The human microbiome has begun to emerge as a potential forensic tool, with varied applications ranging from unique identification to investigative leads that link individuals and/or locations. The relative abundance of the combined DNA of the microbiome, compared to human nuclear DNA, may expand potential sources of biological evidence, especially in cases with transfer or low-copy number DNA samples. This work sought to determine the optimal swab type for the collection and analysis of the microbiome. A bacterium (Proteus mirabilis) was deposited by pipette onto four swab types (cotton, flocked, dental applicators, and dissolvable), and extraction and real-time PCR quantitation of the bacterial DNA were performed, which allowed for absolute microbial DNA recovery and comparison of yields across the four sampling substrates. Flocked swabs had the highest yield (~1240 ng) compared to the cotton swabs (~184 ng), dental applicators (~533 ng), and dissolvable swabs (~430 ng). The collection efficiency was further evaluated for cotton and flocked swabs using dried microbial samples spotted onto non-porous surfaces (treated wood, glass, plastic, and tile). Flocked swabs performed consistently better across wood, glass, and tile, but showed decreased recovery from plastic. The cotton swabs failed in the recovery of P. mirabilis DNA across all surfaces. Knowing the appropriate sampling substrate will be useful as others continue to investigate the use of the microbiome as a forensics tool.
Temperate phages are bacterial viruses that either reside integrated in a bacterial genome as lysogens or enter a lytic lifecycle. Decision between lifestyles is determined by a switch involving a phage-encoded repressor, CI, and a promoter region from which lytic and lysogenic genes are divergently transcribed. Here we investigate the switch of phage phi13 from the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. phi13 encodes several virulence factors and is prevalent in S. aureus strains colonizing humans. We show that the phi13 switch harbors a cI gene, a predicted mor (modulator of repression) gene, and three high-affinity operator sites binding CI. To quantify the decision between lytic and lysogenic lifestyle, we introduced reporter plasmids that carry the 1.3 kb switch region from phi13 with the lytic promoter fused to lacZ into S. aureus and B. subtilis. Analysis of beta-galactosidase expression indicated that decision frequency is independent of host factors. The white “lysogenic” phenotype, which relies on expression of cI, could be switched to a stable blue “lytic” phenotype by DNA damaging agents. We have characterized lifestyle decisions of phage phi13, and our approach may be applied to other temperate phages encoding virulence factors in S. aureus.
M-protein (PAM) largely contributes to the pathogenesis of Pattern D Group A Streptococcus pyogenes (GAS). However, the mechanism of complex formation is unknown. In a system consisting of a Class II PAM from Pattern D GAS isolate NS88.2 (PAMNS88.2), with one K2hPg binding a-repeat in its A-domain, we employed biophysical techniques to analyze the mechanism of the K2hPg/PAMNS88.2 interaction. We show that apo-PAMNS88.2 is a coiled-coil homodimer (M.Wt. ~80 kDa) at 4°C - 25°C, and is monomeric (M.Wt. ~40 kDa) at 37°C, demonstrating a temperature-dependent dissociation of PAMNS88.2 over a narrow temperature range. PAMNS88.2 displayed a single tight binding site for K2hPg at 4°C, which progressively increased at 25°C through 37°C. We isolated the K2hPg/PAMNS88.2 complexes at 4°C, 25°C, and 37°C and found molecular weights of ~50 kDa at each temperature, corresponding to a 1:1 (m:m) K2hPg/PAMNS88.2 monomer complex. hPg activation experiments by streptokinase demonstrated that the hPg/PAMNS88.2 monomer complexes are fully functional. The data show that PAM dimers dissociate into functional monomers at physiological temperatures or when presented with the active hPg module (K2hPg) showing that PAM is a functional monomer at 37°C.
