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1.  Comparison of Sexual Experience and Behavior between Bipolar Outpatients and Outpatients without Mood Disorders 
Psychiatry Journal  2016;2016:5839181.
Sexual behavior over the past year of 32 outpatients with Bipolar disorder is compared to that of 44 Comparison patients that had never had an episode of affective illness. Subjects were outpatients treated with drugs and psychotherapy in routine office practice. Differences in sexual behavior between the two groups as a whole were minimal, but meaningful differences emerged when subgroups were compared. Compared to control men, Bipolar men had had more partners in the last year and were more likely to have had sex without condoms. Compared to Bipolar females, Bipolar males had more sex partners, had more sex with strangers, and were more likely to have engaged in homosexual behavior. Even so, some patients in the Comparison group also had engaged in risky sexual behavior. They had failed to use condoms and had had sex with strangers and prostitutes during the previous year.
PMCID: PMC4852112  PMID: 27190984
2.  In vitro Manganese-Dependent Cross-Talk between Streptococcus mutans VicK and GcrR: Implications for Overlapping Stress Response Pathways 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115975.
Streptococcus mutans, a major acidogenic component of the dental plaque biofilm, has a key role in caries etiology. Previously, we demonstrated that the VicRK two-component signal transduction system modulates biofilm formation, oxidative stress and acid tolerance responses in S. mutans. Using in vitro phosphorylation assays, here we demonstrate for the first time, that in addition to activating its cognate response regulator protein, the sensor kinase, VicK can transphosphorylate a non-cognate stress regulatory response regulator, GcrR, in the presence of manganese. Manganese is an important micronutrient that has been previously correlated with caries incidence, and which serves as an effector of SloR-mediated metalloregulation in S. mutans. Our findings supporting regulatory effects of manganese on the VicRK, GcrR and SloR, and the cross-regulatory networks formed by these components are more complex than previously appreciated. Using DNaseI footprinting we observed overlapping DNA binding specificities for VicR and GcrR in native promoters, consistent with these proteins being part of the same transcriptional regulon. Our results also support a role for SloR as a positive regulator of the vicRK two component signaling system, since its transcription was drastically reduced in a SloR-deficient mutant. These findings demonstrate the regulatory complexities observed with the S. mutans manganese-dependent response, which involves cross-talk between non-cognate signal transduction systems (VicRK and GcrR) to modulate stress response pathways.
PMCID: PMC4275253  PMID: 25536343
3.  A Biochemical Characterization of the DNA Binding Activity of the Response Regulator VicR from Streptococcus mutans 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108027.
Two-component systems (TCSs) are ubiquitous among bacteria and are among the most elegant and effective sensing systems in nature. They allow for efficient adaptive responses to rapidly changing environmental conditions. In this study, we investigated the biochemical characteristics of the Streptococcus mutans protein VicR, an essential response regulator that is part of the VicRK TCS. We dissected the DNA binding requirements of the recognition sequences for VicR in its phosphorylated and unphosphorylated forms. In doing so, we were able to make predictions for the expansion of the VicR regulon within S. mutans. With the ever increasing number of bacteria that are rapidly becoming resistant to even the antibiotics of last resort, TCSs such as the VicRK provide promising targets for a new class of antimicrobials.
PMCID: PMC4168254  PMID: 25229632
4.  Dimeric structure of p300/CBP associated factor 
p300/CBP associating factor (PCAF, also known as KAT2B for lysine acetyltransferase 2B) is a catalytic subunit of megadalton metazoan complex ATAC (Ada-Two-A containing complex) for acetylation of histones. However, relatively little is known about the regulation of the enzymatic activity of PCAF.
Here we present two dimeric structures of the PCAF acetyltransferase (HAT) domain. These dimerizations are mediated by either four-helical hydrophobic interactions or a ß-sheet extension. Our chemical cross-linking experiments in combined with site-directed mutagenesis demonstrated that the PCAF HAT domain mainly forms a dimer in solution through one of the observed interfaces. The results of maltose binding protein (MBP)-pulldown, co-immunoprecipitation and multiangle static light scattering experiments further indicated that PCAF dimeric state is detectable and may possibly exist in vivo.
Taken together, our structural and biochemical studies indicate that PCAF appears to be a dimer in its functional ATAC complex.
PMCID: PMC3897949  PMID: 24423233
PCAF; Histone acetyltransferase; Dimerization; ATAC
5.  Mechanistic Insights Revealed by the Crystal Structure of a Histidine Kinase with Signal Transducer and Sensor Domains 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(2):e1001493.
A crystal structure reveals an elegant mechanistic switch whereby helical bending and catalytic domain rotation allow self-activation of a histidine kinase during a bacterial stress response.
