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1.  Ligand Migration in Human Indoleamine-2,3 Dioxygenase 
IUBMB life  2011;63(3):153-159.
Human indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (hIDO), a monomeric heme enzyme, catalyzes the oxidative degradation of L-tryptophan (L-Trp) and other indoleamine derivatives. Its activity follows typical Michaelis–Menten behavior only for L-Trp concentrations up to 50 µM; a further increase in the concentration of L-Trp causes a decrease in the activity. This substrate inhibition of hIDO is a result of the binding of a second L-Trp molecule in an inhibitory substrate binding site of the enzyme. The molecular details of the reaction and the inhibition are not yet known. In the following, we summarize the present knowledge about this heme enzyme.
PMCID: PMC4535348  PMID: 21445845
hemeproteins; enzyme mechanisms; FTIR spectroscopy; temperature derivative spectroscopy; substrate
2.  Choosing outcomes in pregnancy research 
Obstetric Medicine  2011;4(4):131-132.
PMCID: PMC4989647  PMID: 27579110
3.  Genesis of a novel Shigella flexneri serotype by sequential infection of serotype-converting bacteriophages SfX and SfI 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:269.
Shigella flexneri is the major pathogen causing bacillary dysentery. Fifteen serotypes have been recognized up to now. The genesis of new S. flexneri serotypes is commonly mediated by serotype-converting bacteriophages. Untypeable or novel serotypes from natural infections had been reported worldwide but have not been generated in laboratory.
A new S. flexneri serotype-serotype 1 d was generated when a S. flexneri serotype Y strain (native LPS) was sequentially infected with 2 serotype-converting bacteriophages, SfX first and then SfI. The new serotype 1 d strain agglutinated with both serotype X-specific anti-7;8 grouping serum and serotype 1a-specific anti- I typing serum, and differed from subserotypes 1a, 1b and 1c. Twenty four S. flexneri clinical isolates of serotype X were all converted to serotype 1 d by infection with phage SfI. PCR and sequencing revealed that SfI and SfX were integrated in tandem into the proA-yaiC region of the host chromosome.
These findings suggest a new S. flexneri serotype could be created in nature. Such a conversion may be constrained by susceptibility of a strain to infection by a given serotype-converting bacteriophage. This finding has significant implications in the emergence of new S. flexneri serotypes in nature.
PMCID: PMC3306764  PMID: 22208551
4.  The promoter of filamentation (POF1) protein from Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an ATPase involved in the protein quality control process 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:268.
The gene YCL047C, which has been renamed promoter of filamentation gene (POF1), has recently been described as a cell component involved in yeast filamentous growth. The objective of this work is to understand the molecular and biological function of this gene.
Here, we report that the protein encoded by the POF1 gene, Pof1p, is an ATPase that may be part of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae protein quality control pathway. According to the results, Δpof1 cells showed increased sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide, tert-butyl hydroperoxide, heat shock and protein unfolding agents, such as dithiothreitol and tunicamycin. Besides, the overexpression of POF1 suppressed the sensitivity of Δpct1, a strain that lacks a gene that encodes a phosphocholine cytidylyltransferase, to heat shock. In vitro analysis showed, however, that the purified Pof1p enzyme had no cytidylyltransferase activity but does have ATPase activity, with catalytic efficiency comparable to other ATPases involved in endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation of proteins (ERAD). Supporting these findings, co-immunoprecipitation experiments showed a physical interaction between Pof1p and Ubc7p (an ubiquitin conjugating enzyme) in vivo.
Taken together, the results strongly suggest that the biological function of Pof1p is related to the regulation of protein degradation.
PMCID: PMC3282682  PMID: 22204397
unfolded protein response; endoplasmic reticulum stress; antioxidant response
5.  Reliable identification at the species level of Brucella isolates with MALDI-TOF-MS 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:267.
The genus Brucella contains highly infectious species that are classified as biological threat agents. The timely detection and identification of the microorganism involved is essential for an effective response not only to biological warfare attacks but also to natural outbreaks. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) is a rapid method for the analysis of biological samples. The advantages of this method, compared to conventional techniques, are rapidity, cost-effectiveness, accuracy and suitability for the high-throughput identification of bacteria. Discrepancies between taxonomy and genetic relatedness on the species and biovar level complicate the development of detection and identification assays.
In this study, the accurate identification of Brucella species using MALDI-TOF-MS was achieved by constructing a Brucella reference library based on multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) data. By comparing MS-spectra from Brucella species against a custom-made MALDI-TOF-MS reference library, MALDI-TOF-MS could be used as a rapid identification method for Brucella species. In this way, 99.3% of the 152 isolates tested were identified at the species level, and B. suis biovar 1 and 2 were identified at the level of their biovar. This result demonstrates that for Brucella, even minimal genomic differences between these serovars translate to specific proteomic differences.
MALDI-TOF-MS can be developed into a fast and reliable identification method for genetically highly related species when potential taxonomic and genetic inconsistencies are taken into consideration during the generation of the reference library.
