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In JoVE (1)
- TransFLP — A Method to Genetically Modify Vibrio cholerae Based on Natural Transformation and FLP-recombination
Other Publications (19)
- Journal of Bacteriology
- Journal of Molecular Biology
- Journal of Bacteriology
- European Journal of Biochemistry / FEBS
- Journal of Molecular Biology
- FEBS Letters
- Science (New York, N.Y.)
- FEBS Letters
- Advances in Microbial Physiology
- PLoS Pathogens
- Journal of Bacteriology
- BMC Microbiology
- Journal of Bacteriology
- Annals of Internal Medicine
- Environmental Microbiology
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- PLoS Genetics
- FEMS Microbiology Reviews
Articles by Melanie Blokesch in JoVE
TransFLP — A Method to Genetically Modify Vibrio cholerae Based on Natural Transformation and FLP-recombination
Global Health Institute, School of Life Sciences, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
A quick method to modify the genome of V. cholerae is described. These modifications include the deletion of single genes, gene clusters and genomic islands as well as the integration of short sequences (e.g. promoter elements or affinity-tag sequences). The method is based on the natural transformation and FLP-recombination.
Other articles by Melanie Blokesch on PubMed
Journal of Bacteriology. Jul, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 12081959
We have studied the roles of the auxiliary protein HypA and of its homolog HybF in hydrogenase maturation. A mutation in hypA leads to the nearly complete blockade of maturation solely of hydrogenase 3 whereas a lesion in hybF drastically but not totally reduces maturation and activity of isoenzymes 1 and 2. The residual level of matured enzymes in the hybF mutant was shown to be due to the function of HypA; HybF, conversely, was responsible for a minimal residual activity of hydrogenase 3 in the mutant hypA strain. Accordingly, a hypA DeltahybF double mutant was completely blocked in the maturation process. However, the inclusion of high nickel concentrations in the medium could restore limited activity of all three hydrogenases. The results of this study and of previous work (M. Blokesch, A. Magalon, and A. Böck, J. Bacteriol. 189:2817-2822, 2001) show that the maturation of the three functional hydrogenases from Escherichia coli is intimately connected via the activity of proteins HypA and HypC and of their homologs HybF and HybG, respectively. The results also support the suggestion of Olson et al. (J. W. Olson, N. S. Mehta, and R. J. Maier, Mol. Microbiol. 39:176-182, 2001) that HypA cooperates with HypB in the insertion of nickel into the precursor of the large hydrogenase subunit. Whereas HypA is predominantly involved in the maturation of hydrogenase 3, HybF takes over its function in the maturation of isoenzymes 1 and 2.
Journal of Molecular Biology. Nov, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 12441107
Carbamoyl phosphate (CP) has been implicated as an educt for the synthesis of the CO and CN ligands of the metal centre of [NiFe]-hydrogenases in Escherichia coli, since CP synthetase mutants (carAB) are unable to generate active hydrogenases due to a block in enzyme maturation. Citrulline, when added to the growth medium in high concentrations, compensated for the phenotype of the mutants. It is now shown that overexpression of the argI gene lowered the effective concentration of citrulline, thus proving that the amino acid serves as a source for CP. The DeltaCarAB mutant accumulated a complex consisting of the hydrogenase maturation proteins HypC and HypD. This complex was resolved upon citrulline addition and followed-up by the appearance of a complex between HypC and the precursor of the large subunit of hydrogenase 3, preHycE. In the absence of the hycE gene, the HypC-HypD complex did not disappear upon addition of citrulline but developed into a form migrating slower in a non-denaturing polyacrylamide gel, providing strong evidence for the notion that the HypC-HypD complex is the intermediate in hydrogenase maturation where CP or its products are added to the iron atom of the metal centre. This step precedes nickel insertion, since extracts of carAB cells that had been cultivated in the absence of citrulline are unable to process preHycE after the addition of nickel. Complex formation between HypC and HypD, and between HypC and preHycE display dependence on identical primary structure elements of HypC. On the basis of the results, a cycle of HypC activity is proposed whose function is to transfer the iron atom that has been liganded at the HypC-HypD complex to the precursor of the large hydrogenase subunit.
