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author:("Zhou, shemin")
1.  Distinct Genealogies for Plasmids and Chromosome 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(12):e1004874.
PMCID: PMC4270482  PMID: 25521852
2.  Efficient Preparation of Enantiopure D-Phenylalanine through Asymmetric Resolution Using Immobilized Phenylalanine Ammonia-Lyase from Rhodotorula glutinis JN-1 in a Recirculating Packed-Bed Reactor 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108586.
An efficient enzymatic process was developed to produce optically pure D-phenylalanine through asymmetric resolution of the racemic DL-phenylalanine using immobilized phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (RgPAL) from Rhodotorula glutinis JN-1. RgPAL was immobilized on a modified mesoporous silica support (MCM-41-NH-GA). The resulting MCM-41-NH-GA-RgPAL showed high activity and stability. The resolution efficiency using MCM-41-NH-GA-RgPAL in a recirculating packed-bed reactor (RPBR) was higher than that in a stirred-tank reactor. Under optimal operational conditions, the volumetric conversion rate of L-phenylalanine and the productivity of D-phenylalanine reached 96.7 mM h−1 and 0.32 g L−1 h−1, respectively. The optical purity (eeD) of D-phenylalanine exceeded 99%. The RPBR ran continuously for 16 batches, the conversion ratio did not decrease. The reactor was scaled up 25-fold, and the productivity of D-phenylalanine (eeD>99%) in the scaled-up reactor reached 7.2 g L−1 h−1. These results suggest that the resolution process is an alternative method to produce highly pure D-phenylalanine.
PMCID: PMC4182499  PMID: 25268937
3.  Structure-based approach to alter the substrate specificity of Bacillus subtilis aminopeptidase 
Prion  2013;7(4):328-334.
Aminopeptidases can selectively catalyze the cleavage of the N-terminal amino acid residues from peptides and proteins. Bacillus subtilis aminopeptidase (BSAP) is most active toward p-nitroanilides (pNAs) derivatives of Leu, Arg, and Lys. The BSAP with broad substrate specificity is expected to improve its application. Based on an analysis of the predicted structure of BSAP, four residues (Leu 370, Asn 385, Ile 387, and Val 396) located in the substrate binding region were selected for saturation mutagenesis. The hydrolytic activity toward different aminoacyl-pNAs of each mutant BSAP in the culture supernatant was measured. Although the mutations resulted in a decrease of hydrolytic activity toward Leu-pNA, N385L BSAP exhibited higher hydrolytic activities toward Lys-pNA (2.2-fold) and Ile-pNA (9.1-fold) than wild-type BSAP. Three mutant enzymes (I387A, I387C and I387S BSAPs) specially hydrolyzed Phe-pNA, which was undetectable in wild-type BSAP. Among these mutant BSAPs, N385L and I387A BSAPs were selected for further characterized and used for protein hydrolysis application. Both of N385L and I387A BSAPs showed higher hydrolysis efficiency than the wild-type BASP and a combination of the wild-type and N385L and I387A BSAPs exhibited the highest hydrolysis efficiency for protein hydrolysis. This study will greatly facilitate studies aimed on change the substrate specificity and our results obtained here should be useful for BSAP application in food industry.
PMCID: PMC3904319  PMID: 23787698
Bacillus subtilis; aminopeptidase; substrate specificity; saturation mutagenesis; protein hydrolysis
4.  pH-Dependent Activation of Streptomyces hygroscopicus Transglutaminase Mediated by Intein 
Microbial transglutaminase (MTG) from Streptomyces is naturally secreted as a zymogen (pro-MTG), which is then activated by the removal of its N-terminal proregion by additional proteases. Inteins are protein-intervening sequences that catalyze protein splicing without cofactors. In this study, a pH-dependent Synechocystis sp. strain PCC6803 DnaB mini-intein (SDB) was introduced into pro-MTG to simplify its activation process by controlling pH. The recombinant protein (pro-SDB-MTG) was obtained, and the activation process was determined to take 24 h at pH 7 in vitro. To investigate the effect of the first residue in MTG on the activity and the cleavage time, two variants, pro-SDB-MTG(D1S) and pro-SDB-MTG(ΔD1), were expressed, and the activation time was found to be 6 h and 30 h, respectively. The enzymatic property and secondary structure of the recombinant MTG and two variants were similar to those of the wild type, indicating that the insertion of mini-intein did not affect the function of MTG. This insignificant effect was further illustrated by molecular dynamics simulations. This study revealed a controllable and effective strategy to regulate the activation process of pro-MTG mediated by a mini-intein, and it may have great potential for industrial MTG production.
