Robert P. Gunsalus

Work Address:
Los Angeles, CA 90095 MSB
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Professor, Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics
Member, Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology GPB Home Area, Genetics & Genomics GPB Home Area, Immunity, Microbes & Molecular Pathogenesis GPB Home Area, themes, Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics
Research Interests
Research interests of the Gunsalus laboratory address the physiology and molecular biology of gene expression in the Bacteria and Archaea. We are studying how cells sense changing environmental conditions, and adapt their metabolism accordingly. Experimental approaches being used include whole genome DNA microarrays, classical microbial genetics, biochemistry, and molecular/structural biology. Model organisms include the methanogenic Archaea (Methanosarcina acetivorans and Methanosarcina mazei) and enteric bacterial species including Escherichia coli K-12. The former two microbes produce methane from the biological precursors, acetate, methanol, methyl-amines, and in most instances, H2/CO2. We are identifying the gene families involved in use of the alternative carbon substrates leading to methane formation with the goal of understanding the regulatory networks and the key regulatory factors. The Methanosarcina are also versatile in their ability to withstand stress; for example, they can grow fresh water environments, marine environments, and to hyper saline environments (ca to 1.2 M NaCl). They do so by synthesis and/or transport of osmolytes (i.e., N-acetyl-beta-lysine, alpha-glutamate, betaine, and potassium) whereby the levels of these osmolytes are modulated over a wide range to adjust osmotic balance. Finally, we are examining the regulatory mechanisms that allow the common enteric bacterium, E. coli to switch from aerobic to anaerobic growth. This ability allows comensual as well as pathogenic strains to adapt and grow successfully inside and outside the human body by using a variety of genetically programmed strategies.

A selected list of publications:

