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- 9-Lipoxygenase Oxylipin Pathway in Plant Response to Biotic Stress
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The activity of plant 9-lipoxygenases (LOXs) influences the outcome of Arabidopsis thaliana interaction with pathogen and insects. Evidence provided here indicates that in Arabidopsis, 9-LOXs facilitate infestation by Myzus persicae, commonly known as the green peach aphid (GPA), a sap-sucking insect, and infection by the fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum. in comparison to the wild-type plant, lox5 mutants, which are deficient in a 9-lipoxygenase, GPA population was smaller and the insect spent less time feeding from sieve elements and xylem, thus resulting in reduced water content and fecundity of GPA. LOX5 expression is induced rapidly in roots of GPA-infested plants. This increase in LOX5 expression is paralleled by an increase in LOX5-synthesized oxylipins in the root and petiole exudates of GPA-infested plants. Micrografting experiments demonstrated that GPA population size was smaller on plants in which the roots were of the lox5 mutant genotype. Exogenous treatment of lox5 mutant roots with 9-hydroxyoctadecanoic acid restored water content and population size of GPA on lox5 mutants. Together, these results suggest that LOX5 genotype in roots is critical for facilitating insect infestation of Arabidopsis. in Arabidopsis, 9-LOX function is also required for facilitating infection by F. graminearum, which is a leading cause of Fusarium head blight (FHB) disease in wheat and other small grain crops. Loss of LOX1 and LOX5 function resulted in enhanced resistance to F. graminearum infection. Similarly in wheat, RNA interference mediated silencing of the 9-LOX homolog TaLpx1, resulted in enhanced resistance to F. graminearum. Experiments in Arabidopsis indicate that 9-LOXs promote susceptibility to this fungus by suppressing the activation of salicylic acid-mediated defense responses that are important for basal resistance to this fungus. the lox1 and lox5 mutants were also compromised for systemic acquired resistance (SAR), an inducible defense mechanism that is systemically activated throughout a plant in response to a localized infection. the lox1 and lox5 mutants exhibited reduced cell death and delayed hypersensitive response when challenged with an avirulent strain of the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato. LOX1 and LOX5 functions were further required for the synthesis as well as perception of a SAR-inducing activity present in petiole exudates collected from wild-type avirulent pathogen-challenged leaves. Taken together, results presented here demonstrate that 9-LOX contribute to host susceptibility as well as defense against different biotic stressors.
- Analysis of a cotton gene cluster for the antifungal protein osmotin.
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Three overlapping genomic clones covering 29.0 kilobases of cotton DNA were found to encompass a cluster of two presumptive osmotin genes (OSMI and OSMII) and two osmotin pseudogenes (OSMIII and OSMIV). A segment of 16,007 basepairs of genomic DNA was sequenced from the overlapping genomic clones (GenBank Accessions AY303690 and AF304007). The two cotton osmotin genes were found to have open reading frames of 729 basepairs without any introns, and would encode presumptive osmotin preproteins of 242 amino acids. The open reading frames of the genes are identical in sequence to two corresponding cDNA clones (GenBank Accessions AF192271 and AY301283). The two cDNA inserts are almost full-length, since one lacks codons for the four N-terminal amino acids, and the other cDNA insert lacks the coding region for the 34 N-terminal amino acids. The cotton osmotin preproteins can be identified as PR5 proteins from their similarities to the deduced amino acid sequences of other plant osmotin PR5 preproteins. The preproteins would have N-terminal signal sequences of 24 amino acids, and the mature 24 kilodalton isoforms would likely be targeted for extracellular secretion. Prospective promoter elements, including two ethylene response elements, implicated as being positive regulatory elements in the expression of a number of PR-proteins, occur in the 5'-flanking regions. The mature osmotin proteins accumulate in cotton plants treated with the inducers ethephon and hydrogen peroxide. Thus, the two cotton osmotin genes encode osmotin proteins. The coding regions of the two genes have been expressed and isolated as fusion polypeptides in a bacterial expression system. Binary constructs containing the open reading frames of the two osmotin genes under the control of the 35S CaMV promoter have been generated for eventual production of transgenic Arabidopsis and cotton plants for potential constitutive expression of the osmotin proteins for increased resistance against fungal pathogens.
- Analysis of the Expression Profiles of Two Isoforms of the Antifungal Protein Osmotin from Gossypium hirsutum
- The expression of two cotton osmotin genes was evaluated in terms of the mRNA and protein expression patterns in response to chemical inducers such as ethylene, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium chloride. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCR) indicated that osmotin mRNAs are expressed constitutively in root tissues of cotton plants, and that they are rapidly induced in leaf and stem tissues upon ethylene treatment. Real time RT-PCR indicated that osmotin transcript levels were induced 2 to 4 h after treatment with ethephon. The osmotin mRNA levels appear to increase 12 h after treatment, decrease, and then increase again. The osmotin protein expression patterns were analyzed in Western blot analyses using an anti-osmotin antibody preparation. A 24-KDa protein band was detected from cotton plants treated with the inducers. The 24-KDa osmotin proteins were induced 4 h after treatment with ethephon, while down-regulated 96 h after treatment. Multiple osmotin isoforms were observed to be induced in cotton plants upon treatment with ethephon by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. One goal of this dissertation research was to genetically engineer two cotton osmotin genes to routinely overproduce their antifungal proteins in transgenic Arabidopsis and cotton plants as a natural defense against fungal infections, using co-cultivation with Agrobacterium tumefaciens cells harboring pCAMBIA 2301 vector constructs containing the osmotin genes. Many transgenic Arabidopsis and cotton plants were generated. However, genomic blotting analyses indicated the absence of the osmotin transgenes, but the presence of GUS genes from the vector cassette. Alkaline blot analyses of the vector DNAs from transformed Agrobacterium cells confirmed that an anomalous DNA structural rearrangement or aberrant recombination event probably occurred in the Agrobacterium cells, interdicting the integration of osmotin transgenes into the Arabidopsis and cotton plants. This research provides crucial baseline information on expression of cotton osmotin mRNAs and proteins.
- Applications of Molecular Genetics to Human Identity.
- The primary objectives of this project were: 1. to develop improved methods for extraction of DNA from human skeletal remains, 2. to improve STR profiling success of low-copy DNA samples by employing whole genome amplification to amplify the total pool of DNA prior to STR analysis, and 3. to improve STR profiling success of damaged DNA templates by using DNA repair enzymes to reduce the number/severity of lesions that interfere with STR profiling. The data from this study support the following conclusions. Inhibitory compounds must be removed prior to enzymatic amplification; either during bone section pretreatment or by the DNA extraction method. Overall, bleach outperformed UV as a pretreatment and DNA extraction using silica outperformed microconcentration and organic extraction. DNA repair with PreCR A outperformed both whole genome amplification and repair with PreCR T6. Superior DNA extraction results were achieved using the A6 PMB columns (20 ml capacity column with 6 layers of type A glass fiber filter), and DNA repair with PreCR A led to an overall improvement in profile quality in most cases, although whole genome amplification was unsuccessful. Rapid, robust DNA isolation, successful amplification of loci from the sample-derived DNA pool, and an elimination of DNA damage and inhibitors may assist in providing sufficient genetic information from cases that might otherwise lie on the fringe of what is possible to obtain today.
