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1.  Functional gene arrays-based analysis of fecal microbiomes in patients with liver cirrhosis 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):753.
Human gut microbiota plays an important role in the pathogenesis of cirrhosis complications. Although the phylogenetic diversity of intestinal microbiota in patients with liver cirrhosis has been examined in several studies, little is known about their functional composition and structure.
To characterize the functional gene diversity of the gut microbiome in cirrhotic patients, we recruited a total of 42 individuals, 12 alcoholic cirrhosis patients, 18 hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related cirrhosis patients, and 12 normal controls. We determined the functional structure of these samples using a specific functional gene array, which is a combination of GeoChip for monitoring biogeochemical processes and HuMiChip specifically designed for analyzing human microbiomes. Our experimental data showed that the microbial community functional composition and structure were dramatically distinctive in the alcoholic cirrhosis. Various microbial functional genes involved in organic remediation, stress response, antibiotic resistance, metal resistance, and virulence were highly enriched in the alcoholic cirrhosis group compared to the control group and HBV-related cirrhosis group. Cirrhosis may have distinct influences on metabolic potential of fecal microbial communities. The abundance of functional genes relevant to nutrient metabolism, including amino acid metabolism, lipid metabolism, nucleotide metabolism, and isoprenoid biosynthesis, were significantly decreased in both alcoholic cirrhosis group and HBV-related cirrhosis group. Significant correlations were observed between functional gene abundances and Child-Pugh scores, such as those encoding aspartate-ammonia ligase, transaldolase, adenylosuccinate synthetase and IMP dehydrogenase.
Functional gene array was utilized to study the gut microbiome in alcoholic and HBV-related cirrhosis patients and controls in this study. Our array data indicated that the functional composition of fecal microbiomes was heavily influenced by cirrhosis, especially by alcoholic cirrhosis. This study provides new insights into the functional potentials and activity of gut microbiota in cirrhotic patients with different etiologies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-753) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4171554  PMID: 25179593
End-stage liver disease; Intestines; Microbial communities; Alcohol; Microarray
2.  Genome-wide analysis of acetivibrio cellulolyticus provides a blueprint of an elaborate cellulosome system 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:210.
Microbial degradation of plant cell walls and its conversion to sugars and other byproducts is a key step in the carbon cycle on Earth. In order to process heterogeneous plant-derived biomass, specialized anaerobic bacteria use an elaborate multi-enzyme cellulosome complex to synergistically deconstruct cellulosic substrates. The cellulosome was first discovered in the cellulolytic thermophile, Clostridium thermocellum, and much of our knowledge of this intriguing type of protein composite is based on the cellulosome of this environmentally and biotechnologically important bacterium. The recently sequenced genome of the cellulolytic mesophile, Acetivibrio cellulolyticus, allows detailed comparison of the cellulosomes of these two select cellulosome-producing bacteria.
Comprehensive analysis of the A. cellulolyticus draft genome sequence revealed a very sophisticated cellulosome system. Compared to C. thermocellum, the cellulosomal architecture of A. cellulolyticus is much more extensive, whereby the genome encodes for twice the number of cohesin- and dockerin-containing proteins. The A. cellulolyticus genome has thus evolved an inflated number of 143 dockerin-containing genes, coding for multimodular proteins with distinctive catalytic and carbohydrate-binding modules that play critical roles in biomass degradation. Additionally, 41 putative cohesin modules distributed in 16 different scaffoldin proteins were identified in the genome, representing a broader diversity and modularity than those of Clostridium thermocellum. Although many of the A. cellulolyticus scaffoldins appear in unconventional modular combinations, elements of the basic structural scaffoldins are maintained in both species. In addition, both species exhibit similarly elaborate cell-anchoring and cellulosome-related gene- regulatory elements.
This work portrays a particularly intricate, cell-surface cellulosome system in A. cellulolyticus and provides a blueprint for examining the specific roles of the various cellulosomal components in the degradation of complex carbohydrate substrates of the plant cell wall by the bacterium.
PMCID: PMC3413522  PMID: 22646801
Cellulosomics; Clostridium thermocellum; Scaffoldin; Cohesin; Dockerin
3.  Snapshot of iron response in Shewanella oneidensis by gene network reconstruction 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:131.
