ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202102.0508.v1
Subject: Biology, Anatomy & Morphology Keywords: Swine; Archaea; Energy Metabolism; CAZyme genes; ARGs
Online: 23 February 2021 (09:54:38 CET)
Archaea are an essential class of gut microorganisms in humans and animals. Despite the substantial progress in gut microbiome research in the last decade, most studies have focused on bacteria, and little is known about archaea in mammals. In this study, we investigated the composition, diversity, and functional potential of gut archaeal communities in pigs by re-analyzing a published metagenomic dataset including a total of 276 fecal samples from three countries: China (n=76), Denmark (n=100), and France (n=100). For alpha diversity (Shannon Index) of the archaeal communities, Chinese pigs were less diverse than Danish and French pigs (P<0.001). Consistently, Chinese pigs also possessed different archaeal community structures from the other two groups based on the Bray-Curtis distance matrix. Methanobrevibacter was the most dominant archaeal genus in Chinese pigs (44.94%) and French pigs (15.41%), while Candidatus Methanomethylophilus was the most predominant in Danish pigs (15.71%). At the species level, the relative abundance of Candidatus Methanomethylophilus alvus, Natrialbaceae archaeon XQ INN 246, and Methanobrevibacter gottschalkii were greatest in Danish, French, and Chinese pigs with a relative abundance of 14.32%, 11.67%, and 16.28%, respectively. In terms of metabolic potential, the top three pathways in the archaeal communities included the MetaCyc pathway related to the biosynthesis of L-valine, L-isoleucine, and isobutanol. Interestingly, the pathway related to hydrogen consumption (METHANOGENESIS-PWY) was only observed in archaeal reads, while the pathways participating in hydrogen production (FERMENTATION-PWY and PWY4LZ-257) were only detected in bacterial reads. Archaeal communities also possessed CAZyme gene families, with the top five being: AA3, GH43, GT2, AA6, and CE9. In terms of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), the class of multidrug resistance was the most abundant ARG, accounting for 87.41% of archaeal ARG hits. Our study reveals the diverse composition and metabolic functions of archaea in pigs, suggesting that archaea might play important roles in swine nutrition and metabolism.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202208.0236.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Microbiology Keywords: Archaea; transcription inhibition; RNA polymerase; viruses; evolution; antibiotics
Online: 12 August 2022 (11:25:05 CEST)
Multisubunit RNA polymerases (RNAP) carry out transcription in all domains of life; during vi-rus infection, RNAPs are targeted by transcription factors encoded by either the cell or the virus, resulting in the global repression of transcription with distinct outcomes for different host-virus combinations. These repressors serve as versatile molecular probes to study RNAP mechanisms, as well as they aid the exploration of druggable sites for the development of new antibiotics. Here, we review the mechanisms and structural basis of RNAP inhibition by the viral repressor RIP and the crenarchaeal negative regulator TFS4, which follow distinct strategies. RIP operates by occluding the DNA-binding channel and mimicking the initiation factor TFB/TFIIB. RIP binds tightly to the clamp and locks it into one fixed position, thereby preventing conformational oscil-lations that are critical for RNAP function as it progresses through the transcription cycle. TFS4 engages with RNAP in a similar manner to transcript cleavage factors such as TFS/TFIIS through the NTP-entry channel; TFS4 interferes with the trigger loop and bridge helix within the active site by occlusion and allosteric mechanisms, respectively. The conformational changes of RNAP described above are universally conserved and are also seen in inactive dimers of eukaryotic RNAPI and several inhibited RNAP complexes of both bacterial and eukaryotic RNA polymer-ases, including inactive states that precede transcription termination. A comparison of target sites and inhibitory mechanisms reveals that proteinaceous repressors and RNAP-specific antibiotics use surprisingly common ways to inhibit RNAP function.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201805.0445.v1
Subject: Biology, Other Keywords: cells; LUCA; RNA world; PTC; bacteria; Archaea; translation system
Online: 30 May 2018 (09:33:22 CEST)
