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1.  A comparative multidimensional LC-MS proteomic analysis reveals mechanisms for furan aldehyde detoxification in Thermoanaerobacter pseudethanolicus 39E 
Biotechnology for Biofuels  2014;7(1):165.
Chemical and physical pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass improves substrate reactivity for increased microbial biofuel production, but also restricts growth via the release of furan aldehydes, such as furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF). The physiological effects of these inhibitors on thermophilic, fermentative bacteria are important to understand; especially as cellulolytic strains are being developed for consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) of lignocellulosic feedstocks. Identifying mechanisms for detoxification of aldehydes in naturally resistant strains, such as Thermoanaerobacter spp., may also enable improvements in candidate CBP microorganisms.
Thermoanaerobacter pseudethanolicus 39E, an anaerobic, saccharolytic thermophile, was found to grow readily in the presence of 30 mM furfural and 20 mM 5-HMF and reduce these aldehydes to their respective alcohols in situ. The proteomes of T. pseudethanolicus 39E grown in the presence or absence of 15 mM furfural were compared to identify upregulated enzymes potentially responsible for the observed reduction. A total of 225 proteins were differentially regulated in response to the 15 mM furfural treatment with 152 upregulated versus 73 downregulated. Only 87 proteins exhibited a twofold or greater change in abundance in either direction. Of these, 54 were upregulated in the presence of furfural and 33 were downregulated. Two oxidoreductases were upregulated at least twofold by furfural and were targeted for further investigation. Teth39_1597 encodes a predicted butanol dehydrogenase (BdhA) and Teth39_1598, a predicted aldo/keto reductase (AKR). Both genes were cloned from T. pseudethanolicus 39E, with the respective enzymes overexpressed in E. coli and specific activities determined against a variety of aldehydes. Overexpressed BdhA showed significant activity with all aldehydes tested, including furfural and 5-HMF, using NADPH as the cofactor. Cell extracts with AKR also showed activity with NADPH, but only with four-carbon butyraldehyde and isobutyraldehyde.
T. pseudethanolicus 39E displays intrinsic tolerance to the common pretreatment inhibitors furfural and 5-HMF. Multidimensional proteomic analysis was used as an effective tool to identify putative mechanisms for detoxification of furfural and 5-HMF. T. pseudethanolicus was found to upregulate an NADPH-dependent alcohol dehydrogenase 6.8-fold in response to furfural. In vitro enzyme assays confirmed the reduction of furfural and 5-HMF to their respective alcohols.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13068-014-0165-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4265447  PMID: 25506391
Thermophiles; Lignocellulosic; Biofuels; Proteomics; Inhibitor; Pretreatment; Furfural; 5-hydroxymethylfurfural; Butanol dehydrogenase
2.  Isolation and chemical analysis of nanoparticles from English ivy (Hedera helix L.) 
Bio-inspiration for novel adhesive development has drawn increasing interest in recent years with the discovery of the nanoscale morphology of the gecko footpad and mussel adhesive proteins. Similar to these animal systems, it was discovered that English ivy (Hedera helix L.) secretes a high strength adhesive containing uniform nanoparticles. Recent studies have demonstrated that the ivy nanoparticles not only contribute to the high strength of this adhesive, but also have ultraviolet (UV) protective abilities, making them ideal for sunscreen and cosmetic fillers, and may be used as nanocarriers for drug delivery. To make these applications a reality, the chemical nature of the ivy nanoparticles must be elucidated. In the current work, a method was developed to harvest bulk ivy nanoparticles from an adventitious root culture system, and the chemical composition of the nanoparticles was analysed. UV/visible spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and electrophoresis were used in this study to identify the chemical nature of the ivy nanoparticles. Based on this analysis, we conclude that the ivy nanoparticles are proteinaceous.
PMCID: PMC3757999  PMID: 23883948
bioadhesive; nanoparticles; nanocomposite; English ivy
3.  Identification and Environmental Distribution of dcpA, Which Encodes the Reductive Dehalogenase Catalyzing the Dichloroelimination of 1,2-Dichloropropane to Propene in Organohalide-Respiring Chloroflexi 
Dehalococcoides mccartyi strains KS and RC grow with 1,2-dichloropropane (1,2-D) as an electron acceptor in enrichment cultures derived from hydrocarbon-contaminated and pristine river sediments, respectively. Transcription, expression, enzymatic, and PCR analyses implicated the reductive dehalogenase gene dcpA in 1,2-D dichloroelimination to propene and inorganic chloride. Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) analyses demonstrated a D. mccartyi cell increase during growth with 1,2-D and suggested that both D. mccartyi strains carried a single dcpA gene copy per genome. D. mccartyi strain RC and strain KS produced 1.8 × 107 ± 0.1 × 107 and 1.4 × 107 ± 0.5 × 107 cells per μmol of propene formed, respectively. The dcpA gene was identified in 1,2-D-to-propene-dechlorinating microcosms established with sediment samples collected from different geographical locations in Europe and North and South America. Clone library analysis revealed two distinct dcpA phylogenetic clusters, both of which were captured by the dcpA gene-targeted qPCR assay, suggesting that the qPCR assay is useful for site assessment and bioremediation monitoring at 1,2-D-contaminated sites.
