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Topical Collection "Feature Papers in Molecular Microbiology"

Editors

Prof. Dr. Georg A. Sprenger
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Institute of Microbiology, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany
Interests: carbon-carbon (C-C) bonding enzymes; amino acid biosynthesis; metabolic engineering
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Andreas Burkovski
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Department Biologie, Alexander Universität Erlangen–Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany
Interests: corynebacteria; host–pathogen interaction; nitrogen control; regulatory networks; secretome analyses; toxins
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Topical Collection “Feature Papers in Molecular Microbiology” aims to collect high-quality research articles, short communications, and review articles in the molecular biology of microbes with a focus on prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea) and eukaryotic microorganisms. Since the aim of this Topical Collection is to illustrate, through selected works, frontier research in molecular microbiology, we encourage Editorial Board Members of the Molecular Microbiology Section of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences to contribute papers reflecting the latest progress in their research field or to invite relevant experts and colleagues to do so.

Prof. Dr. Georg A. Sprenger
Prof. Dr. Andreas Burkovski
Collection Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the collection website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

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Published Papers (19 papers)

2021

Jump to: 2020, 2019

Article
Comparison of Gut Bacterial Communities of Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) Reared on Different Host Plants
by , , , , , , and
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(20), 11266; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms222011266 (registering DOI) - 19 Oct 2021
Abstract
Spodoptera frugiperda is a highly polyphagous and invasive agricultural pest that can harm more than 300 plants and cause huge economic losses to crops. Symbiotic bacteria play an important role in the host biology and ecology of herbivores, and have a wide range [...] Read more.
Spodoptera frugiperda is a highly polyphagous and invasive agricultural pest that can harm more than 300 plants and cause huge economic losses to crops. Symbiotic bacteria play an important role in the host biology and ecology of herbivores, and have a wide range of effects on host growth and adaptation. In this study, high-throughput sequencing technology was used to investigate the effects of different hosts (corn, wild oat, oilseed rape, pepper, and artificial diet) on gut microbial community structure and diversity. Corn is one of the most favored plants of S. frugiperda. We compared the gut microbiota on corn with and without a seed coating agent. The results showed that Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes dominated the gut microbial community. The microbial abundance on oilseed rape was the highest, the microbial diversity on wild oat was the lowest, and the microbial diversity on corn without a seed coating agent was significantly higher than that with such an agent. PCoA analysis showed that there were significant differences in the gut microbial community among different hosts. PICRUSt analysis showed that most of the functional prediction categories were related to metabolic and cellular processes. The results showed that the gut microbial community of S. frugiperda was affected not only by the host species, but also by different host treatments, which played an important role in host adaptation. It is important to deepen our understanding of the symbiotic relationships between invasive organisms and microorganisms. The study of the adaptability of host insects contributes to the development of more effective and environmentally friendly pest management strategies. Full article
Article
Relationships of Gut Microbiota Composition, Short-Chain Fatty Acids and Polyamines with the Pathological Response to Neoadjuvant Radiochemotherapy in Colorectal Cancer Patients
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(17), 9549; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22179549 - 02 Sep 2021
Viewed by 685
Abstract
Emerging evidence has suggested that dysbiosis of the gut microbiota may influence the drug efficacy of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients during cancer treatment by modulating drug metabolism and the host immune response. Moreover, gut microbiota can produce metabolites that may influence tumor proliferation [...] Read more.
