• Analysis of storage lipid accumulation in Alcanivorax borkumensis: Evidence for alternative triacylglycerol biosynthesis routes in bacteria.

      Kalscheuer, Rainer; Stöveken, Tim; Malkus, Ursula; Reichelt, Rudolf; Golyshin, Peter N; Sabirova, Julia S; Ferrer, Manuel; Timmis, Kenneth N; Steinbüchel, Alexander; Institut für Molekulare Mikrobiologie und Biotechnologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Corrensstrasse 3, D-48149 Münster, Germany. (2007-02)
      Marine hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria, like Alcanivorax borkumensis, play a globally important role in bioremediation of petroleum oil contamination in marine ecosystems. Accumulation of storage lipids, serving as endogenous carbon and energy sources during starvation periods, might be a potential adaptation mechanism for coping with nutrient limitation, which is a frequent stress factor challenging those bacteria in their natural marine habitats. Here we report on the analysis of storage lipid biosynthesis in A. borkumensis strain SK2. Triacylglycerols (TAGs) and wax esters (WEs), but not poly(hydroxyalkanoic acids), are the principal storage lipids present in this and other hydrocarbonoclastic bacterial species. Although so far assumed to be a characteristic restricted to gram-positive actinomycetes, substantial accumulation of TAGs corresponding to a fatty acid content of more than 23% of the cellular dry weight is the first characteristic of large-scale de novo TAG biosynthesis in a gram-negative bacterium. The acyltransferase AtfA1 (ABO_2742) exhibiting wax ester synthase/acyl-coenzyme A:diacylglycerol acyltransferase (WS/DGAT) activity plays a key role in both TAG and WE biosynthesis, whereas AtfA2 (ABO_1804) was dispensable for storage lipid formation. However, reduced but still substantial residual TAG levels in atfA1 and atfA2 knockout mutants compellingly indicate the existence of a yet unknown WS/DGAT-independent alternative TAG biosynthesis route. Storage lipids of A. borkumensis were enriched in saturated fatty acids and accumulated as insoluble intracytoplasmic inclusions exhibiting great structural variety. Storage lipid accumulation provided only a slight growth advantage during short-term starvation periods but was not required for maintaining viability and long-term persistence during extended starvation phases.
    • Beta-lactam resistance response triggered by inactivation of a nonessential penicillin-binding protein.

      Moya, Bartolomé; Dötsch, Andreas; Juan, Carlos; Blázquez, Jesús; Zamorano, Laura; Haussler, Susanne; Oliver, Antonio; Servicio de Microbiología and Unidad de Investigación, Hospital Son Dureta, Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Ciencias de la Salud Palma de Mallorca, Spain. (2009-03)
      It has long been recognized that the modification of penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) to reduce their affinity for beta-lactams is an important mechanism (target modification) by which Gram-positive cocci acquire antibiotic resistance. Among Gram-negative rods (GNR), however, this mechanism has been considered unusual, and restricted to clinically irrelevant laboratory mutants for most species. Using as a model Pseudomonas aeruginosa, high up on the list of pathogens causing life-threatening infections in hospitalized patients worldwide, we show that PBPs may also play a major role in beta-lactam resistance in GNR, but through a totally distinct mechanism. Through a detailed genetic investigation, including whole-genome analysis approaches, we demonstrate that high-level (clinical) beta-lactam resistance in vitro, in vivo, and in the clinical setting is driven by the inactivation of the dacB-encoded nonessential PBP4, which behaves as a trap target for beta-lactams. The inactivation of this PBP is shown to determine a highly efficient and complex beta-lactam resistance response, triggering overproduction of the chromosomal beta-lactamase AmpC and the specific activation of the CreBC (BlrAB) two-component regulator, which in turn plays a major role in resistance. These findings are a major step forward in our understanding of beta-lactam resistance biology, and, more importantly, they open up new perspectives on potential antibiotic targets for the treatment of infectious diseases.
    • Genomewide identification of genetic determinants of antimicrobial drug resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Dötsch, Andreas; Becker, Tanja; Pommerenke, Claudia; Magnowska, Zofia; Jänsch, Lothar; Häussler, Susanne; Chronic Pseudomonas Infections Research Group, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2009-06)
      The emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance is of enormous public concern due to the increased risk of delayed treatment of infections, the increased length of hospital stays, the substantial increase in the cost of care, and the high risk of fatal outcomes. A prerequisite for the development of effective therapy alternatives is a detailed understanding of the diversity of bacterial mechanisms that underlie drug resistance, especially for problematic gram-negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This pathogen has impressive chromosomally encoded mechanisms of intrinsic resistance, as well as the potential to mutate, gaining resistance to current antibiotics. In this study we have screened the comprehensive nonredundant Harvard PA14 library for P. aeruginosa mutants that exhibited either increased or decreased resistance against 19 antibiotics commonly used in the clinic. This approach identified several genes whose inactivation sensitized the bacteria to a broad spectrum of different antimicrobials and uncovered novel genetic determinants of resistance to various classes of antibiotics. Knowledge of the enhancement of bacterial susceptibility to existing antibiotics and of novel resistance markers or modifiers of resistance expression may lay the foundation for effective therapy alternatives and will be the basis for the development of new strategies in the control of problematic multiresistant gram-negative bacteria.
    • Mutation in a "tesB-like" hydroxyacyl-coenzyme A-specific thioesterase gene causes hyperproduction of extracellular polyhydroxyalkanoates by Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2.

      Sabirova, Julia S; Ferrer, Manuel; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Wray, Victor; Kalscheuer, Rainer; Steinbüchel, Alexander; Timmis, Kenneth N; Golyshin, Peter N; Department of Environmental Microbiology, HZI-Helmholtz Center fro Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. jsa05@helmholtz-hzi.de (2006-12)
      A novel mutant of the marine oil-degrading bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2, containing a mini-Tn5 transposon disrupting a "tesB-like" acyl-coenzyme A (CoA) thioesterase gene, was found to hyperproduce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), resulting in the extracellular deposition of this biotechnologically important polymer when grown on alkanes. The tesB-like gene encodes a distinct novel enzyme activity, which acts exclusively on hydroxylated acyl-CoAs and thus represents a hydroxyacyl-CoA-specific thioesterase. Inactivation of this enzyme results in the rechanneling of CoA-activated hydroxylated fatty acids, the cellular intermediates of alkane degradation, towards PHA production. These findings may open up new avenues for the development of simplified biotechnological processes for the production of PHA as a raw material for the production of bioplastics.