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Front Microbiol. 2019 Jan 10;9:3201. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03201. eCollection 2018.

Early Response of Sulfolobus acidocaldarius to Nutrient Limitation.

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Molecular Biology of Archaea, Institute of Biology II, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.
Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine (SGBM), University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.
Center for Biotechnology (CeBiTec), Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany.
Department of Bioinformatics and Biochemistry, Braunschweig University of Technology, Braunschweig, Germany.
Molecular Enzyme Technology and Biochemistry (MEB), Biofilm Centre, Centre for Water and Environmental Research (CWE), University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom.
Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry, NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research, Den Burg, Netherlands.
Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.


In natural environments microorganisms encounter extreme changes in temperature, pH, osmolarities and nutrient availability. The stress response of many bacterial species has been described in detail, however, knowledge in Archaea is limited. Here, we describe the cellular response triggered by nutrient limitation in the thermoacidophilic crenarchaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius. We measured changes in gene transcription and protein abundance upon nutrient depletion up to 4 h after initiation of nutrient depletion. Transcript levels of 1118 of 2223 protein coding genes and abundance of approximately 500 proteins with functions in almost all cellular processes were affected by nutrient depletion. Our study reveals a significant rerouting of the metabolism with respect to degradation of internal as well as extracellular-bound organic carbon and degradation of proteins. Moreover, changes in membrane lipid composition were observed in order to access alternative sources of energy and to maintain pH homeostasis. At transcript level, the cellular response to nutrient depletion in S. acidocaldarius seems to be controlled by the general transcription factors TFB2 and TFEβ. In addition, ribosome biogenesis is reduced, while an increased protein degradation is accompanied with a loss of protein quality control. This study provides first insights into the early cellular response of Sulfolobus to organic carbon and organic nitrogen depletion.


Archaea; cell motility; nutrient depletion; signal transduction; stress response; transcription factors

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