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Concept: Polysaccharide


Twitching motility-mediated biofilm expansion is a complex, multicellular behavior that enables the active colonization of surfaces by many species of bacteria. In this study we have explored the emergence of intricate network patterns of interconnected trails that form in actively expanding biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We have used high-resolution, phase-contrast time-lapse microscopy and developed sophisticated computer vision algorithms to track and analyze individual cell movements during expansion of P. aeruginosa biofilms. We have also used atomic force microscopy to examine the topography of the substrate underneath the expanding biofilm. Our analyses reveal that at the leading edge of the biofilm, highly coherent groups of bacteria migrate across the surface of the semisolid media and in doing so create furrows along which following cells preferentially migrate. This leads to the emergence of a network of trails that guide mass transit toward the leading edges of the biofilm. We have also determined that extracellular DNA (eDNA) facilitates efficient traffic flow throughout the furrow network by maintaining coherent cell alignments, thereby avoiding traffic jams and ensuring an efficient supply of cells to the migrating front. Our analyses reveal that eDNA also coordinates the movements of cells in the leading edge vanguard rafts and is required for the assembly of cells into the “bulldozer” aggregates that forge the interconnecting furrows. Our observations have revealed that large-scale self-organization of cells in actively expanding biofilms of P. aeruginosa occurs through construction of an intricate network of furrows that is facilitated by eDNA.

Concepts: DNA, Archaea, Bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Cell wall, Polysaccharide, Biofilm, Quorum sensing


ABSTRACT Lignocellulosic biomass, the most abundant polymer on Earth, is typically composed of three major constituents: cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. The crystallinity of cellulose, hydrophobicity of lignin, and encapsulation of cellulose by the lignin-hemicellulose matrix are three major factors that contribute to the observed recalcitrance of lignocellulose. By means of designer cellulosome technology, we can overcome the recalcitrant properties of lignocellulosic substrates and thus increase the level of native enzymatic degradation. In this context, we have integrated six dockerin-bearing cellulases and xylanases from the highly cellulolytic bacterium, Thermobifida fusca, into a chimeric scaffoldin engineered to bear a cellulose-binding module and the appropriate matching cohesin modules. The resultant hexavalent designer cellulosome represents the most elaborate artificial enzyme composite yet constructed, and the fully functional complex achieved enhanced levels (up to 1.6-fold) of degradation of untreated wheat straw compared to those of the wild-type free enzymes. The action of these designer cellulosomes on wheat straw was 33 to 42% as efficient as the natural cellulosomes of Clostridium thermocellum. In contrast, the reduction of substrate complexity by chemical or biological pretreatment of the substrate removed the advantage of the designer cellulosomes, as the free enzymes displayed higher levels of activity, indicating that enzyme proximity between these selected enzymes was less significant on pretreated substrates. Pretreatment of the substrate caused an increase in activity for all the systems, and the native cellulosome completely converted the substrate into soluble saccharides. IMPORTANCE Cellulosic biomass is a potential alternative resource which could satisfy future demands of transportation fuel. However, overcoming the natural lignocellulose recalcitrance remains challenging. Current research and development efforts have concentrated on the efficient cellulose-degrading strategies of cellulosome-producing anaerobic bacteria. Cellulosomes are multienzyme complexes capable of converting the plant cell wall polysaccharides into soluble sugar products en route to biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels. Using a designer cellulosome approach, we have constructed the largest form of homogeneous artificial cellulosomes reported to date, which bear a total of six different cellulases and xylanases from the highly cellulolytic bacterium Thermobifida fusca. These designer cellulosomes were comparable in size to natural cellulosomes and displayed enhanced synergistic activities compared to their free wild-type enzyme counterparts. Future efforts should be invested to improve these processes to approach or surpass the efficiency of natural cellulosomes for cost-effective production of biofuels.

Concepts: Bacteria, Enzyme, Glucose, Cell wall, Polysaccharide, Lignin, Cellulose, Cellulosic ethanol