Emerging evidence has suggested that dysbiosis of the gut microbiota may influence the drug efficacy of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients during cancer treatment by modulating drug metabolism and the host immune response. Moreover, gut microbiota can produce metabolites that may influence tumor proliferation and therapy responsiveness. In this study we have investigated the potential contribution of the gut microbiota and microbial-derived metabolites such as short chain fatty acids and polyamines to neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy (RCT) outcome in CRC patients. First, we established a profile for healthy gut microbiota by comparing the microbial diversity and composition between CRC patients and healthy controls. Second, our metagenomic analysis revealed that the gut microbiota composition of CRC patients was relatively stable over treatment time with neoadjuvant RCT. Nevertheless, treated patients who achieved clinical benefits from RTC (responders, R) had significantly higher microbial diversity and richness compared to non-responder patients (NR). Importantly, the fecal microbiota of the R was enriched in butyrate-producing bacteria and had significantly higher levels of acetic, butyric, isobutyric, and hexanoic acids than NR. In addition, NR patients exhibited higher serum levels of spermine and acetyl polyamines (oncometabolites related to CRC) as well as zonulin (gut permeability marker), and their gut microbiota was abundant in pro-inflammatory species. Finally, we identified a baseline consortium of five bacterial species that could potentially predict CRC treatment outcome. Overall, our results suggest that the gut microbiota may have an important role in the response to cancer therapies in CRC patients. Full article
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Article
Multiplication of ampC upon Exposure to a Beta-Lactam Antibiotic Results in a Transferable Transposon in Escherichia coli
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(17), 9230; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22179230 - 26 Aug 2021
Viewed by 323
Abstract
Plasmids play a crucial role in spreading antimicrobial resistance genes. Plasmids have many ways to incorporate various genes. By inducing amoxicillin resistance in Escherichia coli, followed by horizontal gene transfer experiments and sequencing, we show that the chromosomal beta-lactamase gene ampC is [...] Read more.
Plasmids play a crucial role in spreading antimicrobial resistance genes. Plasmids have many ways to incorporate various genes. By inducing amoxicillin resistance in Escherichia coli, followed by horizontal gene transfer experiments and sequencing, we show that the chromosomal beta-lactamase gene ampC is multiplied and results in an 8–13 kb contig. This contig is comparable to a transposon, showing similarities to variable regions found in environmental plasmids, and can be transferred between E. coli cells. As in eight out of nine replicate strains an almost completely identical transposon was isolated, we conclude that this process is under strict control by the cell. The single transposon that differed was shortened at both ends, but otherwise identical. The outcome of this study indicates that as a result of exposure to beta-lactam antibiotics, E. coli can form a transposon containing ampC that can subsequently be integrated into plasmids or genomes. This observation offers an explanation for the large diversity of genes in plasmids found in nature and proposes mechanisms by which the dynamics of plasmids are maintained. Full article
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Article
G2-S16 Polyanionic Carbosilane Dendrimer Can Reduce HIV-1 Reservoir Formation by Inhibiting Macrophage Cell to Cell Transmission
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(16), 8366; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22168366 - 04 Aug 2021
Viewed by 384
Abstract
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) is still a major problem, not only in developing countries but is also re-emerging in several developed countries, thus the development of new compounds able to inhibit the virus, either for prophylaxis or treatment, is still needed. Nanotechnology has [...] Read more.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) is still a major problem, not only in developing countries but is also re-emerging in several developed countries, thus the development of new compounds able to inhibit the virus, either for prophylaxis or treatment, is still needed. Nanotechnology has provided the science community with several new tools for biomedical applications. G2-S16 is a polyanionic carbosilane dendrimer capable of inhibiting HIV-1 in vitro and in vivo by interacting directly with viral particles. One of the main barriers for HIV-1 eradication is the reservoirs created in primoinfection. These reservoirs, mainly in T cells, are untargetable by actual drugs or immune system. Thus, one approach is inhibiting HIV-1 from reaching these reservoir cells. In this context, macrophages play a main role as they can deliver viral particles to T cells establishing reservoirs. We showed that G2-S16 dendrimer is capable of inhibiting the infection from infected macrophages to healthy T CD4/CD8 lymphocytes by eliminating HIV-1 infectivity inside macrophages, so they are not able to carry infectious particles to other body locations, thus preventing the reservoirs from forming. Full article
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Article
Cardiolipin-Containing Lipid Membranes Attract the Bacterial Cell Division Protein DivIVA
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(15), 8350; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22158350 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 748
Abstract
DivIVA is a protein initially identified as a spatial regulator of cell division in the model organism Bacillus subtilis, but its homologues are present in many other Gram-positive bacteria, including Clostridia species. Besides its role as topological regulator of the Min system [...] Read more.