PMCID: PMC3911110  PMID: 24242235
5.  Enhanced Thermal Stability and Hydrolytic Ability of Bacillus subtilis Aminopeptidase by Removing the Thermal Sensitive Domain in the Non-Catalytic Region 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92357.
Besides the catalytic ability, many enzymes contain conserved domains to perform some other physiological functions. However, sometimes these conserved domains were unnecessary or even detrimental to the catalytic process for industrial application of the enzymes. In this study, based on homology modeling and molecular dynamics simulations, we found that Bacillus subtilis aminopeptidase contained a thermal sensitive domain (protease-associated domain) in the non-catalytic region, and predicted that deletion of this flexible domain can enhance the structure stability. This prediction was then verified by the deletion of protease-associated domain from the wild-type enzyme. The thermal stability analysis showed that deletion of this domain improved the T50 (the temperature required to reduce initial activity by 50% in 30 min) of the enzyme from 71°C to 77°C. The melting temperature (Tm) of the enzyme also increased, which was measured by thermal denaturation experiments using circular dichroism spectroscopy. Further studies indicated that this deletion did not affect the activity and specificity of the enzyme toward aminoacyl-p-nitroanilines, but improved its hydrolytic ability toward a 12-aa-long peptide (LKRLKRFLKRLK) and soybean protein. These findings suggested the possibility of a simple technique for enzyme modification and the artificial enzyme obtained here was more suitable for the protein hydrolysis in food industry than the wild-type enzyme.
PMCID: PMC3954873  PMID: 24633010
6.  Dynamics of fecal microbial communities in children with diarrhea of unknown etiology and genomic analysis of associated Streptococcus lutetiensis 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:141.
The sequences of the 16S rRNA genes extracted from fecal samples provide insights into the dynamics of fecal microflora. This potentially gives valuable etiological information for patients whose conditions have been ascribed to unknown pathogens, which cannot be accomplished using routine culture methods. We studied 33 children with diarrhea who were admitted to the Children’s Hospital in Shanxi Province during 2006.
Nineteen of 33 children with diarrhea could not be etiologically diagnosed by routine culture and polymerase chain reaction methods. Eleven of 19 children with diarrhea of unknown etiology had Streptococcus as the most dominant fecal bacterial genus at admission. Eight of nine children whom three consecutive fecal samples were collected had Streptococcus as the dominant fecal bacterial genus, including three in the Streptococcus bovis group and three Streptococcus sp., which was reduced during and after recovery. We isolated strains that were possibly from the S. bovis group from feces sampled at admission, which were then identified as Streptococcus lutetiensis from one child and Streptococcus gallolyticus subsp. pasteurianus from two children. We sequenced the genome of S. lutetiensis and identified five antibiotic islands, two pathogenicity islands, and five unique genomic islands. The identified virulence genes included hemolytic toxin cylZ of Streptococcus agalactiae and sortase associated with colonization of pathogenic streptococci.
We identified S. lutetiensis and S. gallolyticus subsp. pasteurianus from children with diarrhea of unknown etiology, and found pathogenic islands and virulence genes in the genome of S. lutetiensis.
PMCID: PMC3716944  PMID: 23782707
Microbial communities; 16S rRNA gene analysis; Streptococcus lutetiensis; Genome analysis; Pathogenic island
7.  Strategy for successful expression of the Pseudomonas putida nitrile hydratase activator P14K in Escherichia coli 
BMC Biotechnology  2013;13:48.
