April 21, 2020  |  

Whole Genome Analysis of Lactobacillus plantarum Strains Isolated From Kimchi and Determination of Probiotic Properties to Treat Mucosal Infections by Candida albicans and Gardnerella vaginalis.

Three Lactobacillus plantarum strains ATG-K2, ATG-K6, and ATG-K8 were isolated from Kimchi, a Korean traditional fermented food, and their probiotic potentials were examined. All three strains were free of antibiotic resistance, hemolysis, and biogenic amine production and therefore assumed to be safe, as supported by whole genome analyses. These strains demonstrated several basic probiotic functions including a wide range of antibacterial activity, bile salt hydrolase activity, hydrogen peroxide production, and heat resistance at 70°C for 60 s. Further studies of antimicrobial activities against Candida albicans and Gardnerella vaginalis revealed growth inhibitory effects from culture supernatants, coaggregation effects, and killing effects of the three probiotic strains, with better efficacy toward C. albicans. In vitro treatment of bacterial lysates of the probiotic strains to the RAW264.7 murine macrophage cell line resulted in innate immunity enhancement via IL-6 and TNF-a production without lipopolysaccharide (LPS) treatment and anti-inflammatory effects via significantly increased production of IL-10 when co-treated with LPS. However, the degree of probiotic effect was different for each strain as the highest TNF-a and the lowest IL-10 production by the RAW264.7 cell were observed in the K8 lysate treated group compared to the K2 and K6 lysate treated groups, which may be related to genomic differences such as chromosome size (K2: 3,034,884 bp, K6: 3,205,672 bp, K8: 3,221,272 bp), plasmid numbers (K2: 3, K6 and K8: 1), or total gene numbers (K2: 3,114, K6: 3,178, K8: 3,186). Although more correlative inspections to connect genomic information and biological functions are needed, genomic analyses of the three strains revealed distinct genomic compositions of each strain. Also, this finding suggests genome level analysis may be required to accurately identify microorganisms. Nevertheless, L. plantarum ATG-K2, ATG-K6, and ATG-K8 demonstrated their potential as probiotics for mucosal health improvement in both microbial and immunological contexts.

April 21, 2020  |  

A First Study of the Virulence Potential of a Bacillus subtilis Isolate From Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent.

Bacillus subtilis is the best studied Gram-positive bacterium, primarily as a model of cell differentiation and industrial exploitation. To date, little is known about the virulence of B. subtilis. In this study, we examined the virulence potential of a B. subtilis strain (G7) isolated from the Iheya North hydrothermal field of Okinawa Trough. G7 is aerobic, motile, endospore-forming, and requires NaCl for growth. The genome of G7 is composed of one circular chromosome of 4,216,133 base pairs with an average GC content of 43.72%. G7 contains 4,416 coding genes, 27.5% of which could not be annotated, and the remaining 72.5% were annotated with known or predicted functions in 25 different COG categories. Ten sets of 23S, 5S, and 16S ribosomal RNA operons, 86 tRNA and 14 sRNA genes, 50 tandem repeats, 41 mini-satellites, one microsatellite, and 42 transposons were identified in G7. Comparing to the genome of the B. subtilis wild type strain NCIB 3610T, G7 genome contains many genomic translocations, inversions, and insertions, and twice the amount of genomic Islands (GIs), with 42.5% of GI genes encoding hypothetical proteins. G7 possesses abundant putative virulence genes associated with adhesion, invasion, dissemination, anti-phagocytosis, and intracellular survival. Experimental studies showed that G7 was able to cause mortality in fish and mice following intramuscular/intraperitoneal injection, resist the killing effect of serum complement, and replicate in mouse macrophages and fish peripheral blood leukocytes. Taken together, our study indicates that G7 is a B. subtilis isolate with unique genetic features and can be lethal to vertebrate animals once being introduced into the animals by artificial means. These results provide the first insight into the potential harmfulness of deep-sea B. subtilis.

April 21, 2020  |  

Linking CRISPR-Cas9 interference in cassava to the evolution of editing-resistant geminiviruses.

Geminiviruses cause damaging diseases in several important crop species. However, limited progress has been made in developing crop varieties resistant to these highly diverse DNA viruses. Recently, the bacterial CRISPR/Cas9 system has been transferred to plants to target and confer immunity to geminiviruses. In this study, we use CRISPR-Cas9 interference in the staple food crop cassava with the aim of engineering resistance to African cassava mosaic virus, a member of a widespread and important family (Geminiviridae) of plant-pathogenic DNA viruses.Our results show that the CRISPR system fails to confer effective resistance to the virus during glasshouse inoculations. Further, we find that between 33 and 48% of edited virus genomes evolve a conserved single-nucleotide mutation that confers resistance to CRISPR-Cas9 cleavage. We also find that in the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana the replication of the novel, mutant virus is dependent on the presence of the wild-type virus.Our study highlights the risks associated with CRISPR-Cas9 virus immunity in eukaryotes given that the mutagenic nature of the system generates viral escapes in a short time period. Our in-depth analysis of virus populations also represents a template for future studies analyzing virus escape from anti-viral CRISPR transgenics. This is especially important for informing regulation of such actively mutagenic applications of CRISPR-Cas9 technology in agriculture.

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