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1.  Structural basis of stereospecific reduction by quinuclidinone reductase 
AMB Express  2014;4:6.
Chiral molecule (R)-3-quinuclidinol, a valuable compound for the production of various pharmaceuticals, is efficiently synthesized from 3-quinuclidinone by using NADPH-dependent 3-quinuclidinone reductase (RrQR) from Rhodotorula rubra. Here, we report the crystal structure of RrQR and the structure-based mutational analysis. The enzyme forms a tetramer, in which the core of each protomer exhibits the α/β Rossmann fold and contains one molecule of NADPH, whereas the characteristic substructures of a small lobe and a variable loop are localized around the substrate-binding site. Modeling and mutation analyses of the catalytic site indicated that the hydrophobicity of two residues, I167 and F212, determines the substrate-binding orientation as well as the substrate-binding affinity. Our results revealed that the characteristic substrate-binding pocket composed of hydrophobic amino acid residues ensures substrate docking for the stereospecific reaction of RrQR in spite of its loose interaction with the substrate.
PMCID: PMC3922912  PMID: 24507746
Crystal structure; NADPH-dependent enzyme; Asymmetric reduction; 3-Quinuclidinone reductase; (R)-3-quinuclidinol
2.  Glucoamylase of Caulobacter crescentus CB15: cloning and expression in Escherichia coli and functional identification 
AMB Express  2014;4:5.
The biochemical properties of the maltodextrin-hydrolyzing enzymes of cold-tolerant proteobacterium Caulobacter crescentus CB15 remain to be elucidated, although whose maltodextrin transport systems were well investigated. We cloned the putative glucoamylase of C. crescentus CB15 (CauloGA) gene. The CauloGA gene product that was expressed in E. coli was prone to forming inclusion bodies; however, most of the gene product was expressed in a soluble and active form when it was expressed as a fusion protein with Staphylococcus Protein A. The fusion protein was purified using an IgG Sepharose column and was identified as the active GA. The optimum temperature and pH for the activity of this GA toward maltotriose as a substrate were approximately 40°C and 5.0, respectively, and a differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF) analysis revealed that the melting temperature (Tm) of CauloGA was 42.9°C. The kinetic analyses with maltotriose and other maltodextrins as the substrates indicated that CauloGA has higher kcat and smaller Km values at 30°C with both substrates compared with other GAs at lower substrate concentration. However, the enzyme activities toward the substrates decreased as the substrate concentrations increased at concentrations higher than approximately 10-fold the Km. The function-based identification of thermolabile Caulobacter GA contributes to the understanding of the maltodextrin-degradation system of C. crescentus as well as the bacterial GA’s function-structure relationship.
PMCID: PMC3917699  PMID: 24468405
Cloning; Expression; Thermolabile glucoamylase; Characterization; Subsite affinity; Inhibition
3.  Characterization of Chromobacterium violaceum pigment through a hyperspectral imaging system 
AMB Express  2014;4:4.
In this paper, a comprehensive spatio-spectral and temporal analysis for Chromobacterium violaceum colonies is reported. A hyperspectral imaging (HSI) system is used to recover the spectral signatures of pigment production in a non-homogeneous media with high spectral resolution and high sensitivity in vivo, without destructing the sample. This non-contact sensing technique opens avenues to study the temporal growing of a specific section in the bacterial colony. Further, from a 580 [nm] and 764 [nm] spatio-spectral time series, a wild-type and mutant Chromobacterium violaceum strains are characterized. Such study provides quantitative information about kinetic parameters of pigment production and bacterial growing.
PMCID: PMC3924903  PMID: 24417877
Chromobacterium; Hyperspectral systems; Real time sampling; Pigment production
4.  Insights into bacterial CO2 metabolism revealed by the characterization of four carbonic anhydrases in Ralstonia eutropha H16 
AMB Express  2014;4:2.
Carbonic anhydrase (CA) enzymes catalyze the interconversion of CO2 and bicarbonate. These enzymes play important roles in cellular metabolism, CO2 transport, ion transport, and internal pH regulation. Understanding the metabolic role of CAs in the chemolithoautotropic bacterium Ralstonia eutropha is important for the development of high performance fermentation processes based on the bacterium’s capability to fix carbon using the Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle. Analysis of the R. eutropha H16 genome sequence revealed the presence of four CA genes: can, can2, caa and cag. We evaluated the importance of each of the CAs in the metabolism of R. eutropha by examination of growth and enzyme activity in gene deletion, complementation, and overexpression strains. All four purified CAs were capable of performing the interconversion of CO2 and HCO3–, although the equilibrium towards the formation of CO2 or HCO3– differs with each CA. Deletion of can, encoding a β-CA, affected the growth of R. eutropha; however the growth defect could be compensated by adding CO2 to the culture. Deletion of the caa, encoding an α-CA, had the strongest deleterious influence on cell growth. Strains with deletion or overexpression of can2 or cag genes exhibited similar behavior to wild type under most of the conditions tested. In this work, Caa was studied in greater detail using microscopy and complementation experiments, which helped confirm its periplasmic localization and determine its importance for robust growth of R. eutropha. A hypothesis for the coordinated role of these four enzymes in the metabolism of R. eutropha is proposed.
