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1.  A Metagenomics-Based Metabolic Model of Nitrate-Dependent Anaerobic Oxidation of Methane by Methanoperedens-Like Archaea 
Methane oxidation is an important process to mitigate the emission of the greenhouse gas methane and further exacerbating of climate forcing. Both aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms have been reported to catalyze methane oxidation with only a few possible electron acceptors. Recently, new microorganisms were identified that could couple the oxidation of methane to nitrate or nitrite reduction. Here we investigated such an enrichment culture at the (meta) genomic level to establish a metabolic model of nitrate-driven anaerobic oxidation of methane (nitrate-AOM). Nitrate-AOM is catalyzed by an archaeon closely related to (reverse) methanogens that belongs to the ANME-2d clade, tentatively named Methanoperedens nitroreducens. Methane may be activated by methyl-CoM reductase and subsequently undergo full oxidation to carbon dioxide via reverse methanogenesis. All enzymes of this pathway were present and expressed in the investigated culture. The genome of the archaeal enrichment culture encoded a variety of enzymes involved in an electron transport chain similar to those found in Methanosarcina species with additional features not previously found in methane-converting archaea. Nitrate reduction to nitrite seems to be located in the pseudoperiplasm and may be catalyzed by an unusual Nar-like protein complex. A small part of the resulting nitrite is reduced to ammonium which may be catalyzed by a Nrf-type nitrite reductase. One of the key questions is how electrons from cytoplasmically located reverse methanogenesis reach the nitrate reductase in the pseudoperiplasm. Electron transport in M. nitroreducens probably involves cofactor F420 in the cytoplasm, quinones in the cytoplasmic membrane and cytochrome c in the pseudoperiplasm. The membrane-bound electron transport chain includes F420H2 dehydrogenase and an unusual Rieske/cytochrome b complex. Based on genome and transcriptome studies a tentative model of how central energy metabolism of nitrate-AOM could work is presented and discussed.
PMCID: PMC4683180  PMID: 26733968
methanotrophy; anaerobic respiration; archaea; methanogenesis; ANME; cytochrome c; heterodisulfide reductase; electron transport
2.  Upregulation of the zebrafish Nogo-A homologue, Rtn4b, in retinal ganglion cells is functionally involved in axon regeneration 
Neural Development  2015;10:6.
In contrast to mammals, zebrafish successfully regenerate retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons after optic nerve section (ONS). This difference is explained on the one hand by neurite growth inhibitors in mammals (including Nogo-A), as opposed to growth-promoting glial cells in the fish visual pathway, and on the other hand by the neuron-intrinsic properties allowing the upregulation of growth-associated proteins in fish RGCs but not in mammals.
Here, we report that Rtn4b, the zebrafish homologue of mammalian Nogo-A/RTN4-A, is upregulated in axotomized zebrafish RGCs and is primarily associated with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Rtn4b functions as a neuron-intrinsic determinant for axon regeneration, as was shown by downregulating Rtn4b through retrogradely transported morpholinos (MOs), applied to the optic nerve at the time of ONS. MO1 and MO2 reduced the number of axons from retina explants in a concentration-dependent manner. With MO1, the reduction was 55% (70 μM MO1) and 74% (140 μM MO1), respectively, with MO2: 59% (70 μM MO2) and 73% (140 μM MO2), respectively (compared to the control MO-treated side). Moreover, regenerating axons 7d after ONS and MO1 or MO2 application were labeled by Alexa488, applied distal to the first lesion. The number of Alexa488 labeled RGCs, containing the Rtn4b MO1 or MO2, was reduced by 54% and 62%, respectively, over control MO.
Thus, Rtn4b is an important neuron-intrinsic component and required for the success of axon regeneration in the zebrafish visual system. The spontaneous lesion-induced upregulation of Rtn4b in fish correlates with an increase in ER, soma size, biosynthetic activity, and thus growth and predicts that mammalian neurons require the same upregulation in order to successfully regenerate RGC axons.
PMCID: PMC4374419  PMID: 25888884
Optic nerve lesion; Axon regeneration; Rtn4b upregulation; ER; Morpholino downregulation; Retinal ganglion cells; Neuron-intrinsic determinants; Nogo-A/RTN4A
3.  Essential roles of zebrafish rtn4/Nogo paralogues in embryonic development 
Neural Development  2014;9:8.
As a consequence of gene/genome duplication, the RTN4/Nogo gene has two counterparts in zebrafish: rtn4a and rtn4b. The shared presence of four specific amino acid motifs—M1 to M4—in the N-terminal region of mammalian RTN4, and zebrafish Rtn4b suggests that Rtn4b is the closest homologue of mammalian Nogo-A.
