Optical mapping as a routine tool for bacterial genome sequence finishing
Barry S. Goldman
Helge Björn Bode
- Background: In sequencing the genomes of two Xenorhabdus species, we encountered a large number of sequence repeats and assembly anomalies that stalled finishing efforts. This included a stretch of about 12 Kb that is over 99.9% identical between the plasmid and chromosome of X. nematophila.
Results: Whole genome restriction maps of the sequenced strains were produced through optical mapping technology. These maps allowed rapid resolution of sequence assembly problems, permitted closing of the genome, and allowed correction of a large inversion in a genome assembly that we had considered finished.
Conclusion: Our experience suggests that routine use of optical mapping in bacterial genome sequence finishing is warranted. When combined with data produced through 454 sequencing, an optical map can rapidly and inexpensively generate an ordered and oriented set of contigs to produce a nearly complete genome sequence assembly.
Dual targeting of the tRNA nucleotidyltransferase in plants: not just the signal
Serena Schmidt von Braun
Pamela J. Hanic-Joyce
Paul B. M. Joyce
- Enzymes involved in tRNA maturation are essential for cytosolic, mitochondrial, and plastid protein synthesis and are therefore localized to these different compartments of the cell. Interestingly, only one isoform of tRNA nucleotidyltransferase (responsible for adding the 3′-terminal cytidine–cytidine–adenosine to tRNAs) has been identified in plants. The present study therefore explored how signals contained on this enzyme allow it to be distributed among the different cell compartments. It is demonstrated that the N-terminal portion of the protein acts as an organellar targeting signal and that differential use of multiple in-frame start codons alters the localization of the protein. Moreover, it is shown that the mature domain has a major impact on the distribution of the protein within the cell. These data indicate that regulation of dual localization involves not only specific N-terminal signals, but also additional factors within the protein or the cell.
Tetracycline aptamer-controlled regulation of pre-mRNA splicing in yeast
- Splicing of pre-mRNA is a critical step in mRNA maturation and disturbances cause several genetic disorders. We apply the synthetic tetracycline (tc)-binding riboswitch to establish a gene expression system for conditional tc-dependent control of pre-mRNA splicing in yeast. Efficient regulation is obtained when the aptamer is inserted close to the 5′splice site (SS) with the consensus sequence of the SS located within the aptamer stem. Structural probing indicates limited spontaneous cleavage within this stem in the absence of the ligand. Addition of tc leads to tightening of the stem and the whole aptamer structure which probably prevents recognition of the 5′SS. Combination of more then one aptamer-regulated intron increases the extent of regulation leading to highly efficient conditional gene expression systems. Our findings highlight the potential of direct RNA–ligand interaction for regulation of gene expression.
Funktionelle Charakterisierung der Wechselwirkungen zwischen HsfA1 und HsfA2 aus Lycopersicon esculentum
Kwan Yu Chan
- Die Hitzestresstranskriptionsfaktoren HsfA1 und HsfA2 repräsentieren wichtige transkriptionelle Regulatoren in der Regulation der Hitzestressantwort von Lycopersicon esculentum (Tomate). Unter Stressbedingungen induziert HsfA1 die Expression von HsfA2 und bildet heterooligomere HsfA1/HsfA2 Komplexe, die im Zusammenhang mit der erhöhten Expression von Hitzestressgenen stehen (Scharf et al., 1998b, Mishra et al., 2002, Port et al., 2004). Durch funktionelle Charakterisierungen der Wechselwirkung zwischen HsfA1 und HsfA2 werden neue Aspekte der spezifischen und synergistischen Aktivierung durch HsfA1 und HsfA2 erläutert. - Die Spezifität der funktionellen Interaktion zwischen HsfA1 und HsfA2 wird in Vergleich mit weiteren Klasse A Hsfs, HsfA3, HsfA4b und HsfA5 anhand von GUS Reporter Assays, Coimmunpräzipitationsanalysen und der interaktionsvermittelten Kernretention von GFP-HsfA2 verdeutlicht. Trotz des Potenzials von HsfA2, multiple Wechselwirkungen einzugehen, ist die Spezifität zwischen HsfA1 und HsfA2 am höchsten. Für die Analyse der synergistische Aktivierung durch HsfA1 und HsfA2 werden 3HA-HsfA1 und 3HA-HsfA2 in unterschiedlichen Mengenverhältnissen coexprimiert. Sowohl am Hsp17.3B-CI::GUS Reporter als auch an der induzierte, endogene Tabak Hsp17-CI Expression kann der spezifische Effekt der synergistischen Aktivierung durch