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  • Sinorhizobium meliloti Chemoreceptor McpV Senses Short-Chain Carboxylates via Direct Binding
    Compton, K. Karl; Hildreth, Sherry B.; Helm, Richard F.; Scharf, Birgit E. (2018-12)
    Sinorhizobium meliloti is a soil-dwelling endosymbiont of alfalfa that has eight chemoreceptors to sense environmental stimuli during its free-living state. The functions of two receptors have been characterized, with McpU and McpX serving as general amino acid and quaternary ammonium compound sensors, respectively. Both receptors use a dual Cache (calcium channels and chemotaxis receptors) domain for ligand binding. We identified that the ligand-binding periplasmic region (PR) of McpV contains a single Cache domain. Homology modeling revealed that McpVPR is structurally similar to a sensor domain of a chemoreceptor with unknown function from Anaeromyxobacter dehalogenans, which crystallized with acetate in its binding pocket. We therefore assayed McpV for carboxylate binding and S. meliloti for carboxylate sensing. Differential scanning fluorimetry identified 10 potential ligands for McpVPR. Nine of these are monocarboxylates with chain lengths between two and four carbons. We selected seven compounds for capillary assay analysis, which established positive chemotaxis of the S. meliloti wild type, with concentrations of peak attraction at 1 mM for acetate, propionate, pyruvate, and glycolate, and at 100 mM for formate and acetoacetate. Deletion of mcpV or mutation of residues essential for ligand coordination abolished positive chemotaxis to carboxylates. Using microcalorimetry, we determined that dissociation constants of the seven ligands with McpVPR were in the micromolar range. An McpVPR variant with a mutation in the ligand coordination site displayed no binding to isobutyrate or propionate. Of all the carboxylates tested as attractants, only glycolate was detected in alfalfa seed exudates. This work examines the relevance of carboxylates and their sensor to the rhizobium-legume interaction.
  • More than Rotating Flagella: Lipopolysaccharide as a Secondary Receptor for Flagellotropic Phage 7-7-1
    Gonzalez, Floricel; Helm, Richard F.; Broadway, Katherine M.; Scharf, Birgit E. (2018-10)
    Bacteriophage 7-7-1, a member of the family Myoviridae, infects the soil bacterium Agrobacterium sp. strain H13-3. Infection requires attachment to actively rotating bacterial flagellar filaments, with flagellar number, length, and rotation speed being important determinants for infection efficiency. To identify the secondary receptor(s) on the cell surface, we isolated motile, phage-resistant Agrobacterium sp. H13-3 transposon mutants. Transposon insertion sites were pinpointed using arbitrary primed PCR and bioinformatics analyses. Three genes were recognized, whose corresponding proteins had the following computationally predicted functions: AGROH133_07337, a glycosyltransferase; AGROH133_13050, a UDP-glucose 4-epimerase; and AGROH133_08824, an integral cytoplasmic membrane protein. The first two gene products are part of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) synthesis pathway, while the last is predicted to be a relatively small (13.4-kDa) cytosolic membrane protein with up to four transmembrane helices. The phenotypes of the transposon mutants were verified by complementation and site-directed mutagenesis. Additional characterization of motile, phage-resistant mutants is also described. Given these findings, we propose a model for Agrobacterium sp. H13-3 infection by bacteriophage 7-7-1 where the phage initially attaches to the flagellar filament and is propelled down toward the cell surface by clockwise flagellar rotation. The phage then attaches to and degrades the LPS to reach the outer membrane and ejects its DNA into the host using its syringe-like contractile tail. We hypothesize that the integral membrane protein plays an important role in events following viral DNA ejection or in LPS processing and/or deployment. The proposed two-step attachment mechanism may be conserved among other flagellotropic phages infecting Gram-negative bacteria.