PMCID: PMC3314589  PMID: 22192890
6.  Transformation of Botrytis cinerea by direct hyphal blasting or by wound-mediated transformation of sclerotia 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:266.
Botrytis cinerea is a haploid necrotrophic ascomycete which is responsible for 'grey mold' disease in more than 200 plant species. Broad molecular research has been conducted on this pathogen in recent years, resulting in the sequencing of two strains, which has generated a wealth of information toward developing additional tools for molecular transcriptome, proteome and secretome investigations. Nonetheless, transformation protocols have remained a significant bottleneck for this pathogen, hindering functional analysis research in many labs.
In this study, we tested three different transformation methods for B. cinerea: electroporation, air-pressure-mediated and sclerotium-mediated transformation. We demonstrate successful transformation with three different DNA constructs using both air-pressure- and sclerotium-mediated transformation.
These transformation methods, which are fast, simple and reproducible, can expedite functional gene analysis of B. cinerea.
PMCID: PMC3293788  PMID: 22188865
Botrytis cinerea; sclerotium; Sclerotinia sclerotiorum; transformation; 'Bim-Lab'; electroporation
7.  Cloning and expression of a novel lactococcal aggregation factor from Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis BGKP1 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:265.
Aggregation may play a main role in the adhesion of bacteria to the gastrointestinal epithelium and their colonization ability, as well as in probiotic effects through co-aggregation with intestinal pathogens and their subsequent removal. The aggregation phenomenon in lactococci is directly associated with the sex factor and lactose plasmid co-integration event or duplication of the cell wall spanning (CWS) domain of PrtP proteinase.
Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis BGKP1 was isolated from artisanal semi-hard homemade cheese and selected due to its strong auto-aggregation phenotype. Subsequently, non-aggregating derivative (Agg-) of BGKP1, designated as BGKP1-20, was isolated, too. Comparative analysis of cell surface proteins of BGKP1 and derivative BGKP1-20 revealed a protein of approximately 200 kDa only in the parental strain BGKP1. The gene involved in aggregation (aggL) was mapped on plasmid pKP1 (16.2 kb), cloned and expressed in homologous and heterologous lactococci and enterococci. This novel lactococcal aggregation protein was shown to be sufficient for cell aggregation in all tested hosts. In addition to the aggL gene, six more ORFs involved in replication (repB and repX), restriction and modification (hsdS), transposition (tnp) and possible interaction with mucin (mbpL) were also located on plasmid pKP1.
AggL is a new protein belonging to the collagen-binding superfamily of proteins and is sufficient for cell aggregation in lactococci.
PMCID: PMC3282668  PMID: 22182285
8.  Protective effect of probiotics on Salmonella infectivity assessed with combined in vitro gut fermentation-cellular models 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:264.
Accurate assessment of probiotics with targeted anti-Salmonella activity requires suitable models accounting for both, microbe-microbe and host-microbe interactions in gut environments. Here we report the combination of two original in vitro intestinal models closely mimicking the complex in vivo conditions of the large intestine. Effluents from continuous in vitro three-stage fermentation colonic models of Salmonella Typhimurium infection inoculated with immobilized child microbiota and Salmonella were directly applied to confluent mucus-secreting HT29-MTX cell layers. The effects of Salmonella, addition of two bacteriocinogenic strains, Bifidobacterium thermophilum RBL67 (thermophilicin B67) and Escherichia coli L1000 (microcin B17), and inulin were tested on Salmonella growth and interactions with epithelial cell layers. Salmonella adhesion and invasion were investigated and epithelial integrity assessed by transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) measurements and confocal microscopy observation. Data from complex effluents were compared with pure Salmonella cultures.
Salmonella in effluents of all reactors of the colonic fermentation model stabilized at mean values of 5.3 ± 0.8 log10 cfu/ml effluent. Invasion of cell-associated Salmonella was up to 50-fold lower in complex reactor samples compared to pure Salmonella cultures. It further depended on environmental factors, with 0.2 ± 0.1% being measured with proximal, 0.6 ± 0.2% with transverse and 1.3 ± 0.7% with distal reactor effluents, accompanied by a similar high decrease of TER across cell monolayers (minus 45%) and disruption of tight junctions. Subsequent addition of E. coli L1000 stimulated Salmonella growth (6.4 ± 0.6 log10 cfu/ml effluent of all 3 reactors) and further decreased TER, but led to 10-fold decreased invasion efficiency when tested with distal reactor samples. In contrast, presence of B. thermophilum RBL67 revealed a protective effect on epithelial integrity compared to previous E. coli L1000 periods, as reflected by a significant mean increase of TER by 58% in all reactors. Inulin addition enhanced Salmonella growth and invasion when tested with distal and proximal reactor samples, respectively, but induced a limited decrease of TER (minus 18%) in all reactors.
Our results highlight the benefits of combining suitable cellular and colonic fermentation models to assess strain-specific first-level host protection properties of probiotics during Salmonella infection, providing an efficient system biology tool for preclinical development of new antimicrobials.
