Despite their potential biotechnological applications, cold-active xylanolytic enzymes have been poorly studied. In this work, 38 fungi isolated from marine sponges collected in King George Island, Antarctica, were screened as new sources of cold-active xylanases. All of them showed xylanase activity at 15 and 23 °C in semiquantitative plate assays. One of these isolates, Cladosporium sp., showed the highest activity and was characterized in detail. Cladosporium sp. showed higher xylanolytic activity when grown on beechwood or birchwood xylan and wheat bran, but wheat straw and oat bran were not so good inducers of this activity. The optimal pH for xylanase activity was 6.0, although pH stability was slightly wider (pH 5-7). On the other hand, Cladosporium sp. showed high xylanase activity at low temperatures and very low thermal stability. Interestingly, thermal stability was even lower after culture media were removed and replaced by buffer, suggesting that low molecular component(s) of the culture media could be important in the stabilization of cold-active xylanase activity. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first report on extracellular xylanase production by fungi associated with Antarctic marine sponges.
Glutamyl-tRNA reductase (GluTR) is the first enzyme committed to tetrapyrrole biosynthesis by the C(5)-pathway. This enzyme transforms glutamyl-tRNA into glutamate-1-semi-aldehyde, which is then transformed into 5-amino levulinic acid by the glutamate-1-semi-aldehyde 2,1-aminomutase. Binding of heme to GluTR seems to be relevant to regulate the enzyme function. Recombinant GluTR from Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans an acidophilic bacterium that participates in bioleaching of minerals was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified as a soluble protein containing type b heme. Upon control of the cellular content of heme in E. coli, GluTR with different levels of bound heme was obtained. An inverse correlation between the activity of the enzyme and the level of bound heme to GluTR suggested a control of the enzyme activity by heme. Heme bound preferentially to dimeric GluTR. An intact dimerization domain was essential for the enzyme to be fully active. We propose that the cellular levels of heme might regulate the activity of GluTR and ultimately its own biosynthesis.
The nature of the mineral-bacteria interphase where electron and mass transfer processes occur is a key element of the bioleaching processes of sulfide minerals. This interphase is composed of proteins, metabolites, and other compounds embedded in extracellular polymeric substances mainly consisting of sugars and lipids (Gehrke et al., Appl Environ Microbiol 64(7):2743-2747, 1998). On this respect, despite Acidithiobacilli-a ubiquitous bacterial genera in bioleaching processes (Rawlings, Microb Cell Fact 4(1):13, 2005)-has long been recognized as secreting bacteria (Jones and Starkey, J Bacteriol 82:788-789, 1961; Schaeffer and Umbreit, J Bacteriol 85:492-493, 1963), few studies have been carried out in order to clarify the nature and the role of the secreted protein component: the secretome. This work characterizes for the first time the sulfur (meta)secretome of Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans strain DSM 17318 in pure and mixed cultures with Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans DSM 16786, identifying the major component of these secreted fractions as a single lipoprotein named here as Licanantase. Bioleaching assays with the addition of Licanantase-enriched concentrated secretome fractions show that this newly found lipoprotein as an active protein additive exerts an increasing effect on chalcopyrite bioleaching rate.
Integrative conjugative elements (ICEs) are self-transferred mobile genetic elements that contribute to horizontal gene transfer. An ICE (ICEAfe1) was identified in the genome of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans ATCC 23270. Excision of the element and expression of relevant genes under normal and DNA-damaging growth conditions was analyzed. Bioinformatic tools and DNA amplification methods were used to identify and to assess the excision and expression of genes related to the mobility of the element. Both basal and mitomycin C-inducible excision as well as expression and induction of the genes for integration/excision are demonstrated, suggesting that ICEAfe1 is an actively excising SOS-regulated mobile genetic element. The presence of a complete set of genes encoding self-transfer functions that are induced in response to DNA damage caused by mitomycin C additionally suggests that this element is capable of conjugative transfer to suitable recipient strains. Transfer of ICEAfe1 may provide selective advantages to other acidophiles in this ecological niche through dissemination of gene clusters expressing transfer RNAs, CRISPRs, and exopolysaccharide biosynthesis enzymes, probably by modification of translation efficiency, resistance to bacteriophage infection and biofilm formation, respectively. These data open novel avenues of research on conjugative transformation of biotechnologically relevant microorganisms recalcitrant to genetic manipulation.
Thiol/disulfide systems are involved in the maintenance of the redox status of proteins and other molecules that contain thiol/disulfide groups. Leptospirillum ferriphilum DSM14647, an acidophilic bacterium that uses Fe(2+) as electron donor, and withstands very high concentrations of iron and other redox active metals, is a good model to study how acidophiles preserve the thiol/disulfide balance. We studied the composition of thiol/disulfide systems and their role in the oxidative stress response in this extremophile bacterium. Bioinformatic analysis using genomic data and enzymatic assays using protein extracts from cells grown under oxidative stress revealed that the major thiol/disulfide system from L. ferriphilum are a cytoplasmic thioredoxin system (composed by thioredoxins Trx and thioredoxin reductase TR), periplasmic thiol oxidation system (DsbA/DsbB) and a c-type cytochrome maturation system (DsbD/DsbE). Upon exposure of L. ferriphilum to reactive oxygen species (ROS)-generating compounds, transcriptional activation of the genes encoding Trxs and the TR enzyme, which results in an increase of the corresponding activity, was observed. Altogether these data suggest that the thioredoxin-based thiol/disulfide system plays an important role in redox protection of L. ferriphilum favoring the survival of this microorganism under extreme environmental oxidative conditions.
Unlike filamentous fungi and bacteria, very little is known about cultivable yeasts associated with marine sponges, especially those from Antarctic seas. During an expedition to King George Island, in the Antarctica, samples of 11 marine sponges were collected by scuba-diving. From these sponges, 20 psychrotolerant yeast isolates were obtained. Phylogenetic analyses of D1/D2 and ITS rRNA gene sequences revealed that the marine ascomycetous yeast Metschnikowia australis is the predominant organism associated with these invertebrates. Other species found belonged to the Basidiomycota phylum: Cystofilobasidium infirmominiatum, Rhodotorula pinicola, Leucosporidiella creatinivora and a new yeast from the Leucosporidiella genus. None of these yeasts have been previously associated with marine sponges. A screening to estimate the ability of these yeasts as producers of extracellular enzymatic activities at several pH and temperature conditions was performed. Several yeast isolates demonstrated amylolytic, proteolytic, lipolytic or cellulolytic activity, but none of them showed xylanolytic activity under the conditions assayed. To our knowledge, this work is the first description of cultivable yeasts associated with marine sponges from the Antarctic sea.
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