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1.  A Multi-Enzymatic Cascade Reaction for the Stereoselective Production of γ-Oxyfunctionalyzed Amino Acids 
A stereoselective three-enzyme cascade for synthesis of diasteromerically pure γ-oxyfunctionalized α-amino acids was developed. By coupling a dynamic kinetic resolution (DKR) using an N-acylamino acid racemase (NAAAR) and an L-selective aminoacylase from Geobacillus thermoglucosidasius with a stereoselective isoleucine dioxygenase from Bacillus thuringiensis, diastereomerically pure oxidized amino acids were produced from racemic N-acetylamino acids. The three enzymes differed in their optimal temperature and pH-spectra. Their different metal cofactor dependencies led to inhibitory effects. Under optimized conditions, racemic N-acetylmethionine was quantitatively converted into L-methionine-(S)-sulfoxide with 97% yield and 95% de. The combination of these three different biocatalysts allowed the direct synthesis of diastereopure oxyfunctionalized amino acids from inexpensive racemic starting material.
PMCID: PMC4823265  PMID: 27092111
enzyme reaction; isoleucine dioxygenase; dynamic kinetic resolution; multi-enzyme cascade reaction; amino acids; asymmetric oxidation
2.  A Generalized Spatial Measure for Resilience of Microbial Systems 
The emergent property of resilience is the ability of a system to return to an original state after a disturbance. Resilience may be used as an early warning system for significant or irreversible community transition; that is, a community with diminishing or low resilience may be close to catastrophic shift in function or an irreversible collapse. Typically, resilience is quantified using recovery time, which may be difficult or impossible to directly measure in microbial systems. A recent study in the literature showed that under certain conditions, a set of spatial-based metrics termed recovery length, can be correlated to recovery time, and thus may be a reasonable alternative measure of resilience. However, this spatial metric of resilience is limited to use for step-change perturbations. Building upon the concept of recovery length, we propose a more general form of the spatial metric of resilience that can be applied to any shape of perturbation profiles (for example, either sharp or smooth gradients). We termed this new spatial measure “perturbation-adjusted spatial metric of resilience” (PASMORE). We demonstrate the applicability of the proposed metric using a mathematical model of a microbial mat.
PMCID: PMC4823267  PMID: 27092116
resilience; microbial communities; recovery; ecology; emergent properties
3.  Binding of Hemagglutinin and Influenza Virus to a Peptide-Conjugated Lipid Membrane 
Hemagglutinin (HA) plays an important role in the first step of influenza virus (IFV) infection because it initiates the binding of the virus to the sialylgalactose linkages of the receptors on the host cells. We herein demonstrate that a HA-binding peptide immobilized on a solid support is available to bind to HA and IFV. We previously obtained a HA-binding pentapeptide (Ala-Arg-Leu-Pro-Arg), which was identified by phage-display selection against HAs from random peptide libraries. This peptide binds to the receptor-binding site of HA by mimicking sialic acid. A peptide-conjugated lipid (pep-PE) was chemically synthesized from the peptide and a saturated phospholipid. A lipid bilayer composed of pep-PE and an unsaturated phospholipid (DOPC) was immobilized on a mica plate; and the interaction between HA and the pep-PE/DOPC membrane was investigated using atomic force microscopy. The binding of IFV to the pep-PE/DOPC membrane was detected by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and real-time reverse transcription PCR. Our results indicate that peptide-conjugated lipids are a useful molecular device for the detection of HA and IFV.
PMCID: PMC4823272  PMID: 27092124
influenza; hemagglutinin; sialic acid-mimic peptide; lipid bilayer; atomic force microscopy; peptide-conjugated lipid
4.  Metataxonomic and Metagenomic Approaches vs. Culture-Based Techniques for Clinical Pathology 
Diagnoses that are both timely and accurate are critically important for patients with life-threatening or drug resistant infections. Technological improvements in High-Throughput Sequencing (HTS) have led to its use in pathogen detection and its application in clinical diagnoses of infectious diseases. The present study compares two HTS methods, 16S rRNA marker gene sequencing (metataxonomics) and whole metagenomic shotgun sequencing (metagenomics), in their respective abilities to match the same diagnosis as traditional culture methods (culture inference) for patients with ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP). The metagenomic analysis was able to produce the same diagnosis as culture methods at the species-level for five of the six samples, while the metataxonomic analysis was only able to produce results with the same species-level identification as culture for two of the six samples. These results indicate that metagenomic analyses have the accuracy needed for a clinical diagnostic tool, but full integration in diagnostic protocols is contingent on technological improvements to decrease turnaround time and lower costs.
