For a long time, our understanding of metabolism has been dominated by the idea of biochemical unity, i.e., that the central reaction sequences in metabolism are universally conserved between all forms of life. However, biochemical research in the last decades has revealed a surprising diversity in the central carbon metabolism of different microorganisms. Here, we will embrace this biochemical diversity and explain how genetic redundancy and functional degeneracy cause the diversity observed in central metabolic pathways, such as glycolysis, autotrophic CO2 fixation, and acetyl-CoA assimilation. We conclude that this diversity is not the exception, but rather the standard in microbiology.
In bacteria, cell-surface polysaccharides fulfill important physiological functions, including interactions with the environment and other cells as well as protection from diverse stresses. The Gram-negative delta-proteobacterium Myxococcus xanthus is a model to study social behaviors in bacteria. M. xanthus synthesizes four cell-surface polysaccharides, i.e., exopolysaccharide (EPS), biosurfactant polysaccharide (BPS), spore coat polysaccharide, and O-antigen. Here, we describe recent progress in elucidating the three Wzx/Wzy-dependent pathways for EPS, BPS and spore coat polysaccharide biosynthesis and the ABC transporter-dependent pathway for O-antigen biosynthesis. Moreover, we describe the functions of these four cell-surface polysaccharides in the social life cycle of M. xanthus.
Cyclic-di-GMP (c-di-GMP) is a ubiquitous bacterial second messenger which has been associated with a motile to sessile lifestyle switch in many bacteria. Here, we review recent insights into c-di-GMP regulated processes related to environmental adaptations in alphaproteobacterial rhizobia, which are diazotrophic bacteria capable of fixing nitrogen in symbiosis with their leguminous host plants. The review centers on Sinorhizobium meliloti, which in the recent years was intensively studied for its c-di-GMP regulatory network.
Drosophila, Arabidopsis, Synechocystis, human (DASH)-type cryptochromes (cry-DASHs) form one subclade of the cryptochrome/photolyase family (CPF). CPF members are flavoproteins that act as DNA-repair enzymes (DNA-photolyases), or as ultraviolet(UV)-A/blue light photoreceptors (cryptochromes). In mammals, cryptochromes are essential components of the circadian clock feed-back loop. Cry-DASHs are present in almost all major taxa and were initially considered as photoreceptors. Later studies demonstrated DNA-repair activity that was, however, restricted to UV-lesions in single-stranded DNA. Very recent studies, particularly on microbial organisms, substantiated photoreceptor functions of cry-DASHs suggesting that they could be transitions between photolyases and cryptochromes.
Selective adhesion of fungal cells to one another and to foreign surfaces is fundamental for the development of multicellular growth forms and the successful colonization of substrates and host organisms. Accordingly, fungi possess diverse cell wall-associated adhesins, mostly large glycoproteins, which present N-terminal adhesion domains at the cell surface for ligand recognition and binding. In order to function as robust adhesins, these glycoproteins must be covalently linkedto the cell wall via C-terminal glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchors by transglycosylation. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the structural and functional diversity of so far characterized protein families of adhesion domains and set it into a broad context by an in-depth bioinformatics analysis using sequence similarity networks. In addition, we discuss possible mechanisms for the membrane-to-cell wall transfer of fungal adhesins by membrane-anchored Dfg5 transglycosidases.
While many bacteria divide by symmetric binary fission, some alphaproteobacteria have strikingly asymmetric cell cycles, producing offspring that differs significantly in their morphology and reproductive state. To establish this asymmetry, these species employ a complex cell cycle regulatory pathway based on two-component signaling cascades. At the center of this network is the essential DNA-binding response regulator CtrA, which acts as a transcription factor controlling numerous genes with cell cycle-relevant functions as well as a regulator of chromosome replication. The DNA-binding activity of CtrA is controlled at the level of both protein phosphorylation and stability, dependent on an intricate network of regulatory proteins, whose function is tightly coordinated in time and space. CtrA is differentially activated in the two (developing) offspring, thereby establishing distinct transcriptional programs that ultimately determine their distinct cell fates. Phase-separated polar microdomains of changing composition sequester proteins involved in the (in-)activation and degradation of CtrA specifically at each pole. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of the CtrA pathway and discuss how it has evolved to regulate the cell cycle of morphologically distinct alphaproteobacteria.
The physiological roles of the intracellular iron and redox regulatory systems are intimately linked. Iron is an essential trace element for most organisms, yet elevated cellular iron levels are a potent generator and amplifier of reactive oxygen species and redox stress. Proteins binding iron or iron-sulfur (Fe/S) clusters, are particularly sensitive to oxidative damage and require protection from the cellular oxidative stress protection systems. In addition, key components of these systems, most prominently glutathione and monothiol glutaredoxins are involved in the biogenesis of cellular Fe/S proteins. In this review, we address the biochemical role of glutathione and glutaredoxins in cellular Fe/S protein assembly in eukaryotic cells. We also summarize the recent developments in the role of cytosolic glutaredoxins in iron metabolism, in particular the regulation of fungal iron homeostasis. Finally, we discuss recent insights into the interplay of the cellular thiol redox balance and oxygen with that of Fe/S protein biogenesis in eukaryotes.
A main function of bacterial metabolism is to supply biomass building blocks and energy for growth. This seems to imply that metabolism is idle in non-growing bacteria. But how relevant is metabolism for the physiology of non-growing bacteria and how active is their metabolism? Here, we reviewed literature describing metabolism of non-growing bacteria in their natural environment, as well as in biotechnological and medical applications. We found that metabolism does play an important role during dormancy and that especially the demand for ATP determines metabolic activity of non-growing bacteria.