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- Stress Response by Alternative Σ-factor, Rpoh, and Analysis of Posttranslational Modification of the Heat Shock Protein, Dnak, in Escherichia Coli
- Bacteria have developed specialized responses that involve the expression of particular genes present in a given regulon. Sigma factors provide regulatory mechanisms to respond to stress by acting as transcriptional initiation factors. This work focuses on σ32 during oxidative stress in Escherichia coli. The differential response of key heat shock (HS) genes was investigated during HS and oxidative stress using qPCR techniques. While groEL and dnaJ experienced increases in transcriptional response to H2O2 (10 mM), HS (42°C), and paraquat (50 mM) exposure, the abundance of dnaK over the co-chaperones was apparent. It was hypothesized that DnaK undergoes oxidative modification by reactive carbonyls at its Lys-rich C-terminus, accounting for the differential response during oxidative stress. A σ32-mediated β-galactosidase reporter was devised to detect the activity of wild-type DnaK and DnaKV634X modified to lack the Lys-rich C-terminus. Under unstressed conditions and HS, σ32 was bound at the same rate in both strains. When subjected to H2O2, the WT DnaK strain produced significantly higher β-galactosidase than DnaKV634X (one-tailed Student’s t test p=0.000002, α=0.05) and approached the same level of output as the lacZ positive control. The β-galactosidase assay indicates that DnaK undergoes Lys modification in the WT strain, preventing the protein from binding σ32, increasing the activity of σ32, and resulting in higher β-galactosidase activity than the DnaKV634X strain. In the DnaKV634X strain DnaK continues to bind σ32 so that σ32 could not promote the production of β-galactosidase. These findings demonstrate how DnaK is oxidatively modified, hindering the interaction with σ32 in manner distinct from HS.
- Investigating the Ability of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Pyre Mutants to Grow and Produce Virulence Factors
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa are medically important bacteria that are notorious for causing nosocomial infections. To gain more knowledge into understanding how this organism operates, it was decided to explore the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway. Pyrimidine synthesis, being one half of the DNA structure, makes it a very important pathway to the organism’s survivability. With previous studies being done on various genes in the pathway, pyrE has not been studied to the fullest extent. To study the function of pyrE, a site directed mutagenesis was done to completely knock out pyrE, which encodes the protein orotate phosphoribosyl transferase that is responsible for converting orotate into orotate monophosphate (OMP). A mutation in this step leads to accumulation and secretion of orotate into the medium. Analyzing virulence factors produced by the mutant and comparing to the wild type, some intriguing features of the mutant were discovered. One of the findings was the over expression of virulence factors pyoverdin and pyocyanin. Pyocyanin over expression, based on the results of this study, is due to the accumulation of orotate while over production of pyoverdin is due to the accumulation of dihydroorotate. The other virulence factors studied were motility assays, exoproducts, and growth analysis. All virulence factor production was reduced significantly in the mutant compared to the wild type. The casein protease assay showed absolutely no production of proteases in the mutant. The conclusion is that orotate accumulation leads to a significant reduction in virulence factor production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In addition to that, it was found that excess orotate in the wild type led to a decrease in quorum sensing regulated products.
