- Experimental characterization of Cis-acting elements important for translation and transcription in Halophilic Archaea (2007)
- 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.
- Regulation of translation in haloarchaea: 5'- and 3'-UTRs are essential and have to functionally interact in vivo (2009)
- Recently a first genome-wide analysis of translational regulation using prokaryotic species had been performed which revealed that regulation of translational efficiency plays an important role in haloarchaea. In fact, the fractions of genes under differential growth phase-dependent translational control in the two species Halobacterium salinarum and Haloferax volcanii were as high as in eukaryotes. However, nothing is known about the mechanisms of translational regulation in archaea. Therefore, two genes exhibiting opposing directions of regulation were selected to unravel the importance of untranslated regions (UTRs) for differential translational control in vivo. Differential translational regulation in exponentially growing versus stationary phase cells was studied by comparing translational efficiencies using a reporter gene system. Translational regulation was not observed when 5'-UTRs or 3'-UTRs alone were fused to the reporter gene. However, their simultaneous presence was sufficient to transfer differential translational control from the native transcript to the reporter transcript. This was true for both directions of translational control. Translational regulation was completely abolished when stem loops in the 5'-UTR were changed by mutagenesis. An “UTR-swap” experiment demonstrated that the direction of translational regulation is encoded in the 3'-UTR, not in the 5'-UTR. While much is known about 5'-UTR-dependent translational control in bacteria, the reported findings provide the first examples that both 5'- and 3'-UTRs are essential and sufficient to drive differential translational regulation in a prokaryote and therefore have to functionally interact in vivo. The current results indicate that 3'-UTR-dependent translational control had already evolved before capping and polyadenylation of transcripts were invented, which are essential for circularization of transcripts in eukaryotes.
- Microarray analysis in the Archaeon Halobacterium salinarum strain R1 (2007)
- 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.
- Quantification of ploidy in proteobacteria revealed the existence of monoploid, (mero-)oligoploid and polyploid species (2011)
- Bacteria are generally assumed to be monoploid (haploid). This assumption is mainly based on generalization of the results obtained with the most intensely studied model bacterium, Escherichia coli (a gamma-proteobacterium), which is monoploid during very slow growth. However, several species of proteobacteria are oligo- or polyploid, respectively. To get a better overview of the distribution of ploidy levels, genome copy numbers were quantified in four species of three different groups of proteobacteria. A recently developed Real Time PCR approach, which had been used to determine the ploidy levels of halophilic archaea, was optimized for the quantification of genome copy numbers of bacteria. Slow-growing (doubling time 103 minutes) and fast-growing (doubling time 25 minutes) E. coli cultures were used as a positive control. The copy numbers of the origin and terminus region of the chromosome were determined and the results were in excellent agreement with published data. The approach was also used to determine the ploidy levels of Caulobacter crescentus (an alpha-proteobacterium) and Wolinella succinogenes (an epsilon-proteobacterium), both of which are monoploid. In contrast, Pseudomonas putida (a gamma-proteobacterium) contains 20 genome copies and is thus polyploid. A survey of the proteobacteria with experimentally-determined genome copy numbers revealed that only three to four of 11 species are monoploid and thus monoploidy is not typical for proteobacteria. The ploidy level is not conserved within the groups of proteobacteria, and there are no obvious correlations between the ploidy levels with other parameters like genome size, optimal growth temperature or mode of life.
- Nitrogen regulation of protein–protein interactions and transcript levels of GlnK PII regulator and AmtB ammonium transporter homologs in Archaea (2013)
- Gene homologs of GlnK PII regulators and AmtB-type ammonium transporters are often paired on prokaryotic genomes, suggesting these proteins share an ancient functional relationship. Here, we demonstrate for the first time in Archaea that GlnK associates with AmtB in membrane fractions after ammonium shock, thus, providing a further insight into GlnK-AmtB as an ancient nitrogen sensor pair. For this work, Haloferax mediterranei was advanced for study through the generation of a pyrE2-based counterselection system that was used for targeted gene deletion and expression of Flag-tagged proteins from their native promoters. AmtB1-Flag was detected in membrane fractions of cells grown on nitrate and was found to coimmunoprecipitate with GlnK after ammonium shock. Thus, in analogy to bacteria, the archaeal GlnK PII may block the AmtB1 ammonium transporter under nitrogen-rich conditions. In addition to this regulated protein–protein interaction, the archaeal amtB-glnK gene pairs were found to be highly regulated by nitrogen availability with transcript levels high under conditions of nitrogen limitation and low during nitrogen excess. While transcript levels of glnK-amtB are similarly regulated by nitrogen availability in bacteria, transcriptional regulators of the bacterial glnK promoter including activation by the two-component signal transduction proteins NtrC (GlnG, NRI) and NtrB (GlnL, NRII) and sigma factor σN (σ54) are not conserved in archaea suggesting a novel mechanism of transcriptional control.
