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1.  Sex impacts Th1 cells, Tregs, and DCs in both intestinal and systemic immunity in a mouse strain and location-dependent manner 
Males and females have a different predisposition for the development of intestinal disorders, like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We hypothesized that sex specific differences in intestinal immune responses may underlie this bias. To test this hypothesis, we studied sex differences in immune cell populations in the Peyer’s patches (PP). For comparison with systemic immunity, we studied spleen cells.
Two mouse strains with different susceptibility for developing colitis (BALB/c and C57Bl/6) were used. Using flow cytometry, we measured the percentage of T cells, Th1, Th17, and Treg cells in the PP and spleen. In addition, we measured the percentages of NK cells, macrophages, myeloid, and lymphoid dendritic cells (DCs) and their expression of CD80 and CD103. Moreover, we measured percentages of monocyte subsets in the peripheral circulation. Results were tested using two-way ANOVA, p < 0.05.
Males had a lower percentage of T cells in both PP and spleen (PP BALB/c 22.1 %, B6 13.6 %; spleen BALB/c 4.7 %, B6 19.9 %) but a higher percentage of Th1 cell in both tissues (PP BALB/c 350 %, B6 109.5 %; spleen BALB/c 48.7 %, B6 41.9 %) than females. They also had a higher percentage of Tregs in the spleen than females (BALB/c 20.5 %, B6 4.5 %). Furthermore, males had a higher percentage of CD80+ DCs in both the PP and spleen (lymphoid DCs in PP BALB/c 104.7 %, B6 29.6 %; spleen BALB/c 72.2 %, B6 44.2 %; myeloid DCs in PP BALB/c 80.5 %, B6 93.3 %; spleen BALB/c 88.5 %, B6 50.8 %) and a higher percentage of lymphoid CD103+ DCs in the spleen than females (BALB/c 41.5 %, B6 28.3 %). The percentage of NK cells was decreased in the spleen (BALB/c 12.5 %, B6 25.1 %) but increased in the PP (BALB/c 75.7 %, B6 78.6 %) of males as compared with females. Strain differences were also found in the PP; BALB/c mice had a higher percentage of T cells (males 58.1 %, females 75.5 %), a higher Th/Tc ratio (males 81.0 %, females 134.2 %), less FoxP3+CD25− T cells (males 14.6 %, females 30.0 %), more DCs (males 14.8 %, females 15.7 %) and macrophages (males 67.9 %, females 141.2 %), and more NK cells (males 160 %, females164.3 %) than BALB/c mice.
In this study, we show sex differences in intestinal and peripheral immune populations. These differences may underlie sex differences in intestinal disorders like IBD, and this information may be an important knowledge for the treatment of intestinal-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC4820953  PMID: 27051505
Sex differences; Peyer’s patches; Intestinal immune cells; T cells; Dendritic cells; Macrophages; Natural killer cells; C57Bl/6; BALB/c
2.  Identification of TLR2/TLR6 signalling lactic acid bacteria for supporting immune regulation 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:34561.
Although many lactic acid bacteria (LAB) influence the consumer’s immune status it is not completely understood how this is established. Bacteria-host interactions between bacterial cell-wall components and toll-like receptors (TLRs) have been suggested to play an essential role. Here we investigated the interaction between LABs with reported health effects and TLRs. By using cell-lines expressing single or combination of TLRs, we show that LABs can signal via TLR-dependent and independent pathways. The strains only stimulated and did not inhibit TLRs. We found that several strains such as L. plantarum CCFM634, L. plantarum CCFM734, L. fermentum CCFM381, L. acidophilus CCFM137, and S. thermophilus CCFM218 stimulated TLR2/TLR6. TLR2/TLR6 is essential in immune regulatory processes and of interest for prevention of diseases. Specificity of the TLR2/TLR6 stimulation was confirmed with blocking antibodies. Immunomodulatory properties of LABs were also studied by assessing IL-10 and IL-6 secretion patterns in bacteria-stimulated THP1-derived macrophages, which confirmed species and strain specific effects of the LABs. With this study we provide novel insight in LAB specific host-microbe interactions. Our data demonstrates that interactions between pattern recognition receptors such as TLRs is species and strain specific and underpins the importance of selecting specific strains for promoting specific health effects.
PMCID: PMC5052581  PMID: 27708357
3.  Draft Genome Sequences of Eight Obligate Methane Oxidizers Occupying Distinct Niches Based on Their Nitrogen Metabolism 
Genome Announcements  2016;4(4):e00421-16.