- Engineered Microbial Consortium for the Efficient Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels
- Current energy and environmental challenges are driving the use of cellulosic materials for biofuel production. A major obstacle in this pursuit is poor ethanol tolerance among cellulolytic Clostridium species. The first objective of this work was to establish a potential upper boundary of ethanol tolerance for the cellulosome itself. The hydrolytic function of crude cellulosome extracts from C. cellulolyticum on carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) with 0, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25% (v/v) ethanol was determined. Results indicated that the endoglucanase activity of the cellulosome incubated in 5% and 10% ethanol was significantly different from a control without ethanol addition. Furthermore a significant difference was observed in endoglucanase activity for cellulosome incubated in 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% and 25% ethanol in a standalone experiment. Endoglucanase activity continued to be observed for up to 25% ethanol, indicating that cellulosome function in ethanol will not be an impediment to future efforts towards engineering increasing production titers to levels at least as high as the current physiological limits of the most tolerant ethanologenic microbes. The second objective of this work was to study bioethanol production by a microbial co-culture involving Clostridium cellulolyticum and a recombinant Zymomonas mobilis engineered for the utilization of oligodextrans. The recombinant Z. mobilis ZM4 pAA1 and wild type ZM4 were first tested on RM medium (ATCC 1341) containing 2% cellobiose as the carbon source. Ethanol production from the recombinant Z. mobilis was three times that observed from the wild type Z. mobilis. Concomitant with ethanol production was the reduction in OD from 2.00 to 1.580, indicating the consumption of cellobiose. No such change in OD was observed from the wild type. The recombinant ZM4 was then co-cultured with C. cellulolyticum using cellobiose and microcrystalline cellulose respectively as carbon sources. Results indicate that the recombinant ZM4 acted synergistically with C. cellulolyticum to utilize 2.0 g L-1 cellobiose, producing as much as 0.40 mM concentration of ethanol whereas only 0.20 mM ethanol was detected for the wild type ZM4 co-cultured with C. cellulolyticum under the same conditions. A co-culture of the recombinant ZM4 and C. cellulolyticum using 7.5 g L-1 microcrystalline cellulose gave lower ethanol yield than when using cellobiose. In the latter case, the recombinant began producing ethanol in 5 days whereas the wild type required 10 days to produce detectable ethanol. Future efforts will concentrate on identifying the correct concentration of cellulosic substrate at which synergy will be observed using the recombinant ZM4 and other cellulose degrading microorganisms, as well as optimizing medium formulations to better support both organisms.
- Investigation of Strategies for Improving STR Typing of Degraded and Low Copy DNA from Human Skeletal Remains and Bloodstains
- Forensic STR analysis is limited by the quality and quantity of DNA. Significant damage or alteration to the molecular structure of DNA by depurination, crosslinking, base modification, and strand breakage can impact typing success. Two methods that could potentially improve STR typing of challenged samples were explored: an in vitro DNA repair assay (PreCR™ Repair Mix) and whole genome amplification. Results with the repair assay showed trends of improved performance of STR profiling of bleach-damaged DNA. However, the repair assay did not improve DNA profiles from environmentally-damaged bloodstains or bone, and in some cases resulted in lower RFU values for STR alleles. The extensive spectrum of DNA damage and myriad combinations of lesions that can be present in forensic samples appears to pose a challenge for the in vitro PreCR™ assay. The data suggest that the use of PreCR™ in casework should be considered with caution due to the assay’s varied results. As an alternative to repair, whole genome amplification (WGA) was pursued. The DOP-PCR method was selected for WGA because of initial primer design and greater efficacy for amplifying degraded samples. Several modifications of the original DOP-PCR primer were evaluated. These modifications allowed for an overall more robust amplification of damaged DNA from both contemporary and historical skeletal remains compared with that obtained by standard DNA typing and a previously described DOP-PCR method. These new DOP-PCR primers show promise for WGA of degraded DNA.
- Origin and Role of Factor Viia
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Factor VII, the initiator of the extrinsic coagulation cascade, circulates in human plasma mainly in its zymogen form, Factor VII and in small amounts in its activated form, Factor VIIa. However, the mechanism of initial generation of Factor VIIa is not known despite intensive research using currently available model systems. Earlier findings suggested serine proteases Factor VII activating protease, and hepsin play a role in activating Factor VII, however, it has remained controversial. In this work I estimated the levels of Factor VIIa and Factor VII for the first time in adult zebrafish plasma and also reevaluated the role of the above two serine proteases in activating Factor VII in vivo using zebrafish as a model system. Knockdown of factor VII activating protease did not reduce Factor VIIa levels while hepsin knockdown reduced Factor VIIa levels. After identifying role of hepsin in Factor VII activation in zebrafish, I wanted to identify novel serine proteases playing a role in Factor VII activation. However, a large scale knockdown of all serine proteases in zebrafish genome using available knockdown techniques is prohibitively expensive. Hence, I developed an inexpensive gene knockdown method which was validated with IIb gene knockdown, and knockdown all serine proteases in zebrafish genome. On performing the genetic screen I identified 2 novel genes, hepatocytes growth factor like and prostasin involved in Factor VII activation.