- Callus Development and Organogenesis in Cultured Explants of Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp
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Cowpea, Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp is an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals and a major food crop many parts of Africa. Optimal production levels are hampered by insect pests and diseases. Biotechnological techniques such as tissue culture and genetic engineering can aid in the development of varieties with resistance to insect pests and diseases. The objective of this study was to investigate conditions necessary for the development of a reproducible tissue culture system that can be applied to regenerate transformed cells from culture. The in vitro manipulation of cowpea using Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium, auxins and cytokinins resulted in the formation of callus and rhizogenesis. Calli that were formed were separated into six classes based on color and texture. Yellowish friable callus, yellowish compact, soft yellowish callus and green and white were composed of largely vacuolated cells and were non-regenerative. Friable green callus was the most prevalent callus type and could form of roots in some hormone combinations. Green spots were formed on hard compact green callus. The green spots became nodular, forming root primordia and ultimately giving rise to roots. None of the six calli types gave rise to the formation of shoots. Embryogenic callus was induced from cowpea explants cultured on MS medium supplemented with dicamba and picloram. Embryogenic suspension cultures were initiated from callus induced on MS supplemented with 3.0 mg/L dicamba or picloram and conditions for maintenance of embryogenic suspension cultures were evaluated. Somatic embryos were formed in suspension cultures. Attempts to convert and germinate the somatic embryos resulted in the formation of callus or formation of appendages on the somatic embryos or in the death of the embryos. The appendages formed roots on prolonged culture. Further research is needed to determine appropriate optimal conditions for embryo conversion and germination and ultimately plant recovery from culture.
- Characterization of cDNA and genomic clones for a palmitoyl-acyl carrier protein thioesterase (FatB1) and an osmotin-like PR5 protein in Gossypium hirsutum.
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Putative cotton cDNA clones and cognate genomic clones for a palmitoyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) thioesterase (PATE) and an osmotin-like pathogenesis-related 5 (PR5) protein have been isolated and characterized. PATE is a class B fatty acid thioesterase with specificity for saturated long-chain fatty acids such as palmitate, and is implicated as a key enzyme to be targeted for regulation of fatty acid synthesis in order to alter cotton seed oil profiles. A nearly full-length 1.7-kb cDNA clone was isolated using a hybridization probe derived from an Arabidopsis PATE cDNA clone designated TE 3-2. A 17-kb genomic segment encompassing the PATE gene was also isolated, which has six exons and five introns with high sequence identity with other FatB cDNA/gene sequences. The deduced PATE preprotein amino acid sequence of 413 residues has putative signal sequences for targeting to the chloroplast stroma. PR5 proteins called osmotins are made in response to fungal pathogen stress or osmotic stress (water deprivation or salt exposure). Osmotins may actually form pores in fungal membranes, leading to osmotic rupture and destruction of the fungal cells. A cotton osmotin-like PR5 cDNA insert of 1,052 base-pairs was isolated and shown to encode a preprotein of 242 amino acids and is predicted to be secreted to the extracellular matrix as a neutral isoform. The deduced amino acid sequence has 16 cysteine residues that are highly conserved in osmotin-like proteins and are important in stabilizing the three-dimensional structure seen in thaumatin, zeamatin, and PR5-d. The intronless cognate cotton genomic clone has two putative ethylene response elements (GCC boxes) found in other PR5 gene promoter regions, as well as several tentative promoter/enhancer elements possibly involved in spatial/temporal gene expression.
- Characterization of infection arrest mutants of Medicago truncatula and genetic mapping of their respective genes.
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In response to compatible rhizobia, leguminous plants develop unique plant organs, root nodules, in which rhizobia fix nitrogen into ammonia. During nodule invasion, the rhizobia gain access to newly divided cells, the nodule primordia, in the root inner cortex through plant-derived cellulose tubes called infection threads. Infection threads begin in curled root hairs and bring rhizobia into the root crossing several cell layers in the process. Ultimately the rhizobia are deposited within nodule primordium cells through a process resembling endocytosis. Plant host mechanisms underlying the formation and regulation of the invasion process are not understood. To identify and clone plant genes required for nodule invasion, recent efforts have focused on Medicago truncatula. In a collaborative effort the nodulation defect in the lin (lumpy infections) mutant was characterized. From an EMS-mutagenized population of M. truncatula, two non-allelic mutants nip (numerous infections with polyphenolics) and sli (sluggish infections) were identified with defects in nodule invasion. Infection threads were found to proliferate abnormally in the nip mutant nodules with only very rare deposition of rhizobia within plant host cells. nip nodules were found to accumulate polyphenolic compounds, indicative of a host defense response. Interestingly, nip was also found to have defective lateral root elongation suggesting that NIP has a role in both nodule and lateral root development. NIP was found to map at the upper arm of chromosome 1. In sli, infection threads were observed to bring rhizobia from infection threads to newly divided nodule primordium cells in the roots inner cortex. Polyphenolic accumulation in sli nodule/bumps was found. Lateral roots in sli were found to be clustered at the top of the root, indicating that sli like nip may be defective in lateral root development.
- Construction of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa Dihydroorotase Mutant and the Discovery of a Novel Link between Pyrimidine Biosynthetic Intermediates and the Ability to Produce Virulence Factors
- The ability to synthesize pyrimidine nucleotides is essential for most organisms. Pyrimidines are required for RNA and DNA synthesis, as well as cell wall synthesis and the metabolism of certain carbohydrates. Recent findings, however, indicate that the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway and its intermediates maybe more important for bacterial metabolism than originally thought. Maksimova et al., 1994, reported that a P. putida M, pyrimidine auxotroph in the third step of the pathway, dihydroorotase (DHOase), failed to produce the siderophore pyoverdin. We created a PAO1 DHOase pyrimidine auxotroph to determine if this was also true for P. aeruginosa. Creation of this mutant was a two-step process, as P. aeruginosa has two pyrC genes (pyrC and pyrC2), both of which encode active DHOase enzymes. The pyrC gene was inactivated by gene replacement with a truncated form of the gene. Next, the pyrC2 gene was insertionally inactivated with the aacC1 gentamicin resistance gene, isolated from pCGMW. The resulting pyrimidine auxotroph produced significantly less pyoverdin than did the wild type. In addition, the mutant produced 40% less of the phenazine antibiotic, pyocyanin, than did the wild type. As both of these compounds have been reported to be vital to the virulence response of P. aeruginosa, we decided to test the ability of the DHOase mutant strain to produce other virulence factors as well. Here we report that a block in the conversion of carbamoyl aspartate (CAA) to dihydroorotate significantly impairs the ability of P. aeruginosa to affect virulence. We believe that the accumulation of CAA in the cell is the root cause of this observed defect. This research demonstrates a potential role for pyrimidine intermediates in the virulence response of P. aeruginosa and may lead to novel targets for chemotherapy against P. aeruginosa infections.
- Cyanide Assimilation in Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764: Characterization of Cyanide Oxygenase as a Pterin-Dependent Multicomponent Enzyme Complex
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Cyanide utilization in Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764 occurs via oxidative conversion to carbon dioxide and ammonia, the latter satisfying the nitrogen requirement. Substrate attack is initiated by an enzyme referred to as cyanide oxygenase (CNO), previously shown to require components in both high (H) (>30 kDa) and low (L) (<10 kDa) molecular weight cell fractions. In this study, tetrahydrobiopterin (H4biopterin) was identified as a cofactor in fraction L, thus making CNO appear as a pterin- dependent hydroxylase. CNO was purified 150-fold (specific activity 0.9 U/mg) and quantitatively converted cyanide to formate and ammonia as reaction products. When coupled with formate dehydrogenase, the complete enzymatic system for cyanide oxidation to carbon dioxide and ammonia was reconstituted. CNO was found to be an aggregate of known enzymes that included NADH oxidase (Nox), NADH peroxidase (Npx), cyanide dihydratase (CynD) and carbonic anhydrase (CA). A complex multi-step reaction mechanism is proposed in which Nox generates hydrogen peroxide which in turn is utilized by Npx to catalyze the oxygenation of cyanide to formamide accompanied by the consumption of one and two molar equivalents of oxygen and NADH, respectively. The further hydrolysis of formamide to ammonia and formate is thought to be mediated by CynD. The role of H4biopterin and of the enzyme CA in the proposed process remains unclear, but the involvement of each in reactive oxygen and radical chemistry is consistent with the proposed formation of such species in the catalytic process. H4biopterin may additionally serve as a protein stabilizing agent along with a protein co-purifying with CynD identified as elongation factor Tu, a known chaperone. At least two of the CNO components (Nox and CynD) are complex oligomeric proteins whose apparent association with Npx and CA appears to be favored in bacterial cells induced with cyanide allowing their purification in toto as a multiprotein enzyme complex.
