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Trends in Microbiology

Akbar Adjie Pratama, Jan Dirk van Elsas
Bacteriophages are among the most abundant and diverse biological units in the biosphere. They have contributed to our understanding of the central dogma of biology and have been instrumental in the evolutionary success of bacterial pathogens. In contrast to our current understanding of marine viral communities, the soil virome and its function in terrestrial ecosystems has remained relatively understudied. Here, we examine, in a comparative fashion, the knowledge gathered from studies performed in soil versus marine settings...
January 3, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Guangming Zhong
Chlamydia trachomatis, a leading bacterial cause of sexually transmitted infection-induced infertility, is frequently detected in the gastrointestinal tract. Chlamydia muridarum, a model pathogen for investigating C. trachomatis pathogenesis, readily spreads from the mouse genital tract to the gastrointestinal tract, establishing long-lasting colonization. C. muridarum mutants, despite their ability to activate acute oviduct inflammation, are attenuated in inducing tubal fibrosis and are no longer able to colonize the gastrointestinal tract, suggesting that the spread of C...
December 27, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Anthony R Fehr, Gytis Jankevicius, Ivan Ahel, Stanley Perlman
Viruses from the Coronaviridae, Togaviridae, and Hepeviridae families ​all contain genes that encode a conserved protein domain, called a macrodomain; however, the role of this domain during infection has remained enigmatic. The recent discovery that mammalian macrodomain proteins enzymatically remove ADP-ribose, a common post-translation modification, from proteins has led to an outburst of studies describing both the enzymatic activity and function of viral macrodomains. These new studies have defined these domains as de-ADP-ribosylating enzymes, which indicates that these viruses have evolved to counteract antiviral ADP-ribosylation, likely mediated by poly-ADP-ribose polymerases (PARPs)...
December 18, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Lori M Kelman, Zvi Kelman
Chromosomal DNA replication starts at a specific region called an origin of replication. Until recently, all organisms were thought to require origins to replicate their chromosomes. It was recently discovered that some archaeal species do not utilize origins of replication under laboratory growth conditions.
December 18, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Ahmed Mostafa, Stephan Pleschka
H3N2-subtype influenza A viruses are major causes of seasonal influenza epidemics. Emerging H3N2 variants require the annual adjustment of the vaccine strain. Recently, studies addressing the reduced effectiveness of current H3N2 vaccines have identified production-related substitutions in the viral hemagglutinin antigen as a possible cause for reduced vaccine efficacy.
December 18, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Nicholas M Thomson, Florian M Rossman, Josie L Ferreira, Teige R Matthews-Palmer, Morgan Beeby, Mark J Pallen
The bacterial flagellum is the principal organelle of motility in bacteria. Here, we address the question of size when applied to the chief flagellar protein flagellin and the flagellar filament. Surprisingly, nature furnishes multiple examples of 'giant flagellins' greater than a thousand amino acids in length, with large surface-exposed hypervariable domains. We review the contexts in which these giant flagellins occur, speculate as to their functions, and highlight the potential for biotechnology to build on what nature provides...
December 16, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Luka Cicin-Sain, Ramon Arens
Viruses that have coevolved with their host establish chronic infections that are well tolerated by the host. Other viruses, that are partly adapted to their host, may induce chronic infections where persistent replication and viral antigen expression occur. The former induce highly functional and resilient CD8T cell responses called memory inflation. The latter induce dysfunctional and exhausted responses. The reasons compelling T cell responses towards inflationary or exhausted responses are only partly understood...
December 14, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Joan A Geoghegan, Alan D Irvine, Timothy J Foster
Staphylococcus aureus is frequently isolated from the skin of atopic dermatitis (AD) patients during flares. The normal microbiota is disrupted and the diversity of the microorganisms on the skin is reduced. Many species that produce inhibitors of S. aureus growth decline. Strains from S. aureus clonal complex 1 are enriched among AD sufferers whereas the CC30 strains most frequently isolated from nasal carriers in the normal population are much rarer in AD. S. aureus expresses several molecules that contribute to the intensity of symptoms, including δ-toxin which stimulates mast cells, α-toxin which damages keratinocytes, phenol-soluble modulins which stimulate cytokine release by keratinocytes, protein A which triggers inflammatory responses from keratinocytes, superantigens which trigger B cell expansion and cytokine release, and proinflammatory lipoproteins...
December 9, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Matthieu Bergé, Patrick H Viollier
Understanding how asymmetries in cellular constituents are achieved and how such positional information directs the construction of structures in a nonrandom fashion is a fundamental problem in cell biology. The recent identification of determinants that self-assemble into macromolecular complexes at the bacterial cell pole provides new insight into the underlying organizational principles in bacterial cells. Specifically, polarity studies in host-associated or free-living α-proteobacteria, a lineage of Gram-negative (diderm) bacteria, reveals that functional and cytological mono- and bipolarity is often conferred by the multivalent polar organizer PopZ, originally identified as a component of a polar chromosome anchor in the cell cycle model system Caulobacter crescentus...