The genome sequences of Methylomonas methanica (NCIMB 11130T, R-45363, and R-45371), Methylomonas koyamae (R-45378, R-45383, and R-49807), Methylomonas lenta (R-45370), and Methylosinus sp. (R-45379) were obtained. These aerobic methanotrophs were isolated from terrestrial ecosystems, and their distinct phenotypes related to nitrogen assimilation and dissimilation were previously reported.
PMCID: PMC4974303  PMID: 27491982
4.  Modulation of Dendritic-Epithelial Cell Responses against Sphingomonas Paucimobilis by Dietary Fibers 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:30277.
Non-fermenting Gram-negative bacilli, such as Sphingomonas paucimobilis (S.paucimobilis), are among the most widespread causes of nosocomial infections. Up to now, no definitive guidelines exist for antimicrobial therapy for S. paucimobilis infections. As we have shown that some dietary fibers exhibit pronounced immune-regulatory properties, we hypothesized that specific immune active dietary fibers might modulate the responses against S. paucimobilis. We studied the immunomodulatory effects of dietary fibers against S. paucimobilis on cytokine release and maturation of human dendritic cells (DCs) in co-cultures of DCs and intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). S. paucimobilis infection resulted in increased release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines by DCs/IECs; these effects were strongly attenuated by specific dietary fibers. Chicory inulin, sugar beet pectin, and both starches had the strongest regulatory effects. IL-12 and TNF-α were drastically diminished upon exposure to chicory inulin and sugar beet pectin, or both starches. High-maize 260, was more effective in the reduction of chemokine release than the others fibers tested. In summary, chicory inulin, sugar beet pectin, High-maize 260, and Novelose 330 attenuate S. paucimobilis-induced cytokines. These results demonstrate that dietary fibers with a specific chemical composition can be used to manage immune responses against pathogens such as S. paucimobilis.
PMCID: PMC4959002  PMID: 27452116
5.  Multiple Locus Variable number of tandem repeat Analysis: A molecular genotyping tool for Paenibacillus larvae  
Microbial Biotechnology  2016;9(6):772-781.
American Foulbrood, caused by Paenibacillus larvae, is the most severe bacterial disease of honey bees (Apis mellifera). To perform genotyping of P. larvae in an epidemiological context, there is a need of a fast and cheap method with a high resolution. Here, we propose Multiple Locus Variable number of tandem repeat Analysis (MLVA). MLVA has been used for typing a collection of 209 P. larvae strains from which 23 different MLVA types could be identified. Moreover, the developed methodology not only permits the identification of the four Enterobacterial Repetitive Intergenic Consensus (ERIC) genotypes, but allows also a discriminatory subdivision of the most dominant ERIC type I and ERIC type II genotypes. A biogeographical study has been conducted showing a significant correlation between MLVA genotype and the geographical region where it was isolated.
PMCID: PMC5072193  PMID: 27365124
6.  Epigenetic Induction of Definitive and Pancreatic Endoderm Cell Fate in Human Fibroblasts 
Stem Cells International  2016;2016:7654321.
Reprogramming can occur by the introduction of key transcription factors (TFs) as well as by epigenetic changes. We demonstrated that histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) Trichostatin A (TSA) combined with a chromatin remodeling medium (CRM) induced expression of a number of definitive endoderm and early and late pancreatic marker genes. When CRM was omitted, endoderm/pancreatic marker genes were not induced. Furthermore, treatment with DNA methyltransferase inhibitor (DNMTi) 5-azacytidine (5AZA) CRM did not affect gene expression changes, and when 5AZA was combined with TSA, no further increase in gene expression of endoderm, pancreatic endoderm, and endocrine markers was seen over levels induced with TSA alone. Interestingly, TSA-CRM did not affect expression of pluripotency and hepatocyte genes but induced some mesoderm transcripts. Upon removal of TSA-CRM, the endoderm/pancreatic gene expression profile returned to baseline. Our findings underscore the role epigenetic modification in transdifferentiation of one somatic cell into another. However, full reprogramming of fibroblasts to β-cells will require combination of this approach with TF overexpression and/or culture of the partially reprogrammed cells under β-cell specific conditions.
