Benjamin J Chadwick, Xiaorong Lin
Carbon dioxide supplies carbon for photosynthetic species and is a major product of respiration for all life forms. Inside the human body where CO2 is a by-product of the tricarboxylic acid cycle, its level reaches 5% or higher. In the ambient atmosphere, ∼.04% of the air is CO2 . Different organisms can tolerate different CO2 levels to various degrees, and experiencing higher CO2 is toxic and can lead to death. The fungal kingdom shows great variations in response to CO2 that has been documented by different researchers at different time periods...
May 16, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Jorge Amich
Sulfur is an essential macronutrient for life, and consequently, all living organisms must acquire it from external sources to thrive and grow. Sulfur is a constituent of a multitude of crucial molecules, such as the S-containing proteinogenic amino acids cysteine and methionine; cofactors and prosthetic groups, such as coenzyme-A and iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters; and other essential organic molecules, such as glutathione or S-adenosylmethionine. Additionally, sulfur in cysteine thiols is an active redox group that plays paramount roles in protein stability, enzyme catalysis, and redox homeostasis...
May 14, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Jana K Schniete, Lorena T Fernández-Martínez
Natural products (NPs) produced by bacteria, particularly soil actinomycetes, often possess diverse bioactivities and play a crucial role in human health, agriculture, and biotechnology. Soil actinomycete genomes contain a vast number of predicted biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) yet to be exploited. Understanding the factors governing NP production in an ecological context and activating cryptic and silent BGCs in soil actinomycetes will provide researchers with a wealth of molecules with potential novel applications...
May 10, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Florin Musat, Kasper U Kjeldsen, Amelia E Rotaru, Song-Can Chen, Niculina Musat
This review synthesizes recent discoveries of novel archaea clades capable of oxidizing higher alkanes, from volatile ones like ethane to longer-chain alkanes like hexadecane. These archaea, termed anaerobic multicarbon alkane-oxidizing archaea (ANKA), initiate alkane oxidation using alkyl-coenzyme M reductases, enzymes similar to the methyl-coenzyme M reductases of methanogenic and anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME). The polyphyletic alkane-oxidizing archaea group (ALOX), encompassing ANME and ANKA, harbors increasingly complex alkane degradation pathways, correlated with the alkane chain length...
May 9, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Ramakanth Madhugiri, Hoang Viet Nguyen, Heiko Slanina, John Ziebuhr
Coronaviruses have exceptionally large RNA genomes and employ multiprotein replication/transcription complexes to orchestrate specific steps of viral RNA genome replication and expression. Most of these processes involve viral cis-acting RNA elements that are engaged in vital RNA-RNA and/or RNA-protein interactions. Over the past years, a large number of studies provided interesting new insight into the structures and, to a lesser extent, functions of specific RNA elements for representative coronaviruses, and there is evidence to suggest that (a majority of) these RNA elements are conserved across genetically divergent coronavirus genera...
May 8, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Lisa T Pulianmackal, Anthony G Vecchiarelli
The ParA/MinD (A/D) family of ATPases spatially organize an array of genetic- and protein-based cellular cargos across the bacterial and archaeal domains of life. By far, the two best-studied members, and family namesake, are ParA and MinD, involved in bacterial DNA segregation and divisome positioning, respectively. ParA and MinD make protein waves on the nucleoid or membrane to segregate chromosomes and position the divisome. Less studied is the growing list of A/D ATPases widespread across bacteria and implicated in the subcellular organization of diverse protein-based complexes and organelles involved in myriad biological processes, from metabolism to pathogenesis...
May 8, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Elayne M Fivenson, Laurent Dubois, Thomas G Bernhardt
Bacteria surround themselves with complex cell envelopes to maintain their integrity and protect against external insults. The envelope of Gram-negative organisms is multilayered, with two membranes sandwiching the periplasmic space that contains the peptidoglycan cell wall. Understanding how this complicated surface architecture is assembled during cell growth and division is a major fundamental problem in microbiology. Additionally, because the envelope is an important antibiotic target and determinant of intrinsic antibiotic resistance, understanding the mechanisms governing its assembly is relevant to therapeutic development...
