- Regulated polyploidy in halophilic archaea (2006)
- Polyploidy is common in higher eukaryotes, especially in plants, but it is generally assumed that most prokaryotes contain a single copy of a circular chromosome and are therefore monoploid. We have used two independent methods to determine the genome copy number in halophilic archaea, 1) cell lysis in agarose blocks and Southern blot analysis, and 2) Real-Time quantitative PCR. Fast growing H. salinarum cells contain on average about 25 copies of the chromosome in exponential phase, and their ploidy is downregulated to 15 copies in early stationary phase. The chromosome copy number is identical in cultures with a twofold lower growth rate, in contrast to the results reported for several other prokaryotic species. Of three additional replicons of H. salinarum, two have a low copy number that is not growth-phase regulated, while one replicon even shows a higher degree of growth phase-dependent regulation than the main replicon. The genome copy number of H. volcanii is similarly high during exponential phase (on average 18 copies/cell), and it is also downregulated (to 10 copies) as the cells enter stationary phase. The variation of genome copy numbers in the population was addressed by fluorescence microscopy and by FACS analysis. These methods allowed us to verify the growth phase-dependent regulation of ploidy in H. salinarum, and they revealed that there is a wide variation in genome copy numbers in individual cells that is much larger in exponential than in stationary phase. Our results indicate that polyploidy might be more widespread in archaea (or even prokaryotes in general) than previously assumed. Moreover, the presence of so many genome copies in a prokaryote raises questions about the evolutionary significance of this strategy.
- Microarray analysis in the Archaeon Halobacterium salinarum strain R1 (2007)
- Background: Phototrophy of the extremely halophilic archaeon Halobacterium salinarum was explored for decades. The research was mainly focused on the expression of bacteriorhodopsin and its functional properties. In contrast, less is known about genome wide transcriptional changes and their impact on the physiological adaptation to phototrophy. The tool of choice to record transcriptional profiles is the DNA microarray technique. However, the technique is still rarely used for transcriptome analysis in archaea. Methodology/Principal Findings: We developed a whole-genome DNA microarray based on our sequence data of the Hbt. salinarum strain R1 genome. The potential of our tool is exemplified by the comparison of cells growing under aerobic and phototrophic conditions, respectively. We processed the raw fluorescence data by several stringent filtering steps and a subsequent MAANOVA analysis. The study revealed a lot of transcriptional differences between the two cell states. We found that the transcriptional changes were relatively weak, though significant. Finally, the DNA microarray data were independently verified by a real-time PCR analysis. Conclusion/Significance: This is the first DNA microarray analysis of Hbt. salinarum cells that were actually grown under phototrophic conditions. By comparing the transcriptomics data with current knowledge we could show that our DNA microarray tool is well applicable for transcriptome analysis in the extremely halophilic archaeon Hbt. salinarum. The reliability of our tool is based on both the high-quality array of DNA probes and the stringent data handling including MAANOVA analysis. Among the regulated genes more than 50% had unknown functions. This underlines the fact that haloarchaeal phototrophy is still far away from being completely understood. Hence, the data recorded in this study will be subject to future systems biology analysis.
