Bacteria of the genus Deinococcus are extremely resistant to ionizing radiation (IR), ultraviolet light (UV) and desiccation. The mesophile Deinococcus radiodurans was the first member of this group whose genome was completely sequenced. Analysis of the genome sequence of D. radiodurans, however, failed to identify unique DNA repair systems. To further delineate the genes underlying the resistance phenotypes, we report the whole-genome sequence of a second Deinococcus species, the thermophile Deinococcus geothermalis, which at its optimal growth temperature is as resistant to IR, UV and desiccation as D. radiodurans, and a comparative analysis of the two Deinococcus genomes. Many D. radiodurans genes previously implicated in resistance, but for which no sensitive phenotype was observed upon disruption, are absent in D. geothermalis. In contrast, most D. radiodurans genes whose mutants displayed a radiation-sensitive phenotype in D. radiodurans are conserved in D. geothermalis. Supporting the existence of a Deinococcus radiation response regulon, a common palindromic DNA motif was identified in a conserved set of genes associated with resistance, and a dedicated transcriptional regulator was predicted. We present the case that these two species evolved essentially the same diverse set of gene families, and that the extreme stress-resistance phenotypes of the Deinococcus lineage emerged progressively by amassing cell-cleaning systems from different sources, but not by acquisition of novel DNA repair systems. Our reconstruction of the genomic evolution of the Deinococcus-Thermus phylum indicates that the corresponding set of enzymes proliferated mainly in the common ancestor of Deinococcus. Results of the comparative analysis weaken the arguments for a role of higher-order chromosome alignment structures in resistance; more clearly define and substantially revise downward the number of uncharacterized genes that might participate in DNA repair and contribute to resistance; and strengthen the case for a role in survival of systems involved in manganese and iron homeostasis.
Enzymes involved in DNA metabolic events of the highly radioresistant bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans are currently examined to understand the mechanisms that protect and repair the Deinococcus radiodurans genome after extremely high doses of γ-irradiation. Although several Deinococcus radiodurans DNA repair enzymes have been characterised, no biochemical data is available for DNA ligation and DNA endhealing enzymes of Deinococcus radiodurans so far. DNA ligases are necessary to seal broken DNA backbones during replication, repair and recombination. In addition, ionizing radiation frequently leaves DNA strand-breaks that are not feasible for ligation and thus require end-healing by a 5'-polynucleotide kinase or a 3'-phosphatase. We expect that DNA ligases and end-processing enzymes play an important role in Deinococcus radiodurans DNA strand-break repair.
In this report, we describe the cloning and expression of a Deinococcus radiodurans DNA ligase in Escherichia coli. This enzyme efficiently catalyses DNA ligation in the presence of Mn(II) and NAD+ as cofactors and lysine 128 was found to be essential for its activity. We have also analysed a predicted second DNA ligase from Deinococcus radiodurans that is part of a putative DNA repair operon and shows sequence similarity to known ATP-dependent DNA ligases. We show that this enzyme possesses an adenylyltransferase activity using ATP, but is not functional as a DNA ligase by itself. Furthermore, we identified a 5'-polynucleotide kinase similar to human polynucleotide kinase that probably prepares DNA termini for subsequent ligation.
Deinococcus radiodurans contains a standard bacterial DNA ligase that uses NAD+ as a cofactor. Its enzymatic properties are similar to E. coli DNA ligase except for its preference for Mn(II) as a metal cofactor. The function of a putative second DNA ligase remains unclear, but its adenylyltransferase activity classifies it as a member of the nucleotidyltransferase family. Characterization of another protein from the same operon revealed a 5'-polynucleotide kinase with a possible role in DNA strand-break repair.
Summary: Deinococcus radiodurans is a robust bacterium best known for its capacity to repair massive DNA damage efficiently and accurately. It is extremely resistant to many DNA-damaging agents, including ionizing radiation and UV radiation (100 to 295 nm), desiccation, and mitomycin C, which induce oxidative damage not only to DNA but also to all cellular macromolecules via the production of reactive oxygen species. The extreme resilience of D. radiodurans to oxidative stress is imparted synergistically by an efficient protection of proteins against oxidative stress and an efficient DNA repair mechanism, enhanced by functional redundancies in both systems. D. radiodurans assets for the prevention of and recovery from oxidative stress are extensively reviewed here. Radiation- and desiccation-resistant bacteria such as D. radiodurans have substantially lower protein oxidation levels than do sensitive bacteria but have similar yields of DNA double-strand breaks. These findings challenge the concept of DNA as the primary target of radiation toxicity while advancing protein damage, and the protection of proteins against oxidative damage, as a new paradigm of radiation toxicity and survival. The protection of DNA repair and other proteins against oxidative damage is imparted by enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidant defense systems dominated by divalent manganese complexes. Given that oxidative stress caused by the accumulation of reactive oxygen species is associated with aging and cancer, a comprehensive outlook on D. radiodurans strategies of combating oxidative stress may open new avenues for antiaging and anticancer treatments. The study of the antioxidation protection in D. radiodurans is therefore of considerable potential interest for medicine and public health.