HsfA1 und HsfA2 demonstriert werden. - Um die strukturellen Voraussetzungen der synergistischen Aktvierung zu definieren, werden Mutanten mit Defekten in der DNA Bindung, Oligomerisierung und Aktivierung in funktionellen Analysen der transkriptionellen Aktivität (GUS Reporter Assays, Induktion endogener Hsp17-CI Expression), Komplexbildung (Co-Immunpräzipitation) und der HsfA1 vermittelte Kernretention von HsfA2 (Immunfluoreszenz) untersucht. Die synergistische Aktivierung erfordert die Bildung heterooligomerer HsfA1/HsfA2 Komplexe, die über eine Kombination ihrer C-terminalen Aktivierungsdomänen kooperativ aktivieren. Dagegen hat die DNA Bindung durch die DBDs beider Hsfs einen geringen Anteil an der synergistischen Aktivierung. Zur Verifizierung der funktionellen Unterschiede zwischen HsfA1 und HsfA2 werden HsfA1-HsfA2 Hybride durch Coexpression mit HsfA1 und HsfA2 Wildtypformen analysiert. Heterooligomere Komplexe aus Wildtyp und Hybrid-Hsfs zeigen ausschließlich eine synergistische Aktivierung, wenn die C-terminalen Aktivierungsdomänen von beiden Hsf Typen stammen, während heterooligomere HsfA1/HsfA2 Komplexe mit typgleichen C-Termini nicht synergistisch aktivieren. Weiterhin wird gezeigt, dass Wildtyp- Hybridkomplexe mit identischen HR-A/B Regionen in der synergistischen Aktivierung abgeschwächt sind. - Die Bildungseigenschaften der DNA-Hsf Komplexe (DNP) von HsfA1 und HsfA2 werden in Hinblick auf qualitative Veränderungen unter Coexpressionsbedingungen betrachtet. Interessanterweise konnte die Bildung intermediärer DNPs sowie von Hsf-Komplexen mit intermediärer Größe in Gelfiltrationsanalysen als Indizien für qualitativ veränderte HsfA1/HsfA2 Komplexen nachgewiesen werden. Die funktionelle Analyse von HsfA1 C-terminalen Deletionsmutanten führt zur Identifizierung einer de-regulierten HsfA1 Mutante, die trotz de-regulierter Aktivität mit HsfA2 zur synergistische Aktivierung fähig ist. - Zur Verifizierung der interaktionsvermittelten synergistischen Aktivierung wird die Oligomerisierung partiell deletierter HsfA2 HR-A/B Mutanten ermittelt. Da diese Mutanten intermediäre Oligomerisierungszustände zeigen, werden durch die systematische Deletionsmutation der HR-A/B Region von HsfA2 strukturellen Voraussetzungen für die synergistische Aktivierung durch HsfA1 und HsfA2 charakterisiert. Co-Immunpräzipitationsversuche belegen, dass die Integrität der HR-A/B Region für die Bildung stabiler HsfA1/HsfA2 Komplexe benötigt wird, jedoch eine transiente und spezifische Interaktion über die C-terminalen L2 und HR-B Regionen für die synergistische Aktivierung ausreicht. - In der Charakterisierung der kooperativen, synergistischen Aktivierung durch beide CTADs werden Mutanten der vier vorhandenen AHA Motive von HsfA1 und HsfA2 durch Coexpression mit dem Wildtyp Hsf Partner getestet. Die Ergebnisse verdeutlichen, dass jedes der AHA Motive unterschiedlich zur synergistischen Aktivierung beitragen.
Metal-ion binding and metal-ion induced folding of the adenine-sensing riboswitch aptamer domain
- Divalent cations are important in the folding and stabilization of complex RNA structures. The adenine-sensing riboswitch controls the expression of mRNAs for proteins involved in purine metabolism by directly sensing intracellular adenine levels. Adenine binds with high affinity and specificity to the ligand binding or aptamer domain of the adenine-sensing riboswitch. The X-ray structure of this domain in complex with adenine revealed an intricate RNA-fold consisting of a three-helix junction stabilized by long-range base-pairing interactions and identified five binding sites for hexahydrated Mg2+-ions. Furthermore, a role for Mg2+-ions in the ligand-induced folding of this RNA was suggested. Here, we describe the interaction of divalent cations with the RNA–adenine complex in solution as studied by high-resolution NMR spectroscopy. Paramagnetic line broadening, chemical shift mapping and intermolecular nuclear Overhauser effects (NOEs) indicate the presence of at least three binding sites for divalent cations. Two of them are similar to those in the X-ray structure. The third site, which is important for the folding of this RNA, has not been observed previously. The ligand-free state of the RNA is conformationally heterogeneous and contains base-pairing patterns detrimental to ligand binding in the absence of Mg2+, but becomes partially pre-organized for ligand binding in the presence of Mg2+. Compared to the highly similar guanine-sensing riboswitch, the folding pathway for the adenine-sensing riboswitch aptamer domain is more complex and the influence of Mg2+ is more pronounced.