PMCID: PMC3904209  PMID: 24410804
CO2 transport; Cupriavidus necator; Carbon dioxide; Bicarbonate; Dissolved inorganic carbon; Periplasm; Zinc metalloenzyme
5.  Three-dimensional reconstruction of surface nanoarchitecture from two-dimensional datasets 
AMB Express  2014;4:3.
The design of biomaterial surfaces relies heavily on the ability to accurately measure and visualize the three-dimensional surface nanoarchitecture of substrata. Here, we present a technique for producing three-dimensional surface models using displacement maps that are based on the data obtained from two-dimensional analyses. This technique is particularly useful when applied to scanning electron micrographs that have been calibrated using atomic force microscopy (AFM) roughness data. The evaluation of four different surface types, including thin titanium films, silicon wafers, polystyrene cell culture dishes and dragonfly wings confirmed that this technique is particularly effective for the visualization of conductive surfaces such as metallic titanium. The technique is particularly useful for visualizing surfaces that cannot be easily analyzed using AFM. The speed and ease with which electron micrographs can be recorded, combined with a relatively simple process for generating displacement maps, make this technique useful for the assessment of the surface topography of biomaterials.
PMCID: PMC3917702  PMID: 24410821
Three-dimensional visualization; Scanning electron microscopy; Atomic force microscopy; Surface topographical analysis
6.  Evaluation of the endotoxin binding efficiency of clay minerals using the Limulus Amebocyte lysate test: an in vitro study 
AMB Express  2014;4:1.
Endotoxins are part of the cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria. They are potent immune stimulators and can lead to death if present in high concentrations. Feed additives, which bind endotoxins in the gastrointestinal tract of animals, could help to prevent their negative impact. The objective of our study was to determine the potential of a bentonite (Bentonite 1), a sodium bentonite (Bentonite 2), a chemically treated smectite (Organoclay 1) and a modified attapulgite (Organoclay 2) to bind endotoxins in vitro. Polymyxin B served as positive control. The kinetic chromogenic Limulus Amebocyte lysate test was adapted to measure endotoxin activity. Firstly, a single sorption experiment (10 endotoxin units/mL (EU/mL)) was performed. Polymyxin B and organoclays showed 100% binding efficiency. Secondly, the adsorption efficiency of sorbents in aqueous solution with increasing endotoxin concentrations (2,450 – 51,700 EU/mL) was investigated. Organoclay 1 (0.1%) showed a good binding efficiency in aqueous solution (average 81%), whereas Bentonite 1 (0.1%) obtained a lower binding efficiency (21-54%). The following absorbent capacities were calculated in highest endotoxin concentration: 5.59 mg/g (Organoclay 1) > 3.97 mg/g (Polymyxin B) > 2.58mg/g (Organoclay 2) > 1.55 mg/g (Bentonite 1) > 1.23 mg/g (Bentonite 2). Thirdly, a sorption experiment in artificial intestinal fluid was conducted. Especially for organoclays, which are known to be unspecific adsorbents, the endotoxin binding capacity was significantly reduced. In contrast, Bentonite 1 showed comparable results in artificial intestinal fluid and aqueous solution. Based on the results of this in vitro study, the effect of promising clay minerals will be investigated in in vivo trials.
PMCID: PMC3901786  PMID: 24383578
Endotoxin; Lipopolysaccharide; Bentonite; Organoclay; Binding; Isotherm; LAL test; Feed additive
7.  An organic acid-tolerant HAA1-overexpression mutant of an industrial bioethanol strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and its application to the production of bioethanol from sugarcane molasses 
AMB Express  2013;3:74.
Bacterial contamination is known as a major cause of the reduction in ethanol yield during bioethanol production by Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Acetate is an effective agent for the prevention of bacterial contamination, but it negatively affects the fermentation ability of S. cerevisiae. We have proposed that the combined use of organic acids including acetate and lactate and yeast strains tolerant to organic acids may be effective for the elimination of principally lactic acid bacterial (LAB) contamination. In a previous study employing laboratory S. cerevisiae strains, we showed that overexpression of the HAA1 gene, which encodes a transcriptional activator, could be a useful molecular breeding method for acetate-tolerant yeast strains. In the present study, we constructed a HAA1-overexpressing diploid strain (MATa/α, named ER HAA1-OP) derived from the industrial bioethanol strain Ethanol Red (ER). ER HAA1-OP showed tolerance not only to acetate but also to lactate, and this tolerance was dependent on the increased expression of HAA1 gene. The ethanol production ability of ER HAA1-OP was almost equivalent to that of the parent strain during the bioethanol production process from sugarcane molasses in the absence of acetate. The addition of acetate at 0.5% (w/v, pH 4.5) inhibited the fermentation ability of the parent strain, but such an inhibition was not observed in the ethanol production process using ER HAA1-OP.