PMCID: PMC4823605  PMID: 27092134
microbiome; metagenomics; metataxonomics; high throughput sequencing; drug resistance; pathogen detection
5.  Interactions of Aspergillus fumigatus Conidia with Airway Epithelial Cells: A Critical Review 
Aspergillus fumigatus is an environmental filamentous fungus that also acts as an opportunistic pathogen able to cause a variety of symptoms, from an allergic response to a life-threatening disseminated fungal infection. The infectious agents are inhaled conidia whose first point of contact is most likely to be an airway epithelial cell (AEC). The interaction between epithelial cells and conidia is multifaceted and complex, and has implications for later steps in pathogenesis. Increasing evidence has demonstrated a key role for the airway epithelium in the response to respiratory pathogens, particularly at early stages of infection; therefore, elucidating the early stages of interaction of conidia with AECs is essential to understand the establishment of infection in cohorts of at-risk patients. Here, we present a comprehensive review of the early interactions between A. fumigatus and AECs, including bronchial and alveolar epithelial cells. We describe mechanisms of adhesion, internalization of conidia by AECs, the immune response of AECs, as well as the role of fungal virulence factors, and patterns of fungal gene expression characteristic of early infection. A clear understanding of the mechanisms involved in the early establishment of infection by A. fumigatus could point to novel targets for therapy and prophylaxis.
PMCID: PMC4823921  PMID: 27092126
Aspergillus fumigatus; conidia; airway epithelial cell; aspergillosis; virulence; immunity; host–pathogen interactions
6.  Role of EBNA-3 Family Proteins in EBV Associated B-cell Lymphomagenesis 
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is highly ubiquitous in human population and establishes a lifelong asymptomatic infection within the infected host unless the immune system is compromised. Following initial infection in the oropharyngeal epithelial cells, EBV primarily infects naive B-lymphocytes and develops a number of B-cell lymphomas particularly in immune-deficient individuals. In vitro, EBV can also infect and subsequently transform quiescent B-lymphocytes into continuously proliferating lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) resembling EBV-induced lymphoproliferative disorders in which a subset of latent transcripts are detected. Genetic studies revealed that EBNA-3 family comprising of three adjacent genes in the viral genome—EBNA-3A and -3C, but not -3B, are critical for B-cell transformation. Nevertheless, all three proteins appear to significantly contribute to maintain the overall proliferation and viability of transformed cells, suggesting a critical role in lymphoma development. Apart from functioning as important viral transcriptional regulators, EBNA-3 proteins associate with many cellular proteins in different signaling networks, providing a suitable platform for lifelong survival of the virus and concurrent lymphoma development in the infected host. The chapter describes the function of each these EBV nuclear antigen 3 proteins employed by the virus as a means to understand viral pathogenesis of several EBV-associated B-cell malignancies.
PMCID: PMC4824013  PMID: 27092119
EBV; B-cell lymphoma; LCLs; EBNA-3 proteins; EBNA-3C; EBNA-3A; EBNA-3B
7.  Insights from the Genome Sequence of Acidovorax citrulli M6, a Group I Strain of the Causal Agent of Bacterial Fruit Blotch of Cucurbits 
Acidovorax citrulli is a seedborne bacterium that causes bacterial fruit blotch of cucurbit plants including watermelon and melon. A. citrulli strains can be divided into two major groups based on DNA fingerprint analyses and biochemical properties. Group I strains have been generally isolated from non-watermelon cucurbits, while group II strains are closely associated with watermelon. In the present study, we report the genome sequence of M6, a group I model A. citrulli strain, isolated from melon. We used comparative genome analysis to investigate differences between the genome of strain M6 and the genome of the group II model strain AAC00-1. The draft genome sequence of A. citrulli M6 harbors 139 contigs, with an overall approximate size of 4.85 Mb. The genome of M6 is ∼500 Kb shorter than that of strain AAC00-1. Comparative analysis revealed that this size difference is mainly explained by eight fragments, ranging from ∼35–120 Kb and distributed throughout the AAC00-1 genome, which are absent in the M6 genome. In agreement with this finding, while AAC00-1 was found to possess 532 open reading frames (ORFs) that are absent in strain M6, only 123 ORFs in M6 were absent in AAC00-1. Most of these M6 ORFs are hypothetical proteins and most of them were also detected in two group I strains that were recently sequenced, tw6 and pslb65. Further analyses by PCR assays and coverage analyses with other A. citrulli strains support the notion that some of these fragments or significant portions of them are discriminative between groups I and II strains of A. citrulli. Moreover, GC content, effective number of codon values and cluster of orthologs’ analyses indicate that these fragments were introduced into group II strains by horizontal gene transfer events. Our study reports the genome sequence of a model group I strain of A. citrulli, one of the most important pathogens of cucurbits. It also provides the first comprehensive comparison at the genomic level between the two major groups of strains of this pathogen.