Journal of Bacteriology. May, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15090500
HypA and HypB are maturation proteins required for incorporation of nickel into the hydrogenase large subunit. To examine the functions of these proteins in nickel insertion, the hybF gene, which is a homolog of hypA essential for maturation of hydrogenases 1 and 2 from Escherichia coli, was overexpressed, and the product was purified. This protein behaves like a monomer in gel filtration and contains stoichiometric amounts of zinc but insignificant or undetectable amounts of nickel and iron. In filter binding assays radioactively labeled nickel binds to HybF with a K(D) of 1.87 microM and in a stoichiometric ratio. To identify amino acid residues of HybF involved in nickel and/or zinc binding, variants in which conserved residues were replaced were studied. An H2Q replacement eliminated both in vivo activity and in vitro binding of nickel. The purified protein, however, contained zinc at the level characteristic of the wild-type protein. When E3 was replaced by Q, activity was retained, but an E3L exchange was detrimental. Replacement of each of the four conserved cysteine residues of a zinc finger motif reduced the cellular amount of HybF protein without a loss of in vivo activity, indicating that these residues play a purely structural role. A triple mutant deficient in the synthesis or activity of HypA, HybF, and HypB was constructed, and it exhibited the same responsiveness for phenotypic complementation by high nickel as mutants with a single lesion in one of the genes exhibited. The results are interpreted in terms of a concerted action of HypB and HybF in nickel insertion in which HybF (as well as its homolog, HypA) functions as a metallochaperone and HypB functions as a regulator that controls the interaction of HybF with the target protein.
Analysis of the Transcarbamoylation-dehydration Reaction Catalyzed by the Hydrogenase Maturation Proteins HypF and HypE
European Journal of Biochemistry / FEBS. Aug, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15291820
The hydrogenase maturation proteins HypF and HypE catalyze the synthesis of the CN ligands of the active site iron of the NiFe-hydrogenases using carbamoylphosphate as a substrate. HypE protein from Escherichia coli was purified from a transformant overexpressing the hypE gene from a plasmid. Purified HypE in gel filtration experiments behaves predominantly as a monomer. It does not contain statistically significant amounts of metals or of cofactors absorbing in the UV and visible light range. The protein displays low intrinsic ATPase activity with ADP and phosphate as the products, the apparent K(m) being 25 micro m and the k(cat) 1.7 x 10(-3) s(-1). Removal of the C-terminal cysteine residue of HypE which accepts the carbamoyl moiety from HypF affected the K(m) (47 micro m) but not significantly the k(cat) (2.1 x 10(-3) s(-1)). During the carbamoyltransfer reaction, HypE and HypF enter a complex which is rather tight at stoichiometric ratios of the two proteins. A mutant HypE variant was generated by amino acid replacements in the nucleoside triphosphate binding region, which showed no intrinsic ATPase activity. The variant was active as an acceptor in the transcarbamoylation reaction but did not dehydrate the thiocarboxamide to the thiocyanate. The results obtained with the HypE variants and also with mutant HypF forms are integrated to explain the complex reaction pattern of protein HypF.
The Complex Between Hydrogenase-maturation Proteins HypC and HypD is an Intermediate in the Supply of Cyanide to the Active Site Iron of [NiFe]-hydrogenases
Journal of Molecular Biology. Nov, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15504408
Carbamoylphosphate has been shown to be the educt for the synthesis of the CN ligands of the NiFe metal centre of hydrogenases from Escherichia coli. In the absence of carbamoylphosphate, cells accumulate a complex of two hydrogenase maturation proteins, namely HypC and HypD for the synthesis of hydrogenase 3. A procedure for the purification of wild-type HypD protein or of a biologically active derivative carrying the Strep-tagII((R)) at the N terminus has been developed. HypD is a monomeric protein possessing about 4 mol of iron per mol of protein. Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and Mossbauer spectroscopy demonstrated that the iron is present as a diamagnetic [4Fe-4S](2+) cluster. The complex between HypC and HypD can be cross-linked by a number of thiol and primary amine-specific linkers. When HypD and HypC were overproduced side-by-side with HypE, the HypC-HypD complex contained substoichiometric amounts of HypE whose proportion in the complex could be augmented when HypF was also overproduced. HypE trapped in this complex could be carbamoylated by protein HypF and after dehydration transferred the cyano group to the HypC-HypD part of the complex. Free HypC and HypD were not cyanated by HypE-CN. An active HypC-HypD complex from anaerobic cells was inactivated by incubation with K(3)[Fe(CN)(6)] but not with K(4)[Fe(CN)(6)]. The results suggest the existence of a dynamic complex between the hydrogenase maturation proteins HypD, HypC, HypE and HypF, which is the site of ligand biosynthesis and attachment to the iron atom of the NiFe site in hydrogenase 3.
