Genetic evidence for a novel competence inhibitor in the industrially important Bacillus licheniformis.
ABSTRACT: Natural genetic competence renders bacteria able to take up and, in case there is sufficient homology to the recipient's chromosome, integrate exogenously supplied DNA. Well studied in Bacillus subtilis, genetic competence is-in several aspects-known to be differently regulated in Bacillus licheniformis. We now report on the identification of a novel, chromosomally encoded homolog of a competence inhibitor in B. licheniformis (ComI) that has hitherto only been described as a plasmid borne trait in the ancestral B. subtilis NCIB3610. Bioinformatical analysis that included 80 Bacillus strains covering 20 different species revealed a ComI encoding gene in all of the examined B. licheniformis representatives, and was identified in few among the other species investigated. The predicted ComI of B. licheniformis is a highly conserved peptide consisting of 28 amino acids. Since deletion of comI in B. licheniformis DSM13 resulted in twofold increased transformation efficiency by genetic competence and overexpression resulted in threefold decreased transformability, the function as a competence inhibitor became evident.
Project description:The genetic manageability of the biotechnologically important Bacillus licheniformis is hampered due to its poor transformability, whereas Bacillus subtilis efficiently takes up DNA during genetic competence, a quorum-sensing-dependent process. Since the sensor histidine kinase ComP, encoded by a gene of the quorum-sensing module comQXPA of B. licheniformis DSM13, was found to be inactive due to an insertion element within comP, the coding region was exchanged with a functional copy. Quorum sensing was restored, but the already-poor genetic competence dropped further. The inducible expression of the key regulator for the transcription of competence genes, ComK, in trans resulted in highly competent strains and facilitated the direct disruption of genes, as well as the conditional knockout of an essential operon. As ComK is inhibited at low cell densities by a proteolytic complex in which MecA binds ComK and such inhibition is antagonized by the interaction of MecA with ComS (the expression of the latter is controlled by cell density in B. subtilis), we performed an in silico analysis of MecA and the hitherto unidentified ComS, which revealed differences for competent and noncompetent strains, indicating that the reduced competence possibly is due to a nonfunctional coupling of the comQXPA-encoded quorum module and ComK. The obtained increased genetic tractability of this industrial workhorse should improve a wide array of scientific investigations.
Project description:Natural competence is a process by which bacteria construct a membrane-associated machine for the uptake and integration of exogenous DNA. Many bacteria harbor genes for the DNA uptake machinery and yet are recalcitrant to DNA uptake for unknown reasons. For example, domesticated laboratory strains of Bacillus subtilis are renowned for high-frequency natural transformation, but the ancestral B. subtilis strain NCIB3610 is poorly competent. Here we find that endogenous plasmid pBS32 encodes a small protein, ComI, that inhibits transformation in the 3610 strain. ComI is a single-pass trans-membrane protein that appears to functionally inhibit the competence DNA uptake machinery. Functional inhibition of transformation may be common, and abolishing such inhibitors could be the key to permitting convenient genetic manipulation of a variety of industrially and medically relevant bacteria.
Project description:The ancestral strain of <i>Bacillus subtilis</i> NCIB3610 (3610) bears a large, low-copy-number plasmid, called pBS32, that was lost during the domestication of laboratory strain derivatives. Selection against pBS32 may have been because it encodes a potent inhibitor of natural genetic competence (ComI), as laboratory strains were selected for high-frequency transformation. Previous studies have shown that pBS32 and its sibling, pLS32 in <i>Bacillus subtilis</i> subsp. <i>natto</i>, encode a replication initiation protein (RepN), a plasmid partitioning system (AlfAB), a biofilm inhibitor (RapP), and an alternative sigma factor (SigN) that can induce plasmid-mediated cell death in response to DNA damage. Here, we review the literature on pBS32/pLS32, the genes found on it, and their associated phenotypes.
