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Other Publications (15)

Articles by Brian H. Lower in JoVE

 JoVE Biology

Collection, Isolation and Enrichment of Naturally Occurring Magnetotactic Bacteria from the Environment

1School of Earth Sciences, The Ohio State University, 2School of Environment & Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, 3Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences


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We demonstrate a method to collect magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) that can be applied to natural waters. MTB can be isolated and enriched from sediment samples using a relatively simple setup that takes advantage of the bacteria's natural magnetism. Isolated MTB can then be examined in detail using both light and electron microscopy.

Other articles by Brian H. Lower on PubMed

The Membrane-associated Protein-serine/threonine Kinase from Sulfolobus Solfataricus is a Glycoprotein

Treatment of a sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel with periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) stain or blotting with Galanthus nivalis agglutinin revealed the presence of several glycosylated polypeptides in a partially purified detergent extract of the membrane fraction of Sulfolobus solfataricus. One of the glycoproteins comigrated with the membrane-associated protein-serine/threonine kinase from S. solfataricus, which had been radiolabeled by autophosphorylation with [(32)P]ATP in vitro. Treatment with a chemical deglycosylating agent, trifluoromethanesulfonic acid, abolished PAS staining and reduced the M(r) of the protein kinase from approximately 67,000 to approximately 62,000. Protein kinase activity also adhered to, and could be eluted from, agarose beads containing bound G. nivalis agglutinin. Glycosylation of the protein kinase implies that at least a portion of this integral membrane protein resides on the external surface of the cell membrane.

Phosphoprotein with Phosphoglycerate Mutase Activity from the Archaeon Sulfolobus Solfataricus

When soluble extracts of the extreme acidothermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus were incubated with [gamma-(32)P]ATP, several proteins were radiolabeled. One of the more prominent of these, which migrated with a mass of approximately 46 kDa on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), was purified by column chromatography and SDS-PAGE and subjected to amino acid sequence analysis via both the Edman technique and mass spectroscopy. The best match to the partial sequence obtained was the potential polypeptide product of open reading frame sso0417, whose DNA-derived amino acid sequence displayed many features reminiscent of the 2,3-diphosphoglycerate-independent phosphoglycerate (PGA) mutases [iPGMs]. Open reading frame sso0417 was therefore cloned, and its protein product was expressed in Escherichia coli. Assays of its catalytic capabilities revealed that the protein was a moderately effective PGA mutase that also exhibited low levels of phosphohydrolase activity. PGA mutase activity was dependent upon the presence of divalent metal ions such as Co(2+) or Mn(2+). The recombinant protein underwent autophosphorylation when incubated with either [gamma-(32)P]ATP or [gamma-(32)P]GTP. The site of phosphorylation was identified as Ser(59), which corresponds to the catalytically essential serine residue in bacterial and eucaryal iPGMs. The phosphoenzyme intermediate behaved in a chemically and kinetically competent manner. Incubation of the (32)P-labeled phosphoenzyme with 3-PGA resulted in the disappearance of radioactive phosphate and the concomitant appearance of (32)P-labeled PGA at rates comparable to those measured in steady-state assays of PGA mutase activity.

Open Reading Frame Sso2387 from the Archaeon Sulfolobus Solfataricus Encodes a Polypeptide with Protein-serine Kinase Activity

The predicted polypeptide product of open reading frame sso2387 from the archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus, SsoPK2, displayed several of the sequence features conserved among the members of the "eukaryotic" protein kinase superfamily. sso2387 was cloned, and its polypeptide product was expressed in Escherichia coli. The recombinant protein, rSsoPK2, was recovered in insoluble aggregates that could be dispersed by using high concentrations (5 M) of urea. The solubilized polypeptide displayed the ability to phosphorylate itself as well as several exogenous proteins, including mixed histones, casein, bovine serum albumin, and reduced carboxyamidomethylated and maleylated lysozyme, on serine residues. The source of this activity resided in that portion of the protein displaying homology to the catalytic domain of eukaryotic protein kinases. By use of mass spectrometry, the sites of autophosphorylation were found to be located in two areas, one immediately N terminal to the region corresponding to subdomain I of eukaryotic protein kinases, and the second N terminal to the presumed activation loop located between subdomains VII and VIII. Autophosphorylation of rSsoPK2 could be uncoupled from the phosphorylation of exogenous proteins by manipulation of the temperature or mutagenic alteration of the enzyme. Autophosphorylation was detected only at temperatures >or=60 degrees C, whereas phosphorylation of exogenous proteins was detectable at 37 degrees C. Similarly, replacement of one of the potential sites of autophosphorylation, Ser(548), with alanine blocked autophosphorylation but not phosphorylation of an exogenous protein, casein.

