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Journal: Science China. Life sciences


The glycerol utilization (gyl) operon is involved in clavulanic acid (CA) production by Streptomyces clavuligerus, and possibly supplies the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (G3P) precursor for CA biosynthesis. The gyl operon is regulated by GylR and is induced by glycerol. To enhance CA production in S. clavuligerus, an extra copy of ccaR expressed from Pgyl (the gyl promoter) was integrated into the chromosome of S. clavuligerus NRRL 3585. This construct coordinated the transcription of CA biosynthetic pathway genes with expression of the gyl operon. In the transformants carrying the Pgyl-controlled regulatory gene ccaR, CA production was enhanced 3.19-fold in glycerol-enriched batch cultures, relative to the control strain carrying an extra copy of ccaR controlled by its own promoter (PccaR). Consistent with enhanced CA production, the transcription levels of ccaR, ceas2 and claR were significantly up-regulated in the transformants containing Pgyl-controlled ccaR.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Gene expression, Bacteria, Amino acid, Clavulanic acid, Streptomyces clavuligerus


Increasing the self-resistance levels of Streptomyces is an effective strategy to improve the production of antibiotics. To increase the oxytetracycline (OTC) production in Streptomyces rimosus, we investigated the cooperative effect of three co-overexpressing OTC resistance genes: one gene encodes a ribosomal protection protein (otrA) and the other two express efflux proteins (otrB and otrC). Results indicated that combinational overexpression of otrA, otrB, and otrC (MKABC) exerted a synergetic effect. OTC production increased by 179% in the recombinant strain compared with that of the wild-type strain M4018. The resistance level to OTC was increased by approximately two-fold relative to the parental strain, thereby indicating that applying the cooperative effect of self-resistance genes is useful to improve OTC production. Furthermore, the previously identified cluster-situated activator OtcR was overexpressed in MKABC in constructing the recombinant strain MKRABC; such strain can produce OTC of approximately 7.49 g L(-1), which represents an increase of 19% in comparison with that of the OtcR-overexpressing strain alone. Our work showed that the cooperative overexpression of self-resistance genes is a promising strategy to enhance the antibiotics production in Streptomyces.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Gene expression, Bacteria, Virus, RNA, Antibiotic resistance


The economic benefits of insect-resistant genetically modified (GM) crops have been well documented, but the impact of such crops and the consequent reduction in pesticide use on farmers' health remains largely unknown. Through the analysis of the data collected from the physical examination from farmers in China, we show that GM rice significantly reduces pesticide use and the resultant not only visible but also invisible adverse effects on farmers' neurological, hematological, and electrolyte system. Hence, the commercialization of GM rice is expected to improve the health of farmers in developing countries, where pesticide application is necessary to mitigate crop loss.

Concepts: Agriculture, Nutrition, Adverse drug reaction, Pesticide, Developing country, Physical examination, Crops, Crop


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a most common neurodegenerative disorder, which associates with impaired cognition. Gut microbiota can modulate host brain function and behavior via microbiota-gut-brain axis, including cognitive behavior. Germ-free animals, antibiotics, probiotics intervention and diet can induce alterations of gut microbiota and gut physiology and also host cognitive behavior, increasing or decreasing risks of AD. The increased permeability of intestine and blood-brain barrier induced by gut microbiota disturbance will increase the incidence of neurodegeneration disorders. Gut microbial metabolites and their effects on host neurochemical changes may increase or decrease the risk of AD. Pathogenic microbes infection will also increase the risk of AD, and meanwhile, the onset of AD support the “hygiene hypothesis”. All the results suggest that AD may begin in the gut, and is closely related to the imbalance of gut microbiota. Modulation of gut microbiota through personalized diet or beneficial microbiota intervention will probably become a new treatment for AD.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Bacteria, Gut flora, Microbiology, Neurology, Neurodegeneration, Neurodegenerative disorders


A couple with a proband child of GJB2 (encoding the gap junction protein connexin 26)-associated hearing impairment and a previous pregnancy miscarriage sought for a reproductive solution to bear a healthy child. Our study aimed to develop a customized preconception-to-neonate care trajectory to fulfill this clinical demand by integrating preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), and noninvasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD) into the strategy. Auditory and genetic diagnosis of the proband child was carried out to identify the disease causative mutations. The couple then received in-vitro-fertilization treatment, and eight embryos were obtained for day 5 biopsy. PGD was performed by short-tandem-repeat linkage analysis and Sanger sequencing of GJB2 gene. Transfer of a GJB2c.235delC heterozygous embryo resulted in a singleton pregnancy. At the 13th week of gestation, genomic DNA (gDNA) from the trio family and cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from maternal plasma were obtained for assessment of fetal chromosomal aneuploidy and GJB2 mutations. NIPT and NIPD showed the absence of chromosomal aneuploidy and GJB2-associated disease in the fetus, which was later confirmed by invasive procedures and postnatal genetic/auditory diagnosis. This strategy successfully prevented the transmission of hearing impairment in the newborn, thus providing a valuable experience in reproductive management of similar cases and potentially other monogenic disorders.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Pregnancy, Embryo, Fetus, Uterus, Preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Prenatal diagnosis


The human influenza A (H3N2) virus dominated the 2014-2015 winter season in many countries and caused massive morbidity and mortality because of its antigenic variation. So far, very little is known about the antigenic patterns of the recent H3N2 virus. By systematically mapping the antigenic relationships of H3N2 strains isolated since 2010, we discovered that two groups with obvious antigenic divergence, named SW13 (A/Switzerland/9715293/2013-like strains) and HK14 (A/Hong Kong/5738/2014-like strains), co-circulated during the 2014-2015 winter season. HK14 group co-circulated with SW13 in Europe and the United States during this season, while there were few strains of HK14 in mainland China, where SW13 has dominated since 2012. Furthermore, we found that substitutions near the receptor-binding site on hemagglutinin played an important role in the antigenic variation of both the groups. These findings provide a comprehensive understanding of the recent antigenic evolution of H3N2 virus and will aid in the selection of vaccine strains.