- Development of a real-time PCR assay for the detection of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli.
- Campylobacter organisms are the most commonly reported bacterial causes of foodborne infection in the world, with Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli responsible for over 99% of reported infections. Traditionally, Campylobacter species detection is an arduous process, requiring a special incubation environment as well as specific growth media for an extended growth period. The development of a rapid and reliable diagnostic tool for the detection of Campylobacter species would be a valuable aid to the medical diagnostic decision process, especially to rule out Campylobacter infection during the enteric pre-surgical time period. Improved patient outcomes would result if this rapid assay could reduce the number of enteric surgeries. Assays performed during this dissertation project have demonstrated that both SYBR® green and hydrolysis probe assays targeting an 84 nucleotide portion of cadF, a fibronectin-binding gene of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli, were able to detect from 101 to 108 copies of organism from stool specimens, did not detect nonspecific targets, and exhibited a coefficient of variation (CV) of 1.1% or less. Analytical validation of sensitivity, specificity and precision, successfully performed in these studies, warrants additional clinical validation of these assays.
- DNA Degradation as an Indicator of Post-Mortem Interval
- The question of post-mortem interval (PMI) or time since death is often the most sought after piece of information associated with a medical death investigation. Based on the observation that DNA degradation disproportionately affects the analysis of larger genetic loci, it was proposed that DNA degradation, as a result of autolysis or putrefaction, could prove suitable as a potential rate-of-change indicator of PMI. Nine randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis primers and three sets of directed amplification primers were evaluated to determine their suitability for use in assessing the degree of DNA fragmentation in tissue samples. They were assessed for amplicon specificity, total DNA target sensitivity, allele monomorphism and the observance of degradation-based profile changes. Markers meeting the requisite criteria were then used to assess a range samples degraded under controlled and uncontrolled conditions. Tissue samples collected from seven domestic pigs (Sus scrofa) were incubated under controlled laboratory or uncontrolled field conditions to produce samples simulating those potentially collected in a forensic case. DNA samples isolated from these specimens were then analyzed at those loci which had been determined to meet the requisite criteria. Collectively, data generated from these analyses indicate that genetic profiles generated by this approach can provide information useful for estimating the post-mortem interval, with the locus and amplicons used being most useful during the first 72 hours after death.
- DNA profiling of captive Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja) populations as a mechanism of determining lineage in colonial nesting birds.
- Roseate spoonbills are colonial nesting birds with breeding grounds extending from the United States Gulf coast to the pampas of Argentina. The U.S. population suffered a severe bottleneck from 1890 to 1920. The population's recovery was slow and partially credited to migrations from Mexican rookeries, but a gene pool reduction would be expected. Five polymorphic Spoonbill autosomal short tandem repeat (STR) loci [three (GAT)n, one (AAAG)n and one (GT)n] and one Z/W-linked microsatellite exhibiting sex-specific dimorphism were isolated and characterized. The Z/W-linked STR locus accurately confirmed the sex of each bird. Allelic profiles for 51 spoonbills obtained from Dallas (Texas), Fort Worth (Texas) and Sedgwick County (Kansas) zoos revealed a non-continuous distribution of allele frequencies, consistent with the effects of a population bottleneck. Allelic frequencies also differed significantly between the isolated zoo populations. Although extra-pair copulations were suspected and difficult to document, zoos commonly used observational studies of mating pairs to determine familial relationships among adults and offspring. STR parentage analysis of recorded family relationships excluded one or both parents in 10/25 cases studied and it was further possible to identify alternative likely parents in each case. Mistaken familial relationships quickly lead to the loss of genetic variability in captive populations. Here, a decreased heterozygosity (HO) in 2nd generation captive-bred birds was observed at 3 out of 4 loci evaluated. Although these results could not be statistically validated because of the small number of individuals available for study (15 wild birds with no offspring vs. eight 2nd generation captive birds), they are considered biologically important, as decreased HO is an indicator of inbreeding and this apparent decrease occurred within two generations of removal from the wild. Collectively, the evidence obtained from this study suggests that captive spoonbill populations are experiencing rapid loss of diversity from an already depleted wild gene pool.
- Evaluation of zinc toxicity using neuronal networks on microelectrode arrays: response quantification and entry pathway analysis.
- Murine neuronal networks, derived from embryonic frontal cortex (FC) tissue grown on microelectrode arrays, were used to investigate zinc toxicity at concentrations ranging from 20 to 2000 mM total zinc acetate added to the culture medium. Continual multi-channel recording of spontaneous action potential generation allowed a quantitative analysis of the temporal evolution of network spike activity generation at specific zinc acetate concentrations. Cultures responded with immediate concentration-dependent excitation lasting from 5 to 50 min, consisting of increased spiking and enhanced, coordinated bursting. This was followed by irreversible activity decay. The time to 50% and 90% activity loss was concentration dependent, highly reproducible, and formed linear functions in log-log plots. Network activity loss generally preceded morphological changes. 20% cell swelling was correlated with 50% activity loss. Cultures pretreated with the GABAA receptor antagonists bicuculline (40 mM) and picrotoxin (1 mM) lacked the initial excitation phase. This suggests that zinc-induced excitation may be mediated by interfering with GABA inhibition. Partial network protection was achieved by stopping spontaneous activity with either tetrodotoxin (200 nM) or lidocaine (250 mM). However, recovery was not complete and slow deterioration of network activity continued over 6 hrs. Removal of zinc by early medium changes showed irreversible, catastrophic network failure to develop in a concentration-dependent time window between 50% and 90% activity loss. Investigation of entry routes suggested the L-type but not N-type calcium channels to be the main entry pathway for zinc. Data are presented implicating the chloride channel to be an additional entry route.
- Expression analysis of the fatty acid desaturase 2-4 and 2-3 genes from Gossypium hirsutum in transformed yeast cells and transgenic Arabidopsis plants.
- Fatty acid desaturase 2 (FAD2) enzymes are phosphatidylcholine desaturases occurring as integral membrane proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum membrane and convert monounsaturated oleic acid into polyunsaturated linoleic acid. The major objective of this research was to study the expression and function of two cotton FAD2 genes (the FAD2-3 and FAD2-4 genes) and their possible role in plant sensitivity to environmental stress, since plants may increase the polyunsaturated phospholipids in membranes under environmental stress events, such as low temperature and osmotic stress. Two FAD2 cDNA clones corresponding to the two FAD2 genes have been isolated from a cotton cDNA library, indicating both genes are truly expressed in cotton. Model yeast cells transformed with two cotton FAD2 genes were used to study the chilling sensitivity, ethanol tolerance, and growth rate of yeast cells. The expression patterns of the two FAD2 genes were analyzed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCR) and Western blot analyses in cotton plants under different treatment conditions. The coding regions of both FAD2 genes were inserted downstream from the CaMV 35S promoter in the pMDC gateway binary vector system. Five different FAD2/pMDC constructs were transformed into the Arabidopsis fad2 knockout mutant background, and multiple potential transgenic Arabidopsis plant lines harboring the cotton FAD2 genes were generated. The cotton FAD2 genes were amplified by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from the genomic DNAs isolated from the transgenic Arabidopsis T1 plant lines. Complementation of the putative transgenic Arabidopsis plants with the two cotton FAD2 genes was demonstrated by gas chromatography analyses of the fatty acid profiles of leaf tissues. The cellular localization of cotton FAD2-4 polypeptides with N-terminal green fluorescence protein (GFP) was visualized by confocal fluorescence microscopy. The phenotype of transgenic Arabidopsis plants transformed with the cotton FAD2-4 gene was compared to Arabidopsis knockout fad2 mutant plants and wild type Arabidopsis plants regarding their sensitivity to low temperature, and the size and height of the plants.
