Publications

Abstract (Expand)

The recovery of 1-butanol from fermentation broth is energy-intensive since typical concentrations in fermentation broth are below 20 g L(-1). To prevent butanol inhibition and high downstream processing costs, we aimed at producing butyl esters instead of 1-butanol. It is shown that it is possible to perform simultaneously clostridial fermentation, esterification of the formed butanol to butyl butyrate, and extraction of this ester by hexadecane. The very high partition coefficient of butyl butyrate pulls the esterification towards the product side even at fermentation pH and relatively low butanol concentrations. The hexadecane extractant is a model diesel compound and is nontoxic to the cells. If butyl butyrate enriched diesel can directly be used as car fuel, no product recovery is required. A proof-of-principle experiment for the one-pot bio-ester production from glucose led to 5 g L(-1) butyl butyrate in the hexadecane phase. The principle may be extended to a wide range of esters, especially to longer chain ones.

Authors: C. van den Berg, A. S. Heeres, L. A. van der Wielen, A. J. Straathof

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: Biotechnol Bioeng

Abstract (Expand)

We used parameter scanning to emulate changes to the limiting rate for steps in a fitted model of glucose-derepressed yeast glycolysis. Three flux-control regimes were observed, two of which were under the dominant control of hexose transport, in accordance with various experimental studies and other model predictions. A third control regime in which phosphofructokinase exerted dominant glycolytic flux control was also found, but it appeared to be physiologically unreachable by this model, and all realistically obtainable flux control regimes featured hexose transport as a step involving high flux control.

Authors: L. Pritchard, D. B. Kell

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: Eur J Biochem

Abstract (Expand)

Kynurenine formation by tryptophan-catabolic indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) plays a key role in tumor immune evasion and inhibition of IDO1 is efficacious in preclinical models of breast cancer. As the response of breast cancer to immune checkpoint inhibitors may be limited, a better understanding of the expression of additional targetable immunomodulatory pathways is of importance. We therefore investigated the regulation of IDO1 expression in different breast cancer subtypes. We identified estrogen receptor alpha (ER) as a negative regulator of IDO1 expression. Serum kynurenine levels as well as tumoral IDO1 expression were lower in patients with ER-positive than ER-negative tumors and an inverse relationship between IDO1 and estrogen receptor mRNA was observed across 14 breast cancer data sets. Analysis of whole genome bisulfite sequencing, 450k, MassARRAY and pyrosequencing data revealed that the IDO1 promoter is hypermethylated in ER-positive compared with ER-negative breast cancer. Reduced induction of IDO1 was also observed in human ER-positive breast cancer cell lines. IDO1 induction was enhanced upon DNA demethylation in ER-positive but not in ER-negative cells and methylation of an IDO1 promoter construct reduced IDO1 expression, suggesting that enhanced methylation of the IDO1 promoter suppresses IDO1 in ER-positive breast cancer. The association of ER overexpression with epigenetic downregulation of IDO1 appears to be a particular feature of breast cancer as IDO1 was not suppressed by IDO1 promoter hypermethylation in the presence of high ER expression in cervical or endometrial cancer.

Authors: D. L. Dewi, S. R. Mohapatra, S. Blanco Cabanes, I. Adam, L. F. Somarribas Patterson, B. Berdel, M. Kahloon, L. Thurmann, S. Loth, K. Heilmann, D. Weichenhan, O. Mucke, Ines Heiland, P. Wimberger, J. D. Kuhlmann, Karl-Heinz Kellner, Sarah Schott, C. Plass, M. Platten, C. Gerhauser, S. Trump, Christiane Opitz

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: Oncoimmunology

Abstract (Expand)

SABIO-RK (http://sabiork.h-its.org/) is a manually curated database containing data about biochemical reactions and their reaction kinetics. The data are primarily extracted from scientific literature and stored in a relational database. The content comprises both naturally occurring and alternatively measured biochemical reactions and is not restricted to any organism class. The data are made available to the public by a web-based search interface and by web services for programmatic access. In this update we describe major improvements and extensions of SABIO-RK since our last publication in the database issue of Nucleic Acid Research (2012). (i) The website has been completely revised and (ii) allows now also free text search for kinetics data. (iii) Additional interlinkages with other databases in our field have been established; this enables users to gain directly comprehensive knowledge about the properties of enzymes and kinetics beyond SABIO-RK. (iv) Vice versa, direct access to SABIO-RK data has been implemented in several systems biology tools and workflows. (v) On request of our experimental users, the data can be exported now additionally in spreadsheet formats. (vi) The newly established SABIO-RK Curation Service allows to respond to specific data requirements.

Authors: Ulrike Wittig, Maja Rey, A. Weidemann, Renate Kania, Wolfgang Müller

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: Nucleic Acids Res

Abstract (Expand)

The diurnal cycle strongly influences many plant metabolic and physiological processes. Arabidopsis thaliana rosettes were harvested six times during 12-h-light/12-h-dark treatments to investigate changes in gene expression using ATH1 arrays. Diagnostic gene sets were identified from published or in-house expression profiles of the response to light, sugar, nitrogen, and water deficit in seedlings and 4 h of darkness or illumination at ambient or compensation point [CO(2)]. Many sugar-responsive genes showed large diurnal expression changes, whose timing matched that of the diurnal changes of sugars. A set of circadian-regulated genes also showed large diurnal changes in expression. Comparison of published results from a free-running cycle with the diurnal changes in Columbia-0 (Col-0) and the starchless phosphoglucomutase (pgm) mutant indicated that sugars modify the expression of up to half of the clock-regulated genes. Principle component analysis identified genes that make large contributions to diurnal changes and confirmed that sugar and circadian regulation are the major inputs in Col-0 but that sugars dominate the response in pgm. Most of the changes in pgm are triggered by low sugar levels during the night rather than high levels in the light, highlighting the importance of responses to low sugar in diurnal gene regulation. We identified a set of candidate regulatory genes that show robust responses to alterations in sugar levels and change markedly during the diurnal cycle.