Kineococcus radiotolerans SRS30216 was isolated from a high-level radioactive environment at the Savannah River Site (SRS) and exhibits γ-radiation resistance approaching that of Deinococcus radiodurans. The genome was sequenced by the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute which suggested the existence of three replicons, a 4.76 Mb linear chromosome, a 0.18 Mb linear plasmid, and a 12.92 Kb circular plasmid. Southern hybridization confirmed that the chromosome is linear. The K. radiotolerans genome sequence was examined to learn about the physiology of the organism with regard to ionizing radiation resistance, the potential for bioremediation of nuclear waste, and the dimorphic life cycle. K. radiotolerans may have a unique genetic toolbox for radiation protection as it lacks many of the genes known to confer radiation resistance in D. radiodurans. Additionally, genes involved in the detoxification of reactive oxygen species and the excision repair pathway are overrepresented. K. radiotolerans appears to lack degradation pathways for pervasive soil and groundwater pollutants. However, it can respire on two organic acids found in SRS high-level nuclear waste, formate and oxalate, which promote the survival of cells during prolonged periods of starvation. The dimorphic life cycle involves the production of motile zoospores. The flagellar biosynthesis genes are located on a motility island, though its regulation could not be fully discerned. These results highlight the remarkable ability of K radiotolerans to withstand environmental extremes and suggest that in situ bioremediation of organic complexants from high level radioactive waste may be feasible.
Deinococcus (formerly Micrococcus) radiodurans is remarkable for its extraordinary resistance to ionizing and UV irradiation and many other agents that damage DNA. This organism can repair > 100 double-strand breaks per chromosome induced by ionizing radiation without lethality or mutagenesis. We have previously observed that expression of D. radiodurans recA in Escherichia coli appears lethal. We now find that the RecA protein of D. radiodurans is ot detectable in D. radiodurans except in the setting of DNA damage and that termination of its synthesis is associated with the onset of deinococcal growth. The synthesis of Shigella flexneri RecA (protein sequence identical to that of E. coli RecA) in recA-defective D. radiodurans is described. Despite a large accumulation of the S. flexneri RecA in D. radiodurans, there is no complementation of any D. radiodurans recA phenotype, including DNA damage sensitivity, inhibition of natural transformation, or inability to support a plasmid that requires RecA for replication. To ensure that the cloned S. flexneri recA gene was not inactivated, it was rescued from D. radiodurans and was shown to function normally in E. coli. We conclude that neither D. radiodurans nor S. flexneri RecA is functional in the other species, nor are the kinetics of induction and suppression similar to each other, indicating a difference between these two proteins in their modes of action.
The bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans is resistant to extremely high levels of DNA-damaging agents such as UV light, ionizing radiation, and chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and mitomycin C. The organism is able to repair large numbers of double-strand breaks caused by ionizing radiation, in spite of the lack of the RecBCD enzyme, which is essential for double-strand DNA break repair in Escherichia coli and many other bacteria. The D. radiodurans genome sequence indicates that the organism lacks recB and recC genes, but there is a gene encoding a protein with significant similarity to the RecD protein of E. coli and other bacteria. We have generated D. radiodurans strains with a disruption or deletion of the recD gene. The recD mutants are more sensitive than wild-type cells to irradiation with gamma rays and UV light and to treatment with hydrogen peroxide, but they are not sensitive to treatment with mitomycin C and methyl methanesulfonate. The recD mutants also show greater efficiency of transformation by exogenous homologous DNA. These results are the first indication that the D. radiodurans RecD protein has a role in DNA damage repair and/or homologous recombination in the organism.
The bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans can withstand extraordinary levels of ionizing radiation, reflecting an equally extraordinary capacity for DNA repair. The hypothetical gene product DR0423 has been implicated in the recovery of this organism from DNA damage, indicating that this protein is a novel component of the D. radiodurans DNA repair system. DR0423 is a homologue of the eukaryotic Rad52 protein. Following exposure to ionizing radiation, DR0423 expression is induced relative to an untreated control, and strains carrying a deletion of the DR0423 gene exhibit increased sensitivity to ionizing radiation. When recovering from ionizing-radiation-induced DNA damage in the absence of nutrients, wild-type D. radiodurans reassembles its genome while the mutant lacking DR0423 function does not. In vitro, the purified DR0423 protein binds to single-stranded DNA with an apparent affinity for 3′ ends, and protects those ends from nuclease degradation. We propose that DR0423 is part of a DNA end-protection system that helps to preserve genome integrity following exposure to ionizing radiation. We designate the DR0423 protein as DNA damage response A protein.
Deinococcus radiodurans is able to repair radiation induced genome damage by virtue of a homologue of the eukaryotic Rad52 protein, which preserves genome integrity by protecting DNA ends
Deinococcus geothermalis is an extremely radiation-resistant thermophilic bacterium closely related to the mesophile Deinococcus radiodurans, which is being engineered for in situ bioremediation of radioactive wastes. We report that D. geothermalis is transformable with plasmids designed for D. radiodurans and have generated a Hg(II)-resistant D. geothermalis strain capable of reducing Hg(II) at elevated temperatures and in the presence of 50 Gy/h. Additionally, D. geothermalis is capable of reducing Fe(III)-nitrilotriacetic acid, U(VI), and Cr(VI). These characteristics support the prospective development of this thermophilic radiophile for bioremediation of radioactive mixed waste environments with temperatures as high as 55°C.
Ionizing-radiation-resistant bacteria (IRRB) show a surprising capacity for adaptation to ionizing radiation and desiccation. Positive Darwinian selection is expected to play an important role in this trait, but no data are currently available regarding the role of positive adaptive selection in resistance to ionizing-radiation and tolerance of desiccation. We analyzed the four known genome sequences of IRRB (Deinococcus geothermalis, Deinococcus radiodurans, Kineococcus radiotolerans, and Rubrobacter xylanophilus) to determine the role of positive Darwinian selection in the evolution of resistance to ionizing radiation and tolerance of desiccation.
We used the programs MultiParanoid and DnaSP to deduce the sets of orthologs that potentially evolved due to positive Darwinian selection in IRRB. We find that positive selection targets 689 ortholog sets of IRRB. Among these, 58 ortholog sets are absent in ionizing-radiation-sensitive bacteria (IRSB: Escherichia coli and Thermus thermophilus). The most striking finding is that all basal DNA repair genes in IRRB, unlike many of their orthologs in IRSB, are subject to positive selection.
Our results provide the first in silico prediction of positively selected genes with potential roles in the molecular basis of resistance to γ-radiation and tolerance of desiccation in IRRB. Identification of these genes provides a basis for future experimental work aimed at understanding the metabolic networks in which they participate.
Immense volumes of radioactive wastes, which were generated during nuclear weapons production, were disposed of directly in the ground during the Cold War, a period when national security priorities often surmounted concerns over the environment. The bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans is the most radiation-resistant organism known and is currently being engineered for remediation of the toxic metal and organic components of these environmental wastes. Understanding the biotic potential of D. radiodurans and its global physiological integrity in nutritionally restricted radioactive environments is important in development of this organism for in situ bioremediation. We have previously shown that D. radiodurans can grow on rich medium in the presence of continuous radiation (6,000 rads/h) without lethality. In this study we developed a chemically defined minimal medium that can be used to analyze growth of this organism in the presence and in the absence of continuous radiation; whereas cell growth was not affected in the absence of radiation, cells did not grow and were killed in the presence of continuous radiation. Under nutrient-limiting conditions, DNA repair was found to be limited by the metabolic capabilities of D. radiodurans and not by any nutritionally induced defect in genetic repair. The results of our growth studies and analysis of the complete D. radiodurans genomic sequence support the hypothesis that there are several defects in D. radiodurans global metabolic regulation that limit carbon, nitrogen, and DNA metabolism. We identified key nutritional constituents that restore growth of D. radiodurans in nutritionally limiting radioactive environments.