May 7, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Emile Dupuy, Jean-François Collet
In the densely populated intracellular milieu, polypeptides are at constant risk of nonspecific interactions and aggregation, posing a threat to essential cellular functions. Cells rely on a network of protein folding factors to deal with this challenge. The Hsp60 family of molecular chaperones, which depend on ATP for function, stands out in the proteostasis network by a characteristic structure comprising two multimeric rings arranged back to back. This review provides an updated overview of GroEL, the bacterial Hsp60, and its GroES (Hsp10) cofactor...
May 6, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Viviana Sanchez-Torres, Joy Kirigo, Thomas K Wood
Phage therapy holds much promise as an alternative to antibiotics for fighting infection. However, this approach is no panacea as recent results show that a small fraction of cells survives lytic phage infection due to both dormancy (i.e. formation of persister cells) and resistance (genetic change). In this brief review, we summarize evidence suggesting phages induce the persister state. Therefore, it is predicted that phage cocktails should be combined with antipersister compounds to eradicate bacterial infections...
May 6, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Petya V Krasteva
Bacterial biofilms are a prevalent multicellular life form in which individual members can undergo significant functional differentiation and are typically embedded in a complex extracellular matrix of proteinaceous fimbriae, extracellular DNA, and exopolysaccharides (EPS). Bacteria have evolved at least four major mechanisms for EPS biosynthesis, of which the synthase-dependent systems for bacterial cellulose secretion (Bcs) represent not only key biofilm determinants in a wide array of environmental and host-associated microbes, but also an important model system for the studies of processive glycan polymerization, cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP)-dependent synthase regulation, and biotechnological polymer applications...
April 29, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Vera Mitesser, Karina Simantov, Ron Dzikowski
Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNA) are emerging as important regulators of gene expression in eukaryotes. In recent years, a large repertoire of lncRNA were discovered in Apicomplexan parasites and were implicated in several mechanisms of gene expression, including marking genes for activation, contributing to the formation of subnuclear compartments and organization, regulating the deposition of epigenetic modifications, influencing chromatin and chromosomal structure and manipulating host gene expression. Here, we aim to update recent knowledge on the role of lncRNAs as regulators in Apicomplexan parasites and highlight the possible molecular mechanisms by which they function...
April 29, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Khaled A Selim, Vikram Alva
Members of the PII superfamily are versatile, multitasking signaling proteins ubiquitously found in all domains of life. They adeptly monitor and synchronize the cell's carbon, nitrogen, energy, redox, and diurnal states, primarily by binding interdependently to adenyl-nucleotides, including charged nucleotides (ATP, ADP, and AMP) and second messengers such as Cyclic adenosine monophosphate, Cyclic di-adenosine monophosphate, and S-adenosylmethionine-AMP (SAM-AMP). These proteins also undergo a variety of posttranslational modifications, such as phosphorylation, adenylation, uridylation, carboxylation, and disulfide bond formation, which further provide cues on the metabolic state of the cell...
April 27, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Yorben Casters, Leonard E Bäcker, Kevin Broux, Abram Aertsen
Extensive coevolution has led to utterly intricate interactions between phages and their bacterial hosts. While both the (short-term) intracellular molecular host-subversion mechanisms during a phage infection cycle and the (long-term) mutational arms race between phages and host cells have traditionally received a lot of attention, there has been an underestimating neglect of (mid-term) transmission strategies by which phages manage to cautiously spread throughout their host population. However, recent findings underscore that phages encode mechanisms to avoid host cell scarcity and promote coexistence with the host, giving the impression that some phages manage to 'farm' their host population to ensure access to host cells for lytic consumption...