A dogma is normally considered as a principle or a belief accepted as an indisputable truth by some individuals and/or groups. Theoretically there can be no dogmas in science, but it has been demonstrated that scientific thought operates by conceptual changes. A dogma therefore can be understood as a concept present at the heart of some contemporary research programmes that need to be altered to overcome paradigms. Here we argue that two ideas relating to emergence of the biological system research need to be re-evaluated. First, is the idea that research programmes about the emergence of the biological system are the same as those of the origin of cells. Cells are strikingly important biological entities, hard core concepts for the entire field of biology. The emergence of the biological system happened much earlier than the origin of cells and thus the First Universal Common Ancestor (FUCA) should be viewed as a great-grandfather to the Last Universal Cellular Ancestor (LUCA); i.e. the latter is the first cellular life form. Second, RNA-world theories are the focus of mainstream research programmes for the origin of life stricto sensu. In the RNA-world view, self-replication of nucleic acids is seen as one of the most relevant events in the pre-biotic world. Without denying the relevance of self-replication, we argue here that the most germane event which occurred in the pre-biotic world was the crosstalk between nucleic acids and peptides. When these two macromolecules started to interact, the singularity that aggregated the complexity required to produce life emerged. Thus, comprehension of the early origins of the translation machinery and the assembly of the genetic code is key. Therefore, the relevance of cell theory and self-replication should be re-evaluated as well as the concept of life itself.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202203.0296.v1
Subject: Biology, Other Keywords: preterm birth; fecal mediator and cytokine; methanogenic Archaea; allergy; atopy
Online: 22 March 2022 (07:33:48 CET)
Background: Preterm birth is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in infants and children. Non-invasive methods for screening the neonatal immune status are lacking. Archaea, a prokaryotic life domain, comprise methanogenic species that are part of the neonatal human microbiota and contribute to early immune imprinting. However, they have not yet been characterized in preterm neonates. Objective: To characterize the gut immunological and methanogenic Archaeal (MA) signature in preterm neonates, using the presence or absence of atopic conditions at the age of 1 year as a clinical endpoint. Methods: Meconium and stool were collected from preterm neonates and used to develop a standardized stool preparation method for the assessment of mediators and cytokines and characterize the qPCR kinetics of gut MA. Analysis addressed the relationship between immunological biomarkers, Archaea abundance, and atopic disease at age 1. Results: Immunoglobulin E, tryptase, calprotectin, EDN, cytokines, and MA were detectable in the meconium and later samples. Atopic conditions at age 1 year were positively associated with neonatal EDN, IL-1β, IL-10, IL-6, and MA abundance. The latter was negatively associated with neonatal EDN, IL-1β and IL-6. Conclusion: We report a non-invasive method for establishing a gut immunological and Archaeal signature in preterm neonates, predictive of atopic diseases at the age of 1 year
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202103.0477.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biochemistry Keywords: SF2 helicases; aLhr2 helicases; Archaea; RNA metabolism and DNA repair; Thermococcales
Online: 18 March 2021 (11:18:19 CET)
Helicases are proteins that use the energy of ATP to unwind nucleic acids and to remodel protein-nucleic acid complexes. They are involved in almost every aspect of the DNA and RNA metabolisms and participate in numerous repair mechanisms that maintain cellular integrity. Helicases are classified into 6 superfamilies (SF1-6). The archaeal Lhr-type proteins are SF2 helicases that are mostly uncharacterized. They have been proposed to be a DNA helicase that acts in DNA recombination and repair processes in Sulfolobales and Methanothermobacter. In parallel, a protein annotated as an Lhr2 protein was also found in the network of proteins involved in RNA metabolism in Thermococcales. To this respect, we performed in-depth phylogenomic analyses to report the classification and taxonomic distribution of Lhr-type proteins in Archaea, and to better understand their relationship with bacterial Lhr. Furthermore, with the goal of envisioning the role(s) of aLhr2 in archaeal cells, we deciphered the enzymatic activities of aLhr2 from Thermococcus barophilus (Tbar). We showed that Tbar-aLhr2 is a DNA/RNA helicase acting on DNA:RNA and RNA:RNA duplexes and proposed that aLhr2 helicases are involved in processes dependent of DNA and RNA transactions.
