Scholarly Work - Montana INBRE (IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence)

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    Control of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) development and senescence by the interaction between a chromosome six grain protein content locus, day length, and vernalization
    (2011-11) Parrott, David L.; Downs, Eric P.; Fischer, Andreas M.
    Regulatory processes controlling traits such as anthesis timing and whole-plant senescence are of primary importance for reproductive success and for crop quality and yield. It has previously been demonstrated that the presence of alleles associated with high grain protein content (GPC) at a locus on barley chromosome six leads to accelerated leaf senescence, and to strong (>10-fold) up-regulation of several genes which may be involved in senescence control. One of these genes (coding for a glycine-rich RNA-binding protein termed HvGR-RBP1) exhibits a high degree of similarity to Arabidopsis glycine-rich RNA-binding protein 7 (AtGRP7), which has been demonstrated to accelerate flowering under both long-day (LD) and short-day (SD) conditions, but not after vernalization. Development of near-isogenic barley lines, differing in the allelic state of the GPC locus, was compared from the seedling stage to maturity under both SD and LD and after vernalization under LD. Intriguingly, pre-anthesis plant development [measured by leaf emergence timing and pre-anthesis (sequential) leaf senescence] was enhanced in high-GPC germplasm. Differences were more pronounced under SD than under LD, but were eliminated by vernalization, associating observed effects with floral induction pathways. By contrast, differences in post-anthesis flag leaf and whole-plant senescence between low- and high-GPC germplasm persisted under all tested conditions, indicating that the GPC locus, possibly through HvGR-RBP1, impacts on both developmental stages. Detailed molecular characterization of this experimental system may allow the dissection of cross-talk between signalling pathways controlling early plant and floral development on one side, and leaf/whole-plant senescence on the other side.
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    The Prevalence of STIV c92-Like Proteins in Acidic Thermal Environments
    (2011-05) Snyder, Jamie C.; Bolduc, Benjamin I.; Bateson, Mary M.; Young, Mark J.
    A new type of viral-induced lysis system has recently been discovered for two unrelated archaeal viruses, STIV and SIRV2. Prior to the lysis of the infected host cell, unique pyramid-like lysis structures are formed on the cell surface by the protrusion of the underlying cell membrane through the overlying external S-layer. It is through these pyramid structures that assembled virions are released during lysis. The STIV viral protein c92 is responsible for the formation of these lysis structures. We searched for c92-like proteins in viral sequences present in multiple viral and cellular metagenomic libraries from Yellowstone National Park acidic hot spring environments. Phylogenetic analysis of these proteins demonstrates that, although c92-like proteins are detected in these environments, some are quite divergent and may represent new viral families. We hypothesize that this new viral lysis system is common within diverse archaeal viral populations found within acidic hot springs.
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    Resident Alveolar Macrophages Are Susceptible to and Permissive of Coxiella burnetii Infection
    (2012-12) Calverley, Matthew D.; Erickson, Sara; Read, Amanda J.; Harmsen, Allen G.
    Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever, is a zoonotic disease with potentially life-threatening complications in humans. Inhalation of low doses of Coxiella bacteria can result in infection of the host alveolar macrophage (AM). However, it is not known whether a subset of AMs within the heterogeneous population of macrophages in the infected lung is particularly susceptible to infection. We have found that lower doses of both phase I and phase II Nine Mile C. burnetii multiply and are less readily cleared from the lungs of mice compared to higher infectious doses. We have additionally identified AM resident within the lung prior to and shortly following infection, opposed to newly recruited monocytes entering the lung during infection, as being most susceptible to infection. These resident cells remain infected up to twelve days after the onset of infection, serving as a permissive niche for the maintenance of bacterial infection. A subset of infected resident AMs undergo a distinguishing phenotypic change during the progression of infection exhibiting an increase in surface integrin CD11b expression and continued expression of the surface integrin CD11c. The low rate of phase I and II Nine Mile C. burnetii growth in murine lungs may be a direct result of the limited size of the susceptible resident AM cell population.