Iron homeostasis of Shewanella oneidensis, a γ-proteobacterium possessing high iron content, is regulated by a global transcription factor Fur. However, knowledge is incomplete about other biological pathways that respond to changes in iron concentration, as well as details of the responses. In this work, we integrate physiological, transcriptomics and genetic approaches to delineate the iron response of S. oneidensis.
We show that the iron response in S. oneidensis is a rapid process. Temporal gene expression profiles were examined for iron depletion and repletion, and a gene co-expression network was reconstructed. Modules of iron acquisition systems, anaerobic energy metabolism and protein degradation were the most noteworthy in the gene network. Bioinformatics analyses suggested that genes in each of the modules might be regulated by DNA-binding proteins Fur, CRP and RpoH, respectively. Closer inspection of these modules revealed a transcriptional regulator (SO2426) involved in iron acquisition and ten transcriptional factors involved in anaerobic energy metabolism. Selected genes in the network were analyzed by genetic studies. Disruption of genes encoding a putative alcaligin biosynthesis protein (SO3032) and a gene previously implicated in protein degradation (SO2017) led to severe growth deficiency under iron depletion conditions. Disruption of a novel transcriptional factor (SO1415) caused deficiency in both anaerobic iron reduction and growth with thiosulfate or TMAO as an electronic acceptor, suggesting that SO1415 is required for specific branches of anaerobic energy metabolism pathways.
Using a reconstructed gene network, we identified major biological pathways that were differentially expressed during iron depletion and repletion. Genetic studies not only demonstrated the importance of iron acquisition and protein degradation for iron depletion, but also characterized a novel transcriptional factor (SO1415) with a role in anaerobic energy metabolism.
PMCID: PMC2667191  PMID: 19321007
4.  Architecture of thermal adaptation in an Exiguobacterium sibiricum strain isolated from 3 million year old permafrost: A genome and transcriptome approach 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:547.
Many microorganisms have a wide temperature growth range and versatility to tolerate large thermal fluctuations in diverse environments, however not many have been fully explored over their entire growth temperature range through a holistic view of its physiology, genome, and transcriptome. We used Exiguobacterium sibiricum strain 255-15, a psychrotrophic bacterium from 3 million year old Siberian permafrost that grows from -5°C to 39°C to study its thermal adaptation.
The E. sibiricum genome has one chromosome and two small plasmids with a total of 3,015 protein-encoding genes (CDS), and a GC content of 47.7%. The genome and transcriptome analysis along with the organism's known physiology was used to better understand its thermal adaptation. A total of 27%, 3.2%, and 5.2% of E. sibiricum CDS spotted on the DNA microarray detected differentially expressed genes in cells grown at -2.5°C, 10°C, and 39°C, respectively, when compared to cells grown at 28°C. The hypothetical and unknown genes represented 10.6%, 0.89%, and 2.3% of the CDS differentially expressed when grown at -2.5°C, 10°C, and 39°C versus 28°C, respectively.
The results show that E. sibiricum is constitutively adapted to cold temperatures stressful to mesophiles since little differential gene expression was observed between 4°C and 28°C, but at the extremities of its Arrhenius growth profile, namely -2.5°C and 39°C, several physiological and metabolic adaptations associated with stress responses were observed.
PMCID: PMC2615787  PMID: 19019206
5.  Design and analysis of mismatch probes for long oligonucleotide microarrays 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:491.
Nonspecific hybridization is currently a major concern with microarray technology. One of most effective approaches to estimating nonspecific hybridizations in oligonucleotide microarrays is the utilization of mismatch probes; however, this approach has not been used for longer oligonucleotide probes.
Here, an oligonucleotide microarray was constructed to evaluate and optimize parameters for 50-mer mismatch probe design. A perfect match (PM) and 28 mismatch (MM) probes were designed for each of ten target genes selected from three microorganisms. The microarrays were hybridized with synthesized complementary oligonucleotide targets at different temperatures (e.g., 42, 45 and 50°C). In general, the probes with evenly distributed mismatches were more distinguishable than those with randomly distributed mismatches. MM probes with 3, 4 and 5 mismatched nucleotides were differentiated for 50-mer oligonucleotide probes hybridized at 50, 45 and 42°C, respectively. Based on the experimental data generated from this study, a modified positional dependent nearest neighbor (MPDNN) model was constructed to adjust the thermodynamic parameters of matched and mismatched dimer nucleotides in the microarray environment. The MM probes with four flexible positional mismatches were designed using the newly established MPDNN model and the experimental results demonstrated that the redesigned MM probes could yield more consistent hybridizations.