PMCID: PMC4821854  PMID: 27092114
Acidovorax citrulli; bacterial fruit blotch; pathogenomics; horizontal gene transfer (HGT); pathogenicity; cluster of orthologs (COGs)
8.  Novel Anti-Campylobacter Compounds Identified Using High Throughput Screening of a Pre-selected Enriched Small Molecules Library 
Campylobacter is a leading cause of foodborne bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide and infections can be fatal. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter spp. necessitates the development of new antimicrobials. We identified novel anti-Campylobacter small molecule inhibitors using a high throughput growth inhibition assay. To expedite screening, we made use of a “bioactive” library of 4182 compounds that we have previously shown to be active against diverse microbes. Screening for growth inhibition of Campylobacter jejuni, identified 781 compounds that were either bactericidal or bacteriostatic at a concentration of 200 μM. Seventy nine of the bactericidal compounds were prioritized for secondary screening based on their physico-chemical properties. Based on the minimum inhibitory concentration against a diverse range of C. jejuni and a lack of effect on gut microbes, we selected 12 compounds. No resistance was observed to any of these 12 lead compounds when C. jejuni was cultured with lethal or sub-lethal concentrations suggesting that C. jejuni is less likely to develop resistance to these compounds. Top 12 compounds also possessed low cytotoxicity to human intestinal epithelial cells (Caco-2 cells) and no hemolytic activity against sheep red blood cells. Next, these 12 compounds were evaluated for ability to clear C. jejuni in vitro. A total of 10 compounds had an anti-C. jejuni effect in Caco-2 cells with some effective even at 25 μM concentrations. These novel 12 compounds belong to five established antimicrobial chemical classes; piperazines, aryl amines, piperidines, sulfonamide, and pyridazinone. Exploitation of analogs of these chemical classes may provide Campylobacter specific drugs that can be applied in both human and animal medicine.
PMCID: PMC4821856  PMID: 27092106
Campylobacter; small molecules; enriched small molecules library; high throughput screening; food safety
9.  A European Database of Fusarium graminearum and F. culmorum Trichothecene Genotypes 
Fusarium species, particularly Fusarium graminearum and F. culmorum, are the main cause of trichothecene type B contamination in cereals. Data on the distribution of Fusarium trichothecene genotypes in cereals in Europe are scattered in time and space. Furthermore, a common core set of related variables (sampling method, host cultivar, previous crop, etc.) that would allow more effective analysis of factors influencing the spatial and temporal population distribution, is lacking. Consequently, based on the available data, it is difficult to identify factors influencing chemotype distribution and spread at the European level. Here we describe the results of a collaborative integrated work which aims (1) to characterize the trichothecene genotypes of strains from three Fusarium species, collected over the period 2000–2013 and (2) to enhance the standardization of epidemiological data collection. Information on host plant, country of origin, sampling location, year of sampling and previous crop of 1147 F. graminearum, 479 F. culmorum, and 3 F. cortaderiae strains obtained from 17 European countries was compiled and a map of trichothecene type B genotype distribution was plotted for each species. All information on the strains was collected in a freely accessible and updatable database (, which will serve as a starting point for epidemiological analysis of potential spatial and temporal trichothecene genotype shifts in Europe. The analysis of the currently available European dataset showed that in F. graminearum, the predominant genotype was 15-acetyldeoxynivalenol (15-ADON) (82.9%), followed by 3-acetyldeoxynivalenol (3-ADON) (13.6%), and nivalenol (NIV) (3.5%). In F. culmorum, the prevalent genotype was 3-ADON (59.9%), while the NIV genotype accounted for the remaining 40.1%. Both, geographical and temporal patterns of trichothecene genotypes distribution were identified.
PMCID: PMC4821861  PMID: 27092107
acetyldeoxynivalenol; chemotype; database; Fusarium; genotype; mycotoxin; nivalenol; trichothecene
10.  Hide, Keep Quiet, and Keep Low: Properties That Make Aspergillus fumigatus a Successful Lung Pathogen 
Representatives of the genus Aspergillus are opportunistic fungal pathogens. Their conidia can reach the alveoli by inhalation and can give rise to infections in immunocompromised individuals. Aspergillus fumigatus is the causal agent of invasive aspergillosis in nearly 90% of the cases. It is not yet well-established what makes this fungus more pathogenic than other aspergilli such as A. niger. Here, we show that A. fumigatus and A. niger conidia adhere with similar efficiency to lung epithelial A549 cells but A. fumigatus conidia internalized 17% more efficiently. Conidia of both aspergilli were taken up in phagolysosomes 8 h after the challenge. These organelles only acidified in the case of A. niger, which is probably due to the type of melanin coating of the conidia. Viability of both types of conidia was not affected after uptake in the phagolysosomes. Germination of A. fumigatus and A. niger conidia in the presence of epithelial cells was delayed when compared to conidia in the medium. However, germination of A. niger conidia was still higher than that of A. fumigatus 10 h after exposure to A549 cells. Remarkably, A. fumigatus hyphae grew mainly parallel to the epithelium, while growth direction of A. niger hyphae was predominantly perpendicular to the plane of the cells. Neutrophils reduced germination and hyphal growth of A. niger, but not of A fumigatus, in presence of epithelial cells. Taken together, efficient internalization, delayed germination, and hyphal growth parallel to the epithelium gives a new insight into what could be the causes for the success of A. fumigatus compared to A. niger as an opportunistic pathogen in the lung.