A Phosphoprotein from the Archaeon Sulfolobus Solfataricus with Protein-serine/threonine Kinase Activity

Sulfolobus solfataricus contains a membrane-associated protein kinase activity that displays a strong preference for threonine as the phospho-acceptor amino acid residue. When a partially purified detergent extract of the membrane fraction from the archaeon S. solfataricus that had been enriched for this activity was incubated with [gamma-(32)P]ATP, radiolabeled phosphate was incorporated into roughly a dozen polypeptides, several of which contained phosphothreonine. One of the phosphothreonine-containing proteins was identified by mass peptide profiling as the product of open reading frame [ORF] sso0469. Inspection of the DNA-derived amino acid sequence of the predicted protein product of ORF sso0469 revealed the presence of sequence characteristics faintly reminiscent of the "eukaryotic" protein kinase superfamily. ORF sso0469 therefore was cloned, and its polypeptide product was expressed in Escherichia coli. The recombinant protein formed insoluble aggregates that could be dispersed using urea or detergents. The solubilized polypeptide phosphorylated several exogenous proteins in vitro, including casein, myelin basic protein, and bovine serum albumin. Mutagenic alteration of amino acids predicted to be essential for catalytic activity abolished or severely reduced catalytic activity. Phosphorylation of exogenous substrates took place on serine and, occasionally, threonine. This new archaeal protein kinase displayed no catalytic activity when GTP was substituted for ATP as the phospho-donor substrate, while Mn(2+) was the preferred cofactor.

Simultaneous Force and Fluorescence Measurements of a Protein That Forms a Bond Between a Living Bacterium and a Solid Surface

All microbial biofilms are initiated through direct physical contact between a bacterium and a solid surface, a step that is controlled by inter- and intramolecular forces. Atomic force microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy were used simultaneously to observe the formation of a bond between a fluorescent chimeric protein on the surface of a living Escherichia coli bacterium and a solid substrate in situ. The chimera was composed of a portion of outer membrane protein A (OmpA) fused to the cyan-fluorescent protein AmCyan. Sucrose gradient centrifugation and fluorescent confocal slices through bacteria demonstrated that the chimeric protein was targeted and anchored to the external cell surface. The wormlike chain theory predicted that this protein should exhibit a nonlinear force-extension "signature" consistent with the sequential unraveling of the AmCyan and OmpA domains. Experimentally measured force-extension curves revealed a unique pair of "sawtooth" features that were present when a bond formed between a silicon nitride surface (atomic force microscopy tip) and E. coli cells expressing the OmpA-AmCyan protein. The observed sawtooth pair closely matched the wormlike chain model prediction for the mechanical unfolding of the AmCyan and OmpA substructures in series. These sawteeth disappeared from the measured force-extension curves when cells were treated with proteinase K. Furthermore, these unique sawteeth were absent for a mutant stain of E. coli incapable of expressing the AmCyan protein on its outer surface. Together, these data show that specific proteins exhibit unique force signatures characteristic of the bond that is formed between a living bacterium and another surface.

Isolation of a High-affinity Functional Protein Complex Between OmcA and MtrC: Two Outer Membrane Decaheme C-type Cytochromes of Shewanella Oneidensis MR-1

Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 is a facultatively anaerobic bacterium capable of using soluble and insoluble forms of manganese [Mn(III/IV)] and iron [Fe(III)] as terminal electron acceptors during anaerobic respiration. To assess the structural association of two outer membrane-associated c-type decaheme cytochromes (i.e., OmcA [SO1779] and MtrC [SO1778]) and their ability to reduce soluble Fe(III)-nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA), we expressed these proteins with a C-terminal tag in wild-type S. oneidensis and a mutant deficient in these genes (i.e., Delta omcA mtrC). Endogenous MtrC copurified with tagged OmcA in wild-type Shewanella, suggesting a direct association. To further evaluate their possible interaction, both proteins were purified to near homogeneity following the independent expression of OmcA and MtrC in the Delta omcA mtrC mutant. Each purified cytochrome was confirmed to contain 10 hemes and exhibited Fe(III)-NTA reductase activity. To measure binding, MtrC was labeled with the multiuse affinity probe 4',5'-bis(1,3,2-dithioarsolan-2-yl)fluorescein (1,2-ethanedithiol)2, which specifically associates with a tetracysteine motif engineered at the C terminus of MtrC. Upon titration with OmcA, there was a marked increase in fluorescence polarization indicating the formation of a high-affinity protein complex (Kd < 500 nM) between MtrC and OmcA whose binding was sensitive to changes in ionic strength. Following association, the OmcA-MtrC complex was observed to have enhanced Fe(III)-NTA reductase specific activity relative to either protein alone, demonstrating that OmcA and MtrC can interact directly with each other to form a stable complex that is consistent with their role in the electron transport pathway of S. oneidensis MR-1.

