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The inside scoop: Comparative genomics of two intranuclear bacteria, “Candidatus Berkiella cookevillensis” and “Candidatus Berkiella aquae”

Kidane et al. (2022). PLOS ONE 17 (12)
Ca. Berkiella cookevillensis Ca. Berkiella aquae
“Candidatus Berkiella cookevillensis” (strain CC99) and “Candidatus Berkiella aquae” (strain HT99), belonging to the Coxiellaceae family, are gram-negative bacteria isolated from amoebae in biofilms present in human-constructed water systems. Both bacteria are obligately intracellular, requiring host cells for growth and replication. The intracellular bacteria-containing vacuoles of both bacteria closely associate with or enter the nuclei of their host cells. In this study, we analyzed the genome sequences of CC99 and HT99 to better understand their biology and intracellular lifestyles. The CC99 genome has a size of 2.9Mb (37.9% GC) and contains 2,651 protein-encoding genes (PEGs) while the HT99 genome has a size of 3.6Mb (39.4% GC) and contains 3,238 PEGs. Both bacteria encode high proportions of hypothetical proteins (CC99: 46.5%; HT99: 51.3%). The central metabolic pathways of both bacteria appear largely intact. Genes for enzymes involved in the glycolytic pathway, the non-oxidative branch of the phosphate pathway, the tricarboxylic acid pathway, and the respiratory chain were present. Both bacteria, however, are missing genes for the synthesis of several amino acids, suggesting reliance on their host for amino acids and intermediates. Genes for type I and type IV (dot/icm) secretion systems as well as type IV pili were identified in both bacteria. Moreover, both bacteria contain genes encoding large numbers of putative effector proteins, including several with eukaryotic-like domains such as, ankyrin repeats, tetratricopeptide repeats, and leucine-rich repeats, characteristic of other intracellular bacteria.