- Genetic Analysis of Development and Behavior in Hypoxia and Cellular Characterization of Anoxia Induced Meiotic Prophase Arrest in Caenorhabditis Elegans
- It was hypothesized that chronic hypoxia will affect various biological processes including developmental trajectory and behavior. To test this hypothesis, embryos were raised to adulthood in severe hypoxic environments (0.5% O2 or 1% O2, 22°C) and analyzed for survival rate, developmental progression, and altered behaviors. Wildtype hermaphrodites survive chronic hypoxia yet developmental trajectory is slowed. The hermaphrodites raised in chronic hypoxia had different phenotypes in comparison to the normoxic controls. First, hermaphrodites exposed to chronic hypoxia produced a significantly lower number of embryos and had a slight increase in male progeny. This suggests that chronic hypoxia exposure during development affects the germline. Second, animals raised in chronic hypoxia from embryos to young adults have a slight increase in lifespan when re-exposed to a normoxic environment, indicating that chronic hypoxia does not negatively decrease lifespan. Finally, hermaphrodites that were raised in hypoxia will lay the majority of their eggs on the area of the agar plate where the bacterial lawn is not present. This is in contrast to animals in normoxia, which lay the majority of their eggs on the bacterial lawn. One hypothesis for this hypoxia-induced egg-laying behavior is that the animal can sense microenvironments in hypoxia. To examine if various pathways are involved with chronic-hypoxia responses RNAi and assayed genetic mutants were used. Specifically, genetic mutations affecting oxygen sensing (egl-9), aerotaxis (npr-1), TFG-ß signaling (dbl-1, daf-7) and predicted oxygen-binding proteins (globin-like genes) were phenotypically analyzed. Results indicate that mutations in several of these genes (npr-1, dbl-1) resulted in a decrease in hypoxia survival rate. A mutation in egl-9 also had a detrimental affect on the viability of an animal raised in chronic hypoxia. However, a similar phenotype was not observed in the vhl-1 mutation indicating that the phenotype may not be due to a mere increase in HIF-1 levels, per se. A mutation in the globin-like gene (glb-13(tm2825)) suppressed the hypoxia-induced egg-laying phenotype. That is, the glb-13(tm2825) animal raised in chronic hypoxia laid eggs on the bacterial lawn at a significantly higher rate in comparison to wildtype controls, thus suggesting that globin-like molecules may be involved with the sensing of microenvironments. Together, this research lays the foundation for understanding the implications of chronic hypoxia in developing organisms.
- Genetic and Cellular Analysis of Anoxia-Induced Cell Cycle Arrest in Caenorhabditis elegans
- The soil-nematode Caenorhabditis elegans survives oxygen deprivation (anoxia < 0.001 kPa of O2, 0% O2) by entering into a state of suspended animation during which cell cycle progression at interphase, prophase and metaphase stage of mitosis is arrested. I conducted cell biological characterization of embryos exposed to various anoxia exposure times, to demonstrate the requirement and functional role of spindle checkpoint gene san-1 during brief anoxia exposure. I conducted a synthetic lethal screen, which has identified genetic interactions between san-1, other spindle checkpoint genes, and the kinetochore gene hcp-1. Furthermore, I investigated the genetic and cellular mechanisms involved in anoxia-induced prophase arrest, a hallmark of which includes chromosomes docked at the nuclear membrane. First, I conducted in vivo analysis of embryos carried inside the uterus of an adult and exposed to anoxic conditions. These studies demonstrated that anoxia exposure prevents nuclear envelope breakdown (NEBD) in prophase blastomeres. Second, I exposed C. elegans embryos to other conditions of mitotic stress such as microtubule depolymerizing agent nocodazole and mitochondrial inhibitor sodium azide. Results demonstrate that NEBD and chromosome docking are independent of microtubule function. Additionally, unlike anoxia, exposure to sodium azide causes chromosome docking in prophase blastomeres but severely affects embryonic viability. Finally, to identify the genetic mechanism(s) of anoxia-induced prophase arrest, I conducted extensive RNA interference (RNAi) screen of a subset of kinetochore and inner nuclear membrane genes. RNAi analysis has identified the novel role of 2 nucleoporins in anoxia-induced prophase arrest.
- Genetic and Environmental Factors that Mediate Survival of Prolonged Oxygen Deprivation in the Nematode Caenorhabditis Elegans
- Ischemic events of even a very short duration are not tolerated Ill in humans. The human cost of ischemia, when looked at as combined cardiovascular disease, dwarfs all other causes of death in the United States. Annually, CVD kills as many people in the US as does cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, accidents, and diabetes mellitus combined. In 2005 (the latest year for which final statistics are available), CVD was responsible for 864,480 deaths or 35.3 percent of total deaths for the year. In my study, I have used the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to determine genetic and environmental modulators of oxygen deprivation a key component of ischemia. I have found that animals with mutations in insulin like signaling pathways, neuronal function, electron transport chain components, germline function, and animals that are preconditioned by being raised on a diet of E. coli HT115 bacteria at 25°C have an enhanced ability to survive long-term (>72 hours) anoxia (<.005 kPa O2) at 20°C. The enhanced anoxia survival phenotype partially correlates with increased levels of carbohydrate stores in the nematodes. Suppression of this enhanced anoxia survival phenotype is possible by altering expression of the glycolytic enzyme glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, the FOXO transcription factor DAF-16, and 5’-AMP kinase.
- Identification and characterization of an incomplete root hair elongation (IRE)-like gene in Medicago truncatula (L.) root nodules.
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Cloning and molecular characterization of new genes constitutes a useful approach in studying the symbiotic interactions between the model plant Medicago truncatula and Synorhizobium meliloti. Large numbers of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) available for Medicago truncatula, along with numerous cDNA, oligonucleotides, and Affimetrix DNA microarray chips, represent useful tools for gene discovery. In an attempt to identify a new gene that might be involved in the process of nodulation in Medicago truncatula, preliminary data reported by Fedorova et al. (2002), who identified 340 putative gene products or tentative consensus sequences (TCs) expressed only in nodules, was used. This research was focused on TC33166 (TC103185), which has 3 ESTs in the TC, and whose strongest BLASTX hit of TC103185 is the incomplete root hair elongation (IRE) protein kinase-like protein (NP_192429) from Arabidopsis thaliana. The Arabidopsis IRE gene is required for normal root hair growth, and a role in apical growth was suggested (Oyama et al., 2002). Infection thread growth can be looked at as an inward growth of the root hair. Thus, TC103185 was a good candidate for identifying a gene that may be involved in early events of nodulation. MtIRE (GenBank accession AC122727) is organized in 17 exons and 16 introns, similarly to the Arabidopsis IRE gene. MtIRE is a new member of the IRE family and it is a putative Ser/Thr protein kinase. MtIRE is a nodule- and flower-specific gene, suggesting that nodulation may have recruited it from other developmental processes. MtIRE is likely to be involved in the invasion process, or in the maturation of the symbiosome, or of the cells that contain rhizobia, rather than infection thread initiation and elongation or in nitrogen fixation. Nodule invasion precedes the onset of MtIRE expression and the expression pattern changes in time within the nodule. RNA interference results support MtIRE expression data and suggest a possible role in preventing extensive defense responses. Our study demonstrates the existence of an Arabidopsis IRE homolog in Medicago truncatula root nodules with an entirely new function and regulation.