Deinococcus maricopensis (Rainey and da Costa 2005) is a member of the genus Deinococcus, which is comprised of 44 validly named species and is located within the deeply branching bacterial phylum Deinococcus–Thermus. Strain LB-34T was isolated from a soil sample from the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Various species of the genus Deinococcus are characterized by extreme radiation resistance, with D. maricopensis being resistant in excess of 10 kGy. Even though the genomes of three Deinococcus species, D. radiodurans, D. geothermalis and D. deserti, have already been published, no special physiological characteristic is currently known that is unique to this group. It is therefore of special interest to analyze the genomes of additional species of the genus Deinococcus to better understand how these species adapted to gamma- or UV ionizing-radiation. The 3,498,530 bp long genome of D. maricopensis with its 3,301 protein-coding and 66 RNA genes consists of one circular chromosome and is a part of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea project.
aerobic; non-motile; Gram-positive; radiation-resistant; mesophilic; chemoorganotrophic; Deinococcaceae; GEBA
Thermus thermophilus and Deinococcus radiodurans belong to a distinct bacterial clade but have remarkably different phenotypes. T. thermophilus is a thermophile, which is relatively sensitive to ionizing radiation and desiccation, whereas D. radiodurans is a mesophile, which is highly radiation- and desiccation-resistant. Here we present an in-depth comparison of the genomes of these two related but differently adapted bacteria.
By reconstructing the evolution of Thermus and Deinococcus after the divergence from their common ancestor, we demonstrate a high level of post-divergence gene flux in both lineages. Various aspects of the adaptation to high temperature in Thermus can be attributed to horizontal gene transfer from archaea and thermophilic bacteria; many of the horizontally transferred genes are located on the single megaplasmid of Thermus. In addition, the Thermus lineage has lost a set of genes that are still present in Deinococcus and many other mesophilic bacteria but are not common among thermophiles. By contrast, Deinococcus seems to have acquired numerous genes related to stress response systems from various bacteria. A comparison of the distribution of orthologous genes among the four partitions of the Deinococcus genome and the two partitions of the Thermus genome reveals homology between the Thermus megaplasmid (pTT27) and Deinococcus megaplasmid (DR177).
After the radiation from their common ancestor, the Thermus and Deinococcus lineages have taken divergent paths toward their distinct lifestyles. In addition to extensive gene loss, Thermus seems to have acquired numerous genes from thermophiles, which likely was the decisive contribution to its thermophilic adaptation. By contrast, Deinococcus lost few genes but seems to have acquired many bacterial genes that apparently enhanced its ability to survive different kinds of environmental stresses. Notwithstanding the accumulation of horizontally transferred genes, we also show that the single megaplasmid of Thermus and the DR177 megaplasmid of Deinococcus are homologous and probably were inherited from the common ancestor of these bacteria.
Deinococcus radiodurans R1 is one of the most radiation-resistant organisms known and is able to repair an unusually large amount of DNA damage without induced mutation. Single-stranded DNA-binding (SSB) protein is an essential protein in all organisms and is involved in DNA replication, recombination and repair. The published genomic sequence from Deinococcus radiodurans includes a putative single-stranded DNA-binding protein gene (ssb; DR0100) requiring a translational frameshift for synthesis of a complete SSB protein. The apparently tripartite gene has inspired considerable speculation in the literature about potentially novel frameshifting or RNA editing mechanisms. Immediately upstream of the ssb gene is another gene (DR0099) given an ssb-like annotation, but left unexplored.
A segment of the Deinococcus radiodurans strain R1 genome encompassing the ssb gene has been re-sequenced, and two errors involving omitted guanine nucleotides have been documented. The corrected sequence incorporates both of the open reading frames designated DR0099 and DR0100 into one contiguous ssb open reading frame (ORF). The corrected gene requires no translational frameshifts and contains two predicted oligonucleotide/oligosaccharide-binding (OB) folds. The protein has been purified and its sequence is closely related to the Thermus thermophilus and Thermus aquaticus SSB proteins. Like the Thermus SSB proteins, the SSBDr functions as a homodimer. The Deinococcus radiodurans SSB homodimer stimulates Deinococcus radiodurans RecA protein and Escherichia coli RecA protein-promoted DNA three-strand exchange reactions with at least the same efficiency as the Escherichia coli SSB homotetramer.
The correct Deinococcus radiodurans ssb gene is a contiguous open reading frame that codes for the largest bacterial SSB monomer identified to date. The Deinococcus radiodurans SSB protein includes two OB folds per monomer and functions as a homodimer. The Deinococcus radiodurans SSB protein efficiently stimulates Deinococcus radiodurans RecA and also Escherichia coli RecA protein-promoted DNA strand exchange reactions. The identification and purification of Deinococcus radiodurans SSB protein not only allows for greater understanding of the SSB protein family but provides an essential yet previously missing player in the current efforts to understand the extraordinary DNA repair capacity of Deinococcus radiodurans.