PMCID: PMC4821987  PMID: 27092115
Aspergillus fumigatus; Aspergillus niger; infection; lung; hyphal growth; internalization; epithelial cells; germination
11.  Post-Genomics and Vaccine Improvement for Leishmania 
Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that primarily affects Asia, Africa, South America, and the Mediterranean basin. Despite extensive efforts to develop an effective prophylactic vaccine, no promising vaccine is available yet. However, recent advancements in computational vaccinology on the one hand and genome sequencing approaches on the other have generated new hopes in vaccine development. Computational genome mining for new vaccine candidates is known as reverse vaccinology and is believed to further extend the current list of Leishmania vaccine candidates. Reverse vaccinology can also reduce the intrinsic risks associated with live attenuated vaccines. Individual epitopes arranged in tandem as polytopes are also a possible outcome of reverse genome mining. Here, we will briefly compare reverse vaccinology with conventional vaccinology in respect to Leishmania vaccine, and we will discuss how it influences the aforementioned topics. We will also introduce new in vivo models that will bridge the gap between human and laboratory animal models in future studies.
PMCID: PMC4822237  PMID: 27092123
Leishmania; reverse vaccinology
12.  Fast and Accurate Microplate Method (Biolog MT2) for Detection of Fusarium Fungicides Resistance/Sensitivity 
The need for finding fungicides against Fusarium is a key step in the chemical plant protection and using appropriate chemical agents. Existing, conventional methods of evaluation of Fusarium isolates resistance to fungicides are costly, time-consuming and potentially environmentally harmful due to usage of high amounts of potentially toxic chemicals. Therefore, the development of fast, accurate and effective detection methods for Fusarium resistance to fungicides is urgently required. MT2 microplates (BiologTM) method is traditionally used for bacteria identification and the evaluation of their ability to utilize different carbon substrates. However, to the best of our knowledge, there is no reports concerning the use of this technical tool to determine fungicides resistance of the Fusarium isolates. For this reason, the objectives of this study are to develop a fast method for Fusarium resistance to fungicides detection and to validate the effectiveness approach between both traditional hole-plate and MT2 microplates assays. In presented study MT2 microplate-based assay was evaluated for potential use as an alternative resistance detection method. This was carried out using three commercially available fungicides, containing following active substances: triazoles (tebuconazole), benzimidazoles (carbendazim) and strobilurins (azoxystrobin), in six concentrations (0, 0.0005, 0.005, 0.05, 0.1, 0.2%), for nine selected Fusarium isolates. In this study, the particular concentrations of each fungicides was loaded into MT2 microplate wells. The wells were inoculated with the Fusarium mycelium suspended in PM4-IF inoculating fluid. Before inoculation the suspension was standardized for each isolates into 75% of transmittance. Traditional hole-plate method was used as a control assay. The fungicides concentrations in control method were the following: 0, 0.0005, 0.005, 0.05, 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50%. Strong relationships between MT2 microplate and traditional hole-plate methods were observed regarding to the detection of Fusarium resistance to various fungicides and their concentrations. The tebuconazole was most potent, providing increased efficiency in the growth inhibition of all tested isolates. Almost all among tested isolates were resistant to azoxystrobin-based fungicide. Overall, the MT2 microplates method was effective and timesaving, alternative method for determining Fusarium resistance/sensitivity to fungicides, compering to traditional hole-plate approach.
PMCID: PMC4822342  PMID: 27092136
Fusarium fungicides resistance; MT2 microplates; hole-plate method; chemical sensitivity; fungicides; phenomic profiles
13.  Nanocalorimetric Characterization of Microbial Activity in Deep Subsurface Oceanic Crustal Fluids 
Although fluids within the upper oceanic basaltic crust harbor a substantial fraction of the total prokaryotic cells on Earth, the energy needs of this microbial population are unknown. In this study, a nanocalorimeter (sensitivity down to 1.2 nW ml-1) was used to measure the enthalpy of microbially catalyzed reactions as a function of temperature in samples from two distinct crustal fluid aquifers. Microorganisms in unamended, warm (63°C) and geochemically altered anoxic fluids taken from 292 meters sub-basement (msb) near the Juan de Fuca Ridge produced 267.3 mJ of heat over the course of 97 h during a step-wise isothermal scan from 35.5 to 85.0°C. Most of this heat signal likely stems from the germination of thermophilic endospores (6.66 × 104 cells ml-1FLUID) and their subsequent metabolic activity at temperatures greater than 50°C. The average cellular energy consumption (5.68 pW cell-1) reveals the high metabolic potential of a dormant community transported by fluids circulating through the ocean crust. By contrast, samples taken from 293 msb from cooler (3.8°C), relatively unaltered oxic fluids, produced 12.8 mJ of heat over the course of 14 h as temperature ramped from 34.8 to 43.0°C. Corresponding cell-specific energy turnover rates (0.18 pW cell-1) were converted to oxygen uptake rates of 24.5 nmol O2 ml-1FLUID d-1, validating previous model predictions of microbial activity in this environment. Given that the investigated fluids are characteristic of expansive areas of the upper oceanic crust, the measured metabolic heat rates can be used to constrain boundaries of habitability and microbial activity in the oceanic crust.