- Impaired virulence factor production in a dihydroorotate dehydrogenase mutant (pyrD) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
- Previous research in our laboratory showed that when knockout mutations were created in the pyrB and pyrC genes of the pyrimidine pathway in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, not only were the resultant mutants auxotrophic for pyrimidines but they were also impaired in virulence factor production. Such a correlation had not been previously reported for P. aeruginosa, a ubiquitous opportunistic pathogen in humans. In an earlier study it was reported that mutants blocked in one of the first three enzymes of the pyrimidine pathway in the non-pathogenic strain P. putida M produced no pyoverdin pigment while mutants blocked in the later steps produced copious amounts of pigment, just like the wild type. This study probed for the same connection between pyrimidine auxotrophy and pigment production applied in P. aeruginosa. To that end a knockout mutation was created in pyrD, the fourth step in the pyrimidine pathway which encodes dihydroorotate dehydrogenase. The resulting mutant required pyrimidines for growth but produced wild type pigment levels. Since the pigment pyoverdin is a siderophore it may also be considered a virulence factor, other virulence factors were quantified in the mutant. These included casein protease, hemolysin, elastase, swimming, swarming and twitching motility, and iron binding capacity. In all cases these virulence factors were significantly decreased in the mutant. Even supplementing with uracil did not attain wild type levels. Starvation of the pyrimidine mutant for uracil caused increased specific activity of the pyrimidine enzymes, suggesting that regulation of the pyrimidine pathway occurred at the level of transcription. This effect has also been reported for P. oleovorans. The present research consolidates the idea that pyrimidine auxotrophs cause decreased pathogenicity in P. aeruginosa. Such a finding may open the search for chemotherapy targets in cystic fibrosis and burn victims where P. aeruginosa is an infecting agent.
- Influence of Cholesterol Import on Aspergillus fumigatus Growth and Antifungal Suscepibility
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Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis is a life-threatening fungal infection commonly observed in immunocompromised patients and has a mortality rate approaching 100% once the disease is disseminated. Aspergillus fumigatus is the most common pathogen. Early diagnosis improves the prognosis but is very difficult since most signs and symptoms are nonspecific. Antifungal therapy, usually based on sterol biosynthesis inhibitors, is also of limited efficacy. In my attempts to discover a diagnostic sterol marker for aspergillosis, I observed that A. fumigatus incorporates large amounts of cholesterol from serum-containing medium. This observation suggested the hypothesis that exogenous cholesterol from the host can be imported by A. fumigatus and used as a substitute for ergosterol in the cell membrane. This proposed mechanism would reduce the efficacy of antifungal drugs that act as sterol biosynthesis inhibitors. Experiments to test this hypothesis were designed to determine the effects of serum-free and serum-containing medium on growth of A. fumigatus in the presence and absence of azole antifungal agents. The results showed a marked increase in growth in the presence of human serum. Cultures in media containing cholesterol but no serum also showed enhanced growth, a result indicating that a non-cholesterol component of serum is not primarily responsible for the increased growth. However, sterol analysis of A. fumigatus cultured in the absence of inhibitors showed little or no change in ergosterol levels. This result suggested that the imported cholesterol was not being used as membrane sterol. However, in parallel experiments using Itraconazole, an antifungal agent that attenuates sterol biosynthesis by inhibiting the sterol 14a-demethylase (ERG11), ergosterol levels decreased with increasing doses of inhibitor. Moreover, serum-containing medium partially rescued A. fumigatus from the effects of Itraconazole, and a similar rescue effect was observed with serum-free media containing cholesterol. From the preceding results, it can be concluded that human serum enhances A. fumigatus growth, that cholesterol import rescues Aspergillus from the effects of antifungal agents, that the potency of some azole antifungals is decreased by cholesterol, and that imported cholesterol may substitute for membrane ergosterol in the presence of sterol biosynthesis inhibitors.
- Isolation and analysis of cotton genomic clones encompassing a fatty acid desaturase (FAD2) gene
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids are major structural components of plant chloroplast and endoplasmic reticulum membranes. Two fatty acid desaturases (designated FAD2 and FAD3) desaturate 75% of the fatty acids in the endoplasmic reticulum. The w -6 fatty acid desaturase (FAD2) may be responsible for cold acclimation response, since polyunsaturated phospholipids are important in helping maintain plant viability at lowered temperatures. To study regulation of FAD2 gene expression in cotton, a FAD2 gene was isolated from two genomic libraries using an Arabidopsis FAD2 hybridization probe and a cotton FAD2 5¢ -flanking region gene-specific probe, respectively. A cotton FAD2 gene was found to be in two overlapping genomic clones by physical mapping and DNA sequencing. The cloned DNA fragments are identical in size to cotton FAD2 genomic DNA fragments shown by genomic blot hybridization. The cotton FAD2 coding region has 1,155 bp with no introns and would encode a putative polypeptide of 384 amino acids. The cotton FAD2 enzyme has a high identity of 75% with other plant FAD2 enzymes. The enzyme has three histidine-rich motifs that are conserved in all plant membrane desaturases. These histidine boxes may be the iron-binding domains for reduction of oxygen during desaturation. To confirm that this FAD2 enzyme is functional, a plasmid construct containing the cotton FAD2 coding region was transformed into Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The transformed yeast cells were able to catalyze the conversion of oleic acid (C18:1) into linoleic acid (C18:2). The FAD2 gene contains an intron of 2,967 bp in its 5¢ -flanking region, 11 bp upstream from the initiation codon. The intron could be essential for transcriptional regulation of FAD2 gene expression. Several putative promoter elements occur in the 5¢ -flanking region of this gene. A potential TATA basal promoter element occurs at 41 bp upstream from the cap site. Two presumptive helix-loop-helix (bHLH) motifs that may be seed-specific promoter elements are located at 109 bp and 135 bp upstream from the potential cap site.
- Isolation and Characterization of Polymorphic Loci from the Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber): New Tools for Wildlife Management
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Methods to determine genetic diversity and relatedness within populations are essential tools for proper wildlife management. Today the approach of choice is polymerase chain reaction-based microsatellite analysis. Seven new polymorphic loci were isolated from a microsatellite-enriched Caribbean flamingo genomic library and used to characterize survey populations of Caribbean and African greater flamingos. In addition, four of these loci were used to verify parentage relationships within a captive-breeding population of African greater flamingos. Parentage predictions based upon gamekeeper observations of breeding and nesting did not always agree with genetic-based parentage analyses of the nine suggested family groups. Four family groups were supported (groups I, II, III and VI) by there results. However, an analysis of the remaining five suggested groups, with a total of eight offspring/dam and eight offspring/sire suggested relationships, yielded seven exclusions of the suggested dam and six exclusions of the suggested sire. This put the overall suggested dam exclusion rate at 35% and exclusion rate for suggested sires at 29%. Although the keeper observation data for our family groups must be considered a variable of concern at this time, these findings are certainly suggestive that more carefully controlled studies may reveal that flamingos are not monogamous as long accepted, but rather socially monogamous or even promiscuous. Thus we have now been able to both characterize and demonstrate the utility of our polymorphic microsatellite loci. We hope these results will interest additional wildlife facilities in further parentage and behavioral studies that will collectively aid to improve monitoring and maintenance of genetic diversity, and as provide better insight into breeding habits of both wild and captive populations.
- Microsatellite-based genetic profiling for the management of wild and captive flamingo populations.
- Flamingo species generate tremendous interest whether they are small captive groups or wild populations numbering in the thousands. Genetic pedigrees are invaluable for maintaining maximum genetic diversity in captive, as well as wild, populations. However, presently there is a general lack of genetic data for flamingo populations. Microsatellites are loci composed of 2-6 base pair tandem repeats, scattered throughout higher eukaryotic genomes, often exhibiting high levels of polymorphism and heterozygosity. These loci are thus important genetic markers for identity, parentage and population studies. Here, six microsatellite loci were isolated from a microsatellite-enriched Caribbean flamingo partial genomic library. Two are compound complex repeats and four are perfect trinucleotide repeats. Each locus was amplified from Caribbean, African greater, Chilean and lesser flamingo genomic DNAs. Heterozygosity frequencies were calculated for Caribbean (range 0.12-0.90) and African greater flamingos (range 0.23-0.94) loci. All six microsatellite loci were found to be in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and linkage disequilibrium analyses did not suggest linkage for any pair of two greater flamingo subspecies (African and Caribbean) loci. At least five of the loci also exhibit polymorphism in Chilean and lesser flamingos, but due to small sample numbers, relevant allele/heterozygosity frequency calculations could not be estimated. Nucleotide sequence comparisons of the amplicons derived from the four flamingo groups reveal a high level of sequence conservation at all loci. Although small sample numbers again limit the data for lesser flamingos and to some degree for the Chilean birds, the sequences of the two greater flamingo subspecies were identical and the number of nonconserved nucleotides appears to be higher for lesser/greater comparisons than for Chilean/greater comparisons. This is consistent with Chilean flamingos being a different species within the same genus as the greater flamingos, while lesser flamingos belong to a separate genus. Parentage analyses on suggested African greater flamingo family groups from Disney's Animal Kingdom's collection were performed using microsatellite data. Results confirmed many suggested family groups but in other cases one or more of the suggested parents were clearly excluded. The six microsatellite loci isolated provide a new population management tool useful for both wild and captive flamingo populations.