This study provides guidance on the design of MM probes for long oligonucleotides (e.g., 50 mers). The novel MPDNN model has improved the consistency for long MM probes, and this modeling method can potentially be used for the prediction of oligonucleotide microarray hybridizations.
PMCID: PMC2576263  PMID: 18928550
6.  Assessment of data processing to improve reliability of microarray experiments using genomic DNA reference 
BMC Genomics  2008;9(Suppl 2):S5.
Using genomic DNA as common reference in microarray experiments has recently been tested by different laboratories. Conflicting results have been reported with regard to the reliability of microarray results using this method. To explain it, we hypothesize that data processing is a critical element that impacts the data quality.
Microarray experiments were performed in a γ-proteobacterium Shewanella oneidensis. Pair-wise comparison of three experimental conditions was obtained either with two labeled cDNA samples co-hybridized to the same array, or by employing Shewanella genomic DNA as a standard reference. Various data processing techniques were exploited to reduce the amount of inconsistency between both methods and the results were assessed. We discovered that data quality was significantly improved by imposing the constraint of minimal number of replicates, logarithmic transformation and random error analyses.
These findings demonstrate that data processing significantly influences data quality, which provides an explanation for the conflicting evaluation in the literature. This work could serve as a guideline for microarray data analysis using genomic DNA as a standard reference.
PMCID: PMC2559895  PMID: 18831796
7.  Characterization of the Shewanella oneidensis Fur gene: roles in iron and acid tolerance response 
BMC Genomics  2008;9(Suppl 1):S11.
Iron homeostasis is a key metabolism for most organisms. In many bacterial species, coordinate regulation of iron homeostasis depends on the protein product of a Fur gene. Fur also plays roles in virulence, acid tolerance, redox-stress responses, flagella chemotaxis and metabolic pathways.
We conducted physiological and transcriptomic studies to characterize Fur in Shewanella oneidensis, with regard to its roles in iron and acid tolerance response. A S. oneidensisfur deletion mutant was defective in growth under iron-abundant or acidic environment. However, it coped with iron depletion better than the wild-type strain MR-1. Further gene expression studies by microarray of the fur mutant confirmed previous findings that iron uptake genes were highly de-repressed in the mutant. Intriguingly, a large number of genes involved in energy metabolism were iron-responsive but Fur-independent, suggesting an intimate relationship of energy metabolism to iron response, but not to Fur. Further characterization of these genes in energy metabolism suggested that they might be controlled by transcriptional factor Crp, as shown by an enriched motif searching algorithm in the corresponding cluster of a gene co-expression network.
This work demonstrates that S. oneidensis Fur is involved in iron acquisition and acid tolerance response. In addition, analyzing genome-wide transcriptional profiles provides useful information for the characterization of Fur and iron response in S. oneidensis.
PMCID: PMC2386053  PMID: 18366600
8.  Probing regulon of ArcA in Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 by integrated genomic analyses 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:42.
The Arc two-component system is a global regulator controlling many genes involved in aerobic/anaerobic respiration and fermentative metabolism in Escherichia coli. Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 contains a gene encoding a putative ArcA homolog with ~81% amino acid sequence identity to the E. coli ArcA protein but not a full-length arcB gene.
To understand the role of ArcA in S. oneidensis, an arcA deletion strain was constructed and subjected to both physiological characterization and microarray analysis. Compared to the wild-type MR-1, the mutant exhibited impaired aerobic growth and a defect in utilizing DMSO in the absence of O2. Microarray analyses on cells grown aerobically and anaerobically on fumarate revealed that expression of 1009 genes was significantly affected (p < 0.05) by the mutation. In contrast to E. coli ArcA, the protein appears to be dispensable in regulation of the TCA cycle in S. oneidensis. To further determine genes regulated by the Arc system, an ArcA recognition weight matrix from DNA-binding data and bioinformatics analysis was generated and used to produce an ArcA sequence affinity map. By combining both techniques, we identified an ArcA regulon of at least 50 operons, of which only 6 were found to be directly controlled by ArcA in E. coli.
These results indicate that the Arc system in S. oneidensis differs from that in E. coli substantially in terms of its physiological function and regulon while their binding motif are strikingly similar.