High-affinity Binding and Direct Electron Transfer to Solid Metals by the Shewanella Oneidensis MR-1 Outer Membrane C-type Cytochrome OmcA

The purified outer membrane bacterial protein OmcA binds densely to the surface of hematite (Fe2O3), permitting direct electron transfer to this solid mineral to reduce Fe (III) with an electron flux of about 1013 electrons /cm2/s. In the presence of hematite, there is a substantial increase in the amplitude of internal protein motions that correlate with metal reduction. Binding is highly favorable, with a partition coefficient of approximately 2 x 105 (DeltaGo' = -28 kJ/mol), where approximately 1014 OmcA proteins bind per cm2 to the solid metal surface, indicating the utility of using purified OmcA in the construction of a biofuel cell.

Correlation Between Fundamental Binding Forces and Clinical Prognosis of Staphylococcus Aureus Infections of Medical Implants

Atomic force microscopy was used to "fish" for binding reactions between a fibronectin-coated probe (i.e., substrate simulating an implant device) and each of 15 different isolates of Staphylococcus aureus obtained from either patients with an infected cardiac prosthesis (invasive group) or healthy human subjects (control group). There is a strong distinction (p = 0.01) in the binding-force signature observed for the invasive versus control populations. This observation suggests that a microorganism's "force taxonomy" may provide a fundamental and practical indicator of the pathogen-related risk that infections pose to patients with implanted medical devices.

Specific Bonds Between an Iron Oxide Surface and Outer Membrane Cytochromes MtrC and OmcA from Shewanella Oneidensis MR-1

Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 is purported to express outer membrane cytochromes (e.g., MtrC and OmcA) that transfer electrons directly to Fe(III) in a mineral during anaerobic respiration. A prerequisite for this type of reaction would be the formation of a stable bond between a cytochrome and an iron oxide surface. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to detect whether a specific bond forms between a hematite (Fe(2)O(3)) thin film, created with oxygen plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy, and recombinant MtrC or OmcA molecules coupled to gold substrates. Force spectra displayed a unique force signature indicative of a specific bond between each cytochrome and the hematite surface. The strength of the OmcA-hematite bond was approximately twice that of the MtrC-hematite bond, but direct binding to hematite was twice as favorable for MtrC. Reversible folding/unfolding reactions were observed for mechanically denatured MtrC molecules bound to hematite. The force measurements for the hematite-cytochrome pairs were compared to spectra collected for an iron oxide and S. oneidensis under anaerobic conditions. There is a strong correlation between the whole-cell and pure-protein force spectra, suggesting that the unique binding attributes of each cytochrome complement one another and allow both MtrC and OmcA to play a prominent role in the transfer of electrons to Fe(III) in minerals. Finally, by comparing the magnitudes of binding force for the whole-cell versus pure-protein data, we were able to estimate that a single bacterium of S. oneidensis (2 by 0.5 microm) expresses approximately 10(4) cytochromes on its outer surface.

In Vitro Evolution of a Peptide with a Hematite Binding Motif That May Constitute a Natural Metal-oxide Binding Archetype

Phage-display technology was used to evolve peptides that selectively bind to the metal-oxide hematite (Fe2O3) from a library of approximately 3 billion different polypeptides. The sequences of these peptides contained the highly conserved amino acid motif, Ser/Thr-hydrophobic/aromatic-Ser/Thr-Pro-Ser/Thr. To better understand the nature of the peptide-metal oxide binding demonstrated by these experiments, molecular dynamics simulations were carried out for Ser-Pro-Ser at a hematite surface. These simulations show that hydrogen bonding occurs between the two serine amino acids and the hydroxylated hematite surface and that the presence of proline between the hydroxide residues restricts the peptide flexibility, thereby inducing a structural-binding motif. A search of published sequence data revealed that the binding motif (Ser/Thr-Pro-Ser/Thr) is adjacent to the terminal heme-binding domain of both OmcA and MtrC, which are outer membrane cytochromes from the metal-reducing bacterium Shewanella oneidensis MR-1. The entire five amino acid consensus sequence (Ser/Thr-hydrophobic/ aromatic-Ser/Thr-Pro-Ser/Thr) was also found as multiple copies in the primary sequences of metal-oxide binding proteins Sil1 and Sil2 from Thalassiosira pseudonana. We suggest that this motif constitutes a natural metal-oxide binding archetype that could be exploited in enzyme-based biofuel cell design and approaches to synthesize tailored metal-oxide nanostructures.

Antibody Recognition Force Microscopy Shows That Outer Membrane Cytochromes OmcA and MtrC Are Expressed on the Exterior Surface of Shewanella Oneidensis MR-1

Antibody recognition force microscopy showed that OmcA and MtrC are expressed on the exterior surface of living Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 cells when Fe(III), including solid-phase hematite (Fe(2)O(3)), was the terminal electron acceptor. OmcA was localized to the interface between the cell and mineral. MtrC displayed a more uniform distribution across the cell surface. Both cytochromes were associated with an extracellular polymeric substance.