PMCID: PMC4925994  PMID: 27403168
7.  Survival of encapsulated islets: More than a membrane story 
At present, proven clinical treatments but no cures are available for diabetes, a global epidemic with a huge economic burden. Transplantation of islets of Langerhans by their infusion into vascularized organs is an experimental clinical protocol, the first approach to attain cure. However, it is associated with lifelong use of immunosuppressants. To overcome the need for immunosuppression, islets are encapsulated and separated from the host immune system by a permselective membrane. The lead material for this application is alginate which was tested in many animal models and a few clinical trials. This review discusses all aspects related to the function of transplanted encapsulated islets such as the basic requirements from a permselective membrane (e.g., allowable hydrodynamic radii, implications of the thickness of the membrane and relative electrical charge). Another aspect involves adequate oxygen supply, which is essential for survival/performance of transplanted islets, especially when using large retrievable macro-capsules implanted in poorly oxygenated sites like the subcutis. Notably, islets can survive under low oxygen tension and are physiologically active at > 40 Torr. Surprisingly, when densely crowded, islets are fully functional under hyperoxic pressure of up to 500 Torr (> 300% of atmospheric oxygen tension). The review also addresses an additional category of requirements for optimal performance of transplanted islets, named auxiliary technologies. These include control of inflammation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and the intra-capsular environment. The review highlights that curing diabetes with a functional bio-artificial pancreas requires optimizing all of these aspects, and that significant advances have already been made in many of them.
PMCID: PMC4801806  PMID: 27011906
Bio-artificial pancreas; Diabetes; Islets of Langerhans; Encapsulation; Oxygen supply; Permselective membrane; Transplantation
8.  Enzymes for Pancreatic Islet Isolation Impact Chemokine-Production and Polarization of Insulin-Producing β-Cells with Reduced Functional Survival of Immunoisolated Rat Islet-Allografts as a Consequence 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(1):e0147992.
The primary aim of this study was to determine whether normal variations in enzyme-activities of collagenases applied for rat-islet isolation impact longevity of encapsulated islet grafts. Also we studied the functional and immunological properties of rat islets isolated with different enzyme preparations to determine whether this impacts these parameters. Rat-islets were isolated from the pancreas with two different collagenases with commonly accepted collagenase, neutral protease, and clostripain activities. Islets had a similar and acceptable glucose-induced insulin-release profile but a profound statistical significant difference in production of the chemokines IP-10 and Gro-α. The islets were studied with nanotomy which is an EM-based technology for unbiased study of ultrastructural features of islets such as cell-cell contacts, endocrine-cell condition, ER stress, mitochondrial conditions, and cell polarization. The islet-batch with higher chemokine-production had a lower amount of polarized insulin-producing β-cells. All islets had more intercellular spaces and less interconnected areas with tight cell-cell junctions when compared to islets in the pancreas. Islet-graft function was studied by implanting encapsulated and free islet grafts in rat recipients. Alginate-based encapsulated grafts isolated with the enzyme-lot inducing higher chemokine production and lower polarization survived for a two-fold shorter period of time. The lower survival-time of the encapsulated grafts was correlated with a higher influx of inflammatory cells at 7 days after implantation. Islets from the same two batches transplanted as free unencapsulated-graft, did not show any difference in survival or function in vivo. Lack of insight in factors contributing to the current lab-to-lab variation in longevity of encapsulated islet-grafts is considered to be a threat for clinical application. Our data suggest that seemingly minor variations in activity of enzymes applied for islet-isolation might contribute to longevity-variations of immunoisolated islet-grafts.
PMCID: PMC4732769  PMID: 26824526
9.  Nitrous oxide emission by the non-denitrifying, nitrate ammonifier Bacillus licheniformis 
BMC Genomics  2016;17:68.
Firmicutes have the capacity to remove excess nitrate from the environment via either denitrification, dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium or both. The recent renewed interest in their nitrogen metabolism has revealed many interesting features, the most striking being their wide variety of dissimilatory nitrate reduction pathways. In the present study, nitrous oxide production from Bacillus licheniformis, a ubiquitous Gram-positive, spore-forming species with many industrial applications, is investigated.
B. licheniformis has long been considered a denitrifier but physiological experiments on three different strains demonstrated that nitrous oxide is not produced from nitrate in stoichiometric amounts, rather ammonium is the most important end-product, produced during fermentation. Significant strain dependency in end-product ratios, attributed to nitrite and ammonium, and medium dependency in nitrous oxide production were also observed. Genome analyses confirmed the lack of a nitrite reductase to nitric oxide, the key enzyme of denitrification. Based on the gene inventory and building on knowledge from other non-denitrifying nitrous oxide emitters, hypothetical pathways for nitrous oxide production, involving NarG, NirB, qNor and Hmp, are proposed. In addition, all publically available genomes of B. licheniformis demonstrated similar gene inventories, with specific duplications of the nar operon, narK and hmp genes as well as NarG phylogeny supporting the evolutionary separation of previously described distinct BALI1 and BALI2 lineages.