PMCID: PMC3911209  PMID: 24242248
4.  Comparative Informatics Analysis to Evaluate Site-Specific Protein Oxidation in Multidimensional LC-MS/MS Data 
Journal of proteome research  2013;12(7):3307-3316.
Redox proteomics has yielded molecular insight into diseases of protein dysfunction attributable to oxidative stress, underscoring the need for robust detection of protein oxidation products. Additionally, oxidative protein surface mapping techniques utilize hydroxyl radicals to gain structural insight about solvent exposure. Interpretation of tandem mass spectral data is a critical challenge for such investigations, because reactive oxygen species target a wide breadth of amino acids. Additionally, oxidized peptides may be generated in a wide range of abundances since the reactivity of hydroxyl radicals with different amino acids spans three orders of magnitude. Taken together, these attributes of oxidative footprinting pose both experimental and computational challenges to detecting oxidized peptides that are naturally less abundant than their unoxidized counterparts. In this study, three model proteins were oxidized electrochemically and analyzed at both the intact protein and peptide levels. A multidimensional chromatographic strategy was utilized to expand the dynamic range of oxidized peptide measurements. Peptide mass spectral data were searched by the “hybrid” software packages Inspect and Byonic, which incorporate de novo elements of spectral interpretation into a database search. This dynamic search capacity accommodates the challenge of searching for more than forty oxidative mass shifts that can occur in a staggering variety of possible combinatorial occurrences. A prevailing set of oxidized residues was identified with this comparative approach, and evaluation of these sites was informed by solvent accessible surface area gleaned through molecular dynamics simulations. Along with increased levels of oxidation around highly reactive “hotspot” sites as expected, the enhanced sensitivity of these measurements uncovered a surprising level of oxidation on less reactive residues.
PMCID: PMC3747030  PMID: 23827042
Informatics; multidimensional chromatography; mass spectrometry; boron-doped diamond electrochemistry; covalent label; hydroxyl radical; molecular dynamics; solvent accessibility; oxidative surface mapping; protein structure
5.  Recoding of the stop codon UGA to glycine by a BD1-5/SN-2 bacterium and niche partitioning between Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria in a tidal sediment microbial community naturally selected in a laboratory chemostat 
Sandy coastal sediments are global hotspots for microbial mineralization of organic matter and denitrification. These sediments are characterized by advective porewater flow, tidal cycling and an active and complex microbial community. Metagenomic sequencing of microbial communities sampled from such sediments showed that potential sulfur oxidizing Gammaproteobacteria and members of the enigmatic BD1-5/SN-2 candidate phylum were abundant in situ (>10% and ~2% respectively). By mimicking the dynamic oxic/anoxic environmental conditions of the sediment in a laboratory chemostat, a simplified microbial community was selected from the more complex inoculum. Metagenomics, proteomics and fluorescence in situ hybridization showed that this simplified community contained both a potential sulfur oxidizing Gammaproteobacteria (at 24 ± 2% abundance) and a member of the BD1-5/SN-2 candidate phylum (at 7 ± 6% abundance). Despite the abundant supply of organic substrates to the chemostat, proteomic analysis suggested that the selected gammaproteobacterium grew partially autotrophically and performed hydrogen/formate oxidation. The enrichment of a member of the BD1-5/SN-2 candidate phylum enabled, for the first time, direct microscopic observation by fluorescent in situ hybridization and the experimental validation of the previously predicted translation of the stop codon UGA into glycine.
PMCID: PMC4032931  PMID: 24904545
continuous culture; enrichment; chemostat; Roseobacter; Maritimibacter; stop codon
6.  Metaproteomics: Harnessing the power of high performance mass spectrometry to identify the suite of proteins that control metabolic activities in microbial communities 
Analytical chemistry  2013;85(9):4203-4214.
The availability of extensive genome information for many different microbes, including unculturable species in mixed communities from environmental samples, has enabled systems-biology interrogation by providing a means to access genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic information. To this end, metaproteomics exploits the power of high performance mass spectrometry for extensive characterization of the complete suite of proteins expressed by a microbial community in an environmental sample.
PMCID: PMC3696428  PMID: 23469896
7.  Biostimulation induces syntrophic interactions that impact C, S and N cycling in a sediment microbial community 
The ISME Journal  2012;7(4):800-816.
