Phenotypic, metabolic and genetic properties of several Acidithiobacillus caldus strains indicate the existence of as yet undefined levels of variation within the species. Inspite of this, intraspecies genetic diversity has not yet been explored in detail. In this study, the design and implementation of a Multi Locus Sequence Typing (MLST) scheme for At. caldus is described. This represents the first MLST-based study applied to industrial isolates of the species. Seven informative and discriminant MLST markers were selected using a sequence-driven approach and a custom-designed bioinformatic pipeline. The allelic profiles of thirteen At. caldus strains from diverse geographical origins and industrial settings were derived using this scheme. MLST-based population structure analysis indicated only moderate amounts of genetic diversity within the set of strains, further supporting their current assignment to a single species. Also, no clear evidence for geographical isolation could be derived from this study. However, the prevalence of sequence type 1 in heap leaching industrial settings support the view that bioprocess conditions and dynamics may have a strong influence on At. caldus (microbial) microdiversity patterns. The MLST scheme presented herein is a valuable tool for the identification and classification of strains of At. caldus for either ecological or evolutionary studies and possibly also for industrial monitoring purposes.
Tellurite (TeO3(2-)) is harmful for most microorganisms, especially Gram-negative bacteria. Even though tellurite toxicity involves a number of individual aspects, including oxidative stress, malfunctioning of metabolic enzymes and a drop in the reduced thiol pool, among others, the general mechanism of toxicity is rather complex and not completely understood to date. This work focused on DNA microarray analysis to evaluate the Escherichia coli global transcriptomic response when exposed to the toxicant. Confirming previous results, the induction of the oxidative stress response regulator soxS was observed. Upregulation of a number of genes involved in the global stress response, protein folding, redox processes and cell wall organization was also detected. In addition, downregulation of aerobic respiration-related genes suggested a metabolic switch to anaerobic respiration. The expression results were validated through oxygen consumption experiments, which corroborated that tellurite-exposed cells effectively consume oxygen at lower rates than untreated controls.
The constant emergence of antibiotic multi-resistant pathogens is a concern worldwide. An alternative for bacterial treatment using nM concentrations of tellurite was recently proposed to boost antibiotic-toxicity and a synergistic effect of tellurite/cefotaxime (CTX) was described. In this work, the molecular mechanism underlying this phenomenon is proposed. Global changes of the transcriptional profile of Escherichia coli exposed to tellurite/CTX were determined by DNA microarrays. Induction of a number of stress regulators (as SoxS), genes related to oxidative damage and membrane transporters was observed. Accordingly, increased tellurite adsorption/uptake and oxidative injuries to proteins and DNA were determined in cells exposed to the mixture of toxicants, suggesting that the tellurite-mediated CTX-potentiating effect is dependent, at least in part, on oxidative stress. Thus, the synergistic tellurite-mediated CTX-potentiating effect depends on increased tellurite uptake/adsorption which results in damage to proteins, DNA and probably other macromolecules. Our findings represent a contribution to the current knowledge of bacterial physiology under antibiotic stress and can be of great interest in the development of new antibiotic-potentiating strategies.
WaaL is a membrane enzyme that catalyzes a key step in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) synthesis: the glycosidic bonding of a sugar at the proximal end of the undecaprenyl-diphosphate (Und-PP) O-antigen with a terminal sugar of the lipid A-core oligosaccharide (OS). Utilizing an in vitro assay, we demonstrate here that ligation with purified Escherichia coli WaaL occurs without adenosine-5-triphosphate (ATP) and magnesium ions. Furthermore, E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa WaaL proteins cannot catalyze ATP hydrolysis in vitro. We also show that a lysine substitution of the arginine (Arg)-215 residue renders an active protein, whereas WaaL mutants with alanine replacements in the periplasmic-exposed residues Arg-215, Arg-288 and histidine (His)-338 and also the membrane-embedded aspartic acid-389 are nonfunctional. An in silico approach, combining predicted topological information with the analysis of sequence conservation, confirms the importance of a positive charge at the small periplasmic loop of WaaL, since an Arg corresponding to Arg-215 was found at a similar position in all the WaaL homologs. Also, a universally conserved H[NSQ]X(9)GXX[GTY] motif spanning the C-terminal end of the predicted large periplasmic loop and the membrane boundary of the transmembrane helix was identified. The His residue in this motif corresponds to His-338. A survey of LPS structures in which the linkage between O-antigen and lipid A-core OS was elucidated reveals that it is always in the ?-configuration, whereas the sugars bound to Und-PP are in the ?-configuration. Together, our biochemical and in silico data argue that WaaL proteins use a common reaction mechanism and share features of metal ion-independent inverting glycosyltransferases.
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