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    The polymorphic pseudokinase ROP5 controls virulence in Toxoplasma gondii by regulating the active kinase ROP18
    (2012-11) Behnke, Michael S.; Fentress, Sarah J.; Mashayekhi, Mona; Li, Lucy X.; Taylor, Gregory A.; Sibley, L. David
    Secretory polymorphic serine/threonine kinases control pathogenesis of Toxoplasma gondii in the mouse. Genetic studies show that the pseudokinase ROP5 is essential for acute virulence, but do not reveal its mechanism of action. Here we demonstrate that ROP5 controls virulence by blocking IFN-γ mediated clearance in activated macrophages. ROP5 was required for the catalytic activity of the active S/T kinase ROP18, which phosphorylates host immunity related GTPases (IRGs) and protects the parasite from clearance. ROP5 directly regulated activity of ROP18 in vitro, and both proteins were necessary to avoid IRG recruitment and clearance in macrophages. Clearance of both the Δrop5 and Δrop18 mutants was reversed in macrophages lacking Irgm3, which is required for IRG function, and the virulence defect was fully restored in Irgm3−/− mice. Our findings establish that the pseudokinase ROP5 controls the activity of ROP18, thereby blocking IRG mediated clearance in macrophages. Additionally, ROP5 has other functions that are also Irgm3 and IFN-γ dependent, indicting it plays a general role in governing virulence factors that block immunity.
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    Discovery of a splicing regulator required for cell cycle progression
    (2013-02) Suvorova, Elena S.; Croken, Matthew; Kratzer, Stella; Ting, Li-Min; Conde de Felipe, Magnolia; Balu, Bharath; Markillie, Meng L.; Weiss, Louis M.; Kim, Kami; White, Michael W.
    In the G1 phase of the cell division cycle, eukaryotic cells prepare many of the resources necessary for a new round of growth including renewal of the transcriptional and protein synthetic capacities and building the machinery for chromosome replication. The function of G1 has an early evolutionary origin and is preserved in single and multicellular organisms, although the regulatory mechanisms conducting G1 specific functions are only understood in a few model eukaryotes. Here we describe a new G1 mutant from an ancient family of apicomplexan protozoans. Toxoplasma gondii temperature-sensitive mutant 12-109C6 conditionally arrests in the G1 phase due to a single point mutation in a novel protein containing a single RNA-recognition-motif (TgRRM1). The resulting tyrosine to asparagine amino acid change in TgRRM1 causes severe temperature instability that generates an effective null phenotype for this protein when the mutant is shifted to the restrictive temperature. Orthologs of TgRRM1 are widely conserved in diverse eukaryote lineages, and the human counterpart (RBM42) can functionally replace the missing Toxoplasma factor. Transcriptome studies demonstrate that gene expression is downregulated in the mutant at the restrictive temperature due to a severe defect in splicing that affects both cell cycle and constitutively expressed mRNAs. The interaction of TgRRM1 with factors of the tri-SNP complex (U4/U6 & U5 snRNPs) indicate this factor may be required to assemble an active spliceosome. Thus, the TgRRM1 family of proteins is an unrecognized and evolutionarily conserved class of splicing regulators. This study demonstrates investigations into diverse unicellular eukaryotes, like the Apicomplexa, have the potential to yield new insights into important mechanisms conserved across modern eukaryotic kingdoms.
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    Alpha-toxin Induces Programmed Cell Death of Human T cells, B cells, and Monocytes During USA300 Infection
    (2012-05) Nygaard, Tyler K.; Pallister, Kyler B.; DuMont, Ashley L.; DeWald, Mark; Watkins, Robert L.; Pallister, Erik Q.; Malone, Cheryl L.; Griffith, Shannon; Horswill, Alexander R.; Torres, Victor J.; Voyich, Jovanka M.
    This investigation examines the influence of alpha-toxin (Hla) during USA300 infection of human leukocytes. Survival of an USA300 isogenic deletion mutant of hla (USA300Δhla) in human blood was comparable to the parental wild-type strain and polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) plasma membrane permeability caused by USA300 did not require Hla. Flow cytometry analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) following infection by USA300, USA300Δhla, and USA300Δhla transformed with a plasmid over-expressing Hla (USA300Δhla Comp) demonstrated this toxin plays a significant role inducing plasma membrane permeability of CD14+, CD3+, and CD19+ PBMCs. Rapid plasma membrane permeability independent of Hla was observed for PMNs, CD14+ and CD19+ PBMCs following intoxication with USA300 supernatant while the majority of CD3+ PBMC plasma membrane permeability induced by USA300 required Hla. Addition of recombinant Hla to USA300Δhla supernatant rescued CD3+ and CD19+ PBMC plasma membrane permeability generated by USA300 supernatant. An observed delay in plasma membrane permeability caused by Hla in conjunction with Annexin V binding and ApoBrdU Tunel assays examining PBMCs intoxicated with recombinant Hla or infected with USA300, USA300Δhla, USA300Δhla Comp, and USA300ΔsaeR/S suggest Hla induces programmed cell death of monocytes, B cells, and T cells that results in plasma membrane permeability. Together these findings underscore the importance of Hla during S. aureus infection of human tissue and specifically demonstrate Hla activity during USA300 infection triggers programmed cell death of human monocytes, T cells and B cells that leads to plasma membrane permeability.