DivIVA is a protein initially identified as a spatial regulator of cell division in the model organism Bacillus subtilis, but its homologues are present in many other Gram-positive bacteria, including Clostridia species. Besides its role as topological regulator of the Min system during bacterial cell division, DivIVA is involved in chromosome segregation during sporulation, genetic competence, and cell wall synthesis. DivIVA localizes to regions of high membrane curvature, such as the cell poles and cell division site, where it recruits distinct binding partners. Previously, it was suggested that negative curvature sensing is the main mechanism by which DivIVA binds to these specific regions. Here, we show that Clostridioides difficile DivIVA binds preferably to membranes containing negatively charged phospholipids, especially cardiolipin. Strikingly, we observed that upon binding, DivIVA modifies the lipid distribution and induces changes to lipid bilayers containing cardiolipin. Our observations indicate that DivIVA might play a more complex and so far unknown active role during the formation of the cell division septal membrane. Full article
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Article
Biological In Vitro Evaluation of PIL Graft Conjugates: Cytotoxicity Characteristics
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(14), 7741; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22147741 - 20 Jul 2021
Viewed by 491
Abstract
In vitro cytotoxicity of polymer-carriers, which in the side chains contain the cholinum ionic liquid units with chloride (Cl) or pharmaceutical anions dedicated for antituberculosis therapy, i.e., p-aminosalicylate (PAS) and clavulanate (CLV), was investigated. The carriers and drug conjugates were examined, in [...] Read more.
In vitro cytotoxicity of polymer-carriers, which in the side chains contain the cholinum ionic liquid units with chloride (Cl) or pharmaceutical anions dedicated for antituberculosis therapy, i.e., p-aminosalicylate (PAS) and clavulanate (CLV), was investigated. The carriers and drug conjugates were examined, in the concentration range of 3.125–100 μg/mL, against human bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) and adenocarcinomic human alveolar basal epithelial cells (A549) as an experimental model cancer cell line possibly coexisting in tuberculosis. The cytotoxicity was evaluated by MTT test and confluency index, as well as by the cytometric analyses, including Annexin-V FITC apoptosis assay. The polymer systems showed supporting activity towards the normal cells and no tumor progress, especially at the highest concentration (100 μg/mL). The analysis of cell death did not show meaningful changes in the case of the BEAS-2B, whereas in the A549 cell line, the cytostatic activity was observed, especially for the drug-free carriers, causing death in up to 80% of cells. This can be regulated by the polymer structure, including the content of cationic units, side-chain length and density, as well as the type and content of pharmaceutical anions. The results of MTT tests, confluency, as well as cytometric analyses, distinguished the polymer systems with Cl/PAS/CLV containing 26% of grafting degree and 43% of ionic units or 46% of grafting degree and 18% of ionic units as the optimal systems. Full article
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Article
Identification of Three Type II Toxin-Antitoxin Systems in Model Bacterial Plant Pathogen Dickeya dadantii 3937
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(11), 5932; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22115932 - 31 May 2021
Viewed by 823
Abstract
Type II toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are genetic elements usually encoding two proteins: a stable toxin and an antitoxin, which binds the toxin and neutralizes its toxic effect. The disturbance in the intracellular toxin and antitoxin ratio typically leads to inhibition of bacterial growth [...] Read more.
Type II toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are genetic elements usually encoding two proteins: a stable toxin and an antitoxin, which binds the toxin and neutralizes its toxic effect. The disturbance in the intracellular toxin and antitoxin ratio typically leads to inhibition of bacterial growth or bacterial cell death. Despite the fact that TA modules are widespread in bacteria and archaea, the biological role of these systems is ambiguous. Nevertheless, a number of studies suggests that the TA modules are engaged in such important processes as biofilm formation, stress response or virulence and maintenance of mobile genetic elements. The Dickeya dadantii 3937 strain serves as a model for pathogens causing the soft-rot disease in a wide range of angiosperm plants. Until now, several chromosome-encoded type II TA systems were identified in silico in the genome of this economically important bacterium, however so far only one of them was experimentally validated. In this study, we investigated three putative type II TA systems in D. dadantii 3937: ccdAB2Dda, phd-docDda and dhiTA, which represents a novel toxin/antitoxin superfamily. We provide an experimental proof for their functionality in vivo both in D. dadantii and Escherichia coli. Finally, we examined the prevalence of those systems across the Pectobacteriaceae family by a phylogenetic analysis. Full article
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Article
Molecular Basis of Essentiality of Early Critical Steps in the Lipopolysaccharide Biogenesis in Escherichia coli K-12: Requirement of MsbA, Cardiolipin, LpxL, LpxM and GcvB
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(10), 5099; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22105099 - 12 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1113
Abstract
To identify the physiological factors that limit the growth of Escherichia coli K-12 strains synthesizing minimal lipopolysaccharide (LPS), we describe the first construction of strains devoid of the entire waa locus and concomitantly lacking all three acyltransferases (LpxL/LpxM/LpxP), synthesizing minimal lipid IVA [...] Read more.