O-linked glycosylation is one of the most abundant post-translational modifications of proteins. Within the secretory pathway of higher eukaryotes, the core of these glycans is frequently an N-acetylgalactosamine residue that is α-linked to serine or threonine residues. Glycoside hydrolases in family 101 are presently the only known enzymes to be able to hydrolyze this glycosidic linkage. Here we determine the high-resolution structures of the catalytic domain comprising a fragment of GH101 from Streptococcus pneumoniae TIGR4, SpGH101, in the absence of carbohydrate, and in complex with reaction products, inhibitor, and substrate analogues. Upon substrate binding, a tryptophan lid (residues 724-WNW-726) closes on the substrate. The closing of this lid fully engages the substrate in the active site with D764 positioned directly beneath C1 of the sugar residue bound within the -1 subsite, consistent with its proposed role as the catalytic nucleophile. In all of the bound forms of the enzyme, however, the proposed catalytic acid/base residue was found to be too distant from the glycosidic oxygen (>4.3 Å) to serve directly as a general catalytic acid/base residue and thereby facilitate cleavage of the glycosidic bond. These same complexes, however, revealed a structurally conserved water molecule positioned between the catalytic acid/base and the glycosidic oxygen. On the basis of these structural observations we propose a new variation of the retaining glycoside hydrolase mechanism wherein the intervening water molecule enables a Grotthuss proton shuttle between E796 and the glycosidic oxygen, permitting this residue to serve as the general acid/base catalytic residue.

Concepts: Enzyme, Starch, Polysaccharide, Cellulose, Glycosylation, Carbohydrate chemistry, Glycoside, Carbohydrates


An extraction method for mixed-linkage β-glucan from oat and barley was developed in order to minimize the effect of extraction on the β-glucan structure. β-Glucan were characterized in terms of molecular size and molar mass distributions using asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) coupled to multiangle light scattering (MALS), differential refractive index (dRI) and fluorescence (FL) detection. The carbohydrate composition of the extracts was analysed using polysaccharide analysis by carbohydrate gel electrophoresis (PACE) and high-performance anion-exchange chromatography (HPAEC). Whether there were any proteinaceous moieties linked to β-glucan was also examined. Purified extracts contained 65% and 53% β-glucan for oats and barley, respectively. The main impurities were degradation products of starch. The extracts contained high molecular weight β-glucan (105-108 g/mol) and large sizes (root-mean-square radii from 20 to 140 nm). No proteins covalently bound to β-glucan were detected; therefore, any suggested functionality of proteins regarding the health benefits of β-glucan can be discounted.

Concepts: Protein, Molecular biology, Glucose, Molecule, Mass, Gel electrophoresis, Polysaccharide, Cereal


Background: Recent studies have proposed that humans may perceive complex carbohydrates and that sensitivity to simple carbohydrates is independent of sensitivity to complex carbohydrates. Variation in oral complex carbohydrate sensitivity may influence food consumption.Objective: This study aimed to investigate the associations between oral complex carbohydrate sensitivity, anthropometry, and dietary intake in adults.Methods: We assessed oral sensitivity to complex carbohydrates (maltodextrin and oligofructose) by measuring detection thresholds (DTs) and suprathreshold intensity perceptions (STs) for 34 participants, including 16 men (mean ± SEM age : 26.2 ± 0.4 y; range: 24-30 y) and 18 women (age: 29.4 ± 2.1 y; range: 24-55 y). We also measured height, weight, and waist circumference (WC) and participants completed a 4-d food diary and a food-frequency questionnaire.Results: Measurements of oral sensitivity to complex carbohydrates were significantly correlated with WC and dietary energy and starch intakes (DT: r = -0.38, P < 0.05; ST: r = 0.36-0.48, P < 0.05). When participants were grouped into tertiles, there were significant differences in WC and total energy or starch intakes for those who were more sensitive or experienced high intensity compared with those who were less sensitive or experienced low intensity. Being more sensitive or experiencing high intensity was associated with greater energy (7968-8954 kJ/d) and starch (29.1-29.8% of energy) intakes and a greater WC (88.2-91.4 cm) than was being less sensitive or experiencing low intensity (6693-7747 kJ/d, 20.9-22.2% of energy, and 75.5-80.5 cm, respectively).Conclusion: Complex carbohydrate sensing is associated with WC and consumption of complex carbohydrates and energy in adults. This trial was registered at as ACTRN12616001356459.

Concepts: Nutrition, Energy, Glucose, Starch, Polysaccharide, Carbohydrate, Carbohydrates, Oligosaccharide


Virus-like particles (VLPs) represent a significant advance in the development of subunit vaccines, combining high safety and efficacy. Their particulate nature and dense repetitive subunit organization makes them ideal scaffolds for display of vaccine antigens. Traditional approaches for VLP-based antigen display require labor-intensive trial-and-error optimization, and often fail to generate dense antigen display. Here we utilize the split-intein (SpyTag/SpyCatcher) conjugation system to generate stable isopeptide bound antigen-VLP complexes by simply mixing of the antigen and VLP components.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Bacteria, Microbiology, Vaccine, Antigen, Polysaccharide, Virus-like particle


