[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Metagenome analysis of the gut symbionts of three different insects was conducted as a means of comparing taxonomic and metabolic diversity of gut microbiomes to diet and life history of the insect hosts. A second goal was the discovery of novel biocatalysts for biorefinery applications. Grasshopper and cutworm gut symbionts were sequenced and compared with the previously identified metagenome of termite gut microbiota. These insect hosts represent three different insect orders and specialize on different food types. The comparative analysis revealed dramatic differences among the three insect species in the abundance and taxonomic composition of the symbiont populations present in the gut. The composition and abundance of symbionts was correlated with their previously identified capacity to degrade and utilize the different types of food consumed by their hosts. The metabolic reconstruction revealed that the gut metabolome of cutworms and grasshoppers was more enriched for genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and transport than wood-feeding termite, whereas the termite gut metabolome was enriched for glycosyl hydrolase (GH) enzymes relevant to lignocellulosic biomass degradation. Moreover, termite gut metabolome was more enriched with nitrogen fixation genes than those of grasshopper and cutworm gut, presumably due to the termite's adaptation to the high fiber and less nutritious food types. In order to evaluate and exploit the insect symbionts for biotechnology applications, we cloned and further characterized four biomass-degrading enzymes including one endoglucanase and one xylanase from both the grasshopper and cutworm gut symbionts. The results indicated that the grasshopper symbiont enzymes were generally more efficient in biomass degradation than the homologous enzymes from cutworm symbionts. Together, these results demonstrated a correlation between the composition and putative metabolic functionality of the gut microbiome and host diet, and suggested that this relationship could be exploited for the discovery of symbionts and biocatalysts useful for biorefinery applications.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Insect gut symbionts are essential for biomass degradation, nutrient synthesis and toxin detoxification. We carried out comparative analysis of gut symbionts from four insect species to investigate the adaptation to different food types and to evaluate the potential for biofuel applications. Results: The study revealed significant variation of insect gut symbiont composition as a function to adapt to different food types. The composition–function relationship has been discussed from different perspectives, including biomass utilization and nutrient biosynthesis. The existence of species such as Klebsiella oxytoca and the capacity for these species to produce unique biomass degradation enzymes indicated that grasshopper and woodborer gut systems may be enriched resources for biofuel applications. For functional verification and concept validation, we have cloned and characterized a β-glucosidase from K. oxytoca in the grasshopper gut system. Conclusion: The research suggested that different insect gut systems can be good resources for biocatalyst and microbial strain discovery for bioenergy applications.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Insect guts represent unique natural biocatalyst systems for biocatalyst discovery and biomass deconstruction mechanism studies.
In order to guide the further research for enzyme discovery and biodiversity analysis, we carried out comprehensive xylanase
and cellulase activity assays for the gut contents of three insect species representing different orders and food sources.
The three insect species are grasshopper (Acrididae sp.), woodborer (Cerambycidae spp.), and silkworm (Bombyx mori) to represent the wood-consuming, grass-consuming, and leaf-consuming insects from Orthoptera, Coleoptera, and Lepidoptera
orders, respectively. Generally speaking, the enzyme activity assays have shown that the cellulase and xylanase activities
for grasshopper and woodborer guts are significantly higher than those of silkworm under various conditions. In addition,
both pH and temperature have a significant impact on the enzyme activities in the gut contents. For the grasshopper gut, the
means of xylanase and cellulase activities at pH7 were 3,397 and 404μM mg−1 min−1, which are significantly higher than the activities at pH4 and 10 (P < 0.05). However, woodborer guts have shown the highest cellulase activity at pH10. The results suggested that systems similar
to woodborer guts could be good resources for discovering alkaline-tolerant enzymes. Moreover, the enzyme activities in response
to different substrate concentrations were also analyzed, which indicated that grasshopper gut had particularly high cellulase
activity. The enzyme activities in response to the reaction time were also examined, and we found that the enzyme activities
(micromolar per milligram per minute) of different insect gut juices in response to the increase of incubation time fit well
to the power function equation (E
c = K ⋅ t
) with high coefficients (r
2 > 0.99). The newly developed model serves well to compare the characteristics of the enzyme mixtures among different insect
species, which can be applied to other studies of natural biocatalyst systems for the future. Overall, the data indicated
that grasshopper and woodborer guts are valuable resources for discovering the novel biocatalysts for various biorefinery
KeywordsInsect gut-Cellulase-Xylanase-Natural biocatalyst system
BioEnergy Research 01/2011; 4(1):1-10. · 4.25 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: HDX mass spectrometry is a powerful platform to probe protein structure dynamics during ligand binding, protein folding, enzyme catalysis, and such. HDX mass spectrometry analysis derives the protein structure dynamics based on the mass increase of a protein of which the backbone protons exchanged with solvent deuterium. Coupled with enzyme digestion and MS/MS analysis, HDX mass spectrometry can be used to study the regional dynamics of protein based on the m/z value or percentage of deuterium incorporation for the digested peptides in the HDX experiments. Various software packages have been developed to analyze HDX mass spectrometry data. Despite the progresses, proper and explicit statistical treatment is still lacking in most of the current HDX mass spectrometry software. In order to address this issue, we have developed the HDXanalyzer for the statistical analysis of HDX mass spectrometry data using R, Python, and RPY2. IMPLEMENTATION AND RESULTS: HDXanalyzer package contains three major modules, the data processing module, the statistical analysis module, and the user interface. RPY2 is employed to enable the connection of these three components, where the data processing module is implemented using Python and the statistical analysis module is implemented with R. RPY2 creates a low-level interface for R and allows the effective integration of statistical module for data processing. The data processing module generates the centroid for the peptides in form of m/z value, and the differences of centroids between the peptides derived from apo and ligand-bound protein allow us to evaluate whether the regions have significant changes in structure dynamics or not. Another