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1.  Analysis of the role of the LH92_11085 gene of a biofilm hyper-producing Acinetobacter baumannii strain on biofilm formation and attachment to eukaryotic cells 
Virulence  2016;7(4):443-455.
Acinetobacter baumannii is a nosocomial pathogen that has a considerable ability to survive in the hospital environment partly due to its capacity to form biofilms. The first step in the process of establishing an infection is adherence of the bacteria to target cells. Chaperone-usher pili assembly systems are involved in pilus biogenesis pathways that play an important role in adhesion to host cells and tissues as well as medically relevant surfaces. After screening a collection of strains, a biofilm hyper-producing A. baumannii strain (MAR002) was selected to describe potential targets involved in pathogenicity. MAR002 showed a remarkable ability to form biofilm and attach to A549 human alveolar epithelial cells. Analysis of MAR002 using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) showed a significant presence of pili on the bacterial surface. Putative protein-coding genes involved in pili formation were identified based on the newly sequenced genome of MAR002 strain (JRHB01000001/2 or NZ_JRHB01000001/2). As assessed by qRT-PCR, the gene LH92_11085, belonging to the operon LH92_11070-11085, is overexpressed (ca. 25-fold more) in biofilm-associated cells compared to exponential planktonic cells. In the present work we investigate the role of this gene on the MAR002 biofilm phenotype. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and biofilm assays showed that inactivation of LH92_11085 gene significantly reduced bacterial attachment to A549 cells and biofilm formation on plastic, respectively. TEM analysis of the LH92_11085 mutant showed the absence of long pili formations normally present in the wild-type. These observations indicate the potential role this LH92_11085 gene could play in the pathobiology of A baumannii.
PMCID: PMC4871663  PMID: 26854744
acinetobacter baumannii; attachment; biofilm; pathogenicity; pili; virulence
2.  The cellular and molecular etiology of the craniofacial defects in the avian ciliopathic mutant talpid2 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2014;141(15):3003-3012.
talpid2 is an avian autosomal recessive mutant with a myriad of congenital malformations, including polydactyly and facial clefting. Although phenotypically similar to talpid3, talpid2 has a distinct facial phenotype and an unknown cellular, molecular and genetic basis. We set out to determine the etiology of the craniofacial phenotype of this mutant. We confirmed that primary cilia were disrupted in talpid2 mutants. Molecularly, we found disruptions in Hedgehog signaling. Post-translational processing of GLI2 and GLI3 was aberrant in the developing facial prominences. Although both GLI2 and GLI3 processing were disrupted in talpid2 mutants, only GLI3 activator levels were significantly altered in the nucleus. Through additional fine mapping and whole-genome sequencing, we determined that the talpid2 phenotype was linked to a 1.4 Mb region on GGA1q that contained the gene encoding the ciliary protein C2CD3. We cloned the avian ortholog of C2CD3 and found its expression was ubiquitous, but most robust in the developing limbs and facial prominences. Furthermore, we found that C2CD3 is localized proximal to the ciliary axoneme and is important for docking the mother centriole to the ciliary vesicle and cell membrane. Finally, we identified a 19 bp deletion in talpid2 C2CD3 that produces a premature stop codon, and thus a truncated protein, as the likely causal allele for the phenotype. Together, these data provide insight into the cellular, molecular and genetic etiology of the talpid2 phenotype. Our data suggest that, although the talpid2 and talpid3 mutations affect a common ciliogenesis pathway, they are caused by mutations in different ciliary proteins that result in differences in craniofacial phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4197679  PMID: 25053433
Primary cilia; Craniofacial; talpid2; Gli processing; Hedgehog signaling; Ciliopathies; Chicken
3.  An Endogenous Growth Pattern of Roots Is Revealed in Seedlings Grown in Microgravity 
Astrobiology  2011;11(8):787-797.
In plants, sensitive and selective mechanisms have evolved to perceive and respond to light and gravity. We investigated the effects of microgravity on the growth and development of Arabidopsis thaliana (ecotype Landsberg) in a spaceflight experiment. These studies were performed with the Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) hardware system in the middeck region of the space shuttle during mission STS-131 in April 2010. Seedlings were grown on nutrient agar in Petri dishes in BRIC hardware under dark conditions and then fixed in flight with paraformaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, or RNAlater. Although the long-term objective was to study the role of the actin cytoskeleton in gravity perception, in this article we focus on the analysis of morphology of seedlings that developed in microgravity. While previous spaceflight studies noted deleterious morphological effects due to the accumulation of ethylene gas, no such effects were observed in seedlings grown with the BRIC system. Seed germination was 89% in the spaceflight experiment and 91% in the ground control, and seedlings grew equally well in both conditions. However, roots of space-grown seedlings exhibited a significant difference (compared to the ground controls) in overall growth patterns in that they skewed to one direction. In addition, a greater number of adventitious roots formed from the axis of the hypocotyls in the flight-grown plants. Our hypothesis is that an endogenous response in plants causes the roots to skew and that this default growth response is largely masked by the normal 1 g conditions on Earth. Key Words: Gravity—Multicellular life—Spacecraft experiments—Spaceflight. Astrobiology 11, 787–797.
PMCID: PMC3233217  PMID: 21970704

Results 1-3 (3)