For Deinococcus radiodurans and other bacteria which are extremely resistant to ionizing radiation, ultraviolet radiation, and desiccation, a mechanistic link exists between resistance, manganese accumulation, and protein protection. We show that ultrafiltered, protein-free preparations of D. radiodurans cell extracts prevent protein oxidation at massive doses of ionizing radiation. In contrast, ultrafiltrates from ionizing radiation-sensitive bacteria were not protective. The D. radiodurans ultrafiltrate was enriched in Mn, phosphate, nucleosides and bases, and peptides. When reconstituted in vitro at concentrations approximating those in the D. radiodurans cytosol, peptides interacted synergistically with Mn2+ and orthophosphate, and preserved the activity of large, multimeric enzymes exposed to 50,000 Gy, conditions which obliterated DNA. When applied ex vivo, the D. radiodurans ultrafiltrate protected Escherichia coli cells and human Jurkat T cells from extreme cellular insults caused by ionizing radiation. By establishing that Mn2+-metabolite complexes of D. radiodurans specifically protect proteins against indirect damage caused by gamma-rays delivered in vast doses, our findings provide the basis for a new approach to radioprotection and insight into how surplus Mn budgets in cells combat reactive oxygen species.
Deinococcus radiodurans is a highly radiation-resistant bacterium that is classed in a major subbranch of the bacterial domain. Since very little is known about gene expression in this bacterium, an initial study of promoters was undertaken. In order to isolate promoters and study promoter function, a series of integrative vectors for stable chromosomal insertion in D. radiodurans were developed. These vectors are based on Escherichia coli replicons that are unable to replicate autonomously in D. radiodurans and carry homologous sequences for replacement recombination in the D. radiodurans chromosome. The resulting integration vectors were used to study expression of reporter genes fused to a number of putative promoters that were amplified from the D. radiodurans R1 genome. Further analysis of these and other putative promoters was performed by Northern hybridization and primer extension experiments. In contrast to previous reports, the −10 and −35 regions of these promoters resembled the ς70 consensus sequence of E. coli.
Stress-induced transposition is an attractive notion since it is potentially important in creating diversity to facilitate adaptation of the host to severe environmental conditions. One common major stress is radiation-induced DNA damage. Deinococcus radiodurans has an exceptional ability to withstand the lethal effects of DNA–damaging agents (ionizing radiation, UV light, and desiccation). High radiation levels result in genome fragmentation and reassembly in a process which generates significant amounts of single-stranded DNA. This capacity of D. radiodurans to withstand irradiation raises important questions concerning its response to radiation-induced mutagenic lesions. A recent study analyzed the mutational profile in the thyA gene following irradiation. The majority of thyA mutants resulted from transposition of one particular Insertion Sequence (IS), ISDra2, of the many different ISs in the D. radiodurans genome. ISDra2 is a member of a newly recognised class of ISs, the IS200/IS605 family of insertion sequences.
Induction of transposition in prokaryotes under cell stress conditions is potentially important in creating diversity facilitating adaptation to severe environments. In Deinococcus radiodurans, the most radiation-resistant organism known, despite abundance of resident insertion sequences (IS), transposition of a single IS, ISDra2, was found to be strongly induced by irradiation. We show that both steps involved in transposition, IS excision, and insertion, increase significantly following host cell irradiation and, using PCR analysis of genomic DNA, that exposure to γ-irradiation stimulates massive excision of the single genomic ISDra2 copy as a DNA circle and reclosure of the empty site. These events are closely correlated with the initiation of the process leading to genome reassembly from chromosomal fragments, which occurs mainly through a mechanism generating long stretches of single-stranded DNA. Consistent with this, we also demonstrate a requirement for single strand DNA substrates in TnpA-catalysed cleavage and strand transfer in vitro. Since we find no evidence for irradiation-induced expression of the ISDra2 transposase, we infer that transposition is triggered by the increase in its single-strand DNA substrate. The potential impact on genome reassembly and in creating genome host diversity by triggering transposition in this way is discussed.