HYPOTHESIS | doi:10.20944/preprints201911.0308.v1
Subject: Biology, Other Keywords: origin and evolution of viruses; DPANN archaea; Nanoarchaeum equitans; giant viruses
Online: 26 November 2019 (04:43:45 CET)
A recent report in PNAS that Candidatus Nanohaloarchaeum antarcticus requires haloarchaeon Halorubrum lacusprofundi for growth expands the list of known symbiotic or parasitic associations between the members of DPANN archaea, which are relatively small cells with reduced genomes and limited metabolic capacity, and free-living archaea. In line with previous studies addressing the enigmatic mechanism(s) for the transfer of metabolites from Ignicoccus hospitalis to Nanoarchaeum equitans, this new study presents additional evidence supporting a direct cytoplasmic connection facilitated by the fusion of parasite’s membrane with that of its host. Here I show that this novel mechanism for accessing the host resources by a membrane fusing mechanism, which eliminates the need for sophisticated multivalent transport systems, is fundamentally similar to that employed by several viral lineages. These new findings support an evolutionary model on the origin of incipient viral lineages from parasitic cellular lineages that started their parasitic life cycle by fusing with their host cells.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201806.0035.v2
Subject: Biology, Other Keywords: origin of life; LUCA; FUCA; RNA World; PTC; Archaea; translation system
Online: 23 July 2019 (08:13:32 CEST)
The existence of a common ancestor to all living organisms in Earth is a necessary corollary of Darwin idea of common ancestry. The Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) has been normally considered as the ancestor of cellular organisms that originated the three domains of life: Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya. Recent studies about the nature of LUCA indicate that this first organism should present hundreds of genes and a complex metabolism. Trying to bring another of Darwin ideas into the origins of life discussion, we went back into the prebiotic chemistry trying to understand how LUCA could be originated under gradualist assumptions. Along this line of reasoning, it became clear to us that the definition of another ancestral should be of particular relevance to the understanding about the emergence of biological systems. Together with the view of biology as a language for chemical translation, on which proteins are encoded into nucleic acids polymers, we glimpse a point in the deep past on which this Translation mechanism could have taken place. Thus, we propose the emergence of this process shared by all biological systems as a point of interest and propose the existence of this pre-cellular entity named FUCA, as the First Universal Common Ancestor. FUCA was born in the very instant on which RNA-world replicators started to be capable to catalyze the bonding of amino acids into oligopeptides. FUCA has been considered mature when the translation system apparatus has been assembled together with the establishment of a primeval, possibly error-prone genetic code. This is FUCA, the earliest ancestor of LUCA’s lineage.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201801.0232.v1
Subject: Biology, Other Keywords: small non-coding RNAs; gene regulation; archaea; stress response; regulatory networks
Online: 25 January 2018 (03:57:55 CET)
Small non-coding RNAs (sRNAs) are ubiquitously found in the three domains of life playing large-scale roles in gene regulation, transposable element silencing, and defense against foreign elements. While a substantial body of experimental work has been done to uncover function of sRNAs in Bacteria and Eukarya, the functional roles of sRNAs in Archaea are still poorly understood. Recently, high throughput studies using RNA-sequencing revealed that sRNAs are broadly expressed in the Archaea, comprising thousands of transcripts within the transcriptome during non-challenged and stressed conditions. Antisense sRNAs, which overlap a portion of a gene on the opposite strand (cis-acting), are the most abundantly expressed non-coding RNAs and they can be classified based on their binding patterns to mRNAs (3’ UTR, 5’ UTR, CDS-binding). These antisense sRNAs target many genes and pathways, suggesting extensive roles in gene regulation. Intergenic sRNAs are less abundantly expressed and their targets are difficult to find because of a lack of complete overlap between sRNAs and target mRNAs (trans-acting). While many sRNAs have been validated experimentally, a regulatory role has only been reported for very few of them. Further work is needed to elucidate sRNA-RNA binding mechanisms, the molecular determinants of sRNA-mediated regulation, whether protein components are involved, and how sRNAs integrate with complex regulatory networks.
Subject: Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences Keywords: archaea; bacteria; 16SrRNA high-throughput sequencing; water transfer; seasonal changes; river sediments
Online: 18 August 2020 (04:36:46 CEST)
Bacteria and archaea participate in and are influenced by processes of substance circulation and energy exchanges in natural environment. Generally, the community changes of bacteria and archaea in sediment are mainly driven by seasonality in mid-latitude regions. But in our study, water diversion to Fen river played a more important role on OTU number, diversity and community structure of bacteria and archaea in sediment than seasonal variation, which was found by 16S rRNA high-throughput sequencing technology. This phenomenon might be caused by external transferred water on the physicochemical water environment and accelerated release of positive nitrogen from sediment caused by rise of water level. Changes of carbon-nitrogen cycle and increase of electrical conductivity (EC) value induced more diversion-responders than season-responders both for bacteria and archaea. Seasonal changes have been influencing bacteria and archaea mildly throughout the whole study reach. After water diversion, the environment indicators relating to bacteria community obviously changed from nutrients to salinity while that for archaea almost disappeared. Our research showed the effects of human activities on the communities of bacteria and archaea outweigh the forcing from natural seasonal changes in mid-latitude regions and revealed the mechanism, highlighting different responses of bacteria and archaea to environmental changes.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201812.0154.v1
Subject: Biology, Ecology Keywords: Keywords: ammonia oxidation; ammonia-oxidizing archaea; ammonia-oxidizing bacteria; gene function stream; nitrification.
