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  1. Abstract Background

    Variation in omics data due to intrinsic biological stochasticity is often viewed as a challenging and undesirable feature of complex systems analyses. In fact, numerous statistical methods are utilized to minimize the variation among biological replicates.


    We demonstrate that the common statistics relative standard deviation (RSD) and coefficient of variation (CV), which are often used for quality control or part of a larger pipeline in omics analyses, can also be used as a metric of a physiological stress response. Using an approach we term Replicate Variation Analysis (RVA), we demonstrate that acute physiological stress leads to feature-wide canalization of CV profiles of metabolomes and proteomes across biological replicates. Canalization is the repression of variation between replicates, which increases phenotypic similarity. Multiple in-house mass spectrometry omics datasets in addition to publicly available data were analyzed to assess changes in CV profiles in plants, animals, and microorganisms. In addition, proteomics data sets were evaluated utilizing RVA to identify functionality of reduced CV proteins.


    RVA provides a foundation for understanding omics level shifts that occur in response to cellular stress. This approach to data analysis helps characterize stress response and recovery, and could be deployed to detect populations under stress, monitor health status, and conduct environmental monitoring.

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  2. Arsenic is a toxic metalloid with differential biological effects, depending on speciation and concentration. Trivalent arsenic (arsenite, AsIII) is more toxic at lower concentrations than the pentavalent form (arsenate, AsV). In E. coli, the proteins encoded by the arsRBC operon are the major arsenic detoxification mechanism. Our previous transcriptional analyses indicate broad changes in metal uptake and regulation upon arsenic exposure. Currently, it is not known how arsenic exposure impacts the cellular distribution of other metals. This study examines the metalloproteome of E. coli strains with and without the arsRBC operon in response to sublethal doses of AsIII and AsV. Size exclusion chromatography coupled with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (SEC-ICPMS) was used to investigate the distribution of five metals (56Fe, 24Mg, 66Zn, 75As, and 63Cu) in proteins and protein complexes under native conditions. Parallel analysis by SEC-UV-Vis spectroscopy monitored the presence of protein cofactors. Together, these data reveal global changes in the metalloproteome, proteome, protein cofactors, and soluble intracellular metal pools in response to arsenic stress in E. coli. This work brings to light one outcome of metal exposure and suggests that metal toxicity on the cellular level arises from direct and indirect effects. 
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  3. Abstract

    Arsenic (As) and mercury (Hg) were examined in the Yellowstone Lake food chain, focusing on two lake locations separated by approximately 20 km and differing in lake floor hydrothermal vent activity. Sampling spanned from femtoplankton to the main fish species, Yellowstone cutthroat trout and the apex predator lake trout. Mercury bioaccumulated in muscle and liver of both trout species, biomagnifying with age, whereas As decreased in older fish, which indicates differential exposure routes for these metal(loid)s. Mercury and As concentrations were higher in all food chain filter fractions (0.1‐, 0.8‐, and 3.0‐μm filters) at the vent‐associated Inflated Plain site, illustrating the impact of localized hydrothermal inputs. Femtoplankton and picoplankton size biomass (0.1‐ and 0.8‐μm filters) accounted for 30%–70% of total Hg or As at both locations. By contrast, only approximately 4% of As and <1% of Hg were found in the 0.1‐μm filtrate, indicating that comparatively little As or Hg actually exists as an ionic form or intercalated with humic compounds, a frequent assumption in freshwaters and marine waters. Ribosomal RNA (18S) gene sequencing of DNA derived from the 0.1‐, 0.8‐, and 3.0‐μm filters showed significant eukaryote biomass in these fractions, providing a novel view of the femtoplankton and picoplankton size biomass, which assists in explaining why these fractions may contain such significant Hg and As. These results infer that femtoplankton and picoplankton metal(loid) loads represent aquatic food chain entry points that need to be accounted for and that are important for better understanding Hg and As biochemistry in aquatic systems.Environ Toxicol Chem2023;42:225–241. © 2022 SETAC

