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  1. Yount, Jacob (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Building iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters and assembling Fe-S proteins are essential actions for life on Earth. The three processes that sustain life, photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and respiration, require Fe-S proteins. Genes coding for Fe-S proteins can be found in nearly every sequenced genome. Fe-S proteins have a wide variety of functions, and therefore, defective assembly of Fe-S proteins results in cell death or global metabolic defects. Compared to alternative essential cellular processes, there is less known about Fe-S cluster synthesis and Fe-S protein maturation. Moreover, new factors involved in Fe-S protein assembly continue to be discovered. These facts highlight the growing need to develop a deeper biological understanding of Fe-S cluster synthesis, holo-protein maturation, and Fe-S cluster repair. Here, we outline bacterial strategies used to assemble Fe-S proteins and the genetic regulation of these processes. We focus on recent and relevant findings and discuss future directions, including the proposal of using Fe-S protein assembly as an antipathogen target.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 21, 2022
  2. ABSTRACT Mercury (Hg) is a widely distributed, toxic heavy metal with no known cellular role. Mercury toxicity has been linked to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), but Hg does not directly perform redox chemistry with oxygen. How exposure to the ionic form, Hg(II), generates ROS is unknown. Exposure of Thermus thermophilus to Hg(II) triggered ROS accumulation and increased transcription and activity of superoxide dismutase (Sod) and pseudocatalase (Pcat); however, Hg(II) inactivated Sod and Pcat. Strains lacking Sod or Pcat had increased oxidized bacillithiol (BSH) levels and were more sensitive to Hg(II) than the wild type. The Δ bshA Δ sod and Δ bshA Δ pcat double mutant strains were as sensitive to Hg(II) as the Δ bshA strain that lacks bacillithiol, suggesting that the increased sensitivity to Hg(II) in the Δ sod and Δ pcat mutant strains is due to a decrease of reduced BSH. Treatment of T. thermophilus with Hg(II) decreased aconitase activity and increased the intracellular concentration of free Fe, and these phenotypes were exacerbated in Δ sod and Δ pcat mutant strains. Treatment with Hg(II) also increased DNA damage. We conclude that sequestration of the redox buffering thiol BSH by Hg(II), in conjunction with directmore »inactivation of ROS-scavenging enzymes, impairs the ability of T. thermophilus to effectively metabolize ROS generated as a normal consequence of growth in aerobic environments. IMPORTANCE Thermus thermophilus is a deep-branching thermophilic aerobe. It is a member of the Deinococcus - Thermus phylum that, together with the Aquificae , constitute the earliest branching aerobic bacterial lineages; therefore, this organism serves as a model for early diverged bacteria (R. K. Hartmann, J. Wolters, B. Kröger, S. Schultze, et al., Syst Appl Microbiol 11:243–249, 1989, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0723-2020(89)80020-7 ) whose natural heated habitat may contain mercury of geological origins (G. G. Geesey, T. Barkay, and S. King, Sci Total Environ 569-570:321–331, 2016, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.06.080 ). T. thermophilus likely arose shortly after the oxidation of the biosphere 2.4 billion years ago. Studying T. thermophilus physiology provides clues about the origin and evolution of mechanisms for mercury and oxidative stress responses, the latter being critical for the survival and function of all extant aerobes.« less
  3. To persist within the host and cause disease, Staphylococcus aureus relies on its ability to precisely fine-tune virulence factor expression in response to rapidly-changing environments. During an unbiased transposon mutant screen, we observed that disruption of the two-gene operon, yjbIH , resulted in decreased pigmentation and aureolysin activity relative to the wild-type strain. Further analyses revealed that YjbH, a predicted thioredoxin-like oxidoreductase, is mostly responsible for the observed yjbIH mutant phenotypes, though a minor role exists for the putative truncated hemoglobin YjbI. These differences were due to significantly decreased expression of crtOPQMN and aur . Previous studies found that YjbH targets the disulfide- and oxidative-stress responsive regulator Spx for degradation by ClpXP. The absence of yjbH or yjbI resulted in altered sensitivities to nitrosative and oxidative stress and iron deprivation. Additionally, aconitase activity was altered in the yjbH and yjbI mutant strains. Decreased pigmentation and Aur activity in the yjbH mutant was found to be Spx-dependent. Lastly, we used a murine sepsis model to determine the effect of the yjbIH deletion on pathogenesis and found that the mutant was better able to colonize the kidneys and spleens during an acute infection than the wild-type strain. These studies identify changes inmore »pigmentation and protease activity in response to YjbIH and are the first to show a role for these proteins during infection.« less