  • The chromosome-scale genome assembly for the West Nile vector Culex quinquefasciatus uncovers patterns of genome evolution in mosquitoes
    Ryazansky, Sergei S.; Chen, Chujia; Potters, Mark; Naumenko, Anastasia N.; Lukyanchikova, Varvara; Masri, Reem A.; Brusentsov, Ilya I.; Karagodin, Dmitriy A.; Yurchenko, Andrey A.; dos Anjos, Vitor L.; Haba, Yuki; Rose, Noah H.; Hoffman, Jinna; Guo, Rong; Menna, Theresa; Kelley, Melissa; Ferrill, Emily; Schultz, Karen E.; Qi, Yumin; Sharma, Atashi; Deschamps, Stéphane; Llaca, Victor; Mao, Chunhong; Murphy, Terence D.; Baricheva, Elina M.; Emrich, Scott; Fritz, Megan L.; Benoit, Joshua B.; Sharakhov, Igor V.; McBride, Carolyn S.; Tu, Zhijian; Sharakhova, Maria V. (2024-01-25)
    Background: Understanding genome organization and evolution is important for species involved in transmission of human diseases, such as mosquitoes. Anophelinae and Culicinae subfamilies of mosquitoes show striking differences in genome sizes, sex chromosome arrangements, behavior, and ability to transmit pathogens. However, the genomic basis of these differences is not fully understood. Methods: In this study, we used a combination of advanced genome technologies such as Oxford Nanopore Technology sequencing, Hi-C scaffolding, Bionano, and cytogenetic mapping to develop an improved chromosome-scale genome assembly for the West Nile vector Culex quinquefasciatus. Results: We then used this assembly to annotate odorant receptors, odorant binding proteins, and transposable elements. A genomic region containing male-specific sequences on chromosome 1 and a polymorphic inversion on chromosome 3 were identified in the Cx. quinquefasciatus genome. In addition, the genome of Cx. quinquefasciatus was compared with the genomes of other mosquitoes such as malaria vectors An. coluzzi and An. albimanus, and the vector of arboviruses Ae. aegypti. Our work confirms significant expansion of the two chemosensory gene families in Cx. quinquefasciatus, as well as a significant increase and relocation of the transposable elements in both Cx. quinquefasciatus and Ae. aegypti relative to the Anophelines. Phylogenetic analysis clarifies the divergence time between the mosquito species. Our study provides new insights into chromosomal evolution in mosquitoes and finds that the X chromosome of Anophelinae and the sex-determining chromosome 1 of Culicinae have a significantly higher rate of evolution than autosomes. Conclusion: The improved Cx. quinquefasciatus genome assembly uncovered new details of mosquito genome evolution and has the potential to speed up the development of novel vector control strategies.
  • Increased Fusobacterium tumoural abundance affects immunogenicity in mucinous colorectal cancer and may be associated with improved clinical outcome
    Duggan, William P.; Salvucci, Manuela; Kisakol, Batuhan; Lindner, Andreas U.; Reynolds, Ian S.; Dussmann, Heiko; Fay, Joanna; O'Grady, Tony; Longley, Daniel B.; Ginty, Fiona; McDonough, Elizabeth; Slade, Daniel J.; Burke, John P.; Prehn, Jochen H. M. (Springer, 2023-07)
    Abstract: There is currently an urgent need to identify factors predictive of immunogenicity in colorectal cancer (CRC). Mucinous CRC is a distinct histological subtype of CRC, associated with a poor response to chemotherapy. Recent evidence suggests the commensal facultative anaerobe Fusobacterium may be especially prevalent in mucinous CRC. The objectives of this study were to assess the association of Fusobacterium abundance with immune cell composition and prognosis in mucinous CRC. Our study included two independent colorectal cancer patient cohorts, The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) cohort, and a cohort of rectal cancers from the Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre (BRCC). Multiplexed immunofluorescence staining of a tumour microarray (TMA) from the BRCC cohort was undertaken using Cell DIVE technology. Our cohorts included 87 cases (13.3%) of mucinous and 565 cases (86.7%) of non-mucinous CRC. Mucinous CRC in the TCGA dataset was associated with an increased proportion of CD8 + lymphocytes (p = 0.018), regulatory T-cells (p = 0.001) and M2 macrophages (p = 0.001). In the BRCC cohort, mucinous RC was associated with enhanced CD8 + lymphocyte (p = 0.022), regulatory T-cell (p = 0.047), and B-cell (p = 0.025) counts. High Fusobacterium abundance was associated with an increased proportion of CD4 + lymphocytes (p = 0.031) and M1 macrophages (p = 0.006), whilst M2 macrophages (p = 0.043) were under-represented in this cohort. Patients with increased Fusobacterium relative abundance in our mucinous CRC TCGA cohort tended to have better clinical outcomes (DSS: likelihood ratio p = 0.04, logrank p = 0.052). Fusobacterium abundance may be associated with improved outcomes in mucinous CRC, possibly due to a modulatory effect on the host immune response. Key messages: • Increased Fusobacterium relative abundance was not found to be associated with microsatellite instability in mucinous CRC. • Increased Fusobacterium relative abundance was associated with an M2/M1 macrophage switch, which is especially significant in mucinous CRC, where M2 macrophages are overexpressed. • Increased Fusobacterium relative abundance was associated with a significant improvement in disease specific survival in mucinous CRC. • Our findings were validated at a protein level within our own in house mucinous and non-mucinous rectal cancer cohorts.
