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Other Publications (17)

Articles by Steven K. 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 Steven K. Lower on PubMed

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.

Force Measurements Between a Bacterium and Another Surface In Situ

Force Measurements Between a Bacterium and Another Surface in Situ

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.

Treating Astrology's Claims with All Due Gravity

Thickness and Surface Density of Extracellular Polymers on Acidithiobacillus Ferrooxidans

In vivo force microscopy measurements of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans revealed a repulsive force that was due to the presence of extracellular polymers on the bacterium's surface. Measured force-distance profiles were fit to steric force theory to estimate the density and thickness values of these exopolymers. The polymer densities were 3.4 x 10(16) to 7.1 x 10(16) molecules m(-2), and the equilibrium thickness was 29 nm.

Nanominerals, Mineral Nanoparticles, and Earth Systems

Minerals are more complex than previously thought because of the discovery that their chemical properties vary as a function of particle size when smaller, in at least one dimension, than a few nanometers, to perhaps as much as several tens of nanometers. These variations are most likely due, at least in part, to differences in surface and near-surface atomic structure, as well as crystal shape and surface topography as a function of size in this smallest of size regimes. It has now been established that these variations may make a difference in important geochemical and biogeochemical reactions and kinetics. This recognition is broadening and enriching our view of how minerals influence the hydrosphere, pedosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere.

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.

Oxide-dependent Adhesion of the Jurkat Line of T Lymphocytes

The adhesion force of Jurkat cells was measured using atomic force microscopy (AFM) in aqueous solution at pH 7.2 on six metal oxide surfaces, namely, two quartz (alpha-SiO2) crystal faces, amorphous SiO2 glass, rutile (alpha-TiO2), muscovite mica (KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2), and polycrystalline corundum (alpha-Al2O3). We show quantitatively for the first time that the T lymphocyte adhesion force and adhesion work correlates with substrate point of zero charge, indicating greater adsorption on surfaces with smaller negative charge. Adhesion events also exhibited sawtooth-shaped force-distance profiles indicative of protein bonds. No significant correlations were found with oxide Hamaker constants, indicating negligible contributions from van der Waals forces, nor with surface roughness. These results suggest that, when cell-surface receptors are not activated, Jurkat cell adhesion is dominated by specific interactions related to the unfolding of modular glycoproteins or other proteins that are not unique to T-cell surfaces and by electrostatic forces between negatively charged glycoproteins and variably charged oxide surfaces. Our results have implications for the interactions of immune system cells with metal oxides present in the human body either by design as in biomedical applications or inadvertently such as inhaled mineral dust particles in the lung.

Bonds Between Fibronectin and Fibronectin-binding Proteins on Staphylococcus Aureus and Lactococcus Lactis

Bacterial cell-wall-associated fibronectin binding proteins A and B (FnBPA and FnBPB) form bonds with host fibronectin. This binding reaction is often the initial step in prosthetic device infections. Atomic force microscopy was used to evaluate binding interactions between a fibronectin-coated probe and laboratory-derived Staphylococcus aureus that are (i) defective in both FnBPA and FnBPB (fnbA fnbB double mutant, DU5883), (ii) capable of expressing only FnBPA (fnbA fnbB double mutant complemented with pFNBA4), or (iii) capable of expressing only FnBPB (fnbA fnbB double mutant complemented with pFNBB4). These experiments were repeated using Lactococcus lactis constructs expressing fnbA and fnbB genes from S. aureus. A distinct force signature was observed for those bacteria that expressed FnBPA or FnBPB. Analysis of this force signature with the biomechanical wormlike chain model suggests that parallel bonds form between fibronectin and FnBPs on a bacterium. The strength and covalence of bonds were evaluated via nonlinear regression of force profiles. Binding events were more frequent (p < 0.01) for S. aureus expressing FnBPA or FnBPB than for the S. aureus double mutant. The binding force, frequency, and profile were similar between the FnBPA and FnBPB expressing strains of S. aureus. The absence of both FnBPs from the surface of S. aureus removed its ability to form a detectable bond with fibronectin. By contrast, ectopic expression of FnBPA or FnBPB on the surface of L. lactis conferred fibronectin binding characteristics similar to those of S. aureus. These measurements demonstrate that fibronectin-binding adhesins FnBPA and FnBPB are necessary and sufficient for the binding of S. aureus to prosthetic devices that are coated with host fibronectin.

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.

Atomic Force Microscopy to Study Intermolecular Forces and Bonds Associated with Bacteria

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) operates on a very different principle than other forms of microscopy, such as optical microscopy or electron microscopy. The key component of an AFM is a cantilever that bends in response to forces that it experiences as it touches another surface. Forces as small as a few picoNewtons can be detected and probed with AFM. AFM has become very useful in biological sciences because it can be used on living cells that are immersed in water. AFM is particularly useful when the cantilever is modified with chemical groups (e.g. amine or carboxylic groups), small beads (e.g. glass or latex), or even a bacterium. This chapter describes how AFM can be used to measure forces and bonds between a bacterium and another surface. This paper also provides an example of the use of AFM on Staphylococcus aureus, a Gram-positive bacterium that is often associated with biofilms in humans.

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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