Online: 12 December 2018 (15:34:15 CET)
Ammonia-oxidizing microorganism communities are abundant and functionally efficacious in nitrification. However, ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) groups complicate this process in subtropical streams. This study investigates the abundance of ammonia-oxidizing communities south of the Dabie Mountains, China, using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Clone libraries were utilized to analyze the abundance and microbial structures of AOA and AOB in sediments. Such analysis may provide strong evidence reflecting the links within the environment. The results show that AOB had a lower abundance of copies of the ammonia-oxidizing gene (amoA) than AOA. Interestingly, the AOA and AOB community compositions were correlated with ecological characteristics. The dissolved oxygen (DO) and oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) had significant positive correlations, whereas the phosphorus within the structure had a negative correlation with the abundance of both groups. Our study shows that it might adopt some species related to Nitrosotalea clusters that can resist comparably higher pH (toward pH 6.5). Together, these results imply that the physiological adaptation of microbial guilds to environmental pressures in ammonia-oxidizing archaea might allow them to have a more substantial function of ammonia-oxidizing communities in natural habitats.
Subject: Life Sciences, Molecular Biology Keywords: protein/rna world; plasma membrane; cytoplasm; virus world; pre-retro virus; emergence of dna; transcription and replication; first cells; hyperthermophiles; luca; bacteria and archaea; anoxygenic bacteria; oxygenic bacteria; global distribution of cyanobacteria
Online: 15 October 2019 (11:18:58 CEST)
The transition from the Peptide/RNA world to the Protein/RNA world in the hydrothermal vent environment was a major event in the history of life. The advent of proteins utterly changed the conditions of emerging life, representing a watershed in its development. During subsequent translation various protein enzymes emerged driving protocells into a more complex and interconnected system. With their astonishing versatility, the protein enzymes catalyzed crucial biochemical reactions within protocells into more complex biomolecules in diverse metabolic pathways, whereas structural proteins provided strength and permeability in the cell membrane. Four major events followed after availability of various kinds of protein molecules during prebiotic synthesis. These are: (1) the modification of the phospholipid membrane into the plasma membrane; (2) the origin of primitive cytoplasm; (3) the beginnings of the virus world; and (4) the advent of DNA. The first innovation mediated by proteins was the improvement of the cell membrane. The phospholipid membrane was initially evolved in a vent environment from the gradual modification of a fatty acid membrane via an intermediate phosphatidate acid by non-enzymatic reactions. The phospholipid is then synthesized from phosphatidate acid by a series of enzymes. To make the phospholipid membrane more permeable, various protein molecules interacted with the cell membrane. Proteins not only stabilized the wall membrane, but also acted as pumps, preventing some molecules from the protocells from crossing the membrane barriers, while permitting other selected molecules and ions to enter and leave the protocell. The second modification led by proteins is the gradual conversion of the interior of the protocell from a water-like medium into a gel-like cytoplasm, which became the storehouse of a wide range of biomolecules including amino acids, proteins, nucleic acids, ribosomes, as well as salt and water. The third innovation utilizing the newly synthesized proteins was the emergence of the ancient virus world. In the milieu of different kinds of mRNAs in the prebiotic soup, jelly-roll capsid genes originated de novo within genomes of nonviral mRNAs by overprinting. These fragile capsid genes were possibly coated by proteins on the mineral substrate for stability and durability, transforming them into ancient viral particles. These protein coats were random and were not encoded by encased genes. Some protocells might have engulfed these viral particles, when the capsid genes utilized the ribosomes of the host to translate into the appropriate capsid proteins. These capsid proteins then coated the viral genes to make new copies of primordial viruses inside the protocell. Since then, viruses became capsid-encoding organisms. These primordial mRNA viruses parasitized RNA-based protocells, manipulating them to make new copies of themselves. This was the beginning of a relentless war between viruses and their protocellular hosts. The next stage in viral evolution was the emergence of a primitive retrovirus (pre-retrovirus) with a new kind of replicative strategy in a sense that it could turn its RNA into DNA using its own reverse transcriptase enzyme. This is the beginning of the Retro world that facilitated the transition from RNA to DNA genomes. The infection of RNA protocells with pre-retroviruses progressively transferred the RNA genome to a viral DNA genome by retro-transcription. The advent of DNA by the pre-retrovirus marks the fourth innovation, when a number of enzymes had already developed and were utilized by pre-retroviruses. With continued infection, DNA viruses slowly transferred not only their core replication