Review

Extremophiles

, 13:213

First online:

Thermus thermophilus as biological model

  • Felipe CavaAffiliated withCentro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa. UAM-CSIC
  • , Aurelio HidalgoAffiliated withCentro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa. UAM-CSIC
  • , José BerenguerAffiliated withCentro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa. UAM-CSIC Email author 

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Abstract

Thermus spp is one of the most wide spread genuses of thermophilic bacteria, with isolates found in natural as well as in man-made thermal environments. The high growth rates, cell yields of the cultures, and the constitutive expression of an impressively efficient natural competence apparatus, amongst other properties, make some strains of the genus excellent laboratory models to study the molecular basis of thermophilia. These properties, together with the fact that enzymes and protein complexes from extremophiles are easier to crystallize have led to the development of an ongoing structural biology program dedicated to T. thermophilus HB8, making this organism probably the best so far known from a protein structure point view. Furthermore, the availability of plasmids and up to four thermostable antibiotic selection markers allows its use in physiological studies as a model for ancient bacteria. Regarding biotechnological applications this genus continues to be a source of thermophilic enzymes of great biotechnological interest and, more recently, a tool for the over-expression of thermophilic enzymes or for the selection of thermostable mutants from mesophilic proteins by directed evolution. In this article, we review the properties of this organism as biological model and its biotechnological applications.

Keywords

Thermophiles Thermus Laboratory model Genetic tools