Carbohydrate Utilization Pathway Analysis in the Hyperthermophile Thermotoga maritima

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Title: Carbohydrate Utilization Pathway Analysis in the Hyperthermophile Thermotoga maritima
Author: Conners, Shannon Burns
Advisors: Todd Klaenhammer, Committee Member
Robert Kelly, Committee Chair
Greg Gibson, Committee Member
Bruce Weir, Committee Member
Jason Osborne, Committee Member
Abstract: Carbohydrate utilization and production pathways identified in Thermotoga species likely contribute to their ubiquity in hydrothermal environments. Many carbohydrate-active enzymes from Thermotoga maritima have been characterized biochemically; however, sugar uptake systems and regulatory mechanisms that control them have not been well defined. Transcriptional data from cDNA microarrays were examined using mixed effects statistical models to predict candidate sugar substrates for ABC (ATP-binding cassette) transporters in T. maritima. Genes encoding proteins previously annotated as oligopeptide/dipeptide ABC transporters responded transcriptionally to various carbohydrates. This finding was consistent with protein sequence comparisons that revealed closer relationships to archaeal sugar transporters than to bacterial peptide transporters. In many cases, glycosyl hydrolases, co-localized with these transporters, also responded to the same sugars. Putative transcriptional repressors of the LacI, XylR, and DeoR families were likely involved in regulating genomic units for beta-1,4-glucan, beta-1,3-glucan, beta-1,4-mannan, ribose, and rhamnose metabolism and transport. Carbohydrate utilization pathways in T. maritima may be related to ecological interactions within cell communities. Exopolysaccharide-based biofilms composed primarily of β-linked glucose, with small amounts of mannose and ribose, formed under certain conditions in both pure T. maritima cultures and mixed cultures of T. maritima and M. jannaschii. Further examination of transcriptional differences between biofilm-bound sessile cells and planktonic cells revealed differential expression of beta-glucan-specific degradation enzymes, even though maltose, an alpha-1,4 linked glucose disaccharide, was used as a growth substrate. Higher transcripts of genes encoding iron and sulfur compound transport, iron-sulfur cluster chaperones, and iron-sulfur cluster proteins suggest altered redox environments in biofilm cells. Further direct comparisons between cellobiose and maltose-grown cells suggested that transcription of cellobiose utilization genes is highly sensitive to the presence of cellobiose, or a cellobiose-maltose mixture. Increased transcripts of genes related to polysulfide reductases in cellobiose-grown cells and biofilm cells suggested that T. maritima cells in pure culture biofilms escaped hydrogen inhibition by preferentially reducing sulfur compounds, while cells in mixed culture biofilms form close associations with hydrogen-utilizing methanogens. In addition to probing issues related to the microbial physiology and ecology of T. maritima, this work illustrates the strategic use of DNA microarray-based transcriptional analysis for functional genomics studies.
Date: 2006-03-01
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Bioinformatics

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