[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In all studied organisms, a substantial portion of the transcriptome consists of non-coding RNAs that frequently execute regulatory functions. Here, we have compared the primary transcriptomes of the cyanobacteria Synechocystis sp. PCC 6714 and PCC 6803 under 10 different conditions. These strains share 2854 protein-coding genes and a 16S rRNA identity of 99.4%, indicating their close relatedness. Conserved major transcriptional start sites (TSSs) give rise to non-coding transcripts within the sigB gene, from the 5′UTRs of cmpA and isiA, and 168 loci in antisense orientation. Distinct differences include single nucleotide polymorphisms rendering promoters inactive in one of the strains, e.g., for cmpR and for the asRNA PsbA2R. Based on the genome-wide mapped location, regulation and classification of TSSs, non-coding transcripts were identified as the most dynamic component of the transcriptome. We identified a class of mRNAs that originate by read-through from an sRNA that accumulates as a discrete and abundant transcript while also serving as the 5′UTR. Such an sRNA/mRNA structure, which we name ‘actuaton’, represents another way for bacteria to remodel their transcriptional network. Our findings support the hypothesis that variations in the non-coding transcriptome constitute a major evolutionary element of inter-strain divergence and capability for physiological adaptation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNA-seq and especially differential RNA-seq-type transcriptomic analyses (dRNA-seq) are powerful analytical tools, as they
not only provide insights into gene expression changes but also provide detailed information about all promoters active at
a given moment, effectively giving a deep insight into the transcriptional landscape. Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 (Synechocystis 6803) is a unicellular model cyanobacterium that is widely used in research fields from ecology, photophysiology to systems
biology, modelling and biotechnology. Here, we analysed the response of the Synechocystis 6803 primary transcriptome to different, environmentally relevant stimuli. We established genome-wide maps of the transcriptional
start sites active under 10 different conditions relevant for photosynthetic growth and identified 4,091 transcriptional units,
which provide information about operons, 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions (UTRs). Based on a unique expression factor, we describe
regulons and relevant promoter sequences at single-nucleotide resolution. Finally, we report several sRNAs with an intriguing
expression pattern and therefore likely function, specific for carbon depletion (CsiR1), nitrogen depletion (NsiR4), phosphate
depletion (PsiR1), iron stress (IsaR1) or photosynthesis (PsrR1). This dataset is accompanied by comprehensive information
providing extensive visualization and data access to allow an easy-to-use approach for the design of experiments, the incorporation
into modelling studies of the regulatory system and for comparative analyses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An RNA-based screen was performed to reveal a possible evolutionary scenario for the CRISPR-Cas systems in two cyanobacterial model strains. Following the analysis of a draft genome sequence of Synechocystis sp PCC6714, three different CRISPR-Cas systems were characterized that have different degrees of relatedness to another three CRISPR-Cas systems in Synechocystis sp PCC6803. A subtype III-B system was identified that is extremely conserved between both strains. Strong signals in northern hybridizations and the presence of different spacers (but identical repeats) indicated this system to be active, despite the absence of a known endonuclease candidate gene involved in the maturation of its crRNAs in the two strains. The other two systems were found to differ significantly from each other, with different sets of repeat-spacer arrays and different Cas genes. In view of the otherwise very close relatedness of the two analyzed strains, this is suggestive of an unknown mechanism involved in the replacement of CRISPR-Cas cassettes as a whole. Further RNA analyses revealed the accumulation of crRNAs to be impacted by environmental conditions critical for photoautotropic growth. All six systems are associated with a gene for a possible transcriptional repressor. Indeed, we identified one of these genes, sll7009, as encoding a negative regulator specific for the CRISPR1 subtype I-D system in Synechocystis sp PCC6803.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The CRISPR-Cas (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindrome Repeats - CRISPR associated proteins) system provides adaptive immunity in archaea and bacteria. A hallmark of CRISPR-Cas is the involvement of short crRNAs that guide associated proteins in the destruction of invading DNA or RNA. We present three fundamentally distinct processing pathways in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 for a subtype I-D (CRISPR1), and two type III systems (CRISPR2 and CRISPR3), which are located together on the plasmid pSYSA. Using high-throughput transcriptome analyses and assays of transcript accumulation we found all CRISPR loci to be highly expressed, but the individual crRNAs had profoundly varying abundances despite single transcription start sites for each array. In a computational analysis, CRISPR3 spacers with stable secondary structures displayed a greater ratio of degradation products. These structures might interfere with the loading of the crRNAs into RNP complexes, explaining the varying abundancies. The maturation of CRISPR1 and CRISPR2 transcripts depends on at least two different Cas6 proteins. Mutation of gene sll7090, encoding a Cmr2 protein led to the disappearance of all CRISPR3-derived crRNAs, providing in vivo evidence for a function of Cmr2 in the maturation, regulation of expression, Cmr complex formation or stabilization of CRISPR3 transcripts. Finally, we optimized CRISPR repeat structure prediction and the results indicate that the spacer context can influence individual repeat structures.