Using physiological and genomic data we have demonstrated that the common soil bacterium B. licheniformis does not denitrify but is capable of fermentative dissimilatory nitrate/nitrite reduction to ammonium (DNRA) with concomitant production of N2O. Considering its ubiquitous nature and non-fastidious growth in the lab, B. licheniformis is a suitable candidate for further exploration of the actual mechanism of N2O production in DNRA bacteria and its relevance in situ.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-016-2382-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4719734  PMID: 26786044
Dissimilatory nitrate/nitrite reduction to ammonium (DNRA); Fermentation; Nitrate respiration; Denitrification; Ammonification; Nitrite detoxification
10.  Supplementation with Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 Prevents Decline of Mucus Barrier in Colon of Accelerated Aging Ercc1−/Δ7 Mice 
Although it is clear that probiotics improve intestinal barrier function, little is known about the effects of probiotics on the aging intestine. We investigated effects of 10-week bacterial supplementation of Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1, Lactobacillus casei BL23, or Bifidobacterium breve DSM20213 on gut barrier and immunity in 16-week-old accelerated aging Ercc1−/Δ7 mice, which have a median lifespan of ~20 weeks, and their wild-type littermates. The colonic barrier in Ercc1−/Δ7 mice was characterized by a thin (< 10 μm) mucus layer. L. plantarum prevented this decline in mucus integrity in Ercc1−/Δ7 mice, whereas B. breve exacerbated it. Bacterial supplementations affected the expression of immune-related genes, including Toll-like receptor 4. Regulatory T cell frequencies were increased in the mesenteric lymph nodes of L. plantarum- and L. casei-treated Ercc1−/Δ7 mice. L. plantarum- and L. casei-treated Ercc1−/Δ7 mice showed increased specific antibody production in a T cell-dependent immune response in vivo. By contrast, the effects of bacterial supplementation on wild-type control mice were negligible. Thus, supplementation with L. plantarum – but not with L. casei and B. breve – prevented the decline in the mucus barrier in Ercc1−/Δ7 mice. Our data indicate that age is an important factor influencing beneficial or detrimental effects of candidate probiotics. These findings also highlight the need for caution in translating beneficial effects of probiotics observed in young animals or humans to the elderly.
PMCID: PMC5054004  PMID: 27774093
aging; probiotics; immunity; mucus; intestinal barrier; microbiota
11.  DAMP production by human islets under low oxygen and nutrients in the presence or absence of an immunoisolating-capsule and necrostatin-1 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:14623.
In between the period of transplantation and revascularization, pancreatic islets are exposed to low-oxygen and low-nutrient conditions. In the present study we mimicked those conditions in vitro to study the involvement of different cell death processes, release of danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMP), and associated in vitro immune activation. Under low-oxygen and low-nutrient conditions, apoptosis, autophagy and necroptosis occur in human islets. Necroptosis is responsible for DAMP-release such as dsDNA, uric acid, and HMGB1. The sensors of the innate immune system able to recognize these DAMPs are mainly TLR, NOD receptors, and C-type lectins. By using cell-lines with a non-functional adaptor molecule MyD88, we were able to show that the islet-derived DAMPs signal mainly via TLR. Immunoisolation in immunoprotective membranes reduced DAMP release and immune activation via retention of the relative large DAMPs in the capsules. Another effective strategy was suppressing necroptosis using the inhibitor nec-1. Although the effect on cell-survival was minor, nec-1 was able to reduce the release of HMGB1 and its associated immune activation. Our data demonstrate that in the immediate post-transplant period islets release DAMPs that in vitro enhance responses of innate immune cells. DAMP release can be reduced in vitro by immunoisolation or intervention with nec-1.
PMCID: PMC4588515  PMID: 26419792
12.  Immunological Adaptations to Pregnancy in Women with Type 1 Diabetes 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:13618.