PMCID: PMC3295705  PMID: 22171685
9.  Impact of sub-inhibitory antibiotics on fibronectin-mediated host cell adhesion and invasion by Staphylococcus aureus 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:263.
Staphylococcus aureus is a well-armed pathogen prevalent in severe infections such as endocarditis and osteomyelitis. Fibronectin-binding proteins A and B, encoded by fnbA/B, are major pathogenesis determinants in these infections through their involvement in S. aureus adhesion to and invasion of host cells. Sub-minimum inhibitory concentrations (sub-MICs) of antibiotics, frequently occurring in vivo because of impaired drug diffusion at the infection site, can alter S. aureus phenotype. We therefore investigated their impact on S. aureus fibronectin-mediated adhesiveness and invasiveness.
After in vitro challenge of S. aureus 8325-4 and clinical isolates with sub-MICs of major anti-staphylococcal agents, we explored fnbA/B transcription levels, bacterial adhesiveness to immobilised human fibronectin and human osteoblasts in culture, and bacterial invasion of human osteoblasts.
Oxacillin, moxifloxacin and linezolid led to the development of a hyper-adhesive phenotype in the fibronectin adhesion assay that was consistent with an increase in fnbA/B transcription. Conversely, rifampin treatment decreased fibronectin binding in all strains tested without affecting fnbA/B transcription. Gentamicin and vancomycin had no impact on fibronectin binding or fnbA/B transcription levels. Only oxacillin-treated S. aureus displayed a significantly increased adhesion to cultured osteoblasts, but its invasiveness did not differ from that of untreated controls.
Our findings demonstrate that several antibiotics at sub-MICs modulate fibronectin binding in S. aureus in a drug-specific fashion. However, hyper- and hypo- adhesive phenotypes observed in controlled in vitro conditions were not fully confirmed in whole cell infection assays. The relevance of adhesion modulation during in vivo infections is thus still uncertain and requires further investigations.
PMCID: PMC3264541  PMID: 22168812
10.  The streptococcal collagen-like protein-1 (Scl1) is a significant determinant for biofilm formation by group a Streptococcus 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:262.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a human-specific pathogen responsible for a number of diseases characterized by a wide range of clinical manifestations. During host colonization GAS-cell aggregates or microcolonies are observed in tissues. GAS biofilm, which is an in vitro equivalent of tissue microcolony, has only recently been studied and little is known about the specific surface determinants that aid biofilm formation. In this study, we demonstrate that surface-associated streptococcal collagen-like protein-1 (Scl1) plays an important role in GAS biofilm formation.
Biofilm formation by M1-, M3-, M28-, and M41-type GAS strains, representing an intraspecies breadth, were analyzed spectrophotometrically following crystal violet staining, and characterized using confocal and field emission scanning electron microscopy. The M41-type strain formed the most robust biofilm under static conditions, followed by M28- and M1-type strains, while the M3-type strains analyzed here did not form biofilm under the same experimental conditions. Differences in architecture and cell-surface morphology were observed in biofilms formed by the M1- and M41-wild-type strains, accompanied by varying amounts of deposited extracellular matrix and differences in cell-to-cell junctions within each biofilm. Importantly, all Scl1-negative mutants examined showed significantly decreased ability to form biofilm in vitro. Furthermore, the Scl1 protein expressed on the surface of a heterologous host, Lactococcus lactis, was sufficient to induce biofilm formation by this organism.
Overall, this work (i) identifies variations in biofilm formation capacity among pathogenically different GAS strains, (ii) identifies GAS surface properties that may aid in biofilm stability and, (iii) establishes that the Scl1 surface protein is an important determinant of GAS biofilm, which is sufficient to enable biofilm formation in the heterologous host Lactococcus. In summary, the GAS surface adhesin Scl1 may have an important role in biofilm-associated pathogenicity.
PMCID: PMC3268755  PMID: 22168784
11.  Resistance to topoisomerase cleavage complex induced lethality in Escherichia coli via titration of transcription regulators PurR and FNR 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:261.
Accumulation of gyrase cleavage complex in Escherichia coli from the action of quinolone antibiotics induces an oxidative damage cell death pathway. The oxidative cell death pathway has also been shown to be involved in the lethality following accumulation of cleavage complex formed by bacterial topoisomerase I with mutations that result in defective DNA religation.
A high copy number plasmid clone spanning the upp-purMN region was isolated from screening of an E. coli genomic library and analyzed for conferring increased survival rates following accumulation of mutant topoisomerase I proteins as well as treatment with the gyrase inhibitor norfloxacin.
Analysis of the intergenic region upstream of purM demonstrated a novel mechanism of resistance to the covalent protein-DNA cleavage complex through titration of the cellular transcription regulators FNR and PurR responsible for oxygen sensing and repression of purine nucleotide synthesis respectively. Addition of adenine to defined growth medium had similar protective effect for survival following accumulation of topoisomerase cleavage complex, suggesting that increase in purine level can protect against cell death.
