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1.  The EcoCyc database: reflecting new knowledge about Escherichia coli K-12 
Nucleic Acids Research  2016;45(Database issue):D543-D550.
EcoCyc ( is a freely accessible, comprehensive database that collects and summarizes experimental data for Escherichia coli K-12, the best-studied bacterial model organism. New experimental discoveries about gene products, their function and regulation, new metabolic pathways, enzymes and cofactors are regularly added to EcoCyc. New SmartTable tools allow users to browse collections of related EcoCyc content. SmartTables can also serve as repositories for user- or curator-generated lists. EcoCyc now supports running and modifying E. coli metabolic models directly on the EcoCyc website.
PMCID: PMC5210515  PMID: 27899573
2.  TransportDB 2.0: a database for exploring membrane transporters in sequenced genomes from all domains of life 
Nucleic Acids Research  2016;45(Database issue):D320-D324.
All cellular life contains an extensive array of membrane transport proteins. The vast majority of these transporters have not been experimentally characterized. We have developed a bioinformatic pipeline to identify and annotate complete sets of transporters in any sequenced genome. This pipeline is now fully automated enabling it to better keep pace with the accelerating rate of genome sequencing. This manuscript describes TransportDB 2.0 (, a completely updated version of TransportDB, which provides access to the large volumes of data generated by our automated transporter annotation pipeline. The TransportDB 2.0 web portal has been rebuilt to utilize contemporary JavaScript libraries, providing a highly interactive interface to the annotation information, and incorporates analysis tools that enable users to query the database on a number of levels. For example, TransportDB 2.0 includes tools that allow users to select annotated genomes of interest from the thousands of species held in the database and compare their complete transporter complements.
PMCID: PMC5210551  PMID: 27899676
3.  Comparative Analysis of Membrane Vesicles from Three Piscirickettsia salmonis Isolates Reveals Differences in Vesicle Characteristics 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(10):e0165099.
Membrane vesicles (MVs) are spherical particles naturally released from the membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Bacterial MV production is associated with a range of phenotypes including biofilm formation, horizontal gene transfer, toxin delivery, modulation of host immune responses and virulence. This study reports comparative profiling of MVs from bacterial strains isolated from three widely disperse geographical areas. Mass spectrometry identified 119, 159 and 142 proteins in MVs from three different strains of Piscirickettsia salmonis isolated from salmonids in Chile (LF-89), Norway (NVI 5692) and Canada (NVI 5892), respectively. MV comparison revealed several strain-specific differences related to higher virulence capability for LF-89 MVs, both in vivo and in vitro, and stronger similarities between the NVI 5692 and NVI 5892 MV proteome. The MVs were similar in size and appearance as analyzed by electron microscopy and dynamic light scattering. The MVs from all three strains were internalized by both commercial and primary immune cell cultures, which suggest a potential role of the MVs in the bacterium’s utilization of leukocytes. When MVs were injected into an adult zebrafish infection model, an upregulation of several pro-inflammatory genes were observed in spleen and kidney, indicating a modulating effect on the immune system. The present study is the first comparative analysis of P. salmonis derived MVs, highlighting strain-specific vesicle characteristics. The results further illustrate that the MV proteome from one bacterial strain is not representative of all bacterial strains within one species.
PMCID: PMC5072724  PMID: 27764198
4.  A Sample-to-Sequence Protocol for Genus Targeted Transcriptomic Profiling: Application to Marine Synechococcus 
Recent studies using whole community metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches are revealing important new insights into the functional potential and activity of natural marine microbial communities. Here, we complement these approaches by describing a complete ocean sample-to-sequence protocol, specifically designed to target a single bacterial genus for purposes of both DNA and RNA profiling using fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS). The importance of defining and understanding the effects of a sampling protocol are critical if we are to gain meaningful data from environmental surveys. Rigorous pipeline trials with a cultured isolate, Synechococcus sp. BL107 demonstrate that water filtration has a well-defined but limited impact on the transcriptomic profile of this organism, whilst sample storage and multiple rounds of cell sorting have almost no effect on the resulting RNA sequence profile. Attractively, the means to replicate the sampling strategy is within the budget and expertise of most researchers.