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There has been an increasing interest in cyanobacteria because these photosynthetic organisms convert solar energy into biomass and because of their potential for the production of biofuels. However, the exploitation of cyanobacteria for bioengineering requires knowledge of their transcriptional organization. Using differential RNA sequencing, we have established a genome-wide map of 3,527 transcriptional start sites (TSS) of the model organism Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. One-third of all TSS were located upstream of an annotated gene; another third were on the reverse complementary strand of 866 genes, suggesting massive antisense transcription. Orphan TSS located in intergenic regions led us to predict 314 noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs). Complementary microarray-based RNA profiling verified a high number of noncoding transcripts and identified strong ncRNA regulations. Thus, ∼64% of all TSS give rise to antisense or ncRNAs in a genome that is to 87% protein coding. Our data enhance the information on promoters by a factor of 40, suggest the existence of additional small peptide-encoding mRNAs, and provide corrected 5' annotations for many genes of this cyanobacterium. The global TSS map will facilitate the use of Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 as a model organism for further research on photosynthesis and energy research.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Information on the numbers and functions of naturally occurring antisense RNAs (asRNAs) in eubacteria has thus far remained incomplete. Here, we screened the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 for asRNAs using four different methods. In the final data set, the number of known noncoding RNAs rose from 6 earlier identified to 60 and of asRNAs from 1 to 73 (28 were verified using at least three methods). Among these, there are many asRNAs to housekeeping, regulatory or metabolic genes, as well as to genes encoding electron transport proteins. Transferring cultures to high light, carbon-limited conditions or darkness influenced the expression levels of several asRNAs, suggesting their functional relevance. Examples include the asRNA to rpl1, which accumulates in a light-dependent manner and may be required for processing the L11 r-operon and the SyR7 noncoding RNA, which is antisense to the murF 5' UTR, possibly modulating murein biosynthesis. Extrapolated to the whole genome, approximately 10% of all genes in Synechocystis are influenced by asRNAs. Thus, chromosomally encoded asRNAs may have an important function in eubacterial regulatory networks.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2009 · Molecular Systems Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Costa Rica is at the centre of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot. Little is known about cyanobacteria from this region so far. Here, four isolates of the order Stigonematales (section V) were characterized in a polyphasic approach. All strains were isolated from geothermal sites and hot springs of Costa Rica. However, one of them, identified as Westiellopsis sp. Ar73, did not grow at more than 40 degrees C. Based on its identical 16S rRNA to several previously isolated Westiellopsis sp. and Fischerella muscicola strains, a ubiquitous distribution throughout tropical and subtropical regions can be implied. In contrast, the isolates MV9, MV11 and RV14 grew well up to 50-55 degrees C. Based on morphologic, ultrastructural, molecular and physiologic data, MV9, MV11 and RV14 were identified to belong to the genus Fischerella. Two distinct intergenic transcribed spacer (ITS) types, with or without tRNA genes, were detected for all Stigonematales analysed here, indicating ITS polymorphism as a characteristic feature of heterocystous cyanobacteria. In phylogenetic trees, these Fischerella spp. formed a new and distinct clade within the wider lineage of thermophilic Fischerella (Mastigocladus cf. laminosus), which might represent a geographic lineage. Thus, geographic isolation may be an underestimated aspect of microbial evolution. The strains presented here are suitable as new models to study this group of cyanobacteria.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2008 · Environmental Microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In spite of their abundance and importance, little is known about cyanobacterial cell biology and their cell cycle. During each cell cycle, chromosomes must be separated into future daughter cells, i.e. into both cell halves, which in many bacteria is achieved by an active machinery that operates during DNA replication. Many cyanobacteria contain multiple identical copies of the chromosome, but it is unknown how chromosomes are segregated into future daughter cells, and if an active or passive mechanism is operative. In addition to an outer and an inner cell membrane, cyanobacteria contain internal thylakoid membranes that carry the active photosynthetic machinery. It is unclear whether thylakoid membranes are invaginations of the inner cell membrane, or an independent membrane system.
We have used different fluorescent dyes to study the organization of chromosomes and of cell and thylakoid membranes in live cyanobacterial cells. FM1-43 stained the outer and inner cytoplasmic membranes but did not enter the interior of the cell. In contrast, thylakoid membranes in unicellular Synechocystis cells became visible through a membrane-permeable stain only. Furthermore, continuous supply of the fluorescent dye FM1-43 resulted in the formation of one to four intracellular fluorescent structures in Synechocystis cells, within occurred within 30 to 60 minutes, and may represent membrane vesicles. Using fluorescent DNA stains, we found that Synechocystis genomic DNA is compacted in the cell centre that is devoid of thylakoid membranes. Nucleoids segregated very late in the cell cycle, just before complete closing of the division septum. In striking contrast to Bacillus subtilis, which possesses an active chromosome segregation machinery, fluorescence intensity of stained nucleoids differed considerably between the two Synechocystis daughter cells soon after cell division.
Our experiments strongly support the idea that the cytoplasmic and thylakoid membranes are not directly connected, but separate entities, in unicellular cyanobacteria. Our findings suggest that a transport system may exist between the cytoplasmic membrane and thylakoids, which could mediate the extension of thylakoid membranes and possibly also protein transport from the cytoplasmic membrane to thylakoid membranes. The cell cycle studies in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 show that the multiple chromosome copies per cell segregate very late in the cell cycle and in a much less stringent manner than in B. subtilis cells, indicating that chromosomes may become segregated randomly and in a passive fashion, possibly through constriction of the division septum.