Authors: O. E. Blasing, Y. Gibon, M. Gunther, M. Hohne, R. Morcuende, D. Osuna, O. Thimm, B. Usadel, W. R. Scheible, M. Stitt

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: Plant Cell

Abstract

Not specified

Authors: Falk Schreiber, Gary D. Bader, Padraig Gleeson, Martin Golebiewski, Mike Hucka, Sarah M. Keating, Nicolas Le Novère, Chris Myers, David Nickerson, Björn Sommer, Dagmar Waltemath

Date Published: 25th Apr 2018

Journal: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Gut microbiota associations through habitat transitions are fundamentally important yet poorly understood. One such habitat transition is the migration from freshwater to saltwater for anadromous fish, such as salmon. The aim of the current work was therefore to determine the freshwater-to-saltwater transition impact on the gut microbiota in farmed Atlantic salmon, with dietary interventions resembling freshwater and saltwater diets with respect to fatty acid composition. Using deep 16S rRNA gene sequencing and quantitative PCR, we found that the freshwater-to-saltwater transition had a major association with the microbiota composition and quantity, while diet did not show significant associations with the microbiota. In saltwater there was a 100-fold increase in bacterial quantity, with a relative increase of Firmicutes and a relative decrease of both Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria. Irrespective of an overall shift in microbiota composition from freshwater to saltwater, we identified three core clostridia and one Lactobacillus-affiliated phylotype with wide geographic distribution that were highly prevalent and co-occurring. Taken together, our results support the importance of the dominating bacteria in the salmon gut, with the freshwater microbiota being immature. Due to the low number of potentially host-associated bacterial species in the salmon gut, we believe that farmed salmon can represent an important model for future understanding of host-bacterium interactions in aquatic environments. IMPORTANCE Little is known about factors affecting the interindividual distribution of gut bacteria in aquatic environments. We have shown that there is a core of four highly prevalent and co-occurring bacteria irrespective of feed and freshwater-to-saltwater transition. The potential host interactions of the core bacteria, however, need to be elucidated further.

Authors: Knut Rudi, Inga Leena Angell, Phillip B. Pope, Jon Olav Vik, Simen Rød Sandve, Lars Snipen

Date Published: 15th Jan 2018

Journal: Appl Environ Microbiol

Abstract (Expand)

Sulfolobus solfataricus is a thermoacidophilic Archaeon that thrives in terrestrial hot springs (solfatares) with optimal growth at 80 degrees C and pH 2-4. It catabolizes specific carbon sources, such as D-glucose, to pyruvate via the modified Entner-Doudoroff (ED) pathway. This pathway has two parallel branches, the semi-phosphorylative and the non-phosphorylative. However, the strategy of S.solfataricus to endure in such an extreme environment in terms of robustness and adaptation is not yet completely understood. Here, we present the first dynamic mathematical model of the ED pathway parameterized with quantitative experimental data. These data consist of enzyme activities of the branched pathway at 70 degrees C and 80 degrees C and of metabolomics data at the same temperatures for the wild type and for a metabolic engineered knockout of the semi-phosphorylative branch. We use the validated model to address two questions: 1. Is this system more robust to perturbations at its optimal growth temperature? 2. Is the ED robust to deletion and perturbations? We employed a systems biology approach to answer these questions and to gain further knowledge on the emergent properties of this biological system. Specifically, we applied deterministic and stochastic approaches to study the sensitivity and robustness of the system, respectively. The mathematical model we present here, shows that: 1. Steady state metabolite concentrations of the ED pathway are consistently more robust to stochastic internal perturbations at 80 degrees C than at 70 degrees C; 2. These metabolite concentrations are highly robust when faced with the knockout of either branch. Connected with this observation, these two branches show different properties at the level of metabolite production and flux control. These new results reveal how enzyme kinetics and metabolomics synergizes with mathematical modelling to unveil new systemic properties of the ED pathway in S.solfataricus in terms of its adaptation and robustness.

Authors: Sofia Figueiredo, Theresa Kouril, D. Esser, Patrick Haferkamp, Patricia Wieloch, Dietmar Schomburg, Peter Ruoff, Bettina Siebers, Jörg Schaber

Date Published: 12th Jul 2017

Journal: PLoS One

Abstract (Expand)

The transketolase from Geobacillus stearothermophilus (TKGst) is a thermostable enzyme with notable high activity and stability at elevated temperatures, but it accepts non‐α‐hydroxylated aldehydes only with low efficiency. Here we report a protein engineering study of TKGst based on double‐site saturation mutagenesis either at Leu191 or at Phe435 in combination with Asp470; these are the residues responsible for substrate binding in the active site. Screening of the mutagenesis libraries resulted in several positive variants with activity towards propanal up to 7.4 times higher than that of the wild type. Variants F435L/D470E and L191V/D470I exhibited improved (73 % ee, 3S) and inverted (74 % ee, 3R) stereoselectivity, respectively, for propanal. L191V, L382F/E, F435L, and D470/D470I were concluded to be positive mutations at Leu191, Leu382, Phe435, and Asp470 both for activity and for stereoselectivity improvement. These results should benefit further engineering of TKGst for various applications in asymmetric carboligation.

Authors: Chaoqiang Zhou, Thangavelu Saravanan, Marion Lorillière, Dongzhi Wei, Franck Charmantray, Laurence Hecquet, Wolf Dieter Fessner, Dong Yi

Date Published: 2nd Mar 2017

Journal: ChemBioChem

Abstract

Not specified

Authors: Wolfgang Müller, Meik Bittkowski, Martin Golebiewski, Renate Kania, Maja Rey, Andreas Weidemann, Ulrike Wittig

Date Published: 1st Mar 2017

Journal: Datenbank Spektrum

Abstract (Expand)

Standards are essential to the advancement of science and technology. In systems and synthetic biology, numerous standards and associated tools have been developed over the last 16 years. This special issue of the Journal of Integrative Bioinformatics aims to support the exchange, distribution and archiving of these standards, as well as to provide centralised and easily citable access to them.

