Microbial Functional Responses to Cholesterol Catabolism in Denitrifying Sludge.
ABSTRACT: The 2,3-seco pathway, the pathway for anaerobic cholesterol degradation, has been established in the denitrifying betaproteobacterium Sterolibacterium denitrificans. However, knowledge of how microorganisms respond to cholesterol at the community level is elusive. Here, we applied mesocosm incubation and 16S rRNA sequencing to reveal that, in denitrifying sludge communities, three betaproteobacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) with low (94% to 95%) 16S rRNA sequence similarity to Stl. denitrificans are cholesterol degraders and members of the rare biosphere. Metatranscriptomic and metabolite analyses show that these degraders adopt the 2,3-seco pathway to sequentially catalyze the side chain and sterane of cholesterol and that two molybdoenzymes-steroid C25 dehydrogenase and 1-testosterone dehydrogenase/hydratase-are crucial for these bioprocesses, respectively. The metatranscriptome further suggests that these betaproteobacterial degraders display chemotaxis and motility toward cholesterol and that FadL-like transporters may be the key components for substrate uptake. Also, these betaproteobacteria are capable of transporting micronutrients and synthesizing cofactors essential for cellular metabolism and cholesterol degradation; however, the required cobalamin is possibly provided by cobalamin-de novo-synthesizing gamma-, delta-, and betaproteobacteria via the salvage pathway. Overall, our results indicate that the ability to degrade cholesterol in sludge communities is reserved for certain rare biosphere members and that C25 dehydrogenase can serve as a biomarker for sterol degradation in anoxic environments. IMPORTANCE Steroids are ubiquitous and abundant natural compounds that display recalcitrance. Biodegradation via sludge communities in wastewater treatment plants is the primary removal process for steroids. To date, compared to studies for aerobic steroid degradation, the knowledge of anaerobic degradation of steroids has been based on only a few model organisms. Due to the increase of anthropogenic impacts, steroid inputs may affect microbial diversity and functioning in ecosystems. Here, we first investigated microbial functional responses to cholesterol, the most abundant steroid in sludge, at the community level. Our metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analyses revealed that the capacities for cholesterol approach, uptake, and degradation are unique traits of certain low-abundance betaproteobacteria, indicating the importance of the rare biosphere in bioremediation. Apparent expression of genes involved in cofactor de novo synthesis and salvage pathways suggests that these micronutrients play important roles for cholesterol degradation in sludge communities.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Steroids are ubiquitous in natural environments and are a significant growth substrate for microorganisms. Microbial steroid metabolism is also important for some pathogens and for biotechnical applications. This study delineated the distribution of aerobic steroid catabolism pathways among over 8,000 microorganisms whose genomes are available in the NCBI RefSeq database. Combined analysis of bacterial, archaeal, and fungal genomes with both hidden Markov models and reciprocal BLAST identified 265 putative steroid degraders within only Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria, which mainly originated from soil, eukaryotic host, and aquatic environments. These bacteria include members of 17 genera not previously known to contain steroid degraders. A pathway for cholesterol degradation was conserved in many actinobacterial genera, particularly in members of the Corynebacterineae, and a pathway for cholate degradation was conserved in members of the genus Rhodococcus. A pathway for testosterone and, sometimes, cholate degradation had a patchy distribution among Proteobacteria. The steroid degradation genes tended to occur within large gene clusters. Growth experiments confirmed bioinformatic predictions of steroid metabolism capacity in nine bacterial strains. The results indicate there was a single ancestral 9,10-seco-steroid degradation pathway. Gene duplication, likely in a progenitor of Rhodococcus, later gave rise to a cholate degradation pathway. Proteobacteria and additional Actinobacteria subsequently obtained a cholate degradation pathway via horizontal gene transfer, in some cases facilitated by plasmids. Catabolism of steroids appears to be an important component of the ecological niches of broad groups of Actinobacteria and individual species of Proteobacteria. IMPORTANCE:Steroids are ubiquitous growth substrates for environmental and pathogenic bacteria, and bacterial steroid metabolism has important pharmaceutical and health applications. To date, the genetics and biochemistry of microbial steroid degradation have mainly been studied in a few model bacteria, and the diversity of this metabolism remains largely unexplored. Here, we provide a bioinformatically derived perspective of the taxonomic distribution of aerobic microbial steroid catabolism pathways. We identified several novel steroid-degrading bacterial groups, including ones from marine environments. In several cases, we confirmed bioinformatic predictions of metabolism in cultures. We found that cholesterol and cholate catabolism pathways are highly conserved among certain actinobacterial taxa. We found evidence for horizontal transfer of a pathway to several proteobacterial genera, conferring testosterone and, sometimes, cholate catabolism. The results of this study greatly expand our ecological and evolutionary understanding of microbial steroid metabolism and provide a basis for better exploiting this metabolism for biotechnology.
