Four independent nonsense mutations were engineered into the Escherichia coli chromosomal lacZ gene, and reversion rates back to LacZ+ phenotypes were determined. The mutation potential of bases within putative DNA secondary structures formed during transcription was predicted by a sliding-window analysis that simulates successive folding of the ssDNA creating these structures. The relative base mutabilities predicted by the mfg computer program correlated with experimentally determined reversion rates in three of the four mutants analysed. The nucleotide changes in revertants at one nonsense codon site consisted of a triple mutation, presumed to occur by a templated repair mechanism. Additionally, the effect of supercoiling on mutation was investigated and, in general, reversion rates increased with higher levels of negative supercoiling. Evidence indicates that predicted secondary structures are in fact formed in vivo and that directed mutation in response to starvation stress is dependent upon the exposure of particular bases, the stability of the structures in which these bases are unpaired and the level of DNA supercoiling within the cell.
Available tools for genetic analysis in the anaerobic rumen bacterium Prevotella bryantii are limited to only two known systems for gene delivery, and no genes, with the exception of plasmid maintenance and selection genes, have been successfully expressed from plasmids in any species of the genus Prevotella until now. It is shown here that nucB, a newly cloned nuclease gene from P. bryantii, can be controllably expressed from shuttle vector pRH3 in P. bryantii strain TC1-1, depending on the tetracycline concentration in the growth medium. nucB expression is also growth-medium dependent and this regulation presumably takes place at the translational level. His-tagged NucB was purified from P. bryantii TC1-1 culture supernatant and was shown to degrade DNA as well as RNA; it is most likely a minor 36 kDa P. bryantii non-specific nuclease.
A general overview is presented of the changes in the genetic expression along a time curve through the first 20 min after acidification to pH 4.5 of exponentially growing cultures of the food pathogenic strain Staphylococcus aureus 50583. A newly developed method for statistical significance testing was used to detect significant gene expression responses. Most responses showed an increase or decrease from time zero to 10 min after acidification, and then generally a stabilization in expression level from 10 to 20 min. Increased urease activity appeared to be an important factor in the acid defence, along with proton excretion by NADH dehydrogenase and macromolecule repair mechanisms. Oxidative-stress responses, such as increased expression of thioredoxin genes and upregulation of pentose phosphate pathway genes to generate more reducing power, were also induced. A general reduction in the expression of genes encoding ribosomal proteins and genes involved in nucleotide synthesis, as well as fatty acid and lipoprotein metabolism, reflected the lowered growth rate after acidification. The pH shock did not appear to trigger major virulence responses or biofilm formation. Metal ion regulation and transport were affected by the acid shock, and production of several cofactors such as molybdopterin was increased. Many of the presented observations could be explained, while some represent still-unknown mechanisms. The patterns of regulation were confirmed by quantitive reverse transcriptase PCR (QRT-PCR). Together, these results showed the main responses of S. aureus and will be a good starting point for future, more specific, in-depth studies of specific gene responses that occur in conjunction with the acid-stress defence of S. aureus.
The Lyme disease spirochaete, Borrelia burgdorferi, produces the LuxS enzyme both in vivo and in vitro; this enzyme catalyses the synthesis of homocysteine and 4,5-dihydroxy-2,3-pentanedione (DPD) from a by-product of methylation reactions. Unlike most bacteria, B. burgdorferi is unable to utilize homocysteine. However, DPD levels alter expression levels of a subset of B. burgdorferi proteins. The present studies demonstrate that a single B. burgdorferi operon encodes both of the enzymes responsible for synthesis of DPD, as well as the enzyme for production of the Lyme spirochaete's only activated-methyl donor and a probable phosphohydrolase. Evidence was found for only a single transcriptional promoter, located 5′ of the first gene, which uses the housekeeping σ 70 subunit for RNA polymerase holoenzyme function. All four genes are co-expressed, and mRNA levels are growth-rate dependent, being produced during the exponential phase. Thus, high metabolic activity is accompanied by increased cellular levels of the only known borrelial methyl donor, enhanced detoxification of methylation by-products, and increased production of DPD. Therefore, production of DPD is directly correlated with cellular metabolism levels, and may thereby function as an extracellular and/or intracellular signal of bacterial health.