  • Genomic analysis of two phlebotomine sand fly vectors of leishmania from the new and old World
    Labbe, Frederic; Abdeladhim, Maha; Abrudan, Jenica; Araki, Alejandra Saori; Araujo, Ricardo N.; Arensburger, Peter; Benoit, Joshua B.; Brazil, Reginaldo Pecanha; Bruno, Rafaela V.; Rivas, Gustavo Bueno da Silva D. S.; de Abreu, Vinicius Carvalho; Charamis, Jason; Coutinho-Abreu, Iliano V.; da Costa-Latge, Samara G.; Darby, Alistair; Dillon, Viv M.; Emrich, Scott J.; Fernandez-Medina, Daniela; Gontijo, Nelder Figueiredo; Flanley, Catherine M.; Gatherer, Derek; Genta, Fernando A.; Gesing, Sandra; Giraldo-Calderon, Gloria I.; Gomes, Bruno; Aguiar, Eric Roberto Guimaraes Rocha; Hamilton, James GC C.; Hamarsheh, Omar; Hawksworth, Mallory; Hendershot, Jacob M.; Hickner, Paul V.; Imler, Jean-Luc; Ioannidis, Panagiotis; Jennings, Emily C.; Kamhawi, Shaden; Karageorgiou, Charikleia; Kennedy, Ryan C.; Krueger, Andreas; Latorre-Estivalis, Jose M.; Ligoxygakis, Petros; Meireles-Filho, Antonio Carlos A.; Minx, Patrick; Miranda, Jose Carlos; Montague, Michael J.; Nowling, Ronald J.; Oliveira, Fabiano; Ortigao-Farias, Joao; Pavan, Marcio G.; Pereira, Marcos Horacio; Pitaluga, Andre Nobrega; Olmo, Roenick Proveti; Ramalho-Ortigao, Marcelo; Ribeiro, Jose MC C.; Rosendale, Andrew J.; Sant'Anna, Mauricio RV V.; Scherer, Steven E.; Secundino, Nagila FC C.; Shoue, Douglas A.; Moraes, Caroline da Silva D. S.; Gesto, Joao Silveira Moledo; Souza, Nataly Araujo; Syed, Zainulabueddin; Tadros, Samuel; Teles-de-Freitas, Rayane; Telleria, Erich L.; Tomlinson, Chad; Traub-Cseko, Yara M.; Marques, Joao Trindade; Tu, Zhijian; Unger, Maria F.; Valenzuela, Jesus; Ferreira, Flavia; de Oliveira, Karla PV V.; Vigoder, Felipe M.; Vontas, John; Wang, Lihui; Weedall, Gareth D.; Zhioua, Elyes; Richards, Stephen; Warren, Wesley C.; Waterhouse, Robert M.; Dillon, Rod J.; McDowell, Mary Ann (Public Library of Science, 2023-04-12)
    Phlebotomine sand flies are of global significance as important vectors of human disease, transmitting bacterial, viral, and protozoan pathogens, including the kinetoplastid parasites of the genus Leishmania, the causative agents of devastating diseases collectively termed leishmaniasis. More than 40 pathogenic Leishmania species are transmitted to humans by approximately 35 sand fly species in 98 countries with hundreds of millions of people at risk around the world. No approved efficacious vaccine exists for leishmaniasis and available therapeutic drugs are either toxic and/or expensive, or the parasites are becoming resistant to the more recently developed drugs. Therefore, sand fly and/or reservoir control are currently the most effective strategies to break transmission. To better understand the biology of sand flies, including the mechanisms involved in their vectorial capacity, insecticide resistance, and population structures we sequenced the genomes of two geographically widespread and important sand fly vector species: Phlebotomus papatasi, a vector of Leishmania parasites that cause cutaneous leishmaniasis, (distributed in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa) and Lutzomyia longipalpis, a vector of Leishmania parasites that cause visceral leishmaniasis (distributed across Central and South America). We categorized and curated genes involved in processes important to their roles as disease vectors, including chemosensation, blood feeding, circadian rhythm, immunity, and detoxification, as well as mobile genetic elements. We also defined gene orthology and observed micro-synteny among the genomes. Finally, we present the genetic diversity and population structure of these species in their respective geographical areas. These genomes will be a foundation on which to base future efforts to prevent vector-borne transmission of Leishmania parasites.
  • Nitrite reductase activity in F420-dependent sulphite reductase (Fsr) from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii
    Heryakusuma, Christian; Johnson, Eric F.; Purwantini, Endang; Mukhopadhyay, Biswarup (Microbiology Society, 2023-04-20)
    Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (Mj), a hyperthermophilic and evolutionarily deeply rooted methanogenic archaeon from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent, produces F420-dependent sulphite reductase (Fsr) in response to exposure to sulphite. This enzyme allows Mj to detoxify sulphite, a potent inhibitor of methyl coenzyme-M reductase (Mcr), by reducing it to sulphide with reduced coenzyme F420 (F420H2) as an electron donor; Mcr is essential for energy production for a methanogen. Fsr allows Mj to utilize sulphite as a sulphur source. Nitrite is another potent inhibitor of Mcr and is toxic to methanogens. It is reduced by most sulphite reductases. In this study, we report that MjFsr reduced nitrite to ammonia with F420H2 with physiologically relevant K m values (nitrite, 8.9 µM; F420H2, 9.7 µM). The enzyme also reduced hydroxylamine with a K m value of 112.4 µM, indicating that it was an intermediate in the reduction of nitrite to ammonia. These results open the possibility that Mj could use nitrite as a nitrogen source if it is provided at a low concentration of the type that occurs in its habitat.