enzymes, such as helicase, primase, and DNA polymerase, to RNA protocells, but also to their DNAs as well. Thus, began the DNA world, when DNA replaced RNA as the major genome of the protocells. With the advent of DNA, replication of information was entirely dissociated from its expression. Because DNA is much more stable than mRNA with more storage capacity, it is a superb archive for information systems in the form of base sequences. DNA progressively took over the replicative storage function of mRNA, leaving the latter for protein synthesis. The new protocell with the DNA genome will diversify into large populations of DNA protocells that will outcompete populations of RNA protocells. Genetic information began to flow from DNA to mRNA to protein in a two-step process involving transcription and translation. In the biological stage, DNA replication was central to the binary fission of the first cell, orchestrated by the duplication of genomes and then the division of the parent cell into two identical daughter cells. It was carried out by a set of enzymes that formed a Z-ring at the site of replication. With the onset of binary fission, the population of primitive cells grew rapidly in the hydrothermal vent environment, undergoing Darwinian evolution and diversification. These primordial hyperthermophiles, presumably the first life, obtained food and energy directly from the vent environment. However, such a situation was self-limiting, so the early cells evolved their own mechanisms for generating metabolic energy and synthesizing the molecules necessary for their reproduction. The earliest fossil record (≥ 3.5 Ga) of biotic activity is preserved in the Archean hydrothermal and sedimentary rocks of the Nuvvuagittuq Craton of Canada, the Isua Craton of Greenland, the Pilbara Craton of Australia, the Kaapvaal Craton of South Africa, and the Singhbhum Craton of India in the form of the carbonaceous remains of microbial cells, cellular microfossils, and stromatolites. These microscopic fossils provide crucial evidence of the origin and early evolution of prokaryotic cells, beginning with hyperthermophiles. Molecular phylogenetic analysis suggests that both domains of life ¬– Bacteria and Archaea probably split from the last universal common ancestor (LUCA), a hyperthermophilic organism. In the younger sequences of these Archean cratons, two kinds of photosynthetic bacteria, anoxygenic green sulfur bacteria, and oxygenic cyanobacteria, appeared in quick succession from the thermophilic ancestor, indicating a shift of niche from a benthic to a planktonic, with reduced thermotolerance. The development of anoxygenic and oxygenic photosynthesis would have allowed life to escape the hydrothermal setting and invade a newly evolved habitat—broad continental shelves to tap solar energy. Cyanobacteria invaded the global ocean, turned it into blue and green, produced oxygen for the first time, and left their signatures in the carbonates and stromatolites.
Subject: Earth Sciences, Palaeontology Keywords: protein/RNA world: plasma membrane; cytoplasm; gene regulation; virus world; pre-retro virus; emergence of DNA; transcription and replication; first cells; hyperthermophiles; LUCA; Bacteria and Archaea; anoxygenic bacteria; oxygenic bacteria; global distribution of cyanobacteria
Online: 12 February 2020 (03:25:07 CET)
The emergence of proteins in the prebiotic world was a watershed event at the origin of life. With their astonishing versatility, the protein enzymes catalyzed crucial biochemical reactions within protocells into more complex biomolecules in diverse metabolic pathways, whereas structural proteins provided strength and permeability in the cell membrane. Five major biochemical innovations followed in succession after availability of various kinds of protein molecules during decoding and translation of mRNAs. These are: (1) the modification of the phospholipid membrane into the plasma membrane; (2) the origin of primitive cytoplasm; (3) primitive gene regulation; (4) the beginnings of the virus world; and (5) the advent of DNA. The creative role of viruses during prebiotic synthesis led to the origin of the DNA world, when DNA replaced mRNA as the major genome of the protocells. With the advent of DNA, replication of information was entirely dissociated from its expression. Because DNA is much more stable than mRNA with more storage capacity, it is a superb archive for information systems in the form of base sequences. DNA progressively took over the replicative storage function of mRNA, leaving the latter for protein synthesis. Genetic information began to flow from DNA to mRNA to protein in a two-step process involving transcription and translation. In the biological stage, DNA replication was central to the binary fission of the first cell, orchestrated by the duplication of genomes and then the division of the parent cell into two identical daughter cells. With the onset of binary fission, the population of primitive cells grew rapidly in the hydrothermal vent environment, undergoing Darwinian evolution and diversification by mutation. The habitat of the earliest fossil record (≥ 3.5 Ga) from the Archean sedimentary rocks of Canada, Greenland, Australia, South Africa, and India offers a new window on the early radiation of microbial life. The development of anoxygenic and then oxygenic photosynthesis from early hyperthermophiles would have allowed life to escape the hydrothermal setting to the mesophilic global ocean.