The transcription machinery of archaea can be roughly classified as a simplified version of eukaryotic organisms. The basal transcription factor machinery binds to the TATA-box found around 28 nucleotides upstream of the transcription start site; however, some transcription units lack a clear TATA-box and still have TBP/TFB binding over them. This apparent absence of conserved sequences could be a consequence of sequence divergence associated with the upstream region, operonic and gene organization. Furthermore, earlier studies have found that a structural analysis gains more information compared to a simple sequence inspection. In this work, we evaluated and coded 3630 archaeal promoter sequences of three organisms, Haloferax volcanii, Thermococcus kodakarensis, and Sulfolobus solfataricus into DNA duplex stability, enthalpy, curvature, and bendability parameters. We also split our dataset into conserved TATA and degenerated TATA promoters in order to identify differences among these two classes of promoters. The structural analysis reveals variations in archaeal promoters’ architecture, i.e., a distinctive signal is observed in the TFB, TBP, and TFE binding sites independently of these being TATA-conserved or TATA-degenerated. In addition, the promoter encountering method was validated with upstream regions of 13 other archaea, suggesting that there might be promoter sequences among them. Therefore, we suggest a novel method for locating promoters within the genome of archaea based on energetic/structural features.
The filamentous fungus Magnaporthe oryzae has the potential to be developed as an alternative platform organism for the heterologous production of industrially important enzymes. M. oryzae is easy to handle, fast-growing and unlike yeast, posttranslational modifications like N-glycosylations are similar to the human organism. Here, we established M. oryzae as a host for the expression of the unspecific peroxygenase from the basidiomycete Agrocybe aegerita (AaeUPO). UPOs are attractive biocatalysts for selective oxyfunctionalization of non-activated carbon-hydrogen bonds. To improve and simplify the isolation of AaeUPO in M. oryzae, we fused a Magnaporthe signal peptide for protein secretion and set it under control of the strong EF1-promotor. The success of the heterologous production of full-length AaeUPO in M. oryzae and the secretion of the functional enzyme was confirmed by a peroxygenase-specific enzyme assay. These results offer the possibility to establish the filamentous ascomycete M. oryzae as a broad applicable alternative expression system. This is in particular valid for proteins that cannot or not in sufficient yields produced in established systems.
Cyanobacterial carbonate precipitation induced by cells and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) enhances mortar durability. The percentage of cell/EPS attachment regulates the effectiveness of the mortar restoration. This study investigates the cell coverage on mortar and microbially induced carbonate precipitation. Statistical analysis of results from scanning electron and fluorescence microscopy shows that the cell coverage was higher in the presence of UV-killed cells than living cells. Cells preferably attached to cement paste than sand grains, with a difference of one order of magnitude. The energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy analyses and Raman mapping suggest cyanobacteria used atmospheric CO2 to precipitate carbonates.
Microbially influenced corrosion (MIC) may contribute significantly to overall corrosion risks, especially in the gas and petroleum industries. In this study, we isolated four Prolixibacter strains, which belong to the phylum Bacteroidetes, and examined their nitrate-respiration- and Fe0-corroding activities, together with two previously isolated Prolixibacter strains. Four of the six Prolixibacter strains reduced nitrate under anaerobic conditions, while the other two strains did not. The anaerobic growth of the four nitrate-reducing strains was enhanced by nitrate, which was not observed in the two nitrate-non-reducing strains. When the nitrate-reducing strains were grown anaerobically in the presence of Fe0 or carbon steel, the corrosion of the materials was enhanced by more than 20-fold compared to that in aseptic controls. This enhancement was not observed in cultures of the nitrate-non-reducing strains. The oxidation of Fe0 in the anaerobic cultures of nitrate-reducing strains occurred concomitantly with the reduction of nitrite. Since nitrite chemically oxidized Fe0 under anaerobic and aseptic conditions, the corrosion of Fe0- and carbon-steel by the nitrate-reducing Prolixibacter strains was deduced to be mainly enhanced via the biological reduction of nitrate to nitrite, followed by the chemical oxidation of Fe0 to Fe2+ and Fe3+ coupled to the reduction of nitrite.
Denitrification plays a central role in the global nitrogen cycle, reducing and removing nitrogen from marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The flux of nitrogen species through this pathway has a widespread impact, affecting ecological carrying capacity, agriculture, and climate. Nitrite reductase (Nir) and nitric oxide reductase (NOR) are the two central enzymes in this pathway. Here we present a previously unreported Nir domain architecture in members of Phylum Chloroflexi. Phylogenetic analyses of protein domains within Nir indicate that an ancestral horizontal transfer and fusion event produced this chimeric domain architecture. We also identify an expanded genomic diversity of a rarely reported nitric oxide reductase subtype, eNOR. Together, these results suggest a greater diversity of denitrification enzyme arrangements exist than have been previously reported.