PMCID: PMC3896689  PMID: 24373204
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Ethanol fermentation; Sugarcane molasses; Acetate tolerance; HAA1 gene
8.  Enhancing cellulase and hemicellulase production by genetic modification of the carbon catabolite repressor gene, creA, in Acremonium cellulolyticus 
AMB Express  2013;3:73.
Acremonium cellulolyticus is one of several fungi that offer promise as an alternative to Trichoderma reesei for use in industrial cellulase production. However, the mechanism of cellulase production has not been studied at the molecular level because adequate genetic engineering tools for use in A. cellulolyticus are lacking. In the present study, we developed a gene disruption method for A. cellulolyticus, which needs a longer homologous region length. We cloned a putative A. cellulolyticus creA gene that is highly similar to the creA genes derived from other filamentous fungi, and isolated a creA disruptant strain by using the disruption method. Growth of the creA disruptant on agar plates was slower than that of the control strain. In the wild-type strain, the CreA protein was localized in the nucleus, suggesting that the cloned gene encodes the CreA transcription factor. Cellulase and xylanase production by the creA disruptant were higher than that of the control strain at the enzyme and transcription levels. Furthermore, the creA disruptant produced cellulase and xylanase in the presence of glucose. These data suggest both that the CreA protein functions as a catabolite repressor protein, and that disruption of creA is effective for enhancing enzyme production by A. cellulolyticus.
PMCID: PMC3917621  PMID: 24360128
Cellulase; Hemicellulase; Catabolite repression; Acremonium cellulolyticus
9.  Evaluation of culture media for the production of secondary metabolites in a natural products screening program 
AMB Express  2013;3:71.
Variation in the growing environment can have significant impacts on the quantity and diversity of fungal secondary metabolites. In the industrial setting, optimization of growing conditions can lead to significantly increased production of a compound of interest. Such optimization becomes challenging in a drug-discovery screening situation, as the ideal conditions for one organism may induce poor metabolic diversity for a different organism. Here, the impact of different media types, including six liquid media and five solid media, on the secondary metabolite production of three fungal strains was examined in the context of the drug-discovery screening process. The relative production of marker compounds was used to evaluate the usefulness and reliability of each medium for the purpose of producing secondary metabolites.
PMCID: PMC3917616  PMID: 24342059
Media; Screening; Secondary metabolites; Fungi
10.  Direct production of organic acids from starch by cell surface-engineered Corynebacterium glutamicum in anaerobic conditions 
AMB Express  2013;3:72.
We produced organic acids, including lactate and succinate, directly from soluble starch under anaerobic conditions using high cell-density cultures of Corynebacterium glutamicum displaying α-amylase (AmyA) from Streptococcus bovis 148 on the cell surface. Notably, reactions performed under anaerobic conditions at 35 and 40°C, which are higher than the optimal growth temperature of 30°C, showed 32% and 19%, respectively, higher productivity of the organic acids lactate, succinate, and acetate compared to that at 30°C. However, α-amylase was not stably anchored and released into the medium from the cell surface during reactions at these higher temperatures, as demonstrated by the 61% and 85% decreases in activity, respectively, from baseline, compared to the only 8% decrease at 30°C. The AmyA-displaying C. glutamicum cells retained their starch-degrading capacity during five 10 h reaction cycles at 30°C, producing 107.8 g/l of total organic acids, including 88.9 g/l lactate and 14.0 g/l succinate. The applicability of cell surface-engineering technology for the production of organic acids from biomass by high cell-density cultures of C. glutamicum under anaerobic conditions was demonstrated.
PMCID: PMC3917680  PMID: 24342107
Corynebacterium glutamicum; Organic acid; α-amylase; Cell-surface engineering
11.  Utilization of oleo-chemical industry by-products for biosurfactant production 
AMB Express  2013;3:68.
