Life2015, 5(1), 676-699; doi:10.3390/life5010676 (registering DOI) - published 2 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 is a widely used model cyanobacterium for studying responses and acclimation to different abiotic stresses. Changes in transcriptome, proteome, lipidome, and photosynthesis in response to short term heat stress are well studied in this organism, and histidine kinase 34 (Hik34) is shown to play an important role in mediating such response. Corresponding data on long term responses, however, are fragmentary and vary depending on parameters of experiments and methods of data collection, and thus are hard to compare. In order to elucidate how the early stress responses help cells to sustain long-term heat stress, as well as the role of Hik34 in prolonged acclimation, we examined the resistance to long-term heat stress of wild-type and ΔHik34 mutant of Synechocystis. In this work, we were able to precisely control the long term experimental conditions by cultivating Synechocystis in automated photobioreactors, measuring selected physiological parameters within a time range of minutes. In addition, morphological and ultrastructural changes in cells were analyzed and western blotting of individual proteins was used to study the heat stress-affected protein expression. We have shown that the majority of wild type cell population was able to recover after 24 h of cultivation at 44 °C. In contrast, while ΔHik34 mutant cells were resistant to heat stress within its first hours, they could not recover after 24 h long high temperature treatment. We demonstrated that the early induction of HspA expression and maintenance of high amount of other HSPs throughout the heat incubation is critical for successful adaptation to long-term stress. In addition, it appears that histidine kinase Hik34 is an essential component for the long term high temperature resistance.
Life2015, 5(1), 651-675; doi:10.3390/life5010651 (registering DOI) - published 2 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: It is very challenging to construct protocells from molecular assemblies. An important step in this challenge is the achievement of vesicle dynamics that are relevant to cellular functions, such as membrane trafficking and self-reproduction, using amphiphilic molecules. Soft matter physics will play an important role in the development of vesicles that have these functions. Here, we show that simple binary phospholipid vesicles have the potential to reproduce the relevant functions of adhesion, pore formation and self-reproduction of vesicles, by coupling the lipid geometries (spontaneous curvatures) and the phase separation. This achievement will elucidate the pathway from molecular assembly to cellular life.
Life2015, 5(1), 637-650; doi:10.3390/life5010637 - published 27 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Besides having a large capacity for taking up organic molecules, clay minerals can catalyze a variety of organic reactions. Derived from rock weathering, clay minerals would have been abundant in the early Earth. As such, they might be expected to play a role in chemical evolution. The interactions of clay minerals with biopolymers, including RNA, have been the subject of many investigations. The behavior of RNA components at clay mineral surfaces needs to be assessed if we are to appreciate how clays might catalyze the formation of nucleosides, nucleotides and polynucleotides in the “RNA world”. The adsorption of purines, pyrimidines and nucleosides from aqueous solution to clay minerals is affected by suspension pH. With montmorillonite, adsorption is also influenced by the nature of the exchangeable cations. Here, we review the interactions of some clay minerals with RNA components.
Life2015, 5(1), 604-636; doi:10.3390/life5010604 - published 27 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Ribonucleotide reduction is the only pathway for de novo synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides in extant organisms. This chemically demanding reaction, which proceeds via a carbon-centered free radical, is catalyzed by ribonucleotide reductase (RNR). The mechanism has been deemed unlikely to be catalyzed by a ribozyme, creating an enigma regarding how the building blocks for DNA were synthesized at the transition from RNA- to DNA-encoded genomes. While it is entirely possible that a different pathway was later replaced with the modern mechanism, here we explore the evolutionary and biochemical limits for an origin of the mechanism in the RNA + protein world and suggest a model for a prototypical ribonucleotide reductase (protoRNR). From the protoRNR evolved the ancestor to modern RNRs, the urRNR, which diversified into the modern three classes. Since the initial radical generation differs between the three modern classes, it is difficult to establish how it was generated in the urRNR. Here we suggest a model that is similar to the B12-dependent mechanism in modern class II RNRs.
Life2015, 5(1), 587-603; doi:10.3390/life5010587 - published 16 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The filamentous cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 differentiates specialized cells for nitrogen fixation called heterocysts upon limitation of combined nitrogen in the medium. During heterocyst differentiation, expression of approximately 500 genes is upregulated with spatiotemporal regulation. In the present study, we investigated the functions of sigma factors of RNA polymerase in the regulation of heterocyst differentiation. The transcript levels of sigC, sigE, and sigG were increased during heterocyst differentiation, while expression of sigJ was downregulated. We carried out DNA microarray analysis to identify genes regulated bySigC, SigE, andSigG. It was indicated that SigC regulated the expression of genes involved in heterocyst differentiation and functions. Moreover, genes regulated by SigC partially overlapped with those regulated by SigE, and deficiency of SigC was likely to be compensated by SigE.
Life2015, 5(1), 568-586; doi:10.3390/life5010568 - published 16 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The search for once-habitable locations on Mars is increasingly focused on environments dominated by fluvial and lacustrine processes, such as those investigated by the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. The availability of liquid water coupled with the potential longevity of such systems renders these localities prime targets for the future exploration of Martian biosignatures. Fluvial-lacustrine environments associated with basaltic volcanism are highly relevant to Mars, but their terrestrial counterparts have been largely overlooked as a field analogue. Such environments are common in Iceland, where basaltic volcanism interacts with glacial ice and surface snow to produce large volumes of meltwater within an otherwise cold and dry environment. This meltwater can be stored to create subglacial, englacial, and proglacial lakes, or be released as catastrophic floods and proglacial fluvial systems. Sedimentary deposits produced by the resulting fluvial-lacustrine activity are extensive, with lithologies dominated by basaltic minerals, low-temperature alteration assemblages (e.g., smectite clays, calcite), and amorphous, poorly crystalline phases (basaltic glass, palagonite, nanophase iron oxides). This paper reviews examples of these environments, including their sedimentary deposits and microbiology, within the context of utilising these localities for future Mars analogue studies and instrument testing.