PMCID: PMC5063861  PMID: 27790194
marine microbiology; Synechococcus; flow cytometry; transcriptomics; fluorescence activated cell sorting; RNA
5.  Fluorescence-Based Flow Sorting in Parallel with Transposon Insertion Site Sequencing Identifies Multidrug Efflux Systems in Acinetobacter baumannii 
mBio  2016;7(5):e01200-16.
Multidrug efflux pumps provide clinically significant levels of drug resistance in a number of Gram-negative hospital-acquired pathogens. These pathogens frequently carry dozens of genes encoding putative multidrug efflux pumps. However, it can be difficult to determine how many of these pumps actually mediate antimicrobial efflux, and it can be even more challenging to identify the regulatory proteins that control expression of these pumps. In this study, we developed an innovative high-throughput screening method, combining transposon insertion sequencing and cell sorting methods (TraDISort), to identify the genes encoding major multidrug efflux pumps, regulators, and other factors that may affect the permeation of antimicrobials, using the nosocomial pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii. A dense library of more than 100,000 unique transposon insertion mutants was treated with ethidium bromide, a common substrate of multidrug efflux pumps that is differentially fluorescent inside and outside the bacterial cytoplasm. Populations of cells displaying aberrant accumulations of ethidium were physically enriched using fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and the genomic locations of transposon insertions within these strains were determined using transposon-directed insertion sequencing. The relative abundance of mutants in the input pool compared to the selected mutant pools indicated that the AdeABC, AdeIJK, and AmvA efflux pumps are the major ethidium efflux systems in A. baumannii. Furthermore, the method identified a new transcriptional regulator that controls expression of amvA. In addition to the identification of efflux pumps and their regulators, TraDISort identified genes that are likely to control cell division, cell morphology, or aggregation in A. baumannii.
Transposon-directed insertion sequencing (TraDIS) and related technologies have emerged as powerful methods to identify genes required for bacterial survival or competitive fitness under various selective conditions. We applied fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) to physically enrich for phenotypes of interest within a mutant population prior to TraDIS. To our knowledge, this is the first time that a physical selection method has been applied in parallel with TraDIS rather than a fitness-induced selection. The results demonstrate the feasibility of this combined approach to generate significant results and highlight the major multidrug efflux pumps encoded in an important pathogen. This FACS-based approach, TraDISort, could have a range of future applications, including the characterization of efflux pump inhibitors, the identification of regulatory factors controlling gene or protein expression using fluorescent reporters, and the identification of genes involved in cell replication, morphology, and aggregation.
PMCID: PMC5013296  PMID: 27601573
6.  Disruption of Transporters Affiliated with Enantio-Pyochelin Biosynthesis Gene Cluster of Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5 Has Pleiotropic Effects 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(7):e0159884.
Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5 (formerly Pseudomonas fluorescens) is a biocontrol bacterium that produces the siderophore enantio-pyochelin under conditions of iron starvation in a process that is often accompanied by the secretion of its biosynthesis intermediates, salicylic acid and dihydroaeruginoic acid. In this study, we investigated whether several transporters that are encoded by genes within or adjacent to the enantio-pyochelin biosynthetic cluster, serve as efflux systems for enantio-pyochelin and/or its intermediates. In addition, we determined whether these transporters have broad substrates range specificity using a Phenotype Microarray system. Intriguingly, knockouts of the pchH and fetF transporter genes resulted in mutant strains that secrete higher levels of enantio-pyochelin as well as its intermediates salicylic acid and dihydroaeruginoic acid. Analyses of these mutants did not indicate significant change in transcription of biosynthetic genes involved in enantio-pyochelin production. In contrast, the deletion mutant of PFL_3504 resulted in reduced transcription of the biosynthetic genes as well as decreased dihydroaeruginoic acid concentrations in the culture supernatant, which could either point to regulation of gene expression by the transporter or its role in dihydroaeruginoic acid transport. Disruption of each of the transporters resulted in altered stress and/or chemical resistance profile of Pf-5, which may reflect that these transporters could have specificity for rather a broad range of substrates.
