The genus Yersinia has been used as a model system to study pathogen evolution. Using whole-genome sequencing of all Yersinia species, we delineate the gene complement of the whole genus and define patterns of virulence evolution. Multiple distinct ecological specializations appear to have split pathogenic strains from environmental, nonpathogenic lineages. This split demonstrates that contrary to hypotheses that all pathogenic Yersinia species share a recent common pathogenic ancestor, they have evolved independently but followed parallel evolutionary paths in acquiring the same virulence determinants as well as becoming progressively more limited metabolically. Shared virulence determinants are limited to the virulence plasmid pYV and the attachment invasion locus ail. These acquisitions, together with genomic variations in metabolic pathways, have resulted in the parallel emergence of related pathogens displaying an increasingly specialized lifestyle with a spectrum of virulence potential, an emerging theme in the evolution of other important human pathogens.
Targeting of proteins to bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) is mediated by an 18-amino-acid peptide sequence. Herein, we report the solution structure of the N-terminal targeting peptide (P18) of PduP, the aldehyde dehydrogenase associated with the 1,2-propanediol utilization metabolosome from Citrobacter freundii. The solution structure reveals the peptide to have a well-defined helical conformation along its whole length. Saturation transfer difference and transferred NOE NMR has highlighted the observed interaction surface on the peptide with its main interacting shell protein, PduK. By tagging both a pyruvate decarboxylase and an alcohol dehydrogenase with targeting peptides, it has been possible to direct these enzymes to empty BMCs in vivo and to generate an ethanol bioreactor. Not only are the purified, redesigned BMCs able to transform pyruvate into ethanol efficiently, but the strains containing the modified BMCs produce elevated levels of alcohol.
Tuberculosis has had significant effects on Ireland over the past two centuries, causing persistently higher morbidity and mortality than in neighbouring countries until the last decade. This study describes the results of genotyping and drug susceptibility testing of 171 strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex isolated between January 2004 and December 2006 in a region of Ireland centred on the city of Cork. Spoligotype comparisons were made with the SpolDB4 database and clustered 130 strains in 23 groups, forty-one strains showed unique Spoligotyping patterns. The commonest spoligotypes detected were ST0137 (X2) (16.9%), and ST0351 (15.8%) (U clade). The major spoligotype clades were X (26.2%), U (19.3%), T (15.2%), Beijing (5.9%), Haarlem (4.7%), LAM (4.1%), BOVIS (1.75%), with 12.9% unassigned strains. A 24-locus VNTR genotyping produced 15 clusters containing 49 isolates, with high discrimination index (HGDI>0.99). A combination of Spoligotyping and VNTR reduced the number of clustered isolates to 47 in 15 clusters (27.5%). This study identified ST351 as common among Irish nationals, and found a low rate of drug resistance with little evidence of transmission of drug resistant strains. Strain clustering was significantly associated with age under 55 years and Irish nationality. Only strains of Euro-American lineage formed clusters. Molecular typing did not completely coincide with the results of contact investigations.
Compartmentalization is an important process, since it allows the segregation of metabolic activities and, in the era of synthetic biology, represents an important tool by which defined microenvironments can be created for specific metabolic functions. Indeed, some bacteria make specialized proteinaceous metabolic compartments called bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) or metabolosomes. Here we demonstrate that the shell of the metabolosome (representing an empty BMC) can be produced within E. coli cells by the coordinated expression of genes encoding structural proteins. A plethora of diverse structures can be generated by changing the expression profile of these genes, including the formation of large axial filaments that interfere with septation. Fusing GFP to PduC, PduD, or PduV, none of which are shell proteins, allows regiospecific targeting of the reporter group to the empty BMC. Live cell imaging provides unexpected evidence of filament-associated BMC movement within the cell in the presence of PduV.
Lactobacillus reuteri metabolizes two similar three-carbon molecules, 1,2-propanediol and glycerol, within closed polyhedral subcellular bacterial organelles called bacterial microcompartments (metabolosomes). The outer shell of the propanediol-utilization (Pdu) metabolosome is composed of hundreds of mainly hexagonal protein complexes made from six types of protein subunits that share similar domain structures. The structure of the bacterial microcompartment protein PduB has a tandem structural repeat within the subunit and assembles into a trimer with pseudo-hexagonal symmetry. This trimeric structure forms sheets in the crystal lattice and is able to fit within a polymeric sheet of the major shell component PduA to assemble a facet of the polyhedron. There are three pores within the trimer and these are formed between the tandem repeats within the subunits. The structure shows that each of these pores contains three glycerol molecules that interact with conserved residues, strongly suggesting that these subunit pores channel glycerol substrate into the metabolosome. In addition to the observation of glycerol occupying the subunit channels, the presence of glycerol on the molecular threefold symmetry axis suggests a role in locking closed the central region.
Bacterial microcompartments are proteinaceous organelles that are found in a broad range of bacteria. They are composed of an outer protein shell that encases a specific metabolic process. Examples include the carboxysome, which houses enzymes associated with carbon fixation, and the propanediol metabolosome, which contains enzymes linked with the catabolism of propanediol to propionic acid. In this article the molecular structure of bacterial microcompartments is examined and the potential to engineer these intriguing organelles for biotechnological applications is explored.
Yersinia enterocolitica is a zoonotic agent that causes gastrointestinal disease in humans, as well as reactive arthritis and erythema nodosum. Enteropathogenic Yersinia are the etiological agents for yersiniosis, which can be acquired through the consumption of contaminated foods. As porcine animals are the main carriers of Y. enterocolitica, food safety measures to minimize human infection are of increasing interest to the scientific and medical community. In this review, we examine why it is imperative that information on the reservoirs, prevalence, virulence, and ability of this pathogen to survive in different environments is further investigated to provide rational measures to prevent or decrease associated disease risks.
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