  • Expression of anti-chikungunya single-domain antibodies in transgenic Aedes aegypti reduces vector competence for chikungunya virus and Mayaro virus
    Webb, Emily M.; Compton, Austin; Rai, Pallavi; Chuong, Christina; Paulson, Sally L.; Tu, Zhijian; Weger-Lucarelli, James (Frontiers, 2023-06-12)
    Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and Mayaro virus (MAYV) are closely related alphaviruses that cause acute febrile illness accompanied by an incapacitating polyarthralgia that can persist for years following initial infection. In conjunction with sporadic outbreaks throughout the sub-tropical regions of the Americas, increased global travel to CHIKV- and MAYV-endemic areas has resulted in imported cases of MAYV, as well as imported cases and autochthonous transmission of CHIKV, within the United States and Europe. With increasing prevalence of CHIKV worldwide and MAYV throughout the Americas within the last decade, a heavy focus has been placed on control and prevention programs. To date, the most effective means of controlling the spread of these viruses is through mosquito control programs. However, current programs have limitations in their effectiveness; therefore, novel approaches are necessary to control the spread of these crippling pathogens and lessen their disease burden. We have previously identified and characterized an anti-CHIKV single-domain antibody (sdAb) that potently neutralizes several alphaviruses including Ross River virus and Mayaro virus. Given the close antigenic relationship between MAYV and CHIKV, we formulated a single defense strategy to combat both emerging arboviruses: we generated transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that express two camelid-derived anti-CHIKV sdAbs. Following an infectious bloodmeal, we observed significant reduction in CHIKV and MAYV replication and transmission potential in sdAb-expressing transgenic compared to wild-type mosquitoes; thus, this strategy provides a novel approach to controlling and preventing outbreaks of these pathogens that reduce quality of life throughout the tropical regions of the world.
  • The role of Culex territans mosquitoes in the transmission of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis to amphibian hosts
    Reinhold, Joanna M.; Halbert, Ella; Roark, Megan; Smith, Sierra N.; Stroh, Katherine M.; Siler, Cameron D.; McLeod, David S.; Lahondère, Chloé (2023-11-16)
    Background Mosquitoes are the deadliest organisms in the world, killing an estimated 750,000 people per year due to the pathogens they can transmit. Mosquitoes also pose a major threat to other vertebrate animals. Culex territans is a mosquito species found in temperate zones worldwide that feeds almost exclusively on amphibians and can transmit parasites; however, little is known about its ability to transmit other pathogens, including fungi. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a topical pathogenic fungus that spreads through contact. With amphibian populations around the world experiencing mass die-offs and extinctions due to this pathogen, it is critical to study all potential modes of transmission. Because Cx. territans mosquitoes are in contact with their hosts for long periods of time while blood-feeding, we hypothesize that they can transmit and pick up Bd. Methods In this study, we first assessed Cx. territans ability to transfer the fungus from an infected surface to a clean one under laboratory conditions. We also conducted a surveillance study of Bd infections in frogs and mosquitoes in the field (Mountain Lake Biological station, VA, USA). In parallel, we determined Cx. territans host preference via blood meal analysis of field caught mosquitoes. Results We found that this mosquito species can carry the fungus to an uninfected surface, implying that they may have the ability to transmit Bd to their amphibian hosts. We also found that Cx. territans feed primarily on green frogs (Rana clamitans) and bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) and that the prevalence of Bd within the frog population at our field site varied between years. Conclusions This study provides critical insights into understanding the role of amphibian-biting mosquitoes in transmitting pathogens, which can be applied to disease ecology of susceptible amphibian populations worldwide.