PMCID: PMC4820435  PMID: 27092118
calorimetry; crustal fluids; microbial energy turnover; subsurface biosphere; cell-specific metabolic rates
14.  Exopolysaccharides Play a Role in the Swarming of the Benthic Bacterium Pseudoalteromonas sp. SM9913 
Most marine bacteria secrete exopolysaccharide (EPS), which is important for bacterial survival in the marine environment. However, it is still unclear whether the self-secreted EPS is involved in marine bacterial motility. Here we studied the role of EPS in the lateral flagella-driven swarming motility of benthic bacterium Pseudoalteromonas sp. SM9913 (SM9913) by a comparison of wild SM9913 and ΔepsT, an EPS synthesis defective mutant. Reduction of EPS production in ΔepsT did not affect the growth rate or the swimming motility, but significantly decreased the swarming motility on a swarming plate, suggesting that the EPS may play a role in SM9913 swarming. However, the expression and assembly of lateral flagella in ΔepsT were not affected. Instead, ΔepsT had a different swarming behavior from wild SM9913. The swarming of ΔepsT did not have an obvious rapid swarming period, and its rate became much lower than that of wild SM9913 after 35 h incubation. An addition of surfactin or SM9913 EPS on the surface of the swarming plate could rescue the swarming level. These results indicate that the self-secreted EPS is required for the swarming of SM9913. This study widens our understanding of the function of the EPS of benthic bacteria.
PMCID: PMC4820436  PMID: 27092127
exopolysaccharide; swarming; marine sediment; benthic bacteria; flagella
15.  Factors Altering Pyruvate Excretion in a Glycogen Storage Mutant of the Cyanobacterium, Synechococcus PCC7942 
Interest in the production of carbon commodities from photosynthetically fixed CO2 has focused attention on cyanobacteria as a target for metabolic engineering and pathway investigation. We investigated the redirection of carbon flux in the model cyanobacterial species, Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942, under nitrogen deprivation, for optimized production of the industrially desirable compound, pyruvate. Under nitrogen limited conditions, excess carbon is naturally stored as the multi-branched polysaccharide, glycogen, but a block in glycogen synthesis, via knockout mutation in the gene encoding ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (glgC), results in the accumulation of the organic acids, pyruvate and 2-oxoglutarate, as overflow excretions into the extracellular media. The ΔglgC strain, under 48 h of N-deprivation was shown to excrete pyruvate for the first time in this strain. Additionally, by increasing culture pH, to pH 10, it was possible to substantially elevate excretion of pyruvate, suggesting the involvement of an unknown substrate/proton symporter for export. The ΔglgC mutant was also engineered to express foreign transporters for glucose and sucrose, and then grown photomixotrophically with exogenous organic carbon supply, as added 5 mM glucose or sucrose during N- deprivation. Under these conditions we observed a fourfold increase in extracellular pyruvate excretion when glucose was added, and a smaller increase with added sucrose. Although the magnitude of pyruvate excretion did not correlate with the capacity of the ΔglgC strain for bicarbonate-dependent photosynthetic O2 evolution, or with light intensity, there was, however, a positive correlation observed between the density of the starter culture prior to N-deprivation and the final extracellular pyruvate concentration. The factors that contribute to enhancement of pyruvate excretion are discussed, as well as consideration of whether the source of carbon for pyruvate excretion might be derived from photosynthetic CO2 fixation or from remobilisation of existing carbon stores.
PMCID: PMC4820439  PMID: 27092129
cyanobacteria; pyruvate excretion; overflow metabolism; photosynthesis; physiolology and metabolism; nitrogen deprivation; biotechnology of microorganisms
16.  Q69 (an E. faecalis-Infecting Bacteriophage) As a Biocontrol Agent for Reducing Tyramine in Dairy Products 
Biogenic amines (BAs) are low molecular weight nitrogenous compounds with biological activity, formed from amino acids by decarboxylation. BAs are naturally present in all living organisms playing essential roles. However, their accumulation in food through the metabolic activity of certain microorganisms constitutes a toxicological hazard. Among foods, cheeses accumulate some of the highest concentrations of BAs since they provide an ideal environment for their accumulation. Most of the methods proposed for reducing BAs in cheese, such as milk pasteurization, have not only failed to completely solve the problem, they also affect non-BA producing lactic acid bacteria, i.e., the bacteria that participate in the development of the organoleptic characteristics of cheese. Novel technologies specifically targeted against BA producers are therefore needed to control BA accumulation. Bacteriophages have been proposed as agents for specifically controlling the presence of foodborne pathogens in food. Due to its specificity, they could be used as a biotechnological tool targeted to reduce the population of BA-producing bacteria. The present work reports the isolation, from cheese, and the characterization of bacteriophage Q69, which infects specifically Enterococcus faecalis, the species mainly responsible of the accumulation of the BA tyramine in foods. Furthermore, its capacity to reduce the accumulation of tyramine in different conditions –including a model cheese- was proven. The obtained results open up the possibility of use bacteriophages to prevent BA accumulation in fermented foods.