Project description:Domesticated laboratory strains of Bacillus subtilis readily take up and integrate exogenous DNA. In contrast, "wild" ancestors or Bacillus strains recently isolated from the environment can only be genetically modified by phage transduction, electroporation or protoplast transformation. Such methods are laborious, have a variable yield or cannot efficiently be used to alter chromosomal DNA. A major disadvantage of using laboratory strains is that they have often lost, or do not display ecologically relevant physiologies such as the ability to form biofilms. Here we present a method that allows genetic transformation by natural competence in several environmental isolates of B. subtilis. Competence in these strains was established by expressing the B. subtilis competence transcription factor ComK from an IPTG-inducible promoter construct present on an unstable plasmid. This transiently activates expression of the genes required for DNA uptake and recombination in the host strain. After transformation, the comK encoding plasmid is lost easily because of its intrinsic instability and the transformed strain returns to its wild state. Using this method, we have successfully generated mutants and introduced foreign DNA into a number of environmental isolates and also B. subtilis strain NCIB3610, which is widely used to study biofilm formation. Application of the same method to strains of B. licheniformis was unsuccessful. The efficient and rapid approach described here may facilitate genetic studies in a wider array of environmental B. subtilis strains.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The production of enzymes by an industrial strain requires a complex adaption of the bacterial metabolism to the conditions within the fermenter. Regulatory events within the process result in a dynamic change of the transcriptional activity of the genome. This complex network of genes is orchestrated by proteins as well as regulatory RNA elements. Here we present an RNA-Seq based study considering selected phases of an industry-oriented fermentation of Bacillus licheniformis. RESULTS: A detailed analysis of 20 strand-specific RNA-Seq datasets revealed a multitude of transcriptionally active genomic regions. 3314 RNA features encoded by such active loci have been identified and sorted into ten functional classes. The identified sequences include the expected RNA features like housekeeping sRNAs, metabolic riboswitches and RNA switches well known from studies on Bacillus subtilis as well as a multitude of completely new candidates for regulatory RNAs. An unexpectedly high number of 855 RNA features are encoded antisense to annotated protein and RNA genes, in addition to 461 independently transcribed small RNAs. These antisense transcripts contain molecules with a remarkable size range variation from 38 to 6348 base pairs in length. The genome of the type strain B. licheniformis DSM13 was completely reannotated using data obtained from RNA-Seq analyses and from public databases. CONCLUSION: The hereby generated data-sets represent a solid amount of knowledge on the dynamic transcriptional activities during the investigated fermentation stages. The identified regulatory elements enable research on the understanding and the optimization of crucial metabolic activities during a productive fermentation of Bacillus licheniformis strains.
Project description:Prophages are viruses, which have integrated their genomes into the genome of a bacterial host. The status of the prophage genome can vary from fully intact with the potential to form infective particles to a remnant state where only a few phage genes persist. Prophages have impact on the properties of their host and are therefore of great interest for genomic research and strain design. Here we present a genome- and next generation sequencing (NGS)-based approach for identification and activity evaluation of prophage regions. Seven prophage or prophage-like regions were identified in the genome of Bacillus licheniformis DSM13. Six of these regions show similarity to members of the Siphoviridae phage family. The remaining region encodes the B. licheniformis orthologue of the PBSX prophage from Bacillus subtilis. Analysis of isolated phage particles (induced by mitomycin C) from the wild-type strain and prophage deletion mutant strains revealed activity of the prophage regions BLi_Pp2 (PBSX-like), BLi_Pp3 and BLi_Pp6. In contrast to BLi_Pp2 and BLi_Pp3, neither phage DNA nor phage particles of BLi_Pp6 could be visualized. However, the ability of prophage BLi_Pp6 to generate particles could be confirmed by sequencing of particle-protected DNA mapping to prophage locus BLi_Pp6. The introduced NGS-based approach allows the investigation of prophage regions and their ability to form particles. Our results show that this approach increases the sensitivity of prophage activity analysis and can complement more conventional approaches such as transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
Project description:With these experiments we investigate the impact of the deletion of the gene encoding transcription termination Rho on the transcriptomes of two different Bacillus subtilis strains, BsB1 and NCIB3610. The results confirm massive increase of antisense transcription initially observed with tiling arrays in B. subtilis strain 1012 (Nicolas et al. 2012; PMID:22383849; GSE27303). Overall design: The rho-deletion associated with a phelomycin resistance cassette from Bacillus subtilis 1012 rho :phleo (described in Nicolas et al. 2012) was introduced into Bacillus subtilis BsB1 and NCIB3610 backgrounds by natural competence and SPP1-mediated transduction, respectively. Mutant and parental backgrounds of these two strains were subjected to stranded RNA-Seq profiling. A total of 6 biological samples were examined (biological duplicates for NCIB3610).
