- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Functional genomic and advanced genetic studies reveal novel insights into the metabolism, regulation, and biology of Haloferax volcanii (2011)
- The genome sequence of Haloferax volcanii is available and several comparative genomic in silico studies were performed that yielded novel insight for example into protein export, RNA modifications, small non-coding RNAs, and ubiquitin-like Small Archaeal Modifier Proteins. The full range of functional genomic methods has been established and results from transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic studies are discussed. Notably, Hfx. volcanii is together with Halobacterium salinarum the only prokaryotic species for which a translatome analysis has been performed. The results revealed that the fraction of translationally-regulated genes in haloarchaea is as high as in eukaryotes. A highly efficient genetic system has been established that enables the application of libraries as well as the parallel generation of genomic deletion mutants. Facile mutant generation is complemented by the possibility to culture Hfx. volcanii in microtiter plates, allowing the phenotyping of mutant collections. Genetic approaches are currently used to study diverse biological questions–from replication to posttranslational modification—and selected results are discussed. Taken together, the wealth of functional genomic and genetic tools make Hfx. volcanii a bona fide archaeal model species, which has enabled the generation of important results in recent years and will most likely generate further breakthroughs in the future.
- 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.
- Analysis of a hybrid TATA box binding protein originating from mesophilic and thermophilic donor organisms (2010)
- The TATA Box Binding Protein (TBP) is a 20 kD protein that is essential and universally conserved in eucarya and archaea. Especially among archaea, organisms can be found that live below 0°C as well as organisms that grow above 100°C. The archaeal TBPs show a high sequence identity and a similar structure consisting of α-helices and β-sheets that are arranged in a saddle-shape 2-symmetric fold. In previous studies, we have characterized the thermal stability of thermophilic and mesophilic archaeal TBPs by infrared spectroscopy and showed the correlation between the transition temperature (Tm) and the optimal growth temperature (OGT) of the respective donor organism. In this study, a “new” mutant TBP has been constructed, produced, purified and analyzed for a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms of thermoadaptation. The β-sheet part of the mutant consists of the TBP from Methanothermobacter thermoautotrophicus (OGT 65°C, MtTBP65) whose α-helices have been exchanged by those of Methanosarcina mazei (OGT 37°C, MmTBP37). The Hybrid-TBP irreversibly aggregates after thermal unfolding just like MmTBP37 and MtTBP65, but the Tm lies between that of MmTBP37 and MtTBP65 indicating that the interaction between the α-helical and β-sheet part of the TBP is crucial for the thermal stability. The temperature stability is probably encoded in the variable α-helices that interact with the highly conserved and DNA binding β-sheets.
- Protein acetylation in archaea, bacteria, and eukaryotes (2010)
- Proteins can be acetylated at the alpha-amino group of the N-terminal amino acid (methionine or the penultimate amino acid after methionine removal) or at the epsilon-amino group of internal lysines. In eukaryotes the majority of proteins are N-terminally acetylated, while this is extremely rare in bacteria. A variety of studies about N-terminal acetylation in archaea have been reported recently, and it was revealed that a considerable fraction of proteins is N-terminally acetylated in haloarchaea and Sulfolobus, while this does not seem to apply for methanogenic archaea. Many eukaryotic proteins are modified by differential internal acetylation, which is important for a variety of processes. Until very recently, only two bacterial proteins were known to be acetylation targets, but now 125 acetylation sites are known for E. coli. Knowledge about internal acetylation in archaea is extremely limited; only two target proteins are known, only one of which--Alba--was used to study differential acetylation. However, indications accumulate that the degree of internal acetylation of archaeal proteins might be underestimated, and differential acetylation has been shown to be essential for the viability of haloarchaea. Focused proteomic approaches are needed to get an overview of the extent of internal protein acetylation in archaea.
- 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.