Concepts: Immune system, Evolution, United States, Influenza, Avian influenza, Influenza pandemic, Influenza vaccine, Winter


A novel H7N9 influenza A virus has been discovered as the causative identity of the emerging acute respiratory infection cases in Shanghai, China. This virus has also been identified in cases of infection in the neighboring area Hangzhou City in Zhejiang Province. In this study, epidemiologic, clinical, and virological data from three patients in Hangzhou who were confirmed to be infected by the novel H7N9 influenza A virus were collected and analyzed. Human respiratory specimens and chicken feces from a contacted free market were tested for influenza virus by real-time reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) and sequencing. The clinical features of the three cases were similar featured with high fever and severe respiratory symptoms; however, only one of the patients died. A certain degree of diversity was observed among the three Hangzhou viruses sequenced from human samples compared with other reported H7N9 influenza A viruses. The sequences of the novel avian-origin H7N9 influenza viruses from Hangzhou City contained important amino acid substitutions related to human adaptation. One of the Hangzhou viruses had gained a novel amino acid substitution (Q226I) in the receptor binding region of hemagglutinin. More importantly, the virus sequenced from the chicken feces had a 627E substitution in the PB2 protein instead of the mammalian-adapted 627K substitution that was found in the PB2 proteins from the Hangzhou viruses from the three patients. Therefore, the newly-emerging H7N9 virus might be under adaptation pressure that will help it “jump” from avian to human hosts. The significance of these substitutions needs further exploration, with both laboratory experiments and extensive field surveillance.

Concepts: Protein, Microbiology, Virus, Influenza, Influenza vaccine, Influenza A virus, Hangzhou, Zhejiang


MXR7 is a cell-surface protein and highly expressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of this study is to determine the expression profile of MXR7 in HCC and investigate the influence of MXR7 on invasion and metastasis of HCC cells. For this purpose, immunohistochemical assay was used to identify the differential expression of MXR7 in 94 HCC specimens. Expression of MXR7 in 4 pairs of HCC and portal vein tumor thrombus (PVTT) was also tested. The motility of HCC cells were characterized by transwell migration and matrigel invasion assays. In vivo metastasis potential was determined via tail vein injection assay. Moreover, compared with noninvasive HCC tumors or human HCC cell lines with low metastatic potential, invasive HCC samples and HCC cell lines with high metastatic potential exhibited higher MXR7 expression. Furthermore, forced expression of MXR7 in SMMC-7721 promoted cell proliferation, migration and invasion in vitro and accelerated tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. Conversely, knockdown of MXR7 expression in HuH7 cells inhibited proliferation and motility of cells. Mechanically, overexpression of MXR7 promoted epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) progress, and MXR7 depletion repressed the EMT phenotype. In conclusion, MXR7 is a mediator of EMT and metastasis in HCC and may serve as a novel therapeutic target.

Concepts: Gene, Gene expression, Cell, Cancer, Metastasis, Bacteria, Oncology, Lung cancer


Neomycins are a group of aminoglycoside antibiotics with both clinical and agricultural applications. To elucidate the regulatory mechanism of neomycin biosynthesis, we completed draft genome sequencing of a neomycin producer Streptomyces fradiae CGMCC 4.7387 from marine sediments, and the neomycin biosynthesis gene cluster was identified. Inactivation of the afsA-g gene encoding a γ-butyrolactone (GBL) synthase in S. fradiae CGMCC 4.7387 resulted in a significant decrease of neomycin production. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis revealed that the transcriptional level of neoR and the aphA-neoGH operon were reduced in the afsA-g::aac(3)IV mutant. Interestingly, a conserved binding site of AdpA, a key activator in the GBL regulatory cascade, was discovered upstream of neoR, a putative regulatory gene encoding a protein with an ATPase domain and a tetratricopeptide repeat domain. When neoR was inactivated, the neomycin production was reduced about 40% in comparison with the WT strain. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis revealed that the transcriptional levels of genes in the aphA-neoGH operon were reduced clearly in the neoR::aac(3)IV mutant. Finally, the titers of neomycin were improved considerably by overexpression of afsA-g and neoR in S. fradiae CGMCC 4.7387.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Gene expression, Bacteria, Transcription, Molecular biology, Virus


In filamentous fungi, nitrogen metabolism is repressed by GATA-type zinc finger transcription factors. Nitrogen metabolite repression has been found to affect antibiotic production, but the mechanism is still poorly understood. AcareB, encoding a homologue of fungal GATA-type regulatory protein, was cloned from Acremonium chrysogenum. Gene disruption and genetic complementation demonstrated that AcareB plays a key role in utilization of ammonium, glutamine and urea. In addition, significant reduction of cephalosporin production in the AcareB disruption mutant indicated that AcareB is important for cephalosporin production. In consistence with it, the transcriptional level of cephalosporin biosynthetic genes was significantly decreased in the AcareB disruption mutant. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed that AcAREB directly bound to the intergenic regions of pcbAB-pcbC, cefD1-cefD2 and cefEF-cefG. Sequence analysis showed that all the AcAREB binding sites contained the consensus GATA elements. AcareB is negatively autoregulated during cephalosporin production. Moreover, another GATA zinc-finger protein encoded by AcareA positively regulates the transcription of AcareB. However, AcareB does not regulate the transcription of AcareA. These results indicated that AcAREB plays an important role in both regulation of nitrogen metabolism and cephalosporin production in A. chrysogenum.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Gene expression, Transcription, Metabolism, RNA, Nitrogen