Authors: F. Schreiber, G. D. Bader, P. Gleeson, Martin Golebiewski, M. Hucka, N. Le Novere, C. Myers, D. Nickerson, B. Sommer, Dagmar Waltemath

Date Published: 12th Feb 2017

Journal: J Integr Bioinform

Abstract (Expand)

Selecting an efficient small set of adjustable parameters to improve metabolic features of an organism is important for a reduction of implementation costs and risks of unpredicted side effects. In practice, to avoid the analysis of a huge combinatorial space for the possible sets of adjustable parameters, experience-, and intuition-based subsets of parameters are often chosen, possibly leaving some interesting counter-intuitive combinations of parameters unrevealed. The combinatorial scan of possible adjustable parameter combinations at the model optimization level is possible; however, the number of analyzed combinations is still limited. The total optimization potential (TOP) approach is proposed to assess the full potential for increasing the value of the objective function by optimizing all possible adjustable parameters. This seemingly unpractical combination of adjustable parameters allows assessing the maximum attainable value of the objective function and stopping the combinatorial space scanning when the desired fraction of TOP is reached and any further increase in the number of adjustable parameters cannot bring any reasonable improvement. The relation between the number of adjustable parameters and the reachable fraction of TOP is a valuable guideline in choosing a rational solution for industrial implementation. The TOP approach is demonstrated on the basis of two case studies.

Authors: Egils Stalidzans, Ivars Mozga, Jurijs Sulins, Peteris Zikmanis

Date Published: 2016

Journal: IEEE/ACM Trans. Comput. Biol. and Bioinf.

Abstract (Expand)

The mitochondrial NAD pool is particularly important for the maintenance of vital cellular functions. Although at least in some fungi and plants, mitochondrial NAD is imported from the cytosol by carrier proteins, in mammals, the mechanism of how this organellar pool is generated has remained obscure. A transporter mediating NAD import into mammalian mitochondria has not been identified. In contrast, human recombinant NMNAT3 localizes to the mitochondrial matrix and is able to catalyze NAD(+) biosynthesis in vitro. However, whether the endogenous NMNAT3 protein is functionally effective at generating NAD(+) in mitochondria of intact human cells still remains to be demonstrated. To modulate mitochondrial NAD(+) content, we have expressed plant and yeast mitochondrial NAD(+) carriers in human cells and observed a profound increase in mitochondrial NAD(+). None of the closest human homologs of these carriers had any detectable effect on mitochondrial NAD(+) content. Surprisingly, constitutive redistribution of NAD(+) from the cytosol to the mitochondria by stable expression of the Arabidopsis thaliana mitochondrial NAD(+) transporter NDT2 in HEK293 cells resulted in dramatic growth retardation and a metabolic shift from oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis, despite the elevated mitochondrial NAD(+) levels. These results suggest that a mitochondrial NAD(+) transporter, similar to the known one from A. thaliana, is likely absent and could even be harmful in human cells. We provide further support for the alternative possibility, namely intramitochondrial NAD(+) synthesis, by demonstrating the presence of endogenous NMNAT3 in the mitochondria of human cells.

Authors: M. R. VanLinden, C. Dolle, I. K. Pettersen, V. A. Kulikova, Marc Niere, G. Agrimi, S. E. Dyrstad, F. Palmieri, A. A. Nikiforov, K. J. Tronstad, Mathias Ziegler

Date Published: 13th Nov 2015

Journal: J Biol Chem

Abstract (Expand)

BACKGROUND AIMS: Human mesenchymal stem or stromal cells (MSCs) represent a potential resource not only for regenerative medicine but also for immunomodulatory cell therapies. The application of different MSC culture protocols has significantly hampered the comparability of experimental and clinical data from different laboratories and has posed a major obstacle for multicenter clinical trials. Manufacturing of cell products for clinical application in the European Community must be conducted in compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice and requires a manufacturing license. In Germany, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut as the Federal Authority for Vaccines and Biomedicines is critically involved in the approval process. METHODS: This report summarizes a consensus meeting between researchers, clinicians and regulatory experts on standard quality requirements for MSC production. RESULTS: The strategy for quality control testing depends on the product's cell composition, the manufacturing process and the indication and target patient population. Important quality criteria in this sense are, among others, the immunophenotype of the cells, composition of the culture medium and the risk for malignant transformation, as well as aging and the immunosuppressive potential of the manufactured MSCs. CONCLUSIONS: This position paper intends to provide relevant information to interested parties regarding these criteria to foster the development of scientifically valid and harmonized quality standards and to support approval of MSC-based investigational medicinal products.

Authors: P. Wuchter, K. Bieback, H. Schrezenmeier, M. Bornhauser, L. P. Muller, H. Bonig, W. Wagner, R. Meisel, P. Pavel, T. Tonn, P. Lang, I. Muller, M. Renner, G. Malcherek, Rainer Saffrich, E. C. Buss, P. Horn, M. Rojewski, A. Schmitt, A. D. Ho, R. Sanzenbacher, M. Schmitt

Date Published: 20th May 2014

Journal: Cytotherapy

Abstract (Expand)

Maintenance of monovalent cation homeostasis (mainly K(+) and Na(+)) is vital for cell survival, and cation toxicity is at the basis of a myriad of relevant phenomena, such as salt stress in crops andd diverse human diseases. Full understanding of the importance of monovalent cations in the biology of the cell can only be achieved from a systemic perspective. Translucent is a multinational project developed within the context of the SysMO (System Biology of Microorganisms) initiative and focussed in the study of cation homeostasis using the well-known yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model. The present review summarize how the combination of biochemical, genetic, genomic and computational approaches has boosted our knowledge in this field, providing the basis for a more comprehensive and coherent vision of the role of monovalent cations in the biology of the cell.

