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Current Opinion in Microbiology

Lesley A Earl, Veronica Falconieri, Sriram Subramaniam
Over the past few years, the advances in technology and methods that have revolutionized cryo-EM are allowing for key insights in a variety of areas in biology, and microbiology is no exception. A wide range of important macromolecular assemblies in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, as well as intact viruses, have now become accessible to investigation by new methods in 3D electron microscopy. We focus here on selected examples that illustrate this breadth, and review the application of methods in single particle cryo-EM and cryo-electron tomography to progress in the structural biology of CRISPR systems, visualization of small molecule drugs in membrane proteins, in situ visualization of bacterial nanomachines, and the analysis of antigen-antibody interactions to drive vaccine design...
April 12, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Emilia Palazzotto, Tilmann Weber
Natural products produced by microorganisms represent the main source of bioactive molecules. The development of high-throughput (omics) techniques have importantly contributed to the renaissance of new antibiotic discovery increasing our understanding of complex mechanisms controlling the expression of biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) encoding secondary metabolites. In this context this review highlights recent progress in the use and integration of 'omics' approaches with focuses on genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics metabolomics meta-omics and combined omics as powerful strategy to discover new antibiotics...
April 12, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Elodie Tenconi, Sébastien Rigali
Streptomyces and few other Actinobacteria naturally produce compounds currently used in chemotherapy for being cytotoxic against various types of tumor cells by damaging the DNA structure and/or inhibiting DNA functions. DNA-damaging antitumor antibiotics belong to different classes of natural compounds that are structurally unrelated such as anthracyclines, bleomycins, enediynes, mitomycins, and prodiginines. By targeting a ubiquitous molecule and housekeeping functions, these compounds are also cytotoxic to their producer...
April 8, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Jessica L Soyer, Marie-Hélène Balesdent, Thierry Rouxel, Ralph A Dean
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
March 23, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Philip Bittihn, M Omar Din, Lev S Tsimring, Jeff Hasty
One promise of synthetic biology is to provide solutions for biomedical and industrial problems by rational design of added functionality in living systems. Microbes are at the forefront of this biological engineering endeavor due to their general ease of handling and their relevance in many potential applications from fermentation to therapeutics. In recent years, the field has witnessed an explosion of novel regulatory tools, from synthetic orthogonal transcription factors to posttranslational mechanisms for increased control over the behavior of synthetic circuits...
March 22, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Nathalie Aulner, Anne Danckaert, Julien Fernandes, Marie-Anne Nicola, Pascal Roux, Audrey Salles, Jean-Yves Tinevez, Spencer L Shorte
We consider in review current state-of-the-art fluorescence microscopy for investigating the host-pathogen interface. Our perspective is honed from years with literally thousands of microbiologists using the variety of imaging technologies available within our dedicated BSL2/BSL3 optical imaging research service facilities at the Institut Pasteur Paris founded from scratch in 2001. During fifteen years learning from the success and failures of introducing different fluorescence imaging technologies, methods, and technical development strategies we provide here a synopsis review of our experience to date and a synthesis of how we see the future in perspective for fluorescence imaging at the host-pathogen interface...
March 19, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Qiang Cai, Baoye He, Karl-Heinz Kogel, Hailing Jin
In plants, small RNA (sRNA)-mediated RNA interference (RNAi) is critical for regulating host immunity against bacteria, fungi, oomycetes, viruses, and pests. Similarly, sRNAs from pathogens and pests also play an important role in modulating their virulence. Strikingly, recent evidence supports that some sRNAs can travel between interacting organisms and induce gene silencing in the counter party, a mechanism termed cross-kingdom RNAi. Exploiting this new knowledge, host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) by transgenic expression of pathogen gene-targeting double-stranded (ds)RNA has the potential to become an important disease-control method...
March 14, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Nicole M Revie, Kali R Iyer, Nicole Robbins, Leah E Cowen
Microorganisms have a remarkable capacity to evolve resistance to antimicrobial agents, threatening the efficacy of the limited arsenal of antimicrobials and becoming a dire public health crisis. This is of particular concern for fungal pathogens, which cause devastating invasive infections with treatment options limited to only three major classes of antifungal drugs. The paucity of antifungals with clinical utility is in part due to close evolutionary relationships between these eukaryotic pathogens and their human hosts, which limits the unique targets to be exploited therapeutically...
March 12, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Mariana Avalos, Gilles P van Wezel, Jos M Raaijmakers, Paolina Garbeva
Microorganisms represent a large and still resourceful pool for the discovery of novel compounds to combat antibiotic resistance in human and animal pathogens. The ability of microorganisms to produce structurally diverse volatile compounds has been known for decades, yet their biological functions and antimicrobial activities have only recently attracted attention. Various studies revealed that microbial volatiles can act as infochemicals in long-distance cross-kingdom communication as well as antimicrobials in competition and predation...
March 12, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Markus Basan
Elucidating strategies of resource allocation and metabolism is crucial for a better understanding of microbial phenotypes. In particular, uncovering the governing principles underlying these processes would be a crucial step for achieving a central aim of systems microbiology, which is to quantitatively predict phenotypes of microbial cells or entire populations in diverse conditions. Here, some of the key concepts for understanding cellular resource allocation and metabolism that have been suggested over the past years are reviewed...