Project description:Steroids are abundant growth substrates for bacteria in natural, engineered, and host-associated environments. This study analyzed the distribution of the aerobic 9,10-seco steroid degradation pathway in 346 publically available metagenomes from diverse environments. Our results show that steroid-degrading bacteria are globally distributed and prevalent in particular environments, such as wastewater treatment plants, soil, plant rhizospheres, and the marine environment, including marine sponges. Genomic signature-based sequence binning recovered 45 metagenome-assembled genomes containing a majority of 9,10-seco pathway genes. Only Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria were identified as steroid degraders, but we identified several alpha- and gammaproteobacterial lineages not previously known to degrade steroids. Actino- and proteobacterial steroid degraders coexisted in wastewater, while soil and rhizosphere samples contained mostly actinobacterial ones. Actinobacterial steroid degraders were found in deep ocean samples, while mostly alpha- and gammaproteobacterial ones were found in other marine samples, including sponges. Isolation of steroid-degrading bacteria from sponges confirmed their presence. Phylogenetic analysis of key steroid degradation proteins suggested their biochemical novelty in genomes from sponges and other environments. This study shows that the ecological significance as well as taxonomic and biochemical diversity of bacterial steroid degradation has so far been largely underestimated, especially in the marine environment.IMPORTANCE Microbial steroid degradation is a critical process for biomass decomposition in natural environments, for removal of important pollutants during wastewater treatment, and for pathogenesis of bacteria associated with tuberculosis and other bacteria. To date, microbial steroid degradation was mainly studied in a few model organisms, while the ecological significance of steroid degradation remained largely unexplored. This study provides the first analysis of aerobic steroid degradation in diverse natural, engineered, and host-associated environments via bioinformatic analysis of an extensive metagenome data set. We found that steroid-degrading bacteria are globally distributed and prevalent in wastewater treatment plants, soil, plant rhizospheres, and the marine environment, especially in marine sponges. We show that the ecological significance as well as the taxonomic and biochemical diversity of bacterial steroid degradation has been largely underestimated. This study greatly expands our ecological and evolutionary understanding of microbial steroid degradation.
Project description:The steroid superfamily includes a wide range of compounds that are essential for living organisms of the animal and plant kingdoms. Structural modifications of steroids highly affect their biological activity. In this review, we focus on hydroxylation of steroids by bacterial hydroxylases, which take part in steroid catabolic pathways and play an important role in steroid degradation. We compare three distinct classes of metalloenzymes responsible for aerobic or anaerobic hydroxylation of steroids, namely: cytochrome P450, Rieske-type monooxygenase 3-ketosteroid 9?-hydroxylase, and molybdenum-containing steroid C25 dehydrogenases. We analyze the available literature data on reactivity, regioselectivity, and potential application of these enzymes in organic synthesis of hydroxysteroids. Moreover, we describe mechanistic hypotheses proposed for all three classes of enzymes along with experimental and theoretical evidences, which have provided grounds for their formulation. In case of the 3-ketosteroid 9?-hydroxylase, such a mechanistic hypothesis is formulated for the first time in the literature based on studies conducted for other Rieske monooxygenases. Finally, we provide comparative analysis of similarities and differences in the reaction mechanisms utilized by bacterial steroid hydroxylases.
Project description:Steroid hormones modulate development, reproduction and communication in eukaryotes. The widespread occurrence and persistence of steroid hormones have attracted public attention due to their endocrine-disrupting effects on both wildlife and human beings. Bacteria are responsible for mineralizing steroids from the biosphere. Aerobic degradation of steroid hormones relies on O2 as a co-substrate of oxygenases to activate and to cleave the recalcitrant steroidal core ring. To date, two oxygen-dependent degradation pathways - the 9,10-seco pathway for androgens and the 4,5-seco pathways for oestrogens - have been characterized. Under anaerobic conditions, denitrifying bacteria adopt the 2,3-seco pathway to degrade different steroid structures. Recent meta-omics revealed that microorganisms able to degrade steroids are highly diverse and ubiquitous in different ecosystems. This review also summarizes culture-independent approaches using the characteristic metabolites and catabolic genes to monitor steroid biodegradation in various ecosystems.