Authors: Joaquin Ariño, Ebru Aydar, Samuel Drulhe, Daniel Ganser, Jesus Jorrin, Matthias Kahm, Falko Krause, Silvia Petrezselyova, Lynne Yenush, Olga Zimmermannová, G. Paul H. van Heusden, Maik Kschischo, Jost Ludwig, Chris Palmer, Jose Ramos, Hana Sychrova

Date Published: 2014

Journal: Advances in Microbial Systems Biology

Abstract (Expand)

Research in Systems Biology involves integrating data and knowledge about the dynamic processes in biological systems in order to understand and model them. Semantic web technologies should be ideal for exploring the complex networks of genes, proteins and metabolites that interact, but much of this data is not natively available to the semantic web. Data is typically collected and stored with free-text annotations in spreadsheets, many of which do not conform to existing metadata standards and are often not publically released. Along with initiatives to promote more data sharing, one of the main challenges is therefore to semantically annotate and extract this data so that it is available to the research community. Data annotation and curation are expensive and undervalued tasks that have enormous benefits to the discipline as a whole, but fewer benefits to the individual data producers. By embedding semantic annotation into spreadsheets, however, and automatically extracting this data into RDF at the time of repository submission, the process of producing standards-compliant data, that is available for semantic web querying, can be achieved without adding additional overheads to laboratory data management. This paper describes these strategies in the context of semantic data management in the SEEK. The SEEK is a web-based resource for sharing and exchanging Systems Biology data and models that is underpinned by the JERM ontology (Just Enough Results Model), which describes the relationships between data, models, protocols and experiments. The SEEK was originally developed for SysMO, a large European Systems Biology consortium studying micro-organisms, but it has since had widespread adoption across European Systems Biology.

Authors: None

Date Published: 2013

Journal: The Semantic Web – ISWC 2013

Abstract (Expand)

Background The stressosome is a bacterial signalling complex that responds to environmental changes by initiating a protein partner switching cascade, which leads to the release of the alternative sigma factor, sigmaB. Stress perception increases the phosphorylation of the stressosome sensor protein, RsbR, and the scaffold protein, RsbS, by the protein kinase RsbT. Subsequent dissociation of RsbT from the stressosome activates the sigmaB cascade. However, the sequence of physical events that occur in the stressosome during signal transduction is insufficiently understood. Results Here, we use computational modelling to correlate the structure of the stressosome with the efficiency of the phosphorylation reactions that occur upon activation by stress. In our model, the phosphorylation of any stressosome protein is dependent upon its nearest neighbours and their phosphorylation status. We compare different hypotheses about stressosome activation and find that only the model representing the allosteric activation of the kinase RsbT, by phosphorylated RsbR, qualitatively reproduces the experimental data. Conclusions Our simulations and the associated analysis of published data support the following hypotheses: (i) a simple Boolean model is capable of reproducing stressosome dynamics, (ii) different stressors induce identical stressosome activation patterns, and we also confirm that (i) phosphorylated RsbR activates RsbT, and (ii) the main purpose of RsbX is to dephosphorylate RsbS-P.

Authors: Ulf Liebal, Thomas Millat, Jon Marles-Wright, Rick Lewis, Olaf Wolkenhauer

Date Published: 2013

Journal: BMC Syst Biol

Abstract (Expand)

How cells dynamically respond to fluctuating environmental conditions depends on the architecture and noise of the underlying genetic circuits. Most work characterizing stress pathways in the model bacterium Bacillus subtilis has been performed on bulk cultures using ensemble assays. However, investigating the single cell response to stress is important since noise might generate significant phenotypic heterogeneity. Here, we study the stress response to carbon source starvation and compare both population and single cell data. Using a top-down approach, we investigate the transcriptional dynamics of various stress-related genes of B. subtilis in response to carbon source starvation and to increased cell density. Our data reveal that most of the tested gene-regulatory networks respond highly heterogeneously to starvation and cells show a large degree of variation in gene expression. The level of highly dynamic diversification within B. subtilis populations under changing environments reflects the necessity to study cells at the single cell level.

Authors: None

Date Published: 4th Oct 2012

Journal: Environ. Microbiol.

Abstract (Expand)

The increase in volume and complexity of biological data has led to increased requirements to reuse that data. Consistent and accurate metadata is essential for this task, creating new challenges in semantic data annotation and in the constriction of terminologies and ontologies used for annotation. The BioSharing community are developing standards and terminologies for annotation, which have been adopted across bioinformatics, but the real challenge is to make these standards accessible to laboratory scientists. Widespread adoption requires the provision of tools to assist scientists whilst reducing the complexities of working with semantics. This paper describes unobtrusive ‘stealthy’ methods for collecting standards compliant, semantically annotated data and for contributing to ontologies used for those annotations. Spreadsheets are ubiquitous in laboratory data management. Our spreadsheet-based RightField tool enables scientists to structure information and select ontology terms for annotation within spreadsheets, producing high quality, consistent data without changing common working practices. Furthermore, our Populous spreadsheet tool proves effective for gathering domain knowledge in the form of Web Ontology Language (OWL) ontologies. Such a corpus of structured and semantically enriched knowledge can be extracted in Resource Description Framework (RDF), providing further means for searching across the content and contributing to Open Linked Data (http://linkeddata.org/)

Authors: Katy Wolstencroft, Stuart Owen, Matthew Horridge, Simon Jupp, Olga Krebs, Jacky Snoep, Franco Du Preez, Wolfgang Müller, Robert Stevens, Carole Goble

Date Published: 1st Oct 2012

Journal: Concurrency Computat.: Pract. Exper.