Stimulation of subsurface microorganisms to induce reductive immobilization of metals is a promising approach for bioremediation, yet the overall microbial community response is typically poorly understood. Here we used proteogenomics to test the hypothesis that excess input of acetate activates complex community functioning and syntrophic interactions among autotrophs and heterotrophs. A flow-through sediment column was incubated in a groundwater well of an acetate-amended aquifer and recovered during microbial sulfate reduction. De novo reconstruction of community sequences yielded near-complete genomes of Desulfobacter (Deltaproteobacteria), Sulfurovum- and Sulfurimonas-like Epsilonproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes. Partial genomes were obtained for Clostridiales (Firmicutes) and Desulfuromonadales-like Deltaproteobacteria. The majority of proteins identified by mass spectrometry corresponded to Desulfobacter-like species, and demonstrate the role of this organism in sulfate reduction (Dsr and APS), nitrogen fixation and acetate oxidation to CO2 during amendment. Results indicate less abundant Desulfuromonadales, and possibly Bacteroidetes, also actively contributed to CO2 production via the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. Proteomic data indicate that sulfide was partially re-oxidized by Epsilonproteobacteria through nitrate-dependent sulfide oxidation (using Nap, Nir, Nos, SQR and Sox), with CO2 fixed using the reverse TCA cycle. We infer that high acetate concentrations, aimed at stimulating anaerobic heterotrophy, led to the co-enrichment of, and carbon fixation in Epsilonproteobacteria. Results give an insight into ecosystem behavior following addition of simple organic carbon to the subsurface, and demonstrate a range of biological processes and community interactions were stimulated.
PMCID: PMC3603403  PMID: 23190730
autotroph; metagenomics; proteomics; sediment; subsurface; syntrophy
8.  An Experimental Approach to Controllably Vary Protein Oxidation While Minimizing Electrode Adsorption for Boron-Doped Diamond Electrochemical Surface Mapping Applications 
Analytical chemistry  2012;85(1):213-219.
Oxidative protein surface mapping has become a powerful approach for measuring the solvent accessibility of folded protein structures. A variety of techniques exist for generating the key reagent – hydroxyl radicals – for these measurements; however, these approaches range significantly in their complexity and expense of operation. This research expands upon earlier work to enhance the controllability of boron-doped diamond (BDD) electrochemistry as an easily accessible tool for producing hydroxyl radicals in order to oxidize a range of intact proteins. Efforts to modulate oxidation level while minimizing the adsorption of protein to the electrode involved the use of relatively high flow rates to reduce protein residence time inside the electrochemical flow chamber. Additionally, a different cell activation approach using variable voltage to supply a controlled current allowed us to precisely tune the extent of oxidation in a protein-dependent manner. In order to gain perspective on the level of protein adsorption onto the electrode surface, studies were conducted to monitor protein concentration during electrolysis and gauge changes in the electrode surface between cell activation events. This report demonstrates the successful use of BDD electrochemistry for greater precision in generating a target number of oxidation events upon intact proteins.
PMCID: PMC3549720  PMID: 23210708
Protein structure; mass spectrometry; boron-doped diamond electrochemistry; covalent label; hydroxyl radical; solvent accessibility; oxidative surface mapping
9.  Insights into the Structure and Metabolic Function of Microbes That Shape Pelagic Iron-Rich Aggregates (“Iron Snow”) 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(14):4272-4281.
Microbial ferrous iron [Fe(II)] oxidation leads to the formation of iron-rich macroscopic aggregates (“iron snow”) at the redoxcline in a stratified lignite mine lake in east-central Germany. We aimed to identify the abundant Fe-oxidizing and Fe-reducing microorganisms likely to be involved in the formation and transformation of iron snow present in the redoxcline in two basins of the lake that differ in their pH values. Nucleic acid- and lipid-stained microbial cells of various morphologies detected by confocal laser scanning microscopy were homogeneously distributed in all iron snow samples. The dominant iron mineral appeared to be schwertmannite, with shorter needles in the northern than in the central basin samples. Total bacterial 16S rRNA gene copies ranged from 5.0 × 108 copies g (dry weight)−1 in the acidic central lake basin (pH 3.3) to 4.0 × 1010 copies g (dry weight)−1 in the less acidic (pH 5.9) northern basin. Total RNA-based quantitative PCR assigned up to 61% of metabolically active microbial communities to Fe-oxidizing- and Fe-reducing-related bacteria, indicating that iron metabolism was an important metabolic strategy. Molecular identification of abundant groups suggested that iron snow surfaces were formed by chemoautotrophic iron oxidizers, such as Acidimicrobium, Ferrovum, Acidithiobacillus, Thiobacillus, and Chlorobium, in the redoxcline and were rapidly colonized by heterotrophic iron reducers, such as Acidiphilium, Albidiferax-like, and Geobacter-like groups. Metaproteomics yielded 283 different proteins from northern basin iron snow samples, and protein identification provided a glimpse into some of their in situ metabolic processes, such as primary production (CO2 fixation), respiration, motility, and survival strategies.