- Genome-wide analysis of growth phase-dependent translational and transcriptional regulation in halophilic archaea : research article (2007)
- Background Differential expression of genes can be regulated on many different levels. Most global studies of gene regulation concentrate on transcript level regulation, and very few global analyses of differential translational efficiencies exist. The studies have revealed that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Arabidopsis thaliana, and human cell lines translational regulation plays a significant role. Additional species have not been investigated yet. Particularly, until now no global study of translational control with any prokaryotic species was available. Results A global analysis of translational control was performed with two haloarchaeal model species, Halobacterium salinarum and Haloferax volcanii. To identify differentially regulated genes, exponentially growing and stationary phase cells were compared. More than 20% of H. salinarum transcripts are translated with non-average efficiencies. By far the largest group is comprised of genes that are translated with above-average efficiency specifically in exponential phase, including genes for many ribosomal proteins, RNA polymerase subunits, enzymes, and chemotaxis proteins. Translation of 1% of all genes is specifically repressed in either of the two growth phases. For comparison, DNA microarrays were also used to identify differential transcriptional regulation in H. salinarum, and 17% of all genes were found to have non-average transcript levels in exponential versus stationary phase. In H. volcanii, 12% of all genes are translated with non-average efficiencies. The overlap with H. salinarum is negligible. In contrast to H. salinarum, 4.6% of genes have non-average translational efficiency in both growth phases, and thus they might be regulated by other stimuli than growth phase. Conclusions For the first time in any prokaryotic species it was shown that a significant fraction of genes is under differential translational control. Groups of genes with different regulatory patterns were discovered. However, neither the fractions nor the identity of regulated genes are conserved between H. salinarum and H. volcanii, indicating that prokaryotes as well as eukaryotes use differential translational control for the regulation of gene expression, but that the identity of regulated genes is not conserved For 70 H. salinarum genes potentiation of regulation was observed, but for the majority of regulated genes either transcriptional or translational regulation is employed.
- Transcriptome changes and cAMP oscillations in an archaeal cell cycle (2007)
- Background The cell cycle of all organisms includes mass increase by a factor of two, replication of the genetic material, segregation of the genome to different parts of the cell, and cell division into two daughter cells. It is tightly regulated and typically includes cell cycle-specific oscillations of the levels of transcripts, proteins, protein modifications, and signaling molecules. Until now cell cycle-specific transcriptome changes have been described for four eukaryotic species ranging from yeast to human, but only for two prokaryotic species. Similarly, oscillations of small signaling molecules have been identified in very few eukaryotic species, but not in any prokaryote. Results A synchronization procedure for the archaeon Halobacterium salinarum was optimized, so that nearly 100% of all cells divide in a time interval that is 1/4th of the generation time of exponentially growing cells. The method was used to characterize cell cycle-dependent transcriptome changes using a genome-wide DNA microarray. The transcript levels of 87 genes were found to be cell cycle-regulated, corresponding to 3% of all genes. They could be clustered into seven groups with different transcript level profiles. Cluster-specific sequence motifs were detected around the start of the genes that are predicted to be involved in cell cycle-specific transcriptional regulation. Notably, many cell cycle genes that have oscillating transcript levels in eukaryotes are not regulated on the transcriptional level in H. salinarum. Synchronized cultures were also used to identify putative small signaling molecules. H. salinarum was found to contain a basal cAMP concentration of 200 uM, considerably higher than that of yeast. The cAMP concentration is shortly induced directly prior to and after cell division, and thus cAMP probably is an important signal for cell cycle progression. Conclusions The analysis of cell cycle-specific transcriptome changes of H. salinarum allowed to identify a strategy of transcript level regulation that is different from all previously characterized species. The transcript levels of only 3% of all genes are regulated, a fraction that is considerably lower than has been reported for four eukaryotic species (6% - 28%) and for the bacterium C. crescentus (19%). It was shown that cAMP is present in significant concentrations in an archaeon, and the phylogenetic profile of the adenylate cyclase indicates that this signaling molecule is widely distributed in archaea. The occurrence of cell cycle-dependent oscillations of the cAMP concentration in an archaeon and in several eukaryotic species indicates that cAMP level changes might be a phylogenetically old signal for cell cycle progression.