- Novel Role of Trypsin in Zebrafish
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It has been shown previously in our laboratory that zebrafish produce trypsin from their gills when they are under stress, and this trypsin is involved in thrombocyte activation via PAR2 during gill bleeding. In this study, I investigated another role of the trypsin that is secreted from zebrafish. This investigation has demonstrated a novel role of trypsin in zebrafish. Not only did this investigation demonstrate the role of trypsin in zebrafish behavior, but also it showed that PAR2 might be the receptor that is involved in trypsin-mediated behavioral response. In addition, we have shown that Gq and ERK inhibitors are able to block the trypsin pathway and prevent the escaping behavior. Finally, the results of this investigation suggest that the cells that respond to trypsin are surface cells, which have an appearance similar to that of neuromast cells.
- Changes in Gene Expression Levels of the Ecf Sigma Factor Bov1605 Under Ph Shift and Oxidative Stress in the Sheep Pathogen Brucella Ovis
- Brucella ovis is a sexually transmitted, facultatively anaerobic, intracellular bacterial pathogen of sheep (Ovis aries) and red deer (Cervus elaphus). Brucella spp. infect primarily by penetrating the mucosa and are phagocytized by host macrophages, where survival and replication occurs. At least in some species, it has been shown that entry into stationary phase is necessary for successful infection. Brucella, like other alphaproteobacteria, lack the canonical stationary phase sigma factor ?s. Research on diverse members of this large phylogenetic group indicate the widespread presence of a conserved four-gene set including an alternative ECF sigma factor, an anti-sigma factor, a response regulator (RR), and a histidine kinase (HK). The first description of the system was made in Methylobacterium extorquens where the RR, named PhyR, was found to regulate the sigma factor activity by sequestering the anti-sigma factor in a process termed "sigma factor mimicry." These systems have been associated with various types of extracellular stress responses in a number of environmental bacteria. I hypothesized that homologous genetic sequences (Bov_1604-1607), which are similarly found among all Brucella species, may regulate survival functions during pathogenesis. To further explore the involvement of this system to conditions analogous to those occurring during infection, pure cultures of B. ovis cells were subjected to environments of pH (5 and 7) for 15, 30, and 45 minutes and oxidative (50mM H2O2) stress, or Spermine NONOate for 60 minutes. RNA was extracted and converted to cDNA andchanges in transcript levels of the sigma factor Bov1605 were measured using qPCR. Preliminary results indicate that under the exposure to Spermine NONOate there was little change in expression, but under oxidative stress expression of the sigma factor Bov1605 was 4.68-fold higher than that expressed under normal conditions. These results suggest that the sigma factor Bov1605 may be involved in oxidative stress defense during infection. Under acid stress (pH5), Bov1605 was found to be upregulated at 15 and 30 minutes, but after 45 and 60 minutes the time decreased.
- Comparison of Aspartate Transcarbamoylase Activity Between Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Which Has One Chromosome and Burkholderia Cepacia Which Has Three Chromosomes
- The pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway is essential and similar in all bacteria. The pathway from Pseudomonas is regulated by nucleotides which bind to the upstream region of the pyrBC’ gene complex. Work in our lab mapped the genes and showed that the pyrB and pyrC’ were part of an overlap complex. The Pseudomonas aeruginosa has one circular chromosome. A former Pseudomonas now called Burkholderia cepacia is similar to P. aeruginosa except that it contains three circular chromosomes (CI, CII, CIII) and one large plasmid. The primary chromosome named CI contains the pyrBC’. To our knowledge there has been no report of the activity of ATCase in Pseudomonas and contrasted with that of Burkholderia. Here, we compare the activity of ATCase in P. aeruginosa and B .cepacia. Cells of both organisms were grown in Pseudomonas minimal medium and in Enriched medium. The ATCase was extracted and partially purified from each sample. It is hypothesized that the B. cepacia has greater activity for ATCase than do the Pseudomonas.
