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Due to their functional independence, proteins that comprise standalone metabolic units, which we name single-protein metabolic modules, may be particularly prone to gene duplication (GD) and horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Flavohemoglobins (flavoHbs) are prime examples of single-protein metabolic modules, detoxifying nitric oxide (NO), a ubiquitous toxin whose antimicrobial properties many life forms exploit, to nitrate, a common source of nitrogen for organisms. FlavoHbs appear widespread in bacteria and have been identified in a handful of microbial eukaryotes, but how the distribution of this ecologically and biomedically important protein family evolved remains unknown. Reconstruction of the evolutionary history of 3,318 flavoHb protein sequences covering the family's known diversity showed evidence of recurrent HGT at multiple evolutionary scales including intrabacterial HGT, as well as HGT from bacteria to eukaryotes. One of the most striking examples of HGT is the acquisition of a flavoHb by the dandruff- and eczema-causing fungus Malassezia from Corynebacterium Actinobacteria, a transfer that growth experiments show is capable of mediating NO resistance in fungi. Other flavoHbs arose via GD; for example, many filamentous fungi possess two flavoHbs that are differentially targeted to the cytosol and mitochondria, likely conferring protection against external and internal sources of NO, respectively. Because single-protein metabolic modules such as flavoHb function independently, readily undergo GD and HGT, and are frequently involved in organismal defense and competition, we suggest that they represent "plug-and-play" proteins for ecological arms races.
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com.
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) is highly effective in reversing obesity and associated diabetes. Recent observations in humans suggest a contributing role of increased circulating bile acids in mediating such effects. Here we use a diet-induced obesity (DIO) mouse model and compare metabolic remission when bile flow is diverted through a gallbladder anastomosis to jejunum, ileum or duodenum (sham control). We find that only bile diversion to the ileum results in physiologic changes similar to RYGB, including sustained improvements in weight, glucose tolerance and hepatic steatosis despite differential effects on hepatic gene expression. Circulating free fatty acids and triglycerides decrease while bile acids increase, particularly conjugated tauro-β-muricholic acid, an FXR antagonist. Activity of the hepatic FXR/FGF15 signalling axis is reduced and associated with altered gut microbiota. Thus bile diversion, independent of surgical rearrangement of the gastrointestinal tract, imparts significant weight loss accompanied by improved glucose and lipid homeostasis that are hallmarks of RYGB.
The tight association of the human body with trillions of colonizing microbes that we observe today is the result of a long evolutionary history. Only very recently have we started to understand how this symbiosis also affects brain function and behavior. In this hypothesis and theory article, we propose how host-microbe associations potentially influenced mammalian brain evolution and development. In particular, we explore the integration of human brain development with evolution, symbiosis, and RNA biology, which together represent a "social triangle" that drives human social behavior and cognition. We argue that, in order to understand how inter-kingdom communication can affect brain adaptation and plasticity, it is inevitable to consider epigenetic mechanisms as important mediators of genome-microbiome interactions on an individual as well as a transgenerational time scale. Finally, we unite these interpretations with the hologenome theory of evolution. Taken together, we propose a tighter integration of neuroscience fields with host-associated microbiology by taking an evolutionary perspective.
Acinetobacter baumannii persists in the medical environment and causes severe human nosocomial infections. Previous studies showed that low-level ethanol exposure increases the virulence of A. baumannii ATCC 17978. To better understand the mechanisms involved in this response, 2-D gel electrophoresis combined with mass spectrometry was used to investigate differential protein production in bacteria cultured in the presence or absence of ethanol. This approach showed that the presence of ethanol significantly induces and represses the production of 22 and 12 proteins, respectively. Although over 25% of the ethanol-induced proteins were stress-response related, the overall bacterial viability was uncompromised when cultured under these conditions. Production of proteins involved in lipid and carbohydrate anabolism was increased in the presence of ethanol, a response that correlates with increased carbohydrate biofilm content, enhanced biofilm formation on abiotic surfaces and decrease bacterial motility on semi-solid surfaces. The presence of ethanol also induced the acidification of bacterial cultures and the production of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), a ubiquitous plant hormone that signals bacterial stress-tolerance and promotes plant-bacteria interactions. These responses could be responsible for the significantly enhanced virulence of A. baumannii ATCC 17978 cells cultured in the presence of ethanol when tested with the Galleria mellonella experimental infection model. Taken together, these observations provide new insights into the effect of ethanol in bacterial virulence. This alcohol predisposes the human host to infections by A. baumannii and could favor the survival and adaptation of this pathogen to medical settings and adverse host environments.
The asparagine degradation pathway in the S288c laboratory strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is comprised of genes located at two separate loci. ASP1 is located on chromosome IV and encodes for cytosolic l-asparaginase I, whereas ASP3 contains a gene cluster located on chromosome XII comprised of four identical genes, ASP3-1, ASP3-2, ASP3-3, and ASP3-4, which encode for cell wall-associated l-asparaginase II. Interestingly, the ASP3 locus appears to be only present, in variable copy number, in S. cerevisiae strains isolated from laboratory or industrial environments and is completely absent from the genomes of 128 diverse fungal species. Investigation of the evolutionary history of ASP3 across these 128 genomes as well as across the genomes of 43 S. cerevisiae strains shows that ASP3 likely arose in a S. cerevisiae strain via horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from, or a close relative of, the wine yeast Wickerhamomyces anomalus, which co-occurs with S. cerevisiae in several biotechnological processes. Thus, because the ASP3 present in the S288c laboratory strain of S. cerevisiae is induced in response to nitrogen starvation, its acquisition may have aided yeast adaptation to artificial environments. Our finding that the ASP3 locus in S. cerevisiae originated via HGT further highlights the importance of gene sharing between yeasts in the evolution of their remarkable metabolic diversity.