Despite adequate glycemic control, pregnancy outcome of women with type 1 diabetes (T1D) is still unfavorable as compared to healthy women. In a rat-model of T1D under normoglycemic conditions, adverse pregnancy outcome was also observed, which was associated with aberrant immunological adaptations to pregnancy. Because similar processes may occur in women with T1D we studied the systemic immune response in non-pregnant and pregnant women with and without T1D. The systemic immune response was assessed by using flow cytometry to evaluate the number and activational status of subpopulations of lymphocytes, Natural Killer cells and monocytes in peripheral blood of non-pregnant and pregnant women with and without T1D. An increased white blood cell count, an increased Th1/Th2 ratio, increased Natural Killer cell expression of CD335 and enhanced activation of intermediate and non-classical monocytes was observed in pregnant women with T1D vs. healthy pregnant women. Also, the pregnancy outcome (i.e. incidence of preterm delivery and macrosomia) of women with T1D was unfavorable as compared to healthy women. This study showed that in T1D, the immunological adaptations to pregnancy are disturbed. In addition to hyperglycemia, these different immunological adaptations may be responsible for the greater frequency of complications in pregnant women with T1D.
PMCID: PMC4585728  PMID: 26391604
13.  Thiouracil-Forming Bacteria Identified and Characterized upon Porcine In Vitro Digestion of Brassicaceae Feed 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(23):7433-7442.
In recent years, the frequent detection of the banned thyreostat thiouracil (TU) in livestock urine has been related to endogenous TU formation following digestion of glucosinolate-rich Brassicaceae crops. Recently, it was demonstrated that, upon in vitro digestion of Brassicaceae, fecal bacteria induce TU detection in livestock (porcine livestock > bovines). Therefore, the present study was intended to isolate and identify bacteria involved in this intestinal TU formation upon Brassicaceae digestion and to gain more insight into the underlying mechanism in porcine livestock. Twenty porcine fecal inocula (gilts and multiparous sows) were assessed through static in vitro colonic-digestion simulations with rapeseed. After derivatization and extraction of the fecal suspensions, TU was analyzed using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS2). On average, lower TU concentrations were observed in fecal colonic simulations in gilts (8.35 ng g−1 rapeseed ± 3.42 [mean ± standard deviation]) than in multiparous sows (52.63 ng g−1 ± 16.17), which correlates with maturation of the gut microbial population with age. Further exploration of the mechanism showed cell-dependent activity of the microbial conversion and sustained TU-forming activity after subjection of the fecal inoculum to moderate heat over a time span of up to 30 min. Finally, nine TU-producing bacterial species were successfully isolated and identified by a combination of biochemical and molecular techniques as Escherichia coli (n = 5), Lactobacillus reuteri (n = 2), Enterococcus faecium (n = 1), and Salmonella enterica subsp. arizonae (n = 1). This report demonstrates that endogenous formation of TU is Brassicaceae induced and occurs under colonic conditions most likely through myrosinase-like enzyme activity expressed by different common intestinal bacterial species.
PMCID: PMC4249169  PMID: 25261511
14.  Draft Genome Sequence of Pseudomonas sp. nov. H2 
Genome Announcements  2015;3(2):e00241-15.
We report the draft genome sequence of Pseudomonas sp. nov. H2, isolated from creek sediment in Moscow, ID, USA. The strain is most closely related to Pseudomonas putida. However, it has a slightly smaller genome that appears to have been impacted by horizontal gene transfer and poorly maintains IncP-1 plasmids.
PMCID: PMC4384497  PMID: 25838493
15.  Weight gain in freshman college students and perceived health 
Preventive Medicine Reports  2015;2:229-234.
We determined body weight increase in first year Dutch college students. We had the objective to determine whether the awareness of the unhealthy lifestyle raised concerns and willingness to change habits.
Body weight, heartbeat, BMI, body fat percentages, and blood pressure values were collected from 1095 students. Comprehensive statistical analysis was performed on the data.
The students had a mean weight gain of 1.1 kg and an average BMI gain of 0.35. Members of a student corps gained significantly more weight (1.6 ± 3.1 kg) than non-members (1.0 ± 2.5 kg), while students who are living independently gained an average of 0.5 kg more than students living with their parents (p < 0.05). Approximately 40% of the students changed their eating patterns and 30.7% of the students consumed more alcohol.
Students experienced hindrance in physical exercise and mental well-being. Students with a high BMI without irregular eating habits were willing to change their lifestyle. However, students who had irregular lifestyles exhibited the lowest willingness to change their eating behaviors and to lose weight. Our study provides insight into means by which adolescents at high risk for weight gain can be approached to improve experienced quality of life.
•Students gained a mean of 1.1 kg in their first three months of college.•40% of the students changed their eating patterns and 30.7% consumed more alcohol.•Students with weight gain experienced hindrance in exercise and mental well-being.•Only students not having irregular eating habits wanted to change their lifestyle.•To prevent weight gain, gender-specific approaches may be necessary.