Abstract (Expand)

Understanding gene regulation requires knowledge of changes in transcription factor (TF) activities. Simultaneous direct measurement of numerous TF activities is currently impossible. Nevertheless, statistical approaches to infer TF activities have yielded non-trivial and verifiable predictions for individual TFs. Here, global statistical modelling identifies changes in TF activities from transcript profiles of Escherichia coli growing in stable (fixed oxygen availabilities) and dynamic (changing oxygen availability) environments. A core oxygen-responsive TF network, supplemented by additional TFs acting under specific conditions, was identified. The activities of the cytoplasmic oxygen-responsive TF, FNR, and the membrane-bound terminal oxidases implied that, even on the scale of the bacterial cell, spatial effects significantly influence oxygen-sensing. Several transcripts exhibited asymmetrical patterns of abundance in aerobic to anaerobic and anaerobic to aerobic transitions. One of these transcripts, ndh, encodes a major component of the aerobic respiratory chain and is regulated by oxygen-responsive TFs ArcA and FNR. Kinetic modelling indicated that ArcA and FNR behaviour could not explain the ndh transcript profile, leading to the identification of another TF, PdhR, as the source of the asymmetry. Thus, this approach illustrates how systematic examination of regulatory responses in stable and dynamic environments yields new mechanistic insights into adaptive processes.

Authors: Matthew Rolfe, Andrea Ocone, Melanie R Stapleton, Simon Hall, Eleanor W Trotter, Robert Poole, Guido Sanguinetti, Jeff Green

Date Published: 8th Aug 2012

Journal: Open Biol

Abstract

Not specified

Authors: Anna-Karin Gustavsson, Dawie Van Niekerk, Caroline B. Adiels, Franco B. du Preez, Mattias Goksör, Jacky Snoep

Date Published: 1st Aug 2012

Journal: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Bacillus subtilis synthesizes large amounts of the compatible solute proline as a cellular defense against high osmolarity to ensure a physiologically appropriate level of hydration of the cytoplasm and turgor. It also imports proline for this purpose via the osmotically inducible OpuE transport system. Unexpectedly, an opuE mutant was at a strong growth disadvantage in high-salinity minimal media lacking proline. Appreciable amounts of proline were detected in the culture supernatant of the opuE mutant strain, and they rose concomitantly with increases in the external salinity. We found that the intracellular proline pool of severely salinity-stressed cells of the opuE mutant was considerably lower than that of its opuE(+) parent strain. This loss of proline into the medium and the resulting decrease in the intracellular proline content provide a rational explanation for the observed salt-sensitive growth phenotype of cells lacking OpuE. None of the known MscL- and MscS-type mechanosensitive channels of B. subtilis participated in the release of proline under permanently imposed high-salinity growth conditions. The data reported here show that the OpuE transporter not only possesses the previously reported role for the scavenging of exogenously provided proline as an osmoprotectant but also functions as a physiologically highly important recapturing device for proline that is synthesized de novo and subsequently released by salt-stressed B. subtilis cells. The wider implications of our findings for the retention of compatible solutes by osmotically challenged microorganisms and the roles of uptake systems for compatible solutes are considered.

Authors: Tamara Hoffmann, Carsten von Blohn, Agnieszka Stanek, Susanne Moses, Helena Barzantny, Erhard Bremer

Date Published: 8th Jun 2012

Journal: Appl. Environ. Microbiol.

Abstract (Expand)

Yeast glycolytic oscillations have been studied since the 1950s in cell-free extracts and intact cells. For intact cells, sustained oscillations have so far only been observed at the population level, i.e. for synchronized cultures at high biomass concentrations. Using optical tweezers to position yeast cells in a microfluidic chamber, we were able to observe sustained oscillations in individual isolated cells. Using a detailed kinetic model for the cellular reactions, we simulated the heterogeneity in the response of the individual cells, assuming small differences in a single internal parameter. This is the first time that sustained limit-cycle oscillations have been demonstrated in isolated yeast cells. Database The mathematical model described here has been submitted to the JWS Online Cellular Systems Modelling Database and can be accessed at http://jjj.biochem.sun.ac.za/database/gustavsson/index.html free of charge.

Authors: Anna-Karin Gustavsson, David D van Niekerk, Caroline B Adiels, Franco Du Preez, Mattias Goksör, Jacky Snoep

Date Published: 23rd May 2012

Journal: The FEBS journal

Abstract (Expand)

The circadian clocks that drive daily rhythms in animals are tightly coupled among the cells of some tissues. The coupling profoundly affects cellular rhythmicity and is central to contemporary understanding of circadian physiology and behavior. In contrast, studies of the clock in plant cells have largely ignored intercellular coupling, which is reported to be very weak or absent. We used luciferase reporter gene imaging to monitor circadian rhythms in leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana plants, achieving resolution close to the cellular level. Leaves grown without environmental cycles for up to 3 wk reproducibly showed spatiotemporal waves of gene expression consistent with intercellular coupling, using several reporter genes. Within individual leaves, different regions differed in phase by up to 17 h. A broad range of patterns was observed among leaves, rather than a common spatial distribution of circadian properties. Leaves exposed to light-dark cycles always had fully synchronized rhythms, which could desynchronize rapidly. After 4 d in constant light, some leaves were as desynchronized as leaves grown without any rhythmic input. Applying light-dark cycles to such a leaf resulted in full synchronization within 2-4 d. Thus, the rhythms of all cells were coupled to external light-dark cycles far more strongly than the cellular clocks were coupled to each other. Spontaneous desynchronization under constant conditions was limited, consistent with weak intercellular coupling among heterogeneous clocks. Both the weakness of coupling and the heterogeneity among cells are relevant to interpret molecular studies and to understand the physiological functions of the plant circadian clock.