Biosurfactants are the surface active compounds produced by micro-organisms. The eco-friendly and biodegradable nature of biosurfactants makes their usage more advantageous over chemical surfactants. Biosurfactants encompass the properties of dropping surface tension, stabilizing emulsions, promoting foaming and are usually non- toxic and biodegradable. Biosurfactants offer advantages over their synthetic counterparts in many applications ranging from environmental, food, and biomedical, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. The important environmental applications of biosurfactants include bioremediation and dispersion of oil spills, enhanced oil recovery and transfer of crude oil. The emphasis of present review shall be with reference to the commercial production, current developments and future perspectives of a variety of approaches of biosurfactant production from the micro-organisms isolated from various oil- contaminated sites and from the by-products of oleo-chemical industry wastes/ by-products viz. used edible oil, industrial residues, acid oil, deodorizer distillate, soap-stock etc.
PMCID: PMC3923564  PMID: 24262384
Biosurfactants; Agro- chemical waste; Rhamnolipid; Oil industry
12.  Direct cadaverine production from cellobiose using β-glucosidase displaying Escherichia coli 
AMB Express  2013;3:67.
In this study, we demonstrate the one-step production of cadaverine (1,5-diaminopentane) from cellobiose using an Escherichia coli strain displaying β-glucosidase (BGL) on its cell surface. L-lysine decarboxylase (CadA) derived from E. coli and BGL from Thermobifida fusca YX (Tfu0937) fused to the anchor protein Blc from E. coli were co-expressed using E. coli as a host. The expression of CadA was confirmed by Western blotting and BGL activity on the cell surface was evaluated using pNPG as a substrate. Growth on cellobiose as the sole carbon source was also achieved. The OD600 value of the BGL and CadA co-expressing strain was 8.0 after 48 h cultivation, which is higher than that obtained by growth on glucose (5.4 after 48 h cultivation). The engineered strain produced cadaverine from cellobiose more effectively than from glucose: 6.1 mM after 48 h from 28 g/L of consumed cellobiose, vs. 3.3 mM from 20 g/L of consumed glucose.
PMCID: PMC3827850  PMID: 24206923
Cadaverine; E. coli; Cell surface display; Cellobiose
13.  Optimisation of engineered Escherichia coli biofilms for enzymatic biosynthesis of l-halotryptophans 
AMB Express  2013;3:66.
Engineered biofilms comprising a single recombinant species have demonstrated remarkable activity as novel biocatalysts for a range of applications. In this work, we focused on the biotransformation of 5-haloindole into 5-halotryptophan, a pharmaceutical intermediate, using Escherichia coli expressing a recombinant tryptophan synthase enzyme encoded by plasmid pSTB7. To optimise the reaction we compared two E. coli K-12 strains (MC4100 and MG1655) and their ompR234 mutants, which overproduce the adhesin curli (PHL644 and PHL628). The ompR234 mutation increased the quantity of biofilm in both MG1655 and MC4100 backgrounds. In all cases, no conversion of 5-haloindoles was observed using cells without the pSTB7 plasmid. Engineered biofilms of strains PHL628 pSTB7 and PHL644 pSTB7 generated more 5-halotryptophan than their corresponding planktonic cells. Flow cytometry revealed that the vast majority of cells were alive after 24 hour biotransformation reactions, both in planktonic and biofilm forms, suggesting that cell viability was not a major factor in the greater performance of biofilm reactions. Monitoring 5-haloindole depletion, 5-halotryptophan synthesis and the percentage conversion of the biotransformation reaction suggested that there were inherent differences between strains MG1655 and MC4100, and between planktonic and biofilm cells, in terms of tryptophan and indole metabolism and transport. The study has reinforced the need to thoroughly investigate bacterial physiology and make informed strain selections when developing biotransformation reactions.
PMCID: PMC3843566  PMID: 24188712
E. coli; Biofilm; Biotransformation; Haloindole; Halotryptophan
14.  A potential source for cellulolytic enzyme discovery and environmental aspects revealed through metagenomics of Brazilian mangroves 
AMB Express  2013;3:65.
The mangroves are among the most productive and biologically important environments. The possible presence of cellulolytic enzymes and microorganisms useful for biomass degradation as well as taxonomic and functional aspects of two Brazilian mangroves were evaluated using cultivation and metagenomic approaches. From a total of 296 microorganisms with visual differences in colony morphology and growth (including bacteria, yeast and filamentous fungus), 179 (60.5%) and 117 (39.5%) were isolated from the Rio de Janeiro (RJ) and Bahia (BA) samples, respectively. RJ metagenome showed the higher number of microbial isolates, which is consistent with its most conserved state and higher diversity. The metagenomic sequencing data showed similar predominant bacterial phyla in the BA and RJ mangroves with an abundance of Proteobacteria (57.8% and 44.6%), Firmicutes (11% and 12.3%) and Actinobacteria (8.4% and 7.5%). A higher number of enzymes involved in the degradation of polycyclic aromatic compounds were found in the BA mangrove. Specific sequences involved in the cellulolytic degradation, belonging to cellulases, hemicellulases, carbohydrate binding domains, dockerins and cohesins were identified, and it was possible to isolate cultivable fungi and bacteria related to biomass decomposition and with potential applications for the production of biofuels. These results showed that the mangroves possess all fundamental molecular tools required for building the cellulosome, which is required for the efficient degradation of cellulose material and sugar release.