Perturbation of the global regulator FNR and PurR functions as well as increase in purine nucleotide availability could affect the oxidative damage cell death pathway initiated by topoisomerase cleavage complex.
PMCID: PMC3266220  PMID: 22152010
12.  Cloning and characterization of a pectin lyase gene from Colletotrichum lindemuthianum and comparative phylogenetic/structural analyses with genes from phytopathogenic and saprophytic/opportunistic microorganisms 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:260.
Microorganisms produce cell-wall-degrading enzymes as part of their strategies for plant invasion/nutrition. Among these, pectin lyases (PNLs) catalyze the depolymerization of esterified pectin by a β-elimination mechanism. PNLs are grouped together with pectate lyases (PL) in Family 1 of the polysaccharide lyases, as they share a conserved structure in a parallel β-helix. The best-characterized fungal pectin lyases are obtained from saprophytic/opportunistic fungi in the genera Aspergillus and Penicillium and from some pathogens such as Colletotrichum gloeosporioides.
The organism used in the present study, Colletotrichum lindemuthianum, is a phytopathogenic fungus that can be subdivided into different physiological races with different capacities to infect its host, Phaseolus vulgaris. These include the non-pathogenic and pathogenic strains known as races 0 and 1472, respectively.
Here we report the isolation and sequence analysis of the Clpnl2 gene, which encodes the pectin lyase 2 of C. lindemuthianum, and its expression in pathogenic and non-pathogenic races of C. lindemuthianum grown on different carbon sources. In addition, we performed a phylogenetic analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence of Clpnl2 based on reported sequences of PNLs from other sources and compared the three-dimensional structure of Clpnl2, as predicted by homology modeling, with those of other organisms. Both analyses revealed an early separation of bacterial pectin lyases from those found in fungi and oomycetes. Furthermore, two groups could be distinguished among the enzymes from fungi and oomycetes: one comprising enzymes from mostly saprophytic/opportunistic fungi and the other formed mainly by enzymes from pathogenic fungi and oomycetes. Clpnl2 was found in the latter group and was grouped together with the pectin lyase from C. gloeosporioides.
The Clpnl2 gene of C. lindemuthianum shares the characteristic elements of genes coding for pectin lyases. A time-course analysis revealed significant differences between the two fungal races in terms of the expression of Clpnl2 encoding for pectin lyase 2. According to the results, pectin lyases from bacteria and fungi separated early during evolution. Likewise, the enzymes from fungi and oomycetes diverged in accordance with their differing lifestyles. It is possible that the diversity and nature of the assimilatory carbon substrates processed by these organisms played a determinant role in this phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC3271051  PMID: 22151976
13.  The small heat shock proteins from Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans: gene expression, phylogenetic analysis, and structural modeling 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:259.
Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans is an acidophilic, chemolithoautotrophic bacterium that has been successfully used in metal bioleaching. In this study, an analysis of the A. ferrooxidans ATCC 23270 genome revealed the presence of three sHSP genes, Afe_1009, Afe_1437 and Afe_2172, that encode proteins from the HSP20 family, a class of intracellular multimers that is especially important in extremophile microorganisms.
The expression of the sHSP genes was investigated in A. ferrooxidans cells submitted to a heat shock at 40°C for 15, 30 and 60 minutes. After 60 minutes, the gene on locus Afe_1437 was about 20-fold more highly expressed than the gene on locus Afe_2172. Bioinformatic and phylogenetic analyses showed that the sHSPs from A. ferrooxidans are possible non-paralogous proteins, and are regulated by the σ32 factor, a common transcription factor of heat shock proteins. Structural studies using homology molecular modeling indicated that the proteins encoded by Afe_1009 and Afe_1437 have a conserved α-crystallin domain and share similar structural features with the sHSP from Methanococcus jannaschii, suggesting that their biological assembly involves 24 molecules and resembles a hollow spherical shell.
We conclude that the sHSPs encoded by the Afe_1437 and Afe_1009 genes are more likely to act as molecular chaperones in the A. ferrooxidans heat shock response. In addition, the three sHSPs from A. ferrooxidans are not recent paralogs, and the Afe_1437 and Afe_1009 genes could be inherited horizontally by A. ferrooxidans.
PMCID: PMC3252397  PMID: 22151959
14.  Contribution of bacterial outer membrane vesicles to innate bacterial defense 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:258.
Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are constitutively produced by Gram-negative bacteria throughout growth and have proposed roles in virulence, inflammation, and the response to envelope stress. Here we investigate outer membrane vesiculation as a bacterial mechanism for immediate short-term protection against outer membrane acting stressors. Antimicrobial peptides as well as bacteriophage were used to examine the effectiveness of OMV protection.