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    Virus-like Particle-Induced Protection against MRSA Pneumonia Is Dependent on IL-13 and Enhancement of Phagocyte Function
    (2012-07) Rynda-Apple, Agnieszka; Dobrinen, Erin; McAlpine, Mark; Read, Amanda; Harmsen, Ann L.; Richert, Laura E.; Calverley, Matthew; Pallister, Kyler; Voyich, Jovanka M.; Wiley, James A.; Johnson, Ben; Young, Mark J.; Douglas, Trevor; Harmsen, Allen G.
    The importance of the priming of the lung environment by past infections is being increasingly recognized. Exposure to any given antigen can either improve or worsen the outcome of subsequent lung infections, depending on the immunological history of the host. Thus, an ability to impart transient alterations in the lung environment in anticipation of future insult could provide an important novel therapy for emerging infectious diseases. In this study, we show that nasal administration of virus-like particles (VLPs) before, or immediately after, lethal challenge with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) of mice i) ensures complete recovery from lung infection and near absolute clearance of bacteria within 12 hours of challenge, ii) reduces host response-induced lung tissue damage, iii) promotes recruitment and efficient bacterial clearance by neutrophils and CD11c+ cells, and iv) protects macrophages from MRSA-induced necrosis. VLP-mediated protection against MRSA relied on innate immunity. Complete recovery occurred in VLP-dosed mice with severe combined immunodeficiency, but not in wild-type mice depleted of either Ly6G+ or CD11c+ cells. Early IL-13 production associated with VLP-induced CD11c+ cells was essential for VLP-induced protection. These results indicate that VLP-induced alteration of the lung environment protects the host from lethal MRSA pneumonia by enhancing phagocyte recruitment and killing and by reducing inflammation-induced tissue damage via IL-13–dependent mechanisms.
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    Transcriptomic and proteomic analyses of the Aspergillus fumigatus hypoxia response using an oxygen-controlled fermenter
    (2012-02) Barker, Bridget M.; Kroll, Kristin; Vödisch, Martin; Mazurie, Aurélien J.; Kniemeyer, Olaf; Cramer, Robert A.
    Background Aspergillus fumigatus is a mold responsible for the majority of cases of aspergillosis in humans. To survive in the human body, A. fumigatus must adapt to microenvironments that are often characterized by low nutrient and oxygen availability. Recent research suggests that the ability of A. fumigatus and other pathogenic fungi to adapt to hypoxia contributes to their virulence. However, molecular mechanisms of A. fumigatus hypoxia adaptation are poorly understood. Thus, to better understand how A. fumigatus adapts to hypoxic microenvironments found in vivo during human fungal pathogenesis, the dynamic changes of the fungal transcriptome and proteome in hypoxia were investigated over a period of 24 hours utilizing an oxygen-controlled fermenter system. Results Significant increases in transcripts associated with iron and sterol metabolism, the cell wall, the GABA shunt, and transcriptional regulators were observed in response to hypoxia. A concomitant reduction in transcripts was observed with ribosome and terpenoid backbone biosynthesis, TCA cycle, amino acid metabolism and RNA degradation. Analysis of changes in transcription factor mRNA abundance shows that hypoxia induces significant positive and negative changes that may be important for regulating the hypoxia response in this pathogenic mold. Growth in hypoxia resulted in changes in the protein levels of several glycolytic enzymes, but these changes were not always reflected by the corresponding transcriptional profiling data. However, a good correlation overall (R2 = 0.2, p < 0.05) existed between the transcriptomic and proteomics datasets for all time points. The lack of correlation between some transcript levels and their subsequent protein levels suggests another regulatory layer of the hypoxia response in A. fumigatus. Conclusions Taken together, our data suggest a robust cellular response that is likely regulated both at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level in response to hypoxia by the human pathogenic mold A. fumigatus. As with other pathogenic fungi, the induction of glycolysis and transcriptional down-regulation of the TCA cycle and oxidative phosphorylation appear to major components of the hypoxia response in this pathogenic mold. In addition, a significant induction of the transcripts involved in ergosterol biosynthesis is consistent with previous observations in the pathogenic yeasts Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans indicating conservation of this response to hypoxia in pathogenic fungi. Because ergosterol biosynthesis enzymes also require iron as a co-factor, the increase in iron uptake transcripts is consistent with an increased need for iron under hypoxia. However, unlike C. albicans and C. neoformans, the GABA shunt appears to play an important role in reducing NADH levels in response to hypoxia in A. fumigatus and it will be intriguing to determine whether this is critical for fungal virulence. Overall, regulatory mechanisms of the A. fumigatus hypoxia response appear to involve both transcriptional and post-transcriptional control of transcript and protein levels and thus provide candidate genes for future analysis of their role in hypoxia adaptation and fungal virulence.