The relatively long turnaround time and low sensitivity of traditional blood culture may delay the effective antibiotic therapy in patients with bloodstream infection (BSI). To reduce the morbidity and mortality of BSI, a rapid and sensitive pathogen detection method is urgently required. Acinetobacter baumannii and Klebsiella pneumonia are two major microorganisms responsible for BSI. Here we reported a novel droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) method that can detect A. baumannii and K. pneumonia in whole blood samples within 4 h, with a specificity of 100% for each strain and limit of detection at 0.93 copies/microliter for A. baumannii and 0.27 copies/microliter for K. pneumonia. Clinical validation in 170 patients with suspected BSIs showed that, compared with blood culture that reported 4 (2.4%) A. baumannii cases and 7 (4.1%) K. pneumonia cases, ddPCR detected 23 (13.5%) A. baumannii cases, 26 (15.3%) K. pneumonia cases, and 4 (2.4%) dual infection cases, including the 11 positive patients reported by blood culture. In addition, the positive patients reported by ddPCR alone (n = 42) had significantly lower serum concentrations of procalcitonin and lactate, SOFA and APACHE II scores, and 28-day mortality than those reported by both blood culture and ddPCR (n = 11), suggesting that patients with less severe manifestations can potentially benefit from the guidance of ddPCR results. In conclusion, our study suggests that ddPCR represents a sensitive and rapid method to identify causal pathogens in blood samples and to guide the treatment decisions in the early stage of BSI.
The enormous complexity of the eukaryotic ribosome has been a real challenge in unlocking the mechanistic aspects of its amazing molecular function during mRNA translation and many non-canonical activities of ribosomal proteins in eukaryotic cells. While exploring the uncanny nature of ribosomal P proteins in malaria parasites Plasmodium falciparum, the 60S stalk ribosomal P2 protein has been shown to get exported to the infected erythrocyte (IE) surface as an SDS resistant oligomer during the early to mid trophozoite stage. Inhibiting IE surface P2 either by monoclonal antibody or through genetic knockdown resulted in nuclear division arrest of the parasite. This very strange and serendipitous finding has led us to explore more about un-canonical cell biology and structural involvement of P2 protein in Plasmodium in the search for a novel biochemical role during parasite propagation in the human host.
Naphthenic acids (NAs) are carboxylic acids with the formula (CnH2n+ZO2) and are the toxic, persistent constituents of oil sands process-affected waters (OSPW), produced during oil sands extraction. Currently, the proteins and mechanisms involved in NA biodegradation are unknown. Using LC-MS/MS shotgun proteomics, we identified proteins overexpressed during the growth of Pseudomonas fluorescens Pf5 on a model NA (4-n-butylphenyl)-4-butanoic acid (n-BPBA) and commercial NA mixture (Acros). By day 11, >95% of n-BPBA was degraded. With Acros, a 17% reduction in intensity occurred with 10-18 carbon compounds of the Z family -2 to -14 (major NA species in this mixture). A total of 554 proteins (n-BPBA) and 631 proteins (Acros) were overexpressed during growth on NAs; including several transporters (e.g. ABC transporters), suggesting a cellular protective response from NA toxicity. Several proteins associated with fatty acid, lipid and amino acid metabolism were also overexpressed; including acyl-CoA dehydrogenase and acyl-CoA thioesterase II, which catalyze part of the fatty acid beta-oxidation pathway. Indeed, multiple enzymes involved in the fatty acid oxidation pathway were upregulated. Given the presumed structural similarity between alkyl-carboxylic acid side chains and fatty acids, we postulate that P. fluorescens Pf-5 was using existing fatty acid catabolic pathways (among others) during NA degradation.