  • Sex-differences in proteasome-dependent K48-polyubiquitin signaling in the amygdala are developmentally regulated in rats
    Farrell, Kayla; Auerbach, Aubrey; Liu, Catherine; Martin, Kiley; Pareno, Myasia; Ray, W. Keith; Helm, Richard F.; Biase, Fernando; Jarome, Timothy J. (2023-11-10)
    Background Sex differences have been observed in several brain regions for the molecular mechanisms involved in baseline (resting) and memory-related processes. The ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) is a major protein degradation pathway in cells. Sex differences have been observed in lysine-48 (K48)-polyubiquitination, the canonical degradation mark of the UPS, both at baseline and during fear memory formation within the amygdala. Here, we investigated when, how, and why these baseline sex differences arise and whether both sexes require the K48-polyubiquitin mark for memory formation in the amygdala. Methods We used a combination of molecular, biochemical and proteomic approaches to examine global and protein-specific K48-polyubiquitination and DNA methylation levels at a major ubiquitin coding gene (Uba52) at baseline in the amygdala of male and female rats before and after puberty to determine if sex differences were developmentally regulated. We then used behavioral and genetic approaches to test the necessity of K48-polyubiquitination in the amygdala for fear memory formation. Results We observed developmentally regulated baseline differences in Uba52 methylation and total K48-polyubiquitination, with sexual maturity altering levels specifically in female rats. K48-polyubiquitination at specific proteins changed across development in both male and female rats, but sex differences were present regardless of age. Lastly, we found that genetic inhibition of K48-polyubiquitination in the amygdala of female, but not male, rats impaired fear memory formation. Conclusions These results suggest that K48-polyubiquitination differentially targets proteins in the amygdala in a sex-specific manner regardless of age. However, sexual maturity is important in the developmental regulation of K48-polyubiquitination levels in female rats. Consistent with these data, K48-polyubiquitin signaling in the amygdala is selectively required to form fear memories in female rats. Together, these data indicate that sex-differences in baseline K48-polyubiquitination within the amygdala are developmentally regulated, which could have important implications for better understanding sex-differences in molecular mechanisms involved in processes relevant to anxiety-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Large Iodine Variability in Retail Cows' Milk in the U.S.: A Follow-Up Study among Different Retail Outlets
    Roseland, Janet M.; Phillips, Katherine M.; Vinyard, Bryan T.; Todorov, Todor; Ershow, Abby G.; Pehrsson, Pamela R. (MDPI, 2023-07-08)
    In a previous study, large variability in iodine content was found among samples of store brand retail milk at a single time point in a sampling taken from 24 nationwide U.S. locations for the USDA FoodData Central database, but the sampling plan was not designed to detect differences among locations. This follow-up study was carried out to evaluate iodine levels in retail milk across the U.S. over time. Milk samples (2% fat) were collected bimonthly in fourteen locations for one year and analyzed in duplicate. Control materials were used to support accuracy of results and ensure precision across analytical batches. The overall mean and standard error (SE) for iodine concentration were 82.5 (7.0) µg/240 mL serving, which was comparable to the previous national mean [85.0 (5.5) µg/240 mL]. A similar wide range among individual samples was detected (27.9–282 µg/240 mL). For some locations, the mean iodine concentration differed significantly from others, and differed from the national average by amounts ranging from −47 µg to +37 µg per serving. The between-sample range within location was large for some (up to 229 µg/serving) and minimal for others (as little as 13.2 µg/serving). These findings suggest iodine intake from some retail milk supplies could be over- or underestimated relative to the national average, even if the national average is suitable for population-wide intake estimates.
  • A large screen identifies beta-lactam antibiotics which can be repurposed to target the syphilis agent
    Hayes, Kathryn A.; Dressler, Jules M.; Norris, Steven J.; Edmondson, Diane G.; Jutras, Brandon L. (Springer Nature, 2023)
    Syphilis, caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum (hereafter called T. pallidum), is re-emerging as a worldwide sexually transmitted infection. A single intramuscular dose of benzathine penicillin G is the preferred syphilis treatment option. Both supply shortage concerns and the potential for acquired antibiotic resistance further the need to broaden the repertoire of syphilis therapeutics. We reasoned that other β-lactams may be equally or more effective at targeting the disease-causing agent, Treponema pallidum, but have yet to be discovered due to a previous lack of a continuous in vitro culture system. Recent technical advances with respect to in vitro T. pallidum propagation allowed us to conduct a high-throughput screen of almost 100 β-lactams. Using several molecular and cellular approaches that we developed or adapted, we identified and confirmed the efficacy of several β-lactams that were similar to or outperformed the current standard, benzathine penicillin G. These options are either currently used to treat bacterial infections or are synthetic derivatives of naturally occurring compounds. Our studies not only identified additional potential therapeutics in the resolution of syphilis, but provide techniques to study the complex biology of T. pallidum— a spirochete that has plagued human health for centuries.
  • The structural analysis of the periplasmic domain of Sinorhizobium meliloti chemoreceptor McpZ reveals a novel fold and suggests a complex mechanism of transmembrane signaling
    Salar, Safoura; Ball, Nicolas E.; Baaziz, Hiba; Nix, Jay C.; Sobe, Richard C.; Compton, K. Karl; Zhulin, Igor B.; Brown, Anne M.; Scharf, Birgit E.; Schubot, Florian D. (Wiley, 2023-05)
    Chemotaxis is a fundamental process whereby bacteria seek out nutrient sources and avoid harmful chemicals. For the symbiotic soil bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti, the chemotaxis system also plays an essential role in the interaction with its legume host. The chemotactic signaling cascade is initiated through interactions of an attractant or repellent compound with chemoreceptors or methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins (MCPs). S. meliloti possesses eight chemoreceptors to mediate chemotaxis. Six of these receptors are transmembrane proteins with periplasmic ligand-binding domains (LBDs). The specific functions of McpW and McpZ are still unknown. Here, we report the crystal structure of the periplasmic domain of McpZ (McpZPD) at 2.7 angstrom resolution. McpZPD assumes a novel fold consisting of three concatenated four-helix bundle modules. Through phylogenetic analyses, we discovered that this helical tri-modular domain fold arose within the Rhizobiaceae family and is still evolving rapidly. The structure, offering a rare view of a ligand-free dimeric MCP-LBD, reveals a novel dimerization interface. Molecular dynamics calculations suggest ligand binding will induce conformational changes that result in large horizontal helix movements within the membrane-proximal domains of the McpZPD dimer that are accompanied by a 5 angstrom vertical shift of the terminal helix toward the inner cell membrane. These results suggest a mechanism of transmembrane signaling for this family of MCPs that entails both piston-type and scissoring movements. The predicted movements terminate in a conformation that closely mirrors those observed in related ligand-bound MCP-LBDs.