The contribution of differential hatching success to the fitness of species and interspecific hybrids
- Resting egg banks of microcrustaceans have been used to reconstruct the evolutionary and ecological history of species. However, recent studies provided evidence for a discrepancy between dormant propagules in the sediment and the planktonic population. This pattern raises two questions: First, what is the value of data on resting egg banks for population dynamics over time and second, which component of the reproductive cycle causes the observed inconsistency? In our study we focussed on the second question by comparing the taxon composition of a resting egg bank with the reproductive success of ex-ephippial hatchlings. Species and interspecific hybrid identification of dormant and hatched stages was achieved through the application of restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of an internal transcribed spacer region. We found no significant deviation between the proportion of hatched Daphnia galeata, D. galeata x hyalina and D. hyalina individuals and the observed taxon composition of the resting egg bank. However, species and hybrids differed in their mode and relative success of reproduction. We conclude that the components of reproductive success in Daphnia contribute differentially to the fitness of species and interspecific hybrids. The discrepancy between resting egg banks and ‘‘active’’ planktonic populations results not from differential hatching of species but from the reproductive success of ex-ephippial females and the timing and frequency of sexual reproduction of the different taxa.
Microarray analysis in the Archaeon Halobacterium salinarum strain R1
- Background: Phototrophy of the extremely halophilic archaeon Halobacterium salinarum was explored for decades. The research was mainly focused on the expression of bacteriorhodopsin and its functional properties. In contrast, less is known about genome wide transcriptional changes and their impact on the physiological adaptation to phototrophy. The tool of choice to record transcriptional profiles is the DNA microarray technique. However, the technique is still rarely used for transcriptome analysis in archaea. Methodology/Principal Findings: We developed a whole-genome DNA microarray based on our sequence data of the Hbt. salinarum strain R1 genome. The potential of our tool is exemplified by the comparison of cells growing under aerobic and phototrophic conditions, respectively. We processed the raw fluorescence data by several stringent filtering steps and a subsequent MAANOVA analysis. The study revealed a lot of transcriptional differences between the two cell states. We found that the transcriptional changes were relatively weak, though significant. Finally, the DNA microarray data were independently verified by a real-time PCR analysis. Conclusion/Significance: This is the first DNA microarray analysis of Hbt. salinarum cells that were actually grown under phototrophic conditions. By comparing the transcriptomics data with current knowledge we could show that our DNA microarray tool is well applicable for transcriptome analysis in the extremely halophilic archaeon Hbt. salinarum. The reliability of our tool is based on both the high-quality array of DNA probes and the stringent data handling including MAANOVA analysis. Among the regulated genes more than 50% had unknown functions. This underlines the fact that haloarchaeal phototrophy is still far away from being completely understood. Hence, the data recorded in this study will be subject to future systems biology analysis.