Activators of Nitrile hydratase (NHase) are essential for functional NHase biosynthesis. However, the activator P14K in P. putida is difficult to heterogeneously express, which retards the clarification of the mechanism of P14K involved in the maturation of NHase. Although a strep tag containing P14K (strep-P14K) was over-expressed, its low expression level and low stability affect the further analysis.
We successfully expressed P14K through genetic modifications according to N-end rule and analyzed the mechanism for its difficult expression. We found that mutation of the second N-terminal amino-acid of the protein from lysine to alanine or truncating the N-terminal 16 amino-acid sequence resulted in successful expression of P14K. Moreover, fusion of a pelB leader and strep tag together (pelB-strep-P14K) at the N-terminus increased P14K expression. In addition, the pelB-strep-P14K was more stable than the strep-P14K.
Our results are not only useful for clarification of the role of P14K involved in the NHase maturation, but also helpful for heterologous expression of other difficult expression proteins.
PMCID: PMC3680314  PMID: 23731949
NHase; N-end rule; Pseudomonas putida; P14K; Stability
8.  Neutral Genomic Microevolution of a Recently Emerged Pathogen, Salmonella enterica Serovar Agona 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(4):e1003471.
Salmonella enterica serovar Agona has caused multiple food-borne outbreaks of gastroenteritis since it was first isolated in 1952. We analyzed the genomes of 73 isolates from global sources, comparing five distinct outbreaks with sporadic infections as well as food contamination and the environment. Agona consists of three lineages with minimal mutational diversity: only 846 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have accumulated in the non-repetitive, core genome since Agona evolved in 1932 and subsequently underwent a major population expansion in the 1960s. Homologous recombination with other serovars of S. enterica imported 42 recombinational tracts (360 kb) in 5/143 nodes within the genealogy, which resulted in 3,164 additional SNPs. In contrast to this paucity of genetic diversity, Agona is highly diverse according to pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), which is used to assign isolates to outbreaks. PFGE diversity reflects a highly dynamic accessory genome associated with the gain or loss (indels) of 51 bacteriophages, 10 plasmids, and 6 integrative conjugational elements (ICE/IMEs), but did not correlate uniquely with outbreaks. Unlike the core genome, indels occurred repeatedly in independent nodes (homoplasies), resulting in inaccurate PFGE genealogies. The accessory genome contained only few cargo genes relevant to infection, other than antibiotic resistance. Thus, most of the genetic diversity within this recently emerged pathogen reflects changes in the accessory genome, or is due to recombination, but these changes seemed to reflect neutral processes rather than Darwinian selection. Each outbreak was caused by an independent clade, without universal, outbreak-associated genomic features, and none of the variable genes in the pan-genome seemed to be associated with an ability to cause outbreaks.
Author Summary
Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) is the gold standard for recognizing outbreaks of food-borne disease. Comparative genomics has been used to elucidate transmission chains and evolutionary patterns within bacterial pathogens. However, their global genetic diversity has not yet been compared across multiple food-borne outbreaks. It was uncertain whether such outbreaks are caused by closely related organisms or are due to genetic properties that were recently acquired by horizontal genetic transfer. We investigated Salmonella enterica serovar Agona, a common cause of food-borne gastroenteritis, by sequencing genomes from bacterial strains from five outbreaks, as well as sporadic disease and the environment. Each outbreak was caused by a genetically distinct variant, but closely related bacteria were also found in the environment or in animal sources. The erroneous identity of bacteria according to PFGE reflected repeated, neutral acquisitions of bacteriophages, and genetic acquisitions or losses were not uniform across outbreak strains. Our results indicate that genomic differences used by epidemiologists to reach important decisions for public health can be stochastic and unrelated to disease or fitness. Our results also define the population structure and minimal age of Agona, and suggest that many serovars of Salmonella may be of recent origin.