Om45 is a major protein of the yeast outer mitochondrial membrane under respiratory conditions. However, the cellular role of the protein has remained obscure. Previously, deletion mutant phenotypes have not been found, and clear amino acid sequence similarities that would allow inferring its functional role are not available. In this work, we describe synthetic petite mutants of UGO1 and GEM1 that depend on the presence of OM45 for respiratory growth, as well as the identification of several multicopy suppressors of the synthetic petite phenotypes. In the analysis of our mutants, we demonstrate that Om45 and Gem1 have a collaborative role in the maintenance of mitochondrial morphology, cristae structure, and mitochondrial DNA maintenance. A group of multicopy suppressors rescuing the synthetic lethal phenotypes of the mutants on non-fermentable carbon sources additionally supports this result. Our results imply that the synthetic petite phenotypes we observed are due to the disturbance of the inner mitochondrial membrane and point to this mitochondrial sub-compartment as the main target of action of Om45, Ugo1, and the yeast Miro GTPase Gem1.
We report here the complete genome sequence of the Rhizobium rhizogenes (formerly Agrobacterium rhizogenes) strain LBA9402 (NCPPB1855rifR), a pathogenic strain causing hairy root disease. In order to assemble a complete genome we obtained short-reads from Illumina sequencing as well as long-reads from Oxford Nanopore Technology sequencing. The genome consists of a 3,958,212 bp chromosome, a 2,005,144 bp chromid (secondary chromosome) and a 252,168 bp Ri plasmid (pRi1855), respectively. The primary chromosome was very similar to that of the avirulent biocontrol strain K84, but the chromid showed a 724 kbp deletion accompanied by a large 1.8 Mbp inversion revealing the dynamic nature of these secondary chromosomes. The sequence of the agropine Ri plasmid was compared to other types of Ri and Ti plasmids. Thus we identified the genes responsible for agropine catabolism, but also a unique segment adjacent to the TL-region that has the signature of a new opine catabolic gene cluster including the three genes that together encode an opine dehydrogenase. Our sequence analysis also revealed a novel gene at the very right end of the TL-DNA, which is unique for the agropine Ri plasmid. The protein encoded by this gene was most related to the succinamopine synthases of chrysopine and agropine Ti plasmids and thus may be involved in synthesis of the unknown opine that can be degraded by the adjacent catabolic cluster. The available sequence will facilitate the use of R. rhizogenes and especially LBA9402 in both the laboratory and for biotechnological purposes.
The basal zone of glaciers is characterised by physicochemical properties that are distinct from firnified ice because of strong interactions with underlying substrate. Basal ice ecology and the roles that the microbiota play in biogeochemical cycling, weathering, and proglacial soil formation, remains poorly known. We report bacterial diversity and potential ecological roles at three temperate Icelandic glaciers. We sampled three physically distinct basal ice facies (stratified, dispersed, debris bands) and found biological similarities and differences between them; basal ice character is therefore an important sampling consideration in future studies. High abundance of silicates and Fe-containing minerals could sustain the basal ice ecosystem, in which chemolithotrophic bacteria (~23%), especially Fe-oxidisers and hydrogenotrophs, can fix C, which can be utilised by heterotrophs. Methanogenic-affiliated detected sequences showed that silicate comminution-derived hydrogen can also be utilised for methanogenesis. Metabolism predicted by 16S rRNA diversity revealed that methane metabolism and C-fixation are the most common pathways, indicating the importance of these metabolic routes. Carbon concentrations were low compared to other ecosystems, but we report the highest carbon concentration in basal ice to date. Carbon release from melting basal ice may play an important role in promoting pioneering communities establishment and soil development in deglaciating forelands.
In the microbiological diagnosis of bloodstream infections (BSI), blood culture (BC) is considered the gold standard test despite its limitations such as low sensitivity and slow turnaround time. A new FDA-cleared and CE-marked platform utilizing magnetic resonance to detect amplified DNA of the six most common and/or problematic BSI pathogens (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli) is available and may shorten the time to diagnosis and potentially improve antimicrobial utilization. Whole blood samples from hospitalized patients with clinical signs of sepsis were analyzed using the T2Bacteria Panel (T2Biosystems) and compared to simultaneously collected BC. Discrepant results were evaluated based on clinical infection criteria, combining supporting culture results and the opinion of treating physicians. A total of 55 samples from 53 patients were evaluated. The sensitivity and specificity of the T2Bacteria panel was 94% (16 out of 17 detections of T2Bacteria-targeted organisms) and 100%, respectively, with 36.4% (8 of 22) causes of BSI detected only by this method. The T2Bacteria Panel detected pathogens on average 55 hours faster than standard BC. In our study, 9 of 15 patients with positive T2Bacteria Panel results received early-targeted antibiotic therapy, and/or their antimicrobial treatment was modified based on T2Bacteria Panel findings. Given the high reliability, faster time to detection, and easy workflow, the technique qualifies as a point of care testing approach.
Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass) is an invasive annual grass that has colonized large portions of the Intermountain Western United States. Cheatgrass stand failures have been observed throughout the invaded region, the cause of which may be related to the presence of several species of pathogenic fungi in the soil or surface litter. In this metagenomic study, we compared the fungal communities between sites that have and have not experienced stand failure. Samples were taken from the soil and surface litter near Winnemucca, Nevada and in Skull Valley, Utah. Our results show distinct fungal communities associated with stand failure based on both geography and sample type. In both the Winnemucca and Skull Valley surface litter, there was an elevated abundance of the endophyte Ramimonilia apicalis in samples that had experienced a stand failure. Winnemucca surface litter stand failure samples had increased abundance of a potential pathogen in the genus Comoclathris. Skull Valley surface litter stand failure samples had increased abundance of the known cheatgrass pathogen Clarireedia capillus-albis while the soils had increased abundance of potential pathogens in the genera Olpidium and Monosporascus.
Carotenoids are widely used in functional foods, cosmetics, and health supplements, and their importance and scope of use are continuously expanding. Here, we characterised carotenoid biosynthetic genes of the plant-pathogenic bacterium Pantoea ananatis, which carries a carotenoid biosynthetic gene cluster (including crtE, X, Y, I, B, and Z) on a plasmid. Reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis revealed that the crtEXYIB gene cluster is transcribed as a single transcript and crtZ is independently transcribed in the opposite direction. Using splicing by overlap extension with polymerase chain reaction (SOE by PCR) based on asymmetric amplification, we reassembled crtE–B, crtE–B–I, and crtE–B–I–Y. High-performance liquid chromatography confirmed that Escherichia coli expressing the reassembled crtE–B, crtE–B–I, and crtE–B–I–Y operons produced phytoene, lycopene, and β-carotene, respectively. We found that the carotenoids conferred tolerance to UV radiation and toxoflavin. Pantoea ananatis shares rice environments with the toxoflavin producer Burkholderia glumae and is considered to be the first reported example of producing and using carotenoids to withstand toxoflavin. We confirmed that the carotenoid production of P. ananatis is dependent on RpoS, which is positively regulated by Hfq/ArcZ and negatively regulated by ClpP, similar to an important regulatory network of E. coli (HfqArcZ → RpoS Ͱ ClpXP). We also demonstrated that Hfq-controlled quorum signalling de-represses EanR to activate RpoS, thereby initiating carotenoid production. Survival genes such as those responsible for the production of carotenoids of the plant-pathogenic P. ananatis must be expressed in a timely manner to overcome stressful environments and compete with other microorganisms. This mechanism is likely maintained by a brake with excellent performance, such as EanR.
The ability of S. aureus to infect bone and osteoblasts is correlated to its incredible virulence armamentarium that can mediate the invasion/internalization process, cytotoxicity, membrane damage and intracellular persistence. We comparatively analyzed the interaction, persistence and modulation of expression of selected genes as well as cell viability in an ex-vivo model using human MG-63 osteoblasts of two previously studied and well-characterized S. aureus clinical strains belonging to ST239-SCCmecIII-t037 and ST228-SCCmecI-t041 clones at 3h and 24h post-infection (p.i). ATCC12598 was used as a control strain. Using Imaging Flow Cytometry analysis, we found that strains differently invaded osteoblasts after 3h and 24h: ATCC12598 internalized in 70% and 50% of cells, ST239-SCCmecIII in 50% and 45% and ST228-SCCmecI in 30% and 20%, respectively. ST239-III, during the infection period, exerted a significative cytotoxic activity due to the over-expression of hla and psmA and the increased expression of the genes involved in adhesion, probably due to the release and re-entry of bacteria inside MG-63 at 24h p.i. The lower invasiveness of ST228-I was also correlated with the non-cytotoxic activity inside osteoblasts. This clone was not able to activate a sufficient cellular reaction and succumbed in-side the MG-63 cells.