PMCID: PMC4721347  PMID: 26844076
Obesity; Eating habits; Lifestyle; Quality of life
16.  Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacterial and Archaeal Type Strains, Phase III: the genomes of soil and plant-associated and newly described type strains 
The Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea (GEBA) project was launched by the JGI in 2007 as a pilot project to sequence about 250 bacterial and archaeal genomes of elevated phylogenetic diversity. Herein, we propose to extend this approach to type strains of prokaryotes associated with soil or plants and their close relatives as well as type strains from newly described species. Understanding the microbiology of soil and plants is critical to many DOE mission areas, such as biofuel production from biomass, biogeochemistry, and carbon cycling. We are also targeting type strains of novel species while they are being described. Since 2006, about 630 new species have been described per year, many of which are closely aligned to DOE areas of interest in soil, agriculture, degradation of pollutants, biofuel production, biogeochemical transformation, and biodiversity.
PMCID: PMC4511459  PMID: 26203337
Genome sequencing; Type stains; Prokaryotes
17.  Considerations in binding diblock copolymers on hydrophilic alginate beads for providing an immunoprotective membrane 
Alginate-based microcapsules are being proposed for treatment of many types of diseases. A major obstacle however in the successes is that these capsules are having large lab-to-lab variations. To make the process more reproducible, we propose to cover the surface of alginate capsules with diblock polymers that can form polymer brushes. In the present study, we describe the stepwise considerations for successful application of diblock copolymer of polyethylene glycol (PEG) and poly-l-lysine (PLL) on the surface of alginate beads. Special procedures had to be designed as alginate beads are hydrophilic and most protocols are designed for hydrophobic biomaterials. The successful attachment of diblock copolymer and the presence of PEG blocks on the surface of the capsules were studied by fluorescence microscopy. Longer time periods, that is, 30–60 min, are required to achieve saturation of the surface. The block lengths influenced the strength of the capsules. Shorter PLL blocks resulted in less stable capsules. Adequate permeability of the capsules was achieved with poly(ethylene glycol)-block-poly(l-lysine hydrochloride) (PEG454-b-PLL100) diblock copolymers. The capsules were a barrier for immunoglobulin G. The PEG454-b-PLL100 capsules have similar mechanical properties as PLL capsules. Minor immune activation of nuclear factor κB in THP-1 monocytes was observed with both PLL and PEG454-b-PLL100 capsules prepared from purified alginate. Our results show that we can successfully apply block copolymers on the surface of hydrophilic alginate beads without interfering with the physicochemical properties.
PMCID: PMC4232034  PMID: 23853069
alginate; microencapsulation; diblock copolymer; physicochemical surface properties
18.  A novel multilayer immunoisolating encapsulation system overcoming protrusion of cells 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6856.
Application of alginate-microencapsulated therapeutic cells is a promising approach for diseases that require a local and constant supply of therapeutic molecules. However most conventional alginate microencapsulation systems are associated with low mechanical stability and protrusion of cells which is associated with higher surface roughness and limits their clinical application. Here we have developed a novel multilayer encapsulation system that prevents cells from protruding from capsules. The system was tested using a therapeutic protein with anti-tumor activity overexpressed in mammalian cells. The cell containing core of the multilayer capsule was formed by flexible alginate, creating a cell sustaining environment. Surrounded by a poly-L-lysine layer the flexible core was enveloped in a high-G alginate matrix that is less flexible and has higher mechanical stability, which does not support cell survival. The cells in the core of the multilayer capsule did not show growth impairment and protein production was normal for periods up to 70 days in vitro. The additional alginate layer also lowered the surface roughness compared to conventional cell containing alginate-PLL capsules. Our system provides a solution for two important, often overlooked phenomena in cell encapsulation: preventing cell protrusion and improving surface roughness.
PMCID: PMC4215319  PMID: 25358640
19.  Reduction of the Inflammatory Responses against Alginate-Poly-L-Lysine Microcapsules by Anti-Biofouling Surfaces of PEG-b-PLL Diblock Copolymers 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109837.