We found that a hyper-vesiculating mutant of Escherichia coli survived treatment by antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) polymyxin B and colistin better than the wild-type. Supplementation of E. coli cultures with purified outer membrane vesicles provided substantial protection against AMPs, and AMPs significantly induced vesiculation. Vesicle-mediated protection and induction of vesiculation were also observed for a human pathogen, enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), challenged with polymyxin B. When ETEC with was incubated with low concentrations of vesicles concomitant with polymyxin B treatment, bacterial survival increased immediately, and the culture gained resistance to polymyxin B. By contrast, high levels of vesicles also provided immediate protection but prevented acquisition of resistance. Co-incubation of T4 bacteriophage and OMVs showed fast, irreversible binding. The efficiency of T4 infection was significantly reduced by the formation of complexes with the OMVs.
These data reveal a role for OMVs in contributing to innate bacterial defense by adsorption of antimicrobial peptides and bacteriophage. Given the increase in vesiculation in response to the antimicrobial peptides, and loss in efficiency of infection with the T4-OMV complex, we conclude that OMV production may be an important factor in neutralizing environmental agents that target the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3248377  PMID: 22133164
15.  The alkylation response protein AidB is localized at the new poles and constriction sites in Brucella abortus 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:257.
Brucella abortus is the etiological agent of a worldwide zoonosis called brucellosis. This alpha-proteobacterium is dividing asymmetrically, and PdhS, an essential histidine kinase, was reported to be an old pole marker.
We were interested to identify functions that could be recruited to bacterial poles. The Brucella ORFeome, a collection of cloned predicted coding sequences, was placed in fusion with yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) coding sequence and screened for polar localizations in B. abortus. We report that AidB-YFP was systematically localized to the new poles and at constrictions sites in B. abortus, either in culture or inside infected HeLa cells or RAW264.7 macrophages. AidB is an acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (ACAD) homolog, similar to E. coli AidB, an enzyme putatively involved in destroying alkylating agents. Accordingly, a B. abortus aidB mutant is more sensitive than the wild-type strain to the lethality induced by methanesulphonic acid ethyl ester (EMS). The exposure to EMS led to a very low frequency of constriction events, suggesting that cell cycle is blocked during alkylation damage. The localization of AidB-YFP at the new poles and at constriction sites seems to be specific for this ACAD homolog since two other ACAD homologs fused to YFP did not show specific localization. The overexpression of aidB, but not the two other ACAD coding sequences, leads to multiple morphological defects.
Data reported here suggest that AidB is a marker of new poles and constriction sites, that could be considered as sites of preparation of new poles in the sibling cells originating from cell division. The possible role of AidB in the generation or the function of new poles needs further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3236019  PMID: 22111948
16.  MLVA genotyping of Chinese human Brucella melitensis biovar 1, 2 and 3 isolates 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:256.
Since 1950, Brucella melitensis has been the predominant strain associated with human brucellosis in China. In this study we investigated the genotypic characteristics of B. melitensis isolates from China using a multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) and evaluated the utility of MLVA with regards to epidemiological trace-back investigation.
A total of 105 B. melitensis strains isolated from throughout China were divided into 69 MLVA types using MLVA-16. Nei's genetic diversity indices for the various loci ranged between 0.00 - 0.84. 12 out 16 loci were the low diversity with values < 0.2 and the most discriminatory markers were bruce16 and bruce30 with a diversity index of > 0.75 and containing 8 and 7 alleles, respectively. Many isolates were single-locus or double-locus variants of closely related B. melitensis isolates from different regions, including the north and south of China. Using panel 1, the majority of strains (84/105) were genotype 42 clustering to the 'East Mediterranean' B. melitensis group. Chinese B. melitensis are classified in limited number of closely related genotypes showing variation mainly at the panel 2B loci.
The MLVA-16 assay can be useful to reveal the predominant genotypes and strain relatedness in endemic or non-endemic regions of brucellosis. However it is not suitable for biovar differentiation of B. melitensis. Genotype 42 is widely distributed throughout China during a long time. Bruce 16 and bruce 30 in panel 2B markers are most useful for typing Chinese isolates.
PMCID: PMC3233519  PMID: 22108057
17.  Life without a cell membrane: Challenging the specificity of bacterial endophytes within Bryopsis (Bryopsidales, Chlorophyta) 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:255.
The siphonous green macroalga Bryopsis has some remarkable characteristics. Besides hosting a rich endophytic bacterial flora, Bryopsis also displays extraordinary wound repair and propagation mechanisms. This latter feature includes the formation of protoplasts which can survive in the absence of a cell membrane for several minutes before regenerating into new individuals. This transient 'life without a membrane' state, however, challenges the specificity of the endophytic bacterial communities present and raises the question whether these bacteria are generalists, which are repeatedly acquired from the environment, or if there is some specificity towards the Bryopsis host.
To answer this question, we examined the temporal stability and the uniqueness of endobiotic bacterial communities within Bryopsis samples from the Mexican west coast after prolonged cultivation. DGGE analysis revealed that Bryopsis endophytic bacterial communities are rather stable and clearly distinct from the epiphytic and surrounding cultivation water bacterial communities. Although these endogenous communities consist of both facultative and obligate bacteria, results suggest that Bryopsis owns some intrinsic mechanisms to selectively maintain and/or attract specific bacteria after repeated wounding events in culture.
