Osmosensing by bacteria: signals and membrane-based sensors.
Bacteria can survive dramatic osmotic shifts. Osmoregulatory responses mitigate the passive adjustments in cell structure and the growth inhibition that may ensue. The levels of certain cytoplasmic solutes rise and fall in response to increases and decreases, respectively, in extracellular osmolality. Certain organic compounds are favored over ions as osmoregulatory solutes, although K+ fluxes are intrinsic to the osmoregulatory response for at least some organisms. Osmosensors must undergo transitions between "off" and "on" conformations in response to changes in extracellular water activity (direct osmosensing) or resulting changes in cell structure (indirect osmosensing). Those located in the cytoplasmic membranes and nucleoids of bacteria are positioned for indirect osmosensing. Cytoplasmic membrane-based osmosensors may detect changes in the periplasmic and/or cytoplasmic solvent by experiencing changes in preferential interactions with particular solvent constituents, cosolvent-induced hydration changes, and/or macromolecular crowding. Alternatively, the membrane may act as an antenna and osmosensors may detect changes in membrane structure. Cosolvents may modulate intrinsic biomembrane strain and/or topologically closed membrane systems may experience changes in mechanical strain in response to imposed osmotic shifts. The osmosensory mechanisms controlling membrane-based K+ transporters, transcriptional regulators, osmoprotectant transporters, and mechanosensitive channels intrinsic to the cytoplasmic membrane of Escherichia coli are under intensive investigation. The osmoprotectant transporter ProP and channel MscL act as osmosensors after purification and reconstitution in proteoliposomes. Evidence that sensor kinase KdpD receives multiple sensory inputs is consistent with the effects of K+ fluxes on nucleoid structure, cellular energetics, cytoplasmic ionic strength, and ion composition as well as on cytoplasmic osmolality. Thus, osmoregulatory responses accommodate and exploit the effects of individual cosolvents on cell structure and function as well as the collective contribution of cosolvents to intracellular osmolality. (+info)
Bacterial resistance to antimicrobial agents: an overview from Korea.
Antimicrobial resistance of bacteria has become a worldwide problem. Available data suggest that the resistance problem is comparatively more serious in Korea. In large hospitals, the proportion of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been reported at over 70%, and of penicillin-nonsusceptible Streptococcus pneumoniae at around 70%. Infection or colonization of vancomycin-resistant enterococci has started to increase. Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase producing Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae has become widespread and even carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been increasing. Community-acquired pathogens such as Salmonella, Shigella and Neisseria gonorrhoeae are often resistant to various antimicrobial agents. The prevalence of resistant bacteria can lead to erroneous empirical selection of either noneffective or expensive drugs, prolonging hospitalization and higher mortality. The emergence and spread of resistant bacteria are unavoidable unless antimicrobial agents are not used at all. The high prevalence of resistant bacteria in Korea seems to be related to antibiotic usage: 1) easy availability without prescription at drug stores, 2) injudicious use in hospitals, and 3) uncontrolled use in agriculture, animal husbandry, and fisheries. Nosocomial infection is an important factor in the spread of resistant bacteria. Antimicrobial resistance problems should be regarded as the major public health concern in Korea. It is urgently required to ban the sale of antibiotics without prescription, to use antibiotics more judiciously in hospitals by intensive teaching of the principles of the use of antibiotics, and to establish better control measures of nosocomial infections. Regulation of antimicrobials for other than human use should also be required. These issues are not easy to address and require the collective action of governments, the pharmaceutical industry, health care providers, and consumers. (+info)
Korean Nationwide Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance of bacteria in 1997.
Antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are known to be prevalent in tertiary-care hospitals in Korea. Twenty hospitals participated to this surveillance to determine the nationwide prevalence of resistance bacteria in 1997. Seven per cent and 26% of Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae were resistant to 3rd-generation cephalosporin. Increased resistance rates, 19% of Acinetobacter baumannii to ampicillin/sulbactam, and 17% of Pseudomonas aeruginoa to imipenem, were noted. The resistance rate to fluoroquinolone rose to 24% in E. coli, 56% in A. baumannii and 42% in P. aeruginosa. Mean resistance rates were similar in all hospital groups: about 17% of P. aeruginosa to imipenem, 50% of Haemophilus influenzae to ampicillin, 70% of Staphylococcus aureus to methicillin, and 70% of pneumococci to penicillin. In conclusion, nosocomial pathogens and problem resistant organisms are prevalent in smaller hospitals too, indicating nosocomial spread is a significant cause of the increasing prevalence of resistant bacteria in Korea. (+info)
Thiorhodospira sibirica gen. nov., sp. nov., a new alkaliphilic purple sulfur bacterium from a Siberian soda lake.
A new purple sulfur bacterium was isolated from microbial films on decaying plant mass in the near-shore area of the soda lake Malyi Kasytui (pH 9.5, 0.2% salinity) located in the steppe of the Chita region of south-east Siberia. Single cells were vibrioid- or spiral-shaped (3-4 microns wide and 7-20 microns long) and motile by means of a polar tuft of flagella. Internal photosynthetic membranes were of the lamellar type. Lamellae almost filled the whole cell, forming strands and coils. Photosynthetic pigments were bacteriochlorophyll a and carotenoids of the spirilloxanthin group. The new bacterium was strictly anaerobic. Under anoxic conditions, hydrogen sulfide and elemental sulfur were used as photosynthetic electron donors. During growth on sulfide, sulfur globules were formed as intermediate oxidation products. They were deposited outside the cytoplasm of the cells, in the peripheral periplasmic space and extracellularly. Thiosulfate was not used. Carbon dioxide, acetate, pyruvate, propionate, succinate, fumarate and malate were utilized as carbon sources. Optimum growth rates were obtained at pH 9.0 and optimum temperature was 30 degrees C. Good growth was observed in a mineral salts medium containing 5 g sodium bicarbonate l-1 without sodium chloride. The new bacterium tolerated up to 60 g sodium chloride l-1 and up to 80 g sodium carbonates l-1. Growth factors were not required. The DNA G + C composition was 56.0-57.4 mol%. Based on physiological, biochemical and genetic characteristics, the newly isolated bacterium is recognized as a new species of a new genus with the proposed name Thiorhodospira sibirica. (+info)
Rhodovulum iodosum sp. nov. and Rhodovulum robiginosum sp. nov., two new marine phototrophic ferrous-iron-oxidizing purple bacteria.
Two new strains of marine purple bacteria, N1T and N2T, were isolated from coastal sediment of the North Sea (Germany) with ferrous iron as the only electron donor for anoxygenic photosynthesis. The isolates are the first salt-dependent, ferrous-iron-oxidizing purple bacteria characterized so far. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed an affiliation with the genus Rhodovulum, which until now comprises only marine species. The sequence similarity of both strains was 95.2%, and their closest relative was Rhodovulum adriaticum. Like all known Rhodovulum species, the new strains had ovoid to rod-shaped cells, contained bacteriochlorophyll a and carotenoids of the spheroidene series, and were able to oxidize sulfide and thiosulfate. Like Rhodovulum adriaticum, both strains were unable to assimilate sulfate; for growth they needed a reduced sulfur source, e.g. thiosulfate. In contrast to the new strains, none of the known Rhodovulum species tested was able to oxidize ferrous iron or iron sulfide. In growth experiments, strains N1T and N2T oxidized 65 and 95%, respectively, of the ferrous iron supplied. Electron diffraction analysis revealed ferrihydrite as the main product of ferrous iron oxidation. In addition, traces of magnetite were formed. Strains N1T (= DSM 12328T) and N2T (= DSM 12329T) are described as Rhodovulum iodosum sp. nov. and Rhodovulum robiginosum sp. nov., respectively. (+info)
PAS domains: internal sensors of oxygen, redox potential, and light.