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    The SaeR/S gene regulatory system induces a pro-inflammatory cytokine response during Staphylococcus aureus infection
    (2011-05) Watkins, Robert L.; Pallister, Kyler B.; Voyich, Jovanka M.
    Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus accounts for a large portion of the increased staphylococcal disease incidence and can cause illness ranging from mild skin infections to rapidly fatal sepsis syndromes. Currently, we have limited understanding of S. aureus-derived mechanisms contributing to bacterial pathogenesis and host inflammation during staphylococcal disease. Herein, we characterize an influential role for the saeR/S two-component gene regulatory system in mediating cytokine induction using mouse models of S. aureus pathogenesis. Invasive S. aureus infection induced the production of localized and systemic pro-inflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interferon gamma (IFN-γ), interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-2. In contrast, mice infected with an isogenic saeR/S deletion mutant demonstrated significantly reduced pro-inflammatory cytokine levels. Additionally, secreted factors influenced by saeR/S elicited pro-inflammatory cytokines in human blood ex vivo. Our study further demonstrated robust saeR/S-mediated IFN-γproduction during both invasive and subcutaneous skin infections. Results also indicated a critical role for saeR/S in promoting bacterial survival and enhancing host mortality during S. aureus peritonitis. Taken together, this study provides insight into specific mechanisms used by S. aureus during staphylococcal disease and characterizes a relationship between a bacterial global regulator of virulence and the production of pro-inflammatory mediators.
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    A systematic screen to discover and analyze apicoplast proteins identifies a conserved and essential protein import factor
    (2011-12) Sheiner, Lilach; Demerly, Jessica L.; Poulsen, Nicole; Beatty, Wandy L.; Lucas, Olivier; Behnke, Michael S.; White, Michael W.; Striepen, Boris
    Parasites of the phylum Apicomplexa cause diseases that impact global health and economy. These unicellular eukaryotes possess a relict plastid, the apicoplast, which is an essential organelle and a validated drug target. However, much of its biology remains poorly understood, in particular its elaborate compartmentalization: four membranes defining four different spaces. Only a small number of organellar proteins have been identified in particular few proteins are known for non-luminal apicoplast compartments. We hypothesized that enlarging the catalogue of apicoplast proteins will contribute toward identifying new organellar functions and expand the realm of targets beyond a limited set of characterized pathways. We developed a bioinformatic screen based on mRNA abundance over the cell cycle and on phyletic distribution. We experimentally assessed 57 genes, and of 30 successful epitope tagged candidates eleven novel apicoplast proteins were identified. Of those, seven appear to target to the lumen of the organelle, and four localize to peripheral compartments. To address their function we then developed a robust system for the construction of conditional mutants via a promoter replacement strategy. We confirm the feasibility of this system by establishing conditional mutants for two selected genes – a luminal and a peripheral apicoplast protein. The latter is particularly intriguing as it encodes a hypothetical protein that is conserved in and unique to Apicomplexan parasites and other related organisms that maintain a red algal endosymbiont. Our studies suggest that this peripheral plastid protein, PPP1, is likely localized to the periplastid compartment. Conditional disruption of PPP1 demonstrated that it is essential for parasite survival. Phenotypic analysis of this mutant is consistent with a role of the PPP1 protein in apicoplast biogenesis, specifically in import of nuclear-encoded proteins into the organelle.
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    Regulation of human formyl peptide receptor 1 synthesis: role of single nucleotide polymorphisms, transcription factors, and inflammatory mediators
    (2011-12) Miettinen, Heini M.
