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Authors: Hughes, Rebecca-Ayme and Zhang, Yunlong and Zhang, Ran and Williams, Philip G and Lindsey, Jonathan S and Miller, Eric S

The cyanobacterial culture HT-58-2 was originally described as a strain of Tolypothrix nodosa with the ability to produce tolyporphins, which comprise a family of distinct tetrapyrrole macrocycles with reported efflux pump inhibition properties. Upon reviving the culture from what was thought to be a nonextant collection, studies of culture conditions, strain characterization, phylogeny, and genomics have been undertaken. Here, HT-58-2 was shown by 16S rRNA analysis to closely align with Brasilonema strains and not with Tolypothrix isolates. Light, fluorescence, and scanning electron microscopy revealed cyanobacterium filaments that are decorated with attached bacteria and associated with free bacteria. Metagenomic surveys of HT-58-2 cultures revealed a diversity of bacteria dominated by Erythrobacteraceae, 97% of which are Porphyrobacter species. A dimethyl sulfoxide washing procedure was found to yield enriched cyanobacterial DNA (presumably by removing community bacteria) and sequence data sufficient for genome assembly. The finished, closed HT-58-2Cyano genome consists of 7.85 Mbp (42.6% G+C) and contains 6,581 genes. All genes for biosynthesis of tetrapyrroles (e.g., heme, chlorophyll a, and phycocyanobilin) and almost all for cobalamin were identified dispersed throughout the chromosome. Among the 6,177 protein-encoding genes, coding sequences (CDSs) for all but two of the eight enzymes for conversion of glutamic acid to protoporphyrinogen IX also were found within one major gene cluster. The cluster also includes 10 putative genes (and one hypothetical gene) encoding proteins with domains for a glycosyltransferase, two cytochrome P450 enzymes, and a flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD)-binding protein. The composition of the gene cluster suggests a possible role in tolyporphin biosynthesis. IMPORTANCE A worldwide search more than 25 years ago for cyanobacterial natural products with anticancer activity identified a culture (HT-58-2) from Micronesia that produces tolyporphins. Tolyporphins are tetrapyrroles, like chlorophylls, but have several profound structural differences that reside outside the bounds of known biosynthetic pathways. To begin probing the biosynthetic origin and biological function of tolyporphins, our research has focused on studying the cyanobacterial strain, about which almost nothing has been previously reported. We find that the HT-58-2 culture is composed of the cyanobacterium and a community of associated bacteria, complicating the question of which organisms make tolyporphins. Elucidation of the cyanobacterial genome revealed an intriguing gene cluster that contains tetrapyrrole biosynthesis genes and a collection of unknown genes, suggesting that the cluster may be responsible for tolyporphin production. Knowledge of the genome and the gene cluster sharply focuses research to identify related cyanobacterial producers of tolyporphins and delineate the tolyporphin biosynthetic pathway. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.

Journal: Applied and environmental microbiology
DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01068-17
Year: 2017

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