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Article
Antibacterial Gene Transfer Across the Tree of Life
eLife
  • Jason A. Metcalf, Vanderbilt University
  • Lisa J. Funkhouser-Jones, Vanderbilt University
  • Kristen A. Brileya, Portland State University
  • Anna-Louise Reysenbach, Portland State University
  • Seth R. Bordenstein, Vanderbilt University
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
11-25-2014
Subjects
  • Hydrothermal vents,
  • Peptidoglycans,
  • Evolution (Biology),
  • Halobacterium,
  • Halophilic microorganisms
Abstract
Though horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is widespread, genes and taxa experience biased rates of transferability. Curiously, independent transmission of homologous DNA to archaea, bacteria, eukaryotes, and viruses is extremely rare and often defies ecological and functional explanations. Here, we demonstrate that a bacterial lysozyme family integrated independently in all domains of life across diverse environments, generating the only glycosyl hydrolase 25 muramidases in plants and archaea. During coculture of a hydrothermal vent archaeon with a bacterial competitor, muramidase transcription is upregulated. Moreover, recombinant lysozyme exhibits broad-spectrum antibacterial action in a dose-dependent manner. Similar to bacterial transfer of antibiotic resistance genes, transfer of a potent antibacterial gene across the universal tree seemingly bestows a niche-transcending adaptation that trumps the barriers against parallel HGT to all domains. The discoveries also comprise the first characterization of an antibacterial gene in archaea and support the pursuit of antibiotics in this underexplored group.
Description

Copyright Metcalf et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

DOI
10.7554/eLife.04266
Persistent Identifier
http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/13189
Citation Information
Metcalf, J. A., Funkhouser-Jones, L. J., Brileya, K., Reysenbach, A. L., & Bordenstein, S. R. (2014). Antibacterial gene transfer across the tree of life. Elife, 3, e04266.