PMCID: PMC3697501  PMID: 23645202
10.  New Group in the Leptospirillum Clade: Cultivation-Independent Community Genomics, Proteomics, and Transcriptomics of the New Species “Leptospirillum Group IV UBA BS” 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(17):5384-5393.
Leptospirillum spp. are widespread members of acidophilic microbial communities that catalyze ferrous iron oxidation, thereby increasing sulfide mineral dissolution rates. These bacteria play important roles in environmental acidification and are harnessed for bioleaching-based metal recovery. Known members of the Leptospirillum clade of the Nitrospira phylum are Leptospirillum ferrooxidans (group I), Leptospirillum ferriphilum and “Leptospirillum rubarum” (group II), and Leptospirillum ferrodiazotrophum (group III). In the Richmond Mine acid mine drainage (AMD) system, biofilm formation is initiated by L. rubarum; L. ferrodiazotrophum appears in later developmental stages. Here we used community metagenomic data from unusual, thick floating biofilms to identify distinguishing metabolic traits in a rare and uncultivated community member, the new species “Leptospirillum group IV UBA BS.” These biofilms typically also contain a variety of Archaea, Actinobacteria, and a few other Leptospirillum spp. The Leptospirillum group IV UBA BS species shares 98% 16S rRNA sequence identity and 70% average amino acid identity between orthologs with its closest relative, L. ferrodiazotrophum. The presence of nitrogen fixation and reverse tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle proteins suggest an autotrophic metabolism similar to that of L. ferrodiazotrophum, while hydrogenase proteins suggest anaerobic metabolism. Community transcriptomic and proteomic analyses demonstrate expression of a multicopper oxidase unique to this species, as well as hydrogenases and core metabolic genes. Results suggest that the Leptospirillum group IV UBA BS species might play important roles in carbon fixation, nitrogen fixation, hydrogen metabolism, and iron oxidation in some acidic environments.
PMCID: PMC3753937  PMID: 23645189
11.  Effects of Diet on Resource Utilization by a Model Human Gut Microbiota Containing Bacteroides cellulosilyticus WH2, a Symbiont with an Extensive Glycobiome 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(8):e1001637.
Artificial human gut microbial communities implanted into germ-free mice provide insights into how species-level responses to changes in diet give rise to community-level structural and functional reconfiguration and how types of bacteria prioritize use of available nutrients in vivo.
The human gut microbiota is an important metabolic organ, yet little is known about how its individual species interact, establish dominant positions, and respond to changes in environmental factors such as diet. In this study, gnotobiotic mice were colonized with an artificial microbiota comprising 12 sequenced human gut bacterial species and fed oscillating diets of disparate composition. Rapid, reproducible, and reversible changes in the structure of this assemblage were observed. Time-series microbial RNA-Seq analyses revealed staggered functional responses to diet shifts throughout the assemblage that were heavily focused on carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism. High-resolution shotgun metaproteomics confirmed many of these responses at a protein level. One member, Bacteroides cellulosilyticus WH2, proved exceptionally fit regardless of diet. Its genome encoded more carbohydrate active enzymes than any previously sequenced member of the Bacteroidetes. Transcriptional profiling indicated that B. cellulosilyticus WH2 is an adaptive forager that tailors its versatile carbohydrate utilization strategy to available dietary polysaccharides, with a strong emphasis on plant-derived xylans abundant in dietary staples like cereal grains. Two highly expressed, diet-specific polysaccharide utilization loci (PULs) in B. cellulosilyticus WH2 were identified, one with characteristics of xylan utilization systems. Introduction of a B. cellulosilyticus WH2 library comprising >90,000 isogenic transposon mutants into gnotobiotic mice, along with the other artificial community members, confirmed that these loci represent critical diet-specific fitness determinants. Carbohydrates that trigger dramatic increases in expression of these two loci and many of the organism's 111 other predicted PULs were identified by RNA-Seq during in vitro growth on 31 distinct carbohydrate substrates, allowing us to better interpret in vivo RNA-Seq and proteomics data. These results offer insight into how gut microbes adapt to dietary perturbations at both a community level and from the perspective of a well-adapted symbiont with exceptional saccharolytic capabilities, and illustrate the value of artificial communities.