This suggests that Bryopsis algae seem to master transient stages of life without a cell membrane well as they harbor specific - and possibly ecological significant - endophytic bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3252328  PMID: 22103477
18.  Detection of Legionella by quantitative-polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) for monitoring and risk assessment 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:254.
Culture and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays for the detection of Legionella were compared on samples from a residential area before and after two interventions. A total of 84 samples were collected from shower hoses and taps as first flush samples and at constant temperature. Samples were grouped according to the origin of the sample, a) circulation water b) water from empty apartments c) water from shower hoses. The aims were to investigate the usefulness of qPCR compared to culture for monitoring remedial actions for elimination of Legionella bacteria and as a tool for risk assessment.
In water collected from the apartments Legionella spp were detected by qPCR in the concentration range from LOQ to 9.6*105GU/L while L. pneumophila were detected in a range from LOQ to 6.8*105 GU/L. By culturing, the legionellae were detected in the range from below detection limit (> 10 CFU/L) to 1.6*106 CFU/L. In circulating water and in first flush water from shower hoses, culture and qPCR showed the same tendencies. The overall correlation between the bacteria number detected by culture and the two developed qPCR assays (L. spp and L. pneumophila) was relatively poor (r2 = 0.31 for culture and Legionella spp. assay, r2 = 0.20 for culture and L. pneumophila assay).
Detection by qPCR was suitable for monitoring changes in the concentration of Legionella but the precise determination of bacteria is difficult. Risk assessment by qPCR only on samples without any background information regarding treatment, timing, etc is dubious. However, the rapid detection by qPCR of high concentrations of Legionella - especially Legionella pneumophila - is valuable as an indicator of risk, although it may be false positive compared to culture results. On the other hand, the detection of a low number of bacteria by qPCR is a strong indication for the absence of risk.
PMCID: PMC3268758  PMID: 22103438
19.  Integration of a laterally acquired gene into a cell network important for growth in a strain of Vibrio rotiferianus 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:253.
Lateral Gene Transfer (LGT) is a major contributor to bacterial evolution and up to 25% of a bacterium's genome may have been acquired by this process over evolutionary periods of time. Successful LGT requires both the physical transfer of DNA and its successful incorporation into the host cell. One system that contributes to this latter step by site-specific recombination is the integron. Integrons are found in many diverse bacterial Genera and is a genetic system ubiquitous in vibrios that captures mobile DNA at a dedicated site. The presence of integron-associated genes, contained within units of mobile DNA called gene cassettes makes up a substantial component of the vibrio genome (1-3%). Little is known about the role of this system since the vast majority of genes in vibrio arrays are highly novel and functions cannot be ascribed. It is generally regarded that strain-specific mobile genes cannot be readily integrated into the cellular machinery since any perturbation of core metabolism is likely to result in a loss of fitness.
In this study, at least one mobile gene contained within the Vibrio rotiferianus strain DAT722, but lacking close relatives elsewhere, is shown to greatly reduce host fitness when deleted and tested in growth assays. The precise role of the mobile gene product is unknown but impacts on the regulation of outermembrane porins. This demonstrates that strain specific laterally acquired mobile DNA can be integrated rapidly into bacterial networks such that it becomes advantageous for survival and adaptation in changing environments.
Mobile genes that are highly strain specific are generally believed to act in isolation. This is because perturbation of existing cell machinery by the acquisition of a new gene by LGT is highly likely to lower fitness. In contrast, we show here that at least one mobile gene, apparently unique to a strain, encodes a product that has integrated into central cellular metabolic processes such that it greatly lowers fitness when lost under those conditions likely to be commonly encountered for the free living cell. This has ramifications for our understanding of the role mobile gene encoded products play in the cell from a systems biology perspective.
PMCID: PMC3262767  PMID: 22093957
20.  The bacteriophage WORiC is the active phage element in wRi of Drosophila simulans and represents a conserved class of WO phages 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:251.
The alphaproteobacterium Wolbachia pipientis, the most common endosymbiont in eukaryotes, is found predominantly in insects including many Drosophila species. Although Wolbachia is primarily vertically transmitted, analysis of its genome provides evidence for frequent horizontal transfer, extensive recombination and numerous mobile genetic elements. The genome sequence of Wolbachia in Drosophila simulans Riverside (wRi) is available along with the integrated bacteriophages, enabling a detailed examination of phage genes and the role of these genes in the biology of Wolbachia and its host organisms. Wolbachia is widely known for its ability to modify the reproductive patterns of insects. One particular modification, cytoplasmic incompatibility, has previously been shown to be dependent on Wolbachia density and inversely related to the titer of lytic phage. The wRi genome has four phage regions, two WORiBs, one WORiA and one WORiC.
