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by Keyword: Ribonucleotide reductase


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Del Mar Cendra, Maria, Torrents, Eduard, (2020). Differential adaptability between reference strains and clinical isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa into the lung epithelium intracellular lifestyle Virulence 11, (1), 862-876

Intracellular invasion is an advantageous mechanism used by pathogens to evade host defense and antimicrobial therapy. In patients, the intracellular microbial lifestyle can lead to infection persistence and recurrence, thus worsening outcomes. Lung infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, especially in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, are often aggravated by intracellular invasion and persistence of the pathogen. Proliferation of the infectious species relies on a continuous deoxyribonucleotide (dNTP) supply, for which the ribonucleotide reductase enzyme (RNR) is the unique provider. The large genome plasticity of P. aeruginosa and its ability to rapidly adapt to different environments are challenges for studying the pathophysiology associated with this type of infection. Using different reference strains and clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa independently combined with alveolar (A549) and bronchial (16HBE14o- and CF-CFBE41o-) epithelial cells, we analyzed host–pathogen interactions and intracellular bacterial persistence with the aim of determining a cell type-directed infection promoted by the P. aeruginosa strains. The oscillations in cellular toxicity and oxygen consumption promoted by the intracellular persistence of the strains were also analyzed among the different infectious lung models. Significantly, we identified class II RNR as the enzyme that supplies dNTPs to intracellular P. aeruginosa. This discovery could contribute to the development of RNR-targeted strategies against the chronicity occurring in this type of lung infection. Overall our study demonstrates that the choice of bacterial strain is critical to properly study the type of infectious process with relevant translational outcomes.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Intracellular persistence, Lung, Epithelial cells, Clinical isolates, Host-pathogen interactions, Intracellular lifestyle, Chronic infections, Cystic fibrosis, Ribonucleotide reductase


Moya-Andérico, Laura, Admella, Joana, Fernandes, Rodrigo, Torrents, Eduard, (2020). Monitoring Gene Expression during a Galleria mellonella Bacterial Infection Microorganisms 8, (11), 1798

Galleria mellonella larvae are an alternative in vivo model that has been extensively used to study the virulence and pathogenicity of different bacteria due to its practicality and lack of ethical constraints. However, the larvae possess intrinsic autofluorescence that obstructs the use of fluorescent proteins to study bacterial infections, hence better methodologies are needed. Here, we report the construction of a promoter probe vector with bioluminescence expression as well as the optimization of a total bacterial RNA extraction protocol to enhance the monitoring of in vivo infections. By employing the vector to construct different gene promoter fusions, variable gene expression levels were efficiently measured in G. mellonella larvae at various time points during the course of infection and without much manipulation of the larvae. Additionally, our optimized RNA extraction protocol facilitates the study of transcriptional gene levels during an in vivo infection. The proposed methodologies will greatly benefit bacterial infection studies as they can contribute to a better understanding of the in vivo infection processes and pathogen–mammalian host interactions.

Keywords: Galleria mellonella, P. aeruginosa, Hemolymph, Hemocytes, Bioluminescence, Promoter probe vector, Optimized RNA extraction, Ribonucleotide reductases


Crespo, Anna, Blanco-Cabra, N., Torrents, Eduard, (2018). Aerobic vitamin B12 biosynthesis is essential for pseudomonas aeruginosa class II ribonucleotide reductase activity during planktonic and biofilm growth Frontiers in Microbiology 9, (986), Article 986

P. aeruginosa is a major pathogenic bacterium in chronic infections and is a model organism for studying biofilms. P. aeruginosa is considered an aerobic bacterium, but in the presence of nitrate, it also grows in anaerobic conditions. Oxygen diffusion through the biofilm generates metabolic and genetic diversity in P. aeruginosa growth, such as in ribonucleotide reductase activity. These essential enzymes are necessary for DNA synthesis and repair. Oxygen availability determines the activity of the three-ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) classes. Class II and III RNRs are active in the absence of oxygen; however, class II RNRs, which are important in P. aeruginosa biofilm growth, require a vitamin B12 cofactor for their enzymatic activity. In this work, we elucidated the conditions in which class II RNRs are active due to vitamin B12 concentration constraints (biosynthesis or environmental availability). We demonstrated that increased vitamin B12 levels during aerobic, stationary and biofilm growth activate class II RNR activity. We also established that the cobN gene is essentially responsible for B12 biosynthesis under planktonic and biofilm growth. Our results unravel the mechanisms of dNTP synthesis by P. aeruginosa during biofilm growth, which appear to depend on the bacterial strain (laboratory-type or clinical isolate).