Author Summary
Our intestines are populated by an almost unimaginably large number of microbial cells, most of which are bacteria. This species assemblage operates as a microbial metabolic organ, performing myriad tasks that contribute to our well-being, including processing components of our diet. The way this incredible machine assembles itself and operates remains mysterious. One approach to understanding its properties is to create artificial communities composed of a limited number of sequenced human gut bacterial species and to install them in the guts of germ-free mice that are then fed different diets. In this report, we adopt this approach. We describe the genome sequence of a new gut bacterial isolate, Bacteroides cellulosilyticus WH2, which is equipped with an unprecedented number of carbohydrate active enzymes. Deploying four different “omics” technologies, we characterize the response to diet, the relative stability, and the temporal dynamics of a 12-species artificial bacterial assemblage (including B. cellulosilyticus WH2) implanted in germ-free mouse guts. We also combine high-throughput substrate utilization screens and RNA-Seq to generate reference data analogous to a “Rosetta stone” in order to decipher what types of carbohydrates B. cellulosilyticus encounters and uses within the gut, and how it interacts with other organisms that have similar and/or distinct “professions.” This work sets the stage for future ecological and metabolic studies of more complex assemblages that more fully emulate the properties of our native gut communities.
PMCID: PMC3747994  PMID: 23976882
12.  Role of the CipA Scaffoldin Protein in Cellulose Solubilization, as Determined by Targeted Gene Deletion and Complementation in Clostridium thermocellum 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(4):733-739.
The CipA scaffoldin protein plays a key role in the Clostridium thermocellum cellulosome. Previous studies have revealed that mutants deficient in binding or solubilizing cellulose also exhibit reduced expression of CipA. To confirm that CipA is, in fact, necessary for rapid solubilization of crystalline cellulose, the gene was deleted from the chromosome using targeted gene deletion technologies. The CipA deletion mutant exhibited a 100-fold reduction in cellulose solubilization rate, although it was eventually able to solubilize 80% of the 5 g/liter cellulose initially present. The deletion mutant was complemented by a copy of cipA expressed from a replicating plasmid. In this strain, Avicelase activity was restored, although the rate was 2-fold lower than that in the wild type and the duration of the lag phase was increased. The cipA coding sequence is located at the beginning of a gene cluster containing several other genes thought to be responsible for the structural organization of the cellulosome, including olpB, orf2p, and olpA. Tandem mass spectrometry revealed a 10-fold reduction in the expression of olpB, which may explain the lower growth rate. This deletion experiment adds further evidence that CipA plays a key role in cellulose solubilization by C. thermocellum, and it raises interesting questions about the differential roles of the anchor scaffoldin proteins OlpB, Orf2p, and SdbA.
PMCID: PMC3562095  PMID: 23204466
13.  Heterotrophic Archaea Contribute to Carbon Cycling in Low-pH, Suboxic Biofilm Communities 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(23):8321-8330.
Archaea are widely distributed and yet are most often not the most abundant members of microbial communities. Here, we document a transition from Bacteria- to Archaea-dominated communities in microbial biofilms sampled from the Richmond Mine acid mine drainage (AMD) system (∼pH 1.0, ∼38°C) and in laboratory-cultivated biofilms. This transition occurs when chemoautotrophic microbial communities that develop at the air-solution interface sink to the sediment-solution interface and degrade under microaerobic and anaerobic conditions. The archaea identified in these sunken biofilms are from the class Thermoplasmata, and in some cases, the highly divergent ARMAN nanoarchaeal lineage. In several of the sunken biofilms, nanoarchaea comprise 10 to 25% of the community, based on fluorescent in situ hybridization and metagenomic analyses. Comparative community proteomic analyses show a persistence of bacterial proteins in sunken biofilms, but there is clear evidence for amino acid modifications due to acid hydrolysis. Given the low representation of bacterial cells in sunken biofilms based on microscopy, we infer that hydrolysis reflects proteins derived from lysed cells. For archaea, we detected ∼2,400 distinct proteins, including a subset involved in proteolysis and peptide uptake. Laboratory cultivation experiments using complex carbon substrates demonstrated anaerobic enrichment of Ferroplasma and Aplasma coupled to the reduction of ferric iron. These findings indicate dominance of acidophilic archaea in degrading biofilms and suggest that they play roles in anaerobic nutrient cycling at low pH.
PMCID: PMC3497393  PMID: 23001646
15.  Caldicellulosiruptor Core and Pangenomes Reveal Determinants for Noncellulosomal Thermophilic Deconstruction of Plant Biomass 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(15):4015-4028.