PMCID: PMC3922913  PMID: 24160319
Brazilian mangrove; Cellulase; Metagenomics; Biomass decomposition; Bacterial diversity
15.  Comparative proteomic analysis reveals mechanistic insights into Pseudomonas putida F1 growth on benzoate and citrate 
AMB Express  2013;3:64.
Pseudomonas species are capable to proliferate under diverse environmental conditions and thus have a significant bioremediation potential. To enhance our understanding of their metabolic versatility, this study explores the changes in the proteome and physiology of Pseudomonas putida F1 resulting from its growth on benzoate, a moderate toxic compound that can be catabolized, and citrate, a carbon source that is assimilated through central metabolic pathways. A series of repetitive batch cultivations were performed to ensure a complete adaptation of the bacteria to each of these contrasting carbon sources. After several growth cycles, cell growth stabilized at the maximum level and exhibited a reproducible growth profile. The specific growth rates measured for benzoate (1.01 ± 0.11 h-1) and citrate (1.11 ± 0.12 h-1) were similar, while a higher yield was observed for benzoate (0.6 and 0.3 g cell mass per g of benzoate and citrate, respectively), reflecting the different degrees of carbon reduction in the two substrates. Comparative proteomic analysis revealed an enrichment of several oxygenases/dehydrogenases in benzoate-grown cells, indicative of the higher carbon reduction of benzoate. Moreover, the upregulation of all 14 proteins implicated in benzoate degradation via the catechol ortho-cleavage pathway was observed, while several stress-response proteins were increased to aid cells to cope with benzoate toxicity. Unexpectedly, citrate posed more challenges than benzoate in the maintenance of pH homeostasis, as indicated by the enhancement of the Na+/H+ antiporter and carbonic anhydrase. The study provides important mechanistic insights into Pseudomonas adaptation to varying carbon sources that are of great relevance to bioremediation efforts.
PMCID: PMC3827995  PMID: 24156539
Pseudomonas putida; Benzoate biodegradation; Batch culture; Quantitative proteomics; 2D-LC-MS/MS; Stress response
16.  Bacterial versus fungal laccase: potential for micropollutant degradation 
AMB Express  2013;3:63.
Relatively high concentrations of micropollutants in municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents underscore the necessity to develop additional treatment steps prior to discharge of treated wastewater. Microorganisms that produce unspecific oxidative enzymes such as laccases are a potential means to improve biodegradation of these compounds. Four strains of the bacterial genus Streptomyces (S. cyaneus, S. ipomoea, S. griseus and S. psammoticus) and the white-rot fungus Trametes versicolor were studied for their ability to produce active extracellular laccase in biologically treated wastewater with different carbon sources. Among the Streptomyces strains evaluated, only S. cyaneus produced extracellular laccase with sufficient activity to envisage its potential use in WWTPs. Laccase activity produced by T. versicolor was more than 20 times greater, the highest activity being observed with ash branches as the sole carbon source. The laccase preparation of S. cyaneus (abbreviated LSc) and commercial laccase from T. versicolor (LTv) were further compared in terms of their activity at different pH and temperatures, their stability, their substrate range, and their micropollutant oxidation efficiency. LSc and LTv showed highest activities under acidic conditions (around pH 3 to 5), but LTv was active over wider pH and temperature ranges than LSc, especially at near-neutral pH and between 10 and 25°C (typical conditions found in WWTPs). LTv was also less affected by pH inactivation. Both laccase preparations oxidized the three micropollutants tested, bisphenol A, diclofenac and mefenamic acid, with faster degradation kinetics observed for LTv. Overall, T. versicolor appeared to be the better candidate to remove micropollutants from wastewater in a dedicated post-treatment step.
PMCID: PMC3819643  PMID: 24152339
Laccase; Streptomyces spp; Trametes versicolor; Micropollutant; Wastewater; Oxidation
17.  Quantitative evaluation of E. coli F4 and Salmonella Typhimurium binding capacity of yeast derivatives 
AMB Express  2013;3:62.