To identify the physiological factors that limit the growth of Escherichia coli K-12 strains synthesizing minimal lipopolysaccharide (LPS), we describe the first construction of strains devoid of the entire waa locus and concomitantly lacking all three acyltransferases (LpxL/LpxM/LpxP), synthesizing minimal lipid IVA derivatives with a restricted ability to grow at around 21 °C. Suppressors restoring growth up to 37 °C of Δ(gmhD-waaA) identified two independent single-amino-acid substitutions—P50S and R310S—in the LPS flippase MsbA. Interestingly, the cardiolipin synthase-encoding gene clsA was found to be essential for the growth of ΔlpxLMP, ΔlpxL, ΔwaaA, and Δ(gmhD-waaA) bacteria, with a conditional lethal phenotype of Δ(clsA lpxM), which could be overcome by suppressor mutations in MsbA. Suppressor mutations basS A20D or basR G53V, causing a constitutive incorporation of phosphoethanolamine (P-EtN) in the lipid A, could abolish the Ca++ sensitivity of Δ(waaC eptB), thereby compensating for P-EtN absence on the second Kdo. A single-amino-acid OppA S273G substitution is shown to overcome the synthetic lethality of Δ(waaC surA) bacteria, consistent with the chaperone-like function of the OppA oligopeptide-binding protein. Furthermore, overexpression of GcvB sRNA was found to repress the accumulation of LpxC and suppress the lethality of LapAB absence. Thus, this study identifies new and limiting factors in regulating LPS biosynthesis. Full article
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Article
In Vitro Characterization of Neutralizing Hen Antibodies to Coxsackievirus A16
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(8), 4146; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22084146 - 16 Apr 2021
Viewed by 726
Abstract
Coxsackievirus A16 (CA16) is one of the major causative agents of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). Children aged <5 years are the most affected by CA16 HFMD globally. Although clinical symptoms of CA16 infections are usually mild, severe complications, such as aseptic [...] Read more.
Coxsackievirus A16 (CA16) is one of the major causative agents of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). Children aged <5 years are the most affected by CA16 HFMD globally. Although clinical symptoms of CA16 infections are usually mild, severe complications, such as aseptic meningitis or even death, have been recorded. Currently, no vaccine or antiviral therapy for CA16 infection exists. Single-chain variable fragment (scFv) antibodies significantly inhibit viral infection and could be a potential treatment for controlling the infection. In this study, scFv phage display libraries were constructed from splenocytes of a laying hen immunized with CA16-infected lysate. The pComb3X vector containing the scFv genes was introduced into ER2738 Escherichia coli and rescued by helper phages to express scFv molecules. After screening with five cycles of bio-panning, an effective scFv antibody showing favorable binding activity to proteins in CA16-infected lysate on ELISA plates was selected. Importantly, the selected scFv clone showed a neutralizing capability against the CA16 virus and cross-reacted with viral proteins in EV71-infected lysate. Intriguingly, polyclonal IgY antibody not only showed binding specificity against proteins in CA16-infected lysate but also showed significant neutralization activities. Nevertheless, IgY-binding protein did not cross-react with proteins in EV71-infected lysate. These results suggest that the IgY- and scFv-binding protein antibodies provide protection against CA16 viral infection in in vitro assays and may be potential candidates for treating CA16 infection in vulnerable young children. Full article
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Article
Early-Life Development of the Bifidobacterial Community in the Infant Gut
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(7), 3382; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22073382 - 25 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 899
Abstract
The establishment of the gut microbiota poses implications for short and long-term health. Bifidobacterium is an important taxon in early life, being one of the most abundant genera in the infant intestinal microbiota and carrying out key functions for maintaining host-homeostasis. Recent metagenomic [...] Read more.