In this study specific primers were designed to distinguish between these four prophage types in wRi, and quantitative PCR was used to measure the titer of bacteriophages in testes, ovaries, embryos and adult flies. In all tissues tested, WORiA and WORiB were not found to be present in excess of their integrated prophages; WORiC, however, was found to be present extrachromosomally. WORiC is undergoing extrachromosomal replication in wRi. The density of phage particles was found to be consistent in individual larvae in a laboratory population. The WORiC genome is organized in conserved blocks of genes and aligns most closely with other known lytic WO phages, WOVitA and WOCauB.
The results presented here suggest that WORiC is the lytic form of WO in D. simulans, is undergoing extrachromosomal replication in wRi, and belongs to a conserved family of phages in Wolbachia.
PMCID: PMC3235987  PMID: 22085419
21.  An alternative physiological role for the EmhABC efflux pump in Pseudomonas fluorescens cLP6a 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:252.
Efflux pumps belonging to the resistance-nodulation-division (RND) superfamily in bacteria are involved in antibiotic resistance and solvent tolerance but have an unknown physiological role. EmhABC, a RND-type efflux pump in Pseudomonas fluorescens strain cLP6a, extrudes hydrophobic antibiotics, dyes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons including phenanthrene. The effects of physico-chemical factors such as temperature or antibiotics on the activity and expression of EmhABC were determined in order to deduce its physiological role(s) in strain cLP6a in comparison to the emhB disruptant strain, cLP6a-1.
Efflux assays conducted with 14C-phenanthrene showed that EmhABC activity is affected by incubation temperature. Increased phenanthrene efflux was measured in cLP6a cells grown at 10°C and decreased efflux was observed at 35°C compared with cells grown at the optimum temperature of 28°C. Membrane fatty acids in cLP6a cells were substantially altered by changes in growth temperature and in the presence of tetracycline. Changed membrane fatty acids and increased membrane permeability were associated with ~30-fold increased expression of emhABC in cLP6a cells grown at 35°C, and with increased extracellular free fatty acids. Growth of P. fluorescens cLP6a at supra-optimal temperature was enhanced by the presence of EmhABC compared to strain cLP6a-1.
Combined, these observations suggest that the EmhABC efflux pump may be involved in the management of membrane stress effects such as those due to unfavourable incubation temperatures. Efflux of fatty acids replaced as a result of membrane damage or phospholipid turnover may be the primary physiological role of the EmhABC efflux pump in P. fluorescens cLP6a.
PMCID: PMC3247133  PMID: 22085438
22.  Transcriptome and membrane fatty acid analyses reveal different strategies for responding to permeating and non-permeating solutes in the bacterium Sphingomonas wittichii 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:250.
Sphingomonas wittichii strain RW1 can completely oxidize dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans, which are persistent contaminants of soils and sediments. For successful application in soil bioremediation systems, strain RW1 must cope with fluctuations in water availability, or water potential. Thus far, however, little is known about the adaptive strategies used by Sphingomonas bacteria to respond to changes in water potential. To improve our understanding, strain RW1 was perturbed with either the cell-permeating solute sodium chloride or the non-permeating solute polyethylene glycol with a molecular weight of 8000 (PEG8000). These solutes are assumed to simulate the solute and matric components of the total water potential, respectively. The responses to these perturbations were then assessed and compared using a combination of growth assays, transcriptome profiling, and membrane fatty acid analyses.
Under conditions producing a similar decrease in water potential but without effect on growth rate, there was only a limited shared response to perturbation with sodium chloride or PEG8000. This shared response included the increased expression of genes involved with trehalose and exopolysaccharide biosynthesis and the reduced expression of genes involved with flagella biosynthesis. Mostly, the responses to perturbation with sodium chloride or PEG8000 were very different. Only sodium chloride triggered the increased expression of two ECF-type RNA polymerase sigma factors and the differential expression of many genes involved with outer membrane and amino acid metabolism. In contrast, only PEG8000 triggered the increased expression of a heat shock-type RNA polymerase sigma factor along with many genes involved with protein turnover and repair. Membrane fatty acid analyses further corroborated these differences. The degree of saturation of membrane fatty acids increased after perturbation with sodium chloride but had the opposite effect and decreased after perturbation with PEG8000.
A combination of growth assays, transcriptome profiling, and membrane fatty acid analyses revealed that permeating and non-permeating solutes trigger different adaptive responses in strain RW1, suggesting these solutes affect cells in fundamentally different ways. Future work is now needed that connects these responses with the responses observed in more realistic scenarios of soil desiccation.
PMCID: PMC3238334  PMID: 22082453
23.  Proteome driven re-evaluation and functional annotation of the Streptococcus pyogenes SF370 genome 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:249.
The genome data of Streptococcus pyogenes SF370 has been widely used by many researchers and provides a vast array of interesting findings. Nevertheless, approximately 40% of genes remain classified as hypothetical proteins, and several coding sequences (CDSs) have been unrecognized. In this study, we attempted a shotgun proteomic analysis with a six-frame database that was independent of genome annotation.
