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Current Opinion in Microbiology

Lay-Sun Ma, Clément Pellegrin, Regine Kahmann
Pathogenic and symbiotic filamentous microbes secrete effectors which suppress host immune responses and promote a successful colonization. Pathogen effectors are engaged in the arms race with their hosts and because of this they are subject to intense evolutionary pressure. Effectors particularly prone to rapid evolution display repeat-containing domains which can easily expand or contract and accumulate point mutations without altering their original function. In this review we address the diversity of function in such repeat-containing effectors, focus on new findings and point out avenues for future work...
June 18, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Omer Weissbrod, Daphna Rothschild, Elad Barkan, Eran Segal
Recent studies indicate that the gut microbiome is partially heritable, motivating the need to investigate microbiome-host genome associations via microbial genome-wide association studies (mGWAS). Existing mGWAS demonstrate that microbiome-host genotype associations are typically weak and are spread across multiple variants, similar to associations often observed in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of complex traits. Here we reconsider mGWAS by viewing them through the lens of GWAS, and demonstrate that there are striking similarities between the challenges and pitfalls faced by the two study designs...
June 14, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Geert Rb Huys, Jeroen Raes
With the vast majority of the microbial world still considered unculturable or undiscovered, microbiologists not only require more fundamental insights concerning microbial growth requirements but also need to implement miniaturized, versatile and high-throughput technologies to upscale current microbial isolation strategies. In this respect, single-cell-based approaches are increasingly finding their way to the microbiology lab. A number of recent studies have demonstrated that analysis and separation of free microbial cells by flow-based sorting as well as physical stochastic confinement of individual cells in microenvironment compartments can facilitate the isolation of previously uncultured species and the discovery of novel microbial taxa...
June 13, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Dainan Mao, Bethany K Okada, Yihan Wu, Fei Xu, Mohammad R Seyedsayamdost
The explosion of microbial genome sequences has shown that bacteria harbor an immense, largely untapped potential for the biosynthesis of diverse natural products, which have traditionally served as an important source of pharmaceutical compounds. Most of the biosynthetic genes that can be detected bioinformatically are only weakly expressed, or not at all, under standard laboratory growth conditions. Herein we review three recent approaches that have been developed for inducing these so-called silent biosynthetic gene clusters: insertion of constitutively active promoters using CRISPR-Cas9, high-throughput elicitor screening for identification of small molecule inducers, and reporter-guided mutant selection for creation of overproducing strains...
June 5, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Eric L Bruger, Christopher J Marx
Genome sequencing has revolutionized studies using experimental evolution of microbes because it readily provides comprehensive insight into the genetic bases of adaptation. In this perspective we discuss applications of sequencing-based technologies used to study evolution in microbes, including genomic sequencing of isolated evolved clones and mixed evolved populations, and also the use of sequencing methods to follow the fate of introduced variations, whether neutral barcodes or variants introduced by genome editing...
June 4, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Edward Kalkreuter, Gavin J Williams
A large portion of natural products are biosynthesized by the polyketide synthase and non-ribosomal peptide synthetase enzymatic assembly lines. Recent advancements in the study of these megasynthases has led to many new examples that demonstrate the production of non-natural natural products. The field is likely nearing the ability to design and build new biosynthetic pathways de novo. We discuss the various recent approaches taken towards this goal, focusing on the installation of new substrates, the swapping of enzymatic domains and modules, and the impact of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology...
May 3, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Kelly L Wyres, Kathryn E Holt
Klebsiella pneumoniae is an opportunistic bacterial pathogen known for its high frequency and diversity of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes. In addition to being a significant clinical problem in its own right, K. pneumoniae is the species within which several new AMR genes were first discovered before spreading to other pathogens (e.g. carbapenem-resistance genes KPC, OXA-48 and NDM-1). Whilst K. pneumoniae's contribution to the overall AMR crisis is impossible to quantify, current evidence suggests it has a wider ecological distribution, significantly more varied DNA composition, greater AMR gene diversity and a higher plasmid burden than other Gram negative opportunists...