- Zebrafish Von Willebrand Factor
- In humans, von Willebrand factor (vWF) is a key component in hemostasis and acts as a 'cellular adhesive' by letting the circulating platelets bind to exposed subendothelium. It also acts as a carrier and stabilizer of factor VIII (FVIII). A dysfunction or reduction of vWF leads to von Willebrand disease (vWD), resulting in bleeding phenotype which affects 1% of the population. Currently there are a variety of animal models used for the study of vWF and vWD; however, they do not possess the advantages found in zebrafish. Therefore, we set out to establish zebrafish as a model for the investigation of vWF and vWD through the use of bioinformatics and various molecular techniques. Using bioinformatics we found that the vWF gene is located on chromosome 18, that the GPIb? protein sequence is conserved. Confirmation of vWF production was shown by means of immunostaining and by RT-PCR, in thrombocytes as well as in veins and arteries. Evidence of vWF involvement in hemostasis and thrombosis was shown using MO and VMO technology to produce a vWD like phenotype, resulting in an increase in TTO and TTA, as well as a reduction in FVIII when blood was tested using the kPTT assay, coinciding with a decrease in vWF. Stimate treatment provided opposite results of MO and VMO, showing a decrease in TTO and TTA. Investigation of the role of microparticles in hemostasis and their interaction with vWF resulted in a conclusion that the GPIb? receptor should exist on MPs and that it may interact not only with zebrafish vWF but also with human UL-vWF. Agglutination of MPs in the presence of UL-vWF but in the absence of ristocetin and plasma, treatment with ADAMTS-13 abolishing the interaction between MPs and UL-vWF provided evidence that vWF interacts with MPs probably with the GPIb?. We also found that TMPs agglutinate within the vessel wall in vivo when treated with Stimate. In conclusion, this research provided evidence for the presence of vWF in zebrafish and its conserved role in hemostasis. In addition to this we also showed that MPs also participation in hemostasis.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Photoactivatable Quantum Dots in Super-Resolution Microscopy of Muscle
- Super-resolution 3D imaging was achieved using newly synthesized photoactivatable quantum dot (PAQ dot) probes. Quantum dots were modified with a novel quencher system to make them photoactivatable. The unique properties of these PAQ dots enable single-fluorophore localization in three dimensions using a confocal microscopy optical sectioning method. Myosin and tropomyosin of rabbit myofibrilar bundles were specifically labeled with the newly synthesized PAQ dot. A sufficient number of single quantum dots were photoactivated, localized and reduced to their centroid and then reconstructed to a super-resolution image. The acquired super-resolution image shows a lateral and an axial sub-diffraction resolution and demonstrates ultrafine striations with widths less than 70 nm that are not evident by conventional confocal microscopy. The striations appear to be related to nebulin thin filament binding protein. This newly developed imaging system is cutting edge for its high resolution and localization as well its simplicity and convenience.
- Purification of Cyanide-Degrading Nitrilase from Pseudomonas Fluorescens NCIMB 11764.