PMCID: PMC4956303  PMID: 27442435
7.  Tiny Microbes with a Big Impact: The Role of Cyanobacteria and Their Metabolites in Shaping Our Future 
Marine Drugs  2016;14(5):97.
Cyanobacteria are among the first microorganisms to have inhabited the Earth. Throughout the last few billion years, they have played a major role in shaping the Earth as the planet we live in, and they continue to play a significant role in our everyday lives. Besides being an essential source of atmospheric oxygen, marine cyanobacteria are prolific secondary metabolite producers, often despite the exceptionally small genomes. Secondary metabolites produced by these organisms are diverse and complex; these include compounds, such as pigments and fluorescent dyes, as well as biologically-active compounds with a particular interest for the pharmaceutical industry. Cyanobacteria are currently regarded as an important source of nutrients and biofuels and form an integral part of novel innovative energy-efficient designs. Being autotrophic organisms, cyanobacteria are well suited for large-scale biotechnological applications due to the low requirements for organic nutrients. Recent advances in molecular biology techniques have considerably enhanced the potential for industries to optimize the production of cyanobacteria secondary metabolites with desired functions. This manuscript reviews the environmental role of marine cyanobacteria with a particular focus on their secondary metabolites and discusses current and future developments in both the production of desired cyanobacterial metabolites and their potential uses in future innovative projects.
PMCID: PMC4882571  PMID: 27196915
natural products; microalgae; biotechnology
8.  Spatially extensive microbial biogeography of the Indian Ocean provides insights into the unique community structure of a pristine coral atoll 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:15383.
Microorganisms act both as drivers and indicators of perturbations in the marine environment. In an effort to establish baselines to predict the response of marine habitats to environmental change, here we report a broad survey of microbial diversity across the Indian Ocean, including the first microbial samples collected in the pristine lagoon of Salomon Islands, Chagos Archipelago. This was the first large-scale ecogenomic survey aboard a private yacht employing a ‘citizen oceanography’ approach and tools and protocols easily adapted to ocean going sailboats. Our data highlighted biogeographic patterns in microbial community composition across the Indian Ocean. Samples from within the Salomon Islands lagoon contained a community which was different even from adjacent samples despite constant water exchange, driven by the dominance of the photosynthetic cyanobacterium Synechococcus. In the lagoon, Synechococcus was also responsible for driving shifts in the metatranscriptional profiles. Enrichment of transcripts related to photosynthesis and nutrient cycling indicated bottom-up controls of community structure. However a five-fold increase in viral transcripts within the lagoon during the day, suggested a concomitant top-down control by bacteriophages. Indeed, genome recruitment against Synechococcus reference genomes suggested a role of viruses in providing the ecological filter for determining the β-diversity patterns in this system.
PMCID: PMC4611231  PMID: 26481089
9.  Bacillus cereus efflux protein BC3310 – a multidrug transporter of the unknown major facilitator family, UMF-2 
Phylogenetic classification divides the major facilitator superfamily (MFS) into 82 families, including 25 families that are comprised of transporters with no characterized functions. This study describes functional data for BC3310 from Bacillus cereus ATCC 14579, a member of the “unknown major facilitator family-2” (UMF-2). BC3310 was shown to be a multidrug efflux pump conferring resistance to ethidium bromide, SDS and silver nitrate when heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli DH5α ΔacrAB. A conserved aspartate residue (D105) in putative transmembrane helix 4 was identified, which was essential for the energy dependent ethidium bromide efflux by BC3310. Transport proteins of the MFS comprise specific sequence motifs. Sequence analysis of UMF-2 proteins revealed that they carry a variant of the MFS motif A, which may be used as a marker to distinguish easily between this family and other MFS proteins. Genes orthologous to bc3310 are highly conserved within the B. cereus group of organisms and thus belong to the core genome, suggesting an important conserved functional role in the normal physiology of these bacteria.