PMCID: PMC3630104  PMID: 23637636
9.  Comparative genomic analyses of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae pathogenic 168 strain and its high-passaged attenuated strain 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:80.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is the causative agent of porcine enzootic pneumonia (EP), a mild, chronic pneumonia of swine. Despite presenting with low direct mortality, EP is responsible for major economic losses in the pig industry. To identify the virulence-associated determinants of M. hyopneumoniae, we determined the whole genome sequence of M. hyopneumoniae strain 168 and its attenuated high-passage strain 168-L and carried out comparative genomic analyses.
We performed the first comprehensive analysis of M. hyopneumoniae strain 168 and its attenuated strain and made a preliminary survey of coding sequences (CDSs) that may be related to virulence. The 168-L genome has a highly similar gene content and order to that of 168, but is 4,483 bp smaller because there are 60 insertions and 43 deletions in 168-L. Besides these indels, 227 single nucleotide variations (SNVs) were identified. We further investigated the variants that affected CDSs, and compared them to reported virulence determinants. Notably, almost all of the reported virulence determinants are included in these variants affected CDSs. In addition to variations previously described in mycoplasma adhesins (P97, P102, P146, P159, P216, and LppT), cell envelope proteins (P95), cell surface antigens (P36), secreted proteins and chaperone protein (DnaK), mutations in genes related to metabolism and growth may also contribute to the attenuated virulence in 168-L. Furthermore, many mutations were located in the previously described repeat motif, which may be of primary importance for virulence.
We studied the virulence attenuation mechanism of M. hyopneumoniae by comparative genomic analysis of virulent strain 168 and its attenuated high-passage strain 168-L. Our findings provide a preliminary survey of CDSs that may be related to virulence. While these include reported virulence-related genes, other novel virulence determinants were also detected. This new information will form the foundation of future investigations into the pathogenesis of M. hyopneumoniae and facilitate the design of new vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3626624  PMID: 23384176
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae; Genetic variation; Virulence attenuation; Sequence analysis; Repetitive sequences; Virulence factors
10.  Self-Subunit Swapping Occurs in Another Gene Type of Cobalt Nitrile Hydratase 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50829.
Self-subunit swapping is one of the post-translational maturation of the cobalt-containing nitrile hydratase (Co-NHase) family of enzymes. All of these NHases possess a gene organization of <β-subunit> <α-subunit> , which allows the activator protein to easily form a mediatory complex with the α-subunit of the NHase after translation. Here, we discovered that the incorporation of cobalt into another type of Co-NHase, with a gene organization of <α-subunit> <β-subunit> , was also dependent on self-subunit swapping. We successfully isolated a recombinant NHase activator protein (P14K) of Pseudomonas putida NRRL-18668 by adding a Strep-tag N-terminal to the P14K gene. P14K was found to form a complex [α(StrepP14K)2] with the α-subunit of the NHase. The incorporation of cobalt into the NHase of P. putida was confirmed to be dependent on the α-subunit substitution between the cobalt-containing α(StrepP14K)2 and the cobalt-free NHase. Cobalt was inserted into cobalt-free α(StrepP14K)2 but not into cobalt-free NHase, suggesting that P14K functions not only as a self-subunit swapping chaperone but also as a metallochaperone. In addition, NHase from P. putida was also expressed by a mutant gene that was designed with a <β-subunit> <α-subunit> order. Our findings expand the general features of self-subunit swapping maturation.
PMCID: PMC3511329  PMID: 23226397
11.  Multilocus Sequence Typing as a Replacement for Serotyping in Salmonella enterica 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(6):e1002776.
Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica is traditionally subdivided into serovars by serological and nutritional characteristics. We used Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST) to assign 4,257 isolates from 554 serovars to 1092 sequence types (STs). The majority of the isolates and many STs were grouped into 138 genetically closely related clusters called eBurstGroups (eBGs). Many eBGs correspond to a serovar, for example most Typhimurium are in eBG1 and most Enteritidis are in eBG4, but many eBGs contained more than one serovar. Furthermore, most serovars were polyphyletic and are distributed across multiple unrelated eBGs. Thus, serovar designations confounded genetically unrelated isolates and failed to recognize natural evolutionary groupings. An inability of serotyping to correctly group isolates was most apparent for Paratyphi B and its variant Java. Most Paratyphi B were included within a sub-cluster of STs belonging to eBG5, which also encompasses a separate sub-cluster of Java STs. However, diphasic Java variants were also found in two other eBGs and monophasic Java variants were in four other eBGs or STs, one of which is in subspecies salamae and a second of which includes isolates assigned to Enteritidis, Dublin and monophasic Paratyphi B. Similarly, Choleraesuis was found in eBG6 and is closely related to Paratyphi C, which is in eBG20. However, Choleraesuis var. Decatur consists of isolates from seven other, unrelated eBGs or STs. The serological assignment of these Decatur isolates to Choleraesuis likely reflects lateral gene transfer of flagellar genes between unrelated bacteria plus purifying selection. By confounding multiple evolutionary groups, serotyping can be misleading about the disease potential of S. enterica. Unlike serotyping, MLST recognizes evolutionary groupings and we recommend that Salmonella classification by serotyping should be replaced by MLST or its equivalents.
Author Summary
Microbiologists have used serological and nutritional characteristics to subdivide pathogenic bacteria for nearly 100 years. These subdivisions in Salmonella enterica are called serovars, some of which are thought to be associated with particular diseases and epidemiology. We used MultiLocus Sequence-based Typing (MLST) to identify clusters of S. enterica isolates that are related by evolutionary descent. Some clusters correspond to serovars on a one to one basis. But many clusters include multiple serovars, which is of public health significance, and most serovars span multiple, unrelated clusters. Despite its broad usage, serological typing of S. enterica has resulted in confusing systematics, with a few exceptions. We recommend that serotyping for strain discrimination of S. enterica be replaced by a DNA-based method, such as MLST. Serotyping and other non-sequence based typing methods are routinely used for detecting outbreaks and to support public health responses. Moving away from these methods will require a major shift in thinking by public health microbiology laboratories as well as national and international agencies. However, a transition to the routine use of MLST, supplemented where appropriate by even more discriminatory sequence-based typing methods based on entire genomes, will provide a clearer picture of long-term transmission routes of Salmonella, facilitate data transfer and support global control measures.
PMCID: PMC3380943  PMID: 22737074
12.  Complete Genome Sequence of the Industrial Strain Ketogulonicigenium vulgare WSH-001 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(21):6108-6109.
Ketogulonicigenium vulgare is an industrial organism commonly used in the vitamin C industry. Here, we report the finished, annotated, and compared 3.28-Mbp high-quality genome sequence of Ketogulonicigenium vulgare WSH-001, a 2-keto-l-gulonic acid-producing industrial strain stocked in our laboratory.
PMCID: PMC3194925  PMID: 21994934
13.  Complete Genome Sequence of the Industrial Strain Bacillus megaterium WSH-002 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(22):6389-6390.
Bacillus megaterium, an industrial strain, has been widely used in protein production and the vitamin C industry. Here we reported a finished, annotated, and compared 4.14-Mbp high-quality genome sequence of B. megaterium WSH-002, which is the companion strain for Ketogulonicigenium vulgare in the vitamin C industry and is stocked in our laboratory.
PMCID: PMC3209192  PMID: 22038958
14.  A Novel Escherichia coli O157:H7 Clone Causing a Major Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Outbreak in China 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36144.
An Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak in China in 1999 caused 177 deaths due to hemolytic uremic syndrome. Sixteen outbreak associated isolates were found to belong to a new clone, sequence type 96 (ST96), based on multilocus sequence typing of 15 housekeeping genes. Whole genome sequencing of an outbreak isolate, Xuzhou21, showed that the isolate is phylogenetically closely related to the Japan 1996 outbreak isolate Sakai, both of which share the most recent common ancestor with the US outbreak isolate EDL933. The levels of IL-6 and IL-8 of peripheral blood mononuclear cells induced by Xuzhou21 and Sakai were significantly higher than that induced by EDL933. Xuzhou21 also induced a significantly higher level of IL-8 than Sakai while both induced similar levels of IL-6. The expression level of Shiga toxin 2 in Xuzhou21 induced by mitomycin C was 68.6 times of that under non-inducing conditions, twice of that induced in Sakai (32.7 times) and 15 times higher than that induced in EDL933 (4.5 times). Our study shows that ST96 is a novel clone and provided significant new insights into the evolution of virulence of E. coli O157:H7.
PMCID: PMC3338595  PMID: 22558360
15.  Comparative Genomics of Mycoplasma: Analysis of Conserved Essential Genes and Diversity of the Pan-Genome 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35698.
Mycoplasma, the smallest self-replicating organism with a minimal metabolism and little genomic redundancy, is expected to be a close approximation to the minimal set of genes needed to sustain bacterial life. This study employs comparative evolutionary analysis of twenty Mycoplasma genomes to gain an improved understanding of essential genes. By analyzing the core genome of mycoplasmas, we finally revealed the conserved essential genes set for mycoplasma survival. Further analysis showed that the core genome set has many characteristics in common with experimentally identified essential genes. Several key genes, which are related to DNA replication and repair and can be disrupted in transposon mutagenesis studies, may be critical for bacteria survival especially over long period natural selection. Phylogenomic reconstructions based on 3,355 homologous groups allowed robust estimation of phylogenetic relatedness among mycoplasma strains. To obtain deeper insight into the relative roles of molecular evolution in pathogen adaptation to their hosts, we also analyzed the positive selection pressures on particular sites and lineages. There appears to be an approximate correlation between the divergence of species and the level of positive selection detected in corresponding lineages.
PMCID: PMC3335003  PMID: 22536428
16.  Transcriptome Analysis of the Model Protozoan, Tetrahymena thermophila, Using Deep RNA Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30630.
The ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila is a well-studied single-celled eukaryote model organism for cellular and molecular biology. However, the lack of extensive T. thermophila cDNA libraries or a large expressed sequence tag (EST) database limited the quality of the original genome annotation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
This RNA-seq study describes the first deep sequencing analysis of the T. thermophila transcriptome during the three major stages of the life cycle: growth, starvation and conjugation. Uniquely mapped reads covered more than 96% of the 24,725 predicted gene models in the somatic genome. More than 1,000 new transcribed regions were identified. The great dynamic range of RNA-seq allowed detection of a nearly six order-of-magnitude range of measurable gene expression orchestrated by this cell. RNA-seq also allowed the first prediction of transcript untranslated regions (UTRs) and an updated (larger) size estimate of the T. thermophila transcriptome: 57 Mb, or about 55% of the somatic genome. Our study identified nearly 1,500 alternative splicing (AS) events distributed over 5.2% of T. thermophila genes. This percentage represents a two order-of-magnitude increase over previous EST-based estimates in Tetrahymena. Evidence of stage-specific regulation of alternative splicing was also obtained. Finally, our study allowed us to completely confirm about 26.8% of the genes originally predicted by the gene finder, to correct coding sequence boundaries and intron-exon junctions for about a third, and to reassign microarray probes and correct earlier microarray data.
RNA-seq data significantly improve the genome annotation and provide a fully comprehensive view of the global transcriptome of T. thermophila. To our knowledge, 5.2% of T. thermophila genes with AS is the highest percentage of genes showing AS reported in a unicellular eukaryote. Tetrahymena thus becomes an excellent unicellular model eukaryote in which to investigate mechanisms of alternative splicing.
PMCID: PMC3274533  PMID: 22347391
17.  Complete Genome Sequence of Bordetella pertussis CS, a Chinese Pertussis Vaccine Strain ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(15):4017-4018.