- Molecular Basis of Plant Defense Against Aphids: Role of the Arabidopsis Thaliana PAD4 and MPL1 Genes
- Myzus persicae (Sülzer), commonly known as green peach aphid (GPA), utilizes its slender stylet to penetrate the plant tissues intercellularly and consume copious amounts of photoassimilates present in the phloem sap causing extensive damage to host plants. The compatible interaction between GPA and Arabidopsis thaliana enabled us to characterize plant response to aphid infestation. Upon GPA infestation, Arabidopsis PAD4 (PHYTOALEXIN DEFICIENT4) gene modulates premature leaf senescence, which is involved in the programmed degradation of cellular components and the export of nutrients out of the senescing leaf. Senescence mechanism is utilized by plants to limit aphid growth. In addition, PAD4 provides antixenosis (deters insect settling and feeding) and antibiosis (impair aphid fecundity) against GPA and adversely impact sieve element availability to GPA. Basal expression of PAD4 contributes to antibiosis, and the GPA-induced expression of PAD4 contributes to antixenosis. Mutation in the Arabidopsis stearoyl-ACP desaturase encoding SSI2 (suppressor of SALICYLIC ACID [SA] insensitivity2) gene that results in an accelerated cell death phenotype and dwarfing, also conferred heightened antibiosis to GPA. Results of this study indicate that PAD4 is required for the ssi2-mediated enhanced antibiosis to GPA. The PAD4 protein contains conserved Ser, Asp and His residues that form the catalytic triad of many α/β fold acyl hydrolases. Arabidopsis plants expressing mutant versions of PAD4 [PAD4(S118A) and PAD4(D178A)] supported higher numbers of GPA as compared to wild type (WT) plants in no-choice tests. Furthermore, Electrical Penetration Graph (EPG) studies revealed that S118 residue in PAD4 is essential to limit GPA feeding from the sieve elements. However, the ability to deter insect settling in choice tests was not impacted by the PAD4(S118A) and PAD4(D178A) mutations, thus suggesting that PAD4s involvement in deterring insect settling and in antibiosis are determined by separate regions of PAD4. The MPL1 (MYZUS PERSICAE INDUCED LIPASE1) gene is another critical component of Arabidopsis defense against GPA. Like PAD4, MPL1 expression is induced in response to GPA infestation. However, MPL1 is required only for antibiosis and is not essential for antixenosis against GPA. EPG analysis suggests that the mpl1 mutant allele does not impact aphid feeding behavior. Since, MPL1 exhibits lipase activity, and ssi2 petiole exudates contain elevated levels of antibiosis, we propose that antibiosis to GPA requires a lipid(s), or a product thereof.
- Molecular cloning and analysis of the genes for cotton palmitoyl-acyl carrier protein thioesterase (PATE) and Δ-12 fatty acid desaturase (FAD2-3) and construction of sense and anti-sense PATE plasmid vectors for altering oilseed composition of transgenic cotton plants.
- A cotton PATE cDNA clone has a 1.7-kb insert with an coding region for 410 amino acids, lacking codons for the three N-terminal amino acids. The predicted amino acid sequence of the PATE preprotein has a characteristic stromal-targeting domain and a 63% identity to the Arabidopsis FatB1 thioesterase sequence. A cotton genomic clone containing a 17.4-kb DNA segment was found to encompass a palmitoyl-ACP thioesterase (FatB1) gene. The gene spans 3.6 kb with six exons and five introns. The six exons are identical in nucleotide sequence to the open reading frame of the corresponding cDNA, and would encode a preprotein of 413 amino acids. The preprotein is identified as a FatB thioesterase from its deduced amino acid sequence similarity to those of other FatB thioesterase preproteins. A 5'-flanking region of 914 bp was sequenced, with the potential promoter/enhancer elements including basic helix-loop-helix elements (E box). Alkaline blot hybridization of cotton genomic DNA suggests the presence at least two FatB1 thioesterase genes in cotton. Four plasmid constructs for both constitutive and seed-specific anti-sense RNA suppression and gene-transgene co- suppression of PATE gene expression were successfully generated. Two overlapping cotton genomic clones were found to encompass a Δ-12 fatty acid desaturase (FAD2-3) gene. The continuous FAD2-3 coding region is 1,155 bp and would encode a protein of 384 amino acids. The FAD2-3 gene has one large intron of 2,967 bp entirely within its 5'-untranslated region. Several potential promoter/enhancer elements, including several light responsive motifs occur in the 5'-flanking region. Yeast cells transformed with a plasmid construct containing the cotton FAD2-3 coding region accumulate an appreciable amount of linoleic acid (18:2), not normally present in wild-type yeast cells, indicating that the gene encodes a functional FAD2 enzyme.
- Multiple Activities of Aspartate Transcarbamoylase in Burkholderia cepacia: Requirement for an Active Dihydroorotase for Assembly into the Dodecameric Holoenzyme
- The aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase) was purified from Burkholderia cepacia 25416. In the course of purification, three different ATCase activities appeared namely dodecameric 550 kDa holoenzyme, and two trimeric ATCases of 140 kDa (consists of 47 kDa PyrB subunits) and 120 kDa (consists of 40 kDa PyrB subunits) each. The 120 kDa PyrB polypeptide arose by specific cleavage of the PyrB polypeptide between Ser74 and Val75 creating an active polypeptide short by 74 amino acids. Both the 40 and 47 kDa polypeptides produced active trimers. To compare the enzyme activity of these trimers, an effector assay using nucleotides was performed. The 140 kDa trimer showed inhibition while the 120 kDa polypeptide showed less inhibition. To verify the composition of the pyrBC holoenzyme complex, B. cepacia dihydroorotase (DHOase, subunit size of 45 kDa) was purified by the pMAL protein fusion and purification system and holoenzyme reconstruction was performed using purified ATCase and DHOase. Both the 140 kDa and the 120 kDa trimers could produce holoenzymes of 550 kDa and 510 kDa, respectively. The reconstructed ATCase holoenzyme from cleaved ATCase showed better reconstruction compared to that from uncleaved ATCase in the conventional ATCase activity gel assay. To characterize the relationship between pyrimidine pathway and virulence factor production, motility tests and biofilm assays were conducted using pyrC- mutant. Even though no significant difference in growth rates was observed, there were significant differences between the wild type and mutant in the production of biofilm and virulence factors. This study will help us to understand the structure and regulation of ATCase holoenzyme with DHOase, and facilitate the use of B. cepacia as an applicable bio-tool. Additionally, we can potentially pursue more efficient drug targets for B. cepacia.
- Mutation Rate Analysis of the Human Mitochondrial D-loop and its Implications for Forensic Identity Testing
- To further facilitate mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence analysis for human identity testing, a better understanding of its mutation rate is needed. Prior to the middle 1990's the mutation rate applied to a forensic or evolutionary analysis was determined by phylogenetic means, This method involved calculating genetic distances as determined by amino acid or DNA sequence variability within or between species. The mutation rate as determined by this method ranged from 0.025-0.26 nucleotide substitutions/ site/ myr (million years). With the recent advent of mtDNA analysis as a tool in human identity testing an increased number of observations have recently come to light calling into question the mutation rate derived from the phylogenetic method. The mutation rate as observed from forensic analysis appears to be much higher than that calculated phylogenetically. This is an area that needs to be resolved in human identity testing. Mutations that occur within a maternal lineage can lead to a possible false exclusion of an individual as belonging to that lineage. A greater understanding of the actual rate of mutation within a given maternal lineage can assist in determining criteria for including or excluding individuals as belonging to that lineage. The method used to assess the mutation rate in this study was to compare mtDNA sequences derived from the HVI and HVII regions of the D-loop from several different maternal lineages. The sequence information was derived from five unrelated families consisting of thirty-five individuals. One intergenerational mutational event was found. This derives to approximately 1.9 nucleotide substitutions/ site/ myr. This mutation rate was very consistent with several other similar studies. This increased mutation rate needs to be considered by forensic testing laboratories performing mtDNA sequence analysis prior to formulating any conclusive results.