Extremely thermophilic bacteria of the genus Caldicellulosiruptor utilize carbohydrate components of plant cell walls, including cellulose and hemicellulose, facilitated by a diverse set of glycoside hydrolases (GHs). From a biofuel perspective, this capability is crucial for deconstruction of plant biomass into fermentable sugars. While all species from the genus grow on xylan and acid-pretreated switchgrass, growth on crystalline cellulose is variable. The basis for this variability was examined using microbiological, genomic, and proteomic analyses of eight globally diverse Caldicellulosiruptor species. The open Caldicellulosiruptor pangenome (4,009 open reading frames [ORFs]) encodes 106 GHs, representing 43 GH families, but only 26 GHs from 17 families are included in the core (noncellulosic) genome (1,543 ORFs). Differentiating the strongly cellulolytic Caldicellulosiruptor species from the others is a specific genomic locus that encodes multidomain cellulases from GH families 9 and 48, which are associated with cellulose-binding modules. This locus also encodes a novel adhesin associated with type IV pili, which was identified in the exoproteome bound to crystalline cellulose. Taking into account the core genomes, pangenomes, and individual genomes, the ancestral Caldicellulosiruptor was likely cellulolytic and evolved, in some cases, into species that lost the ability to degrade crystalline cellulose while maintaining the capacity to hydrolyze amorphous cellulose and hemicellulose.
PMCID: PMC3416521  PMID: 22636774
16.  Integrated Metagenomics/Metaproteomics Reveals Human Host-Microbiota Signatures of Crohn's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49138.
Crohn's disease (CD) is an inflammatory bowel disease of complex etiology, although dysbiosis of the gut microbiota has been implicated in chronic immune-mediated inflammation associated with CD. Here we combined shotgun metagenomic and metaproteomic approaches to identify potential functional signatures of CD in stool samples from six twin pairs that were either healthy, or that had CD in the ileum (ICD) or colon (CCD). Integration of these omics approaches revealed several genes, proteins, and pathways that primarily differentiated ICD from healthy subjects, including depletion of many proteins in ICD. In addition, the ICD phenotype was associated with alterations in bacterial carbohydrate metabolism, bacterial-host interactions, as well as human host-secreted enzymes. This eco-systems biology approach underscores the link between the gut microbiota and functional alterations in the pathophysiology of Crohn's disease and aids in identification of novel diagnostic targets and disease specific biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3509130  PMID: 23209564
17.  Clostridium thermocellum ATCC27405 transcriptomic, metabolomic and proteomic profiles after ethanol stress 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:336.
Clostridium thermocellum is a candidate consolidated bioprocessing biocatalyst, which is a microorganism that expresses enzymes for both cellulose hydrolysis and its fermentation to produce fuels such as lignocellulosic ethanol. However, C. thermocellum is relatively sensitive to ethanol compared to ethanologenic microorganisms such as yeast and Zymomonas mobilis that are used in industrial fermentations but do not possess native enzymes for industrial cellulose hydrolysis.
In this study, C. thermocellum was grown to mid-exponential phase and then treated with ethanol to a final concentration of 3.9 g/L to investigate its physiological and regulatory responses to ethanol stress. Samples were taken pre-shock and 2, 12, 30, 60, 120, and 240 min post-shock, and from untreated control fermentations for systems biology analyses. Cell growth was arrested by ethanol supplementation with intracellular accumulation of carbon sources such as cellobiose, and sugar phosphates, including fructose-6-phosphate and glucose-6-phosphate. The largest response of C. thermocellum to ethanol shock treatment was in genes and proteins related to nitrogen uptake and metabolism, which is likely important for redirecting the cells physiology to overcome inhibition and allow growth to resume.
This study suggests possible avenues for metabolic engineering and provides comprehensive, integrated systems biology datasets that will be useful for future metabolic modeling and strain development endeavors.
PMCID: PMC3478167  PMID: 22823947
18.  Quantitative proteomic analyses of the response of acidophilic microbial communities to different pH conditions 
The ISME Journal  2011;5(7):1152-1161.
Extensive genomic characterization of multi-species acid mine drainage microbial consortia combined with laboratory cultivation has enabled the application of quantitative proteomic analyses at the community level. In this study, quantitative proteomic comparisons were used to functionally characterize laboratory-cultivated acidophilic communities sustained in pH 1.45 or 0.85 conditions. The distributions of all proteins identified for individual organisms indicated biases for either high or low pH, and suggests pH-specific niche partitioning for low abundance bacteria and archaea. Although the proteome of the dominant bacterium, Leptospirillum group II, was largely unaffected by pH treatments, analysis of functional categories indicated proteins involved in amino acid and nucleotide metabolism, as well as cell membrane/envelope biogenesis were overrepresented at high pH. Comparison of specific protein abundances indicates higher pH conditions favor Leptospirillum group III, whereas low pH conditions promote the growth of certain archaea. Thus, quantitative proteomic comparisons revealed distinct differences in community composition and metabolic function of individual organisms during different pH treatments. Proteomic analysis revealed other aspects of community function. Different numbers of phage proteins were identified across biological replicates, indicating stochastic spatial heterogeneity of phage outbreaks. Additionally, proteomic data were used to identify a previously unknown genotypic variant of Leptospirillum group II, an indication of selection for a specific Leptospirillum group II population in laboratory communities. Our results confirm the importance of pH and related geochemical factors in fine-tuning acidophilic microbial community structure and function at the species and strain level, and demonstrate the broad utility of proteomics in laboratory community studies.