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Cyanide is a well known toxicant that arises in the environment from both biological and industrial sources. Bacteria have evolved novel coping mechanisms for cyanide and function as principal agents in the biosphere for cyanide recycling. Some bacteria exhibit the unusual ability of growing on cyanide as the sole nitrogen source. One such organism is Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764 (Pf11764) which employs a novel oxidative mechanism for detoxifying and assimilating cyanide. A unique complex of enzymes referred to as cyanide oxygenase (CNO) is responsible for this ability converting cyanide to ammonia which is then assimilated. Because one component of the four member CNO complex was previously shown to act on cyanide independent of the other members, its characterization was sought as a means of gaining a better understanding of the overall catalytic mechanism of the complex. Preliminary studies suggested that the enzyme belonged to a subset of nitrilase enzymes known as cyanide dihydratases (CynD), however, a cynD-like gene in Pf11764 could not be detected by PCR. Instead, a separate nitrilase (Nit) linked to cyanide metabolism was detected. The corresponding nit gene was shown to be one of a conserved set of nit genes traced to a unique cluster in bacteria known as Nit1C. To determine whether the previously described CynD enzyme was instead Nit, efforts were undertaken to isolate the enzyme. This was pursued by cloning and expressing the recombinant enzyme and by attempting to isolate the native enzyme. This thesis is concerned with the latter activity and describes the purification of a Nit-like cyanide-degrading nitrilase (NitCC) from Pf11764 to ~95% homogeneity. Purification was greatly facilitated by the discovery that fumaronitrile, as opposed to cyanide, was the preferred substrate for the enzyme (20 versus 1 U/mg protein, respectively). While cyanide was less effective as a substrate, the specificity for cyanide far outweighed that (10,000 fold) of the recombinant enzyme (NitPG) implying that the native NitCC protein purified in this work is different from that of the cloned recombinant. Further evidence of this was provided by molecular studies indicating that the two proteins differ in mass (34.5 and 38 kDa, respectively) and amino acid sequence. In summary, two different Nit enzymes are encoded by Pf11764. While the two share greater than 50% amino acid sequence identity, the results suggest that the native NitCC enzyme purified in this work functions better as a cyanide-degrading nitrilase and is one of four enzyme components comprising CNO required for Pf11764 cyanide assimilation.
- 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.
- 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.
- Virulence Factor Production in PyrE Mutants of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
- It has been shown previously in our lab that mutations in the pyrimidine pathway reduced the ability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to produce virulence factors. Knockout mutations in pyrB, pyrC and pyrD genes of the pyrimidine pathway showed that virulence factor production was decreased. Pyoverdin, pyocyanin, hemolysin, iron chelation, motility, and adherence are all considered virulence factors. Here I further investigate the effects of mutations in the pyrimidine pathway by studying a pyrE mutant. I studied the effect of the pyrE mutation on the production of the above virulence factors. Just like the effect of pyrB, pyrC and pyrD mutations,the pyrE mutation also showed that the bacteria were deficient in producing virulence factors when compared to the wild type. The broader impact of this research would be the possibility of finding drugs that could treat patients infected with P. aeruginosa and possibly extend the lives of chronically infected patients with cystic fibrosis.
- 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.
- Linkage of a nitrilase-containing Nit1C gene cluster to cyanide utilization in Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764.
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Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764 (Pf11764) is uniquely able to grow on the poison cyanide as its sole nitrogen source. It does so by converting cyanide oxidatively to carbon dioxide and ammonia, the latter being assimilated into cellular molecules. This requires a complex enzymatic machinery that includes nitrilase and oxygenase enzymes the nature of which are not well understood. In the course of a proteomics analysis aimed at achieving a better understanding of the proteins that may be required for cyanide degradation by Pf11764, an unknown protein of 17.8 kDa was detected in cells exposed to cyanide. Analysis of this protein by ESI-coupled mass spectrometry and bioinformatics searches gave evidence of strong homology with a protein (Hyp1) of unknown function (hypothetical) present in the bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens subsp. laumondii TTO1 (locus plu_1232). A search of available microbial genomes revealed a number of Hyp1 orthologs the genes of which are found in a conserved gene cluster known as Nit1C. Independent studies revealed that in addition to Hyp1, Pf11764 possesses a gene (nit) specifying a nitrilase enzyme whose closest homologue is a nitrilase found in Nit1C gene clusters (77% amino acid identity). DNA sequence analysis has further revealed that indeed, hyp1Pf11764 and nitPf11764 are contained in a cluster that includes also a gene specifying an oxygenase. Given the possible connection of Nit1C-endoded nitrilase and oxygenase enzymes to enzymatic cyanide degradation, there is strong reason for thinking that the genes specifying these enzymes contribute to bacterial growth on cyanide in those bacteria containing the Nit1C cluster. Because the biological function of the Hyp1 protein is currently unknown, it was cloned and the protein expressed in E. coli so that its properties could further be explored. Unfortunately, the expression of the protein in an insoluble form complicated these analyses. However, at least two lines of evidence suggest a possible role as a regulator of gene expression. First, over-expression of the protein was accompanied by the parallel elevation of the putative vector-encoded b-lactamase, implying that Hyp1Pf11764 can affect the expression of other genes. Second, a comparison of the amino acid sequence of select peptide fragments of Hyp1Pf11764, by conducting searches for homology with proteins in the existing nonredundant protein database, consistently revealed motifs in common with those present in bacterial response regulators that are part of two-component signal transduction systems widely distributed in bacteria.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Physical Map between Marker 8O7 and 146O17 on the Medicago truncatula Linkage Group 1 that Contains the NIP Gene