Authors: B. Wenden, D. L. Toner, S. K. Hodge, R. Grima, Andrew Millar

Date Published: 13th Apr 2012

Journal: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Abstract

Not specified

Authors: Oliver Vielhauer, Maksim Zakhartsev, Thomas Horn, Ralf Takors, Matthias Reuss

Date Published: 1st Dec 2011

Journal: Journal of Chromatography B

Abstract (Expand)

In the field of metabolomics, GC–MS has rather established itself as a tool for semi-quantitative strategies like metabolic fingerprinting or metabolic profiling. Absolute quantification of intra- or extracellular metabolites is nowadays mostly accomplished by application of diverse LC–MS techniques. Only few groups have so far adopted GC–MS technology for this exceptionally challenging task. Besides numerous and deeply investigated problems related to sample generation, the pronounced matrix effects in biological samples have led to the almost mandatory application of isotope dilution mass spectrometry (IDMS) for the accurate determination of absolute metabolite concentrations. Nevertheless, access to stable isotope labeled internal standards (ILIS), which are in many cases commercially unavailable, is quite laborious and very expensive. Here we present an improved and simplified gas chromatography–isotope dilution mass spectrometry (GC–IDMS) protocol for the absolute determination of intra- and extracellular metabolite levels. Commercially available 13C-labeled algal cells were used as a convenient source for the preparation of internal standards. Advantages as well as limitations of the described method are discussed.

Authors: Oliver Vielhauer, Maksim Zakhartsev, Thomas Horn, Ralf Takors, Matthias Reuss

Date Published: 1st Dec 2011

Journal: Journal of Chromatography B

Abstract (Expand)

SABIO-RK (http://sabio.h-its.org/) is a web-accessible database storing comprehensive information about biochemical reactions and their kinetic properties. SABIO-RK offers standardized data manually extracted from the literature and data directly submitted from lab experiments. The database content includes kinetic parameters in relation to biochemical reactions and their biological sources with no restriction on any particular set of organisms. Additionally, kinetic rate laws and corresponding equations as well as experimental conditions are represented. All the data are manually curated and annotated by biological experts, supported by automated consistency checks. SABIO-RK can be accessed via web-based user interfaces or automatically via web services that allow direct data access by other tools. Both interfaces support the export of the data together with its annotations in SBML (Systems Biology Markup Language), e.g. for import in modelling tools.

Authors: Ulrike Wittig, Renate Kania, Martin Golebiewski, Maja Rey, Lei Shi, Lenneke Jong, Enkhjargal Algaa, Andreas Weidemann, Heidrun Sauer-Danzwith, Saqib Mir, Olga Krebs, Meik Bittkowski, Elina Wetsch, Isabel Rojas, Wolfgang Müller

Date Published: 18th Nov 2011

Journal: Nucleic Acids Res.

Abstract (Expand)

In the post-genomic era, most components of a cell are known and they can be quantified by large-scale functional genomics approaches. However, genome annotation is the bottleneck that hampers our understanding of living cells and organisms. Up-to-date functional annotation is of special importance for model organisms that provide a frame of reference for studies with other relevant organisms. We have generated a Wiki-type database for the Gram-positive model bacterium Bacillus subtilis, SubtiWiki (http://subtiwiki.uni-goettingen.de/). This Wiki is centered around the individual genes and gene products of B. subtilis and provides information on each aspect of gene function and expression as well as protein activity and its control. SubtiWiki is accompanied by two companion databases SubtiPathways and SubtInteract that provide graphical representations of B. subtilis metabolism and its regulation and of protein-protein interactions, respectively. The diagrams of both databases are easily navigatable using the popular Google maps API, and they are extensively linked with the SubtiWiki gene pages. Moreover, each gene/gene product was assigned to one or more functional categories and transcription factor regulons. Pages for the specific categories and regulons provide a rapid overview of functionally related genes/proteins. Today, SubtiWiki can be regarded as one of the most complete inventories of knowledge on a living organism in one single resource.

Authors: Ulrike Mäder, Arne G Schmeisky, Lope A. Florez, Joerg Stuelke

Date Published: 16th Nov 2011

Journal: Nucleic Acids Res.

Abstract (Expand)

Segregation of replicated chromosomes is an essential process in all organisms. How bacteria, such as the oval-shaped human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae, efficiently segregate their chromosomes is poorly understood. Here we show that the pneumococcal homologue of the DNA-binding protein ParB recruits S. pneumoniae condensin (SMC) to centromere-like DNA sequences (parS) that are located near the origin of replication, in a similar fashion as was shown for the rod-shaped model bacterium Bacillus subtilis. In contrast to B. subtilis, smc is not essential in S. pneumoniae, and Δsmc cells do not show an increased sensitivity to gyrase inhibitors or high temperatures. However, deletion of smc and/or parB results in a mild chromosome segregation defect. Our results show that S. pneumoniae contains a functional chromosome segregation machine that promotes efficient chromosome segregation by recruitment of SMC via ParB. Intriguingly, the data indicate that other, as of yet unknown mechanisms, are at play to ensure proper chromosome segregation in this organism.

Authors: Anita Minnen, Laetitia Attaiech, Maria Thon, Stephan Gruber, Jan-Willem Veening

Date Published: 22nd Jun 2011

Journal: Mol. Microbiol.

Abstract (Expand)

We report the molecular basis for the differences in activity of cyclic and linear antimicrobial peptides. We iteratively performed atomistic molecular dynamics simulations and biophysical measurements to probe the interaction of a cyclic antimicrobial peptide and its inactive linear analogue with model membranes. We establish that, relative to the linear peptide, the cyclic one binds stronger to negatively charged membranes. We show that only the cyclic peptide folds at the membrane interface and adopts a beta-sheet structure characterised by two turns. Subsequently, the cyclic peptide penetrates deeper into the bilayer while the linear peptide remains essentially at the surface. Finally, based on our comparative study, we propose a model characterising the mode of action of cyclic antimicrobial peptides. The results provide a chemical rationale for enhanced activity in certain cyclic antimicrobial peptides and can be used as a guideline for design of novel antimicrobial peptides.

Authors: Jacek Mika, Gemma Moiset, Anna D Cirac, Lidia Feliu, Eduard Bardají, Marta Planas, Durba Sengupta, Siewert J Marrink, Bert Poolman

Date Published: 19th May 2011

Journal: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Several computational methods exist to suggest rational genetic interventions that improve the productivity of industrial strains. Nonetheless, these methods are less effective to predict possible genetic responses of the strain after the intervention. This problem requires a better understanding of potential alternative metabolic and regulatory pathways able to counteract the targeted intervention.