- A novel mechanism for site-directed mutagenesis of large catabolic plasmids using natural transformation
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Natural transformation is the process by which cells take up DNA from the surrounding medium under physiological conditions, altering the genotype in a heritable fashion. This occurs without chemical or physical treatment of the cells. Certain Acinetobacter strains exhibit a strong tendency to incorporate homologous DNA into their chromosomes by natural transformation. Transformation in Acinetobacter exhibits several unique properties that indicate this system's superiority as a model for transformation studies or studies which benefit from the use of transformation as an experimental method of gene manipulation. Pseudomonas putida is the natural host of TOL plasmids, ranging between 50 kbp and 300 kbp in size and encoding genes for the catabolism of toluene, meta-toluate, and xylene. These very large, single-copy plasmids are difficult to isolate, manipulate, or modify in vitro. In this study, the TOL plasmid pDKR1 was introduced into Acinetobacter calcoaceticus strains and genetically engineered utilizing natural transformation as part of the process. Following engineering by transformation, the recombinant DNA molecule was returned to the native genetic background of the original host P. putida strain. Specific parameters for the successful manipulation of large plasmids by natural transformation in Acinetobacter were identified and are outlined. The effects of growth phase, total transforming DNA concentration, transforming DNA conformation, and gene dosage on transformation efficiency are presented. Addition of Acinetobacter plasmid DNA sequences to the manipulated constructs did not have an effect on transformation rates. Results suggest that a broadly applicable and efficient method to carry out site-directed genetic manipulations of large plasmids has been identified. The ability to easily reintroduce the recombinant DNA molecules back into the original host organism was maintained.
- Purification and Characterization of Proteolytic Aspartate Transcarbamoylase (ATCase) from Burkholderia cepacia 25416 and Construction of a pyrB1 Knock-out Mutant
- Burkholderia cepacia is a common soil bacterium of significance in agriculture and bioremediation. B. cepacia is also an opportunistic pathogen of humans causing highly communicable pulmonary infections in cystic fibrosis and immunocompromized patients. The pyrB gene encoding ATCase was cloned and ATCase was purified by the glutathione S-transferase gene fusion system. The ATCase in B. cepacia has been previously classified as a class A enzyme by Bethell and Jones. ATCase activity gels showed that B. cepacia contained a holoenzyme pyrBC complex of 550 kDa comprised of 47 kDa pyrB and 45 kDa pyrC subunits. In the course of purifying the enzyme, trimeric subunits of 140 kDa and 120 kDa were observed as well as a unique proteolysis of the enzyme. The 47 kDa ATCase subunits were cleaved to 40 kDa proteins, which still demonstrated high activity as trimers. The proteolysis site is between Ser74 and Val75 residues. To confirm this, we converted the Ser74 residue to an Ala and to an Arg by site-directed mutagenesis. After this primary sequence changed, the proteolysis of ATCase was not observed. To further investigate the characteristics of B. cepacia pyrB gene, a pyrB knock-out (pyrB-) was constructed by in vitro mutagenesis. In the assay, the 550 kDa holoenzyme and 140 kDa and 120 kDa trimers disappeared and were replaced with a previously unseen 480 kDa holoenzyme pyrB- strain. The results suggest that B. cepacia has two genes that encode ATCase. ATC1 is constitutive and ATC2 is expressed only in the absence of ATC1 activity. To check for the virulence of these two strains, a eukaryotic model virulence test was performed using Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). The pyrB1+pyrB2+ (wild type) B cepacia killed the nematode but pyrB1-pyrB2+ B. cepacia had lost its virulence against C. elegans. This suggests that ATC1 (pyrB1) is involved in virulence in B.cepacia and ATC2 (pyrB2) is not.
- Regulation of pyrimidine biosynthesis and virulence factor production in wild type, Pyr- and Crc- mutants in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
- Previous research in our laboratory established that pyrB, pyrC or pyrD knock-out mutants in Pseudomonas aeruginosa required pyrimidines for growth. Each mutant was also discovered to be defective in the production of virulence factors. Moreover, the addition of exogenous uracil did not restore the mutant to wild type virulence levels. In an earlier study using non-pathogenic P. putida, mutants blocked in one of the first three enzymes of the pyrimidine pathway produced no pyoverdine pigment while mutants blocked in the fourth, fifth or sixth steps produced copious quantities of pigment, just like wild type P. putida. The present study explored the correlation between pyrimidine auxotrophy and pigment production in P. aeruginosa. Since the pigment pyoverdine is a siderophore it may also be considered a virulence factor. Other virulence factors tested included casein protease, elastase, hemolysin, swimming, swarming and twitching motilities, and iron binding capacity. In all cases, these virulence factors were significantly decreased in the pyrB, pyrC or pyrD mutants and even in the presence of uracil did not attain wild type levels. In order to complete this comprehensive study, pyrimidine mutants blocked in the fifth (pyrE) and sixth (pyrF) steps of the biosynthetic pathway were examined in P. aeruginosa. A third mutant, crc, was also studied because of its location within 80 base pairs of the pyrE gene on the P. aeruginosa chromosome and because of its importance for carbon source utilization. Production of the virulence factors listed above showed a significant decrease in the three mutant strains used in this study when compared with the wild type. This finding may be exploited for novel chemotherapy strategies for ameliorating P. aeruginosa infections in cystic fibrosis patients.
- A regulatory role for N-acylethanolamine metabolism in Arabidopsis thaliana seeds and seedlings.
- N-Acylethanolamines (NAEs) are bioactive acylamides that are present in a wide range of organisms. Because NAE levels in seeds decline during imbibition similar to ABA, a physiological role was predicted for these metabolites in Arabidopsis thaliana seed germination and seedling development. There is also a corresponding increase of AtFAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase), transcript levels and activity, which metabolizes NAE to ethanolamine and free fatty acids. Based on whole genome microarray studies it was determined that a number of up-regulated genes that were responsive to NAE were also ABA responsive. NAE induced gene expression in these ABA responsive genes without elevating endogenous levels of ABA. It was also determined that many of these NAE/ABA responsive genes were associated with an ABA induced secondary growth arrest, including ABI3. ABI3 is a transcription factor that regulates the transition from embryo to seedling growth, the analysis of transcript levels in NAE treated seedlings revealed a dose dependent, inverse relationship between ABI3 transcript levels and growth, high ABI3 transcript levels were associated with growth inhibition. Similar to ABA, NAE negatively regulated seedling growth within a narrow window of early seedling establishment. When seedlings are exposed to NAE or ABA within the window of sensitivity, the induction of genes normally associated with the ungerminated desiccation tolerant state resumed. The NAE tolerant FAAH overexpressor and the NAE sensitive FAAH knockout both had a NAE/ABA sensitive window similar to the wild type A. thaliana. The abi3-1 ABA insensitive mutant does not undergo growth arrest upon exposure to ABA, but NAE did induce growth arrest when treated within the sensitivity window. This evidence showed that although NAE functions within an ABA dependent pathway, it also functions in an ABA independent signaling pathway. The FAAH overexpressor is tolerant to NAE through its ability to quickly metabolize NAE from the growth media, yet it is hypersensitive to ABA. The FAAH overexpressor also displayed hypersensitivity to GA, which improved its delayed germination in non-stratified seed, while the FAAH knock out showed GA insensitivity. Overall, these results showed that NAE functions as a negative regulator of germinating seed and seedling growth in ABA dependent and independent signaling pathways, and that altered NAE metabolism may interfere with ABA/GA perception in germinating seed.