The establishment of the gut microbiota poses implications for short and long-term health. Bifidobacterium is an important taxon in early life, being one of the most abundant genera in the infant intestinal microbiota and carrying out key functions for maintaining host-homeostasis. Recent metagenomic studies have shown that different factors, such as gestational age, delivery mode, or feeding habits, affect the gut microbiota establishment at high phylogenetic levels. However, their impact on the specific bifidobacterial populations is not yet well understood. Here we studied the impact of these factors on the different Bifidobacterium species and subspecies at both the quantitative and qualitative levels. Fecal samples were taken from 85 neonates at 2, 10, 30, 90 days of life, and the relative proportions of the different bifidobacterial populations were assessed by 16S rRNA–23S rRNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region sequencing. Absolute levels of the main species were determined by q-PCR. Our results showed that the bifidobacterial population establishment is affected by gestational age, delivery mode, and infant feeding, as it is evidenced by qualitative and quantitative changes. These data underline the need for understanding the impact of perinatal factors on the gut microbiota also at low taxonomic levels, especially in the case of relevant microbial populations such as Bifidobacterium. The data obtained provide indications for the selection of the species best suited for the development of bifidobacteria-based products for different groups of neonates and will help to develop rational strategies for favoring a healthy early microbiota development when this process is challenged. Full article
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Article
The Serine Biosynthesis of Paenibacillus polymyxa WLY78 Is Regulated by the T-Box Riboswitch
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(6), 3033; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22063033 - 16 Mar 2021
Viewed by 486
Abstract
Serine is important for nearly all microorganisms in protein and downstream amino acids synthesis, however, the effect of serine on growth and nitrogen fixation was not completely clear in many bacteria, besides, the regulatory mode of serine remains to be fully established. In [...] Read more.
Serine is important for nearly all microorganisms in protein and downstream amino acids synthesis, however, the effect of serine on growth and nitrogen fixation was not completely clear in many bacteria, besides, the regulatory mode of serine remains to be fully established. In this study, we demonstrated that L-serine is essential for growth and nitrogen fixation of Paenibacillus polymyxa WLY78, but high concentrations of L-serine inhibit growth, nitrogenase activity, and nifH expression. Then, we revealed that expression of the serA whose gene product catalyzes the first reaction in the serine biosynthetic pathway is regulated by the T-box riboswitch regulatory system. The 508 bp mRNA leader region upstream of the serA coding region contains a 280 bp T-box riboswitch. The secondary structure of the T-box riboswitch with several conserved features: three stem-loop structures, a 14-bp T-box sequence, and an intrinsic transcriptional terminator, is predicted. Mutation and the transcriptional leader-lacZ fusions experiments revealed that the specifier codon of serine is AGC (complementary to the anticodon sequence of tRNAser). qRT-PCR showed that transcription of serA is induced by serine starvation, whereas deletion of the specifier codon resulted in nearly no expression of serA. Deletion of the terminator sequence or mutation of the continuous seven T following the terminator led to constitutive expression of serA. The data indicated that the T-box riboswitch, a noncoding RNA segment in the leader region, regulates expression of serA by a transcription antitermination mechanism. Full article
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2020

Jump to: 2021, 2019

Review
A Review on the Current Knowledge on ZIKV Infection and the Interest of Organoids and Nanotechnology on Development of Effective Therapies against Zika Infection
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(1), 35; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22010035 - 22 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 851
Abstract
Zika virus (ZIKV) acquired a special relevance due to the pandemic that occurred in the Americas in 2015, when an important number of fetal microcephaly cases occurred. Since then, numerous studies have tried to elucidate the pathogenic mechanisms and the potential therapeutic approaches [...] Read more.