The Biosynthetic Routes for Carbon Monoxide and Cyanide in the Ni-Fe Active Site of Hydrogenases Are Different
FEBS Letters. Jan, 2005 | Pubmed ID: 15642360
The incorporation of carbon into the carbon monoxide and cyanide ligands of [NiFe]-hydrogenases has been investigated by using (13)C labelling in infrared studies of the Allochromatium vinosum enzyme and by (14)C labelling experiments with overproduced Hyp proteins from Escherichia coli. The results suggest that the biosynthetic routes of the carbon monoxide and cyanide ligands in [NiFe]-hydrogenases are different.
Science (New York, N.Y.). Dec, 2005 | Pubmed ID: 16357262
The mosaic-structured Vibrio cholerae genome points to the importance of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in the evolution of this human pathogen. We showed that V. cholerae can acquire new genetic material by natural transformation during growth on chitin, a biopolymer that is abundant in aquatic habitats (e.g., from crustacean exoskeletons), where it lives as an autochthonous microbe. Transformation competence was found to require a type IV pilus assembly complex, a putative DNA binding protein, and three convergent regulatory cascades, which are activated by chitin, increasing cell density, and nutrient limitation, a decline in growth rate, or stress.
FEBS Letters. Jul, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 16814778
A mutational screen of amino acid residues of hydrogenase maturation protein HypD from Escherichia coli disclosed that seven conserved cysteine residues located in three different motifs in HypD are essential. Evidence is presented for potential functions of these motifs in the maturation process.
Advances in Microbial Physiology. 2006 | Pubmed ID: 17091562
Enzymes possessing the capacity to oxidize molecular hydrogen have developed convergently three class of enzymes leading to: [FeFe]-, [NiFe]-, and [FeS]-cluster-free hydrogenases. They differ in the composition and the structure of the active site metal centre and the sequence of the constituent structural polypeptides but they show one unifying feature, namely the existence of CN and/or CO ligands at the active site Fe. Recent developments in the analysis of the maturation of [FeFe]- and [NiFe]- hydrogenases have revealed a remarkably complex pattern of mostly novel biochemical reactions. Maturation of [FeFe]-hydrogenases requires a minimum of three auxiliary proteins, two of which belong to the class of Radical-SAM enzymes and other to the family of GTPases. They are sufficient to generate active enzyme when their genes are co-expressed with the structural genes in a heterologous host, otherwise deficient in [FeFe]-hydrogenase expression. Maturation of the large subunit of [NiFe]-hydrogenases depends on the activity of at least seven core proteins that catalyse the synthesis of the CN ligand, have a function in the coordination of the active site iron, the insertion of nickel and the proteolytic maturation of the large subunit. Whereas this core maturation machinery is sufficient to generate active hydrogenase in the cytoplasm, like that of hydrogenase 3 from Escherichia coli, additional proteins are involved in the export of the ready-assembled heterodimeric enzyme to the periplasm via the twin-arginine translocation system in the case of membrane-bound hydrogenases. A series of other gene products with intriguing putative functions indicate that the minimal pathway established for E. coli [NiFe]-hydrogenase maturation may possess even higher complexity in other organisms.
PLoS Pathogens. Jun, 2007 | Pubmed ID: 17559304
The environmental reservoirs for Vibrio cholerae are natural aquatic habitats, where it colonizes the chitinous exoskeletons of copepod molts. Growth of V. cholerae on a chitin surface induces competence for natural transformation, a mechanism for intra-species gene exchange. The antigenically diverse O-serogroup determinants of V. cholerae are encoded by a genetically variable biosynthetic cluster of genes that is flanked on either side by chromosomal regions that are conserved between different serogroups. To determine whether this genomic motif and chitin-induced natural transformation might enable the exchange of serogroup-specific gene clusters between different O serogroups of V. cholerae, a strain of V. cholerae O1 El Tor was co-cultured with a strain of V. cholerae O139 Bengal within a biofilm on the same chitin surface immersed in seawater, and O1-to-O139 transformants were obtained. Serogroup conversion of the O1 recipient by the O139 donor was demonstrated by comparative genomic hybridization, biochemical and serological characterization of the O-antigenic determinant, and resistance of O1-to-O139 transformants to bacteriolysis by a virulent O1-specific phage. Serogroup conversion was shown to have occurred as a single-step exchange of large fragments of DNA. Crossovers were localized to regions of homology common to other V. cholerae serogroups that flank serogroup-specific encoding sequences. This result and the successful serogroup conversion of an O1 strain by O37 genomic DNA indicate that chitin-induced natural transformation might be a common mechanism for serogroup conversion in aquatic habitats and for the emergence of V. cholerae variants that are better adapted for survival in environmental niches or more pathogenic for humans.