Deinococcus radiodurans R1 and other members of this genus share extraordinary resistance to the lethal and mutagenic effects of ionizing radiation. We have recently identified a RecA homolog in strain R1 and have shown that mutation of the corresponding gene causes marked radiosensitivity. We show here that following high-level exposure to gamma irradiation (1.75 megarads, the dose required to yield 37% of CFU for plateau-phase wild-type R1), the wild-type strain repairs > 150 double-strand breaks per chromosome, whereas a recA-defective mutant (rec30) repairs very few or none. A heterologous Escherichia coli-D. radiodurans shuttle plasmid (pMD68) was constructed and found to be retained in surviving D. radiodurans R1 and rec30 following any radiation exposure up to the highest dose tested, 3 megarads. Plasmid repair was monitored in vivo following irradiation with 1.75 megarads in both R1/pMD68 and rec30/pMD68. Immediately after irradiation, plasmids from both strains contained numerous breaks and failed to transform E. coli. While irradiation with 1.75 megarads was lethal to rec30 cultures, a small amount of supercoiled plasmid was regenerated, but it lacked the ability to transform E. coli. In contrast, wild-type cultures showed a cell division arrest of about 10 h, followed by exponential growth. Supercoiled plasmid was regenerated at normal levels, and it readily transformed E. coli. These studies show that D. radiodurans retains a heterologous plasmid following irradiation and repairs it with the same high efficiency as its chromosomal DNA, while the repair defect in rec30 prevents repair of the plasmid. Taken together, the results of this study suggest that plasmid DNA damaged in vivo in D. radiodurans is repaired by recA-dependent mechanisms similar to those employed in the repair of chromosomal DNA.
Escherichia coli RecA plays a crucial role in recombinational processes, the induction of SOS responses and mutagenic lesion bypasses. It has also been demonstrated that RecA protein is indispensable when it comes to the reassembly of shattered chromosomes in γ-irradiated Deinococcus radiodurans, one of the most radiation-resistant organisms known. Moreover, some functional differences between E. coli and D. radiodurans RecA proteins have also been shown.
In this study, recA genes from Deinococcus geothermalis and Deinococcus murrayi, bacteria that are slightly thermophilic and extremely γ-radiation resistant, were isolated, cloned and expressed in E. coli. After production and purification, the biochemical properties of DgeRecA and DmuRecA proteins were determined. Both proteins continued to exist in the solutions as heterogenous populations of oligomeric forms. The DNA binding by DgeRecA and DmuRecA proteins is stimulated by Mg2+ ions. Furthermore, both proteins bind more readily to ssDNA when ssDNA and dsDNA are in the same reaction mixture. Both proteins are slightly thermostable and were completely inactivated in 10 s at 80°C. Both proteins hydrolyze ATP and dATP in the presence of ssDNA or complementary ssDNA and dsDNA, but not in the absence of DNA or in the presence of dsDNA only, and dATP was hydrolyzed more rapidly than ATP. They were also able to promote DNA strand exchange reactions by a pathway common for other RecA proteins. However, we did not obtain DNA strand exchange products when reactions were performed on an inverse pathway, characteristic for RecA of D. radiodurans.
The characterization of DgeRecA and DmuRecA proteins made in this study indicates that the unique properties of D. radiodurans RecA are probably not common among RecA proteins from Deinococcus sp.
We have generated extreme ionizing radiation resistance in a relatively sensitive bacterial species, Escherichia coli, by directed evolution. Four populations of Escherichia coli K-12 were derived independently from strain MG1655, with each specifically adapted to survive exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation. D37 values for strains isolated from two of the populations approached that exhibited by Deinococcus radiodurans. Complete genomic sequencing was carried out on nine purified strains derived from these populations. Clear mutational patterns were observed that both pointed to key underlying mechanisms and guided further characterization of the strains. In these evolved populations, passive genomic protection is not in evidence. Instead, enhanced recombinational DNA repair makes a prominent but probably not exclusive contribution to genome reconstitution. Multiple genes, multiple alleles of some genes, multiple mechanisms, and multiple evolutionary pathways all play a role in the evolutionary acquisition of extreme radiation resistance. Several mutations in the recA gene and a deletion of the e14 prophage both demonstrably contribute to and partially explain the new phenotype. Mutations in additional components of the bacterial recombinational repair system and the replication restart primosome are also prominent, as are mutations in genes involved in cell division, protein turnover, and glutamate transport. At least some evolutionary pathways to extreme radiation resistance are constrained by the temporally ordered appearance of specific alleles.
The bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans exhibits an extreme resistance to ionizing radiation. A small subset of Deinococcus genus-specific genes were shown to be up-regulated upon exposure to ionizing radiation and to play a role in genome reconstitution. These genes include an SSB-like protein called DdrB. Here, we identified a novel protein encoded by the dr1245 gene as an interacting partner of DdrB. A strain devoid of the DR1245 protein is impaired in growth, exhibiting a generation time approximately threefold that of the wild type strain while radioresistance is not affected. We determined the three-dimensional structure of DR1245, revealing a relationship with type III secretion system chaperones and YbjN family proteins. Thus, DR1245 may display some chaperone activity towards DdrB and possibly other substrates.