PMCID: PMC4601019  PMID: 26528249
MFS; drug resistance; efflux protein; Bacillus cereus; UMF-2
10.  Genetically and Phenotypically Distinct Pseudomonas aeruginosa Cystic Fibrosis Isolates Share a Core Proteomic Signature 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0138527.
The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa is among the main colonizers of the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. We have isolated and sequenced several P. aeruginosa isolates from the sputum of CF patients and compared them with each other and with the model strain PAO1. Phenotypic analysis of CF isolates showed significant variability in colonization and virulence-related traits suggesting different strategies for adaptation to the CF lung. Genomic analysis indicated these strains shared a large set of core genes with the standard laboratory strain PAO1, and identified the genetic basis for some of the observed phenotypic differences. Proteomics revealed that in a conventional laboratory medium PAO1 expressed 827 proteins that were absent in the CF isolates while the CF isolates shared a distinctive signature set of 703 proteins not detected in PAO1. PAO1 expressed many transporters for the uptake of organic nutrients and relatively few biosynthetic pathways. Conversely, the CF isolates expressed a narrower range of transporters and a broader set of metabolic pathways for the biosynthesis of amino acids, carbohydrates, nucleotides and polyamines. The proteomic data suggests that in a common laboratory medium PAO1 may transport a diverse set of “ready-made” nutrients from the rich medium, whereas the CF isolates may only utilize a limited number of nutrients from the medium relying mainly on their own metabolism for synthesis of essential nutrients. These variations indicate significant differences between the metabolism and physiology of P. aeruginosa CF isolates and PAO1 that cannot be detected at the genome level alone. The widening gap between the increasing genomic data and the lack of phenotypic data means that researchers are increasingly reliant on extrapolating from genomic comparisons using experimentally characterized model organisms such as PAO1. While comparative genomics can provide valuable information, our data suggests that such extrapolations may be fraught with peril.
PMCID: PMC4592193  PMID: 26431321
11.  Insights on virulence from the complete genome of Staphylococcus capitis 
Staphylococcus capitis is an opportunistic pathogen of the coagulase negative staphylococci (CoNS). Functional genomic studies of S. capitis have thus far been limited by a lack of available complete genome sequences. Here, we determined the closed S. capitis genome and methylome using Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) sequencing. The strain, AYP1020, harbors a single circular chromosome of 2.44 Mb encoding 2304 predicted proteins, which is the smallest of all complete staphylococcal genomes sequenced to date. AYP1020 harbors two large mobile genetic elements; a plasmid designated pAYP1020 (59.6 Kb) and a prophage, ΦAYP1020 (48.5 Kb). Methylome analysis identified significant adenine methylation across the genome involving two distinct methylation motifs (1972 putative 6-methyladenine (m6A) residues identified). Putative adenine methyltransferases were also identified. Comparative analysis of AYP1020 and the closely related CoNS, S. epidermidis RP62a, revealed a host of virulence factors that likely contribute to S. capitis pathogenicity, most notably genes important for biofilm formation and a suite of phenol soluble modulins (PSMs); the expression/production of these factors were corroborated by functional assays. The complete S. capitis genome will aid future studies on the evolution and pathogenesis of the coagulase negative staphylococci.
PMCID: PMC4585213  PMID: 26441910
coagulase-negative staphylococci; CoNS; SMRT sequencing; genomics; methylation
12.  Ecology and Evolution of the Human Microbiota: Fire, Farming and Antibiotics 
Genes  2015;6(3):841-857.