The target of the present study was to quantify the capacity of different commercially available yeast derivatives to bind E. coli F4 and Salmonella Typhimurium. In addition, a correlation analysis was performed for the obtained binding numbers and the mannan-, glucan- and protein contents of the products, respectively. In a subsequent experiment, different yeast strains were fermented and treated by autolysis or French press to obtain a concentrated yeast cell wall. The capacity of yeast cell wall products to bind E. coli F4 and Salmonella Typhimurium was assessed with a quantitative microbiological microplate-based assay by measuring the optical density (OD) as the growth parameter of adhering bacteria. Total mannan and glucan were determined by HPLC using an isocratic method and a Refractive Index (RI) Detector. Total protein was determined by Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN). Statistical analyses were performed with IBM SPSS V19 using Spearman correlation and Mann Whitney U Test.
Different yeast derivatives show different binding numbers, which indicate differences in product quality.
Interestingly, the binding numbers for Salmonella Typhimurium are consistently higher (between one and two orders of magnitude) than for E. coli F4.
We could demonstrate some statistical significant correlations between the mannan- and glucan content of different yeast derivatives and pathogen binding numbers; however, for the different yeast strains fermented under standardized laboratory conditions, no statistically significant correlations between the mannan- and glucan content and the binding numbers for E. coli and Salmonella Typhimurium were found.
Interestingly, we could demonstrate that the yeast autolysis had a statistically significant difference on E. coli binding in contrast to the French press treatment. Salmonella binding was independent of these two treatments.
As such, we could not give a clear statement about the binding factors involved. We propose that many more factors apart from mannan- and glucan content, such as cell wall structure, strain diversity, structural diversity, structural surroundings, and non-specific interactions play important roles in pathogen immobilization.
PMCID: PMC3816590  PMID: 24148308
Yeast cell wall; E. coli F4; Salmonella Typhimurium; Microplate-based assay
18.  Growth profile of Carboxydothermus hydrogenoformans on pyruvate 
AMB Express  2013;3:60.
Carboxydothermus hydrogenoformans is a thermophilic anaerobic strain most widely known for its ability to produce hydrogen (H2) when grown on carbon monoxide (CO). Although relatively well studied, growth characterization on pyruvate has never been assessed. The present work fully characterizes growth of the bacterium on pyruvate as a sole carbon source. C. hydrogenoformans demonstrated a growth rate of 0.03 h-1, with pyruvate consumption ranging between 0.21 and 0.48 mol · g-1 volatile suspended solid · d-1. A lag phase was also observed when switching from pyruvate to CO. When grown simultaneously on pyruvate and CO, pyruvate consumption was initiated upon CO depletion. This was attributed to pyruvate oxidation inhibition by CO, and not to a diauxic phenomenom. The strain also showed homoacetogenic activity.
PMCID: PMC3851474  PMID: 24099169
Carbon monoxide; Water-gas shift reaction; C. hydrogenoformans; Pyruvate
19.  Photocatalytic bacterial inactivation by TiO2-coated surfaces 
AMB Express  2013;3:59.
The aim of this study was the evaluation of the photoactivated antibacterial activity of titanium dioxide (TiO2)-coated surfaces. Bacterial inactivation was evaluated using TiO2-coated Petri dishes. The experimental conditions optimized with Petri dishes were used to test the antibacterial effect of TiO2-coated ceramic tiles. The best antibacterial effect with Petri dishes was observed at 180, 60, 30 and 20 min of exposure for Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas putida and Listeria innocua, respectively. The ceramic tiles demonstrated a photoactivated bactericidal effect at the same exposure time. In general, no differences were observed between the antibacterial effect obtained with Petri dishes and tiles. However, the photochemical activity of Petri dishes was greater than the activity of the tiles.
Results obtained indicates that the TiO2-coated surfaces showed a photoactivated bactericidal effect with all bacteria tested highlighting that the titania could be used in the ceramic and building industry for the production of coated surfaces to be placed in microbiologically sensitive environments, such as the hospital and food industry.
PMCID: PMC3851522  PMID: 24090112
Titanium dioxide; Antibacterial activity; Bacteria; Photocatalytic disinfection; Photocatalysis
20.  Comparing cellular performance of Yarrowia lipolytica during growth on glucose and glycerol in submerged cultivations 
AMB Express  2013;3:58.
