[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vitamin B1 (thiamine pyrophosphate, TPP) is essential to all life but scarce in ocean surface waters. In many bacteria and a few eukaryotic groups thiamine biosynthesis genes are controlled by metabolite-sensing mRNA-based gene regulators known as riboswitches. Using available genome sequences and transcriptomes generated from ecologically important marine phytoplankton, we identified 31 new eukaryotic riboswitches. These were found in alveolate, cryptophyte, haptophyte and rhizarian phytoplankton as well as taxa from two lineages previously known to have riboswitches (green algae and stramenopiles). The predicted secondary structures bear hallmarks of TPP-sensing riboswitches. Surprisingly, most of the identified riboswitches are affiliated with genes of unknown function, rather than characterized thiamine biosynthesis genes. Using qPCR and growth experiments involving two prasinophyte algae, we show that expression of these genes increases significantly under vitamin B1-deplete conditions relative to controls. Pathway analyses show that several algae harboring the uncharacterized genes lack one or more enzymes in the known TPP biosynthesis pathway. We demonstrate that one such alga, the major primary producer Emiliania huxleyi, grows on 4-amino-5-hydroxymethyl-2-methylpyrimidine (a thiamine precursor moiety) alone, although long thought dependent on exogenous sources of thiamine. Thus, overall, we have identified riboswitches in major eukaryotic lineages not known to undergo this form of gene regulation. In these phytoplankton groups, riboswitches are often affiliated with widespread thiamine-responsive genes with as yet uncertain roles in TPP pathways. Further, taxa with 'incomplete' TPP biosynthesis pathways do not necessarily require exogenous vitamin B1, making vitamin control of phytoplankton blooms more complex than the current paradigm suggests.The ISME Journal advance online publication, 29 August 2014; doi:10.1038/ismej.2014.146.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inteins are rare, translated genetic parasites mainly found in bacteria and archaea, while spliceosomal introns are distinctly eukaryotic features abundant in most nuclear genomes. Using targeted metagenomics, we discovered an intein in an Atlantic population of the photosynthetic eukaryote, Bathycoccus, harbored by the essential spliceosomal protein PRP8 (processing factor 8 protein). Although previously thought exclusive to fungi, we also identified PRP8 inteins in parasitic (Capsaspora) and predatory (Salpingoeca) protists. Most new PRP8 inteins were at novel insertion sites that, surprisingly, were not in the most conserved regions of the gene. Evolutionarily, Dikarya fungal inteins at PRP8 insertion site a appeared more related to the Bathycoccus intein at a unique insertion site, than to other fungal and opisthokont inteins. Strikingly, independent analyses of Pacific and Atlantic samples revealed an intron at the same codon as the Bathycoccus PRP8 intein. The two elements are mutually exclusive and neither was found in cultured Bathycoccus or other picoprasinophyte genomes. Thus, wild Bathycoccus contain one of few non-fungal eukaryotic inteins known and a rare polymorphic intron. Our data indicate at least two Bathycoccus ecotypes exist, associated respectively with oceanic or mesotrophic environments. We hypothesize that intein propagation is facilitated by marine viruses; and, while intron gain is still poorly understood, presence of a spliceosomal intron where a locus lacks an intein raises the possibility of new, intein-primed mechanisms for intron gain. The discovery of nucleus-encoded inteins and associated sequence polymorphisms in uncultivated marine eukaryotes highlights their diversity and reveals potential sexual boundaries between populations indistinguishable by common marker genes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ostreococcus is a marine picophytoeukaryote for which culture studies indicate there are 'high-light' and 'low-light' adapted ecotypes. Representatives of these ecotypes fall within two to three 18S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) clades for the former and one for the latter. However, clade distributions and relationships to this form of niche partitioning are unknown in nature. We developed two quantitative PCR primer-probe sets and enumerated the proposed ecotypes in the Pacific Ocean as well as the subtropical and tropical North Atlantic. Statistical differences in factors such as salinity, temperature and NO(3) indicated the ecophysiological parameters behind clade distributions are more complex than irradiance alone. Clade OII, containing the putatively low-light adapted strains, was detected at warm oligotrophic sites. In contrast, Clade OI, containing high-light adapted strains, was present in cooler mesotrophic and coastal waters. Maximal OI abundance (19 555±37 18S rDNA copies per ml) was detected in mesotrophic waters at 40 m depth, approaching the nutricline. OII was often more abundant at the deep chlorophyll maximum, when nutrient concentrations were significantly higher than at the surface (stratified euphotic zone waters). However, in mixed euphotic-zone water columns, relatively high numbers (for example, 891±107 18S rDNA copies per ml, Sargasso Sea, springtime) were detected at the surface. Both Clades OI and OII were found at multiple euphotic zone depths, but co-occurrence at the same geographical location appeared rare and was detected only in continental slope waters. In situ growth rate estimates using these primer-probes and better comprehension of physiology will enhance ecological understanding of Ostreococcus Clades OII and OI which appear to be oceanic and coastal clades, respectively.