Human activities significantly affect all ecosystems on the planet, including the assemblages that comprise our own microbiota. Over the last five million years, various evolutionary and ecological drivers have altered the composition of the human microbiota, including the use of fire, the invention of agriculture, and the increasing availability of processed foods after the Industrial Revolution. However, no factor has had a faster or more direct effect than antimicrobial agents. Biocides, disinfectants and antibiotics select for individual cells that carry resistance genes, immediately reducing both overall microbial diversity and within-species genetic diversity. Treated individuals may never recover their original diversity, and repeated treatments lead to a series of genetic bottlenecks. The sequential introduction of diverse antimicrobial agents has selected for increasingly complex DNA elements that carry multiple resistance genes, and has fostered their spread through the human microbiota. Practices that interfere with microbial colonization, such as sanitation, Caesarian births and bottle-feeding, exacerbate the effects of antimicrobials, generating species-poor and less resilient microbial assemblages in the developed world. More and more evidence is accumulating that these perturbations to our internal ecosystems lie at the heart of many diseases whose frequency has shown a dramatic increase over the last half century.
PMCID: PMC4584332  PMID: 26371047
integron; evolution; mercury; disinfectant; resistance; antibiotic; Anthropocene; dysbiosis
13.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa inhibits the growth of Scedosporium aurantiacum, an opportunistic fungal pathogen isolated from the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients 
The filamentous fungus Scedosporium aurantiacum and the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa are opportunistic pathogens isolated from lungs of the cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. P. aeruginosa has been known to suppress the growth of a number of CF related fungi such as Aspergillus fumigatus, Candida albicans, and Cryptococcus neoformans. However, the interactions between P. aeruginosa and S. aurantiacum have not been investigated in depth. Hence we assessed the effect of P. aeruginosa reference strain PAO1 and two clinical isolates PASS1 and PASS2 on the growth of two clinical S. aurantiacum isolates WM 06.482 and WM 08.202 using solid plate assays and liquid cultures, in a synthetic medium mimicking the nutrient condition in the CF sputum. Solid plate assays showed a clear inhibition of growth of both S. aurantiacum strains when cultured with P. aeruginosa strains PASS1 and PAO1. The inhibitory effect was confirmed by confocal microscopy. In addition to using chemical fluorescent stains, strains tagged with yfp (P. aeruginosa PASS1) and mCherry (S. aurantiacum WM 06.482) were created to facilitate detailed microscopic observations on strain interaction. To our knowledge, this is the first study describing successful genetic transformation of S. aurantiacum. Inhibition of growth was observed only in co-cultures of P. aeruginosa and S. aurantiacum; the cell fractions obtained from independent bacterial monocultures failed to initiate a response against the fungus. In the liquid co-cultures, biofilm forming P. aeruginosa strains PASS1 and PAO1 displayed higher inhibition of fungal growth when compared to PASS2. No change was observed in the inhibition pattern when direct cell contact between the bacterial and fungal strains was prevented using a separation membrane suggesting the involvement of extracellular metabolites in the fungal inhibition. However, one of the most commonly described bacterial virulence factors, pyocyanin, had no effect against either of the S. aurantiacum strains. This study shows that P. aeruginosa has a substantial inhibitory effect on the growth of the recently described CF fungal pathogen S. aurantiacum. The findings also highlighted that P. aeruginosa biofilm formation is important but not crucial for inhibiting the growth of S. aurantiacum in a lung- mimicking environment.
PMCID: PMC4547459  PMID: 26379643
co-culture; S. aurantiacum; P. aeruginosa; interactions; growth inhibition; phenazines; SCFM; biofilms
14.  An ace up their sleeve: a transcriptomic approach exposes the AceI efflux protein of Acinetobacter baumannii and reveals the drug efflux potential hidden in many microbial pathogens 
The era of antibiotics as a cure-all for bacterial infections appears to be coming to an end. The emergence of multidrug resistance in many hospital-associated pathogens has resulted in “superbugs” that are effectively untreatable. Multidrug efflux pumps are well known mediators of bacterial drug resistance. Genome sequencing efforts have highlighted an abundance of putative efflux pump genes in bacteria. However, it is not clear how many of these pumps play a role in antimicrobial resistance. Efflux pump genes that participate in drug resistance can be under tight regulatory control and expressed only in response to substrates. Consequently, changes in gene expression following antimicrobial shock may be used to identify efflux pumps that mediate antimicrobial resistance. Using this approach we have characterized several novel efflux pumps in bacteria. In one example we recently identified the Acinetobacter chlorhexidine efflux protein (AceI) efflux pump in Acinetobacter. AceI is a prototype for a novel family of multidrug efflux pumps conserved in many proteobacterial lineages. The discovery of this family raises the possibility that additional undiscovered intrinsic resistance proteins may be encoded in the core genomes of pathogenic bacteria.