To explore their combined roles in zebrafish development, we characterized the expression patterns of rtn4a and rtn4b in a comparative manner and performed morpholino-mediated knockdowns. Although both genes were coexpressed in the neural tube and developing brain at early stages, they progressively acquired distinct expression domains such as the spinal cord (rtn4b) and somites (rtn4a). Downregulation of rtn4a and rtn4b caused severe brain abnormalities, with rtn4b knockdown severely affecting the spinal cord and leading to immobility. In addition, the retinotectal projection was severely affected in both morphants, as the retina and optic tectum appeared smaller and only few retinal axons reached the abnormally reduced tectal neuropil. The neuronal defects were more persistent in rtn4b morphants. Moreover, the latter often lacked pectoral fins and lower jaws and had malformed branchial arches. Notably, these defects led to larval death in rtn4b, but not in rtn4a morphants.
In contrast to mammalian Nogo-A, its zebrafish homologues, rtn4a and particularly rtn4b, are essential for embryonic development and patterning of the nervous system.
PMCID: PMC4113184  PMID: 24755266
Brain and spinal cord development; Larval motility; Morpholino knockdown; Nogo; Reticulon; rtn4; Zebrafish
5.  Acetate Activation in Methanosaeta thermophila: Characterization of the Key Enzymes Pyrophosphatase and Acetyl-CoA Synthetase 
Archaea  2012;2012:315153.
The thermophilic methanogen Methanosaeta thermophila uses acetate as sole substrate for methanogenesis. It was proposed that the acetate activation reaction that is needed to feed acetate into the methanogenic pathway requires the hydrolysis of two ATP, whereas the acetate activation reaction in Methanosarcina sp. is known to require only one ATP. As these organisms live at the thermodynamic limit that sustains life, the acetate activation reaction in Mt. thermophila seems too costly and was thus reevaluated. It was found that of the putative acetate activation enzymes one gene encoding an AMP-forming acetyl-CoA synthetase was highly expressed. The corresponding enzyme was purified and characterized in detail. It catalyzed the ATP-dependent formation of acetyl-CoA, AMP, and pyrophosphate (PPi) and was only moderately inhibited by PPi. The breakdown of PPi was performed by a soluble pyrophosphatase. This enzyme was also purified and characterized. The pyrophosphatase hydrolyzed the major part of PPi (KM = 0.27 ± 0.05 mM) that was produced in the acetate activation reaction. Activity was not inhibited by nucleotides or PPi. However, it cannot be excluded that other PPi-dependent enzymes take advantage of the remaining PPi and contribute to the energy balance of the cell.
PMCID: PMC3426162  PMID: 22927778
6.  A Novel Inducible Protein Production System and Neomycin Resistance as Selection Marker for Methanosarcina mazei 
Archaea  2012;2012:973743.
Methanosarcina mazei is one of the model organisms for the methanogenic order Methanosarcinales whose metabolism has been studied in detail. However, the genetic toolbox is still limited. This study was aimed at widening the scope of utilizable methods in this group of organisms. (i) Proteins specific to methanogens are oftentimes difficult to produce in E. coli. However, a protein production system is not available for methanogens. Here we present an inducible system to produce Strep-tagged proteins in Ms. mazei. The promoter p1687, which directs the transcription of methyl transferases that demethylate methylamines, was cloned into plasmid pWM321 and its activity was determined by monitoring β-glucuronidase production. The promoter was inactive during growth on methanol but was rapidly activated when trimethylamine was added to the medium. The gene encoding the β-glucuronidase from E. coli was fused to a Strep-tag and was cloned downstream of the p1687 promoter. The protein was overproduced in Ms. mazei and was purified in an active form by affinity chromatography. (ii) Puromycin is currently the only antibiotic used as a selectable marker in Ms. mazei and its relatives. We established neomycin resistance as a second selectable marker by designing a plasmid that confers neomycin resistance in Ms. mazei.
PMCID: PMC3407599  PMID: 22851906
7.  Membrane-Bound Electron Transport in Methanosaeta thermophila▿ 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(11):2868-2870.
The obligate aceticlastic methanogen Methanosaeta thermophila uses a membrane-bound ferredoxin:heterodisulfide oxidoreductase system for energy conservation. We propose that the system is composed of a truncated form of the F420H2 dehydrogenase, methanophenazine, and the heterodisulfide reductase. Hence, the electron transport chain is distinct from those of well-studied Methanosarcina species.
PMCID: PMC3133127  PMID: 21478356
8.  Function of Ech Hydrogenase in Ferredoxin-Dependent, Membrane-Bound Electron Transport in Methanosarcina mazei▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;192(3):674-678.
Reduced ferredoxin is an intermediate in the methylotrophic and aceticlastic pathway of methanogenesis and donates electrons to membrane-integral proteins, which transfer electrons to the heterodisulfide reductase. A ferredoxin interaction has been observed previously for the Ech hydrogenase. Here we present a detailed analysis of a Methanosarcina mazei Δech mutant which shows decreased ferredoxin-dependent membrane-bound electron transport activity, a lower growth rate, and faster substrate consumption. Evidence is presented that a second protein whose identity is unknown oxidizes reduced ferredoxin, indicating an involvement in methanogenesis from methylated C1 compounds.
PMCID: PMC2812462  PMID: 19948802

Results 1-8 (8)