PMCID: PMC4820458  PMID: 27092117
biogenic amines; tyramine; characterization; cheese; Enterococcus faecalis; bacteriophage Q69
17.  Coral-Associated Bacterial Diversity Is Conserved across Two Deep-Sea Anthothela Species 
Cold-water corals, similar to tropical corals, contain diverse and complex microbial assemblages. These bacteria provide essential biological functions within coral holobionts, facilitating increased nutrient utilization and production of antimicrobial compounds. To date, few cold-water octocoral species have been analyzed to explore the diversity and abundance of their microbial associates. For this study, 23 samples of the family Anthothelidae were collected from Norfolk (n = 12) and Baltimore Canyons (n = 11) from the western Atlantic in August 2012 and May 2013. Genetic testing found that these samples comprised two Anthothela species (Anthothela grandiflora and Anthothela sp.) and Alcyonium grandiflorum. DNA was extracted and sequenced with primers targeting the V4–V5 variable region of the 16S rRNA gene using 454 pyrosequencing with GS FLX Titanium chemistry. Results demonstrated that the coral host was the primary driver of bacterial community composition. Al. grandiflorum, dominated by Alteromonadales and Pirellulales had much higher species richness, and a distinct bacterial community compared to Anthothela samples. Anthothela species (A. grandiflora and Anthothela sp.) had very similar bacterial communities, dominated by Oceanospirillales and Spirochaetes. Additional analysis of core-conserved bacteria at 90% sample coverage revealed genus level conservation across Anthothela samples. This core included unclassified Oceanospirillales, Kiloniellales, Campylobacterales, and genus Spirochaeta. Members of this core were previously recognized for their functional capabilities in nitrogen cycling and suggest the possibility of a nearly complete nitrogen cycle within Anthothela species. Overall, many of the bacterial associates identified in this study have the potential to contribute to the acquisition and cycling of nutrients within the coral holobiont.
PMCID: PMC4820459  PMID: 27092120
cold-water corals; deep sea; bacteria; octocoral; gorgonian; submarine canyons; microbiome
18.  Carrageenan Gum and Adherent Invasive Escherichia coli in a Piglet Model of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Impact on Intestinal Mucosa-associated Microbiota 
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) including Crohn's disease (CD), and ulcerative colitis (UC), are chronic conditions characterized by chronic intestinal inflammation. Adherent invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) pathotype has been increasingly implicated in the etiopathogenesis of IBD. In a 21-day study, we investigated the effects of AIEC strain UM146 inoculation on microbiota profile of the ileal, cecal, ascending and descending colon in a pig model of experimental colitis. Carrageenan gum (CG) was used to induce colitis in weaner piglets whereas AIEC strain UM146 previously isolated from a CD patient was included to investigate a cause or consequence effect in IBD. Treatments were: (1) control; (2) CG; (3) AIEC strain UM146; and (4) CG+UM146. Pigs in groups 2 and 4 received 1% CG in drinking water from day 1 of the study while pigs in groups 3 and 4 were inoculated with UM146 on day 8. Following euthanization on day 21, tissue mucosal scrapings were collected and used for DNA extraction. The V4 region of bacterial 16S rRNA gene was then subjected to Illumina sequencing. Microbial diversity, composition, and the predicted functional metagenome were determined in addition to short chain fatty acids profiles in the digesta and inflammatory cytokines in the intestinal tissue. CG-induced colitis decreased bacterial species richness and shifted community composition. At the phylum level, an increase in Proteobacteria and Deferribacteres and a decrease in Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes were observed in CG and CGUM146 compared to control and UM146. The metabolic capacity of the microbiome was also altered in CG and CGUM146 compared to UM146 and control in the colon. We demonstrated that CG resulted in bacterial dysbiosis and shifted community composition similar to what has been previously observed in IBD patients. However, AIEC strain UM146 alone did not cause any clear changes compared to CG or control in our experimental IBD pig model.
PMCID: PMC4820460  PMID: 27092122
pigs; carrageenan gum; adherent invasive Escherichia coli; ulcerative colitis; Crohn's disease; 16S rRNA gene sequencing; microbiome
19.  Distinctive Tropical Forest Variants Have Unique Soil Microbial Communities, But Not Always Low Microbial Diversity 
There has been little study of whether different variants of tropical rainforest have distinct soil microbial communities and levels of diversity. We compared bacterial and fungal community composition and diversity between primary mixed dipterocarp, secondary mixed dipterocarp, white sand heath, inland heath, and peat swamp forests in Brunei Darussalam, Northwest Borneo by analyzing Illumina Miseq sequence data of 16S rRNA gene and ITS1 region. We hypothesized that white sand heath, inland heath and peat swamp forests would show lower microbial diversity and relatively distinct microbial communities (compared to MDF primary and secondary forests) due to their distinctive environments. We found that soil properties together with bacterial and fungal communities varied significantly between forest types. Alpha and beta-diversity of bacteria was highest in secondary dipterocarp and white sand heath forests. Also, bacterial alpha diversity was strongly structured by pH, adding another instance of this widespread pattern in nature. The alpha diversity of fungi was equally high in all forest types except peat swamp forest, although fungal beta-diversity was highest in primary and secondary mixed dipterocarp forests. The relative abundance of ectomycorrhizal (EcM) fungi varied significantly between forest types, with highest relative abundance observed in MDF primary forest. Overall, our results suggest that the soil bacterial and fungal communities in these forest types are to a certain extent predictable and structured by soil properties, but that diversity is not determined by how distinctive the conditions are. This contrasts with the diversity patterns seen in rainforest trees, where distinctive soil conditions have consistently lower tree diversity.