    The gene encoding the human formyl peptide receptor 1 (FPR1) is heterogeneous, containing numerous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Here, we examine the effect of these SNPs on gene transcription and protein translation. We also identify gene promoter sequences and putative FPR1 transcription factors. To test the effect of codon bias and codon pair bias on FPR1 expression, four FPR1 genetic variants were expressed in human myeloid U937 cells fused to a reporter gene encoding firefly luciferase. No significant differences in luciferase activity were detected, suggesting that the translational regulation and protein stability of FPR1 are modulated by factors other than the SNP codon bias and the variant amino acid properties. Deletion and mutagenesis analysis of the FPR1 promoter showed that a CCAAT box is not required for gene transcription. A −88/41 promoter construct resulted in the strongest transcriptional activity, whereas a −72/41 construct showed large reduction in activity. The region between −88 and −72 contains a consensus binding site for the transcription factor PU.1. Mutagenesis of this site caused significant reduction in reporter gene expression. The PU.1 binding was confirmed in vivo by chromatin immunoprecipitation, and the binding to nucleotides −84 to −76 (TTCCTATTT) was confirmed in vitro by an electrophoretic mobility shift assay. Thus, similar to many other myeloid genes, FPR1 promoter activity requires PU.1. Two single nucleotide polymorphisms at −56 and −54 did not significantly affect FPR1 gene expression, despite differences in binding of transcription factor IRF1 in vitro. Inflammatory mediators such as interferon-γ, tumor necrosis factor-α, and lipopolysaccharide did not increase FPR1 promoter activity in myeloid cells, whereas differentiation induced by DMSO and retinoic acid enhanced the activity. This implies that the expression of FPR1 in myeloid cells is developmentally regulated, and that the differentiated cells are equipped for immediate response to microbial infections.
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    Nuclease modulates biofilm formation in community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
    (2011-11) Kiedrowski, Megan R.; Kavanaugh, Jeffrey S.; Malone, Cheryl L.; Mootz, Joe M.; Voyich, Jovanka M.; Smeltzer, Mark S.; Bayles, Kenneth W.; Horswill, Alexander R.
    Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is an emerging contributor to biofilm-related infections. We recently reported that strains lacking sigma factor B (sigB) in the USA300 lineage of CA-MRSA are unable to develop a biofilm. Interestingly, when spent media from a USA300 sigB mutant was incubated with other S. aureus strains, biofilm formation was inhibited. Following fractionation and mass spectrometry analysis, the major anti-biofilm factor identified in the spent media was secreted thermonuclease (Nuc). Considering reports that extracellular DNA (eDNA) is an important component of the biofilm matrix, we investigated the regulation and role of Nuc in USA300. The expression of the nuc gene was increased in a sigB mutant, repressed by glucose supplementation, and was unaffected by the agr quorum-sensing system. A FRET assay for Nuc activity was developed and confirmed the regulatory results. A USA300 nuc mutant was constructed and displayed an enhanced biofilm-forming capacity, and the nuc mutant also accumulated more high molecular weight eDNA than the WT and regulatory mutant strains. Inactivation of nuc in the USA300 sigB mutant background partially repaired the sigB biofilm-negative phenotype, suggesting that nuc expression contributes to the inability of the mutant to form biofilm. To test the generality of the nuc mutant biofilm phenotypes, the mutation was introduced into other S. aureus genetic backgrounds and similar increases in biofilm formation were observed. Finally, using multiple S. aureus strains and regulatory mutants, an inverse correlation between Nuc activity and biofilm formation was demonstrated. Altogether, our findings confirm the important role for eDNA in the S. aureus biofilm matrix and indicates Nuc is a regulator of biofilm formation.
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    In vivo hypoxia and a fungal alcohol dehydrogenase influence the pathogenesis of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis
    (2011-07) Grahl, Nora; Puttikamonkul, Srisombat; Macdonald, Jeffrey M.; Gamcsik, Michael P.; Ngo, Lisa Y.; Hohl, Tobias M.; Cramer, Robert A.
    Currently, our knowledge of how pathogenic fungi grow in mammalian host environments is limited. Using a chemotherapeutic murine model of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) and 1H-NMR metabolomics, we detected ethanol in the lungs of mice infected with Aspergillus fumigatus. This result suggests that A. fumigatus is exposed to oxygen depleted microenvironments during infection. To test this hypothesis, we utilized a chemical hypoxia detection agent, pimonidazole hydrochloride, in three immunologically distinct murine models of IPA (chemotherapeutic, X-CGD, and corticosteroid). In all three IPA murine models, hypoxia was observed during the course of infection. We next tested the hypothesis that production of ethanol in vivo by the fungus is involved in hypoxia adaptation and fungal pathogenesis. Ethanol deficient A. fumigatus strains showed no growth defects in hypoxia and were able to cause wild type levels of mortality in all 3 murine models. However, lung immunohistopathology and flow cytometry analyses revealed an increase in the inflammatory response in mice infected with an alcohol dehydrogenase null mutant strain that corresponded with a reduction in fungal burden. Consequently, in this study we present the first in vivo observations that hypoxic microenvironments occur during a pulmonary invasive fungal infection and observe that a fungal alcohol dehydrogenase influences fungal pathogenesis in the lung. Thus, environmental conditions encountered by invading pathogenic fungi may result in substantial fungal metabolism changes that influence subsequent host immune responses.