Yarrowia lipolytica is an attractive host for sustainable bioprocesses due to its ability to utilize a variety of carbon substrates and convert them to a range of different product types (including lipids, organic acids and polyols) under specific conditions. Despite an increasing number of applications for this yeast, relatively few studies have focused on uptake and metabolism of carbon sources, and the metabolic basis for carbon flow to the different products. The focus of this work was quantification of the cellular performance of Y. lipolytica during growth on glycerol, glucose or a mixture of the two. Carbon substrate uptake rate, growth rate, oxygen utilisation (requirement and uptake rate) and polyol yields were estimated in batch cultivations at 1 litre scale. When glucose was used as the sole carbon and energy source, the growth rate was 0.24 h-1 and biomass and CO2 were the only products. Growth on glycerol proceeded at approximately 0.30 h-1, and the substrate uptake rate was 0.02 mol L-1 h-1 regardless of the starting glycerol concentration (10, 20 or 45 g L-1). Utilisation of glycerol was accompanied by higher oxygen uptake rates compared to glucose growth, indicating import of glycerol occurred initially via phosphorylation of glycerol into glycerol-3-phosphate. Based on these results it could be speculated that once oxygen limitation was reached, additional production of NADH created imbalance in the cofactor pools and the polyol formation observed could be a result of cofactor recycling to restore the balance in metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3852309  PMID: 24088397
Y. lipolytica; Glycerol; Submerged cultivation; Oxygen limitation; Polyols
21.  Comparative evaluation of rumen metagenome community using qPCR and MG-RAST 
AMB Express  2013;3:55.
Microbial profiling of metagenome communities have been studied extensively using MG-RAST and other related metagenome annotation databases. Although, database based taxonomic profiling provides snapshots of the metagenome architecture, their reliability needs to be validated through more accurate methods. Here, we performed qPCR based absolute quantitation of selected rumen microbes in the liquid and solid fraction of the rumen fluid of river buffalo adapted to varying proportion of concentrate to green or dry roughages and compared with the MG-RAST based annotation of the metagenomes sequences of 16S r-DNA amplicons and high throughput shotgun sequencing. Animals were adapted to roughage-to-concentrate ratio in the proportion of 50:50, 75:25 and 100:00, respectively for six weeks. At the end of each treatment, rumen fluid was collected at 3 h post feeding. qPCR revealed that the relative abundance of Prevotella bryantii was higher, followed by the two cellulolytic bacteria Fibrobacter succinogens and Ruminococcus flavefaciens that accounted up to 1.33% and 0.78% of the total rumen bacteria, respectively. While, Selenomonas ruminantium and archaea Methanomicrobiales were lower in microbial population in the rumen of buffalo. There was no statistically significant difference between the enumerations shown by qPCR and analysis of the shotgun sequencing data by MG-RAST except for Prevotella. These results indicate the variations in abundance of different microbial species in buffalo rumen under varied feeding regimes as well as in different fractions of rumen liquor, i.e. solid and the liquid. The results also present the reliability of shotgun sequencing to describe metagenome and analysis/annotation by MG-RAST.
PMCID: PMC3851495  PMID: 24025701
Real time PCR; MG-RAST; Bubalus bubalis; Fibrobacter succinogens; Ruminococcus flavefaciens; Prevotella bryantii; Selenomonas ruminantium; Methanomicrobiales
22.  Biochemical and kinetic characterisation of a novel xylooligosaccharide-upregulated GH43 β-d-xylosidase/α-l-arabinofuranosidase (BXA43) from the probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 
AMB Express  2013;3:56.
The Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 gene BIF_00092, assigned to encode a β-d-xylosidase (BXA43) of glycoside hydrolase family 43 (GH43), was cloned with a C-terminal His-tag and expressed in Escherichia coli. BXA43 was purified to homogeneity from the cell lysate and found to be a dual-specificity exo-hydrolase active on para-nitrophenyl-β-d-xylopyranoside (pNPX), para-nitrophenyl-α-L-arabinofuranoside (pNPA), β-(1 → 4)-xylopyranosyl oligomers (XOS) of degree of polymerisation (DP) 2–4, and birchwood xylan. A phylogenetic tree of the 92 characterised GH43 enzymes displayed five distinct groups (I − V) showing specificity differences. BXA43 belonged to group IV and had an activity ratio for pNPA:pNPX of 1:25. BXA43 was stable below 40°C and at pH 4.0–8.0 and showed maximum activity at pH 5.5 and 50°C. Km and kcat for pNPX were 15.6 ± 4.2 mM and 60.6 ± 10.8 s-1, respectively, and substrate inhibition became apparent above 18 mM pNPX. Similar kinetic parameters and catalytic efficiency values were reported for β-d-xylosidase (XynB3) from Geobacillus stearothermophilus T‒6 also belonging to group IV. The activity of BXA43 for xylooligosaccharides increased with the size and was 2.3 and 5.6 fold higher, respectively for xylobiose and xylotetraose compared to pNPX. BXA43 showed clearly metal inhibition for Zn2+ and Ag+, which is different to its close homologues. Multiple sequence alignment and homology modelling indicated that Arg505Tyr506 present in BXA43 are probably important for binding to xylotetraose at subsite +3 and occur only in GH43 from the Bifidobacterium genus.