Structural and functional characterisation of Photosystem II from two His-tagged transplastomic strains of Nicotiana tabacum
- Photosystem II (PSII) is a polypeptide-cofactor complex organised as a homodimeric multisubunit protein embedded in the thylakoid membrane. PSII monomers are heterooligomers related to each other by a pseudo-twofold axis perpendicular to the membrane plane (Loll et al. 2005). PSII acts as a photochemical enzyme that through the chlorophylls and the other cofactors catalyses photon capture and electron transfer from water to the plastoquinone pool with concomitant evolution of oxygen. Photon capture and charge separation take place in the PSII core which consists of the D1 and D2 proteins, the cytochrome b559 alpha- and beta-chains (PsbE and F subunits) and the chlorophyll a-binding antenna proteins CP43 and CP47 (Loll et al. 2005). The remaining polypeptides are low molecular mass proteins with not clearly understood fuctions; they include chloroplast-encoded (PsbH, I, J, K, L, M, N, T and Z) and nucleus-encoded (PsbR, S, W and X) proteins consisting of one to four transmembrane helices (Barber et al. 1997). The oxygen-evolving part of PSII consists of a Mn-Ca transition complex called Mn cluster or oxygen evolving complex that is situated on the luminal side of PSII. In higher plants it is stabilised by the PsbO (33 kDa), PsbP (23 kDa) and PsbQ (17 kDa) extrinsic subunits (Soursa et al. 2006; Ifuku et al. 2005). The structure and mechanisms related to the oxygen evolving complex of PSII are not completely clarified. Currently two high resolution structures from the cyanobacteria S. elongatus are available (Loll et al. 2005; Ferreira et al. 2004) Nevertheless structural information is not as well defined in green algae and higher plants as in cyanobacteria. In fact the 8Å structure available from spinach has too low resolution for addressing questions such as the structural and functional differences in respect to PSII from cyanobateria (Rhee et al. 1997).. Therefore it is obvious that for PSII from higher plants the main general questions are still open: is the structure of PSII from higher plants equivalent to the structures observed in cyanobacteria? Is the typical higher plants subunit PsbS stably or transiently bound to PSII? Finding an answer to these questions was the main focus of this work. In this work a simple and rapid protocol to isolate the oxygen-evolving photosystem II (PSII) core complex from Nicotiana tabacum was developed. A PSII having a His-tag extension made of six or ten consecutive histidine residues at the N-terminus of the PsbE subunit was purified by a single-step Ni2+ NTA-affinity column chromatography after solubilisation of the thylakoid membranes using different mild detergents. Characterization of the oxygen evolution and the subunit composition by immunoblotting and mass spectroscopy revealed that the His-tagging did not affect the functional integrity of the PSII reaction center. The final PSII core complex was purified in a single step from solubilised thylakoids in less than 14 hours getting a very pure sample in high amount. The isolated core complex was in a dimeric form as demonstrated by Blue Native PAGE, analytical gel filtration and single particles analysis; with a molecular mass of about 500 kDa, consisting of D1, D2, CP43, CP47, 33 kDa and low molecular weight proteins. The preparation retains a high rate of oxygen-evolving activity but showed different stabilities of the binding of the three extrinsic proteins. The subunit of 33 kDa was always present in the preparations with a constant amount, whereas the 23 and 17 kDa subunits were always in less and unconstant amounts. Nevertheless the oxygen evolution was not depending on the amount of the 23 and 17 kDa subunits. Furthermore the preparation showed a high oxygen-evolving activity of 1390 micromol/mg Chl·h-1 in presence of betaine, while its activity was 440-680 micromol/mg Chl·h-1 in its absence. The presence of 1.0 mol/L betaine during the isolation of PSII increased the preservation of the photochemical activity hence the oxygen evolution. It was inferred from these results that His-tagging does not affect the functional and structural integrity of the PSII core complex and that the “Histag strategy” is highly useful for biochemical, physicochemical and structural studies of higher plant PSII. PSII is directly involved in two essential processes, the efficient capture and funnelling of light energy to the reaction centre and the controlled dissipation of excess excitation energy. Those functions require structural and functional flexibility in order to be performed with high efficiency. Moreover light-harvesting proteins respond to an external signal, the thylakoid pH, to induce feedback control regulating those activities in every moment. This process called non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) is mainly depending on the xanthophyll cycle and the PsbS protein (Szabo et al. 2005). In this work several new evidences related with those two processes were found. The subunit PsbS is a polypeptide whose involvement in the NPQ processes is debated. Nevertheless, its position in the PSII complex and the mechanisms by which this subunit contributes to carry out the NPQ functions are not definitely known. In addition it is not sure if it is a pigment binding protein or not. Currently several lines of evidence indicate that this subunit is able to bind two molecules of zeaxanthin, one of the pigments involved in the xanthophyll cycle. In this work immunolabelling indicated that PsbS is tightly bound to the PSII core dimer, monomer and incomplete PSII particles as Reaction Centre-CP47 (RC-CP47). Furthermore qualitative HPLC indicates a complete absence of zeaxanthin in the sample and the presence of violaxanthin, another pigment involved in the xanthophyll cycle. The absence of zeaxanthin was expected considering that the plants were harvested after the dark period and that the particles were purified in complete dark (or in green light), whereas the presence of violaxanthin was unexpected considering that so far no evidence of violaxanthin bound to PSII cores devoid of LHC proteins was reported. Furthermore the amount of chlorophyll b was not relevant for suspecting this pigment bound to PsbS. Therefore we conclude that if PsbS is able to bind chlorophyll it has to be a chlorophyll a. The results indicate that PsbS could be able to bind not only zeaxanthin but also violaxanthin. The extrinsic subunit Psb27 was also found in this preparation. The presence and the amount of this subunit, reported to be involved in the repair of damaged PSII, was not constant and therefore behaving as the other two extrinsic proteins 23kDa (PsbP) and 17kDa (PsbQ). Electron crystallography studies on spinach PSII particles purified by differential solubilisation resulted in crystalline tubes with new unit cell constants. From data analysis a density map at 15Å resolution was obtained with a P22121 symmetry. However, at this resolution it cannot be said if the internal symmetry axis is related with the two-fold axis of the dimer or the pseudo two-fold axis of the monomer. In conclusion a method to isolate functional, pure PSII core complexes was developped. These samples, together with the improved 2d crystallisation protocol could lead to crystals with higher quality hence better resolution density maps in the future.