  • Key Factors Regulating the Interdomain Dynamics May Contribute to the Assembly of ASC
    Li, Tongtong; Gil Pineda, Laura I.; Stevens, Amy O.; He, Yi (MDPI, 2023-05-31)
    The canonical ASC domains, PYD and CARD, are interconnected by a lengthy, semi-flexible linker. The molecular basis and purpose of ASC’s highly dynamic feature remain elusive. In this study, all-atom molecular dynamics simulations were utilized to examine the role of the linker and the interdomain dynamics of the ASC monomer. As revealed in the principal component analysis (PCA), the flexible linker enables interdomain dynamics and rotation. The stumbling between domains is partially attributed to the helical portion of N-terminal residues in the linker. Additionally, the linker exhibits a certain structural preference due to the turn-type structural inclination of the N-terminal and the presence of several prolines on the linker. Such structural preferences lead to the unavailability of regions for PYD type I interactions to CARDs, as evidenced by the CARD spatial restraint analysis. In conclusion, the semi-flexible linker introduces functionally relevant interdomain dynamics, potentially enhancing PYD self-assembly and the subsequent assembly of the inflammasome complex.
  • Iodine in foods and dietary supplements: A collaborative database developed by NIH, FDA and USDA
    Pehrsson, Pamela R.; Roseland, Janet M.; Patterson, Kristine Y.; Phillips, Katherine M.; Spungen, Judith H.; Andrews, Karen W.; Gusev, Pavel A.; Gahche, Jaime J.; Haggans, Carol J.; Merkel, Joyce M.; Ershow, Abby G. (Academic Press, 2022-06)
    Data on the iodine content of foods and dietary supplements are needed to develop general population intake estimates and identify major contributors to intake. Samples of seafood, dairy products, eggs, baked products, salts, tap water, other foods and beverages, and dietary supplements were collected according to established sampling plans of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Samples were assayed for iodine content using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry with rigorous quality control measures. The food data were released through a collaboration of USDA, FDA, and the Office of Dietary Supplements-National Institutes of Health (ODS-NIH) as the USDA, FDA, and ODS-NIH Database for the Iodine Content of Common Foods at www.ars.usda.gov/mafcl. Iodine data for dietary supplements are available in the ODS-USDA Dietary Supplement Ingredient Database and the ODS Dietary Supplement Label Database. Data from the iodine databases linked to national dietary survey data can provide needed information to monitor iodine status and develop dietary guidance for the general U.S. population and vulnerable subgroups. This iodine information is critical for dietary guidance development, especially for those at risk for iodine deficiency (i.e., women of reproductive age and young children).
  • Multi-Glycomic Characterization of Fiber from AOAC Methods Defines the Carbohydrate Structures
    Couture, Garret; Luthria, Devanand L.; Chen, Ye; Bacalzo Jr, Nikita P.; Tareq, Fakir S.; Harnly, James; Phillips, Katherine M.; Pehrsson, Pamela R.; McKillop, Kyle; Fukagawa, Naomi K.; Lebrilla, Carlito B. (American Chemical Society, 2022-11)
    Dietary fiber has long been known to be an essential component of a healthy diet, and recent investigations into the gut microbiome-health paradigm have identified fiber as a prime determinant in this interaction. Further, fiber is now known to impact the gut microbiome in a structure-specific manner, conferring differential bioactivities to these specific structures. However, current analytical methods for food carbohydrate analysis do not capture this important structural information. To address this need, we utilized rapid-throughput LC-MS methods to develop a novel analytical pipeline to determine the structural composition of soluble and insoluble fiber fractions from two AOAC methods (991.43 and 2017.16) at the total monosaccharide, glycosidic linkage, and free saccharide level. Two foods were chosen for this proof-of-concept study: oats and potato starch. For oats, both AOAC methods gave similar results. Insoluble fiber was found to be comprised of linkages corresponding to beta-glucan, arabinoxylan, xyloglucan, and mannan, while soluble fiber was found to be mostly beta-glucan, with small amounts of arabinogalactan. For raw potato starch, each AOAC method gave markedly different results in the soluble fiber fractions. These observed differences are attributable to the resistant starch content of potato starch and the different starch digestion conditions used in each method. Together, these tools are a means to obtain the complex structures present within dietary fiber while retaining "classical" determinations such as soluble and insoluble fiber. These efforts will provide an analytical framework to connect gravimetric fiber determinations with their constituent structures to better inform gut microbiome and clinical nutrition studies.