- The Medicago truncatula NIP gene is located on M. truncatula Linkage Group 1. Informative recombinants showed crossovers that localize the NIP gene between markers 146O17 and 23C16D. Marker 164N9 co-segregates with the NIP gene, and the location of marker 164N9 is between markers 146O17 and 23C16D. Based upon data from the Medicago genome sequencing project, a subset of the model legume Medicago truncatula bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) were used to create a physical map on the DNA in this genetic internal. BACs near the potential NIP gene location near marker 164N9 were identified, and used in experiments to predict the physical map by a BAC-by-BAC strategy. Using marker 164N9 as a center point, and chromosome walking outward, the physical map toward markers 146O17 and 23C16D was built. The chromosome walk consisted of a virtual walk, made with existing sequence of BACs from the Medicago genome project, hybridizations to filters containing BAC DNA, and PCR reactions to confirm that predicted overlapping BACs contained DNA that yielded similar PCR products. In addition, the primers which are made for physical mapping via PCR could be good genetic markers helpful in discovering the location of the NIP gene. As a result of efforts repotted here, gap in physical map between marker 164N9 and 146O17 was closed.
- 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.
- 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.
- Map-based cloning of the NIP gene in model legume Medicago truncatula.
- Large amounts of industrial fertilizers are used to maximize crop yields. Unfortunately, they are not completely consumed by plants; consequently, this leads to soil pollution and negative effects on aquatic systems. An alternative to industrial fertilizers can be found in legume plants that provide a nitrogen source that is not harmful for the environment. Legume plants, through their symbiosis with soil bacteria called rhizobia, are able to reduce atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, a biological nitrogen source. Establishment of the symbiosis requires communication on the molecular level between the two symbionts, which leads to changes on the cellular level and ultimately results in nitrogen-fixing nodule development. Inside the nodules hypoxic environment, the bacterial enzyme nitrogenase reduces atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia. Medicago truncatula is the model legume plant that is used to study symbiosis with mycorrhiza and with the bacteria Sinorhizobium meliloti. The focus of this work is the M. truncatula nodulation mutant nip (numerous infections and polyphenolics). The NIP gene plays a role in the formation and differentiation of nodules, and development of lateral roots. Studying this mutant will contribute knowledge to understanding the plant response to infection and how the invasion by rhizobia is regulated. Previous genetic mapping placed NIP at the top of linkage group 1 of the M. truncatula genome. A NIP mapping population was established with the purpose of performing fine mapping in the region containing NIP. DNA from two M. truncatula ecotypes A17 and A20 can be distinguished through polymorphisms. Positional mapping of the NIP gene is based on the A17/A20 genetic map of M. truncatula. The NIP mapping population of 2277 plants was scored for their nodulation phenotype and genotyped with flanking molecular genetic markers 146o17 and 23c16d, which are located ~1.5 cM apart and on either side of NIP. This resulted in the identification of 170 recombinant plants, These plants' DNAs were tested further with different available genetic markers located in the region of interest, to narrow the genetic interval that contains the NIP gene. Segregation data from genotyping analysis of recombinant plants placed NIP in the region between 4L4 and 807 genetic markers.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Isolation of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa Aspartate Transcarbamoylase Mutant and the Investigation of Its Growth Characteristics, Pyrimidine Biosynthetic Enzyme Activities, and Virulence Factor Production
- The pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway is an essential pathway for most organisms. Previous research on the pyrimidine pathway in Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PAO1) has shown that a block in the third step of the pathway resulted in both a requirement for exogenous pyrimidines and decreased ability to produce virulence factors. In this work an organism with a mutation in the second step of the pathway, aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase), was created. Assays for pyrimidine intermediates, and virulence factors were performed. Results showed that the production of pigments, haemolysin, and rhamnolipids were significantly decreased from PAO1. Elastase and casein protease production were also moderately decreased. In the Caenorhabditis elegans infection model the nematodes fed the ATCase mutant had increased mortality, as compared to nematodes fed wild type bacteria. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that changes in the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway contribute to the organism's ability to effect pathogenicity.
