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1.  A Zn-Dependent Metallopeptidase Is Responsible for Sensitivity to LsbB, a Class II Leaderless Bacteriocin of Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis BGMN1-5 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(24):5614-5621.
Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis BGMN1-5 produces a leaderless class II bacteriocin called LsbB. To identify the receptor for LsbB, a cosmid library of the LsbB-sensitive strain BGMN1-596 was constructed. About 150 cosmid clones were individually isolated and transferred to LsbB-resistant mutants of BGMN1-596. Cosmid pAZILcos/MN2, carrying a 40-kb insert, was found to restore LsbB sensitivity in LsbB-resistant mutants. Further subcloning revealed that a 1.9-kb fragment, containing only one open reading frame, was sufficient to restore sensitivity. The fragment contains the gene yvjB coding for a Zn-dependent membrane-bound metallopeptidase, suggesting that this gene may serve as the receptor for LsbB. Further support for this notion derives from several independent experiments: (i) whole-genome sequencing confirmed that all LsbB-resistant mutants contain mutations in yvjB; (ii) disruption of yvjB by direct gene knockout rendered sensitive strains BGMN1-596 and IL1403 resistant to LsbB; and (iii) most compellingly, heterologous expression of yvjB in naturally resistant strains of other species, such as Lactobacillus paracasei and Enterococcus faecalis, also rendered them sensitive to the bacteriocin. To our knowledge, this is the first time a membrane-bound peptidase gene has been shown to be involved in bacteriocin sensitivity in target cells. We also demonstrated a novel successful approach for identifying bacteriocin receptors.
PMCID: PMC3889605  PMID: 24123824
2.  Gene Flow, Recombination, and Selection in Cyanobacteria: Population Structure of Geographically Related Planktothrix Freshwater Strains 
Several Planktothrix strains, each producing a distinct oligopeptide profile, have been shown to coexist within Lake Steinsfjorden (Norway). Using nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) genes as markers, it has been shown that the Planktothrix community comprises distinct genetic variants displaying differences in bloom dynamics, suggesting a Planktothrix subpopulation structure. Here, we investigate the Planktothrix variants inhabiting four lakes in southeast of Norway utilizing both NRPS and non-NRPS genes. Phylogenetic analyses showed similar topologies for both NRPS and non-NRPS genes, and the lakes appear to have similar structuring of Planktothrix genetic variants. The structure of distinct variants was also supported by very low genetic diversity within variants compared to the between-variant diversity. Incongruent topologies and split decomposition revealed recombination events between Planktothrix variants. In several strains the gene variants seem to be a result of recombination. Both NRPS and non-NRPS genes are dominated by purifying selection; however, sites subjected to positive selection were also detected. The presence of similar and well-separated Planktothrix variants with low internal genetic diversity indicates gene flow within Planktothrix populations. Further, the low genetic diversity found between lakes (similar range as within lakes) indicates gene flow also between Planktothrix populations and suggests recent, or recurrent, dispersals. Our data also indicate that recombination has resulted in new genetic variants. Stability within variants and the development of new variants are likely to be influenced by selection patterns and within-variant homologous recombination.
PMCID: PMC3553773  PMID: 23124237
3.  Metagenomic and geochemical characterization of pockmarked sediments overlaying the Troll petroleum reservoir in the North Sea 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:203.
Pockmarks (depressions in the seabed) have been discovered throughout the world’s oceans and are often related to hydrocarbon seepage. Although high concentrations of pockmarks are present in the seabed overlaying the Troll oil and gas reservoir in the northern North Sea, geological surveys have not detected hydrocarbon seepage in this area at the present time. In this study we have used metagenomics to characterize the prokaryotic communities inhabiting the surface sediments in the Troll area in relation to geochemical parameters, particularly related to hydrocarbon presence. We also investigated the possibility of increased potential for methane oxidation related to the pockmarks. Five metagenomes from pockmarks and plain seabed sediments were sequenced by pyrosequencing (Roche/454) technology. In addition, two metagenomes from seabed sediments geologically unlikely to be influenced by hydrocarbon seepage (the Oslofjord) were included. The taxonomic distribution and metabolic potential of the metagenomes were analyzed by multivariate analysis and statistical comparisons to reveal variation within and between the two sampling areas.