Keywords: Vitamin B12, Adenosylcobalamin, Ribonucleotide Reductases, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, NrdJ, Bacterial growth, Biofilm,Anaerobiosis


Crespo, Anna, Pedraz, Lucas, Astola, Josep, Torrents, Eduard, (2016). Pseudomonas aeruginosa exhibits deficient biofilm formation in the absence of class II and III ribonucleotide reductases due to hindered anaerobic growth Frontiers in Microbiology 7, Article 688

Chronic lung infections by the ubiquitous and extremely adaptable opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa correlate with the formation of a biofilm, where bacteria grow in association with an extracellular matrix and display a wide range of changes in gene expression and metabolism. This leads to increased resistance to physical stress and antibiotic therapies, while enhancing cell-to-cell communication. Oxygen diffusion through the complex biofilm structure generates an oxygen concentration gradient, leading to the appearance of anaerobic microenvironments. Ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) are a family of highly sophisticated enzymes responsible for the synthesis of the deoxyribonucleotides, and they constitute the only de novo pathway for the formation of the building blocks needed for DNA synthesis and repair. P. aeruginosa is one of the few bacteria encoding all three known RNR classes (Ia, II, and III). Class Ia RNRs are oxygen dependent, class II are oxygen independent, and class III are oxygen sensitive. A tight control of RNR activity is essential for anaerobic growth and therefore for biofilm development. In this work we explored the role of the different RNR classes in biofilm formation under aerobic and anaerobic initial conditions and using static and continuous-flow biofilm models. We demonstrated the importance of class II and III RNR for proper cell division in biofilm development and maturation. We also determined that these classes are transcriptionally induced during biofilm formation and under anaerobic conditions. The molecular mechanism of their anaerobic regulation was also studied, finding that the Anr/Dnr system is responsible for class II RNR induction. These data can be integrated with previous knowledge about biofilms in a model where these structures are understood as a set of layers determined by oxygen concentration and contain cells with different RNR expression profiles, bringing us a step closer to the understanding of this complex growth pattern, essential for P. aeruginosa chronic infections.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Ribonucleotide Reductases, Vitamin B 12, Anaerobic metabolism, Biofilm formation, DNA Synthesis, Oxygen diffusion, nrd genes.


Torrents, Eduard, (2014). Ribonucleotide reductases: Essential Enzymes for bacterial life Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology , 4, 1-9

Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) is a key enzyme that mediates the synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides, the DNA precursors, for DNA synthesis in every living cell. This enzyme converts ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides, the building blocks for DNA replication, and repair. Clearly, RNR enzymes have contributed to the appearance of genetic material that exists today, being essential for the evolution of all organisms on Earth. The strict control of RNR activity and dNTP pool sizes is important, as pool imbalances increase mutation rates, replication anomalies, and genome instability. Thus, RNR activity should be finely regulated allosterically and at the transcriptional level. In this review we examine the distribution, the evolution, and the genetic regulation of bacterial RNRs. Moreover, this enzyme can be considered an ideal target for anti-proliferative compounds designed to inhibit cell replication in eukaryotic cells (cancer cells), parasites, viruses, and bacteria.

Keywords: Anaerobiosis, Transcription Factors, Evolution, Gene regulation, Ribonucleotide reductase, DNA Synthesis, NrdR,nrd


Johansson, R., Torrents, E., Lundin, D., Sprenger, J., Sahlin, M., Sjöberg, B. M., Logan, D. T., (2010). High-resolution crystal structures of the flavoprotein NrdI in oxidized and reduced states – an unusual flavodoxin FEBS Journal , 277, (20), 4265-4277

The small flavoprotein NrdI is an essential component of the class Ib ribonucleotide reductase system in many bacteria. NrdI interacts with the class Ib radical generating protein NrdF. It is suggested to be involved in the rescue of inactivated diferric centres or generation of active dimanganese centres in NrdF. Although NrdI bears a superficial resemblance to flavodoxin, its redox properties have been demonstrated to be strikingly different. In particular, NrdI is capable of two-electron reduction, whereas flavodoxins are exclusively one-electron reductants. This has been suggested to depend on a lesser destabilization of the negatively-charged hydroquinone state than in flavodoxins. We have determined the crystal structures of NrdI from Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, in the oxidized and semiquinone forms, at resolutions of 0.96 and 1.4 Å, respectively. These structures, coupled with analysis of all curated NrdI sequences, suggest that NrdI defines a new structural family within the flavodoxin superfamily. The conformational behaviour of NrdI in response to FMN reduction is very similar to that of flavodoxins, involving a peptide flip in a loop near the N5 atom of the flavin ring. However, NrdI is much less negatively charged than flavodoxins, which is expected to affect its redox properties significantly. Indeed, sequence analysis shows a remarkable spread in the predicted isoelectric points of NrdIs, from approximately pH 4–10. The implications of these observations for class Ib ribonucleotide reductase function are discussed.

Keywords: Crystal structure, Flavin mononucleotide, Flavodoxin, NrdI, Ribonucleotide reductase