Large-scale application of alginate-poly-L-lysine (alginate-PLL) capsules used for microencapsulation of living cells is hampered by varying degrees of success, caused by tissue responses against the capsules in the host. A major cause is proinflammatory PLL which is applied at the surface to provide semipermeable properties and immunoprotection. In this study, we investigated whether application of poly(ethylene glycol)-block-poly(L-lysine hydrochloride) diblock copolymers (PEG-b-PLL) can reduce the responses against PLL on alginate-matrices. The application of PEG-b-PLL was studied in two manners: (i) as a substitute for PLL or (ii) as an anti-biofouling layer on top of a proinflammatory, but immunoprotective, semipermeable alginate-PLL100 membrane. Transmission FTIR was applied to monitor the binding of PEG-b-PLL. When applied as a substitute for PLL, strong host responses in mice were observed. These responses were caused by insufficient binding of the PLL block of the diblock copolymers confirmed by FTIR. When PEG-b-PLL was applied as an anti-biofouling layer on top of PLL100 the responses in mice were severely reduced. Building an effective anti-biofouling layer required 50 hours as confirmed by FTIR, immunocytochemistry and XPS. Our study provides new insight in the binding requirements of polyamino acids necessary to provide an immunoprotective membrane. Furthermore, we present a relatively simple method to mask proinflammatory components on the surface of microcapsules to reduce host responses. Finally, but most importantly, our study illustrates the importance of combining physicochemical and biological methods to understand the complex interactions at the capsules' surface that determine the success or failure of microcapsules applicable for cell-encapsulation.
PMCID: PMC4209974  PMID: 25347191
20.  Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea: Sequencing a Myriad of Type Strains 
PLoS Biology  2014;12(8):e1001920.
This manuscript calls for an international effort to generate a comprehensive catalog from genome sequences of all the archaeal and bacterial type strains.
Microbes hold the key to life. They hold the secrets to our past (as the descendants of the earliest forms of life) and the prospects for our future (as we mine their genes for solutions to some of the planet's most pressing problems, from global warming to antibiotic resistance). However, the piecemeal approach that has defined efforts to study microbial genetic diversity for over 20 years and in over 30,000 genome projects risks squandering that promise. These efforts have covered less than 20% of the diversity of the cultured archaeal and bacterial species, which represent just 15% of the overall known prokaryotic diversity. Here we call for the funding of a systematic effort to produce a comprehensive genomic catalog of all cultured Bacteria and Archaea by sequencing, where available, the type strain of each species with a validly published name (currently∼11,000). This effort will provide an unprecedented level of coverage of our planet's genetic diversity, allow for the large-scale discovery of novel genes and functions, and lead to an improved understanding of microbial evolution and function in the environment.
PMCID: PMC4122341  PMID: 25093819
21.  Photobacterium sanctipauli sp. nov. isolated from bleached Madracis decactis (Scleractinia) in the St Peter & St Paul Archipelago, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Brazil 
PeerJ  2014;2:e427.
Five novel strains of Photobacterium (A-394T, A-373, A-379, A-397 and A-398) were isolated from bleached coral Madracis decactis (scleractinian) in the remote St Peter & St Archipelago (SPSPA), Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Brazil. Healthy M. decactis specimens were also surveyed, but no strains were related to them. The novel isolates formed a distinct lineage based on the 16S rRNA, recA, and rpoA gene sequences analysis. Their closest phylogenetic neighbours were Photobacterium rosenbergii, P. gaetbulicola, and P. lutimaris, sharing 96.6 to 95.8% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity. The novel species can be differentiated from the closest neighbours by several phenotypic and chemotaxonomic markers. It grows at pH 11, produces tryptophane deaminase, presents the fatty acid C18:0, but lacks C16:0 iso. The whole cell protein profile, based in MALDI-TOF MS, distinguished the strains of the novel species among each other and from the closest neighbors. In addition, we are releasing the whole genome sequence of the type strain. The name Photobacterium sanctipauli sp. nov. is proposed for this taxon. The G + C content of the type strain A-394T (= LMG27910T = CAIM1892T) is 48.2 mol%.
PMCID: PMC4081156  PMID: 25024905
Photobacterium sanctipauli; St Paul’s rocks; Coral bleaching; New species; Genomic taxonomy
22.  Comparative genome analysis of pathogenic and non-pathogenic Clavibacter strains reveals adaptations to their lifestyle 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):392.
The genus Clavibacter harbors economically important plant pathogens infecting agricultural crops such as potato and tomato. Although the vast majority of Clavibacter strains are pathogenic, there is an increasing number of non-pathogenic isolates reported. Non-pathogenic Clavibacter strains isolated from tomato seeds are particularly problematic because they affect the current detection and identification tests for Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis (Cmm), which is regulated with a zero tolerance in tomato seed. Their misidentification as pathogenic Cmm hampers a clear judgment on the seed quality and health.