PMCID: PMC3847938  PMID: 24025736
Glycoside hydrolase family 43 (GH43); β-d-xylosidase; α-l-arabinofuranosidase; Xylooligosaccharides (XOS); Bifidobacteria; Probiotics
23.  Phenyl aldehyde and propanoids exert multiple sites of action towards cell membrane and cell wall targeting ergosterol in Candida albicans 
AMB Express  2013;3:54.
In the present study, two phyto-compounds phenyl aldehyde (cinnamaldehyde) and propanoid (eugenol) were selected to explore their modes of action against Candida albicans. Electron microscopy, flow cytometry and spectroscopic assays were employed to determine the targets of these compounds. Treatment of C. albicans (CA04) with sub-MICs of cinnamaldehyde (50 μg/mL) and eugenol (200 μg/mL) indicated multiple sites of action including damages to cell walls, cell membranes, cytoplasmic contents and other membranous structures as observed under electron microscopy. Concentration and time dependent increase in the release of cytoplasmic contents accompanied with change in extracellular K+ concentration was recorded. Exposure of Candida cells at 4 × MIC of cinnaamldehyde and eugenol resulted in 40.21% and 50.90% dead cells, respectively as revealed by flow cytometry analysis. Treatment of Candida cells by cinnamaldehyde and eugenol at 0.5 × MIC showed 67.41% and 76.23% reduction in ergosterol biosynthesis, respectively. The binding assays reflected the ability of compounds to bind with the ergosterol. Our findings have suggested that the membrane damaging effects of phenyl aldehyde and propanoids class of compounds is attributed to their ability to inhibit ergosterol biosynthesis and simultaneously binding with ergosterol. Indirect or secondary action of these compounds on cell wall is also expected as revealed by electron microscopic studies.
PMCID: PMC3847835  PMID: 24010721
Candida albicans; Electron microscopy; Ergosterol; Flow cytometry
24.  Antimicrobial activity of novel nanostructured Cu-SiO2 coatings prepared by chemical vapour deposition against hospital related pathogens 
AMB Express  2013;3:53.
There is increasing recognition that the healthcare environment acts as an important reservoir for transmission of healthcare acquired infections (HCAI). One method of reducing environmental contamination would be use of antimicrobial materials. The antimicrobial activity of thin silica-copper films prepared by chemical vapour deposition was evaluated against standard strains of bacteria used for disinfectant testing and bacteria of current interest in HCAI. The structure of the coatings was determined using Scanning Electron Microscopy and their hardness and adhesion to the substrate determined. Antimicrobial activity was tested using a method based on BS ISO 22196:2007. The coatings had a pale green-brown colour and had a similar hardness to steel. SEM showed nano-structured aggregates of Cu within a silica matrix. A log10 reduction in viability of >5 could be obtained within 4 h for the disinfectant test strains and within 6 h for producing Acinetobacter baumannii, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. Activity against the other hospital isolates was slower but still gave log10 reduction factors of >5 for extended spectrum β-lactamase producing Escherichia coli and >3 for vancomycin resistant Enterococcus faecium, methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa within 24 h. The results demonstrate the importance of testing antimicrobial materials destined for healthcare use against isolates of current interest in hospitals as well as standard test strains. The coatings used here can also be applied to substrates such as metals and ceramics and have potential applications where reduction of microbial environmental contamination is desirable.
PMCID: PMC3846808  PMID: 24007899
Antimicrobial; Chemical vapour deposition; Copper; Disinfection surface; Hospital pathogens
25.  Increase methylmercury accumulation in Arabidopsis thaliana expressing bacterial broad-spectrum mercury transporter MerE 
AMB Express  2013;3:52.
The bacterial merE gene derived from the Tn21 mer operon encodes a broad-spectrum mercury transporter that governs the transport of methylmercury and mercuric ions across bacterial cytoplasmic membranes, and this gene is a potential molecular tool for improving the efficiency of methylmercury phytoremediation. A transgenic Arabidopsis engineered to express MerE was constructed and the impact of expression of MerE on methylmercury accumulation was evaluated. The subcellular localization of transiently expressed GFP-tagged MerE was examined in Arabidopsis suspension-cultured cells. The GFP-MerE was found to localize to the plasma membrane and cytosol. The transgenic Arabidopsis expressing MerE accumulated significantly more methymercury and mercuric ions into plants than the wild-type Arabidopsis did. The transgenic plants expressing MerE was significantly more resistant to mercuric ions, but only showed more resistant to methylmercury compared with the wild type Arabidopsis. These results demonstrated that expression of the bacterial mercury transporter MerE promoted the transport and accumulation of methylmercury in transgenic Arabidopsis, which may be a useful method for improving plants to facilitate the phytoremediation of methylmercury pollution.
PMCID: PMC3847078  PMID: 24004544
Bacterial broad-spectrum mercury transport; MerE; Methylmercury; Phytoremediation

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