The main difference identified between the two sampling areas was an overabundance of predominantly autotrophic nitrifiers, especially Nitrosopumilus, and oligotrophic marine Gammaproteobacteria in the Troll metagenomes compared to the Oslofjord. Increased potential for degradation of hydrocarbons, especially aromatic hydrocarbons, was detected in two of the Troll samples: one pockmark sample and one from the plain seabed. Although presence of methanotrophic organisms was indicated in all samples, no overabundance in pockmark samples compared to the Oslofjord samples supports no, or only low level, methane seepage in the Troll pockmarks at the present time.
Given the relatively low content of total organic carbon and great depths of hydrocarbon containing sediments in the Troll area, it is possible that at least part of the carbon source available for the predominantly autotrophic nitrifiers thriving in this area originates from sequential prokaryotic degradation and oxidation of hydrocarbons to CO2. By turning CO2 back into organic carbon this subcommunity could play an important environmental role in these dark oligotrophic sediments. The oxidation of ammonia to nitrite and nitrate in this process could further increase the supply of terminal electron acceptors for hydrocarbon degradation.
PMCID: PMC3478177  PMID: 22966776
4.  A metagenomic study of methanotrophic microorganisms in Coal Oil Point seep sediments 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:221.
Methane oxidizing prokaryotes in marine sediments are believed to function as a methane filter reducing the oceanic contribution to the global methane emission. In the anoxic parts of the sediments, oxidation of methane is accomplished by anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME) living in syntrophy with sulphate reducing bacteria. This anaerobic oxidation of methane is assumed to be a coupling of reversed methanogenesis and dissimilatory sulphate reduction. Where oxygen is available aerobic methanotrophs take part in methane oxidation. In this study, we used metagenomics to characterize the taxonomic and metabolic potential for methane oxidation at the Tonya seep in the Coal Oil Point area, California. Two metagenomes from different sediment depth horizons (0-4 cm and 10-15 cm below sea floor) were sequenced by 454 technology. The metagenomes were analysed to characterize the distribution of aerobic and anaerobic methanotrophic taxa at the two sediment depths. To gain insight into the metabolic potential the metagenomes were searched for marker genes associated with methane oxidation.
Blast searches followed by taxonomic binning in MEGAN revealed aerobic methanotrophs of the genus Methylococcus to be overrepresented in the 0-4 cm metagenome compared to the 10-15 cm metagenome. In the 10-15 cm metagenome, ANME of the ANME-1 clade, were identified as the most abundant methanotrophic taxon with 8.6% of the reads. Searches for particulate methane monooxygenase (pmoA) and methyl-coenzyme M reductase (mcrA), marker genes for aerobic and anaerobic oxidation of methane respectively, identified pmoA in the 0-4 cm metagenome as Methylococcaceae related. The mcrA reads from the 10-15 cm horizon were all classified as originating from the ANME-1 clade.
Most of the taxa detected were present in both metagenomes and differences in community structure and corresponding metabolic potential between the two samples were mainly due to abundance differences.
The results suggests that the Tonya Seep sediment is a robust methane filter, where taxa presently dominating this process could be replaced by less abundant methanotrophic taxa in case of changed environmental conditions.
PMCID: PMC3197505  PMID: 21970369
5.  Radiolaria Divided into Polycystina and Spasmaria in Combined 18S and 28S rDNA Phylogeny 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23526.
Radiolarians are marine planktonic protists that belong to the eukaryote supergroup Rhizaria together with Foraminifera and Cercozoa. Radiolaria has traditionally been divided into four main groups based on morphological characters; i.e. Polycystina, Acantharia, Nassellaria and Phaeodaria. But recent 18S rDNA phylogenies have shown that Phaeodaria belongs within Cerocozoa, and that the previously heliozoan group Taxopodida should be included in Radiolaria. 18S rDNA phylogenies have not yet resolved the sister relationship between the main Radiolaria groups, but nevertheless suggests that Spumellaria, and thereby also Polycystina, are polyphyletic. Very few sequences other than 18S rDNA have so far been generated from radiolarian cells, mostly due to the fact that Radiolaria has been impossible to cultivate and single cell PCR has been hampered by low success rate. Here we have therefore investigated the mutual evolutionary relationship of the main radiolarian groups by using the novel approach of combining single cell whole genome amplification with targeted PCR amplification of the 18S and 28S rDNA genes. Combined 18S and 28S phylogeny of sequences obtained from single cells shows that Radiolaria is divided into two main lineages: Polycystina (Spumellaria+Nassellaria) and Spasmaria (Acantharia+Taxopodida). Further we show with high support that Foraminifera groups within Radiolaria supporting the Retaria hypothesis.
