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author:("Lau, nok-Sean")
1.  Whole genome amplification approach reveals novel polyhydroxyalkanoate synthases (PhaCs) from Japan Trench and Nankai Trough seawater 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):318.
Background
Special features of the Japanese ocean include its ranges of latitude and depth. This study is the first to examine the diversity of Class I and II PHA synthases (PhaC) in DNA samples from pelagic seawater taken from the Japan Trench and Nankai Trough from a range of depths from 24 m to 5373 m. PhaC is the key enzyme in microorganisms that determines the types of monomer units that are polymerized into polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) and thus affects the physicochemical properties of this thermoplastic polymer. Complete putative PhaC sequences were determined via genome walking, and the activities of newly discovered PhaCs were evaluated in a heterologous host.
Results
A total of 76 putative phaC PCR fragments were amplified from the whole genome amplified seawater DNA. Of these 55 clones contained conserved PhaC domains and were classified into 20 genetic groups depending on their sequence similarity. Eleven genetic groups have undisclosed PhaC activity based on their distinct phylogenetic lineages from known PHA producers. Three complete DNA coding sequences were determined by IAN-PCR, and one PhaC was able to produce poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) in recombinant Cupriavidus necator PHBˉ4 (PHB-negative mutant).
Conclusions
A new functional PhaC that has close identity to Marinobacter sp. was discovered in this study. Phylogenetic classification for all the phaC genes isolated from uncultured bacteria has revealed that seawater and other environmental resources harbor a great diversity of PhaCs with activities that have not yet been investigated. Functional evaluation of these in silico-based PhaCs via genome walking has provided new insights into the polymerizing ability of these enzymes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0318-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0318-z
PMCID: PMC4326521  PMID: 25539583
Japan seawater; Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA); PHA synthase (PhaC); Whole genome amplification (WGA); Genome walking; Marinobacter
2.  RNA-Seq Analysis Provides Insights for Understanding Photoautotrophic Polyhydroxyalkanoate Production in Recombinant Synechocystis Sp. 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86368.
The photosynthetic cyanobacterium, Synechocystis sp. strain 6803, is a potential platform for the production of various chemicals and biofuels. In this study, direct photosynthetic production of a biopolymer, polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), in genetically engineered Synechocystis sp. achieved as high as 14 wt%. This is the highest production reported in Synechocystis sp. under photoautotrophic cultivation conditions without the addition of a carbon source. The addition of acetate increased PHA accumulation to 41 wt%, and this value is comparable to the highest production obtained with cyanobacteria. Transcriptome analysis by RNA-seq coupled with real-time PCR was performed to understand the global changes in transcript levels of cells subjected to conditions suitable for photoautotrophic PHA biosynthesis. There was lower expression of most PHA synthesis-related genes in recombinant Synechocystis sp. with higher PHA accumulation suggesting that the concentration of these enzymes is not the limiting factor to achieving high PHA accumulation. In order to cope with the higher PHA production, cells may utilize enhanced photosynthesis to drive the product formation. Results from this study suggest that the total flux of carbon is the possible driving force for the biosynthesis of PHA and the polymerizing enzyme, PHA synthase, is not the only critical factor affecting PHA-synthesis. Knowledge of the regulation or control points of the biopolymer production pathways will facilitate the further use of cyanobacteria for biotechnological applications.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086368
PMCID: PMC3899235  PMID: 24466058
3.  Revelation of the ability of Burkholderia sp. USM (JCM 15050) PHA synthase to polymerize 4-hydroxybutyrate monomer 
AMB Express  2012;2:41.
The nutrition-versatility of Burkholderia sp. strain USM (JCM 15050) has initiated the studies on the use of this bacterium for polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) production. To date, the Burkholderia sp. has been reported to synthesize 3-hydroxybutyrate, 3-hydroxyvalerate and 3-hydroxy-4-methylvalerate monomers. In this study, the PHA biosynthetic genes of this strain were successfully cloned and characterized. The PHA biosynthetic cluster of this strain consisted of a PHA synthase (phaC), β-ketothiolase (phaA), acetoacetyl-CoA reductase (phaB) and PHA synthesis regulator (phaR). The translated products of these genes revealed identities to corresponding proteins of Burkholderia vietnamiensis (99–100 %) and Cupriavidus necator H16 (63–89%). Heterologous expression of phaCBs conferred PHA synthesis to the PHA-negative Cupriavidus necator PHB¯4, confirming that phaCBs encoded functionally active protein. PHA synthase activity measurements revealed that the crude extracts of C. necator PHB¯4 transformant showed higher synthase activity (243 U/g) compared to that of wild-types Burkholderia sp. (151 U/g) and C. necator H16 (180 U/g). Interestingly, the transformant C. necator PHB¯4 harbouring Burkholderia sp. PHA synthase gene accumulated poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-4-hydroxybutyrate) with 4-hydroxybutyrate monomer as high as up to 87 mol% from sodium 4-hydroxybutyrate. The wild type Burkholderia sp. did not have the ability to produce this copolymer.
doi:10.1186/2191-0855-2-41
PMCID: PMC3434029  PMID: 22877240
Biopolymer; Polyhydroxyalkanoate; PHA synthase; PHA operon; Burkholderia sp.

Results 1-3 (3)