PAS domains are newly recognized signaling domains that are widely distributed in proteins from members of the Archaea and Bacteria and from fungi, plants, insects, and vertebrates. They function as input modules in proteins that sense oxygen, redox potential, light, and some other stimuli. Specificity in sensing arises, in part, from different cofactors that may be associated with the PAS fold. Transduction of redox signals may be a common mechanistic theme in many different PAS domains. PAS proteins are always located intracellularly but may monitor the external as well as the internal environment. One way in which prokaryotic PAS proteins sense the environment is by detecting changes in the electron transport system. This serves as an early warning system for any reduction in cellular energy levels. Human PAS proteins include hypoxia-inducible factors and voltage-sensitive ion channels; other PAS proteins are integral components of circadian clocks. Although PAS domains were only recently identified, the signaling functions with which they are associated have long been recognized as fundamental properties of living cells. (+info)
Identification and characterization of a flagellin gene from the endosymbiont of the hydrothermal vent tubeworm Riftia pachyptila.
The bacterial endosymbionts of the hydrothermal vent tubeworm Riftia pachyptila play a key role in providing their host with fixed carbon. Results of prior research suggest that the symbionts are selected from an environmental bacterial population, although a free-living form has been neither cultured from nor identified in the hydrothermal vent environment. To begin to assess the free-living potential of the symbiont, we cloned and characterized a flagellin gene from a symbiont fosmid library. The symbiont fliC gene has a high degree of homology with other bacterial flagellin genes in the amino- and carboxy-terminal regions, while the central region was found to be nonconserved. A sequence that was homologous to that of a consensus sigma28 RNA polymerase recognition site lay upstream of the proposed translational start site. The symbiont protein was expressed in Escherichia coli, and flagella were observed by electron microscopy. A 30,000-Mr protein subunit was identified in whole-cell extracts by Western blot analysis. These results provide the first direct evidence of a motile free-living stage of a chemoautotrophic symbiont and support the hypothesis that the symbiont of R. pachyptila is acquired with each new host generation. (+info)
Structural and functional analyses of photosynthetic regulatory genes regA and regB from Rhodovulum sulfidophilum, Roseobacter denitrificans, and Rhodobacter capsulatus.
Genes coding for putative RegA, RegB, and SenC homologues were identified and characterized in the purple nonsulfur photosynthetic bacteria Rhodovulum sulfidophilum and Roseobacter denitrificans, species that demonstrate weak or no oxygen repression of photosystem synthesis. This additional sequence information was then used to perform a comparative analysis with previously sequenced RegA, RegB, and SenC homologues obtained from Rhodobacter capsulatus and Rhodobacter sphaeroides. These are photosynthetic bacteria that exhibit a high level of oxygen repression of photosystem synthesis controlled by the RegA-RegB two-component regulatory system. The response regulator, RegA, exhibits a remarkable 78.7 to 84.2% overall sequence identity, with total conservation within a putative helix-turn-helix DNA-binding motif. The RegB sensor kinase homologues also exhibit a high level of sequence conservation (55.9 to 61.5%) although these additional species give significantly different responses to oxygen. A Rhodovulum sulfidophilum mutant lacking regA or regB was constructed. These mutants produced smaller amounts of photopigments under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, indicating that the RegA-RegB regulon controls photosynthetic gene expression in this bacterium as it does as in Rhodobacter species. Rhodobacter capsulatus regA- or regB-deficient mutants recovered the synthesis of a photosynthetic apparatus that still retained regulation by oxygen tension when complemented with reg genes from Rhodovulum sulfidophilum and Roseobacter denitrificans. These results suggest that differential expression of photosynthetic genes in response to aerobic and anaerobic growth conditions is not the result of altered redox sensing by the sensor kinase protein, RegB. (+info)