PMCID: PMC4406071  PMID: 25954261
multidrug efflux systems; bacterial transmembrane pair; adaptive resistance; bacterial drug resistance transcriptomics
15.  A novel family of integrases associated with prophages and genomic islands integrated within the tRNA-dihydrouridine synthase A (dusA) gene 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;43(9):4547-4557.
Genomic islands play a key role in prokaryotic genome plasticity. Genomic islands integrate into chromosomal loci such as transfer RNA genes and protein coding genes, whilst retaining various cargo genes that potentially bestow novel functions on the host organism. A gene encoding a putative integrase was identified at a single site within the 5′ end of the dusA gene in the genomes of over 200 bacteria. This integrase was discovered to be a component of numerous genomic islands, which appear to share a target site within the dusA gene. dusA encodes the tRNA-dihydrouridine synthase A enzyme, which catalyses the post-transcriptional reduction of uridine to dihydrouridine in tRNA. Genomic islands encoding homologous dusA-associated integrases were found at a much lower frequency within the related dusB and dusC genes, and non-dus genes. Excision of these dusA-associated islands from the chromosome as circularized intermediates was confirmed by polymerase chain reaction. Analysis of the dusA-associated islands indicated that they were highly diverse, with the integrase gene representing the only universal common feature.
PMCID: PMC4482086  PMID: 25883135
16.  Phenotypic Profiling of Scedosporium aurantiacum, an Opportunistic Pathogen Colonizing Human Lungs 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0122354.
Genotyping studies of Australian Scedosporium isolates have revealed the strong prevalence of a recently described species: Scedosporium aurantiacum. In addition to occurring in the environment, this fungus is also known to colonise the respiratory tracts of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. A high throughput Phenotype Microarray (PM) analysis using 94 assorted substrates (sugars, amino acids, hexose-acids and carboxylic acids) was carried out for four isolates exhibiting different levels of virulence, determined using a Galleria mellonella infection model. A significant difference was observed in the substrate utilisation patterns of strains displaying differential virulence. For example, certain sugars such as sucrose (saccharose) were utilised only by low virulence strains whereas some sugar derivatives such as D-turanose promoted respiration only in the more virulent strains. Strains with a higher level of virulence also displayed flexibility and metabolic adaptability at two different temperature conditions tested (28 and 37°C). Phenotype microarray data were integrated with the whole-genome sequence data of S. aurantiacum to reconstruct a pathway map for the metabolism of selected substrates to further elucidate differences between the strains.
PMCID: PMC4374879  PMID: 25811884
17.  The Rsm regulon of plant growth-promoting Pseudomonas fluorescens SS101: role of small RNAs in regulation of lipopeptide biosynthesis 
Microbial Biotechnology  2014;8(2):296-310.
The rhizobacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SS101 inhibits growth of oomycete and fungal pathogens, and induces resistance in plants against pathogens and insects. To unravel regulatory pathways of secondary metabolite production in SS101, we conducted a genome-wide search for sRNAs and performed transcriptomic analyses to identify genes associated with the Rsm (repressor of secondary metabolites) regulon. In silico analysis led to the identification of 16 putative sRNAs in the SS101 genome. In frame deletion of the sRNAs rsmY and rsmZ showed that the Rsm system regulates the biosynthesis of the lipopeptide massetolide A and involves the two repressor proteins RsmA and RsmE, with the LuxR-type transcriptional regulator MassAR as their most likely target. Transcriptome analyses of the rsmYZ mutant further revealed that genes associated with iron acquisition, motility and chemotaxis were significantly upregulated, whereas genes of the type VI secretion system were downregulated. Comparative transcriptomic analyses showed that most, but not all, of the genes controlled by RsmY/RsmZ are also controlled by the GacS/GacA two-component system. We conclude that the Rsm regulon of P. fluorescens SS101 plays a critical role in the regulation of lipopeptide biosynthesis and controls the expression of other genes involved in motility, competition and survival in the plant rhizosphere.
