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1.  A multi-omic analysis of an Enterococcus faecium mutant reveals specific genetic mutations and dramatic changes in mRNA and protein expression 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:304.
For a long time, Enterococcus faecium was considered a harmless commensal of the mammalian gastrointestinal (GI) tract and was used as a probiotic in fermented foods. In recent decades, E. faecium has been recognised as an opportunistic pathogen that causes diseases such as neonatal meningitis, urinary tract infections, bacteremia, bacterial endocarditis and diverticulitis. E. faecium could be taken into space with astronauts and exposed to the space environment. Thus, it is necessary to observe the phenotypic and molecular changes of E. faecium after spaceflight.
An E. faecium mutant with biochemical features that are different from those of the wild-type strain was obtained from subculture after flight on the SHENZHOU-8 spacecraft. To understand the underlying mechanism causing these changes, the whole genomes of both the mutant and the WT strains were sequenced using Illumina technology. The genomic comparison revealed that dprA, a recombination-mediator gene, and arpU, a gene associated with cell wall growth, were mutated. Comparative transcriptomic and proteomic analyses showed that differentially expressed genes or proteins were involved with replication, recombination, repair, cell wall biogenesis, glycometabolism, lipid metabolism, amino acid metabolism, predicted general function and energy production/conversion.
This study analysed the comprehensive genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic changes of an E. faecium mutant from subcultures that were loaded on the SHENZHOU-8 spacecraft. The implications of these gene mutations and expression changes and their underlying mechanisms should be investigated in the future. We hope that the current exploration of multiple “-omics” analyses of this E. faecium mutant will provide clues for future studies on this opportunistic pathogen.
PMCID: PMC3879163  PMID: 24373636
E. faecium; Genome; Transcriptome; Proteome; Multi-omics
2.  Direct and negative regulation of the sycO-ypkA-ypoJ operon by cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP) in Yersinia pestis 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:178.
Pathogenic yersiniae, including Y. pestis, share a type III secretion system (T3SS) that is composed of a secretion machinery, a set of translocation proteins, a control system, and six Yop effector proteins including YpkA and YopJ. The cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP), a global regulator, was recently found to regulate the laterally acquired genes (pla and pst) in Y. pestis. The regulation of T3SS components by CRP is unknown.
The sycO, ypkA and yopJ genes constitute a single operon in Y. pestis. CRP specifically binds to the promoter-proximate region of sycO, and represses the expression of the sycO-ypkA-yopJ operon. A single CRP-dependent promoter is employed for the sycO-ypkA-yopJ operon, but two CRP binding sites (site 1 and site 2) are detected within the promoter region. A CRP box homologue is found in site 1 other than site 2. The determination of CRP-binding sites, transcription start site and core promoter element (-10 and -35 regions) promotes us to depict the structural organization of CRP-dependent promoter, giving a map of CRP-promoter DNA interaction for sycO-ypkA-yopJ.
The sycO-ypkA-yopJ operon is under the direct and negative regulation of CRP in Y. pestis. The sycO-ypkA-yopJ promoter-proximate regions are extremely conserved in Y. pestis, Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. enterocolitica. Therefore, data presented here can be generally applied to the above three pathogenic yersiniae.
PMCID: PMC2738681  PMID: 19703315
3.  Characterization of Zur-dependent genes and direct Zur targets in Yersinia pestis 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:128.
The zinc uptake regulator Zur is a Zn2+-sensing metalloregulatory protein involved in the maintenance of bacterial zinc homeostasis. Up to now, regulation of zinc homeostasis by Zur is poorly understood in Y. pestis.
We constructed a zur null mutant of Y. pestis biovar microtus strain 201. Microarray expression analysis disclosed a set of 154 Zur-dependent genes of Y. pestis upon exposure to zinc rich condition. Real-time reverse transcription (RT)-PCR was subsequently used to validate the microarray data. Based on the 154 Zur-dependent genes, predicted regulatory Zur motifs were used to screen for potential direct Zur targets including three putative operons znuA, znuCB and ykgM-RpmJ2. The LacZ reporter fusion analysis verified that Zur greatly repressed the promoter activity of the above three operons. The subsequent electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) demonstrated that a purified Zur protein was able to bind to the promoter regions of the above three operons. The DNase I footprinting was used to identify the Zur binding sites for the above three operons, verifying the Zur box sequence as predicted previously in γ-Proteobacteria. The primer extension assay was further used to determine the transcription start sites for the above three operons and to localize the -10 and -35 elements. Zur binding sites overlapped the -10 sequence of its target promoters, which was consistent with the previous observation that Zur binding would block the entry of the RNA polymerase to repress the transcription of its target genes.
Zur as a repressor directly controls the transcription of znuA, znuCB and ykgM-RpmJ2 in Y. pestis by employing a conserved mechanism of Zur-promoter DNA association as observed in γ-Proteobacteria. Zur contributes to zinc homeostasis in Y. pestis likely through transcriptional repression of the high-affinity zinc uptake system ZnuACB and two alternative ribosomal proteins YkgM and RpmJ2.
PMCID: PMC2706843  PMID: 19552825
4.  Comparative transcriptomics in Yersinia pestis: a global view of environmental modulation of gene expression 
BMC Microbiology  2007;7:96.
Environmental modulation of gene expression in Yersinia pestis is critical for its life style and pathogenesis. Using cDNA microarray technology, we have analyzed the global gene expression of this deadly pathogen when grown under different stress conditions in vitro.
To provide us with a comprehensive view of environmental modulation of global gene expression in Y. pestis, we have analyzed the gene expression profiles of 25 different stress conditions. Almost all known virulence genes of Y. pestis were differentially regulated under multiple environmental perturbations. Clustering enabled us to functionally classify co-expressed genes, including some uncharacterized genes. Collections of operons were predicted from the microarray data, and some of these were confirmed by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Several regulatory DNA motifs, probably recognized by the regulatory protein Fur, PurR, or Fnr, were predicted from the clustered genes, and a Fur binding site in the corresponding promoter regions was verified by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA).
The comparative transcriptomics analysis we present here not only benefits our understanding of the molecular determinants of pathogenesis and cellular regulatory circuits in Y. pestis, it also serves as a basis for integrating increasing volumes of microarray data using existing methods.
PMCID: PMC2231364  PMID: 17963531

Results 1-4 (4)