A Tactile Response in Staphylococcus Aureus

It is well established that bacteria are able to respond to temporal gradients (e.g., by chemotaxis). However, it is widely held that prokaryotes are too small to sense spatial gradients. This contradicts the common observation that the vast majority of bacteria live on the surface of a solid substrate (e.g., as a biofilm). Herein we report direct experimental evidence that the nonmotile bacterium Staphylococcus aureus possesses a tactile response, or primitive sense of touch, that allows it to respond to spatial gradients. Attached cells recognize their substrate interface and localize adhesins toward that region. Braille-like avidity maps reflect a cell's biochemical sensory response and reveal ultrastructural regions defined by the actual binding activity of specific proteins.

Polymorphisms in Fibronectin Binding Protein A of Staphylococcus Aureus Are Associated with Infection of Cardiovascular Devices

Medical implants, like cardiovascular devices, improve the quality of life for countless individuals but may become infected with bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus. Such infections take the form of a biofilm, a structured community of bacterial cells adherent to the surface of a solid substrate. Every biofilm begins with an attractive force or bond between bacterium and substratum. We used atomic force microscopy to probe experimentally forces between a fibronectin-coated surface (i.e., proxy for an implanted cardiac device) and fibronectin-binding receptors on the surface of individual living bacteria from each of 80 clinical isolates of S. aureus. These isolates originated from humans with infected cardiac devices (CDI; n = 26), uninfected cardiac devices (n = 20), and the anterior nares of asymptomatic subjects (n = 34). CDI isolates exhibited a distinct binding-force signature and had specific single amino acid polymorphisms in fibronectin-binding protein A corresponding to E652D, H782Q, and K786N. In silico molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate that residues D652, Q782, and N786 in fibronectin-binding protein A form extra hydrogen bonds with fibronectin, complementing the higher binding force and energy measured by atomic force microscopy for the CDI isolates. This study is significant, because it links pathogenic bacteria biofilms from the length scale of bonds acting across a nanometer-scale space to the clinical presentation of disease at the human dimension.

Dissociation Rate Constants of Human Fibronectin Binding to Fibronectin-binding Proteins on Living Staphylococcus Aureus Isolated from Clinical Patients

Staphylococcus aureus is part of the indigenous microbiota of humans. Sometimes, S. aureus bacteria enter the bloodstream, where they form infections on implanted cardiovascular devices. A critical, first step in such infections is a bond that forms between fibronectin-binding protein (FnBP) on S. aureus and host proteins, such as fibronectin (Fn), that coat the surface of implants in vivo. In this study, native FnBPs on living S. aureus were shown to form a mechanically strong conformational structure with Fn by atomic force microscopy. The tensile acuity of this bond was probed for 46 bloodstream isolates, each from a patient with a cardiovascular implant. By analyzing the force spectra with the worm-like chain model, we determined that the binding events were consistent with a multivalent, cluster bond consisting of ~10 or ~80 proteins in parallel. The dissociation rate constant (k(off), s(-1)) of each multibond complex was determined by measuring strength as a function of the loading rate, normalized by the number of bonds. The bond lifetime (1/k(off)) was two times longer for bloodstream isolates from patients with an infected device (1.79 or 69.47 s for the 10- or 80-bond clusters, respectively; n = 26 isolates) relative to those from patients with an uninfected device (0.96 or 34.02 s; n = 20 isolates). This distinction could not be explained by different amounts of FnBP, as confirmed by Western blots. Rather, amino acid polymorphisms within the Fn-binding repeats of FnBPA explain, at least partially, the statistically (p < 0.05) longer bond lifetime for isolates associated with an infected cardiovascular device.

Magnetosomes and Magnetite Crystals Produced by Magnetotactic Bacteria As Resolved by Atomic Force Microscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used in concert with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to image magnetotactic bacteria (Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense MSR-1 and Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1), magnetosomes, and purified Mms6 proteins. Mms6 is a protein that is associated with magnetosomes in M. magneticum AMB-1 and is believed to control the synthesis of magnetite (Fe(3)O(4)) within the magnetosome. We demonstrated how AFM can be used to capture high-resolution images of live bacteria and achieved nanometer resolution when imaging Mms6 protein molecules on magnetite. We used AFM to acquire simultaneous topography and amplitude images of cells that were combined to provide a three-dimensional reconstructed image of M. gryphiswaldense MSR-1. TEM was used in combination with AFM to image M. gryphiswaldense MSR-1 and magnetite-containing magnetosomes that were isolated from the bacteria. AFM provided information, such as size, location and morphology, which was complementary to the TEM images.

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