surface pTα, but expressing cytoplasmic TCRβ, that represent late noncycling pre-T cells in which recombination activating gene reexpression and downregulation of T early α transcription are coincident events associated with cell cycle arrest, and immediately preceding TCRα gene expression. Importantly, thymocytes at this late pre-T cell stage are shown to be functional intermediates between large pTα+ pre-T cells and TCRα/β+ thymocytes. The results support a developmental model in which pre-TCR–expressing pre-T cells are brought into cycle, rapidly downregulate surface pre-TCR, and finally become small resting pre-T cells, before the onset of TCRα gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2213418  PMID: 9782117
pre-T cells; pTα; noncycling; recombination activating gene; T early α
11.  The Coordinated Action of CC Chemokines in the Lung Orchestrates Allergic Inflammation and Airway Hyperresponsiveness  
The complex pathophysiology of lung allergic inflammation and bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) that characterize asthma is achieved by the regulated accumulation and activation of different leukocyte subsets in the lung. The development and maintenance of these processes correlate with the coordinated production of chemokines. Here, we have assessed the role that different chemokines play in lung allergic inflammation and BHR by blocking their activities in vivo. Our results show that blockage of each one of these chemokines reduces both lung leukocyte infiltration and BHR in a substantially different way. Thus, eotaxin neutralization reduces specifically BHR and lung eosinophilia transiently after each antigen exposure. Monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-5 neutralization abolishes BHR not by affecting the accumulation of inflammatory leukocytes in the airways, but rather by altering the trafficking of the eosinophils and other leukocytes through the lung interstitium. Neutralization of RANTES (regulated upon activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted) receptor(s) with a receptor antagonist decreases significantly lymphocyte and eosinophil infiltration as well as mRNA expression of eotaxin and RANTES. In contrast, neutralization of one of the ligands for RANTES receptors, macrophage-inflammatory protein 1α, reduces only slightly lung eosinophilia and BHR. Finally, MCP-1 neutralization diminishes drastically BHR and inflammation, and this correlates with a pronounced decrease in monocyte- and lymphocyte-derived inflammatory mediators. These results suggest that different chemokines activate different cellular and molecular pathways that in a coordinated fashion contribute to the complex pathophysiology of asthma, and that their individual blockage results in intervention at different levels of these processes.
PMCID: PMC2525544  PMID: 9653092
chemokines; allergic inflammation; bronchial hyperresponsiveness; eosinophilia; leukocytes
12.  Genome sequence and functional genomic analysis of the oil-degrading bacterium Oleispira antarctica 
Nature Communications  2013;4:2156.
Ubiquitous bacteria from the genus Oleispira drive oil degradation in the largest environment on Earth, the cold and deep sea. Here we report the genome sequence of Oleispira antarctica and show that compared with Alcanivorax borkumensis—the paradigm of mesophilic hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria—O. antarctica has a larger genome that has witnessed massive gene-transfer events. We identify an array of alkane monooxygenases, osmoprotectants, siderophores and micronutrient-scavenging pathways. We also show that at low temperatures, the main protein-folding machine Cpn60 functions as a single heptameric barrel that uses larger proteins as substrates compared with the classical double-barrel structure observed at higher temperatures. With 11 protein crystal structures, we further report the largest set of structures from one psychrotolerant organism. The most common structural feature is an increased content of surface-exposed negatively charged residues compared to their mesophilic counterparts. Our findings are relevant in the context of microbial cold-adaptation mechanisms and the development of strategies for oil-spill mitigation in cold environments.
Oleispira antarctica is an oil-degrading bacterium found in the cold and deep sea. Here Kube et al. report the genome sequence of O. antarctica and provide a comprehensive functional genetic and protein structural analysis, revealing insights into how this organism has adapted to its cold environment.
PMCID: PMC3759055  PMID: 23877221
13.  Halorhabdus tiamatea: proteogenomics and glycosidase activity measurements identify the first cultivated euryarchaeon from a deep-sea anoxic brine lake as potential polysaccharide degrader 
Environmental Microbiology  2014;16(8):2525-2537.
Euryarchaea from the genus Halorhabdus have been found in hypersaline habitats worldwide, yet are represented by only two isolates: Halorhabdus utahensis AX-2T from the shallow Great Salt Lake of Utah, and Halorhabdus tiamatea SARL4BT from the Shaban deep-sea hypersaline anoxic lake (DHAL) in the Red Sea. We sequenced the H. tiamatea genome to elucidate its niche adaptations. Among sequenced archaea, H. tiamatea features the highest number of glycoside hydrolases, the majority of which were expressed in proteome experiments. Annotations and glycosidase activity measurements suggested an adaptation towards recalcitrant algal and plant-derived hemicelluloses. Glycosidase activities were higher at 2% than at 0% or 5% oxygen, supporting a preference for low-oxygen conditions. Likewise, proteomics indicated quinone-mediated electron transport at 2% oxygen, but a notable stress response at 5% oxygen. Halorhabdus tiamatea furthermore encodes proteins characteristic for thermophiles and light-dependent enzymes (e.g. bacteriorhodopsin), suggesting that H. tiamatea evolution was mostly not governed by a cold, dark, anoxic deep-sea habitat. Using enrichment and metagenomics, we could demonstrate presence of similar glycoside hydrolase-rich Halorhabdus members in the Mediterranean DHAL Medee, which supports that Halorhabdus species can occupy a distinct niche as polysaccharide degraders in hypersaline environments.
PMCID: PMC4257568  PMID: 24428220

Results 1-13 (13)