PMCID: PMC4353343  PMID: 25488342
18.  Defining the microbial effluxome in the content of the host-microbiome interaction 
PMCID: PMC4333769  PMID: 25745401
efflux transporters; multidrug resistance; microbiome; host-pathogen interaction; effluxome
19.  Draft Genome of Australian Environmental Strain WM 09.24 of the Opportunistic Human Pathogen Scedosporium aurantiacum 
Genome Announcements  2015;3(1):e01526-14.
We report here the first genome assembly and annotation of the human-pathogenic fungus Scedosporium aurantiacum, with a predicted 10,525 genes, and 11,661 transcripts. The strain WM 09.24 was isolated from the environment at Circular Quay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
PMCID: PMC4333655  PMID: 25676755
20.  Homologs of the Acinetobacter baumannii AceI Transporter Represent a New Family of Bacterial Multidrug Efflux Systems 
mBio  2015;6(1):e01982-14.
Multidrug efflux systems are a major cause of resistance to antimicrobials in bacteria, including those pathogenic to humans, animals, and plants. These proteins are ubiquitous in these pathogens, and five families of bacterial multidrug efflux systems have been identified to date. By using transcriptomic and biochemical analyses, we recently identified the novel AceI (Acinetobacter chlorhexidine efflux) protein from Acinetobacter baumannii that conferred resistance to the biocide chlorhexidine, via an active efflux mechanism. Proteins homologous to AceI are encoded in the genomes of many other bacterial species and are particularly prominent within proteobacterial lineages. In this study, we expressed 23 homologs of AceI and examined their resistance and/or transport profiles. MIC analyses demonstrated that, like AceI, many of the homologs conferred resistance to chlorhexidine. Many of the AceI homologs conferred resistance to additional biocides, including benzalkonium, dequalinium, proflavine, and acriflavine. We conducted fluorimetric transport assays using the AceI homolog from Vibrio parahaemolyticus and confirmed that resistance to both proflavine and acriflavine was mediated by an active efflux mechanism. These results show that this group of AceI homologs represent a new family of bacterial multidrug efflux pumps, which we have designated the proteobacterial antimicrobial compound efflux (PACE) family of transport proteins.
Bacterial multidrug efflux pumps are an important class of resistance determinants that can be found in every bacterial genome sequenced to date. These transport proteins have important protective functions for the bacterial cell but are a significant problem in the clinical setting, since a single efflux system can mediate resistance to many structurally and mechanistically diverse antibiotics and biocides. In this study, we demonstrate that proteins related to the Acinetobacter baumannii AceI transporter are a new class of multidrug efflux systems which are very common in Proteobacteria: the proteobacterial antimicrobial compound efflux (PACE) family. This is the first new family of multidrug efflux pumps to be described in 15 years.
PMCID: PMC4337561  PMID: 25670776
21.  The EcoCyc Database 
EcoSal Plus  2014;2014:10.1128/ecosalplus.ESP-0009-2013.
EcoCyc is a bioinformatics database available at that describes the genome and the biochemical machinery of Escherichia coli K-12 MG1655. The long-term goal of the project is to describe the complete molecular catalog of the E. coli cell, as well as the functions of each of its molecular parts, to facilitate a system-level understanding of E. coli. EcoCyc is an electronic reference source for E. coli biologists, and for biologists who work with related microorganisms. The database includes information pages on each E. coli gene, metabolite, reaction, operon, and metabolic pathway. The database also includes information on E. coli gene essentiality, and on nutrient conditions that do or do not support the growth of E. coli. The web site and downloadable software contain tools for analysis of high-throughput datasets. In addition, a steady-state metabolic flux model is generated from each new version of EcoCyc. The model can predict metabolic flux rates, nutrient uptake rates, and growth rates for different gene knockouts and nutrient conditions. This chapter provides a detailed description of the data content of EcoCyc, and of the procedures by which this content is generated.