Authors: Lope A. Florez, Katrin Gunka, Rafael Polanía, Stefan Tholen, Joerg Stuelke

Date Published: 11th Jan 2011

Journal: BMC Syst Biol

Abstract (Expand)

In Gram-positive bacteria, carbon catabolite protein A (CcpA) is the master regulator of carbon catabolite control, which ensures optimal energy usage under diverse conditions. Unlike other LacI-GalR proteins, CcpA is activated for DNA binding by first forming a complex with the phosphoprotein HPr-Ser46-P. Bacillus subtilis CcpA functions as both a transcription repressor and activator and binds to more than 50 operators called catabolite response elements (cres). These sites are highly degenerate with the consensus, WTGNNARCGNWWWCAW. How CcpA-(HPr-Ser46-P) binds such diverse sequences is unclear. To gain insight into this question, we solved the structures of the CcpA-(HPr-Ser46-P) complex bound to three different operators, the synthetic (syn) cre, ackA2 cre and gntR-down cre. Strikingly, the structures show that the CcpA-bound operators display different bend angles, ranging from 31° to 56°. These differences are accommodated by a flexible linkage between the CcpA helix-turn-helix-loop-helix motif and hinge helices, which allows independent docking of these DNA-binding modules. This flexibility coupled with an abundance of non-polar residues capable of non-specific nucleobase interactions permits CcpA-(HPr-Ser46-P) to bind diverse operators. Indeed, biochemical data show that CcpA-(HPr-Ser46-P) binds the three cre sites with similar affinities. Thus, the data reveal properties that license this protein to function as a global transcription regulator.

Authors: Maria A Schumacher, Mareen Sprehe, Maike Bartholomae, Wolfgang Hillen, Richard G Brennan

Date Published: 26th Nov 2010

Journal: Nucleic Acids Res.

Abstract (Expand)

MOTIVATION: Biological sequence data is accumulating rapidly, motivating the development of improved high-throughput methods for sequence classification. RESULTS: UBLAST and USEARCH are new algorithms enabling sensitive local and global search of large sequence databases at exceptionally high speeds. They are often orders of magnitude faster than BLAST in practical applications, though sensitivity to distant protein relationships is lower. UCLUST is a new clustering method that exploits USEARCH to assign sequences to clusters. UCLUST offers several advantages over the widely used program CD-HIT, including higher speed, lower memory use, improved sensitivity, clustering at lower identities and classification of much larger datasets. AVAILABILITY: Binaries are available at no charge for non-commercial use at http://www.drive5.com/usearch.

Author: R. C. Edgar

Date Published: 12th Aug 2010

Journal: Bioinformatics

Abstract (Expand)

SUMMARY: SensSB (Sensitivity Analysis for Systems Biology) is an easy to use, MATLAB-based software toolbox, which integrates several local and global sensitivity methods that can be applied to a wide variety of biological models. In addition to addressing the sensitivity analysis problem, SensSB aims to cover all the steps involved during the modeling process. The main features of SensSB are: (i) derivative and variance based global sensitivity analysis, (ii) pseudo-global identifiability analysis, (iii) optimal experimental design based on global sensitivities, (iv) robust parameter estimation, (v) local sensitivity and identifiability analysis, (vi) confidence intervals of the estimated parameters, and (vii) optimal experimental design based on the Fisher Information Matrix (FIM). SensSB is also able to import models in the Systems Biology Mark-up Language (SBML) format. Several examples from simple analytical functions to more complex biological pathways have been implemented and can be downloaded together with the toolbox. The importance of using sensitivity analysis techniques for identifying unessential parameters and designing new experiments is quantified by increased identifiability metrics of the models and decreased confidence intervals of the estimated parameters. AVAILABILITY: SensSB is a software toolbox freely downloadable from http://www.iim.csic.es/~gingproc/SensSB.html. The web site also contains several examples and an extensive documentation. CONTACT: mrodriguez@iim.csic.es.

Authors: None

Date Published: 7th May 2010

Journal: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Transcription is the first step of gene expression and is characterized by a high fidelity of RNA synthesis. During transcription, the RNA polymerase active centre discriminates against not just non-complementary ribo NTP substrates but also against complementary 2'- and 3'-deoxy NTPs. A flexible domain of the RNA polymerase active centre, the Trigger Loop, was shown to play an important role in this process, but the mechanisms of this participation remained elusive.

Authors: Yulia Yuzenkova, Aleksandra Bochkareva, Vasisht R Tadigotla, Mohammad Roghanian, Savva Zorov, Konstantin Severinov, Nikolay Zenkin

Date Published: 1st Apr 2010

Journal: BMC Biol.

Abstract (Expand)

Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast cells serve as a model to elucidate the bases of salt tolerance and potassium homeostasis regulation in eukaryotic cells. In this study, we show that two widely used laboratory strains, BY4741 and W303-1A, differ not only in cell size and volume but also in their relative plasma-membrane potential (estimated with a potentiometric fluorescent dye diS-C3(3) and as Hygromycin B sensitivity) and tolerance to alkali-metal cations. W303-1A cells and their mutant derivatives lacking either uptake (trk1 trk2) or efflux (nha1) systems for alkali-metal cations are more tolerant to toxic sodium and lithium cations but also more sensitive to higher external concentrations of potassium than BY4741 cells and their mutants. Moreover, our results suggest that though the two strains do not differ in the total potassium content, the regulation of intracellular potassium homeostasis is probably not the same in BY4741 and W303-1A cells.

Authors: None

Date Published: 1st Feb 2010

Journal: Fungal Biology

Abstract

Not specified

Authors: Fabian M. Commichau, Jrg Stlke

Date Published: 16th Dec 2009

Journal: Bacterial Signaling

Abstract (Expand)

This Letter addresses the statistical significance of structures in random data: given a set of vectors and a measure of mutual similarity, how likely is it that a subset of these vectors forms a cluster with enhanced similarity among its elements? The computation of this cluster p value for randomly distributed vectors is mapped onto a well-defined problem of statistical mechanics. We solve this problem analytically, establishing a connection between the physics of quenched disorder and multiple-testing statistics in clustering and related problems. In an application to gene expression data, we find a remarkable link between the statistical significance of a cluster and the functional relationships between its genes.