To get more insight in the genetic features linked to the lifestyle of these bacteria, a whole-genome sequence of the tomato seed-borne non-pathogenic Clavibacter LMG 26808 was determined. To gain a better understanding of the molecular determinants of pathogenicity, the genome sequence of LMG 26808 was compared with that of the pathogenic Cmm strain (NCPPB 382). The comparative analysis revealed that LMG 26808 does not contain plasmids pCM1 and pCM2 and also lacks the majority of important virulence factors described so far for pathogenic Cmm. This explains its apparent non-pathogenic nature in tomato plants. Moreover, the genome analysis of LMG 26808 detected sequences from a plasmid originating from a member of Enterobacteriaceae/Klebsiella relative. Genes received that way and coding for antibiotic resistance may provide a competitive advantage for survival of LMG 26808 in its ecological niche. Genetically, LMG 26808 was the most similar to the pathogenic Cmm NCPPB 382 but contained more mobile genetic elements. The genome of this non-pathogenic Clavibacter strain contained also a high number of transporters and regulatory genes.
The genome sequence of the non-pathogenic Clavibacter strain LMG 26808 and the comparative analyses with other pathogenic Clavibacter strains provided a better understanding of the genetic bases of virulence and adaptation mechanisms present in the genus Clavibacter.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-392) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4059874  PMID: 24885539
Non-pathogenic Clavibacter; Bacterial wilt and canker; Tomato seeds; Genome sequencing; Quarantine; Plant pathogen
23.  Toward Engineering a Novel Transplantation Site for Human Pancreatic Islets 
Diabetes  2013;62(5):1357-1364.
PMCID: PMC3636655  PMID: 23613549
24.  Niche differentiation in nitrogen metabolism among methanotrophs within an operational taxonomic unit 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:83.
The currently accepted thesis on nitrogenous fertilizer additions on methane oxidation activity assumes niche partitioning among methanotrophic species, with activity responses to changes in nitrogen content being dependent on the in situ methanotrophic community structure Unfortunately, widely applied tools for microbial community assessment only have a limited phylogenetic resolution mostly restricted to genus level diversity, and not to species level as often mistakenly assumed. As a consequence, intragenus or intraspecies metabolic versatility in nitrogen metabolism was never evaluated nor considered among methanotrophic bacteria as a source of differential responses of methane oxidation to nitrogen amendments.
We demonstrated that fourteen genotypically different Methylomonas strains, thus distinct below the level at which most techniques assign operational taxonomic units (OTU), show a versatile physiology in their nitrogen metabolism. Differential responses, even among strains with identical 16S rRNA or pmoA gene sequences, were observed for production of nitrite and nitrous oxide from nitrate or ammonium, nitrogen fixation and tolerance to high levels of ammonium, nitrate, and hydroxylamine. Overall, reduction of nitrate to nitrite, nitrogen fixation, higher tolerance to ammonium than nitrate and tolerance and assimilation of nitrite were general features.
Differential responses among closely related methanotrophic strains to overcome inhibition and toxicity from high nitrogen loads and assimilation of various nitrogen sources yield competitive fitness advantages to individual methane-oxidizing bacteria. Our observations proved that community structure at the deepest phylogenetic resolution potentially influences in situ functioning.
PMCID: PMC3997834  PMID: 24708438
Methylomonas methanica; Methylomonas koyamae; Methylomonas lenta; Strain dependency; Nitrogen assimilation; Detoxification
25.  Effect of Bodily Fluids from Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Larvae on Growth and Genome-Wide Transcriptional Response of the Causal Agent of American Foulbrood Disease (Paenibacillus larvae) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89175.
Paenibacillus larvae, the causal agent of American Foulbrood disease (AFB), affects honey bee health worldwide. The present study investigates the effect of bodily fluids from honey bee larvae on growth velocity and transcription for this Gram-positive, endospore-forming bacterium. It was observed that larval fluids accelerate the growth and lead to higher bacterial densities during stationary phase. The genome-wide transcriptional response of in vitro cultures of P. larvae to larval fluids was studied by microarray technology. Early responses of P. larvae to larval fluids are characterized by a general down-regulation of oligopeptide and sugar transporter genes, as well as by amino acid and carbohydrate metabolic genes, among others. Late responses are dominated by general down-regulation of sporulation genes and up-regulation of phage-related genes. A theoretical mechanism of carbon catabolite repression is discussed.
PMCID: PMC3930689  PMID: 24586572

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