- The regulatory roles of PyrR and Crc in pyrimidine metabolism in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- The regulatory gene for pyrimidine biosynthesis has been identified and designated pyrR. The pyrR gene product was purified to homogeneity and found to have a monomeric molecular mass of 19 kDa. The pyrR gene is located directly upstream of the pyrBC' genes in the pyrRBC' operon. Insertional mutagenesis of pyrR led to a 50- 70% decrease in the expression of pyrBC', pyrD, pyrE and pyrF while pyrC was unchanged. This suggests that PyrR is a positive activator. The upstream regions of the pyrD, pyrE and pyrF genes contain a common conserved 9 bp sequence to which the purified PyrR protein is proposed to bind. This consensus sequence is absent in pyrC but is present, as an imperfect inverted repeat separated by 11 bp, within the promoter region of pyrR. Gel retardation assays using upstream DNA fragments proved PyrR binds to the DNA of pyrD, pyrE, pyrF as well as pyrR. This suggests that expression of pyrR is autoregulated; moreover, a stable stem-loop structure was determined in the pyrR promoter region such that the SD sequence and the translation start codon for pyrR is sequestered. β-galactosidase activity from transcriptional pyrR::lacZ fusion assays, showed a two-fold in increase when expressed in a pyrR- strain compared to the isogenic pyrR+ strain. Thus, pyrR is negatively regulated while the other pyr genes (except pyrC) are positively activated by PyrR. That no regulation was seen for pyrC is in keeping with the recent discovery of a second functional pyrC that is not regulated in P. aeruginosa. Gel filtration chromatography shows the PyrR protein exists in a dynamic equilibrium, and it is proposed that PyrR functions as a monomer in activating pyrD, pyrE and pyrF and as a dimeric repressor for pyrR by binding to the inverted repeat. A related study discovered that the catabolite repression control (Crc) protein was indirectly involved in pyr gene regulation, and shown to negatively regulate expression of PyrR at the posttranscriptional level.
- Structural analysis of the TOL pDK1 xylGFJQK region and partial characterization of the xylF and xylG gene products
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TOL plasmids encode enzymes responsible for utilization of toluene and related aromatic compounds by Pseudomonas putida, ultimately converting them to central metabolic intermediates. The nucleotide sequence for the 5.6 kb xylGFJQK region of the pDK1 TOL meta operon was determined. DNA sequence analysis revealed the presence of five open reading frames corresponding to xylG (1458 bp), xylF (846 bp), xylJ (783 bp), xylQ (936 bp) and xylK (1047 bp), encoding predicted protein products of 51.6, 31.3, 27.8, 32.8, and 36.6 kDa in size, respectively. The average G+C content of the xylLTEGFJQK region was 65.7%, somewhat higher than the 58.9% seen in the immediately upstream xylXYZ region and substantially more than the 50% G+C content reported for the upper TOL operon of this plasmid. Homology comparisons were made with genes and proteins of related catabolic plasmids. The dmpCDEFG and pWWO xylGFJQK regions exhibit consistently high levels of nucleotide and amino acid homology to pDK1 xylGFJQK throughout the entire region. In contrast, although the nucleotide sequence homology of the Acinetobacter atdCDE region to xylGFJ is high, the homology of atdFG to xylQK is markedly less. Such radical changes in homology between corresponding regions of different operons, combined with variable base and codon usage patterns within and between operons, provides additional support for the idea that the upper and lower operons encoding enzymes of aromatic pathways have evolved independently of one another and that these operons have continued to exchange genetic material with homologous expression units through a series of recombination events. Recombinant plasmids were constructed for individual expression of each of the xylGFJQK genes. HMSD (XylG) and HMSH (XylF) were partially purified and characterized with respect to substrate specificity and kinetic mechanism. Evidence was obtained suggesting that the HMSD reaction occurs via a steady state ordered mechanism or a random mechanism where binding of the first substrate effects the enzyme's affinity for the second substrate.
- Structure-Function Studies on Aspartate Transcarbamoylase and Regulation of Pyrimidine Biosynthesis by a Positive Activator Protein, PyrR in Pseudomonas putida
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The regulation of pyrimidine biosynthesis was studied in Pseudomonas putida. The biosynthetic and salvage pathways provide pyrimidine nucleotides for RNA, DNA, cell membrane and cell wall biosynthesis. Pyrimidine metabolism is intensely studied because many of its enzymes are targets for chemotheraphy. Four aspects of pyrimidine regulation are described in this dissertation. Chapter I compares the salvage pathways of Escherichia coli and P. putida. Surprisingly, P. putida lacks several salvage enzymes including nucleoside kinases, uridine phosphorylase and cytidine deaminase. Without a functional nucleoside kinase, it was impossible to feed exogenous uridine to P. putida. To obviate this problem, uridine kinase was transferred to P. putida from E. coli and shown to function in this heterologous host. Chapter II details the enzymology of Pseudomonas aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase), its allosteric regulation and how it is assembled. The E. coli ATCase is a dodecamer of two different polypeptides, encoded by pyrBI. Six regulatory (PyrI) and six catalytic (PyrB) polypeptides assemble from two preformed trimers (B3) and three preformed regulatory dimers (I2) in the conserved 2B3:3I2 molecular structure. The Pseudomonas ATCase also assembles from two different polypeptides encoded by pyrBC'. However, a PyrB polypeptide combines with a PyrC. polypeptide to form a PyrB:PyrC. protomer; six of these assemble into a dodecamer of structure 2B3:3C'2. pyrC' encodes an inactive dihydroorotase with pyrB and pyrC' overlapping by 4 bp. Chapter III explores how catabolite repression affects pyrimidine metabolism. The global catabolite repression control protein, Crc, has been shown to affect pyrimidine metabolism in a number of ways. This includes orotate transport for use as pyrimidine, carbon and nitrogen sources. Orotate is important because it interacts with PyrR in repressing the pyr genes. Chapter IV describes PyrR, the positive activator of the pyrimidine pathway. As with other positive activator proteins, when pyrimidine nucleotides are depleted, PyrR binds to DNA thereby enhancing expression of pyrD, pyrE and pyrF genes. When pyrimidine nucleotides are in excess, the PyrR apoprotein binds to orotate, its co-repressor, to shut down all the pyrimidine genes. Like many positive activators, PyrR is subject to autoregulation and has catalytic activity for uracil phosphoribosyltransferase inducible by orotate.
- Studies on Plant-aphid Interactions: a Novel Role for Trehalose Metabolism in Arabidopsis Defense Against Green Peach Aphid
- Myzus persicae (Sülzer), commonly known as the green peach aphid (GPA), is a polyphagous insect that can infest over 100 families of economically important plants and is major pest for vegetable crops. This study utilizes the Arabidopsis-GPA model system with the aim to elucidate the role of the plant disaccharide trehalose in providing defense against GPA. This study demonstrates a novel role for TPS11 in providing defense against GPA. TPS11 expression was found to be transiently induced in Arabidopsis plants in response to GPA infestation and the TPS11 gene was required for curtailing GPA infestation. TPS11, which encodes for trehalose phosphate synthase and phosphatase activities, contributes to the transient increase in trehalose in the GPA infested tissues. This work suggests that TPS11-dependent trehalose has a signaling function in plant defense against GPA. in addition, trehalose also has a more direct role in curtailing GPA infestation on Arabidopsis. This work also shows that TPS11 is able to modulate both carbohydrate metabolism and plant defenses in response to GPA infestation. the expression of PAD4, an Arabidopsis gene required for phloem-based defenses against GPA, was found to be delayed in GPA infested tps11 mutant plants along with increased sucrose levels and lower starch levels as compared to the GPA infested wild type plants. This work provides clear evidence that starch metabolism in Arabidopsis is altered in response to GPA feeding and that TPS11-modulated increase in starch contributes to the curtailment of GPA infestation in Arabidopsis.