Next-generation sequencing of the V1-V2 and V3 variable regions of the 16S rRNA gene generated a total of 674,116 reads that described six distinct bacterial biofilm communities from both water meters and pipes. A high degree of reproducibility was demonstrated for the experimental and analytical work-flow by analyzing the communities present in parallel water meters, the rare occurrence of biological replicates within a working drinking water distribution system. The communities observed in water meters from households that did not complain about their drinking water were defined by sequences representing Proteobacteria (82-87%), with 22-40% of all sequences being classified as Sphingomonadaceae. However, a water meter biofilm community from a household with consumer reports of red water and flowing water containing elevated levels of iron and manganese had fewer sequences representing Proteobacteria (44%); only 0.6% of all sequences were classified as Sphingomonadaceae; and, in contrast to the other water meter communities, markedly more sequences represented Nitrospira and Pedomicrobium. The biofilm communities in pipes were distinct from those in water meters, and contained sequences that were identified as Mycobacterium, Nocardia, Desulfovibrio, and Sulfuricurvum. The approach employed in the present study resolved the bacterial diversity present in these biofilm communities as well as the differences that occurred in biofilms within a single distribution system, and suggests that next-generation sequencing of 16S rRNA amplicons can show changes in bacterial biofilm communities associated with different water qualities.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Microbiology, Ribosomal RNA, 16S ribosomal RNA, Polysaccharide, Sewage treatment, Biofilm


A highly effective vaccine would be a valuable weapon in the drive toward malaria elimination. No such vaccine currently exists, and only a handful of the hundreds of potential candidates in the parasite genome have been evaluated. In this study, we systematically evaluated 29 antigens likely to be involved in erythrocyte invasion, an essential developmental stage during which the malaria parasite is vulnerable to antibody-mediated inhibition. Testing antigens alone and in combination identified several strain-transcending targets that had synergistic combinatorial effects in vitro, while studies in an endemic population revealed that combinations of the same antigens were associated with protection from febrile malaria. Video microscopy established that the most effective combinations targeted multiple discrete stages of invasion, suggesting a mechanistic explanation for synergy. Overall, this study both identifies specific antigen combinations for high-priority clinical testing and establishes a generalizable approach that is more likely to produce effective vaccines.

Concepts: Immune system, Malaria, Vaccine, Vaccination, Yellow fever, Antigen, Polysaccharide, Binomial coefficient


Exploitation of plant lignocellulosic biomass is hampered by our ignorance of the molecular basis for its properties such as strength and digestibility. Xylan, the most prevalent non-cellulosic polysaccharide, binds to cellulose microfibrils. The nature of this interaction remains unclear, despite its importance. Here we show that the majority of xylan, which forms a threefold helical screw in solution, flattens into a twofold helical screw ribbon to bind intimately to cellulose microfibrils in the cell wall. (13)C solid-state magic-angle spinning (MAS) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, supported by in silico predictions of chemical shifts, shows both two- and threefold screw xylan conformations are present in fresh Arabidopsis stems. The twofold screw xylan is spatially close to cellulose, and has similar rigidity to the cellulose microfibrils, but reverts to the threefold screw conformation in the cellulose-deficient irx3 mutant. The discovery that induced polysaccharide conformation underlies cell wall assembly provides new principles to understand biomass properties.

Concepts: Cell, Bacteria, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Cell wall, Polysaccharide, Lignin, Cellulose, Plant cell


Plant expansin proteins induce plant cell wall extension and have the ability to extend and disrupt cellulose. In addition, these proteins show synergistic activity with cellulases during cellulose hydrolysis. BsEXLX1 originating from Bacillus subtilis is a structural homolog of a β-expansin produced by Zea mays (ZmEXPB1). The Langmuir isotherm for binding of BsEXLX1 to microcrystalline cellulose (i.e., Avicel) revealed that the equilibrium binding constant of BsEXLX1 to Avicel was similar to those of other Type A surface-binding carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs) to microcrystalline cellulose, and the maximum number of binding sites on Avicel for BsEXLX1 was also comparable to those on microcrystalline cellulose for other Type A CBMs. BsEXLX1 did not bind to cellooligosaccharides, which is consistent with the typical binding behavior of Type A CBMs. The preferential binding pattern of a plant expansin, ZmEXPB1, to xylan, compared to cellulose was not exhibited by BsEXLX1. In addition, the binding capacities of cellulose and xylan for BsEXLX1 were much lower than those for CtCBD3. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2013; 110: 401-407. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Cell, Bacteria, Cell wall, Polysaccharide, Bacillus, Cellulose, Hydrolysis, Firmicutes