The ISME Journal 02/2011; 5(7):1095-107. · 8.95 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The use of molecular methods is altering our understanding of the microbial biosphere and the complexity of the tree of life. Here, we report a newly discovered uncultured plastid-bearing eukaryotic lineage named the rappemonads. Phylogenies using near-complete plastid ribosomal DNA (rDNA) operons demonstrate that this group represents an evolutionarily distinct lineage branching with haptophyte and cryptophyte algae. Environmental DNA sequencing revealed extensive diversity at North Atlantic, North Pacific, and European freshwater sites, suggesting a broad ecophysiology and wide habitat distribution. Quantitative PCR analyses demonstrate that the rappemonads are often rare but can form transient blooms in the Sargasso Sea, where high 16S rRNA gene copies mL(-1) were detected in late winter. This pattern is consistent with these microbes being a member of the rare biosphere, whose constituents have been proposed to play important roles under ecosystem change. Fluorescence in situ hybridization revealed that cells from this unique lineage were 6.6 ± 1.2 × 5.7 ± 1.0 μm, larger than numerically dominant open-ocean phytoplankton, and appear to contain two to four plastids. The rappemonads are unique, widespread, putatively photosynthetic algae that are absent from present-day ecosystem models and current versions of the tree of life.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2011; 108(4):1496-500. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The crystal structures of two homologous endopeptidases from cyanobacteria Anabaena variabilis and Nostoc punctiforme were determined at 1.05 and 1.60 A resolution, respectively, and contain a bacterial SH3-like domain (SH3b) and a ubiquitous cell-wall-associated NlpC/P60 (or CHAP) cysteine peptidase domain. The NlpC/P60 domain is a primitive, papain-like peptidase in the CA clan of cysteine peptidases with a Cys126/His176/His188 catalytic triad and a conserved catalytic core. We deduced from structure and sequence analysis, and then experimentally, that these two proteins act as gamma-D-glutamyl-L-diamino acid endopeptidases (EC 3.4.22.-). The active site is located near the interface between the SH3b and NlpC/P60 domains, where the SH3b domain may help define substrate specificity, instead of functioning as a targeting domain, so that only muropeptides with an N-terminal L-alanine can bind to the active site.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ECX21941 represents a very large family (over 600 members) of novel, ocean metagenome-specific proteins identified by clustering of the dataset from the Global Ocean Sampling expedition. The crystal structure of ECX21941 reveals unexpected similarity to Sm/LSm proteins, which are important RNA-binding proteins, despite no detectable sequence similarity. The ECX21941 protein assembles as a homopentamer in solution and in the crystal structure when expressed in Escherichia coli and represents the first pentameric structure for this Sm/LSm family of proteins, although the actual oligomeric form in vivo is currently not known. The genomic neighborhood analysis of ECX21941 and its homologs combined with sequence similarity searches suggest a cyanophage origin for this protein. The specific functions of members of this family are unknown, but our structure analysis of ECX21941 indicates nucleic acid-binding capabilities and suggests a role in RNA and/or DNA processing.
Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 01/2009; 75(2):296-307. · 3.34 Impact Factor