PMCID: PMC4820907  PMID: 27092105
biodiversity; microbial communities; soil pH; Southeast Asia; tropical rainforest
20.  In Search of Alternative Antibiotic Drugs: Quorum-Quenching Activity in Sponges and their Bacterial Isolates 
Owing to the extensive development of drug resistance in pathogens against the available antibiotic arsenal, antimicrobial resistance is now an emerging major threat to public healthcare. Anti-virulence drugs are a new type of therapeutic agent aiming at virulence factors rather than killing the pathogen, thus providing less selective pressure for evolution of resistance. One promising example of this therapeutic concept targets bacterial quorum sensing (QS), because QS controls many virulence factors responsible for bacterial infections. Marine sponges and their associated bacteria are considered a still untapped source for unique chemical leads with a wide range of biological activities. In the present study, we screened extracts of 14 sponge species collected from the Red and Mediterranean Sea for their quorum-quenching (QQ) potential. Half of the species showed QQ activity in at least 2 out of 3 replicates. Six out of the 14 species were selected for bacteria isolation, to test for QQ activity also in isolates, which, once cultured, represent an unlimited source of compounds. We show that ≈20% of the isolates showed QQ activity based on a Chromobacterium violaceum CV026 screen, and that the presence or absence of QQ activity in a sponge extract did not correlate with the abundance of isolates with the same activity from the same sponge species. This can be explained by the unknown source of QQ compounds in sponge-holobionts (host or symbionts), and further by the possible non-symbiotic nature of bacteria isolated from sponges. The potential symbiotic nature of the isolates showing QQ activity was tested according to the distribution and abundance of taxonomically close bacterial Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) in a dataset including 97 sponge species and 178 environmental samples (i.e., seawater, freshwater, and marine sediments). Most isolates were found not to be enriched in sponges and may simply have been trapped in the filtration channels of the sponge at the time of collection. Our results highlight potential for QQ-bioactive lead molecules for anti-virulence therapy both from sponges and the bacteria isolated thereof, independently on the symbiotic nature of the latter.
PMCID: PMC4821063  PMID: 27092109
anti-virulence; quorum sensing; porifera; biofilm inhibition; pyocyanin; Pseudomonas aeruginosa
21.  Proteogenomic Analysis of Mycobacterium smegmatis Using High Resolution Mass Spectrometry 
Biochemical evidence is vital for accurate genome annotation. The integration of experimental data collected at the proteome level using high resolution mass spectrometry allows for improvements in genome annotation by providing evidence for novel gene models, while validating or modifying others. Here, we report the results of a proteogenomic analysis of a reference strain of Mycobacterium smegmatis (mc2155), a fast growing model organism for the pathogenic Mycobacterium tuberculosis—the causative agent for Tuberculosis. By integrating high throughput LC/MS/MS proteomic data with genomic six frame translation and ab initio gene prediction databases, a total of 2887 ORFs were identified, including 2810 ORFs annotated to a Reference protein, and 63 ORFs not previously annotated to a Reference protein. Further, the translational start site (TSS) was validated for 558 Reference proteome gene models, while upstream translational evidence was identified for 81. In addition, N-terminus derived peptide identifications allowed for downstream TSS modification of a further 24 gene models. We validated the existence of six previously described interrupted coding sequences at the peptide level, and provide evidence for four novel frameshift positions. Analysis of peptide posterior error probability (PEP) scores indicates high-confidence novel peptide identifications and shows that the genome of M. smegmatis mc2155 is not yet fully annotated. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD003500.
PMCID: PMC4821088  PMID: 27092112
Mycobacterium smegmatis mc2155; mass spectrometry; proteogenomics; genome annotation; proteomics
22.  A Putative ABC Transporter Permease Is Necessary for Resistance to Acidified Nitrite and EDTA in Pseudomonas aeruginosa under Aerobic and Anaerobic Planktonic and Biofilm Conditions 
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) is an important airway pathogen of cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive disease patients. Multiply drug resistant PA is becoming increasing prevalent and new strategies are needed to combat such insidious organisms. We have previously shown that a mucoid, mucA22 mutant PA is exquisitely sensitive to acidified nitrite (A-NO2−, pH 6.5) at concentrations that are well tolerated in humans. Here, we used a transposon mutagenesis approach to identify PA mutants that are hypersensitive to A-NO2−. Among greater than 10,000 mutants screened, we focused on PA4455, in which the transposon was found to disrupt the production of a putative cytoplasmic membrane-spanning ABC transporter permease. The PA4455 mutant was not only highly sensitive to A-NO2−, but also the membrane perturbing agent, EDTA and the antibiotics doxycycline, tigecycline, colistin, and chloramphenicol, respectively. Treatment of bacteria with A-NO2− plus EDTA, however, had the most dramatic and synergistic effect, with virtually all bacteria killed by 10 mM A-NO2−, and EDTA (1 mM, aerobic, anaerobic). Most importantly, the PA4455 mutant was also sensitive to A-NO2− in biofilms. A-NO2− sensitivity and an anaerobic growth defect was also noted in two mutants (rmlC and wbpM) that are defective in B-band LPS synthesis, potentially indicating a membrane defect in the PA4455 mutant. Finally, this study describes a gene, PA4455, that when mutated, allows for dramatic sensitivity to the potential therapeutic agent, A-NO2− as well as EDTA. Furthermore, the synergy between the two compounds could offer future benefits against antibiotic resistant PA strains.