  • Soap application alters mosquito-host interactions
    VanderGiessen, Morgen; Tallon, Anaïs K.; Damico, Bryn; Lahondère, Chloé; Vinauger, Clément (Cell Press, 2023-05)
    To find nutrients, mosquitoes use volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by plants and animal hosts. These resources overlap in their chemical composition, and an important layer of information resides in VOCs’ relative abundance in the headspace of each resource. In addition, a large majority of the human species regularly uses personal care products such as soaps and perfumes, which add plant-related VOCs to their olfactory signature. Using headspace sampling and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we quantified how human odor is modified by soap application. We showed that soaps alter mosquito host selection, with some soaps increasing the attractiveness of the host and some soaps reducing it. Analytical methods revealed the main chemicals associated with these changes. These results provide proof-of-concept that data on host-soap valences can be reverse-engineered to produce chemical blends for artificial baits or mosquito repellents, and evince the impact of personal care products on host selection processes.
  • Leveraging a Fluorescent Fatty Acid Probe to Discover Cell-Permeable Inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum Glycerolipid Biosynthesis
    Dapper, Christie; Liu, Jiapeng; Klemba, Michael (American Society for Microbiology, 2022-10)
    The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum relies on fatty acid scavenging to supply this essential precursor of lipid synthesis during its asexual replication cycle in human erythrocytes. This dependence on host fatty acids represents a potential vulnerability that can be exploited to develop new anti-malarial therapies. A sensitive and quantitative fluorescence-based approach is presented for characterizing fatty acid acquisition and lipid biosynthesis by asexually replicating, intraerythrocytic Plasmodium falciparum. We show that a BODIPY-containing, green-fluorescent fatty acid analog is efficiently and rapidly incorporated into parasite neutral lipids and phospholipids. Prelabeling with a red-fluorescent ceramide analog permits normalization and enables reliable quantitation of glycerolipid labeling. Inhibition of lipid labeling by competition with natural fatty acids and by acyl-coenzyme A synthetase and diacylglycerol acyltransferase inhibitors demonstrates that the fluorescent fatty acid probe is acquired, activated, and transferred to lipids through physiologically-relevant pathways. To assess its utility in discovering small molecules that block parasite lipid biosynthesis, the lipid labeling assay was used to screen a panel of mammalian lipase inhibitors and a selection of compounds from the "Malaria Box" anti-malarial collection. Several compounds were identified that inhibited the incorporation of the fluorescent fatty acid probe into lipids in cultured parasites at low micromolar concentrations. Two contrasting profiles of suppression of neutral lipid and phospholipid synthesis were observed, which implies the inhibition of distinct pathways. IMPORTANCE The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum relies on fatty acid scavenging to supply this essential precursor of lipid synthesis during its asexual replication cycle in human erythrocytes. This dependence on host fatty acids represents a potential vulnerability that can be exploited to develop new anti-malarial therapies. The quantitative experimental approach described here provides a platform for simultaneously interrogating multiple facets of lipid metabolism- fatty acid uptake, fatty acyl-CoA synthesis, and neutral lipid and phospholipid biosynthesis- and of identifying cell-permeable inhibitors that are active in situ.
  • Discovery of Two Inhibitors of the Type IV Pilus Assembly ATPase PilB as Potential Antivirulence Compounds
    Dye, Keane J.; Vogelaar, Nancy J.; O'Hara, Megan; Sobrado, Pablo; Santos, Webster; Carlier, Paul R.; Yang, Zhaomin (American Society for Microbiology, 2022-12)
    Many bacterial pathogens use their type IV pilus (T4P) to facilitate and maintain an infection in a human host. Small-molecule inhibitors of the production or assembly of the T4P are promising for the treatment and prevention of infections by these bacteria, especially in our fight against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. With the pressing antibiotic resistance pandemic, antivirulence has been increasingly explored as an alternative strategy against bacterial infections. The bacterial type IV pilus (T4P) is a well-documented virulence factor and an attractive target for small molecules for antivirulence purposes. The PilB ATPase is essential for T4P biogenesis because it catalyzes the assembly of monomeric pilins into the polymeric pilus filament. Here, we describe the identification of two PilB inhibitors by a high-throughput screen (HTS) in vitro and their validation as effective inhibitors of T4P assembly in vivo. We used Chloracidobacterium thermophilum PilB as a model enzyme to optimize an ATPase assay for the HTS. From a library of 2,320 compounds, benserazide and levodopa, two approved drugs for Parkinson's disease, were identified and confirmed biochemically to be PilB inhibitors. We demonstrate that both compounds inhibited the T4P-dependent motility of the bacteria Myxoccocus xanthus and Acinetobacter nosocomialis. Additionally, benserazide and levodopa were shown to inhibit A. nosocomialis biofilm formation, a T4P-dependent process. Using M. xanthus as a model, we showed that both compounds inhibited T4P assembly in a dose-dependent manner. These results suggest that these two compounds are effective against the PilB protein in