Two-component systems (TCSs) are important for the adaptation and survival of bacteria and fungi under stress conditions. A TCS is often composed of a membrane-bound sensor histidine kinase (SK) and a response regulator (RR), which are relayed through sequential phosphorylation steps. However, the mechanism for how an SK is switched on in response to environmental stimuli remains obscure. Here, we report the crystal structure of a complete cytoplasmic portion of an SK, VicK from Streptococcus mutans. The overall structure of VicK is a long-rod dimer that anchors four connected domains: HAMP, Per-ARNT-SIM (PAS), DHp, and catalytic and ATP binding domain (CA). The HAMP, a signal transducer, and the PAS domain, major sensor, adopt canonical folds with dyad symmetry. In contrast, the dimer of the DHp and CA domains is asymmetric because of different helical bends in the DHp domain and spatial positions of the CA domains. Moreover, a conserved proline, which is adjacent to the phosphoryl acceptor histidine, contributes to helical bending, which is essential for the autokinase and phosphatase activities. Together, the elegant architecture of VicK with a signal transducer and sensor domain suggests a model where DHp helical bending and a CA swing movement are likely coordinated for autokinase activation.
Author Summary
Two-component signal transduction systems (TCSs) are promising targets for new antimicrobial research because they help bacteria and fungi adapt and survive. One of the main components of TCSs is a sensor histidine kinase (SK), which relays extracellular signals to intracellular pathways. Despite intensive research, a full-length structure of an SK has yet to be solved. In this study, we report the first crystal structure of the complete cytoplasmic region of VicK, an important SK in the tooth decay pathogen S. mutans. VicK is composed of several domains (HAMP, PAS, DHp, and catalytic and ATP binding domain [CA]) in addition to a short transmembrane domain. We find that the dimeric VicK protein has an elegant rod-shaped structure with the domains linearly connected like beads on a string. The structure suggests that VicK kinase activates itself by helical bending of the DHp domain and coordinated swinging around of the catalytic CA domain to engage with the target histidine. Structure-based mutagenesis experiments also helped us to identify key residues that are required for VicK's opposing phosphatase activity. Our studies of the multi-modular VicK protein suggest a sequential kinase activation model that may involve helical bending of the DHp domain and repositioning of the CA domains.
PMCID: PMC3582566  PMID: 23468592
6.  Development of an Animal Model for Aggregatibacter Actinomycetemcomitans Biofilm-Mediated Oral Osteolytic Infection: A Preliminary Study 
Journal of periodontology  2011;82(5):778-789.
Biofilm-induced inflammatory osteolytic oral infections, such as periodontitis and peri-implantitis, have complex etiology and pathogenesis. A significant obstacle to research has been the lack of appropriate animal models where the inflammatory response to biofilms can be investigated. The aim of this study is to develop a novel animal model to study the host response to Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (previously Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans)–biofilm colonizing titanium implants.
Titanium implants were inoculated in vitro with A. actinomycetemcomitans, establishing a biofilm for 1 to 3 days. Biofilm-inoculated and control implants were transmucosally placed into rat hard palate or alveolar ridge. Analysis included documentation of clinical inflammation, polymerase chain reaction, and culture detection of A. actinomycetemcomitans and microcomputed tomography quantitation of peri-implant bone volume.
Viable A. actinomycetemcomitans biofilm was successfully established on titanium implants in vitro, detected by confocal laser scanning microscopy. An inflammatory response characterized by clinical inflammation, bleeding, ulceration, hyperplasia, and necrosis was observed around biofilm-inoculated implants. A. actinomycetemcomitans was detected by polymerase chain reaction and culture analysis on 100%of biofilm-inoculated implants for up to 3 weeks and 25%for up to 6 weeks. Microcomputed tomography analysis demonstrated significantly lower bone volume (P <0.05) around biofilm-inoculated implants (29.6% ± 7.6%) compared to non-inoculated implants (50.5% ± 9.6%) after 6 weeks.
These results describe a novel animal model where A. actinomycetemcomitans biofilm was established in vitro on titanium implants before placement in rat oral cavity, leading to an inflammatory response, osteolysis, and tissue destruction. This model may have potential use for investigation of host responses to biofilm pathogens and antibiofilm therapy.
PMCID: PMC3496747  PMID: 21222546
Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans; biofilms; dental implants; infection; models; animal; rats
7.  Aberrant Community Architecture and Attenuated Persistence of Uropathogenic Escherichia coli in the Absence of Individual IHF Subunits 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48349.
Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) utilizes a complex community-based developmental pathway for growth within superficial epithelial cells of the bladder during cystitis. Extracellular DNA (eDNA) is a common matrix component of organized bacterial communities. Integration host factor (IHF) is a heterodimeric protein that binds to double-stranded DNA and produces a hairpin bend. IHF-dependent DNA architectural changes act both intrabacterially and extrabacterially to regulate gene expression and community stability, respectively. We demonstrate that both IHF subunits are required for efficient colonization of the bladder, but are dispensable for early colonization of the kidney. The community architecture of the intracellular bacterial communities (IBCs) is quantitatively different in the absence of either IhfA or IhfB in the murine model for human urinary tract infection (UTI). Restoration of Type 1 pili by ectopic production does not restore colonization in the absence of IhfA, but partially compensates in the absence of IhfB. Furthermore, we describe a binding site for IHF that is upstream of the operon that encodes for the P-pilus. Taken together, these data suggest that both IHF and its constituent subunits (independent of the heterodimer), are able to participate in multiple aspects of the UPEC pathogenic lifestyle, and may have utility as a target for treatment of bacterial cystitis.
PMCID: PMC3485042  PMID: 23133584
8.  Genome Sequence of a Serotype b Non-JP2 Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans Strain, ANH9381, from a Periodontally Healthy Individual 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(7):1837.
Gram-negative Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans can be distinguished (based on the promoter structure of the leukotoxin operon) into JP2 and non-JP2 genotypes, with the former found to be more pathogenic than the latter. Here we report the first complete genome sequence of a serotype b non-JP2 strain of A. actinomycetemcomitans.
PMCID: PMC3302464  PMID: 22408240
9.  Oligomerization of the Response Regulator ComE from Streptococcus mutans Is Affected by Phosphorylation 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(5):1127-1135.
We have previously characterized the interactions of the response regulator ComE from Streptococcus mutans and DNA binding sites through DNase I footprinting and electrophoretic mobility shift assay analysis. Since response regulator functions are often affected by their phosphorylation state, we investigated how phosphorylation affects the biochemical function of ComE. Unlike many response regulators, we found that the phosphorylation state of ComE does not likely play a role in DNA binding affinity but rather seems to induce the formation of an oligomeric form of the protein. The role of this oligomerization state for ComE function is discussed.
PMCID: PMC3294772  PMID: 22210762
10.  Characterization of DNA Binding Sites of the ComE Response Regulator from Streptococcus mutans▿† 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(14):3642-3652.
In Streptococcus mutans, both competence and bacteriocin production are controlled by ComC and the ComED two-component signal transduction system. Recent studies of S. mutans suggested that purified ComE binds to two 11-bp direct repeats in the nlmC-comC promoter region, where ComE activates nlmC and represses comC. In this work, quantitative binding studies and DNase I footprinting analysis were performed to calculate the equilibrium dissociation constant and further characterize the binding site of ComE. We found that ComE protects sequences inclusive of both direct repeats, has an equilibrium dissociation constant in the nanomolar range, and binds to these two direct repeats cooperatively. Furthermore, similar direct repeats were found upstream of cslAB, comED, comX, ftf, vicRKX, gtfD, gtfB, gtfC, and gbpB. Quantitative binding studies were performed on each of these sequences and showed that only cslAB has a similar specificity and high affinity for ComE as that seen with the upstream region of comC. A mutational analysis of the binding sequences showed that ComE does not require both repeats to bind DNA with high affinity, suggesting that single site sequences in the genome may be targets for ComE-mediated regulation. Based on the mutational analysis and DNase I footprinting analysis, we propose a consensus ComE binding site, TCBTAAAYSGT.
PMCID: PMC3133340  PMID: 21602345
11.  Regulation of ciaXRH Operon Expression and Identification of the CiaR Regulon in Streptococcus mutans▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(18):4669-4679.
The ciaRH operon in Streptococcus mutans contains 3 contiguous genes, ciaXRH. Unlike the CiaRH system in other streptococci, only the ciaH-null mutant displays defective phenotypes, while the ciaR-null mutant behaves like the wild type. The objective of this study was to determine the mechanism of this unusual property. We demonstrate that the ciaH mutation caused a >20-fold increase in ciaR transcript synthesis. A ciaRH double deletion reversed the ciaH phenotype, suggesting that overexpressed ciaR might be responsible for the observed ciaH phenotypes. When ciaR was forced to be overexpressed by a transcriptional fusion to the ldh promoter in the wild-type background, the same ciaH phenotypes were restored, confirming the involvement of overexpressed ciaR in the ciaH phenotypes. The ciaH mutation and ciaR overexpression also caused transcriptional alterations in 100 genes, with 15 genes upregulated >5-fold. Bioinformatics analysis identified a putative CiaR regulon consisting of 8 genes/operons, including the ciaXRH operon itself, all of which were upregulated. In vitro footprinting on 4 of the 8 promoters revealed a protected region of 26 to 28 bp encompassing two direct repeats, NTTAAG-n5-WTTAAG, 10 bp upstream of the −10 region, indicating direct binding of the CiaR protein to these promoters. Taken together, we conclude that overexpressed CiaR, as a result of either ciaH deletion or forced expression from a constitutive promoter, is a mediator in the CiaH-regulated phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC2937423  PMID: 20639331
12.  Genome Sequence of Naturally Competent Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans Serotype a Strain D7S-1 ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(10):2643-2644.