- Experimental characterization of Cis-acting elements important for translation and transcription in Halophilic Archaea (2007)
- Summary The basal transcription apparatus of archaea is well characterized. However, much less is known about the mechanisms of transcription termination and translation initation. Recently, experimental determination of the 5´-ends of ten transcripts from Pyrobaculum aerophilum revealed that these are devoid of a 5´-UTR. Bioinformatic analysis indicated that many transcripts of other archaeal species might also be leaderless. The´-ends and 3´-ends of 40 transcripts of two haloarchaeal species, Halobacterium salinarum and Haloferax volcanii, have been determined. They were used to characterize the lengths of 5´-UTRs and 3´-UTRs and to deduce consensus sequence-elements for transcription and translation. The experimental approach was complemented with a bioinformatics analysis of the H. salinarum genome sequence. Furthermore, the influence of selected 5´-UTRs and 3´-UTRs on transcript stability and translational efficiency in vivo was characterized using a newly established reporter gene system, gene fusions, and real-time PCR. Consensus sequences for basal promoter elements could be refined and a novel element was discovered. A consensus motif probably important for transcriptional termination was established. All 40 haloarchaeal transcripts analyzed had a 3´-UTR (average size 57 nt), and their 3´-ends were not posttranscriptionally modified. Experimental data and genome analyses revealed that the majority of haloarchaeal transcripts are leaderless, indicating that this is the predominant mode for translation initiation in haloarchaea. Surprisingly, the 5´-UTRs of most leadered transcripts did not contain a Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequence. A genome analysis indicated that less than 10% of all genes are preceded by a SD sequence and even most proximal genes in operons lack a SD sequence. Seven different leadered transcripts devoid of a SD sequence were efficiently translated in vivo, including artificial 5´-UTRs of random sequences. Thus, an interaction of the 5´-UTRs of these leadered transcripts with the 16S rRNA could be excluded. Taken together, either a scanning mechanism similar to the mechanism of translation initiation operating in eukaryotes or a novel mechanism must operate on most leadered haloarchaeal transcripts. Author Summary Expression of the information encoded in the genome of an organism into its phenotype involves transcription of the DNA into messenger RNAs and translation of mRNAs into proteins. The textbook view is that an mRNA consists of an untranslated region (5´-UTR), an open reading frame encoding the protein, and another untranslated region (3´-UTR). We have determined the 5´-ends and the 3´-ends of 40 mRNAs of two haloarchaeal species and used this dataset to gain information about nucleotide elements important for transcription and translation. Two thirds of the mRNAs were devoid of a 5´-UTR, and therefore the major pathway for translation initiation in haloarchaea involves so-called leaderless transcripts. Very unexpectedly, most leadered mRNAs were found to be devoid of a sequence motif believed to be essential for translation initiation in bacteria and archaea (Shine-Dalgarno sequence). A bioinformatic genome analysis revealed that less than 10% of the genes contain a Shine-Dalgarno sequence. mRNAs lacking this motif were efficiently translated in vivo, including mRNAs with artificial 5´-UTRs of total random sequence. Thus, translation initiation on these mRNAs either involves a scanning mechanism similar to the mechanism operating in eukaryotes or a totally novel mechanism operating at least in haloarchaea.
- Regulation of translation in haloarchaea: 5'- and 3'-UTRs are essential and have to functionally interact in vivo (2009)
- Recently a first genome-wide analysis of translational regulation using prokaryotic species had been performed which revealed that regulation of translational efficiency plays an important role in haloarchaea. In fact, the fractions of genes under differential growth phase-dependent translational control in the two species Halobacterium salinarum and Haloferax volcanii were as high as in eukaryotes. However, nothing is known about the mechanisms of translational regulation in archaea. Therefore, two genes exhibiting opposing directions of regulation were selected to unravel the importance of untranslated regions (UTRs) for differential translational control in vivo. Differential translational regulation in exponentially growing versus stationary phase cells was studied by comparing translational efficiencies using a reporter gene system. Translational regulation was not observed when 5'-UTRs or 3'-UTRs alone were fused to the reporter gene. However, their simultaneous presence was sufficient to transfer differential translational control from the native transcript to the reporter transcript. This was true for both directions of translational control. Translational regulation was completely abolished when stem loops in the 5'-UTR were changed by mutagenesis. An “UTR-swap” experiment demonstrated that the direction of translational regulation is encoded in the 3'-UTR, not in the 5'-UTR. While much is known about 5'-UTR-dependent translational control in bacteria, the reported findings provide the first examples that both 5'- and 3'-UTRs are essential and sufficient to drive differential translational regulation in a prokaryote and therefore have to functionally interact in vivo. The current results indicate that 3'-UTR-dependent translational control had already evolved before capping and polyadenylation of transcripts were invented, which are essential for circularization of transcripts in eukaryotes.