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  4. Hypoglycemia may be induced by a variety of physiologic and pathologic stimuli and can result in life-threatening consequences if untreated. However, hypoglycemia may also play a role in the purported health benefits of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction. Previously, we demonstrated that systemic administration of ricin toxin induced fatal hypoglycemia in mice. Here, we examine the metabolic landscape of the hypoglycemic state induced in the liver of mice by two different stimuli: systemic ricin administration and fasting. Each stimulus produced the same decrease in blood glucose and weight loss. The polar metabolome was studied using 1H NMR, quantifying 59 specific metabolites, and untargeted LC-MS on approximately 5000 features. Results were analyzed by multivariate analyses, using both principal component analysis (PCA) and partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA), to identify global metabolic patterns, and by univariate analyses (ANOVA) to assess individual metabolites. The results demonstrated that while there were some similarities in the responses to the two stimuli including decreased glucose, ADP, and glutathione, they elicited distinct metabolic states. The metabolite showing the greatest difference was O-phosphocholine, elevated in ricin-treated animals and known to be affected by the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α. Another difference was the alternative fuel source utilized, with fasting-induced hypoglycemia primarily ketotic, while the response to ricin-induced hypoglycemia involves protein and amino acid catabolism.

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  5. Abstract

    Research focused on microbial populations of thermoalkaline springs has been driven in a large part by the lure of discovering functional enzymes with industrial applications in high-pH and high temperature environments. While several studies have focused on understanding the fundamental ecology of these springs, the small molecule profiles of thermoalkaline springs have largely been overlooked. To better understand how geochemistry, small molecule composition, and microbial communities are connected, we conducted a three-year study of the Five Sisters (FS) springs that included high-resolution geochemical measurements, 16S rRNA sequencing of the bacterial and archaeal community, and mass spectrometry-based metabolite and extracellular small molecule characterization. Integration of the four datasets facilitated a comprehensive analysis of the interwoven thermoalkaline spring system. Over the course of the study, the microbial population responded to changing environmental conditions, with archaeal populations decreasing in both relative abundance and diversity compared to bacterial populations. Decreases in the relative abundance of Archaea were associated with environmental changes that included decreased availability of specific nitrogen- and sulfur-containing extracellular small molecules and fluctuations in metabolic pathways associated with nitrogen cycling. This multi-factorial analysis demonstrates that the microbial community composition is more closely correlated with pools of extracellular small molecules than with the geochemistry of the thermal springs. This is a novel finding and suggests that a previously overlooked component of thermal springs may have a significant impact on microbial community composition.

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  6. Abstract

    Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a rare genetic neurologic disorder caused by impaired neuronal development and progressive degeneration of both the peripheral and central nervous systems. FD is monogenic, with >99.4% of patients sharing an identical point mutation in the elongator acetyltransferase complex subunit 1 (ELP1) gene, providing a relatively simple genetic background in which to identify modifiable factors that influence pathology. Gastrointestinal symptoms and metabolic deficits are common among FD patients, which supports the hypothesis that the gut microbiome and metabolome are altered and dysfunctional compared to healthy individuals. Here we show significant differences in gut microbiome composition (16 S rRNA gene sequencing of stool samples) and NMR-based stool and serum metabolomes between a cohort of FD patients (~14% of patients worldwide) and their cohabitating, healthy relatives. We show that key observations in human subjects are recapitulated in a neuron-specificElp1-deficient mouse model, and that cohousing mutant and littermate control mice ameliorates gut microbiome dysbiosis, improves deficits in gut transit, and reduces disease severity. Our results provide evidence that neurologic deficits in FD alter the structure and function of the gut microbiome, which shifts overall host metabolism to perpetuate further neurodegeneration.

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  7. Abstract

    Reports of aerobic biogenic methane (CH4) have generated new views about CH4sources in nature. We examine this phenomenon in the free‐flowing Yellowstone river wherein CH4concentrations were tracked as a function of environmental conditions, phototrophic microorganisms (using chlorophylla, Chla, as proxy), as well as targeted methylated amines known to be associated with this process. CH4was positively correlated with temperature and Chla, although diurnal measurements showed CH4concentrations were greatest during the night and lowest during maximal solar irradiation. CH4efflux from the river surface was greater in quiescent edge waters (71–94 μmol m−2 d) than from open flowing current (~ 57 μmol m−2 d). Attempts to increase flux by disturbing the benthic environment in the quiescent water directly below (~ 1.0 m deep) or at varying distances (0–5 m) upstream of the flux chamber failed to increase surface flux. Glycine betaine (GB), dimethylamine and methylamine (MMA) were observed throughout the summer‐long study, increasing during a period coinciding with a marked decline in Chla, suggesting a lytic event led to their release; however, this did not correspond to increased CH4concentrations. Spiking river water with GB or MMA yielded significantly greater CH4than nonspiked controls, illustrating the metabolic potential of the river microbiome. In summary, this study provides evidence that: (1) phototrophic microorganisms are involved in CH4synthesis in a river environment; (2) the river microbiome possesses the metabolic potential to convert methylated amines to CH4; and (3) river CH4concentrations are dynamic diurnally as well as during the summer active months.