PMCID: PMC3154480  PMID: 21853146
6.  A genome-wide analysis of nonribosomal peptide synthetase gene clusters and their peptides in a Planktothrix rubescens strain 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:396.
Cyanobacteria often produce several different oligopeptides, with unknown biological functions, by nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS). Although some cyanobacterial NRPS gene cluster types are well described, the entire NRPS genomic content within a single cyanobacterial strain has never been investigated. Here we have combined a genome-wide analysis using massive parallel pyrosequencing ("454") and mass spectrometry screening of oligopeptides produced in the strain Planktothrix rubescens NIVA CYA 98 in order to identify all putative gene clusters for oligopeptides.
Thirteen types of oligopeptides were uncovered by mass spectrometry (MS) analyses. Microcystin, cyanopeptolin and aeruginosin synthetases, highly similar to already characterized NRPS, were present in the genome. Two novel NRPS gene clusters were associated with production of anabaenopeptins and microginins, respectively. Sequence-depth of the genome and real-time PCR data revealed three copies of the microginin gene cluster. Since NRPS gene cluster candidates for microviridin and oscillatorin synthesis could not be found, putative (gene encoded) precursor peptide sequences to microviridin and oscillatorin were found in the genes mdnA and oscA, respectively. The genes flanking the microviridin and oscillatorin precursor genes encode putative modifying enzymes of the precursor oligopeptides. We therefore propose ribosomal pathways involving modifications and cyclisation for microviridin and oscillatorin. The microviridin, anabaenopeptin and cyanopeptolin gene clusters are situated in close proximity to each other, constituting an oligopeptide island.
Altogether seven nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) gene clusters and two gene clusters putatively encoding ribosomal oligopeptide biosynthetic pathways were revealed. Our results demonstrate that whole genome shotgun sequencing combined with MS-directed determination of oligopeptides successfully can identify NRPS gene clusters and the corresponding oligopeptides. The analyses suggest independent evolution of all NRPS gene clusters as functional units. Our data indicate that the Planktothrix genome displays evolution of dual pathways (NRPS and ribosomal) for production of oligopeptides in order to maximize the diversity of oligopeptides with similar but functional discrete bioactivities.
PMCID: PMC2739229  PMID: 19706155
7.  Evidence for positive selection acting on microcystin synthetase adenylation domains in three cyanobacterial genera 
Cyanobacteria produce a wealth of secondary metabolites, including the group of small cyclic heptapeptide hepatotoxins that constitutes the microcystin family. The enzyme complex that directs the biosynthesis of microcystin is encoded in a single large gene cluster (mcy). mcy genes have a widespread distribution among cyanobacteria and are likely to have an ancient origin. The notable diversity within some of the Mcy modules is generated through various recombination events including horizontal gene transfer.
A comparative analysis of the adenylation domains from the first module of McyB (McyB1) and McyC in the microcystin synthetase complex was performed on a large number of microcystin-producing strains from the Anabaena, Microcystis and Planktothrix genera. We found no decisive evidence for recombination between strains from different genera. However, we detected frequent recombination events in the mcyB and mcyC genes between strains within the same genus. Frequent interdomain recombination events were also observed between mcyB and mcyC sequences in Anabaena and Microcystis. Recombination and mutation rate ratios suggest that the diversification of mcyB and mcyC genes is driven by recombination events as well as point mutations in all three genera. Sequence analysis suggests that generally the adenylation domains of the first domain of McyB and McyC are under purifying selection. However, we found clear evidence for positive selection acting on a number of amino acid residues within these adenylation domains. These include residues important for active site selectivity of the adenylation domain, strongly suggesting selection for novel microcystin variants.
We provide the first clear evidence for positive selection acting on amino acid residues involved directly in the recognition and activation of amino acids incorporated into microcystin, indicating that the microcystin complement of a given strain may influence the ability of a particular strain to interact with its environment.
PMCID: PMC2564945  PMID: 18808704
8.  Recombination and selectional forces in cyanopeptolin NRPS operons from highly similar, but geographically remote Planktothrix strains 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:141.
Cyanopeptolins are nonribosomally produced heptapetides showing a highly variable composition. The cyanopeptolin synthetase operon has previously been investigated in three strains from the genera Microcystis, Planktothrix and Anabaena. Cyanopeptolins are displaying protease inhibitor activity, but the biological function(s) is (are) unknown. Cyanopeptolin gene cluster variability and biological functions of the peptide variants are likely to be interconnected.