PMCID: PMC3146278  PMID: 21228889
acid mine drainage; communities; genotyping; perturbation; proteomics
19.  Phage-Induced Expression of CRISPR-Associated Proteins Is Revealed by Shotgun Proteomics in Streptococcus thermophilus 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e38077.
The CRISPR/Cas system, comprised of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats along with their associated (Cas) proteins, protects bacteria and archaea from viral predation and invading nucleic acids. While the mechanism of action for this acquired immunity is currently under investigation, the response of Cas protein expression to phage infection has yet to be elucidated. In this study, we employed shotgun proteomics to measure the global proteome expression in a model system for studying the CRISPR/Cas response in S. thermophilus DGCC7710 infected with phage 2972. Host and viral proteins were simultaneously measured following inoculation at two different multiplicities of infection and across various time points using two-dimensional liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Thirty-seven out of forty predicted viral proteins were detected, including all proteins of the structural virome and viral effector proteins. In total, 1,013 of 2,079 predicted S. thermophilus proteins were detected, facilitating the monitoring of host protein synthesis changes in response to virus infection. Importantly, Cas proteins from all four CRISPR loci in the S. thermophilus DGCC7710 genome were detected, including loci previously thought to be inactive. Many Cas proteins were found to be constitutively expressed, but several demonstrated increased abundance following infection, including the signature Cas9 proteins from the CRISPR1 and CRISPR3 loci, which are key players in the interference phase of the CRISPR/Cas response. Altogether, these results provide novel insights into the proteomic response of S. thermophilus, specifically CRISPR-associated proteins, upon phage 2972 infection.
PMCID: PMC3364186  PMID: 22666452
20.  Identification of Biofilm Matrix-Associated Proteins from an Acid Mine Drainage Microbial Community ▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(15):5230-5237.
In microbial communities, extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), also called the extracellular matrix, provide the spatial organization and structural stability during biofilm development. One of the major components of EPS is protein, but it is not clear what specific functions these proteins contribute to the extracellular matrix or to microbial physiology. To investigate this in biofilms from an extremely acidic environment, we used shotgun proteomics analyses to identify proteins associated with EPS in biofilms at two developmental stages, designated DS1 and DS2. The proteome composition of the EPS was significantly different from that of the cell fraction, with more than 80% of the cellular proteins underrepresented or undetectable in EPS. In contrast, predicted periplasmic, outer membrane, and extracellular proteins were overrepresented by 3- to 7-fold in EPS. Also, EPS proteins were more basic by ∼2 pH units on average and about half the length. When categorized by predicted function, proteins involved in motility, defense, cell envelope, and unknown functions were enriched in EPS. Chaperones, such as histone-like DNA binding protein and cold shock protein, were overrepresented in EPS. Enzymes, such as protein peptidases, disulfide-isomerases, and those associated with cell wall and polysaccharide metabolism, were also detected. Two of these enzymes, identified as β-N-acetylhexosaminidase and cellulase, were confirmed in the EPS fraction by enzymatic activity assays. Compared to the differences between EPS and cellular fractions, the relative differences in the EPS proteomes between DS1 and DS2 were smaller and consistent with expected physiological changes during biofilm development.
PMCID: PMC3147463  PMID: 21685158
21.  Use of Label-Free Quantitative Proteomics To Distinguish the Secreted Cellulolytic Systems of Caldicellulosiruptor bescii and Caldicellulosiruptor obsidiansis ▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(12):4042-4054.
The extremely thermophilic, Gram-positive bacteria Caldicellulosiruptor bescii and Caldicellulosiruptor obsidiansis efficiently degrade both cellulose and hemicellulose, which makes them relevant models for lignocellulosic biomass deconstruction to produce sustainable biofuels. To identify the shared and unique features of secreted cellulolytic apparatuses from C. bescii and C. obsidiansis, label-free quantitative proteomics was used to analyze protein abundance over the course of fermentative growth on crystalline cellulose. Both organisms' secretomes consisted of more than 400 proteins, of which the most abundant were multidomain glycosidases, extracellular solute-binding proteins, flagellin, putative pectate lyases, and uncharacterized proteins with predicted secretion signals. Among the identified proteins, 53 to 57 significantly changed in abundance during cellulose fermentation in favor of glycosidases and extracellular binding proteins. Mass spectrometric characterizations, together with cellulase activity measurements, revealed a substantial abundance increase of a few bifunctional multidomain glycosidases composed of glycosidase (GH) domain family 5, 9, 10, 44, or 48 and family 3 carbohydrate binding (CBM3) modules. In addition to their orthologous cellulases, the organisms expressed unique glycosidases with different domain organizations: C. obsidiansis expressed the COB47_1671 protein with GH10/5 domains, while C. bescii expressed the Athe_1857 (GH10/48) and Athe_1859 (GH5/44) proteins. Glycosidases containing CBM3 domains were selectively enriched via binding to amorphous cellulose. Preparations from both bacteria contained highly thermostable enzymes with optimal cellulase activities at 85°C and pH 5. The C. obsidiansis preparation, however, had higher cellulase specific activity and greater thermostability. The C. bescii culture produced more extracellular protein and additional SDS-PAGE bands that demonstrated glycosidase activity.