Deinococcus radiodurans R1 and other members of the eubacterial family Deinococcaceae are extremely resistant to ionizing radiation and many other agents that damage DNA. For example, after irradiation, D. radiodurans can repair > 100 DNA double-strand breaks per chromosome without lethality or mutagenesis, while most other organisms can survive no more than 2 or 3 double-strand breaks. The unusual resistance of D. radiodurans is recA dependent, but the repair pathway(s) is not understood. Recently, we described how a plasmid present in D. radiodurans (plasmid copy number, approximately 6 per cell; chromosome copy number, approximately 4 per cell) during high-dose irradiation undergoes extreme damage like the chromosome and is retained by the cell without selection and fully repaired with the same efficiency as the chromosome. In the current work, we have investigated the repair of two similar plasmids within the same cell. These two plasmids were designed to provide both restriction fragment polymorphisms and a drug selection indicator of recombination. This study presents a novel system of analysis of in vivo damage and recombinational repair, exploiting the unique ability of D. radiodurans to survive extraordinarily high levels of DNA damage. We report that homologous recombination among plasmids following irradiation is extensive. For example, 2% of Tcs plasmids become Tcr as a result of productive recombination within a 929-bp region of the plasmids after repair. Our results suggest that each plasmid may participate in as many as 6.7 recombinational events during repair, a value that extrapolates to > 700 events per chromosome undergoing repair simultaneously. These results indicate that the study of plasmid recombination within D. radiodurans may serve as an accurate model system for simultaneously occurring repair in the chromosome.
The proteome of the radiation- and desiccation-resistant bacterium D. radiodurans features a group of proteins that contain significant intrinsically disordered regions that are not present in non-extremophile homologues. Interestingly, this group includes a number of housekeeping and repair proteins such as DNA polymerase III, nudix hydrolase and rotamase. Here, we focus on a member of the nudix hydrolase family from D. radiodurans possessing low-complexity N- and C-terminal tails, which exhibit sequence signatures of intrinsic disorder and have unknown function. The enzyme catalyzes the hydrolysis of oxidatively damaged and mutagenic nucleotides, and it is thought to play an important role in D. radiodurans during the recovery phase after exposure to ionizing radiation or desiccation. We use molecular dynamics simulations to study the dynamics of the protein, and study its hydration free energy using the GB/SA formalism. We show that the presence of disordered tails significantly decreases the hydration free energy of the whole protein. We hypothesize that the tails increase the chances of the protein to be located in the remaining water patches in the desiccated cell, where it is protected from the desiccation effects and can function normally. We extrapolate this to other intrinsically disordered regions in proteins, and propose a novel function for them: intrinsically disordered regions increase the “surface-properties” of the folded domains they are attached to, making them on the whole more hydrophilic and potentially influencing, in this way, their localization and cellular activity.
Intrinsically disordered proteins and protein segments carry out a wide range of important biological functions despite their lack of permanent tertiary structure. Using advanced computational methods we study the biophysical properties of the intrinsically disordered regions in the enzyme nudix hydrolase from the desiccation- and radiation-resistant bacterium D. radiodurans. Interestingly, these regions are absent in homologue proteins in non-extremophile bacteria, suggesting that they might be involved in helping the key rescue-and-repair proteins in D. radiodurans, such as nudix hydrolase, adapt to the extreme absence of water. We show that the disordered regions in nudix hydrolase enlarge the overall surface of the enzyme, and most importantly, increase its overall affinity for water (i.e. its hydrophilicity). We suggest a novel hypothesis that this, indeed, may be the principal function of disordered regions in some cases: they increase the chances of the protein to be located in the remaining water patches in the desiccated cell, where it is protected from the desiccation effects and can function normally.