November 29, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Corrado Nai, Vera Meyer
Since the onset of microbiology in the late 19th century, scientists have been growing microorganisms almost exclusively as pure cultures, resulting in a limited and biased view of the microbial world. Only a paradigm shift in cultivation techniques - from axenic to mixed cultures - can allow a full comprehension of the (chemical) communication of microorganisms, with profound consequences for natural product discovery, microbial ecology, symbiosis, and pathogenesis, to name a few areas. Three main technical advances during the last decade are fueling the realization of this revolution in microbiology: microfluidics, next-generation 3D-bioprinting, and single-cell metabolomics...
November 27, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Graham Bell, Craig MacLean
The effectiveness of antibiotics has been widely compromised by the evolution of resistance among pathogenic bacteria. It would be restored by the development of antibiotics to which bacteria cannot evolve resistance. We first discuss two kinds of 'evolution-proof' antibiotic. The first comprises literally evolution-proof antibiotics to which bacteria cannot become resistant by mutation or horizontal gene transfer. The second category comprises agents to which resistance may arise, but so rarely that it does not become epidemic...
November 27, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Marco Fondi
Understanding and predicting how microbes respond to environmental fluctuations is a central challenge in present-day microbiology. Erickson et al. have proposed a quantitative and (kinetic) parameters-free model of Escherichia coli growth that successfully anticipates changes in gene expression and biomass accumulation in response to nutrients up- and down-shifts.
November 24, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Anna Heintz-Buschart, Paul Wilmes
The human gut microbiome represents a complex ecosystem contributing essential functions to its host. Recent large-scale metagenomic studies have provided insights into its structure and functional potential. However, the functional repertoire which is actually contributed to human physiology remains largely unexplored. Here, by leveraging recent omics datasets, we challenge current assumptions regarding key attributes of the functional gut microbiome, in particular with respect to its variability. We further argue that the closing of existing gaps in functional knowledge should be addressed by a most-wanted gene list, the development and application of molecular and cellular high-throughput measurements, the development and sensible use of experimental models, as well as the direct study of observable molecular effects in the human host...
November 22, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Aneesh Vijayan, Martin Rumbo, Christophe Carnoy, Jean-Claude Sirard
Motility is often a pathogenicity determinant of bacteria targeting mucosal tissues. Flagella constitute the machinery that propels bacteria into appropriate niches. Besides motility, the structural component, flagellin, which forms the flagella, targets Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5) to activate innate immunity. The compartmentalization of flagellin-mediated immunity and the contribution of epithelial cells and dendritic cells in detecting flagellin within luminal and basal sides are highlighted here, respectively...
November 22, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Anne Jamet, Alain Charbit, Xavier Nassif
Bacteria live in communities where strains compete with each other by deploying an arsenal of antibacterial toxins. While the past decade revealed the vast array of antibacterial toxins secreted by Gram-negative bacteria, several recent studies have begun to uncover the ability of Gram-positive bacteria to battle with their own weapons.
November 21, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Filip J R Meysman
Recently, a new group of multicellular microorganisms was discovered, called 'cable bacteria', which are capable of generating and mediating electrical currents across centimetre-scale distances. By transporting electrons from cell to cell, cable bacteria can harvest electron donors and electron acceptors that are widely separated in space, thus providing them with a competitive advantage for survival in aquatic sediments. The underlying process of long-distance electron transport challenges some long-held ideas about the energy metabolism of multicellular organisms and entails a whole new type of electrical cooperation between cells...
November 21, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Jonathan Richard, Jérémie Prévost, Nirmin Alsahafi, Shilei Ding, Andrés Finzi
HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Env) represent the only virus-specific antigen exposed at the surface of infected cells. In its unliganded form, Env from primary viruses samples a 'closed' conformation (State 1), which is preferentially recognized by broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs). CD4 engagement drives Env into an intermediate 'partially open' (State 2) and then into the 'open' CD4-bound conformation (State 3). Emerging evidence suggests a link between Env conformation and Ab-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC)...
November 18, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Timothy J Nice, Bridget A Robinson, Jacob A Van Winkle
Persistent viral infections result from evasion or avoidance of sterilizing immunity, extend the timeframe of virus transmission, and can trigger disease. Prior studies in mouse models of persistent infection have suggested that ineffective adaptive immune responses are necessary for persistent viral infection. However, recent work in the murine norovirus (MNV) model of persistent infection demonstrates that innate immunity can control both early and persistent viral replication independently of adaptive immune effector functions...
November 17, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Benno H Ter Kuile, Marloes Hoeksema
Two recent studies show that incomplete repair of DNA damage due to oxidized nucleotides is crucial for reactive oxygen species (ROS)-related antimicrobial lethality. Using widely different experimental approaches they both reach the same conclusions on the role of downstream ROS production in cell killing upon exposure to bactericidal antimicrobials.
November 17, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
Maarten G K Ghequire, René De Mot
Bacteriocins are potent antibacterial proteins that selectively kill phylogenetic relatives of the producer. Their polymorphic nature, most prominent in γ-Proteobacteria, offers potential for the design of customized bacteriocin cocktails targeting Gram-negative pathogens. As an alternative to recombinant production in bacteria, they are eligible for large-scale production in plants.
November 14, 2017: Trends in Microbiology
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