Zika virus (ZIKV) acquired a special relevance due to the pandemic that occurred in the Americas in 2015, when an important number of fetal microcephaly cases occurred. Since then, numerous studies have tried to elucidate the pathogenic mechanisms and the potential therapeutic approaches to combat the virus. Cellular and animal models have proved to be a basic resource for this research, with the more recent addition of organoids as a more realistic and physiological 3D culture for the study of ZIKV. Nanotechnology can also offer a promising therapeutic tool, as the nanoparticles developed by this field can penetrate cells and deliver a wide array of drugs in a very specific and controlled way inside the cells. These two state-of-the-art scientific tools clearly provide a very relevant resource for the study of ZIKV, and will help researchers find an effective treatment or vaccine against the virus. Full article
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Communication
Mitochondrial Localization of the Yeast Forkhead Factor Hcm1
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(24), 9574; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21249574 - 16 Dec 2020
Viewed by 532
Abstract
Hcm1 is a member of the forkhead transcription factor family involved in segregation, spindle pole dynamics, and budding in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Our group described the role of Hcm1 in mitochondrial biogenesis and stress resistance, and in the cellular adaptation to mitochondrial respiratory [...] Read more.
Hcm1 is a member of the forkhead transcription factor family involved in segregation, spindle pole dynamics, and budding in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Our group described the role of Hcm1 in mitochondrial biogenesis and stress resistance, and in the cellular adaptation to mitochondrial respiratory metabolism when nutrients decrease. Regulation of Hcm1 activity occurs at the protein level, subcellular localization, and transcriptional activity. Here we report that the amount of protein increased in the G1/S transition phase when the factor accumulated in the nucleus. In the G2/M phases, the Hcm1 amount decreased, and it was translocated outside the nucleus with a network-like localization. Preparation of highly purified mitochondria by a sucrose gradient density demonstrated that Hcm1 colocalized with mitochondrial markers, inducing expression of COX1, a mitochondrial encoded subunit of cytochrome oxidase, in the G2/M phases. Taken together, these results show a new localization of Hcm1 and suggest that it acts as a mitochondrial transcription factor regulating the metabolism of this organelle. Full article
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Article
The N-Terminal Region of Yeast Protein Phosphatase Ppz1 Is a Determinant for Its Toxicity
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(20), 7733; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21207733 - 19 Oct 2020
Viewed by 511
Abstract
The Ppz enzymes are Ser/Thr protein phosphatases present only in fungi that are characterized by a highly conserved C-terminal catalytic region, related to PP1c phosphatases, and a more divergent N-terminal extension. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Ppz phosphatases are encoded by two paralog genes, PPZ1 [...] Read more.
The Ppz enzymes are Ser/Thr protein phosphatases present only in fungi that are characterized by a highly conserved C-terminal catalytic region, related to PP1c phosphatases, and a more divergent N-terminal extension. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Ppz phosphatases are encoded by two paralog genes, PPZ1 and PPZ2. Ppz1 is the most toxic protein when overexpressed in budding yeast, halting cell proliferation, and this effect requires its phosphatase activity. We show here that, in spite of their conserved catalytic domain, Ppz2 was not toxic when tested under the same conditions as Ppz1, albeit Ppz2 levels were somewhat lower. Remarkably, a hybrid protein composed of the N-terminal extension of Ppz1 and the catalytic domain of Ppz2 was as toxic as Ppz1, even if its expression level was comparable to that of Ppz2. Similar amounts of yeast PP1c (Glc7) produced an intermediate effect on growth. Mutation of the Ppz1 myristoylable Gly2 to Ala avoided the localization of the phosphatase at the cell periphery but only slightly attenuated its toxicity. Therefore, the N-terminal extension of Ppz1 plays a key role in defining Ppz1 toxicity. This region is predicted to be intrinsically disordered and contains several putative folding-upon-binding regions which are absent in Ppz2 and might be relevant for toxicity. Full article
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Article
Aggregation and Prion-Inducing Properties of the G-Protein Gamma Subunit Ste18 are Regulated by Membrane Association
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(14), 5038; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21145038 - 16 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 819
Abstract
Yeast prions and mnemons are respectively transmissible and non-transmissible self-perpetuating protein assemblies, frequently based on cross-β ordered detergent-resistant aggregates (amyloids). Prions cause devastating diseases in mammals and control heritable traits in yeast. It was shown that the de novo formation of the prion [...] Read more.