The major clonal lineages of the Gram-negative periodontal pathogen Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans include serotype a, b, and c strains. Here, we report the draft genome sequence of a naturally competent serotype a strain, D7S-1, isolated from a patient with aggressive periodontitis.
PMCID: PMC2863555  PMID: 20348265
13.  Characterization of a Glutamate Transporter Operon, glnQHMP, in Streptococcus mutans and Its Role in Acid Tolerance▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;192(4):984-993.
Glutamate contributes to the acid tolerance response (ATR) of many Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, but its role in the ATR of the oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans is unknown. This study describes the discovery and characterization of a glutamate transporter operon designated glnQHMP (Smu.1519 to Smu.1522) and investigates its potential role in acid tolerance. Deletion of glnQHMP resulted in a 95% reduction in transport of radiolabeled glutamate compared to the wild-type UA159 strain. The addition of glutamate to metabolizing UA159 cells resulted in an increased production of acidic end products, whereas the glnQHMP mutant produced less lactic acid than UA159, suggesting a link between glutamate metabolism and acid production and possible acid tolerance. To investigate this possibility, we conducted a microarray analysis with glutamate and under pH 5.5 and pH 7.5 conditions which showed that expression of the glnQHMP operon was downregulated by both glutamate and mild acid. We also measured the growth kinetics of UA159 and its glnQHMP-negative derivative at pH 5.5 and found that the mutant doubled at a much slower rate than the parent strain but survived at pH 3.5 significantly better than the wild type. Taken together, these findings support the involvement of the glutamate transporter operon glnQHMP in the acid tolerance response in S. mutans.
PMCID: PMC2812961  PMID: 20023025
14.  Borrelia burgdorferi membranes are the primary targets of reactive oxygen species 
Molecular Microbiology  2008;68(3):786-799.
Spirochetes living in an oxygen-rich environment or when challenged by host immune cells are exposed to reactive oxygen species (ROS). These species can harm/destroy cysteinyl residues, iron-sulphur clusters, DNA and polyunsaturated lipids, leading to inhibition of growth or cell death. Because Borrelia burgdorferi contains no intracellular iron, DNA is most likely not a major target for ROS via Fenton reaction. In support of this, growth of B. burgdorferi in the presence of 5 mM H2O2 had no effect on the DNA mutation rate (spontaneous coumermycin A1 resistance), and cells treated with 10 mM t-butyl hydroperoxide or 10 mM H2O2 show no increase in DNA damage. Unlike most bacteria, B. burgdorferi incorporates ROS-susceptible polyunsaturated fatty acids from the environment into their membranes. Analysis of lipoxidase-treated B. burgdorferi cells by Electron Microscopy showed significant irregularities indicative of membrane damage. Fatty acid analysis of cells treated with lipoxidase indicated that host-derived linoleic acid had been dramatically reduced (50-fold) in these cells, with a corresponding increase in the levels of malondialdehyde by-product (fourfold). These data suggest that B. burgdorferi membrane lipids are targets for attack by ROS encountered in the various stages of the infective cycle.
PMCID: PMC2327290  PMID: 18373524
15.  Insights into the complex regulation of rpoS in Borrelia burgdorferi 
Molecular Microbiology  2007;65(2):277-293.
Co-ordinated regulation of gene expression is required for the transmission and survival of Borrelia burgdorferi in different hosts. The sigma factor RpoS (σS), as regulated by RpoN (σ54), has been shown to regulate key virulence factors (e.g. OspC) required for these processes. As important, multiple signals (e.g. temperature, pH, cell density, oxygen) have been shown to increase the expression of σS-dependent genes; however, little is known about the signal transduction mechanisms that modulate the expression of rpoS. In this report we show that: (i) rpoS has a σ54-dependent promoter that requires Rrp2 to activate transcription; (ii) Rrp2Δ123, a constitutively active form of Rrp2, activated σ54-dependent transcription of rpoS/P-lacZ reporter constructs in Escherichia coli; (iii) quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (QRT-PCR) experiments with reporter cat constructs in B. burgdorferi indicated that Rrp2 activated transcription of rpoS in an enhancer-independent fashion; and finally, (iv) rpoN is required for cell density- and temperature-dependent expression of rpoS in B. burgdorferi, but histidine kinase Hk2, encoded by the gene immediately upstream of rrp2, is not essential. Based on these findings, a model for regulation of rpoS has been proposed which provides mechanisms for multiple signalling pathways to modulate the expression of the σS regulon in B. burgdorferi.
PMCID: PMC1976401  PMID: 17590233

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