Journal of Bacteriology. Nov, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18757542
Free extracellular DNA is abundant in many aquatic environments. While much of this DNA will be degraded by nucleases secreted by the surrounding microbial community, some is available as transforming material that can be taken up by naturally competent bacteria. One such species is Vibrio cholerae, an autochthonous member of estuarine, riverine, and marine habitats and the causative agent of cholera, whose competence program is induced after colonization of chitin surfaces. In this study, we investigate how Vibrio cholerae's two extracellular nucleases, Xds and Dns, influence its natural transformability. We show that in the absence of Dns, transformation frequencies are significantly higher than in its presence. During growth on a chitin surface, an increase in transformation efficiency was found to correspond in time with increasing cell density and the repression of dns expression by the quorum-sensing regulator HapR. In contrast, at low cell density, the absence of HapR relieves dns repression, leading to the degradation of free DNA and to the abrogation of the transformation phenotype. Thus, as cell density increases, Vibrio cholerae undergoes a switch from nuclease-mediated degradation of extracellular DNA to the uptake of DNA by bacteria induced to a state of competence by chitin. Taken together, these results suggest the following model: nuclease production by low-density populations of V. cholerae might foster rapid growth by providing a source of nucleotides for the repletion of nucleotide pools. In contrast, the termination of nuclease production by static, high-density populations allows the uptake of intact DNA and coincides with a phase of potential genome diversification.
BMC Microbiology. 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20509862
Vibrio cholerae gains natural competence upon growth on chitin. This allows the organism to take up free DNA from the environment and to incorporate it into its genome by homologous recombination.
Plasmid. Nov, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20709100
Even though Vibrio cholerae is a well-known human pathogen, it is also a normal member of aquatic habitats. Within this environment it often forms biofilms on the chitin-containing exoskeleton of crustaceans and their molts. Chitin not only serves as nutrient source but also induces a developmental program called natural competence. Naturally competent bacteria take up free DNA and integrate it into their genome by homologous recombination, thereby becoming naturally transformed. In this study, we made use of the knowledge on the environmental lifestyle of V. cholerae to genetically manipulate its genome. We achieved this by combining the methods of chitin-induced natural transformation and Flp recombination. Using this approach, we disrupted several genes by insertion of FRT-site-flanked antibiotic-resistance cassettes. The cassettes were subsequently excised by induction of the Flp recombinase, which acts on the FRT sites. This method represents a simplified and faster alternative to standard gene deletion techniques, which often depend on bacterial conjugation and the availability of suicide vectors.
Quorum Sensing Contributes to Natural Transformation of Vibrio Cholerae in a Species-specific Manner
Journal of Bacteriology. Sep, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21784943
Although it is a human pathogen, Vibrio cholerae is a regular member of aquatic habitats, such as coastal regions and estuaries. Within these environments, V. cholerae often takes advantage of the abundance of zooplankton and their chitinous molts as a nutritious surface on which the bacteria can form biofilms. Chitin also induces the developmental program of natural competence for transformation in several species of the genus Vibrio. In this study, we show that V. cholerae does not distinguish between species-specific and non-species-specific DNA at the level of DNA uptake. This is in contrast to what has been shown for other Gram-negative bacteria, such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Haemophilus influenzae. However, species specificity with respect to natural transformation still occurs in V. cholerae. This is based on a positive correlation between quorum sensing and natural transformation. Using mutant-strain analysis, cross-feeding experiments, and synthetic cholera autoinducer-1 (CAI-1), we provide strong evidence that the species-specific signaling molecule CAI-1 plays a major role in natural competence for transformation. We suggest that CAI-1 can be considered a competence pheromone.