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    SREBP coordinates iron and ergosterol homeostasis to mediate triazole drug and hypoxia responses in the human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus
    (2011-12) Blatzer, Michael; Barker, Bridget M.; Willger, Sven D.; Beckmann, Nicola; Blosser, Sara J.; Cornish, Elizabeth J.; Mazurie, Aurelien J.; Grahl, Nora; Haas, Hubertus; Cramer, Robert A.
    Sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) are a class of basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors that regulate diverse cellular responses in eukaryotes. Adding to the recognized importance of SREBPs in human health, SREBPs in the human fungal pathogens Cryptococcus neoformans and Aspergillus fumigatus are required for fungal virulence and susceptibility to triazole antifungal drugs. To date, the exact mechanism(s) behind the role of SREBP in these observed phenotypes is not clear. Here, we report that A. fumigatus SREBP, SrbA, mediates regulation of iron acquisition in response to hypoxia and low iron conditions. To further define SrbA's role in iron acquisition in relation to previously studied fungal regulators of iron metabolism, SreA and HapX, a series of mutants were generated in the ΔsrbA background. These data suggest that SrbA is activated independently of SreA and HapX in response to iron limitation, but that HapX mRNA induction is partially dependent on SrbA. Intriguingly, exogenous addition of high iron or genetic deletion of sreA in the ΔsrbA background was able to partially rescue the hypoxia growth, triazole drug susceptibility, and decrease in ergosterol content phenotypes of ΔsrbA. Thus, we conclude that the fungal SREBP, SrbA, is critical for coordinating genes involved in iron acquisition and ergosterol biosynthesis under hypoxia and low iron conditions found at sites of human fungal infections. These results support a role for SREBP–mediated iron regulation in fungal virulence, and they lay a foundation for further exploration of SREBP's role in iron homeostasis in other eukaryotes.
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    Hepatocytes lacking thioredoxin reductase 1 have normal replicative potential during development and regeneration
    (2010-07) Rollins, MaryClare F.; van der Heide, Dana M.; Weisend, Carla M.; Kundert, Jean A.; Comstock, Kristin M.; Suvorova, Elena S.; Capecchi, Mario R.; Merrill, Gary F.; Schmidt, Edward E.
    Cells require ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) activity for DNA replication. In bacteria, electrons can flow from NADPH to RNR by either a thioredoxin-reductase- or a glutathione-reductase-dependent route. Yeast and plants artificially lacking thioredoxin reductases exhibit a slow-growth phenotype, suggesting glutathione-reductase-dependent routes are poor at supporting DNA replication in these organisms. We have studied proliferation of thioredoxin-reductase-1 (Txnrd1)-deficient hepatocytes in mice. During development and regeneration, normal mice and mice having Txnrd1-deficient hepatocytes exhibited similar liver growth rates. Proportions of hepatocytes that immunostained for PCNA, phosphohistone H3 or incorporated BrdU were also similar, indicating livers of either genotype had similar levels of proliferative, S and M phase hepatocytes, respectively. Replication was blocked by hydroxyurea, confirming that RNR activity was required by Txnrd1-deficient hepatocytes. Regenerative thymidine incorporation was similar in normal and Txnrd1-deficient livers, further indicating that DNA synthesis was unaffected. Using genetic chimeras in which a fluorescently marked subset of hepatocytes was Txnrd1-deficient while others were not, we found that the multigenerational contributions of both hepatocyte types to development and to liver regeneration were indistinguishable. We conclude that, in mouse hepatocytes, a Txnrd1-independent route for the supply of electrons to RNR can fully support DNA replication and normal proliferative growth.
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    Evolution of metabolic network organization
    (2010-05) Mazurie, Aurélien J.; Bonchev, Danail; Schwikowski, Benno; Buck, Gregory A.
