- Polyploidy in haloarchaea: advantages for growth and survival (2014)
- The investigated haloarchaeal species, Halobacterium salinarum, Haloferax mediterranei, and H. volcanii, have all been shown to be polyploid. They contain several replicons that have independent copy number regulation, and most have a higher copy number during exponential growth phase than in stationary phase. The possible evolutionary advantages of polyploidy for haloarchaea, most of which have experimental support for at least one species, are discussed. These advantages include a low mutation rate and high resistance toward X-ray irradiation and desiccation, which depend on homologous recombination. For H. volcanii, it has been shown that gene conversion operates in the absence of selection, which leads to the equalization of genome copies. On the other hand, selective forces might lead to heterozygous cells, which have been verified in the laboratory. Additional advantages of polyploidy are survival over geological times in halite deposits as well as at extreme conditions on earth and at simulated Mars conditions. Recently, it was found that H. volcanii uses genomic DNA as genetic material and as a storage polymer for phosphate. In the absence of phosphate, H. volcanii dramatically decreases its genome copy number, thereby enabling cell multiplication, but diminishing the genetic advantages of polyploidy. Stable storage of phosphate is proposed as an alternative driving force for the emergence of DNA in early evolution. Several additional potential advantages of polyploidy are discussed that have not been addressed experimentally for haloarchaea. An outlook summarizes selected current trends and possible future developments.
- Halophilic Archaea Cultivated from Surface Sterilized Middle-Late Eocene Rock Salt Are Polyploid (2014)
- Live bacteria and archaea have been isolated from several rock salt deposits of up to hundreds of millions of years of age from all around the world. A key factor affecting their longevity is the ability to keep their genomic DNA intact, for which efficient repair mechanisms are needed. Polyploid microbes are known to have an increased resistance towards mutations and DNA damage, and it has been suggested that microbes from deeply buried rock salt would carry several copies of their genomes. Here, cultivable halophilic microbes were isolated from a surface sterilized middle-late Eocene (38–41 million years ago) rock salt sample, drilled from the depth of 800 m at Yunying salt mine, China. Eight unique isolates were obtained, which represented two haloarchaeal genera, Halobacterium and Halolamina. We used real-time PCR to show that our isolates are polyploid, with genome copy numbers of 11–14 genomes per cell in exponential growth phase. The ploidy level was slightly downregulated in stationary growth phase, but the cells still had an average genome copy number of 6–8. The polyploidy of halophilic archaea living in ancient rock salt might be a factor explaining how these organisms are able to overcome the challenge of prolonged survival during their entombment.
- 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.
- 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.
- Genome-wide analysis of growth phase-dependent translational and transcriptional regulation in halophilic archaea : research article (2007)
- Background Differential expression of genes can be regulated on many different levels. Most global studies of gene regulation concentrate on transcript level regulation, and very few global analyses of differential translational efficiencies exist. The studies have revealed that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Arabidopsis thaliana, and human cell lines translational regulation plays a significant role. Additional species have not been investigated yet. Particularly, until now no global study of translational control with any prokaryotic species was available. Results A global analysis of translational control was performed with two haloarchaeal model species, Halobacterium salinarum and Haloferax volcanii. To identify differentially regulated genes, exponentially growing and stationary phase cells were compared. More than 20% of H. salinarum transcripts are translated with non-average efficiencies. By far the largest group is comprised of genes that are translated with above-average efficiency specifically in exponential phase, including genes for many ribosomal proteins, RNA polymerase subunits, enzymes, and chemotaxis proteins. Translation of 1% of all genes is specifically repressed in either of the two growth phases. For comparison, DNA microarrays were also used to identify differential transcriptional regulation in H. salinarum, and 17% of all genes were found to have non-average transcript levels in exponential versus stationary phase. In H. volcanii, 12% of all genes are translated with non-average efficiencies. The overlap with H. salinarum is negligible. In contrast to H. salinarum, 4.6% of genes have non-average translational efficiency in both growth phases, and thus they might be regulated by other stimuli than growth phase. Conclusions For the first time in any prokaryotic species it was shown that a significant fraction of genes is under differential translational control. Groups of genes with different regulatory patterns were discovered. However, neither the fractions nor the identity of regulated genes are conserved between H. salinarum and H. volcanii, indicating that prokaryotes as well as eukaryotes use differential translational control for the regulation of gene expression, but that the identity of regulated genes is not conserved For 70 H. salinarum genes potentiation of regulation was observed, but for the majority of regulated genes either transcriptional or translational regulation is employed.