PMCID: PMC3131623  PMID: 21498747
22.  Strategies for Metagenomic-Guided Whole-Community Proteomics of Complex Microbial Environments 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27173.
Accurate protein identification in large-scale proteomics experiments relies upon a detailed, accurate protein catalogue, which is derived from predictions of open reading frames based on genome sequence data. Integration of mass spectrometry-based proteomics data with computational proteome predictions from environmental metagenomic sequences has been challenging because of the variable overlap between proteomic datasets and corresponding short-read nucleotide sequence data. In this study, we have benchmarked several strategies for increasing microbial peptide spectral matching in metaproteomic datasets using protein predictions generated from matched metagenomic sequences from the same human fecal samples. Additionally, we investigated the impact of mass spectrometry-based filters (high mass accuracy, delta correlation), and de novo peptide sequencing on the number and robustness of peptide-spectrum assignments in these complex datasets. In summary, we find that high mass accuracy peptide measurements searched against non-assembled reads from DNA sequencing of the same samples significantly increased identifiable proteins without sacrificing accuracy.
PMCID: PMC3223167  PMID: 22132090
23.  Comparative shotgun proteomic analysis of Clostridium acetobutylicum from butanol fermentation using glucose and xylose 
Proteome Science  2011;9:66.
Butanol is a second generation biofuel produced by Clostridium acetobutylicum through acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation process. Shotgun proteomics provides a direct approach to study the whole proteome of an organism in depth. This paper focuses on shotgun proteomic profiling of C. acetobutylicum from ABE fermentation using glucose and xylose to understand the functional mechanisms of C. acetobutylicum proteins involved in butanol production.
We identified 894 different proteins in C. acetobutylicum from ABE fermentation process by two dimensional - liquid chromatography - tandem mass spectrometry (2D-LC-MS/MS) method. This includes 717 proteins from glucose and 826 proteins from the xylose substrate. A total of 649 proteins were found to be common and 22 significantly differentially expressed proteins were identified between glucose and xylose substrates.
Our results demonstrate that flagellar proteins are highly up-regulated with glucose compared to xylose substrate during ABE fermentation. Chemotactic activity was also found to be lost with the xylose substrate due to the absence of CheW and CheV proteins. This is the first report on the shotgun proteomic analysis of C. acetobutylicum ATCC 824 in ABE fermentation between glucose and xylose substrate from a single time data point and the number of proteins identified here is more than any other study performed on this organism up to this report.
PMCID: PMC3212805  PMID: 22008648
Butanol; ABE fermentation; Clostridium acetobutylicum; shotgun proteomics; mass spectrometry
25.  Proteomic Characterization of Cellular and Molecular Processes that Enable the Nanoarchaeum equitans-Ignicoccus hospitalis Relationship 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22942.
Nanoarchaeum equitans, the only cultured representative of the Nanoarchaeota, is dependent on direct physical contact with its host, the hyperthermophile Ignicoccus hospitalis. The molecular mechanisms that enable this relationship are unknown. Using whole-cell proteomics, differences in the relative abundance of >75% of predicted protein-coding genes from both Archaea were measured to identify the specific response of I. hospitalis to the presence of N. equitans on its surface. A purified N. equitans sample was also analyzed for evidence of interspecies protein transfer. The depth of cellular proteome coverage achieved here is amongst the highest reported for any organism. Based on changes in the proteome under the specific conditions of this study, I. hospitalis reacts to N. equitans by curtailing genetic information processing (replication, transcription) in lieu of intensifying its energetic, protein processing and cellular membrane functions. We found no evidence of significant Ignicoccus biosynthetic enzymes being transported to N. equitans. These results suggest that, under laboratory conditions, N. equitans diverts some of its host's metabolism and cell cycle control to compensate for its own metabolic shortcomings, thus appearing to be entirely dependent on small, transferable metabolites and energetic precursors from I. hospitalis.
PMCID: PMC3149612  PMID: 21826220

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