© 2012 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.
Several factors can affect the density of mobile DNA in bacterial genomes including rates of exposure to novel gene pools, recombination, and reductive evolution. These traits are difficult to measure across a broad range of bacterial species, but the ecological niches occupied by an organism provide some indication of the relative magnitude of these forces. Here, by analyzing 384 bacterial genomes assigned to three ecological categories (obligate intracellular, facultative intracellular, and extracellular), we address two, related questions: How does the density of mobile DNA vary across the Bacteria? And is there a statistically supported relationship between ecological niche and mobile element gene density? We report three findings. First, the fraction of mobile element genes in bacterial genomes ranges from 0 to 21% and decreases significantly: facultative intracellular > extracellular > obligate intracellular bacteria. Results further show that the obligate intracellular bacteria that host switch have a higher mobile DNA gene density than the obligate intracellular bacteria that are vertically transmitted. Second, while bacteria from the three ecological niches differ in their average mobile DNA contents, the ranges of mobile DNA found in each category overlap a surprising extent, suggesting bacteria with different lifestyles can tolerate similar amounts of mobile DNA. Third, mobile DNA gene densities increase with genome size across the entire dataset, and the significance of this correlation is dependent on the obligate intracellular bacteria. Further, mobile DNA gene densities do not correlate with evolutionary relationships in a 16S rDNA phylogeny. These findings statistically support a compelling link between mobile element evolution and bacterial ecology.
The Helicobacter pylori babA gene encodes an outer membrane protein that mediates binding to fucosylated ABH antigens of the ABO blood group. We recently demonstrated that BabA expression is lost during experimental infection of rhesus macaques with H. pylori J166. We sought to test the generality of this observation by comparison of different H. pylori strains and different animal hosts. Challenge of macaques with H. pylori J99 yielded output strains that lost BabA expression, either by selection and then expansion of a subpopulation of J99 that had a single-base-pair mutation that encoded a stop codon or by gene conversion of babA with a duplicate copy of babB, a paralog of unknown function. Challenge of mice with H. pylori J166, which unlike J99, has 5' CT repeats in babA, resulted in loss of BabA expression due to phase variation. In the gerbil, Leb binding was lost by replacement of the babA gene that encoded Leb binding with a nonbinding allele that differed at six amino acid residues. Complementation experiments confirmed that change in these six amino acids of BabA was sufficient to eliminate binding to Leb and to gastric tissue. These results demonstrate that BabA expression in vivo is highly dynamic, and the findings implicate specific amino acid residues as critical for binding to fucosylated ABH antigens. We hypothesize that modification of BabA expression during H. pylori infection is a mechanism to adapt to changing conditions of inflammation and glycan expression at the epithelial surface.
The semi-invariant natural killer (NK) T-cell receptor (NKTcr) recognises structurally diverse glycolipid antigens presented by the monomorphic CD1d molecule. While the alpha-chain of the NKTcr is invariant, the beta-chain is more diverse, but how this diversity enables the NKTcr to recognise diverse antigens, such as an alpha-linked monosaccharide (alpha-galactosylceramide and alpha-galactosyldiacylglycerol) and the beta-linked trisaccharide (isoglobotriaosylceramide), is unclear. We demonstrate here that NKTcrs, which varied in their beta-chain usage, recognised diverse glycolipid antigens with a similar binding mode on CD1d. Nevertheless, the NKTcrs recognised distinct epitopic sites within these antigens, including alpha-galactosylceramide, the structurally similar alpha-galactosyldiacylglycerol and the very distinct isoglobotriaosylceramide. We also show that the relative roles of the CDR loops within the NKTcr beta-chain varied as a function of the antigen. Thus, while NKTcrs characteristically use a conserved docking mode, the NKTcr beta-chain allows these cells to recognise unique aspects of structurally diverse CD1d-restricted ligands.
In this review we summarize our recent efforts using mathematical modeling and computation to simulate cancer invasion, with a special emphasis on the tumor microenvironment. We consider cancer progression as a complex multiscale process and approach it with three single-cell-based mathematical models that examine the interactions between tumor microenvironment and cancer cells at several scales. The models exploit distinct mathematical and computational techniques, yet they share core elements and can be compared and/or related to each other. The overall aim of using mathematical models is to uncover the fundamental mechanisms that lend cancer progression its direction towards invasion and metastasis. The models effectively simulate various modes of cancer cell adaptation to the microenvironment in a growing tumor. All three point to a general mechanism underlying cancer invasion: competition for adaptation between distinct cancer cell phenotypes, driven by a tumor microenvironment with scarce resources. These theoretical predictions pose an intriguing experimental challenge: test the hypothesis that invasion is an emergent property of cancer cell populations adapting to selective microenvironment pressure, rather than culmination of cancer progression producing cells with the "invasive phenotype". In broader terms, we propose that fundamental insights into cancer can be achieved by experimentation interacting with theoretical frameworks provided by computational and mathematical modeling.
Reaction to stress requires feedback adaptation of cellular functions to secure a response without distress, but the molecular order of this process is only partially understood. Here, we report a previously unrecognized regulatory element in the general adaptation syndrome. Kir6.2, the ion-conducting subunit of the metabolically responsive ATP-sensitive potassium (K(ATP)) channel, was mandatory for optimal adaptation capacity under stress. Genetic deletion of Kir6.2 disrupted K(ATP) channel-dependent adjustment of membrane excitability and calcium handling, compromising the enhancement of cardiac performance driven by sympathetic stimulation, a key mediator of the adaptation response. In the absence of Kir6.2, vigorous sympathetic challenge caused arrhythmia and sudden death, preventable by calcium-channel blockade. Thus, this vital function identifies a physiological role for K(ATP) channels in the heart.