PMCID: PMC4243172  PMID: 25431773
22.  Comparative analysis of surface-exposed virulence factors of Acinetobacter baumannii 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):1020.
Acinetobacter baumannii is a significant hospital pathogen, particularly due to the dissemination of highly multidrug resistant isolates. Genome data have revealed that A. baumannii is highly genetically diverse, which correlates with major variations seen at the phenotypic level. Thus far, comparative genomic studies have been aimed at identifying resistance determinants in A. baumannii. In this study, we extend and expand on these analyses to gain greater insight into the virulence factors across eight A. baumannii strains which are clonally, temporally and geographically distinct, and includes an isolate considered non-pathogenic and a community-acquired A. baumannii.
We have identified a large number of genes in the A. baumannii genomes that are known to play a role in virulence in other pathogens, such as the recently studied proline-alanine-alanine-arginine (PAAR)-repeat domains of the type VI secretion systems. Not surprising, many virulence candidates appear to be part of the A. baumannii core genome of virulent isolates but were often found to be insertionally disrupted in the avirulent A. baumannii strain SDF. Our study also reveals that many known or putative virulence determinants are restricted to specific clonal lineages, which suggests that these virulence determinants may be crucial for the success of these widespread common clones. It has previously been suggested that the high level of intrinsic and adaptive resistance has enabled the widespread presence of A. baumannii in the hospital environment. This appears to have facilitated the expansion of its repertoire of virulence traits, as in general, the nosocomial strains in this study possess more virulence genes compared to the community-acquired isolate.
Major genetic variation in known or putative virulence factors was seen across the eight strains included in this study, suggesting that virulence mechanisms are complex and multifaceted in A. baumannii. Overall, these analyses increase our understanding of A. baumannii pathogenicity and will assist in future studies determining the significance of virulence factors within clonal lineages and/or across the species.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1020) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4256060  PMID: 25422040
Genomics; Virulome; Type VI secretion systems; Membrane
23.  Draft Genome Sequence of Bacillus alcalophilus AV1934, a Classic Alkaliphile Isolated from Human Feces in 1934 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(6):e01175-14.
Bacillus alcalophilus AV1934, isolated from human feces, was described in 1934 before microbiome studies and recent indications of novel potassium ion coupling to motility in this extremophile. Here, we report draft sequences that will facilitate an examination of whether that coupling is part of a larger cycle of potassium ion-coupled transporters.
PMCID: PMC4241669  PMID: 25395643
24.  Structure of a short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase (SDR) within a genomic island from a clinical strain of Acinetobacter baumannii  
The structure of a short-chain dehydrogenase encoded within genomic islands of A. baumannii strains has been solved to 2.4 Å resolution. This classical SDR incorporates a flexible helical subdomain. The NADP-binding site and catalytic side chains are identified.
Over 15% of the genome of an Australian clinical isolate of Acinetobacter baumannii occurs within genomic islands. An uncharacterized protein encoded within one island feature common to this and other International Clone II strains has been studied by X-ray crystallography. The 2.4 Å resolution structure of SDR-WM99c reveals it to be a new member of the classical short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase (SDR) superfamily. The enzyme contains a nucleotide-binding domain and, like many other SDRs, is tetrameric in form. The active site contains a catalytic tetrad (Asn117, Ser146, Tyr159 and Lys163) and water molecules occupying the presumed NADP cofactor-binding pocket. An adjacent cleft is capped by a relatively mobile helical subdomain, which is well positioned to control substrate access.
PMCID: PMC4188072  PMID: 25286932
opportunistic pathogen; Acinetobacter baumannii WM99c; nosocomial strain; multidrug resistance; Rossmann fold

Results 1-25 (109)