April 26, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Tiziano Vignolini, Justine E C Couble, Grégory R G Doré, Sebastian Baumgarten
Apicomplexan and trypanosomatid parasites have evolved a wide range of post-transcriptional processes that allow them to replicate, differentiate, and transmit within and among multiple different tissue, host, and vector environments. In this review, we highlight the recent advances that point toward the regulatory potential of RNA modifications in mediating these processes on the coding and noncoding transcriptome throughout the life cycle of protozoan parasites. We discuss the recent technical advancements enabling the study of the 'epitranscriptome' and how parasites evolved RNA modification-mediated mechanisms adapted to their unique lifestyles...
April 24, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Fabian M Meyer, Marc Bramkamp
Members of the order Mycobacteriales are distinguished by a characteristic diderm cell envelope, setting them apart from other Actinobacteria species. In addition to the conventional peptidoglycan cell wall, these organisms feature an extra polysaccharide polymer composed of arabinose and galactose, termed arabinogalactan. The nonreducing ends of arabinose are covalently linked to mycolic acids (MAs), forming the immobile inner leaflet of the highly hydrophobic MA membrane. The contiguous outer leaflet of the MA membrane comprises trehalose mycolates and various lipid species...
April 22, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Michelle Jagst, Lilli Pottkämper, André Gömer, Kalliopi Pitarokoili, Eike Steinmann
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019, contributes to neurological pathologies in nearly 30% of patients, extending beyond respiratory symptoms. These manifestations encompass disorders of both the peripheral and central nervous systems, causing among others cerebrovascular issues and psychiatric manifestations during the acute and/or post-acute infection phases. Despite ongoing research, uncertainties persist about the precise mechanism the virus uses to infiltrate the central nervous system and the involved entry portals...
April 13, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Valentin A Bärreiter, Toni L Meister
In recent years, multiple coronaviruses have emerged, with the latest one, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causing a global pandemic. Besides respiratory symptoms, some patients experienced extrapulmonary effects, such as cardiac damage or renal injury, indicating the broad tropism of SARS-CoV-2. The ability of the virus to effectively invade the renal cellular environment can eventually cause tissue-specific damage and disease. Indeed, patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 exhibited a variety of symptoms such as acute proximal tubular injury, ischemic collapse, and severe acute tubular necrosis resulting in irreversible kidney failure...
April 13, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Molly Elkins, Neha Jain, Çagla Tükel
Bacteria are known to produce amyloids, proteins characterized by a conserved cross-beta sheet structure, which exhibit structural and functional similarities to human amyloids. The deposition of human amyloids into fibrillar plaques within organs is closely linked to several debilitating human diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Recently, bacterial amyloids have garnered significant attention as potential initiators of human amyloid-associated diseases as well as autoimmune diseases. This review aims to explore how bacterial amyloid, particularly curli found in gut biofilms, can act as a trigger for neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases...
April 10, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Amy Prichard, Joe Pogliano
Nucleus-forming phages (chimalliviruses) encode numerous genes responsible for creating intricate structures for viral replication. Research on this newly appreciated family of phages has begun to reveal the mechanisms underlying the subcellular organization of the nucleus-based phage replication cycle. These discoveries include the structure of the phage nuclear shell, the identification of a membrane-bound early phage infection intermediate, the dynamic localization of phage RNA polymerases, the phylogeny and core genome of chimalliviruses, and the variation in replication mechanisms across diverse nucleus-forming phages...
April 5, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Victoria Jeffers
Apicomplexan parasites have complex life cycles, often requiring transmission between two different hosts, facing periods of dormancy within the host or in the environment to maximize chances of transmission. To support survival in these different conditions, tightly regulated and correctly timed gene expression is critical. The modification of histones and nucleosome composition makes a significant contribution to this regulation, and as eukaryotes, the fundamental mechanisms underlying this process in apicomplexans are similar to those in model eukaryotic organisms...
April 5, 2024: Current Opinion in Microbiology
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