2023 16 B1

BIOL446: Handling the Heat: Reverse Gyrase in Hyperthermophilic Bacteria

By: Keller Xiao

Department: Biology

Faculty Advisor: Dr. José R. De La Torre

Thermophiles are organisms that thrive in extremely high temperatures and are found in a range of environments, such as hot springs, deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and geothermal areas. To withstand these conditions, thermophiles have adapted unique molecular mechanisms, including specialized proteins that can withstand high temperatures. One of these proteins is reverse gyrase, a DNA topoisomerase that introduces positive supercoils into DNA, which can protect it from thermal denaturation and help maintain its stability at high temperatures. Although reverse gyrase is found in all known hyperthermophiles (growth optimum above 85˚C), it is found in only a fraction of thermophiles (growth optima between 60˚C and 85˚C). Understanding the function and organismal distribution of reverse gyrase in thermophiles is important for several reasons, including its possible involvement with DNA repair and gene regulation. Additionally, the study of thermophiles and their unique adaptations can provide insights into the limits of life on Earth and the potential for life in other extreme environments, perhaps even those found on other planets. In order to investigate how reverse gyrase is unique, I will generate a phylogenetic analysis of reverse gyrase sequences to compare the phylogeny of reverse gyrase in the organisms: Thermocrinis minervae & Theromotoga maritima with Hydrogenothermus marinus & Hydrogenivirga caldilitoris.