Nine proteins encoded by novel ORFs were found by shotgun proteomic analysis, and their specific mRNAs were verified by reverse transcriptional PCR (RT-PCR). We also provided functional annotations for hypothetical genes using proteomic analysis from three different culture conditions that were separated into three fractions: supernatant, soluble, and insoluble. Consequently, we identified 567 proteins on re-evaluation of the proteomic data using an in-house database comprising 1,697 annotated and nine non-annotated CDSs. We provided functional annotations for 126 hypothetical proteins (18.9% out of the 668 hypothetical proteins) based on their cellular fractions and expression profiles under different culture conditions.
The list of amino acid sequences that were annotated by genome analysis contains outdated information and unrecognized protein-coding sequences. We suggest that the six-frame database derived from actual DNA sequences be used for reliable proteomic analysis. In addition, the experimental evidence from functional proteomic analysis is useful for the re-evaluation of previously sequenced genomes.
PMCID: PMC3224786  PMID: 22070424
24.  The uncertain consequences of transferring bacterial strains between laboratories - rpoS instability as an example 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:248.
Microbiological studies frequently involve exchanges of strains between laboratories and/or stock centers. The integrity of exchanged strains is vital for archival reasons and to ensure reproducible experimental results. For at least 50 years, one of the most common means of shipping bacteria was by inoculating bacterial samples in agar stabs. Long-term cultures in stabs exhibit genetic instabilities and one common instability is in rpoS. The sigma factor RpoS accumulates in response to several stresses and in the stationary phase. One consequence of RpoS accumulation is the competition with the vegetative sigma factor σ70. Under nutrient limiting conditions mutations in rpoS or in genes that regulate its expression tend to accumulate. Here, we investigate whether short-term storage and mailing of cultures in stabs results in genetic heterogeneity.
We found that samples of the E. coli K-12 strain MC4100TF exchanged on three separate occasions by mail between our laboratories became heterogeneous. Reconstruction studies indicated that LB-stabs exhibited mutations previously found in GASP studies in stationary phase LB broth. At least 40% of reconstructed stocks and an equivalent proportion of actually mailed stock contained these mutations. Mutants with low RpoS levels emerged within 7 days of incubation in the stabs. Sequence analysis of ten of these segregants revealed that they harboured each of three different rpoS mutations. These mutants displayed the classical phenotypes of bacteria lacking rpoS. The genetic stability of MC4100TF was also tested in filter disks embedded in glycerol. Under these conditions, GASP mutants emerge only after a 3-week period. We also confirm that the intrinsic high RpoS level in MC4100TF is mainly due to the presence of an IS1 insertion in rssB.
Given that many E. coli strains contain high RpoS levels similar to MC4100TF, the integrity of such strains during transfers and storage is questionable. Variations in important collections may be due to storage-transfer related issues. These results raise important questions on the integrity of bacterial archives and transferred strains, explain variation like in the ECOR collection between laboratories and indicate a need for the development of better methods of strain transfer.
PMCID: PMC3240573  PMID: 22067413
25.  Oral Candida albicans isolates from HIV-positive individuals have similar in vitro biofilm-forming ability and pathogenicity as invasive Candida isolates 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:247.
Candida can cause mucocutaneous and/or systemic infections in hospitalized and immunosuppressed patients. Most individuals are colonized by Candida spp. as part of the oral flora and the intestinal tract. We compared oral and systemic isolates for the capacity to form biofilm in an in vitro biofilm model and pathogenicity in the Galleria mellonella infection model. The oral Candida strains were isolated from the HIV patients and included species of C. albicans, C. glabrata, C. tropicalis, C. parapsilosis, C. krusei, C. norvegensis, and C. dubliniensis. The systemic strains were isolated from patients with invasive candidiasis and included species of C. albicans, C. glabrata, C. tropicalis, C. parapsilosis, C. lusitaniae, and C. kefyr. For each of the acquired strains, biofilm formation was evaluated on standardized samples of silicone pads and acrylic resin. We assessed the pathogenicity of the strains by infecting G. mellonella animals with Candida strains and observing survival.
The biofilm formation and pathogenicity in Galleria was similar between oral and systemic isolates. The quantity of biofilm formed and the virulence in G. mellonella were different for each of the species studied. On silicone pads, C. albicans and C. dubliniensis produced more biofilm (1.12 to 6.61 mg) than the other species (0.25 to 3.66 mg). However, all Candida species produced a similar biofilm on acrylic resin, material used in dental prostheses. C. albicans, C. dubliniensis, C. tropicalis, and C. parapsilosis were the most virulent species in G. mellonella with 100% of mortality, followed by C. lusitaniae (87%), C. novergensis (37%), C. krusei (25%), C. glabrata (20%), and C. kefyr (12%).
We found that on silicone pads as well as in the Galleria model, biofilm formation and virulence depends on the Candida species. Importantly, for C. albicans the pathogenicity of oral Candida isolates was similar to systemic Candida isolates, suggesting that Candida isolates have similar biofilm-forming ability and virulence regardless of the infection site from which it was isolated.
PMCID: PMC3217868  PMID: 22053894

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