Project description:The denitrifying betaproteobacterium Sterolibacterium denitrificans Chol1S catabolizes steroids such as cholesterol via an oxygen-independent pathway. It involves enzyme reaction sequences described for aerobic cholesterol and bile acid degradation as well as enzymes uniquely found in anaerobic steroid-degrading bacteria. Recent studies provided evidence that in S. denitrificans, the cholest-4-en-3-one intermediate is oxygen-independently oxidized to ?4-dafachronic acid (C26-oic acid), which is subsequently activated by a substrate-specific acyl-coenzyme A (acyl-CoA) synthetase (ACS). Further degradation was suggested to proceed via unconventional ?-oxidation, where aldolases, aldehyde dehydrogenases, and additional ACSs substitute for classical ?-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenases and thiolases. Here, we heterologously expressed three cholesterol-induced genes that putatively code for AMP-forming ACSs and characterized two of the products as specific 3?-hydroxy-?5-cholenoyl-CoA (C24-oic acid)- and pregn-4-en-3-one-22-oyl-CoA (C22-oic acid)-forming ACSs, respectively. A third heterologously produced ATP-dependent ACS was inactive with C26-, C24-, or C22-oic-acids but activated 3a?-H-4?-(3'propanoate)-7a?-methylhexahydro-1,5-indanedione (HIP) to HIP-CoA, a rather late intermediate of aerobic cholesterol degradation that still contains the CD rings of the sterane skeleton. This work provides experimental evidence that anaerobic steroid degradation proceeds via numerous alternate CoA-ester-dependent or -independent enzymatic reaction sequences as a result of aldolytic side chain and hydrolytic sterane ring C-C bond cleavages. The aldolytic side chain degradation pathway comprising highly exergonic ACSs and aldehyde dehydrogenases is considered to be essential for driving the unfavorable oxygen-independent C26 hydroxylation forward.IMPORTANCE The biological degradation of ubiquitously abundant steroids is hampered by their low solubility and the presence of two quaternary carbon atoms. The degradation of cholesterol by aerobic Actinobacteria has been studied in detail for more than 30 years and involves a number of oxygenase-dependent reactions. In contrast, much less is known about the oxygen-independent degradation of steroids in denitrifying bacteria. In the cholesterol-degrading anaerobic model organism Sterolibacterium denitrificans Chol1S, initial evidence has been obtained that steroid degradation proceeds via numerous alternate coenzyme A (CoA)-ester-dependent/independent reaction sequences. Here, we describe the heterologous expression of three highly specific and characteristic acyl-CoA synthetases, two of which play key roles in the degradation of the side chain, whereas a third one is specifically involved in the B ring degradation. The results obtained shed light into oxygen-independent steroid degradation comprising more than 40 enzymatic reactions.
Project description:Time-series DNA-stable isotope probing (SIP) was used to identify the microbes assimilating carbon from [(13)C]toluene under nitrate- or sulfate-amended conditions in a range of inoculum sources, including uncontaminated and contaminated soil and wastewater treatment samples. In all, five different phylotypes were found to be responsible for toluene degradation, and these included previously identified toluene degraders as well as novel toluene-degrading microorganisms. In microcosms constructed from granular sludge and amended with nitrate, the putative toluene degraders were classified in the genus Thauera, whereas in nitrate-amended microcosms constructed from a different source (agricultural soil), microorganisms in the family Comamonadaceae (genus unclassified) were the key putative degraders. In one set of sulfate-amended microcosms (agricultural soil), the putative toluene degraders were identified as belonging to the class Clostridia (genus Desulfosporosinus), while in other sulfate-amended microcosms, the putative degraders were in the class Deltaproteobacteria, within the family Syntrophobacteraceae (digester sludge) or Desulfobulbaceae (contaminated soil) (genus unclassified for both). Partial benzylsuccinate synthase gene (bssA, the functional gene for anaerobic toluene degradation) sequences were obtained for some samples, and quantitative PCR targeting this gene, along with SIP, was further used to confirm anaerobic toluene degradation by the identified species. The study illustrates the diversity of toluene degraders across different environments and highlights the utility of ribosomal and functional gene-based SIP for linking function with identity in microbial communities.
Project description:Mycobacterium often presents as an abundant bacterial genus in activated sludge in many wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), but the species-level taxonomy and functions remain poorly understood. In this study, we profiled the mycobacterial communities in eleven WWTPs from five countries by pyrosequencing the rpoB amplicons and searching against a customized database of mycobacterial rpoB sequences. Results indicated that major mycobacterial species were related to M. brumae, M. crocinum, M. sphagni, etc., most of which belong to poorly characterized rapidly-growing group. A few opportunistic pathogenic species were detected, suggesting the potential risk of mycobacteria in WWTPs. Genomic analysis of four isolates from activated sludge indicated these genomes contained genes of degradations of alkane, aromatics, steroids and a variety of cytochrome P450 families. Additionally, a few key genes responsible for cholesterol degradation were detected in a full-scale activated sludge metatranscriptomic dataset reported previously and taxonomically assigned to mycobacteria. Evidence showed that all isolates can degrade cholesterol, a major composition of sewage. Relative abundance of mycobacteria in activated sludge was enriched by 4.7 folds after adding cholesterol into the influent for one week. Our results provided the insights into mycobacterial species and functions in WWTPs.