March 12, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Graham A Hudson, Douglas A Mitchell
The threat of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections continues to underscore the need for new treatment options. Historically, small molecule metabolites from microbes have provided a rich source of antibiotic compounds, and as a result, significant effort has been invested in engineering the responsible biosynthetic pathways to generate novel analogs with attractive pharmacological properties. Unfortunately, biosynthetic stringency has limited the capacity of non-ribosomal peptide synthetases and polyketide synthases from producing substantially different analogs in large numbers...
March 10, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Si-Sun Choi, Yohei Katsuyama, Linquan Bai, Zixin Deng, Yasuo Ohnishi, Eung-Soo Kim
The discovery and development of microbial natural products (MNPs) have played pivotal roles in the fields of human medicine and its related biotechnology sectors over the past several decades. The post-genomic era has witnessed the development of microbial genome mining approaches to isolate previously unsuspected MNP biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) hidden in the genome, followed by various BGC awakening techniques to visualize compound production. Additional microbial genome engineering techniques have allowed higher MNP production titers, which could complement a traditional culture-based MNP chasing approach...
March 3, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Laurent Potvin-Trottier, Scott Luro, Johan Paulsson
Bacteria have molecules present in low and fluctuating numbers that randomize cell behaviors. Understanding these stochastic processes and their impact on cells has, until recently, been limited by the lack of single-cell measurement methods. Here, we review recent developments in microfluidics that enable following individual cells over long periods of time under precisely controlled conditions, and counting individual fluorescent molecules in many cells. We showcase discoveries that were made possible using these devices in various aspects of microbiology, such as antibiotic tolerance/persistence, cell-size control, cell-fate determination, DNA damage response, and synthetic biology...
February 26, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Mariana Gómez-Schiavon, Hana El-Samad
Mathematical models continue to be essential for deepening our understanding of biology. On one extreme, simple or small-scale models help delineate general biological principles. However, the parsimony of detail in these models as well as their assumption of modularity and insulation make them inaccurate for describing quantitative features. On the other extreme, large-scale and detailed models can quantitatively recapitulate a phenotype of interest, but have to rely on many unknown parameters, making them often difficult to parse mechanistically and to use for extracting general principles...
February 26, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Joanna C Evans, Valerie Mizrahi
Claiming close to two million lives each year, tuberculosis is now the leading cause of death from an infectious disease. The rise in number of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) strains resistant to existing TB drugs has underscored the urgent need to develop new antimycobacterials with novel mechanisms of action. To meet this need, a drug pipeline has been established that is populated with new and repurposed drugs. Recent advances in identifying molecules with inhibitory activity against Mtb under conditions modelled on those encountered during infection, and in elucidating their mechanisms of action, have primed the pipeline with promising drug/target couples, hit compounds and new targets...
February 23, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Vakil Takhaveev, Matthias Heinemann
In the past decades, numerous instances of phenotypic diversity were observed in clonal microbial populations, particularly, on the gene expression level. Much less is, however, known about phenotypic differences that occur on the level of metabolism. This is likely explained by the fact that experimental tools probing metabolism of single cells are still at an early stage of development. Here, we review recent exciting discoveries that point out different causes for metabolic heterogeneity within clonal microbial populations...
February 21, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Pier Luigi Buttigieg, Eduard Fadeev, Christina Bienhold, Laura Hehemann, Pierre Offre, Antje Boetius
Microbial observation is of high relevance in assessing marine phenomena of scientific and societal concern including ocean productivity, harmful algal blooms, and pathogen exposure. However, we have yet to realise its potential to coherently and comprehensively report on global ocean status. The ability of satellites to monitor the distribution of phytoplankton has transformed our appreciation of microbes as the foundation of key ecosystem services; however, more in-depth understanding of microbial dynamics is needed to fully assess natural and anthropogenically induced variation in ocean ecosystems...
February 21, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Darcy Ab Jones, Stefania Bertazzoni, Chala J Turo, Robert A Syme, James K Hane
Effector proteins are important virulence factors of fungal plant pathogens and their prediction largely relies on bioinformatic methods. In this review we outline the current methods for the prediction of fungal plant pathogenicity effector proteins. Some fungal effectors have been characterised and are represented by conserved motifs or in sequence repositories, however most fungal effectors do not generally exhibit high conservation of amino acid sequence. Therefore various predictive methods have been developed around: general properties, structure, position in the genomic landscape, and detection of mutations including repeat-induced point mutations and positive selection...
February 17, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Shuangyu Bi, Victor Sourjik
Motile bacteria use chemotaxis to migrate towards environments that are favorable for growth and survival. The signaling pathway that mediates this behavior is largely conserved among prokaryotes, with Escherichia coli chemotaxis system being one of the simplest and the best studied. At the core of this pathway are the arrays of clustered chemoreceptors that detect, amplify and integrate various stimuli. Recent work provided deeper understanding of spatial organization and signal processing by these clusters and uncovered the variety of sensory mechanisms used to detect environmental stimuli...
February 16, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Simone Fouché, Clémence Plissonneau, Daniel Croll
Plant pathogenic fungi and oomycetes are major risks to food security due to their evolutionary success in overcoming plant defences. Pathogens produce effectors to interfere with host defences and metabolism. These effectors are often encoded in rapidly evolving compartments of the genome. We review how effector genes emerged and were lost in pathogen genomes drawing on the links between effector evolution and chromosomal rearrangements. Some new effectors entered pathogen genomes via horizontal transfer or introgression...
February 15, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
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