    Background Comparison of metabolic networks across species is a key to understanding how evolutionary pressures shape these networks. By selecting taxa representative of different lineages or lifestyles and using a comprehensive set of descriptors of the structure and complexity of their metabolic networks, one can highlight both qualitative and quantitative differences in the metabolic organization of species subject to distinct evolutionary paths or environmental constraints. Results We used a novel representation of metabolic networks, termed network of interacting pathways or NIP, to focus on the modular, high-level organization of the metabolic capabilities of the cell. Using machine learning techniques we identified the most relevant aspects of cellular organization that change under evolutionary pressures. We considered the transitions from prokarya to eukarya (with a focus on the transitions among the archaea, bacteria and eukarya), from unicellular to multicellular eukarya, from free living to host-associated bacteria, from anaerobic to aerobic, as well as the acquisition of cell motility or growth in an environment of various levels of salinity or temperature. Intuitively, we expect organisms with more complex lifestyles to have more complex and robust metabolic networks. Here we demonstrate for the first time that such organisms are not only characterized by larger, denser networks of metabolic pathways but also have more efficiently organized cross communications, as revealed by subtle changes in network topology. These changes are unevenly distributed among metabolic pathways, with specific categories of pathways being promoted to more central locations as an answer to environmental constraints. Conclusions Combining methods from graph theory and machine learning, we have shown here that evolutionary pressures not only affects gene and protein sequences, but also specific details of the complex wiring of functional modules in the cell. This approach allows the identification and quantification of those changes, and provides an overview of the evolution of intracellular systems.
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    A major grain protein content locus on barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) chromosome 6 influences flowering time and sequential leaf senescence
    (2010-06) Lacerenza, Joseph A.; Parrott, David L.; Fischer, Andreas M.
    Timing of various developmental stages including anthesis and whole-plant (‘monocarpic’) senescence influences yield and quality of annual crops. While a correlation between flowering/seed filling and whole-plant senescence has been observed in many annuals, it is unclear how the gene networks controlling these processes interact. Using near-isogenic germplasm, it has previously been demonstrated that a grain protein content (GPC) locus on barley chromosome 6 strongly influences the timing of post-anthesis flag leaf senescence, with high-GPC germplasm senescing early. Here, it is shown that the presence of high-GPC allele(s) at this locus also accelerates pre-anthesis plant development. While floral transition at the shoot apical meristem (SAM; determined by the presence of double ridges) occurred simultaneously, subsequent development was faster in the high- than in the low-GPC line, and anthesis occurred on average 5 d earlier. Similarly, sequential (pre-anthesis) leaf senescence was slightly accelerated, but only after differences in SAM development became visible. Leaf expression levels of four candidate genes (from a list of genes differentially regulated in post-anthesis flag leaves) were much higher in the high-GPC line even before faster development of the SAM became visible. One of these genes may be a functional homologue of Arabidopsis glycine-rich RNA-binding protein 7, which has previously been implicated in the promotion of flowering. Together, the data establish that the GPC locus influences pre- and post-anthesis barley development and senescence, and set the stage for a more detailed analysis of the interactions between the molecular networks controlling these important life history traits.
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    Metagenomes from high-temperature chemotrophic systems reveal geochemical controls on microbial community structure and function
    (2010-03) Inskeep, William P.; Rusch, Douglas B.; Jay, Zackary J.; Herrgard, Markus J.; Kozubal, Mark A.; Richardson, Toby H.; Macur, Richard E.; Hamamura, Natsuko; Jennings, Ryan deM.; Fouke, Bruce W.; Reysenbach, Anna-Louise; Roberto, Frank; Young, Mark J.; Schwartz, Ariel; Boyd, Eric S.; Badger, Jonathan H.; Mathur, Eric J.; Ortmann, Alice C.; Bateson, Mary M.; Geesey, Gill G.; Frazier, Marvin
    The Yellowstone caldera contains the most numerous and diverse geothermal systems on Earth, yielding an extensive array of unique high-temperature environments that host a variety of deeply-rooted and understudied Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya. The combination of extreme temperature and chemical conditions encountered in geothermal environments often results in considerably less microbial diversity than other terrestrial habitats and offers a tremendous opportunity for studying the structure and function of indigenous microbial communities and for establishing linkages between putative metabolisms and element cycling. Metagenome sequence (14–15,000 Sanger reads per site) was obtained for five high-temperature (>65°C) chemotrophic microbial communities sampled from geothermal springs (or pools) in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) that exhibit a wide range in geochemistry including pH, dissolved sulfide, dissolved oxygen and ferrous iron. Metagenome data revealed significant differences in the predominant phyla associated with each of these geochemical environments. Novel members of the Sulfolobales are dominant in low pH environments, while other Crenarchaeota including distantly-related Thermoproteales and Desulfurococcales populations dominate in suboxic sulfidic sediments. Several novel archaeal groups are well represented in an acidic (pH 3) Fe-oxyhydroxide mat, where a higher O2 influx is accompanied with an increase in archaeal diversity. The presence or absence of genes and pathways important in S oxidation-reduction, H2-oxidation, and aerobic respiration (terminal oxidation) provide insight regarding the metabolic strategies of indigenous organisms present in geothermal systems. Multiple-pathway and protein-specific functional analysis of metagenome sequence data corroborated results from phylogenetic analyses and clearly demonstrate major differences in metabolic potential across sites. The distribution of functional genes involved in electron transport is consistent with the hypothesis that geochemical parameters (e.g., pH, sulfide, Fe, O2) control microbial community structure and function in YNP geothermal springs.
