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1.  Recombinant production and biochemical characterization of a hyperthermostable α-glucan/maltodextrin phosphorylase from Pyrococcusfuriosus  
Archaea  2007;2(3):169-176.
Alpha-glucan phosphorylase catalyzes the reversible cleavage of α-1-4-linked glucose polymers into α-D-glucose-1-phosphate. We report the recombinant production of an α-glucan/maltodextrin phosphorylase (PF1535) from a hyperthermophilic archaeon, Pyrococcus furiosus, and the first detailed biochemical characterization of this enzyme from any archaeal source using a mass-spectrometry-based assay. The apparent 98 kDa recombinant enzyme was active over a broad range of temperatures and pH, with optimal activity at 80 °C and pH 6.5–7. This archaeal protein retained its complete activity after 24 h at 80 °C in Tris-HCl buffer. Unlike other previously reported phosphorylases, the Ni-affinity column purified enzyme showed broad substrate specificity in both the synthesis and degradation of maltooligosaccharides. In the synthetic direction of the enzymatic reaction, the lowest oligosaccharide required for the chain elongation was maltose. In the degradative direction, the archaeal enzyme can produce glucose-1-phosphate from maltotriose or longer maltooligosaccharides including both glycogen and starch. The specific activity of the enzyme at 80 °C in the presence of 10 mM maltoheptaose and at 10 mg ml–1 glycogen concentration was 52 U mg–1 and 31 U mg–1, respectively. The apparent Michaelis constant and maximum velocity for inorganic phosphate were 31 ± 2 mM and 0.60 ± 0.02 mM min–1 µg–1, respectively. An initial velocity study of the enzymatic reaction indicated a sequential bi-bi catalytic mechanism. Unlike the more widely studied mammalian glycogen phosphorylase, the Pyrococcus enzyme is active in the absence of added AMP.
PMCID: PMC2685596  PMID: 19054743
electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS); thermostability
2.  Classification and regression tree (CART) analyses of genomic signatures reveal sets of tetramers that discriminate temperature optima of archaea and bacteria 
Archaea  2007;2(3):159-167.
Classification and regression tree (CART) analysis was applied to genome-wide tetranucleotide frequencies (genomic signatures) of 195 archaea and bacteria. Although genomic signatures have typically been used to classify evolutionary divergence, in this study, convergent evolution was the focus. Temperature optima for most of the organisms examined could be distinguished by CART analyses of tetranucleotide frequencies. This suggests that pervasive (nonlinear) qualities of genomes may reflect certain environmental conditions (such as temperature) in which those genomes evolved. The predominant use of GAGA and AGGA as the discriminating tetramers in CART models suggests that purine-loading and codon biases of thermophiles may explain some of the results.
PMCID: PMC2685595  PMID: 19054742
bioinformatics; convergence; decision tree; extremophile; genomic signature; hyperthermophile; purine-loading; tetranucleotide frequencies; thermophile; virtual coding strand
3.  A bifunctional archaeal protein that is a component of 30S ribosomal subunits and interacts with C/D box small RNAs 
Archaea  2007;2(3):151-158.
We have identified a novel archaeal protein that apparently plays two distinct roles in ribosome metabolism. It is a polypeptide of about 18 kDa (termed Rbp18) that binds free cytosolic C/D box sRNAs in vivo and in vitro and behaves as a structural ribosomal protein, specifically a component of the 30S ribosomal subunit. As Rbp18 is selectively present in Crenarcheota and highly thermophilic Euryarchaeota, we propose that it serves to protect C/D box sRNAs from degradation and perhaps to stabilize thermophilic 30S subunits.
PMCID: PMC2685591  PMID: 19054741
C/D box sRNA; ribosomal protein; rRNA methylation; Sulfolobus solfataricus
4.  Conditions for gene disruption by homologous recombination of exogenous DNA into the Sulfolobus solfataricus genome 
Archaea  2007;2(3):145-149.
The construction of directed gene deletion mutants is an essential tool in molecular biology that allows functional studies on the role of genes in their natural environment. For hyperthermophilic archaea, it has been difficult to obtain a reliable system to construct such mutants. However, during the past years, systems have been developed for Thermococcus kodakarensis and two Sulfolobus species, S. acidocaldarius and derivatives of S. solfataricus 98/2. Here we describe an optimization of the method for integration of exogenous DNA into S. solfataricus PBL 2025, an S. solfataricus 98/2 derivative, based on lactose auxotrophy that now allows for routine gene inactivation.
PMCID: PMC2685593  PMID: 19054740
lactose auxotrophy; selection
5.  Gene decay in archaea 
Archaea  2007;2(2):137-143.
The gene-dense chromosomes of archaea and bacteria were long thought to be devoid of pseudogenes, but with the massive increase in available genome sequences, whole genome comparisons between closely related species have identified mutations that have rendered numerous genes inactive. Comparative analyses of sequenced archaeal genomes revealed numerous pseudogenes, which can constitute up to 8.6% of the annotated coding sequences in some genomes. The largest proportion of pseudogenes is created by gene truncations, followed by frameshift mutations. Within archaeal genomes, large numbers of pseudogenes contain more than one inactivating mutation, suggesting that pseudogenes are deleted from the genome more slowly in archaea than in bacteria. Although archaea seem to retain pseudogenes longer than do bacteria, most archaeal genomes have unique repertoires of pseudogenes.
PMCID: PMC2686384  PMID: 17350934
comparative genomics; pseudogenes
6.  The genome of Hyperthermus butylicus: a sulfur-reducing, peptide fermenting, neutrophilic Crenarchaeote growing up to 108 °C 
Archaea  2007;2(2):127-135.
Hyperthermus butylicus, a hyperthermophilic neutrophile and anaerobe, is a member of the archaeal kingdom Crenarchaeota. Its genome consists of a single circular chromosome of 1,667,163 bp with a 53.7% G+C content. A total of 1672 genes were annotated, of which 1602 are protein-coding, and up to a third are specific to H. butylicus. In contrast to some other crenarchaeal genomes, a high level of GUG and UUG start codons are predicted. Two cdc6 genes are present, but neither could be linked unambiguously to an origin of replication. Many of the predicted metabolic gene products are associated with the fermentation of peptide mixtures including several peptidases with diverse specificities, and there are many encoded transporters. Most of the sulfur-reducing enzymes, hydrogenases and electron-transfer proteins were identified which are associated with energy production by reducing sulfur to H2S. Two large clusters of regularly interspaced repeats (CRISPRs) are present, one of which is associated with a crenarchaeal-type cas gene superoperon; none of the spacer sequences yielded good sequence matches with known archaeal chromosomal elements. The genome carries no detectable transposable or integrated elements, no inteins, and introns are exclusive to tRNA genes. This suggests that the genome structure is quite stable, possibly reflecting a constant, and relatively uncompetitive, natural environment.
PMCID: PMC2686385  PMID: 17350933
anaerobe; genome analysis; hyperthermophile; solfataric habitat

Results 1-6 (6)