Yeast prions and mnemons are respectively transmissible and non-transmissible self-perpetuating protein assemblies, frequently based on cross-β ordered detergent-resistant aggregates (amyloids). Prions cause devastating diseases in mammals and control heritable traits in yeast. It was shown that the de novo formation of the prion form [PSI+] of yeast release factor Sup35 is facilitated by aggregates of other proteins. Here we explore the mechanism of the promotion of [PSI+] formation by Ste18, an evolutionarily conserved gamma subunit of a G-protein coupled receptor, a key player in responses to extracellular stimuli. Ste18 forms detergent-resistant aggregates, some of which are colocalized with de novo generated Sup35 aggregates. Membrane association of Ste18 is required for both Ste18 aggregation and [PSI+] induction, while functional interactions involved in signal transduction are not essential for these processes. This emphasizes the significance of a specific location for the nucleation of protein aggregation. In contrast to typical prions, Ste18 aggregates do not show a pattern of heritability. Our finding that Ste18 levels are regulated by the ubiquitin-proteasome system, in conjunction with the previously reported increase in Ste18 levels upon the exposure to mating pheromone, suggests that the concentration-dependent Ste18 aggregation may mediate a mnemon-like response to physiological stimuli. Full article
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Article
The In Vitro Non-Tetramerizing ZapAI83E Mutant Is Unable to Recruit ZapB to the Division Plane In Vivo in Escherichia coli
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(9), 3130; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21093130 - 29 Apr 2020
Viewed by 925
Abstract
Bacterial cell division is guided by filamenting temperature-sensitive Z (FtsZ) treadmilling at midcell. FtsZ itself is regulated by FtsZ-associated proteins (Zaps) that couple it to different cellular processes. Z-associated protein A (ZapA) is known to enhance FtsZ bundling but also forms a synchronizing [...] Read more.
Bacterial cell division is guided by filamenting temperature-sensitive Z (FtsZ) treadmilling at midcell. FtsZ itself is regulated by FtsZ-associated proteins (Zaps) that couple it to different cellular processes. Z-associated protein A (ZapA) is known to enhance FtsZ bundling but also forms a synchronizing link with chromosome segregation through Z-associated protein B (ZapB) and matS-bound MatP. ZapA likely exists as dimers and tetramers in the cell. Using a ZapA mutant that is only able to form dimers in vitro (ZapAI83E), this paper investigates the effects of ZapA multimerization state on its interaction partners and cell division. By employing fluorescence microscopy and Förster resonance energy transfer in vivo it was shown that ZapAI83E is unable to complement a zapA deletion strain and localizes diffusely through the cell but still interacts with FtsZ that is not part of the cell division machinery. The diffusely-localized ZapAI83E is unable to recruit ZapB, which in its presence localizes unipolarly. Interestingly, the localization profiles of the chromosome and unipolar ZapB anticorrelate. The work presented here confirms previously reported in vitro effects of ZapA multimerization in vivo and places it in a broader context by revealing the strong implications for ZapB and chromosome localization and ter linkage. Full article
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Article
Disparate Phenotypes Resulting from Mutations of a Single Histidine in Switch II of Geobacillus stearothermophilus Translation Initiation Factor IF2
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(3), 735; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21030735 - 22 Jan 2020
Viewed by 715
Abstract
The conserved Histidine 301 in switch II of Geobacillus stearothermophilus IF2 G2 domain was substituted with Ser, Gln, Arg, Leu and Tyr to generate mutants displaying different phenotypes. Overexpression of IF2H301S, IF2H301L and IF2H301Y in cells expressing wtIF2, unlike IF2H301Q and IF2H301R, caused [...] Read more.