- Transcriptome changes and cAMP oscillations in an archaeal cell cycle (2007)
- Background The cell cycle of all organisms includes mass increase by a factor of two, replication of the genetic material, segregation of the genome to different parts of the cell, and cell division into two daughter cells. It is tightly regulated and typically includes cell cycle-specific oscillations of the levels of transcripts, proteins, protein modifications, and signaling molecules. Until now cell cycle-specific transcriptome changes have been described for four eukaryotic species ranging from yeast to human, but only for two prokaryotic species. Similarly, oscillations of small signaling molecules have been identified in very few eukaryotic species, but not in any prokaryote. Results A synchronization procedure for the archaeon Halobacterium salinarum was optimized, so that nearly 100% of all cells divide in a time interval that is 1/4th of the generation time of exponentially growing cells. The method was used to characterize cell cycle-dependent transcriptome changes using a genome-wide DNA microarray. The transcript levels of 87 genes were found to be cell cycle-regulated, corresponding to 3% of all genes. They could be clustered into seven groups with different transcript level profiles. Cluster-specific sequence motifs were detected around the start of the genes that are predicted to be involved in cell cycle-specific transcriptional regulation. Notably, many cell cycle genes that have oscillating transcript levels in eukaryotes are not regulated on the transcriptional level in H. salinarum. Synchronized cultures were also used to identify putative small signaling molecules. H. salinarum was found to contain a basal cAMP concentration of 200 uM, considerably higher than that of yeast. The cAMP concentration is shortly induced directly prior to and after cell division, and thus cAMP probably is an important signal for cell cycle progression. Conclusions The analysis of cell cycle-specific transcriptome changes of H. salinarum allowed to identify a strategy of transcript level regulation that is different from all previously characterized species. The transcript levels of only 3% of all genes are regulated, a fraction that is considerably lower than has been reported for four eukaryotic species (6% - 28%) and for the bacterium C. crescentus (19%). It was shown that cAMP is present in significant concentrations in an archaeon, and the phylogenetic profile of the adenylate cyclase indicates that this signaling molecule is widely distributed in archaea. The occurrence of cell cycle-dependent oscillations of the cAMP concentration in an archaeon and in several eukaryotic species indicates that cAMP level changes might be a phylogenetically old signal for cell cycle progression.
- Regulated polyploidy in halophilic archaea (2006)
- Polyploidy is common in higher eukaryotes, especially in plants, but it is generally assumed that most prokaryotes contain a single copy of a circular chromosome and are therefore monoploid. We have used two independent methods to determine the genome copy number in halophilic archaea, 1) cell lysis in agarose blocks and Southern blot analysis, and 2) Real-Time quantitative PCR. Fast growing H. salinarum cells contain on average about 25 copies of the chromosome in exponential phase, and their ploidy is downregulated to 15 copies in early stationary phase. The chromosome copy number is identical in cultures with a twofold lower growth rate, in contrast to the results reported for several other prokaryotic species. Of three additional replicons of H. salinarum, two have a low copy number that is not growth-phase regulated, while one replicon even shows a higher degree of growth phase-dependent regulation than the main replicon. The genome copy number of H. volcanii is similarly high during exponential phase (on average 18 copies/cell), and it is also downregulated (to 10 copies) as the cells enter stationary phase. The variation of genome copy numbers in the population was addressed by fluorescence microscopy and by FACS analysis. These methods allowed us to verify the growth phase-dependent regulation of ploidy in H. salinarum, and they revealed that there is a wide variation in genome copy numbers in individual cells that is much larger in exponential than in stationary phase. Our results indicate that polyploidy might be more widespread in archaea (or even prokaryotes in general) than previously assumed. Moreover, the presence of so many genome copies in a prokaryote raises questions about the evolutionary significance of this strategy.