vivo. The potency of benserazide and levodopa as PilB inhibitors both in vitro and in vivo demonstrate potentials of the HTS and its two hits here for the development of anti-T4P chemotherapeutics.IMPORTANCE Many bacterial pathogens use their type IV pilus (T4P) to facilitate and maintain an infection in a human host. Small-molecule inhibitors of the production or assembly of the T4P are promising for the treatment and prevention of infections by these bacteria, especially in our fight against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Here, we report the development and implementation of a method to identify anti-T4P chemicals from compound libraries by high-throughput screen. This led to the identification and validation of two T4P inhibitors both in the test tubes and in bacteria. The discovery and validation pipeline reported here as well as the confirmation of two anti-T4P inhibitors provide new venues and leads for the development of chemotherapeutics against antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Nitrogen transformation processes catalyzed by manure microbiomes in earthen pit and concrete storages on commercial dairy farms
    Khairunisa, Bela H.; Loganathan, Usha; Ogejo, Jactone A.; Mukhopadhyay, Biswarup (2023-04-11)
    Storing manure is an essential aspect of nutrient management on dairy farms. It presents the opportunity to use manure efficiently as a fertilizer in crop and pasture production. Typically, the manure storages are constructed as earthen, concrete, or steel-based structures. However, storing manure can potentially emit aerial pollutants to the atmosphere, including nitrogen and greenhouse gases, through microbial and physicochemical processes. We have characterized the composition of the microbiome in two manure storage structures, a clay-lined earthen pit and an aboveground concrete storage tank, on commercial dairy farms, to discern the nitrogen transformation processes, and thereby, inform the development of mitigation practices to preserve the value of manure. First, we analyzed the 16S rRNA-V4 amplicons generated from manure samples collected from several locations and depths (0.3, 1.2, and 2.1–2.75 m below the surface) of the storages, identifying a set of Amplicon Sequence Variant (ASVs) and quantifying their abundances. Then, we inferred the respective metabolic capabilities. These results showed that the manure microbiome composition was more complex and exhibited more location-to-location variation in the earthen pit than in the concrete tank. Further, the inlet and a location with hard surface crust in the earthen pit had unique consortia. The microbiomes in both storages had the potential to generate ammonia but lacked the organisms for oxidizing it to gaseous compounds. However, the microbial conversion of nitrate to gaseous N2, NO, and N2O via denitrification and to stable ammonia via dissimilatory nitrite reduction seemed possible; minor quantities of nitrate was present in manure, potentially originating from oxidative processes occurring on the barn floor. The nitrate-transformation linked ASVs were more prevalent at the near-surface locations and all depths of the inlet. Anammox bacteria and archaeal or bacterial autotrophic nitrifiers were not detected in either storage. Hydrogenotrophic Methanocorpusculum species were the primary methanogens or methane producers, exhibiting higher abundance in the earthen pit. These findings suggested that microbial activities were not the main drivers for nitrogen loss from manure storage, and commonly reported losses are associated with the physicochemical processes. Finally, the microbiomes of stored manure had the potential to emit greenhouse gases such as NO, N2O, and methane.
  • Quantitative Bottom-Up Glycomic Analysis of Polysaccharides in Food Matrices Using Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry
    Bacalzo, Nikita P.; Couture, Garret; Chen, Ye; Castillo, Juan J.; Phillips, Katherine M.; Fukagawa, Naomi K.; Lebrilla, Carlito B. (American Chemical Society, 2022-12)
    Carbohydrates are the most abundant biomolecules in nature, and specifically, polysaccharides are present in almost all plants and fungi. Due to their compositional diversity, polysaccharide analysis remains challenging. Compared to other biomolecules, high-throughput analysis for carbohydrates has yet to be developed. To address this gap in analytical science, we have developed a multiplexed, high-throughput, and quantitative approach for polysaccharide analysis in foods. Specifically, polysaccharides were depolymerized using a nonenzymatic chemical digestion process followed by oligosaccharide fingerprinting using high performance liquid chromatography-quadru-pole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (HPLC-QTOF-MS). Both label-free relative quantitation and absolute quantitation were done based on the abundances of oligosaccharides produced. Method validation included evaluating recovery for a range of polysaccharide standards and a breakfast cereal standard reference material. Nine polysaccharides (starch, cellulose, beta-glucan, mannan, galactan, arabinan, xylan, xyloglucan, chitin) were successfully quantitated with sufficient accuracy (5-25% bias) and high reproducibility (2- 15% CV). Additionally, the method was used to identify and quantitate polysaccharides from a diverse sample set of food samples. Absolute concentrations of nine polysaccharides from apples and onions were obtained using an external calibration curve, where varietal differences were observed in some of the samples. The methodology developed in this study will provide complementary polysaccharide-level information to deepen our understanding of the interactions of dietary polysaccharides, gut microbial community, and human health.