PMCID: PMC4817314  PMID: 27064218
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; acidified nitrite; EDTA; biofilms; ABC transporter permease
23.  Alternative Glycerol Balance Strategies among Saccharomyces Species in Response to Winemaking Stress 
Production and balance of glycerol is essential for the survival of yeast cells in certain stressful conditions as hyperosmotic or cold shock that occur during industrial processes as winemaking. These stress responses are well-known in S. cerevisiae, however, little is known in other phylogenetically close related Saccharomyces species associated with natural or fermentation environments such as S. uvarum, S. paradoxus or S. kudriavzevii. In this work we have investigated the expression of four genes (GPD1, GPD2, STL1, and FPS1) crucial in the glycerol pool balance in the four species with a biotechnological potential (S. cerevisiae; S. paradoxus; S. uvarum; and S. kudriavzevii), and the ability of strains to grow under osmotic and cold stresses. The results show different pattern and level of expression among the different species, especially for STL1. We also studied the function of Stl1 glycerol symporter in the survival to osmotic changes and cell growth capacity in winemaking environments. These experiments also revealed a different functionality of the glycerol transporters among the different species studied. All these data point to different strategies to handle glycerol accumulation in response to winemaking stresses as hyperosmotic or cold-hyperosmotic stress in the different species, with variable emphasis in the production, influx, or efflux of glycerol.
PMCID: PMC4814467  PMID: 27064588
glycerol; yeast; Saccharomyces; stress; winemaking
24.  Interactions between Trypanosoma cruzi Secreted Proteins and Host Cell Signaling Pathways 
Chagas disease is one of the prevalent neglected tropical diseases, affecting at least 6–7 million individuals in Latin America. It is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to vertebrate hosts by blood-sucking insects. After infection, the parasite invades and multiplies in the myocardium, leading to acute myocarditis that kills around 5% of untreated individuals. T. cruzi secretes proteins that manipulate multiple host cell signaling pathways to promote host cell invasion. The primary secreted lysosomal peptidase in T. cruzi is cruzipain, which has been shown to modulate the host immune response. Cruzipain hinders macrophage activation during the early stages of infection by interrupting the NF-kB P65 mediated signaling pathway. This allows the parasite to survive and replicate, and may contribute to the spread of infection in acute Chagas disease. Another secreted protein P21, which is expressed in all of the developmental stages of T. cruzi, has been shown to modulate host phagocytosis signaling pathways. The parasite also secretes soluble factors that exert effects on host extracellular matrix, such as proteolytic degradation of collagens. Finally, secreted phospholipase A from T. cruzi contributes to lipid modifications on host cells and concomitantly activates the PKC signaling pathway. Here, we present a brief review of the interaction between secreted proteins from T. cruzi and the host cells, emphasizing the manipulation of host signaling pathways during invasion.
PMCID: PMC4814445  PMID: 27065960
T. cruzi; secretome; secreted proteins; virulence factor; host parasite interaction; host cell signaling; host cell invasion; Chagas disease
25.  Past and Future of Non-Saccharomyces Yeasts: From Spoilage Microorganisms to Biotechnological Tools for Improving Wine Aroma Complexity 
It is well established that non-Saccharomyces wine yeasts, considered in the past as undesired or spoilage yeasts, can enhance the analytical composition, and aroma profile of the wine. The contribution of non-Saccharomyces yeasts, including the ability to secret enzymes and produce secondary metabolites, glycerol and ethanol, release of mannoproteins or contributions to color stability, is species- and strain-specific, pointing out the key importance of a clever strain selection. The use of mixed starters of selected non-Saccharomyces yeasts with strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae represents an alternative to both spontaneous and inoculated wine fermentations, taking advantage of the potential positive role that non-Saccharomyces wine yeast species play in the organoleptic characteristics of wine. In this context mixed starters can meet the growing demand for new and improved wine yeast strains adapted to different types and styles of wine. With the aim of presenting old and new evidences on the potential of non-Saccharomyces yeasts to address this market trend, we mainly review the studies focused on non-Saccharomyces strain selection and design of mixed starters directed to improve primary and secondary aroma of wines. The ability of non-Saccharomyces wine yeasts to produce enzymes and metabolites of oenological relevance is also discussed.
PMCID: PMC4814449  PMID: 27065975
non-Saccharomyces yeasts; enzymes; secondary metabolites; primary aroma; secondary aroma; mixed starters; aroma complexity

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