Abhijeet Kate, Arpana G Panicker, Diana Writer, Giridharan P, Keshav K V Ramamoorthy, Saji George, Shailendra K Sonawane
Protoplast fusion and transformation: A tool for activation of latent gene clusters
In the quest to discover new bioactive leads for unmet medical needs, actinomycetes present a treasure trove of undiscovered molecules. The ability of actinomycetes to produce antibiotics and other bioactive secondary metabolites has been underestimated due to sparse studies of cryptic gene clusters. These gene clusters can be tapped to explore scaffolds hidden in them. The up-regulation of the dormant genes is one of the most important areas of interest in the bioactive compounds discovery from microbial resources. Genome shuffling is a powerful tool for the activation of such gene clusters. Lei Yu, et al.1, reported enhancement of the lactic acid production in Lactobacillus rhamnosus through genome shuffling brought about by protoplast fusion. D. A. Hopwood et al.2 suggested that an interspecific recombination between strains producing different secondary metabolites, generate producers of â€˜hybridâ€™ antibiotics. They also mentioned that an intraspecific fusion of actinomycetes protoplast bring about random and high frequency recombination. Protoplasts can also be used as recipients for isolated DNA, again in the presence of polyethylene glycol (PEG). In our study we had undertaken random genome shuffling by protoplast fusion of two, rather poorly expressed actinomycetes strains A (Figure 1) & B (Figure 2), mediated by PEG; and also by naked DNA transformation of Strain A protoplast with the DNA of Strain B. We generated eight protoplast fusants and seven transformants from parents considering their morphological difference from the two parent strains. These 15 recombinants were checked for their same colony morphologies for five generations to ensure phenotypic stability. Antibiotic resistance pattern was established by using antibiotic octodisc to generate a marker profile of the recombinants and the parent strains. Eight fusants (AP-18, AP-25, AP-2, AP-11, AP-14, AP-19, AP-11 and AP-27) and four transformants (TAP-30, TAP-31, TAP-32 and TAP-33) (Table 1) have shown a different antibiotic sensitivity pattern as compared to the parent strains. We envisage that these recombinants harbor shuffled gene clusters. To support array of conditions to express such shuffled/cryptic genes the recombinants were fermented in 11 different nutrient stress variants. The extracts generated were subjected to metabolite profiling by HPLC-ELSD, bioactivity screening for cytotoxicity and anti-infective capabilities. Two fusants AP-11 (Figure 3) and AP-25; one transformant TAP-32 (in growth media MBA-5 and MBA-7) displayed antifungal activity unlike parent strains (Table 2) Fusant AP-11 (Table 5) exhibited significant cell growth inhibition of five different cancer cell lines. The parents Strain A and Strain B did not exhibit any cell growth inhibition of these cell lines (Table 5). The metabolite profiling of fusant AP-11 and transformant TAP-32 was done by HPLC-ELSD. AP-11 showed the presence of five additional peaks (Figure 5 & Figure 6); TAP-32 extract from medium MBA-5 (Figure 7 & Figure 8) showed the presence of four additional peaks and TAP-32 extract from MBA-7 (Figure 9 & Figure 10) showed 14 additional peaks as compared to parent strains in similar medium and media controls. The study indicated that protoplast fusion and transformation have not only caused morphological changes but also shuffled genes responsible for synthesis of bioactive molecules. Further characterization of these new peaks is warranted.
R. Manjunath, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Dept of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India
REGULATION OF THE MHC COMPLEX AND HLA SOLUBILISATION BY THE FLAVIVIRUS, JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS VIRUS
Viral encephalitis caused by Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) and West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease that is prevalent in different parts of India and other parts of South East Asia. JEV is a positive single stranded RNA virus that belongs to the Flavivirus genus of the family Flaviviridae. The genome of JEV is about 11 kb long and codes for a polyprotein which is cleaved by both host and viral encoded proteases to form 3 structural and 7 non-structural proteins. It is a neurotropic virus which infects the central nervous system (CNS) and causes death predominantly in newborn children and young adults. JEV follows a zoonotic life-cycle involving mosquitoes and vertebrate, chiefly pigs and ardeid birds, as amplifying hosts. Humans are infected when bitten by an infected mosquito and are dead end hosts. Its structural, pathological, immunological and epidemiological aspects have been well studied. After entry into the host following a mosquito bite, JEV infection leads to acute peripheral neutrophil leucocytosis in the brain and leads to elevated levels of type I interferon, macrophage-derived chemotactic factor, RANTES,TNF-α and IL-8 in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid.
Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules play a very important role in adaptive immune responses. Along with various classical MHC class I molecules, other non-classical MHC class I molecules play an important role in modulating innate immune responses. Our lab has shown the activation of cytotoxic T-cells (CTLs) during JEV infection and CTLs recognize non-self peptides presented on MHC molecules and provide protection by eliminating infected cells. However, along with proinflammatory cytokines such as TNFα, they may also cause immunopathology within the JEV infected brain. Both JEV and WNV, another related flavivirus have been shown to increase MHC class I expression. Infection of human foreskin fibroblast cells (HFF) by WNV results in upregulation of HLA expression. Data from our lab has also shown that JEV infection upregulates classical as well as nonclassical (class Ib) MHC antigen expression on the surface of primary mouse brain astrocytes and mouse embryonic fibroblasts.
There are no reports that have discussed the expression of these molecules on other cells like endothelial and astrocyte that play an important role in viral invasion in humans. We have studied the expression of human classical class I molecules HLA-A, -B, -C and the non-classical HLA molecules, HLA-E as well as HLA-F in immortalized human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMEC), human endothelial cell line (ECV304), human glioblastoma cell line (U87MG) and human foreskin fibroblast cells (HFF). Nonclassical MHC molecules such as mouse Qa-1b and its human homologue, HLA-E have been shown to be the ligand for the inhibitory NK receptor, NKG2A/CD94 and may bridge innate and adaptive immune responses. We show that JEV infection of HBMEC and ECV 304 cells upregulates the expression of HLA-A, and –B antigens as well as HLA-E and HLA-F. Increased expression of total HLA-E upon JEV infection was also observed in other human cell lines as well like, human amniotic epithelial cells, AV-3, FL and WISH cells. Further, we show for the first time that soluble HLA-E (sHLA-E) was released from infected ECV and HBMECs. In contrast, HFF cells showed only upregulation of cell-surface HLA-E expression while U87MG, a human glioblastoma cell line neither showed any cell-surface induction nor its solubilization. This shedding of sHLA-E was found to be dependent on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) and an important MMP, MMP-9 was upregulated during JEV infection. Treatment with IFNγ resulted in the shedding of sHLA-E from ECV as well as U87MG but not from HFF cells. Also, sHLA-E was shed upon treatment with IFNβ and both IFNβ and TNFα, when present together caused an additive increase in the shedding of sHLA-E. HLA-E is an inhibitory ligand for CD94/NKG2A receptor of Natural Killer cells. Thus, MMP mediated solubilization of HLA-E from infected endothelial cells may have important implications in JEV pathogenesis including its ability to compromise the blood brain barrier.
Andrey Panteleyev, Ph.D.
Vice Chair, Division of Molecular Biology, NBICS Centre-Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, Russia
The system of PAS proteins (HIF and AhR) as an interface between environment and skin homeostasis
Regulation of normal skin functions as well as etiology of many skin diseases are both tightly linked to the environmental impact. Nevertheless, molecular aspects of skin-environment communication and mechanisms coordinating skin response to a plurality of environmental stressors remain poorly understood.
Our studies along with the work of other groups have identified the family of PAS dimeric transcription factors as an essential sensory and regulatory component of communication between skin and the environment. This protein family comprises a number of hypoxia-induced factors (HIF-alpha proteins), aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), AhR nuclear translocator (ARNT), and several proteins implicated in control of rhythmic processes (Clock, Period, and Bmal proteins). Together, various PAS proteins (and first of all ARNT – as the central dimerization partner in the family) control such pivotal aspects of cell physiology as drug/xenobiotic metabolism, hypoxic and UV light response, ROS activity, pathogen defense, overall energy balance and breathing pathways.
In his presentation Dr. Panteleyev will focus on the role of ARNT activity and local hypoxia in control of keratinocyte differentiation and cornification. His recent work revealed that ARNT negatively regulates expression of late differentiation genes through modulation of amphiregulin expression and downstream alterations in activity of EGFR pathway. All these effects are highly dependent on epigenetic mechanisms such as histone deacetylation. Characterisation of hypoxia as a key microenvironmental factor in the skin and the role of HIF pathway in control of dermal vasculature and epidermal functions is another major focus of Dr. Panteleyev’s presentation.
In general, the studies of Dr. Panteleyev’s laboratory provide an insight into the PAS-dependent maintenance of skin homeostasis and point to the potential role of these proteins in pathogenesis of environmentally-modulated skin diseases such as barrier defects, desquamation abnormalities, psoriasis, etc.