We have investigated two cyanopeptolin gene clusters from highly similar, but geographically remote strains of the same genus. Sequencing of a nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) cyanopeptolin gene cluster from the Japanese strain Planktothrix NIES 205 (205-oci), showed the 30 kb gene cluster to be highly similar to the oci gene cluster previously described in Planktothrix NIVA CYA 116, isolated in Norway. Both operons contained seven NRPS modules, a sulfotransferase (S) and a glyceric acid loading (GA)-domain. Sequence analyses showed a high degree of conservation, except for the presence of an epimerase domain in NIES 205 and the regions around the epimerase, showing high substitution rates and Ka/Ks values above 1. The two strains produce almost identical cyanopeptolins, cyanopeptolin-1138 and oscillapeptin E respectively, but with slight differences regarding the production of minor cyanopeptolin variants. These variants may be the result of relaxed adenylation (A)-domain specificity in the nonribosomal enzyme complex. Other genetic markers (16S rRNA, ntcA and the phycocyanin cpcBA spacer) were identical, supporting that these geographically separated Planktothrix strains are closely related.
A horizontal gene transfer event resulting in exchange of a whole module-encoding region was observed. Nucleotide statistics indicate that both purifying selection and positive selection forces are operating on the gene cluster. The positive selection forces are acting within and around the epimerase insertion while purifying selection conserves the remaining (major) part of the gene cluster. The presence of an epimerase in the gene cluster is in line with the D-configuration of Htyr, determined experimentally in oscillapeptin E in a previous study.
PMCID: PMC2533009  PMID: 18727817
9.  Comparison of Cyanopeptolin Genes in Planktothrix, Microcystis, and Anabaena Strains: Evidence for Independent Evolution within Each Genus▿ † 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(22):7322-7330.
The major cyclic peptide cyanopeptolin 1138, produced by Planktothrix strain NIVA CYA 116, was characterized and shown to be structurally very close to the earlier-characterized oscillapeptin E. A cyanopeptolin gene cluster likely to encode the corresponding peptide synthetase was sequenced from the same strain. The 30-kb oci gene cluster contains two novel domains previously not detected in nonribosomal peptide synthetase gene clusters (a putative glyceric acid-activating domain and a sulfotransferase domain), in addition to seven nonribosomal peptide synthetase modules. Unlike in two previously described cyanopeptolin gene clusters from Anabaena and Microcystis, a halogenase gene is not present. The three cyanopeptolin gene clusters show similar gene and domain arrangements, while the binding pocket signatures deduced from the adenylation domain sequences and the additional tailoring domains vary. This suggests loss and gain of tailoring domains within each genus, after the diversification of the three clades, as major events leading to the present diversity. The ABC transporter genes associated with the cyanopeptolin gene clusters form a monophyletic clade and accordingly are likely to have evolved as part of the functional unit. Phylogenetic analyses of adenylation and condensation domains, including domains from cyanopeptolins and microcystins, show a closer similarity between the Planktothrix and Microcystis cyanopeptolin domains than between these and the Anabaena domain. No clear evidence of recombination between cyanopeptolins and microcystins could be detected. There were no strong indications of horizontal gene transfer of cyanopeptolin gene sequences across the three genera, supporting independent evolution within each genus.
PMCID: PMC2168201  PMID: 17921284
10.  Single-track sequencing for genotyping of multiple SNPs in the N-acetyltransferase 1 (NAT1) gene 
BMC Biotechnology  2004;4:28.
Fast, cheap and reliable methods are needed to identify large populations, which may be at risk in relation to environmental exposure. Polymorphisms in NAT1 (N-acetyl transferase) may be suitable markers to identify individuals at risk.
A strategy allowing to address simultaneously 24 various genetic variants in the NAT1 gene using the single sequencing reaction method on the same PCR product is described. A modified automated DNA sequencing using only one of the sequence terminators was used to genotype PCR products in single-track sequencing reactions of NAT1 and was shown to be universal for both DNA sequencing using labeled primers and labeled nucleotides. By this method we detected known SNPs at site T640G, which confers the NAT1*11 allele with frequency of 0.036, further T1088A and C1095A with frequency of 0.172 and 0.188, respectively and a deletion of TAATAATAA in the poly A signal area with a frequency 0.031. All observed frequencies were in Hardy Weinberg equilibrium and comparable to those in Caucasian population. The single-track signatures of the variant genotypes were verified on samples previously genotyped by RLFP.
The method could be of great help to scientists in the field of molecular epidemiology of screening of large populations for known informative biomarkers of susceptibility, such as NAT1.
PMCID: PMC544357  PMID: 15563733

Results 1-10 (10)