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  8. Several bacteria possess components of catabolic pathways for the synthetic polyester poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET). These proceed by hydrolyzing the ester linkages of the polymer to its monomers, ethylene glycol and terephthalate (TPA), which are further converted into common metabolites. These pathways are crucial for genetically engineering microbes for PET upcycling, prompting interest in their fundamental biochemical and structural elucidation. Terephthalate dioxygenase (TPADO) and its cognate reductase make up a complex multimetalloenzyme system that dihydroxylates TPA, activating it for enzymatic decarboxylation to yield protocatechuic acid (PCA). Here, we report structural, biochemical, and bioinformatic analyses of TPADO. Together, these data illustrate the remarkable adaptation of TPADO to the TPA dianion as its preferred substrate, with small, protonatable ring 2-carbon substituents being among the few permitted substrate modifications. TPADO is a Rieske [2Fe2S] and mononuclear nonheme iron-dependent oxygenase (Rieske oxygenase) that shares low sequence similarity with most structurally characterized members of its family. Structural data show an α-helix–associated histidine side chain that rotates into an Fe (II)–coordinating position following binding of the substrate into an adjacent pocket. TPA interactions with side chains in this pocket were not conserved in homologs with different substrate preferences. The binding mode of the less symmetric 2-hydroxy-TPA substrate, the observation that PCA is its oxygenation product, and the close relationship of the TPADO α-subunit to that of anthranilate dioxygenase allowed us to propose a structure-based model for product formation. Future efforts to identify, evolve, or engineer TPADO variants with desirable properties will be enabled by the results described here. 
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  9. null (Ed.)
    Reports of biogenic methane (CH 4 ) synthesis associated with a range of organisms have steadily accumulated in the literature. This has not happened without controversy and in most cases the process is poorly understood at the gene and enzyme levels. In marine and freshwater environments, CH 4 supersaturation of oxic surface waters has been termed the “methane paradox” because biological CH 4 synthesis is viewed to be a strictly anaerobic process carried out by O 2 -sensitive methanogens. Interest in this phenomenon has surged within the past decade because of the importance of understanding sources and sinks of this potent greenhouse gas. In our work on Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park, we demonstrate microbiological conversion of methylamine to CH 4 and isolate and characterize an Acidovorax sp. capable of this activity. Furthermore, we identify and clone a gene critical to this process (encodes pyridoxylamine phosphate-dependent aspartate aminotransferase) and demonstrate that this property can be transferred to Escherichia coli with this gene and will occur as a purified enzyme. This previously unrecognized process sheds light on environmental cycling of CH 4 , suggesting that O 2 -insensitive, ecologically relevant aerobic CH 4 synthesis is likely of widespread distribution in the environment and should be considered in CH 4 modeling efforts. 
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  10. null (Ed.)
    The microbial ars operon encodes the primary bacterial defense response to the environmental toxicant, arsenic. An important component of this operon is the arsR gene, which encodes ArsR, a member of the family of proteins categorized as DNA-binding transcriptional repressors. As currently documented, ArsR regulates its own expression as well as other genes in the same ars operon. This study examined the roles of four ArsR proteins in the well-developed model Gram-negative bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens 5A. RNASeq was used to compare and characterize gene expression profiles in ± arsenite-treated cells of the wild-type strain and in four different arsR mutants. We report that ArsR-controlled transcription regulation is truly global, extending well beyond the current ars operon model, and includes both repression as well as apparent activation effects. Many cellular functions are significantly influenced, including arsenic resistance, phosphate acquisition/metabolism, sugar transport, chemotaxis, copper tolerance, iron homeostasis, and many others. While there is evidence of some regulatory overlap, each ArsR exhibits its own regulatory profile. Furthermore, evidence of a regulatory hierarchy was observed; i.e. ArsR1 represses arsR4 , ArsR4 activates arsR2 , and ArsR2 represses arsR3 . Additionally and unexpectedly, aioB (arsenite oxidase small subunit) expression was shown to be under partial positive control by ArsR2 and ArsR4. Summarizing, this study demonstrates the regulatory portfolio of arsenite-activated ArsR proteins and includes essentially all major cellular functions. The broad bandwidth of arsenic effects on microbial metabolism assists in explaining and understanding the full impact of arsenic in natural ecosystems, including the mammalian gut. 
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