Project description:BACKGROUND: L-alanine, acting through the GerA receptor, was recently found to be an efficient germinant in Bacillus licheniformis ATCC14580/DSM13. RESULTS: In this study, we show that several of 46 examined B. licheniformis strains germinate remarkably slower than the type strain when exposed to L-alanine. These strains are not necessarily closely related, as determined by MLST (multi-locus sequence typing). Three of the slow-germinating strains were further examined in order to see whether nucleotide substitutions in the gerA sequences were responsible for the slow L-alanine germination. This was performed by complementing the transformable type strain derivate MW3?gerAA with gerA variants from the three slow-germinating strains; NVH1032, NVH1112 and NVH800. CONCLUSIONS: A wide selection of B. licheniformis strains was evaluated for L-alanine-induced germination efficiency. Our results show that gerA substitutions could only partially explain why spores of some B. licheniformis strains responded slower than others in the presence of L-alanine.
Project description:The mannan endo-1,4-?-mannosidase (ManB) from Bacillus licheniformis strain DSM13 was overexpressed in Escherichia coli. Purification of the thermostable and alkali-stable recombinant mannanase yielded approximately 50?mg enzyme per litre of culture. Crystals were grown by hanging-drop vapour diffusion using a precipitant solution consisting of 12%(w/v) PEG 8000, 0.2?M magnesium acetate tetrahydrate and 0.1?M MES pH 6.5. The protein crystallized in the monoclinic space group P2(1), with two molecules per asymmetric unit and unit-cell parameters a = 48.58, b = 91.75, c = 89.55?Å, ? = 98.29°, and showed diffraction to 2.3?Å resolution.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Bacillus licheniformis is a Gram-positive, spore-forming soil bacterium that is used in the biotechnology industry to manufacture enzymes, antibiotics, biochemicals and consumer products. This species is closely related to the well studied model organism Bacillus subtilis, and produces an assortment of extracellular enzymes that may contribute to nutrient cycling in nature. RESULTS: We determined the complete nucleotide sequence of the B. licheniformis ATCC 14580 genome which comprises a circular chromosome of 4,222,336 base-pairs (bp) containing 4,208 predicted protein-coding genes with an average size of 873 bp, seven rRNA operons, and 72 tRNA genes. The B. licheniformis chromosome contains large regions that are colinear with the genomes of B. subtilis and Bacillus halodurans, and approximately 80% of the predicted B. licheniformis coding sequences have B. subtilis orthologs. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the unmistakable organizational similarities between the B. licheniformis and B. subtilis genomes, there are notable differences in the numbers and locations of prophages, transposable elements and a number of extracellular enzymes and secondary metabolic pathway operons that distinguish these species. Differences include a region of more than 80 kilobases (kb) that comprises a cluster of polyketide synthase genes and a second operon of 38 kb encoding plipastatin synthase enzymes that are absent in the B. licheniformis genome. The availability of a completed genome sequence for B. licheniformis should facilitate the design and construction of improved industrial strains and allow for comparative genomics and evolutionary studies within this group of Bacillaceae.