Authors: Marta Łuksza, Michael Lässig, Johannes Berg

Date Published: 27th Nov 2009

Journal: Phys. Rev. Lett.

Abstract (Expand)

In eukaryotic cell types, virtually all cellular processes are under control of proline-directed kinases and especially MAP kinases. Serine/threonine kinases in general were originally considered as a eukaryote-specific enzyme family. However, recent studies have revealed that orthologues of eukaryotic serine/threonine kinases exist in bacteria. Moreover, various pathogenic species, such as Yersinia and Mycobacterium, require serine/threonine kinases for successful invasion of human host cells. The substrates targeted by bacterial serine/threonine kinases have remained largely unknown. Here we report that the serine/threonine kinase PknB from the important pathogen Staphylococcus aureus is released into the external milieu, which opens up the possibility that PknB does not only phosphorylate bacterial proteins but also proteins of the human host. To identify possible human targets of purified PknB, we studied in vitro phosphorylation of peptide microarrays and detected 68 possible human targets for phosphorylation. These results show that PknB is a proline-directed kinase with MAP kinase-like enzymatic activity. As the potential cellular targets for PknB are involved in apoptosis, immune responses, transport, and metabolism, PknB secretion may help the bacterium to evade intracellular killing and facilitate its growth. In apparent agreement with this notion, phosphorylation of the host-cell response coordinating transcription factor ATF-2 by PknB was confirmed by mass spectrometry. Taken together, our results identify PknB as the first prokaryotic representative of the proline-directed kinase/MAP kinase family of enzymes.

Authors: Malgorzata Miller, Stefanie Donat, Sonja Rakette, Thilo Stehle, Thijs R H M Kouwen, Sander H Diks, Annette Dreisbach, Ewoud Reilman, Katrin Gronau, Dörte Becher, Maikel P Peppelenbosch, Jan Maarten Van Dijl, Knut Ohlsen

Date Published: 12th Nov 2009

Journal: PLoS ONE

Abstract (Expand)

Systems Biology has a mission that puts it at odds with traditional paradigms of physics and molecular biology, such as the simplicity requested by Occam's razor and minimum energy/maximal efficiency. By referring to biochemical experiments on control and regulation, and on flux balancing in yeast, we show that these paradigms are inapt. Systems Biology does not quite converge with biology either: Although it certainly requires accurate 'stamp collecting', it discovers quantitative laws. Systems Biology is a science of its own, discovering own fundamental principles, some of which we identify here.

Authors: Hans Westerhoff, Catherine Winder, Hanan Messiha, Evangelos Simeonidis, Malgorzata Adamczyk, Malkhey Verma, Frank J Bruggeman, Warwick Dunn

Date Published: 6th Nov 2009

Journal: FEBS Lett.

Abstract (Expand)

Essential membrane proteins are generally recognized as relevant potential drug targets due to their exposed localization in the cell envelope. Unfortunately, high-level production of membrane proteins for functional and structural analyses is often problematic. This is mainly due to their high overall hydrophobicity. To develop new concepts for membrane protein overproduction, we investigated whether the biogenesis of overproduced membrane proteins is affected by stress response-related proteolytic systems in the membrane. For this purpose, the well-established expression host Bacillus subtilis was used to overproduce eight essential membrane proteins from B. subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus. The results show that the sigma(W) regulon (responding to cell envelope perturbations) and the CssRS two-component regulatory system (responding to unfolded exported proteins) set critical limits to membrane protein production in large quantities. The identified sigW or cssRS mutant B. subtilis strains with significantly improved capacity for membrane protein production are interesting candidate expression hosts for fundamental research and biotechnological applications. Importantly, our results pinpoint the interdependent expression and function of membrane-associated proteases as key parameters in bacterial membrane protein production.

Authors: Jessica C Zweers, Thomas Wiegert, Jan Maarten Van Dijl

Date Published: 9th Oct 2009

Journal: Appl. Environ. Microbiol.

Abstract (Expand)

Semantic annotations in SBML (systems biology markup language) enable computer programs to check and process biochemical models based on their biochemical meaning. Annotations are an important prerequisite for model merging, which would be a major step towards the construction of large-scale cell models. The software tool semanticSBML allows users to check and edit MIRIAM annotations and SBO terms, the most common forms of annotation in SBML models. It uses a large collection of biochemical names and database identifiers to support modellers in finding the right annotations. Annotated SBML models can also be built from lists of chemical reactions. In model merging, semanticSBML suggests a preliminary merged model based on MIRIAM annotations in the original models. This model provides a starting point for manually aligning the elements of all input models. To resolve conflicting element properties, conflicts are highlighted and categorised. The user can navigate through the models, change the matching of model elements, check the conflicts between them and decide how they should be resolved. Alternatively, the software can resolve all conflicts automatically, selecting each time the attribute value from the input model with highest priority. URL: http://www.semanticsbml.org/

Authors: Wolfram Liebermeister, Falko Krause, Jannis Uhlendorf, Timo Lubitz, Edda Klipp

Date Published: 20th Apr 2009

Journal: Nature Precedings

Abstract (Expand)

This paper briefly describes the SABIO-RK database model for the storage of reaction kinetics information and the guidelines followed within the SABIO-RK project to annotate the kinetic data. Such annotations support the definition of cross links to other related databases and augment the semantics of the data stored in the database.

Authors: Isabel Rojas, Martin Golebiewski, Renate Kania, Olga Krebs, Saqib Mir, Andreas Weidemann, Ulrike Wittig

Date Published: 14th Sep 2007

Journal: In Silico Biol. (Gedrukt)

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