- 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.
- Bacterial Cyanide Assimilation: Pterin Cofactor and Enzymatic Requirements for Substrate Oxidation
- Utilization of cyanide as the sole nitrogen source by Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764 (Pf11764) occurs via oxidative conversion to carbon dioxide and ammonia, the latter satisfying the nitrogen requirement. Substrate attack is initiated oxygenolytically by an enzyme referred to as cyanide oxygenase (CNO), which exhibits properties of a pterin-dependent hydroxylase. The pterin requirement for Pf11764 CNO was satisfied by supplying either the fully (tetrahydro) or partially (dihydro) reduced forms of various pterin compounds at catalytic concentrations (0.5 µM). These compounds included, for example, biopterin, monapterin and neopterin, all of which were also identified in cell extracts. A related CNO-mediated mechanism of cyanide utilization was identified in cyanide-degrading P. putida BCN3. This conclusion was based on (i) the recovery of CO2 and NH3 as enzymatic reaction products, (ii) the dependency of substrate conversion on both O2 and NADH, and (iiii) utilization of cyanide, O2 and NADH in a 1:1:1 reaction stoichiometry. In contrast to findings reported for Pf11764, it was not possible to demonstrate a need for exogenously added pterin as a cofactor for the PpBCN3 enzyme system. However, results which showed that cells of PpBCN3 contained approximately seven times the amount of pterin as Pf11764 (of which a significant portion was protein-bound) were interpreted as indicating that sufficient bound CNO-cofactor exists, thus eliminating any need for a supplemental source.
- Cyanide Assimilation in Pseudomonas Fluorescens: 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.
- Analysis of a Cotton Gene Cluster for the Antifungal Protein Osmotin
- 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.
- 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.
- Pyrimidine Genes in Pseudomonas Species
- This thesis is a comparative study of gene arrangements in Pseudomonas species, and is organized into three major sections. The first section compares gene arrangements for different pathways in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 to determine if the gene arrangements are similar to previous studies. It also serves as a reference for pyrimidine gene arrangements in P. aeruginosa. The second part compares the physical, and genetic maps of P. aeruginosa PAO1 with the genome sequence. The final section compares pyrimidine gene arrangements in three species of Pseudomonas. Pyrimidine biosynthesis and salvage genes will be aligned for P. aeruginosa PAO1, P. putida KT2440, and P. syringae DC3000. The whole study will gives insight into gene patterns in Pseudomonas, with a focus on pyrimidine genes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Characterization of cDNA and Genomic Clones for a Palmitoyl-acyl Carrier Protein Thioesterase 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Characterization of Moraxella bovis Aspartate Transcarbamoylase
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Aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase) catalyzes the first committed step in the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway. Bacterial ATCases have been divided into three classes, class A, B, and C, based on their molecular weight, holoenzyme architecture, and enzyme kinetics. Moraxella bovis is a fastidious organism, the etiologic agent of infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK). The M. bovis ATCase was purified and characterized for the first time. It is a class A enzyme with a molecular mass of 480 to 520 kDa. It has a pH optimum of 9.5 and is stable at high temperatures. The ATCase holoenzyme is inhibited by CTP > ATP > UTP. The Km for aspartate is 1.8 mM and the Vmax 1.04 µmol per min, where the Km for carbamoylphosphate is 1.05 mM and the Vmax 1.74 µmol per min.
- A Novel Mechanism for Site-Directed Mutagenesis of Large Catabolic Plasmids Using Natural Transformation
- 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.