The conserved Histidine 301 in switch II of Geobacillus stearothermophilus IF2 G2 domain was substituted with Ser, Gln, Arg, Leu and Tyr to generate mutants displaying different phenotypes. Overexpression of IF2H301S, IF2H301L and IF2H301Y in cells expressing wtIF2, unlike IF2H301Q and IF2H301R, caused a dominant lethal phenotype, inhibiting in vivo translation and drastically reducing cell viability. All mutants bound GTP but, except for IF2H301Q, were inactive in ribosome-dependent GTPase for different reasons. All mutants promoted 30S initiation complex (30S IC) formation with wild type (wt) efficiency but upon 30S IC association with the 50S subunit, the fMet-tRNA reacted with puromycin to different extents depending upon the IF2 mutant present in the complex (wtIF2 ≥ to IF2H301Q > IF2H301R >>> IF2H301S, IF2H301L and IF2H301Y) whereas only fMet-tRNA 30S-bound with IF2H301Q retained some ability to form initiation dipeptide fMet-Phe. Unlike wtIF2, all mutants, regardless of their ability to hydrolyze GTP, displayed higher affinity for the ribosome and failed to dissociate from the ribosomes upon 50S docking to 30S IC. We conclude that different amino acids substitutions of His301 cause different structural alterations of the factor, resulting in disparate phenotypes with no direct correlation existing between GTPase inactivation and IF2 failure to dissociate from ribosomes. Full article
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2019

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Review
Unique Features of Entamoeba Sulfur Metabolism; Compartmentalization, Physiological Roles of Terminal Products, Evolution and Pharmaceutical Exploitation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(19), 4679; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms20194679 - 21 Sep 2019
Viewed by 1221
Abstract
Sulfur metabolism is essential for all living organisms. Recently, unique features of the Entamoeba metabolic pathway for sulfated biomolecules have been described. Entamoeba is a genus in the phylum Amoebozoa and includes the causative agent for amoebiasis, a global public health problem. This [...] Read more.
Sulfur metabolism is essential for all living organisms. Recently, unique features of the Entamoeba metabolic pathway for sulfated biomolecules have been described. Entamoeba is a genus in the phylum Amoebozoa and includes the causative agent for amoebiasis, a global public health problem. This review gives an overview of the general features of the synthesis and degradation of sulfated biomolecules, and then highlights the characteristics that are unique to Entamoeba. Future biological and pharmaceutical perspectives are also discussed. Full article
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Article
Protein Phosphatase Ppz1 Is Not Regulated by a Hal3-Like Protein in Plant Pathogen Ustilago maydis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(15), 3817; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms20153817 - 05 Aug 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1467
Abstract
Ppz enzymes are type-1 related Ser/Thr protein phosphatases that are restricted to fungi. In S. cerevisiae and other fungi, Ppz1 is involved in cation homeostasis and is regulated by two structurally-related inhibitory subunits, Hal3 and Vhs3, with Hal3 being the most physiologically relevant. [...] Read more.
Ppz enzymes are type-1 related Ser/Thr protein phosphatases that are restricted to fungi. In S. cerevisiae and other fungi, Ppz1 is involved in cation homeostasis and is regulated by two structurally-related inhibitory subunits, Hal3 and Vhs3, with Hal3 being the most physiologically relevant. Remarkably, Hal3 and Vhs3 have moonlighting properties, as they participate in an atypical heterotrimeric phosphopantothenoyl cysteine decarboxylase (PPCDC), a key enzyme for Coenzyme A biosynthesis. Here we identify and functionally characterize Ppz1 phosphatase (UmPpz1) and its presumed regulatory subunit (UmHal3) in the plant pathogen fungus Ustilago maydis. UmPpz1 is not an essential protein in U. maydis and, although possibly related to the cell wall integrity pathway, is not involved in monovalent cation homeostasis. The expression of UmPpz1 in S. cerevisiae Ppz1-deficient cells partially mimics the functions of the endogenous enzyme. In contrast to what was found in C. albicans and A. fumigatus, UmPpz1 is not a virulence determinant. UmHal3, an unusually large protein, is the only functional PPCDC in U. maydis and, therefore, an essential protein. However, when overexpressed in U. maydis or S. cerevisiae, UmHal3 does not reproduce Ppz1-inhibitory phenotypes. Indeed, UmHal3 does not inhibit UmPpz1 in vitro (although ScHal3 does). Therefore, UmHal3 might not be a moonlighting protein. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title 1: Multiplexing fluorescent dyes to investigate the interdependency of cellular events induced by the plant defensin HsAFP1 in single Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells
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