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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14(8), 16901-16916; doi:10.3390/ijms140816901

Bioinformatic Prediction of Gene Functions Regulated by Quorum Sensing in the Bioleaching Bacterium Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans

Laboratory of Bacterial Communication, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Chile, Santiago 780-0024, Chile
Present address: Zentrum für Molekulare Biologie der Universität Heidelberg (ZMBH), Heidelberg 69120, Germany
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 May 2013 / Revised: 18 July 2013 / Accepted: 22 July 2013 / Published: 16 August 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quorum Sensing Research in Microbial Systems)
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The biomining bacterium Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans oxidizes sulfide ores and promotes metal solubilization. The efficiency of this process depends on the attachment of cells to surfaces, a process regulated by quorum sensing (QS) cell-to-cell signalling in many Gram-negative bacteria. At. ferrooxidans has a functional QS system and the presence of AHLs enhances its attachment to pyrite. However, direct targets of the QS transcription factor AfeR remain unknown. In this study, a bioinformatic approach was used to infer possible AfeR direct targets based on the particular palindromic features of the AfeR binding site. A set of Hidden Markov Models designed to maintain palindromic regions and vary non-palindromic regions was used to screen for putative binding sites. By annotating the context of each predicted binding site (PBS), we classified them according to their positional coherence relative to other putative genomic structures such as start codons, RNA polymerase promoter elements and intergenic regions. We further used the Multiple EM for Motif Elicitation algorithm (MEME) to further filter out low homology PBSs. In summary, 75 target-genes were identified, 34 of which have a higher confidence level. Among the identified genes, we found afeR itself, zwf, genes encoding glycosyltransferase activities, metallo-beta lactamases, and active transport-related proteins. Glycosyltransferases and Zwf (Glucose 6-phosphate-1-dehydrogenase) might be directly involved in polysaccharide biosynthesis and attachment to minerals by At. ferrooxidans cells during the bioleaching process.
Keywords: Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans; AfeR; biofilm; biomining; quorum sensing; MEME Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans; AfeR; biofilm; biomining; quorum sensing; MEME
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Banderas, A.; Guiliani, N. Bioinformatic Prediction of Gene Functions Regulated by Quorum Sensing in the Bioleaching Bacterium Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14, 16901-16916.

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