CGB - Universidad Mayor

03 abril 2020

Evolution of Predicted Acid Resistance Mechanisms in the Extremely Acidophilic Leptospirillum Genus.

DOI : 10.3390/genes11040389


Organisms that thrive in extremely acidic environments (≤pH 3.5) are of

widespread importance in industrial applications, environmental issues, and

evolutionary studies. Leptospirillum spp. constitute the only extremely

acidophilic microbes in the phylogenetically deep-rooted bacterial phylum

Nitrospirae. Leptospirilli are Gram-negative, obligatory chemolithoautotrophic,

aerobic, ferrous iron oxidizers. This paper predicts genes that Leptospirilli

use to survive at low pH and infers their evolutionary trajectory. Phylogenetic

and other bioinformatic approaches suggest that these genes can be classified

into (i) "first line of defense", involved in the prevention of the entry of

protons into the cell, and (ii) neutralization or expulsion of protons that

enter the cell. The first line of defense includes potassium transporters,

predicted to form an inside positive membrane potential, spermidines, hopanoids,

and Slps (starvation-inducible outer membrane proteins). The "second line of

defense" includes proton pumps and enzymes that consume protons. Maximum

parsimony, clustering methods, and gene alignments are used to infer the

evolutionary trajectory that potentially enabled the ancestral Leptospirillum to

transition from a postulated circum-neutral pH environment to an extremely

acidic one. The hypothesized trajectory includes gene gains/loss events driven

extensively by horizontal gene transfer, gene duplications, gene mutations, and

genomic rearrangements.

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