Bordetella pertussis is the causative agent of pertussis. Here, we report the genome sequence of Bordetella pertussis strain CS, isolated from an infant patient in Beijing and widely used as a vaccine strain for production of an acellular pertussis vaccine in China.
PMCID: PMC3147532  PMID: 21622744
18.  A novel non-homologous recombination-mediated mechanism for Escherichia coli unilateral flagellar phase variation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(10):4530-4538.
Flagella contribute to the virulence of bacteria through chemotaxis, adhesion to and invasion of host surfaces. Flagellar phase variation is believed to facilitate bacterial evasion of the host immune response. In this study, the flnA gene that encodes Escherichia coli H17 flagellin was examined by whole genome sequencing and genetic deletion analysis. Unilateral flagellar phase variation has been reported in E. coli H3, H47 and H17 strains, although the mechanism for phase variation in the H17 strain has not been previously understood. Analysis of phase variants indicated that the flagellar phase variation in the H17 strain was caused by the deletion of an ∼35 kb DNA region containing the flnA gene from diverse excision sites. The presence of covalently closed extrachromosomal circular forms of this excised 35 kb region was confirmed by the two-step polymerase chain reaction. The deletion and complementation test revealed that the Int1157 integrase, a tyrosine recombinase, mediates the excision of this region. Unlike most tyrosine recombinases, Int1157 is suggested to recognize diverse sites and mediate recombination between non-homologous DNA sequences. This is the first report of non-homologous recombination mediating flagellar phase variation.
PMCID: PMC3378880  PMID: 22287625
19.  The order of expression is a key factor in the production of active transglutaminase in Escherichia coli by co-expression with its pro-peptide 
Streptomyces transglutaminase (TGase) is naturally synthesized as zymogen (pro-TGase), which is then processed to produce active enzyme by the removal of its N-terminal pro-peptide. This pro-peptide is found to be essential for overexpression of soluble TGase in E. coli. However, expression of pro-TGase by E. coli requires protease-mediated activation in vitro. In this study, we developed a novel co- expression method for the direct production of active TGase in E. coli.
A TGase from S. hygroscopicus was expressed in E. coli only after fusing with the pelB signal peptide, but fusion with the signal peptide induced insoluble enzyme. Therefore, alternative protocol was designed by co-expressing the TGase and its pro-peptide as independent polypeptides under a single T7 promoter using vector pET-22b(+). Although the pro-peptide was co-expressed, the TGase fused without the signal peptide was undetectable in both soluble and insoluble fractions of the recombinant cells. Similarly, when both genes were expressed in the order of the TGase and the pro-peptide, the solubility of TGase fused with the signal peptide was not improved by the co-expression with its pro-peptide. Interestingly, active TGase was only produced by the cells in which the pro-peptide and the TGase were fused with the signal peptide and sequentially expressed. The purified recombinant and native TGase shared the similar catalytic properties.
Our results indicated that the pro-peptide can assist correct folding of the TGase inter-molecularly in E. coli, and expression of pro-peptide prior to that of TGase was essential for the production of active TGase. The co-expression strategy based on optimizing the order of gene expression could be useful for the expression of other functional proteins that are synthesized as a precursor.
PMCID: PMC3286405  PMID: 22196373
Streptomyces hygroscopicus; transglutaminase; pro-peptide; co-expression; Escherichia coli
20.  Complete Genome Sequence of Lactobacillus helveticus H10 ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(10):2666-2667.
Lactobacillus helveticus strain H10 was isolated from traditional fermented milk in Tibet, China. We sequenced the whole genome of strain H10 and compared it to the published genome sequence of Lactobacillus helveticus DPC4571.
PMCID: PMC3133166  PMID: 21398542
21.  Rates of Mutation and Host Transmission for an Escherichia coli Clone over 3 Years 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26907.