PMCID: PMC2262068  PMID: 18221523
9.  Genomic and microarray analysis of aromatics degradation in Geobacter metallireducens and comparison to a Geobacter isolate from a contaminated field site 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:180.
Groundwater and subsurface environments contaminated with aromatic compounds can be remediated in situ by Geobacter species that couple oxidation of these compounds to reduction of Fe(III)-oxides. Geobacter metallireducens metabolizes many aromatic compounds, but the enzymes involved are not well known.
The complete G. metallireducens genome contained a 300 kb island predicted to encode enzymes for the degradation of phenol, p-cresol, 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde, 4-hydroxybenzoate, benzyl alcohol, benzaldehyde, and benzoate. Toluene degradation genes were encoded in a separate region. None of these genes was found in closely related species that cannot degrade aromatic compounds. Abundant transposons and phage-like genes in the island suggest mobility, but nucleotide composition and lack of synteny with other species do not suggest a recent transfer. The inferred degradation pathways are similar to those in species that anaerobically oxidize aromatic compounds with nitrate as an electron acceptor. In these pathways the aromatic compounds are converted to benzoyl-CoA and then to 3-hydroxypimelyl-CoA. However, in G. metallireducens there were no genes for the energetically-expensive dearomatizing enzyme. Whole-genome changes in transcript levels were identified in cells oxidizing benzoate. These supported the predicted pathway, identified induced fatty-acid oxidation genes, and identified an apparent shift in the TCA cycle to a putative ATP-yielding succinyl-CoA synthase. Paralogs to several genes in the pathway were also induced, as were several putative molybdo-proteins. Comparison of the aromatics degradation pathway genes to the genome of an isolate from a contaminated field site showed very similar content, and suggested this strain degrades many of the same compounds. This strain also lacked a classical dearomatizing enzyme, but contained two copies of an eight-gene cluster encoding redox proteins that was 30-fold induced during benzoate oxidation.
G. metallireducens appears to convert aromatic compounds to benzoyl-CoA, then to acetyl-CoA via fatty acid oxidation, and then to carbon dioxide via the TCA cycle. The enzyme responsible for dearomatizing the aromatic ring may be novel, and energetic investments at this step may be offset by a change in succinate metabolism. Analysis of a field isolate suggests that the pathways inferred for G. metallireducens may be applicable to modeling in situ bioremediation.
PMCID: PMC1924859  PMID: 17578578
10.  Knock-out of SO1377 gene, which encodes the member of a conserved hypothetical bacterial protein family COG2268, results in alteration of iron metabolism, increased spontaneous mutation and hydrogen peroxide sensitivity in Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:76.
Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 is a facultative, gram-negative bacterium capable of coupling the oxidation of organic carbon to a wide range of electron acceptors such as oxygen, nitrate and metals, and has potential for bioremediation of heavy metal contaminated sites. The complete 5-Mb genome of S. oneidensis MR-1 was sequenced and standard sequence-comparison methods revealed approximately 42% of the MR-1 genome encodes proteins of unknown function. Defining the functions of hypothetical proteins is a great challenge and may need a systems approach. In this study, by using integrated approaches including whole genomic microarray and proteomics, we examined knockout effects of the gene encoding SO1377 (gi24372955), a member of the conserved, hypothetical, bacterial protein family COG2268 (Clusters of Orthologous Group) in bacterium Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, under various physiological conditions.
Compared with the wild-type strain, growth assays showed that the deletion mutant had a decreased growth rate when cultured aerobically, but not affected under anaerobic conditions. Whole-genome expression (RNA and protein) profiles revealed numerous gene and protein expression changes relative to the wild-type control, including some involved in iron metabolism, oxidative damage protection and respiratory electron transfer, e. g. complex IV of the respiration chain. Although total intracellular iron levels remained unchanged, whole-cell electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) demonstrated that the level of free iron in mutant cells was 3 times less than that of the wild-type strain. Siderophore excretion in the mutant also decreased in iron-depleted medium. The mutant was more sensitive to hydrogen peroxide and gave rise to 100 times more colonies resistant to gentamicin or kanamycin.
Our results showed that the knock-out of SO1377 gene had pleiotropic effects and suggested that SO1377 may play a role in iron homeostasis and oxidative damage protection in S. oneidensis MR-1.
PMCID: PMC1468410  PMID: 16600046

Results 1-10 (10)