Elizabeth M Moritz

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, United States

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Publications (2)12.13 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Sphingobium yanoikuyae B1 utilizes both polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (biphenyl, naphthalene, and phenanthrene) and monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (toluene, m- and p-xylene) as its sole source of carbon and energy for growth. The majority of the genes for these intertwined monocyclic and polycyclic aromatic pathways are grouped together on a 39 kb fragment of chromosomal DNA. However, this gene cluster is missing several genes encoding essential enzymatic steps in the aromatic degradation pathway, most notably the genes encoding the oxygenase component of the initial polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) dioxygenase. Transposon mutagenesis of strain B1 yielded a mutant blocked in the initial oxidation of PAHs. The transposon insertion point was sequenced and a partial gene sequence encoding an oxygenase component of a putative PAH dioxygenase identified. A cosmid clone from a genomic library of S. yanoikuyae B1 was identified which contains the complete putative PAH oxygenase gene sequence. Separate clones expressing the genes encoding the electron transport components (ferredoxin and reductase) and the PAH dioxygenase were constructed. Incubation of cells expressing the dioxygenase enzyme system with biphenyl or naphthalene resulted in production of the corresponding cis-dihydrodiol confirming PAH dioxygenase activity. This demonstrates that a single multicomponent dioxygenase enzyme is involved in the initial oxidation of both biphenyl and naphthalene in S. yanoikuyae B1.
    Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 10/2007; 34(9):605-13. · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    Elizabeth M Moritz, Paul J Hergenrother
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    ABSTRACT: Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) are common hospital pathogens that are resistant to most major classes of antibiotics. The incidence of VRE is increasing rapidly, to the point where over one-quarter of enterococcal infections in intensive care units are now resistant to vancomycin. The exact mechanism by which VRE maintains its plasmid-encoded resistance genes is ill-defined, and novel targets for the treatment of VRE are lacking. In an effort to identify novel protein targets for the treatment of VRE infections, we probed the plasmids obtained from 75 VRE isolates for the presence of toxin-antitoxin (TA) gene systems. Remarkably, genes for one particular TA pair, the mazEF system (originally identified on the Escherichia coli chromosome), were present on plasmids from 75/75 (100%) of the isolates. Furthermore, mazEF was on the same plasmid as vanA in the vast majority of cases (>90%). Plasmid stability tests and RT-PCR raise the possibility that this plasmid-encoded mazEF is indeed functional in enterococci. Given this ubiquity of mazEF in VRE and the deleterious activity of the MazF toxin, disruption of mazEF with pharmacological agents is an attractive strategy for tailored antimicrobial therapy.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2007; 104(1):311-6. · 9.81 Impact Factor