April 30, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Daniel Jones, Johan Elf
Recent large-scale measurements of gene expression variability (or noise) in E. coli have led to the unexpected conclusion that the variability is in large part dictated by and increasing with the mean level of expression. Here we review the evidence for this apparent universal trend in variability, as well as for the related idea that transcription is fundamentally bursty. We examine recently proposed mechanisms for burstiness and universality and argue that they do not explain important features of observed data...
April 26, 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Tina Netzker, Michal Flak, Mario Kc Krespach, Maria C Stroe, Jakob Weber, Volker Schroeckh, Axel A Brakhage
Since the discovery of penicillin, antibiotics have been instrumental in treating infectious diseases. However, emerging antibiotic multi-resistance coinciding with a nearly exhausted drug pipeline is a major concern for the future of the therapy of infections. A novel approach for the discovery of antibiotics relies on the analysis of microbial consortia in their ecological context, taking into account the potential natural role of antibiotics. Co-cultivations of microorganisms have been successfully applied for the isolation of unknown secondary metabolites including antibiotics, and, thus, open new avenues to the production of bioactive compounds while at the same time providing insight into the natural function of the produced molecules and the regulation of their formation...
April 24, 2018: 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
Alberto Scoma, Julia A Vorholt
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
June 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Ariane Briegel, Stephan Uphoff
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
June 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Jan-Willem Veening, Rita Tamayo
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
April 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Jonas Stenløkke Madsen, Søren Johannes Sørensen, Mette Burmølle
Bacterial communities are dominated and shaped by social interactions, which facilitate the emergence of properties observed only in the community setting. Such community-intrinsic properties impact not only the phenotypes of cells in a community, but also community composition and function, and are thus likely to affect a potential host. Studying community-intrinsic properties is, therefore, important for furthering our understanding of clinical, applied and environmental microbiology. Here, we provide recent examples of research investigating community-intrinsic properties, focusing mainly on community composition and interactions in multispecies biofilms...
April 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Stephan Gruber
Bacteria transcribe, duplicate and segregate their genomes all at once. Conflicts between DNA replication and active transcription are a major source of DNA damage and jeopardize genome integrity and cell survival. Co-orientation of replication forks and transcription units is thought to reduce the impact of such conflicts. Like transcription and replication, chromosome segregation relies on the translocation of multi-subunit protein complexes along DNA. Here, I highlight recent advances in our understanding of two major classes of structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) complexes in bacteria: Smc-ScpAB, whose DNA translocation is co-oriented with DNA replication by specific start sites, and MukBEF, which apparently lacks such co-ordination...
April 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Lina M Leon, Senén D Mendoza, Joseph Bondy-Denomy
CRISPR-Cas systems are adaptive immune systems that protect their hosts from predation by bacteriophages (phages) and parasitism by other mobile genetic elements (MGEs). Given the potent nuclease activity of CRISPR effectors, these enzymes must be carefully regulated to minimize toxicity and maximize anti-phage immunity. While attention has been given to the transcriptional regulation of these systems (reviewed in [1]), less consideration has been given to the crucial post-translational processes that govern enzyme activation and inactivation...
April 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Johann Mignolet, Gaël Panis, Patrick H Viollier
The Type IV pilus (T4P) is a powerful and sophisticated bacterial nanomachine involved in numerous cellular processes, including adhesion, DNA uptake and motility. Aside from the well-described subtype T4aP of the Gram-negative genera, including Myxococcus, Pseudomonas and Neisseria, the Tad (tight adherence) pilus secretion system re-shuffles homologous parts from other secretion systems along with uncharacterized components into a new type of protein translocation apparatus. A representative of the Tad apparatus, the Caulobacter crescentus pilus assembly (Cpa) machine is built exclusively at the newborn cell pole once per cell cycle...
April 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Athanasios Litsios, Álvaro D Ortega, Ernst C Wit, Matthias Heinemann
According to the most prevalent notion, changes in cellular physiology primarily occur in response to altered environmental conditions. Yet, recent studies have shown that changes in metabolic fluxes can also trigger phenotypic changes even when environmental conditions are unchanged. This suggests that cells have mechanisms in place to assess the magnitude of metabolic fluxes, that is, the rate of metabolic reactions, and use this information to regulate their physiology. In this review, we describe recent evidence for metabolic flux-sensing and flux-dependent regulation...
April 2018: Current Opinion in Microbiology
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