- Analysis of a hybrid TATA box binding protein originating from mesophilic and thermophilic donor organisms (2010)
- The TATA Box Binding Protein (TBP) is a 20 kD protein that is essential and universally conserved in eucarya and archaea. Especially among archaea, organisms can be found that live below 0°C as well as organisms that grow above 100°C. The archaeal TBPs show a high sequence identity and a similar structure consisting of α-helices and β-sheets that are arranged in a saddle-shape 2-symmetric fold. In previous studies, we have characterized the thermal stability of thermophilic and mesophilic archaeal TBPs by infrared spectroscopy and showed the correlation between the transition temperature (Tm) and the optimal growth temperature (OGT) of the respective donor organism. In this study, a “new” mutant TBP has been constructed, produced, purified and analyzed for a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms of thermoadaptation. The β-sheet part of the mutant consists of the TBP from Methanothermobacter thermoautotrophicus (OGT 65°C, MtTBP65) whose α-helices have been exchanged by those of Methanosarcina mazei (OGT 37°C, MmTBP37). The Hybrid-TBP irreversibly aggregates after thermal unfolding just like MmTBP37 and MtTBP65, but the Tm lies between that of MmTBP37 and MtTBP65 indicating that the interaction between the α-helical and β-sheet part of the TBP is crucial for the thermal stability. The temperature stability is probably encoded in the variable α-helices that interact with the highly conserved and DNA binding β-sheets.
- Protein acetylation in archaea, bacteria, and eukaryotes (2010)
- Proteins can be acetylated at the alpha-amino group of the N-terminal amino acid (methionine or the penultimate amino acid after methionine removal) or at the epsilon-amino group of internal lysines. In eukaryotes the majority of proteins are N-terminally acetylated, while this is extremely rare in bacteria. A variety of studies about N-terminal acetylation in archaea have been reported recently, and it was revealed that a considerable fraction of proteins is N-terminally acetylated in haloarchaea and Sulfolobus, while this does not seem to apply for methanogenic archaea. Many eukaryotic proteins are modified by differential internal acetylation, which is important for a variety of processes. Until very recently, only two bacterial proteins were known to be acetylation targets, but now 125 acetylation sites are known for E. coli. Knowledge about internal acetylation in archaea is extremely limited; only two target proteins are known, only one of which--Alba--was used to study differential acetylation. However, indications accumulate that the degree of internal acetylation of archaeal proteins might be underestimated, and differential acetylation has been shown to be essential for the viability of haloarchaea. Focused proteomic approaches are needed to get an overview of the extent of internal protein acetylation in archaea.
- Functional genomic and advanced genetic studies reveal novel insights into the metabolism, regulation, and biology of Haloferax volcanii (2011)
- The genome sequence of Haloferax volcanii is available and several comparative genomic in silico studies were performed that yielded novel insight for example into protein export, RNA modifications, small non-coding RNAs, and ubiquitin-like Small Archaeal Modifier Proteins. The full range of functional genomic methods has been established and results from transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic studies are discussed. Notably, Hfx. volcanii is together with Halobacterium salinarum the only prokaryotic species for which a translatome analysis has been performed. The results revealed that the fraction of translationally-regulated genes in haloarchaea is as high as in eukaryotes. A highly efficient genetic system has been established that enables the application of libraries as well as the parallel generation of genomic deletion mutants. Facile mutant generation is complemented by the possibility to culture Hfx. volcanii in microtiter plates, allowing the phenotyping of mutant collections. Genetic approaches are currently used to study diverse biological questions–from replication to posttranslational modification—and selected results are discussed. Taken together, the wealth of functional genomic and genetic tools make Hfx. volcanii a bona fide archaeal model species, which has enabled the generation of important results in recent years and will most likely generate further breakthroughs in the future.