- A comprehensive analysis of the importance of translation initiation factors for Haloferax volcanii applying deletion and conditional depletion mutants (2013)
- Translation is an important step in gene expression. The initiation of translation is phylogenetically diverse, since currently five different initiation mechanisms are known. For bacteria the three initiation factors IF1 – IF3 are described in contrast to archaea and eukaryotes, which contain a considerably higher number of initiation factor genes. As eukaryotes and archaea use a non-overlapping set of initiation mechanisms, orthologous proteins of both domains do not necessarily fulfill the same function. The genome of Haloferax volcanii contains 14 annotated genes that encode (subunits of) initiation factors. To gain a comprehensive overview of the importance of these genes, it was attempted to construct single gene deletion mutants of all genes. In 9 cases single deletion mutants were successfully constructed, showing that the respective genes are not essential. In contrast, the genes encoding initiation factors aIF1, aIF2γ, aIF5A, aIF5B, and aIF6 were found to be essential. Factors aIF1A and aIF2β are encoded by two orthologous genes in H. volcanii. Attempts to generate double mutants failed in both cases, indicating that also these factors are essential. A translatome analysis of one of the single aIF2β deletion mutants revealed that the translational efficiency of the second ortholog was enhanced tenfold and thus the two proteins can replace one another. The phenotypes of the single deletion mutants also revealed that the two aIF1As and aIF2βs have redundant but not identical functions. Remarkably, the gene encoding aIF2α, a subunit of aIF2 involved in initiator tRNA binding, could be deleted. However, the mutant had a severe growth defect under all tested conditions. Conditional depletion mutants were generated for the five essential genes. The phenotypes of deletion mutants and conditional depletion mutants were compared to that of the wild-type under various conditions, and growth characteristics are discussed.
- Generation and phenotyping of a collection of sRNA gene deletion mutants of the haloarchaeon Haloferax volcanii (2014)
- The haloarchaeon Haloferax volcanii was shown to contain 145 intergenic and 45 antisense sRNAs. In a comprehensive approach to unravel various biological roles of haloarchaeal sRNAs in vivo, 27 sRNA genes were selected and deletion mutants were generated. The phenotypes of these mutants were compared to that of the parent strain under ten different conditions, i.e. growth on four different carbon sources, growth at three different salt concentrations, and application of four different stress conditions. In addition, cell morphologies in exponential and stationary phase were observed. Furthermore, swarming of 17 mutants was analyzed. 24 of the 27 mutants exhibited a difference from the parent strain under at least one condition, revealing that haloarchaeal sRNAs are involved in metabolic regulation, growth under extreme conditions, regulation of morphology and behavior, and stress adaptation. Notably, 7 deletion mutants showed a gain of function phenotype, which has not yet been described for any other prokaryotic sRNA gene deletion mutant. Comparison of the transcriptomes of one sRNA gene deletion mutant and the parent strain led to the identification of differentially expressed genes. Genes for flagellins and chemotaxis were up-regulated in the mutant, in accordance with its gain of function swarming phenotype. While the deletion mutant analysis underscored that haloarchaeal sRNAs are involved in many biological functions, the degree of conservation is extremely low. Only 3 of the 27 genes are conserved in more than 10 haloarchaeal species. 22 of the 27 genes are confined to H. volcanii, indicating a fast evolution of haloarchaeal sRNA genes.
- Haloferax volcanii, a Prokaryotic Species that Does Not Use the Shine Dalgarno Mechanism for Translation Initiation at 5′-UTRs (2014)
- It was long assumed that translation initiation in prokaryotes generally occurs via the so-called Shine Dalgarno (SD) mechanism. Recently, it became clear that translation initiation in prokaryotes is more heterogeneous. In the haloarchaeon Haloferax volcanii, the majority of transcripts is leaderless and most transcripts with a 5′-UTR lack a SD motif. Nevertheless, a bioinformatic analysis predicted that 20–30% of all genes are preceded by a SD motif in haloarchaea. To analyze the importance of the SD mechanism for translation initiation in haloarchaea experimentally the monocistronic sod gene was chosen, which contains a 5′-UTR with an extensive SD motif of seven nucleotides and a length of 19 nt, the average length of 5′UTRs in this organism. A translational fusion of part of the sod gene with the dhfr reporter gene was constructed. A mutant series was generated that matched the SD motif from zero to eight positions, respectively. Surprisingly, there was no correlation between the base pairing ability between transcripts and 16S rRNA and translational efficiency in vivo under several different growth conditions. Furthermore, complete replacement of the SD motif by three unrelated sequences did not reduce translational efficiency. The results indicate that H. volcanii does not make use of the SD mechanism for translation initiation in 5′-UTRs. A genome analysis revealed that while the number of SD motifs in 5′-UTRs is rare, their fraction within open reading frames is high. Possible biological functions for intragenic SD motifs are discussed, including re-initiation of translation at distal genes in operons.
- DNA as a phosphate storage polymer and the alternative advantages of polyploidy for growth or survival (2014)
- Haloferax volcanii uses extracellular DNA as a source for carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous. However, it can also grow to a limited extend in the absence of added phosphorous, indicating that it contains an intracellular phosphate storage molecule. As Hfx. volcanii is polyploid, it was investigated whether DNA might be used as storage polymer, in addition to its role as genetic material. It could be verified that during phosphate starvation cells multiply by distributing as well as by degrading their chromosomes. In contrast, the number of ribosomes stayed constant, revealing that ribosomes are distributed to descendant cells, but not degraded. These results suggest that the phosphate of phosphate-containing biomolecules (other than DNA and RNA) originates from that stored in DNA, not in rRNA. Adding phosphate to chromosome depleted cells rapidly restores polyploidy. Quantification of desiccation survival of cells with different ploidy levels showed that under phosphate starvation Hfx. volcanii diminishes genetic advantages of polyploidy in favor of cell multiplication. The consequences of the usage of genomic DNA as phosphate storage polymer are discussed as well as the hypothesis that DNA might have initially evolved in evolution as a storage polymer, and the various genetic benefits evolved later.