Arbing Mark A, Chan Sum, Shin Annie, Phan Tung, Ahn Christine J, Rohlin Lars, Gunsalus Robert P   Structure of the surface layer of the methanogenic archaean Methanosarcina acetivorans Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2012; 109(29): 11812-7.
Sieber Jessica R, McInerney Michael J, Gunsalus Robert P   Genomic Insights into Syntrophy: The Paradigm for Anaerobic Metabolic Cooperation Annual Review of Microbiology, 2012; 109(29): .
Rohlin Lars, Leon Deborah R, Kim Unmi, Loo Joseph A, Ogorzalek Loo Rachel R, Gunsalus Robert P   Identification of the major expressed S-layer and cell surface-layer-related proteins in the model methanogenic archaea: Methanosarcina barkeri Fusaro and Methanosarcina acetivorans C2A Archaea, 2012; 2012(29): 873589.
Toso Daniel B, Henstra Anne M, Gunsalus Robert P, Zhou Z Hong   Structural, mass and elemental analyses of storage granules in methanogenic archaeal cells Environmental microbiology, 2011; 13(9): 2587-99.
Keseler Ingrid M, Collado-Vides Julio, Santos-Zavaleta Alberto, Peralta-Gil Martin, Gama-Castro Socorro, Muñiz-Rascado Luis, Bonavides-Martinez César, Paley Suzanne, Krummenacker Markus, Altman Tomer, Kaipa Pallavi, Spaulding Aaron, Pacheco John, Latendresse Mario, Fulcher Carol, Sarker Malabika, Shearer Alexander G, Mackie Amanda, Paulsen Ian, Gunsalus Robert P, Karp Peter D   EcoCyc: a comprehensive database of Escherichia coli biology Nucleic acids research, 2011; 39(Database issue): D583-90.
Rohlin Lars, Gunsalus Robert P   Carbon-dependent control of electron transfer and central carbon pathway genes for methane biosynthesis in the Archaean, Methanosarcina acetivorans strain C2A BMC microbiology, 2010; 10(Pt 3): 62.
Francoleon Deborah R, Boontheung Pinmanee, Yang Yanan, Kin UnMi, Ytterberg A Jimmy, Denny Patricia A, Denny Paul C, Loo Joseph A, Gunsalus Robert P, Loo Rachel R Ogorzalek   S-layer, surface-accessible, and concanavalin A binding proteins of Methanosarcina acetivorans and Methanosarcina mazei Journal of proteome research, 2009; 8(4): 1972-82.
McInerney Michael J, Struchtemeyer Christopher G, Sieber Jessica, Mouttaki Housna, Stams Alfons J M, Schink Bernhard, Rohlin Lars, Gunsalus Robert P   Physiology, ecology, phylogeny, and genomics of microorganisms capable of syntrophic metabolism Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2008; 1125(Database issue): 58-72.
McInerney Michael J, Rohlin Lars, Mouttaki Housna, Kim UnMi, Krupp Rebecca S, Rios-Hernandez Luis, Sieber Jessica, Struchtemeyer Christopher G, Bhattacharyya Anamitra, Campbell John W, Gunsalus Robert P   The genome of Syntrophus aciditrophicus: life at the thermodynamic limit of microbial growth Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2007; 104(18): 7600-5.
Plugge Caroline M, Henstra Anne M, Worm Petra, Swarts Daan C, Paulitsch-Fuchs Astrid H, Scholten Johannes C M, Lykidis Athanasios, Lapidus Alla L, Goltsman Eugene, Kim Edwin, McDonald Erin, Rohlin Lars, Crable Bryan R, Gunsalus Robert P, Stams Alfons J M, McInerney Michael J   Complete genome sequence of Syntrophobacter fumaroxidans strain (MPOB(T)) Standards in genomic sciences, 2012; 7(1): 91-106.
Katsir Galit, Jarvis Michael, Phillips Martin, Ma Zhongcai, Gunsalus Robert P   The Escherichia coli NarL receiver domain regulates transcription through promoter specific functions BMC microbiology, 2015; 15(1): 174.
Toso Daniel B, Javed Muhammad Mohsin, Czornyj Elizabeth, Gunsalus Robert P, Zhou Z Hong   Discovery and Characterization of Iron Sulfide and Polyphosphate Bodies Coexisting in Archaeoglobus fulgidus Cells Archaea (Vancouver, B.C.), 2016; 2016(4): 4706532.
Leon Deborah R, Ytterberg A Jimmy, Boontheung Pinmanee, Kim Unmi, Loo Joseph A, Gunsalus Robert P, Ogorzalek Loo Rachel R   Mining proteomic data to expose protein modifications in Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1 Frontiers in microbiology, 2015; 6(3): 149.
Briegel Ariane, Ortega Davi R, Huang Audrey N, Oikonomou Catherine M, Gunsalus Robert P, Jensen Grant J   Structural conservation of chemotaxis machinery across Archaea and Bacteria Environmental microbiology reports, 2015; 7(3): 414-9.
Gunsalus Robert P, Cook Lauren E, Crable Bryan, Rohlin Lars, McDonald Erin, Mouttaki Housna, Sieber Jessica R, Poweleit Nicole, Zhou Hong, Lapidus Alla L, Daligault Hajnalka Erzsebet, Land Miriam, Gilna Paul, Ivanova Natalia, Kyrpides Nikos, Culley David E, McInerney Michael J   Complete genome sequence of Methanospirillum hungatei type strain JF1 Standards in genomic sciences, 2016; 11(4): 2.
Poweleit Nicole, Ge Peng, Nguyen Hong H, Ogorzalek Loo Rachel R, Gunsalus Robert P, Zhou Z Hong   CryoEM structure of the Methanospirillum hungatei archaellum reveals structural features distinct from the bacterial flagellum and type IV pilus Nature microbiology, 2016; 2: 16264.
McInerney Michael J, Sieber Jessica R, Gunsalus Robert P   Syntrophy in anaerobic global carbon cycles Current opinion in biotechnology, 2009; 20(6): 623-32.
Sieber Jessica R, Crable Bryan R, Sheik Cody S, Hurst Gregory B, Rohlin Lars, Gunsalus Robert P, McInerney Michael J   Proteomic analysis reveals metabolic and regulatory systems involved in the syntrophic and axenic lifestyle of Syntrophomonas wolfei Frontiers in microbiology, 2015; 6(3): 115.
Keseler Ingrid M, Mackie Amanda, Peralta-Gil Martin, Santos-Zavaleta Alberto, Gama-Castro Socorro, Bonavides-Martínez César, Fulcher Carol, Huerta Araceli M, Kothari Anamika, Krummenacker Markus, Latendresse Mario, Muñiz-Rascado Luis, Ong Quang, Paley Suzanne, Schröder Imke, Shearer Alexander G, Subhraveti Pallavi, Travers Mike, Weerasinghe Deepika, Weiss Verena, Collado-Vides Julio, Gunsalus Robert P, Paulsen Ian, Karp Peter D   EcoCyc: fusing model organism databases with systems biology Nucleic acids research, 2013; 41(Database issue): D605-12.
James Kimberly L, Ríos-Hernández Luis A, Wofford Neil Q, Mouttaki Housna, Sieber Jessica R, Sheik Cody S, Nguyen Hong H, Yang Yanan, Xie Yongming, Erde Jonathan, Rohlin Lars, Karr Elizabeth A, Loo Joseph A, Ogorzalek Loo Rachel R, Hurst Gregory B, Gunsalus Robert P, Szweda Luke I, McInerney Michael J   Pyrophosphate-Dependent ATP Formation from Acetyl Coenzyme A in Syntrophus aciditrophicus, a New Twist on ATP Formation mBio, 2016; 7(4): 16222.