SUMMARY The availability of a large number of complete genome sequences raises the question of how many genes are essential for cellular life. Trying to reconstruct the core of the protein-coding gene set for a hypothetical minimal bacterial cell, we have performed a computational comparative analysis of eight bacterial genomes. Six of the analyzed genomes are very small due to a dramatic genome size reduction process, while the other two, corresponding to free-living relatives, are larger. The available data from several systematic experimental approaches to define all the essential genes in some completely sequenced bacterial genomes were also considered, and a reconstruction of a minimal metabolic machinery necessary to sustain life was carried out. The proposed minimal genome contains 206 protein-coding genes with all the genetic information necessary for self-maintenance and reproduction in the presence of a full complement of essential nutrients and in the absence of environmental stress. The main features of such a minimal gene set, as well as the metabolic functions that must be present in the hypothetical minimal cell, are discussed.
We have sequenced the genome of the intracellular symbiont Buchnera aphidicola from the aphid Baizongia pistacea. This strain diverged 80 -150 million years ago from the common ancestor of two previously sequenced Buchnera strains. Here, a field-collected, nonclonal sample of insects was used as source material for laboratory procedures. As a consequence, the genome assembly unveiled intrapopulational variation, consisting of Ϸ1,200 polymorphic sites. Comparison of the 618-kb (kbp) genome with the two other Buchnera genomes revealed a nearly perfect gene-order conservation, indicating that the onset of genomic stasis coincided closely with establishment of the symbiosis with aphids, Ϸ200 million years ago. Extensive genome reduction also predates the synchronous diversification of Buchnera and its host; but, at a slower rate, gene loss continues among the extant lineages. A computational study of protein folding predicts that proteins in Buchnera, as well as proteins of other intracellular bacteria, are generally characterized by smaller folding efficiency compared with proteins of free living bacteria. These and other degenerative genomic features are discussed in light of compensatory processes and theoretical predictions on the long-term evolutionary fate of symbionts like Buchnera.
Bacterial symbioses are widespread among insects, probably being one of the key factors of their evolutionary success. We present the complete genome sequence of Blochmannia floridanus, the primary endosymbiont of carpenter ants. Although these ants feed on a complex diet, this symbiosis very likely has a nutritional basis: Blochmannia is able to supply nitrogen and sulfur compounds to the host while it takes advantage of the host metabolic machinery. Remarkably, these bacteria lack all known genes involved in replication initiation (dnaA, priA, and recA). The phylogenetic analysis of a set of conserved protein-coding genes shows that Bl. floridanus is phylogenetically related to Buchnera aphidicola and Wigglesworthia glossinidia, the other endosymbiotic bacteria whose complete genomes have been sequenced so far. Comparative analysis of the five known genomes from insect endosymbiotic bacteria reveals they share only 313 genes, a number that may be close to the minimum gene set necessary to sustain endosymbiotic life.
Intracellular bacteria are characterized by genome reduction. The 422,434-base pair genome of Buchnera aphidicola BCc, primary endosymbiont of the aphid Cinara cedri, is approximately 200 kilobases smaller than the previously sequenced B. aphidicola genomes. B. aphidicola BCc has lost most metabolic functions, including the ability to synthesize the essential amino acid tryptophan and riboflavin. In addition, most retained genes are evolving rapidly. Possibly, B. aphidicola BCc is losing its symbiotic capacity and is being complemented (and might be replaced) by the highly abundant coexisting secondary symbiont.
The stromal stem cell fraction of many tissues and organs has demonstrated to exhibit stem cell properties such as the capability of self-renewal and multipotency, allowing for multilineage differentiation. In this study, we characterize a population of stromal stem cells derived from menstrual blood (MenSCs). We demonstrate that MenSCs are easily expandable to clinical relevance and express multipotent markers such as Oct-4, SSEA-4, and c-kit at the molecular and cellular level. Moreover, we demonstrate the multipotency of MenSCs by directionally differentiating MenSCs into chondrogenic, adipogenic, osteogenic, neurogenic, and cardiogenic cell lineages. These studies demonstrate the plasticity of MenSCs for potential research in regenerative medicine.
Symbiotic associations between animals and microbes are ubiquitous in nature, with an estimated 15% of all insect species harboring intracellular bacterial symbionts. Most bacterial symbionts share many genomic features including small genomes, nucleotide composition bias, high coding density, and a paucity of mobile DNA, consistent with long-term host association. In this study, we focus on the early stages of genome degeneration in a recently derived insect-bacterial mutualistic intracellular association. We present the complete genome sequence and annotation of Sitophilus oryzae primary endosymbiont (SOPE). We also present the finished genome sequence and annotation of strain HS, a close free-living relative of SOPE and other insect symbionts of the Sodalis-allied clade, whose gene inventory is expected to closely resemble the putative ancestor of this group. Structural, functional, and evolutionary analyses indicate that SOPE has undergone extensive adaptation toward an insect-associated lifestyle in a very short time period. The genome of SOPE is large in size when compared with many ancient bacterial symbionts; however, almost half of the protein-coding genes in SOPE are pseudogenes. There is also evidence for relaxed selection on the remaining intact protein-coding genes. Comparative analyses of the whole-genome sequence of strain HS and SOPE highlight numerous genomic rearrangements, duplications, and deletions facilitated by a recent expansion of insertions sequence elements, some of which appear to have catalyzed adaptive changes. Functional metabolic predictions suggest that SOPE has lost the ability to synthesize several essential amino acids and vitamins. Analyses of the bacterial cell envelope and genes encoding secretion systems suggest that these structures and elements have become simplified in the transition to a mutualistic association.
The antiradical activity of caffeic acid (1), dihydrocaffeic acid (5), and their corresponding n-alkyl esters was evaluated by using the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH(*)) method. Dihydrocaffeic acid (5) was the most potent compound, having an antiradical effect higher than that of (+/-)-alpha-tocopherol, whereas caffeic acid (1) was less efficient. Esterification of the carboxyl group of dihydrocaffeic acid (5) had a dramatic effect on its antiradical potency, but similar effects were not observed for caffeic acid (1) derivatives. The n-alkyl esters of both phenolic series had similar potencies, and their antiradical activities were independent of the alkyl chain length. Dose-dependent scavenger effects were found in both series. Acid-base properties of the compounds, evaluated by using potentiometry and spectrophotometry, showed that the catechol moiety had pK(a2) and pK(a3) values of 9. 24-9.02 and 11.38-10.99 in the dihydrocaffeic series and 8.48-8.24 and 11.38-11.07 in the caffeic series, respectively. Antiradical activity and pK(a) values of the compounds were not related.
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