The Deinococcus radiodurans bacterium exhibits an extreme resistance to ionizing radiation. Here, we investigated the in vivo role of DdrB, a radiation-induced Deinococcus specific protein that was previously shown to exhibit some in vitro properties akin to those of SSB protein from E. coli but also to promote annealing of single stranded DNA. First we report that the deletion of the C-terminal motif of the DdrB protein, which is similar to the SSB C-terminal motif involved in recruitment to DNA of repair proteins, did neither affect cell radioresistance nor DNA binding properties of purified DdrB protein. We show that, in spite of their different quaternary structure, DdrB and SSB occlude the same amount of ssDNA in vitro. We also showed that DdrB is recruited early and transiently after irradiation into the nucleoid to form discrete foci. Absence of DdrB increased the lag phase of the extended synthesis-dependent strand annealing (ESDSA) process, affecting neither the rate of DNA synthesis nor the efficiency of fragment reassembly, as indicated by monitoring DNA synthesis and genome reconstitution in cells exposed to a sub-lethal ionizing radiation dose. Moreover, cells devoid of DdrB were affected in the establishment of plasmid DNA during natural transformation, a process that requires pairing of internalized plasmid single stranded DNA fragments, whereas they were proficient in transformation by a chromosomal DNA marker that integrates into the host chromosome through homologous recombination. Our data are consistent with a model in which DdrB participates in an early step of DNA double strand break repair in cells exposed to very high radiation doses. DdrB might facilitate the accurate assembly of the myriad of small fragments generated by extreme radiation exposure through a single strand annealing (SSA) process to generate suitable substrates for subsequent ESDSA-promoted genome reconstitution.
Deinococcus radiodurans; DdrB; single-strand binding protein SSB; ESDSA; SSA; DNA transformation
In Deinococcus radiodurans, the extreme resistance to DNA–shattering treatments such as ionizing radiation or desiccation is correlated with its ability to reconstruct a functional genome from hundreds of chromosomal fragments. The rapid reconstitution of an intact genome is thought to occur through an extended synthesis-dependent strand annealing process (ESDSA) followed by DNA recombination. Here, we investigated the role of key components of the RecF pathway in ESDSA in this organism naturally devoid of RecB and RecC proteins. We demonstrate that inactivation of RecJ exonuclease results in cell lethality, indicating that this protein plays a key role in genome maintenance. Cells devoid of RecF, RecO, or RecR proteins also display greatly impaired growth and an important lethal sectoring as bacteria devoid of RecA protein. Other aspects of the phenotype of recFOR knock-out mutants paralleled that of a ΔrecA mutant: ΔrecFOR mutants are extremely radiosensitive and show a slow assembly of radiation-induced chromosomal fragments, not accompanied by DNA synthesis, and reduced DNA degradation. Cells devoid of RecQ, the major helicase implicated in repair through the RecF pathway in E. coli, are resistant to γ-irradiation and have a wild-type DNA repair capacity as also shown for cells devoid of the RecD helicase; in contrast, ΔuvrD mutants show a markedly decreased radioresistance, an increased latent period in the kinetics of DNA double-strand-break repair, and a slow rate of fragment assembly correlated with a slow rate of DNA synthesis. Combining RecQ or RecD deficiency with UvrD deficiency did not significantly accentuate the phenotype of ΔuvrD mutants. In conclusion, RecFOR proteins are essential for DNA double-strand-break repair through ESDSA whereas RecJ protein is essential for cell viability and UvrD helicase might be involved in the processing of double stranded DNA ends and/or in the DNA synthesis step of ESDSA.
Deinococcus radiodurans bacterium is among the best-known organisms found to resist extremely high exposures to desiccation and ionizing radiation, both causing extensive DNA double-strand breaks. Because a single unrepaired DNA double-strand break is usually lethal, DNA double-strand breaks are considered as the most severe form of genomic damage. The extreme radioresistance of D. radiodurans is linked to its ability to reconstruct a functional genome from hundreds of chromosomal fragments. Genome reconstitution occurs through a two step process: (i) an extended synthesis-dependent strand-annealing process (ESDSA) that assembles genomic fragments in long linear intermediates that are then (ii) processed through recombination to generate circular chromosomes. Here, we demonstrate the essential role of key components of the D. radiodurans RecF pathway in ESDSA. We show that (i) inactivation of only one exonuclease (RecJ) results in cell lethality; (ii) cells devoid of RecF, RecO, or RecR display greatly impaired growth; (iii) RecF, RecO, or RecR proteins are essential for radioresistance through ESDSA; and (iv) UvrD helicase has an unexpected crucial function in DNA double-strand-break repair through ESDSA.
Deinococcus radiodurans and other members of the genus Deinococcus are remarkable for their extreme resistance to ionizing radiation and many other agents that damage DNA. We have recently shown that recombinational processes participate in interplasmidic repair following in vivo irradiation. We now present direct studies on interchromosomal recombination among chromosomes irradiated in vivo during stationary phase (four chromosomes per cell). Following an exposure to 1.75 Mrad (the dose required to achieve a survival of 37%, which degrades the cells' four chromosomes into about 500 fragments), we determined that there may be as many as 175 crossovers per chromosome (700 crossovers per nucleoid) undergoing repair. In addition, these studies suggest that many of the crossovers occurring during repair are nonreciprocal.