Genome-Wide Assessment of Stress-Associated Genes in Bifidobacteria
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2022
Over the last decade, the genomes of several Bifidobacterium strains have been sequenced, delivering valuable insights into their genetic makeup. However, bifidobacterial genomes have not yet been systematically mined for genes associated with stress response functions and their regulation. In this work, a list of 76 genes related to stress response in bifidobacteria was compiled from previous studies. The prevalence of the genes was evaluated among the genome sequences of 171 Bifidobacterium strains. Although genes of the protein quality control and DNA repair systems appeared to be highly conserved, genome-wide in silico screening for consensus sequences of putative regulators suggested that the regulation of these systems differs among phylogenetic groups. Homologs of multiple oxidative stress-associated genes are shared across species, albeit at low sequence similarity. Bee isolates were confirmed to harbor unique genetic features linked to oxygen tolerance. Moreover, most studied Bifidobacterium adolescentis and all Bifidobacterium angulatum strains lacked a set of reactive oxygen species-detoxifying enzymes, which might explain their high sensitivity to oxygen. Furthermore, the presence of some putative transcriptional regulators of stress responses was found to vary across species and strains, indicating that different regulation strategies of stress-associated gene transcription contribute to the diverse stress tolerance. The presented stress response gene profiles of Bifidobacterium strains provide a valuable knowledge base for guiding future studies by enabling hypothesis generation and the identification of key genes for further analyses. IMPORTANCE Bifidobacteria are Gram-positive bacteria that naturally inhabit diverse ecological niches, including the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals. Strains of the genus Bifidobacterium are widely used as probiotics, since they have been associated with health benefits. In the course of their production and administration, probiotic bifidobacteria are exposed to several stressors that can challenge their survival. The stress tolerance of probiotic bifidobacteria is, therefore, an important selection criterion for their commercial application, since strains must maintain their viability to exert their beneficial health effects. As the ability to cope with stressors varies among Bifidobacterium strains, comprehensive understanding of the underlying stress physiology is required for enabling knowledge-driven strain selection and optimization of industrial-scale production processes.