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    T. gondii RP promoters & knockdown reveal molecular pathways associated with proliferation and cell-cycle arrest
    (2010-11) Hutson, Samuel L.; Mui, Ernest; Kinsley, Karen; Witola, William H.; Behnke, Michael S.; El Bissati, Kamal; Muench, Stephen P.; Rohrman, Brittany; Liu, Susan R.; Wollmann, Robert; Ogata, Yuko; Sarkeshik, Ali; Yates III, John R.; McLeod, Rima
    Molecular pathways regulating rapid proliferation and persistence are fundamental for pathogens but are not elucidated fully in Toxoplasma gondii. Promoters of T. gondii ribosomal proteins (RPs) were analyzed by EMSAs and ChIP. One RP promoter domain, known to bind an Apetela 2, bound to nuclear extract proteins. Promoter domains appeared to associate with histone acetyl transferases. To study effects of a RP gene's regulation in T. gondii, mutant parasites (Δrps13) were engineered with integration of tetracycline repressor (TetR) response elements in a critical location in the rps13 promoter and transfection of a yellow fluorescent-tetracycline repressor (YFP-TetR). This permitted conditional knockdown of rps13 expression in a tightly regulated manner. Δrps13 parasites were studied in the presence (+ATc) or absence of anhydrotetracycline (-ATc) in culture. -ATc, transcription of the rps13 gene and expression of RPS13 protein were markedly diminished, with concomitant cessation of parasite replication. Study of Δrps13 expressing Myc-tagged RPL22, -ATc, showed RPL22 diminished but at a slower rate. Quantitation of RNA showed diminution of 18S RNA. Depletion of RPS13 caused arrest of parasites in the G1 cell cycle phase, thereby stopping parasite proliferation. Transcriptional differences ±ATc implicate molecules likely to function in regulation of these processes. In vitro, -ATc, Δrps13 persists for months and the proliferation phenotype can be rescued with ATc. In vivo, however, Δrps13 could only be rescued when ATc was given simultaneously and not at any time after 1 week, even when L-NAME and ATc were administered. Immunization with Δrps13 parasites protects mice completely against subsequent challenge with wildtype clonal Type 1 parasites, and robustly protects mice against wildtype clonal Type 2 parasites. Our results demonstrate that G1 arrest by ribosomal protein depletion is associated with persistence of T. gondii in a model system in vitro and immunization with Δrps13 protects mice against subsequent challenge with wildtype parasites.
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    Coordinated progression through two subtranscriptomes underlies the tachyzoitecycle of Toxoplasma gondii
    (2010-08) Behnke, Michael S.; Wootton, John C.; Lehmann, Margaret M.; Radke, Josh B.; Lucas, Olivier; Nawas, Julie; Sibley, L. David; White, Michael W.
    Background Apicomplexan parasites replicate by varied and unusual processes where the typically eukaryotic expansion of cellular components and chromosome cycle are coordinated with the biosynthesis of parasite-specific structures essential for transmission. Methodology/Principal Findings Here we describe the global cell cycle transcriptome of the tachyzoite stage of Toxoplasma gondii. In dividing tachyzoites, more than a third of the mRNAs exhibit significant cyclical profiles whose timing correlates with biosynthetic events that unfold during daughter parasite formation. These 2,833 mRNAs have a bimodal organization with peak expression occurring in one of two transcriptional waves that are bounded by the transition into S phase and cell cycle exit following cytokinesis. The G1-subtranscriptome is enriched for genes required for basal biosynthetic and metabolic functions, similar to most eukaryotes, while the S/M-subtranscriptome is characterized by the uniquely apicomplexan requirements of parasite maturation, development of specialized organelles, and egress of infectious daughter cells. Two dozen AP2 transcription factors form a series through the tachyzoite cycle with successive sharp peaks of protein expression in the same timeframes as their mRNA patterns, indicating that the mechanisms responsible for the timing of protein delivery might be mediated by AP2 domains with different promoter recognition specificities. Conclusion/Significance Underlying each of the major events in apicomplexan cell cycles, and many more subordinate actions, are dynamic changes in parasite gene expression. The mechanisms responsible for cyclical gene expression timing are likely crucial to the efficiency of parasite replication and may provide new avenues for interfering with parasite growth.
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