Although over 50 complete Escherichia coli/Shigella genome sequences are available, it is only for closely related strains, for example the O55:H7 and O157:H7 clones of E. coli, that we can assign differences to individual evolutionary events along specific lineages. Here we sequence the genomes of 14 isolates of a uropathogenic E. coli clone that persisted for 3 years within a household, including a dog, causing a urinary tract infection (UTI) in the dog after 2 years. The 20 mutations observed fit a single tree that allows us to estimate the mutation rate to be about 1.1 per genome per year, with minimal evidence for adaptive change, including in relation to the UTI episode. The host data also imply at least 6 host transfer events over the 3 years, with 2 lineages present over much of that period. To our knowledge, these are the first direct measurements for a clone in a well-defined host community that includes rates of mutation and host transmission. There is a concentration of non-synonymous mutations associated with 2 transfers to the dog, suggesting some selection pressure from the change of host. However, there are no changes to which we can attribute the UTI event in the dog, which suggests that this occurrence after 2 years of the clone being in the household may have been due to chance, or some unknown change in the host or environment. The ability of a UTI strain to persist for 2 years and also to transfer readily within a household has implications for epidemiology, diagnosis, and clinical intervention.
PMCID: PMC3203180  PMID: 22046404
22.  pO157_Sal, a Novel Conjugative Plasmid Detected in Outbreak Isolates of Escherichia coli O157:H7▿† 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(4):1594-1597.
In addition to the large virulence plasmid pO157, a novel 38-kb conjugative plasmid, pO157_Sal, was identified and sequenced from an Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak-associated Chinese isolate that shares high similarity with a plasmid in Salmonella enterica serovar Agona. The plasmid was found in 15 of 326 isolates, 12 of which were of the same pulsed-field gel electrophoresis type.
PMCID: PMC3122784  PMID: 21346051
23.  Complete Genome Sequence of a Yersinia enterocolitica “Old World” (3/O:9) Strain and Comparison with the “New World” (1B/O:8) Strain▿† 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(4):1251-1259.
Yersinia enterocolitica is a heterogeneous bacterial species with a wide range of animal reservoirs through which human intestinal illness can be facilitated. In contrast to the epidemiological pattern observed in the United States, infections in China present a pattern similar to those in European countries and Japan, wherein “Old World” strains (biotypes 2 to 5) are prevalent. To gain insights into the evolution of Y. enterocolitica and pathogenic properties toward human hosts, we sequenced the genome of a biotype 3 strain, 105.5R(r) (O:9), obtained from a Chinese patient. Comparative genome sequence analysis with strain 8081 (1B/O:8) revealed new insights into Y. enterocolitica. Both strains have more than 14% specific genes. In strain 105.5R(r), putative virulence factors were found in strain-specific genomic pathogenicity islands that comprised a novel type III secretion system and rtx-like genes. Many of the loci representing ancestral clusters, which are believed to contribute to enteric survival and pathogenesis, are present in strain 105.5R(r) but lost in strain 8081. Insertion elements in 105.5R(r) have a pattern distinct from those in strain 8081 and were exclusively located in a strain-specific region. In summary, our comparative genome analysis indicates that these two strains may have attained their pathogenicity by completely separate evolutionary events, and the 105.5R(r) strain, a representative of the Old World biogroup, lies in a branch of Y. enterocolitica that is distinct from the “New World” 8081 strain.
PMCID: PMC3122819  PMID: 21325549
24.  Complete Genome Sequence of Streptococcus thermophilus Strain ND03▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;193(3):793-794.
Streptococcus thermophilus strain ND03 is a Chinese commercial dairy starter used for the manufacture of yogurt. It was isolated from naturally fermented yak milk in Qinghai, China. We present here the complete genome sequence of ND03 and compare it to three other published genomes of Streptococcus thermophilus strains.
PMCID: PMC3021231  PMID: 21131489
25.  Complete Genome Sequence of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae Strain 168▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;193(4):1016-1017.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae strain 168, a pathogenic strain prevalent in China, was isolated in 1974. Although this strain has been widespread for a long time, the genome sequence had not been determined. Here, we announce the complete genome sequence of M. hyopneumoniae strain 168.
PMCID: PMC3028675  PMID: 21148737

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