option of the software is to calculate the deuterium incorporation rate for the comparison. The two types of statistical analyses are Paired Student's t-test and the linear combination of the intercept for multiple regression and ANCOVA model. The user interface is implemented with wxpython to facilitate the data visualization in graphs and the statistical analysis output presentation. In order to evaluate the software, a previously published xylanase HDX mass spectrometry analysis dataset is processed and presented. The results from the different statistical analysis methods are compared and shown to be similar. The statistical analysis results are overlaid with the three dimensional structure of the protein to highlight the regional structure dynamics changes in the xylanase enzyme. CONCLUSION: Statistical analysis provides crucial evaluation of whether a protein region is significantly protected or unprotected during the HDX mass spectrometry studies. Although there are several other available software programs to process HDX experimental data, HDXanalyzer is the first software program to offer multiple statistical methods to evaluate the changes in protein structure dynamics based on HDX mass spectrometry analysis. Moreover, the statistical analysis can be carried out for both m/z value and deuterium incorporation rate. In addition, the software package can be used for the data generated from a wide range of mass spectrometry instruments.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract Insect gut symbiotic microbiota play essential roles in the growth, development, pathogenesis and environmental adaptation of host insects. The molecular and systems level analysis of insect gut symbiotic microbial community will allow us to discover novel biocatalysts for biomass deconstruction and to develop innovative strategies for pest management. We hereby review the various molecular biology techniques as applied to insect gut symbiont analysis. This review aims to serve as an informative resource for experimental design and research strategy development in the field. We first discuss various strategies for sample preparation and their pros and cons. The traditional molecular techniques like DGGE, RFLP and FISH are covered with respect to how they are applied to study the composition, diversity and dynamics of insect gut symbiotic microbiota. We then focus on the various ‘omics’ techniques. The metagenome analysis together with the recent advancements in next-generation sequencing will provide enormous sequencing information, allowing in-depth microbial diversity analysis and modeling of pathways for biological processes such as biomass degradation. The metagenome sequencing will also enable the study of system dynamics and gene expression with metatranscriptome and metaproteome methods. The integration of different ‘omics’ level data will allow us to understand how insect gut works as a system to carry out its functions. The molecular and systems-level understanding will also guide the reverse design of next-generation biorefinery.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Enzyme dynamics has recently been shown to be crucial for structure-function relationship. Among various structure dynamics analysis platforms, HDX (hydrogen deuterium exchange) mass spectrometry stands out as an efficient and high-throughput way to analyze protein dynamics upon ligand binding. Despite the potential, limited research has employed the HDX mass spec platform to probe regional structure dynamics of enzymes. In particular, the technique has never been used for analyzing cell wall degrading enzymes. We hereby used xylanase as a model to explore the potential of HDX mass spectrometry for studying cell wall degrading enzymes.
HDX mass spectrometry revealed significant intrinsic dynamics for the xylanase enzyme. Different regions of the enzymes are differentially stabilized in the apo enzyme. The comparison of substrate-binding enzymes revealed that xylohexaose can significantly stabilize the enzyme. Several regions including those near the reaction centres were significantly stabilized during the xylohexaose binding. As compared to xylohexaose, xylan induced relatively less protection in the enzyme, which may be due to the insolubility of the substrate. The structure relevance of the enzyme dynamics was discussed with reference to the three dimensional structure of the enzyme. HDX mass spectrometry revealed strong dynamics-function relevance and such relevance can be explored for the future enzyme improvement.
Ligand-binding can lead to the significant stabilization at both regional and global level for enzymes like xylanase. HDX mass spectrometry is a powerful high-throughput platform to identify the key regions protected during the ligand binding and to explore the molecular mechanisms of the enzyme function. The HDX mass spectrometry analysis of cell wall degrading enzymes has provided a novel platform to guide the rational design of enzymes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As a major component of plant cell wall, lignin plays important roles in mechanical support, water transport, and stress responses. As the main cause for the recalcitrance of plant cell wall, lignin modification has been a major task for bioenergy feedstock improvement. The study of the evolution and function of lignin biosynthesis genes thus has two-fold implications. First, the lignin biosynthesis pathway provides an excellent model to study the coordinative evolution of a biochemical pathway in plants. Second, understanding the function and evolution of lignin biosynthesis genes will guide us to develop better strategies for bioenergy feedstock improvement.
We analyzed lignin biosynthesis genes from fourteen plant species and one symbiotic fungal species. Comprehensive comparative genome analysis was carried out to study the distribution, relatedness, and family expansion of the lignin biosynthesis genes across the plant kingdom. In addition, we also analyzed the comparative synteny map between rice and sorghum to study the evolution of lignin biosynthesis genes within the Poaceae family and the chromosome evolution between the two species. Comprehensive lignin biosynthesis gene expression analysis was performed in rice, poplar and Arabidopsis. The representative data from rice indicates that different fates of gene duplications exist for lignin biosynthesis genes. In addition, we also carried out the biomass composition analysis of nine Arabidopsis mutants with both MBMS analysis and traditional wet chemistry methods. The results were analyzed together with the genomics analysis.
The research revealed that, among the species analyzed, the complete lignin biosynthesis pathway first appeared in moss; the pathway is absent in green algae. The expansion of lignin biosynthesis gene families correlates with substrate diversity. In addition, we found that the expansion of the gene families mostly occurred after the divergence of monocots and dicots, with the exception of the C4H gene family. Gene expression analysis revealed different fates of gene duplications, largely confirming plants are tolerant to gene dosage effects. The rapid expansion of lignin biosynthesis genes indicated that the translation of transgenic lignin modification strategies from model species to bioenergy feedstock might only be successful between the closely relevant species within the same family.