Annals of Internal Medicine. Sep, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21930864
Chitin Colonization, Chitin Degradation and Chitin-induced Natural Competence of Vibrio Cholerae Are Subject to Catabolite Repression
Environmental Microbiology. Aug, 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22222000
Although Vibrio cholerae is a human pathogen its primary habitat are aquatic environments. In this environment, V.cholerae takes advantage of the abundance of zooplankton, whose chitinous exoskeletons provide a nutritious surface. Chitin also induces the developmental programme of natural competence in several species of the genus Vibrio. Because the chitin surface can serve as the sole carbon source for V.cholerae, the link between carbon catabolite repression and chitin-induced natural competence for transformation was investigated in this study. Provision of competing phosphoenolpyruvate: carbohydrate phosphotransferase system (PTS)-dependent carbon sources in addition to chitin significantly lowered natural transformability. These sugars are known to interfere with the accumulation of 3',5'-cyclic AMP (cAMP); therefore, the contributions of the cAMP-producing enzyme, adenylate cyclase and the cAMP receptor protein (CRP) to chitin surface colonization, chitin degradation and natural transformation were also analysed. The results provided here indicate that cAMP and CRP are important in at least three interlinked areas of the chitin-induced natural competence programme. First, cAMP and CRP are required for the efficient colonization of the chitin surface; second both contribute to chitin degradation and utilization, and third, cAMP plus CRP play a role in increasing competence gene expression. These findings highlight the complex regulatory circuit of chitin-induced natural competence in V.cholerae.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Apr, 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22505737
Mathematical models can provide key insights into the course of an ongoing epidemic, potentially aiding real-time emergency management in allocating health care resources and by anticipating the impact of alternative interventions. We study the ex post reliability of predictions of the 2010-2011 Haiti cholera outbreak from four independent modeling studies that appeared almost simultaneously during the unfolding epidemic. We consider the impact of different approaches to the modeling of spatial spread of Vibrio cholerae and mechanisms of cholera transmission, accounting for the dynamics of susceptible and infected individuals within different local human communities. To explain resurgences of the epidemic, we go on to include waning immunity and a mechanism explicitly accounting for rainfall as a driver of enhanced disease transmission. The formal comparative analysis is carried out via the Akaike information criterion (AIC) to measure the added information provided by each process modeled, discounting for the added parameters. A generalized model for Haitian epidemic cholera and the related uncertainty is thus proposed and applied to the year-long dataset of reported cases now available. The model allows us to draw predictions on longer-term epidemic cholera in Haiti from multiseason Monte Carlo runs, carried out up to January 2014 by using suitable rainfall fields forecasts. Lessons learned and open issues are discussed and placed in perspective. We conclude that, despite differences in methods that can be tested through model-guided field validation, mathematical modeling of large-scale outbreaks emerges as an essential component of future cholera epidemic control.
PLoS Genetics. 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22737089
The human pathogen Vibrio cholerae is an aquatic bacterium frequently encountered in rivers, lakes, estuaries, and coastal regions. Within these environmental reservoirs, the bacterium is often found associated with zooplankton and more specifically with their chitinous exoskeleton. Upon growth on such chitinous surfaces, V. cholerae initiates a developmental program termed "natural competence for genetic transformation." Natural competence for transformation is a mode of horizontal gene transfer in bacteria and contributes to the maintenance and evolution of bacterial genomes. In this study, we investigated competence gene expression within this organism at the single cell level. We provide evidence that under homogeneous inducing conditions the majority of the cells express competence genes. A more heterogeneous expression pattern was observable on chitin surfaces. We hypothesize that this was the case due to the heterogeneity around the chitin surface, which might vary extensively with respect to chitin degradation products and autoinducers; these molecules contribute to competence induction based on carbon catabolite repression and quorum-sensing pathways, respectively. Therefore, we investigated the contribution of these two signaling pathways to natural competence in detail using natural transformation assays, transcriptional reporter fusions, quantitative RT-PCR, and immunological detection of protein levels using Western blot analysis. The results illustrate that all tested competence genes are dependent on the transformation regulator TfoX. Furthermore, intracellular cAMP levels play a major role in natural transformation. Finally, we demonstrate that only a minority of genes involved in natural transformation are regulated in a quorum-sensing-dependent manner and that these genes determine the fate of the surrounding DNA. We conclude with a model of the regulatory circuit of chitin-induced natural competence in V. cholerae.
Cues and Regulatory Pathways Involved in Natural Competence and Transformation in Pathogenic and Environmental Gram-negative Bacteria
FEMS Microbiology Reviews. Aug, 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22928673
Bacterial genomics is flourishing, as whole-genome sequencing has become affordable, readily available and rapid. As a result, it has become clear how frequently horizontal gene transfer (HGT) occurs in bacteria. The potential implications are highly significant because HGT contributes to several processes, including the spread of antibiotic-resistance cassettes, the distribution of toxin-encoding phages and the transfer of pathogenicity islands. Three modes of HGT are recognized in bacteria: conjugation, transduction and natural transformation. In contrast to the first two mechanisms, natural competence for transformation does not rely on mobile genetic elements but is driven solely by a developmental programme in the acceptor bacterium. Once the bacterium becomes competent, it is able to take up DNA from the environment and to incorporate the newly acquired DNA into its own chromosome. The initiation and duration of competence differ significantly among bacteria. In this review, we outline the latest data on representative naturally transformable Gram-negative bacteria and how their competence windows differ. We also summarize how environmental cues contribute to the initiation of competence in a subset of naturally transformable Gram-negative bacteria and how the complexity of the niche might dictate the fine-tuning of the competence window.