Funktionelle Morphologie des Schädels und der Bezahnung der Ursidae
- Sandra Engels hat zwischen August 2006 und Juni 2007 Schädel und Gebiß südostasiatischer Ursiden im Hinblick auf Ernährungspräferenzen rekonstruiert. Obwohl die Ursiden systematisch zur Ordnung der Carnivora gehören, verfolgen ihre Vertreter völlig unterschiedliche Ernährungsstrategien. Darunter sind spezialisierte Herbivoren genauso vertreten wie Carnivoren und Omnivoren. Ziel der Arbeit von Sandra Engels war es, anhand der unterschiedlichen Ernährungsregime, Parameter an Schädel, Gebiss und Einzelzähnen rezenter Tiere festzulegen und diese dann auf fossiles Material anzuwenden.
Experimental characterization of Cis-acting elements important for translation and transcription in Halophilic Archaea
- Summary The basal transcription apparatus of archaea is well characterized. However, much less is known about the mechanisms of transcription termination and translation initation. Recently, experimental determination of the 5´-ends of ten transcripts from Pyrobaculum aerophilum revealed that these are devoid of a 5´-UTR. Bioinformatic analysis indicated that many transcripts of other archaeal species might also be leaderless. The´-ends and 3´-ends of 40 transcripts of two haloarchaeal species, Halobacterium salinarum and Haloferax volcanii, have been determined. They were used to characterize the lengths of 5´-UTRs and 3´-UTRs and to deduce consensus sequence-elements for transcription and translation. The experimental approach was complemented with a bioinformatics analysis of the H. salinarum genome sequence. Furthermore, the influence of selected 5´-UTRs and 3´-UTRs on transcript stability and translational efficiency in vivo was characterized using a newly established reporter gene system, gene fusions, and real-time PCR. Consensus sequences for basal promoter elements could be refined and a novel element was discovered. A consensus motif probably important for transcriptional termination was established. All 40 haloarchaeal transcripts analyzed had a 3´-UTR (average size 57 nt), and their 3´-ends were not posttranscriptionally modified. Experimental data and genome analyses revealed that the majority of haloarchaeal transcripts are leaderless, indicating that this is the predominant mode for translation initiation in haloarchaea. Surprisingly, the 5´-UTRs of most leadered transcripts did not contain a Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequence. A genome analysis indicated that less than 10% of all genes are preceded by a SD sequence and even most proximal genes in operons lack a SD sequence. Seven different leadered transcripts devoid of a SD sequence were efficiently translated in vivo, including artificial 5´-UTRs of random sequences. Thus, an interaction of the 5´-UTRs of these leadered transcripts with the 16S rRNA could be excluded. Taken together, either a scanning mechanism similar to the mechanism of translation initiation operating in eukaryotes or a novel mechanism must operate on most leadered haloarchaeal transcripts. Author Summary Expression of the information encoded in the genome of an organism into its phenotype involves transcription of the DNA into messenger RNAs and translation of mRNAs into proteins. The textbook view is that an mRNA consists of an untranslated region (5´-UTR), an open reading frame encoding the protein, and another untranslated region (3´-UTR). We have determined the 5´-ends and the 3´-ends of 40 mRNAs of two haloarchaeal species and used this dataset to gain information about nucleotide elements important for transcription and translation. Two thirds of the mRNAs were devoid of a 5´-UTR, and therefore the major pathway for translation initiation in haloarchaea involves so-called leaderless transcripts. Very unexpectedly, most leadered mRNAs were found to be devoid of a sequence motif believed to be essential for translation initiation in bacteria and archaea (Shine-Dalgarno sequence). A bioinformatic genome analysis revealed that less than 10% of the genes contain a Shine-Dalgarno sequence. mRNAs lacking this motif were efficiently translated in vivo, including mRNAs with artificial 5´-UTRs of total random sequence. Thus, translation initiation on these mRNAs either involves a scanning mechanism similar to the mechanism operating in eukaryotes or a totally novel mechanism operating at least in haloarchaea.