Project description:The environmental release and fate of estrogens are becoming an increasing public concern. Bacterial degradation has been considered the main process for eliminating estrogens from wastewater treatment plants. Various bacterial isolates are reportedly capable of aerobic estrogen degradation, and several estrogen degradation pathways have been proposed in proteobacteria and actinobacteria. However, the ecophysiological relevance of estrogen-degrading bacteria in the environment is unclear. In this study, we investigated the estrogen degradation pathway and corresponding degraders in activated sludge collected from the Dihua Sewage Treatment Plant, Taipei, Taiwan. Cultivation-dependent and cultivation-independent methods were used to assess estrogen biodegradation in the collected activated sludge. Estrogen metabolite profile analysis revealed the production of pyridinestrone acid and two A/B-ring cleavage products in activated sludge incubated with estrone (1 mM), which are characteristic of the 4,5-seco pathway. PCR-based functional assays detected sequences closely related to alphaproteobacterial oecC, a key gene of the 4,5-seco pathway. Metagenomic analysis suggested that Novosphingobium spp. are major estrogen degraders in estrone-amended activated sludge. Novosphingobium sp. strain SLCC, an estrone-degrading alphaproteobacterium, was isolated from the examined activated sludge. The general physiology and metabolism of this strain were characterized. Pyridinestrone acid and the A/B-ring cleavage products were detected in estrone-grown strain SLCC cultures. The production of pyridinestrone acid was also observed during the aerobic incubation of strain SLCC with 3.7 nM (1 ?g/liter) estrone. This concentration is close to that detected in many natural and engineered aquatic ecosystems. The presented data suggest the ecophysiological relevance of Novosphingobium spp. in activated sludge.IMPORTANCE Estrogens, which persistently contaminate surface water worldwide, have been classified as endocrine disruptors and human carcinogens. We contribute new knowledge on the major estrogen biodegradation pathway and estrogen degraders in wastewater treatment plants. This study considerably advances the understanding of environmental estrogen biodegradation, which is instrumental for the efficient elimination of these hazardous pollutants. Moreover, this study substantially improves the understanding of microbial estrogen degradation in the environment.
Project description:Reactions associated with the geochemical process of serpentinization can generate copious quantities of hydrogen and low-molecular-weight organic carbon compounds, which may provide energy and nutrients to sustain subsurface microbial communities independently of the photosynthetically supported surface biosphere. Previous microbial ecology studies have tested this hypothesis in deep sea hydrothermal vents, such as the Lost City hydrothermal field. This study applied similar methods, including molecular fingerprinting and tag sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, to ultrabasic continental springs emanating from serpentinizing ultramafic rocks. These molecular surveys were linked with geochemical measurements of the fluids in an interdisciplinary approach designed to distinguish potential subsurface organisms from those derived from surface habitats. The betaproteobacterial genus Hydrogenophaga was identified as a likely inhabitant of transition zones where hydrogen-enriched subsurface fluids mix with oxygenated surface water. The Firmicutes genus Erysipelothrix was most strongly correlated with geochemical factors indicative of subsurface fluids and was identified as the most likely inhabitant of a serpentinization-powered subsurface biosphere. Both of these taxa have been identified in multiple hydrogen-enriched subsurface habitats worldwide, and the results of this study contribute to an emerging biogeographic pattern in which Betaproteobacteria occur in near-surface mixing zones and Firmicutes are present in deeper, anoxic subsurface habitats.
Project description:Cholesterol is a ubiquitous hydrocarbon compound that can serve as substrate for microbial growth. This steroid and related cyclic compounds are recalcitrant due to their low solubility in water, complex ring structure, the presence of quaternary carbon atoms, and the low number of functional groups. Aerobic metabolism therefore makes use of reactive molecular oxygen as co-substrate of oxygenases to hydroxylate and cleave the sterane ring system. Consequently, anaerobic metabolism must substitute oxygenase-catalyzed steps by O(2)-independent hydroxylases. Here we show that one of the initial reactions of anaerobic cholesterol metabolism in the β-proteobacterium Sterolibacterium denitrificans is catalyzed by an unprecedented enzyme that hydroxylates the tertiary C25 atom of the side chain without molecular oxygen forming a tertiary alcohol. This steroid C25 dehydrogenase belongs to the dimethyl sulfoxide dehydrogenase molybdoenzyme family, the closest relative being ethylbenzene dehydrogenase. It is a heterotrimer, which is probably located at the periplasmic side of the membrane and contains one molybdenum cofactor, five [Fe-S] clusters, and one heme b. The draft genome of the organism contains several genes coding for related enzymes that probably replace oxygenases in steroid metabolism.