Bacterial multidrug tolerance is largely responsible for the inability of antibiotics to eradicate infections and is caused by a small population of dormant bacteria called persisters. HipA is a critical Escherichia coli persistence factor that is normally neutralized by HipB, a transcription repressor, which also regulates hipBA expression. Here we report multiple structures of HipA and a HipA-HipB-DNA complex. HipA has a eukaryotic Ser/Thr kinase-like fold and can phosphorylate the translation factor, EF-Tu, suggesting a persistence mechanism via cell stasis. The HipA-HipB-DNA structure reveals the HipB-operator binding mechanism, ~70° DNA bending and unexpected HipA-DNA contacts. Dimeric HipB interacts with two HipA molecules to inhibit its kinase activity through sequestration and conformational inactivation. Combined, these studies suggest mechanisms for HipA-mediated persistence and its neutralization by HipB.
Bacterial populations produce antibiotic-tolerant persister cells. A number of recent studies point to the involvement of toxin/antitoxin (TA) modules in persister formation. hipBA is a type II TA module that codes for the HipB antitoxin and the HipA toxin. HipA is an EF-Tu kinase, which causes protein synthesis inhibition and dormancy upon phosphorylation of its substrate. Antitoxins are labile proteins that are degraded by one of the cytosolic ATP-dependent proteases. We followed the rate of HipB degradation in different protease deficient strains and found that HipB was stabilized in a lon- background. These findings were confirmed in an in vitro degradation assay, showing that Lon is the main protease responsible for HipB proteolysis. Moreover, we demonstrated that degradation of HipB is dependent on the presence of an unstructured carboxy-terminal stretch of HipB that encompasses the last 16 amino acid residues. Further, substitution of the conserved carboxy-terminal tryptophan of HipB to alanine or even the complete removal of this 16 residue fragment did not alter the affinity of HipB for hipBA operator DNA or for HipA indicating that the major role of this region of HipB is to control HipB degradation and hence HipA-mediated persistence.
Persistence is an epigenetic trait that allows a small fraction of bacteria, approximately one in a million, to survive prolonged exposure to antibiotics. In Escherichia coli an increased frequency of persisters, called “high persistence,” is conferred by mutations in the hipA gene, which encodes the toxin entity of the toxin-antitoxin module hipBA. The high-persistence allele hipA7 was originally identified because of its ability to confer high persistence, but little is known about the physiological role of the wild-type hipA gene. We report here that the expression of wild-type hipA in excess of hipB inhibits protein, RNA, and DNA synthesis in vivo. However, unlike the RelE and MazF toxins, HipA had no effect on protein synthesis in an in vitro translation system. Moreover, the expression of wild-type hipA conferred a transient dormant state (persistence) to a sizable fraction of cells, whereas the rest of the cells remained in a prolonged dormant state that, under appropriate conditions, could be fully reversed by expression of the cognate antitoxin gene hipB. In contrast, expression of the mutant hipA7 gene in excess of hipB did not markedly inhibit protein synthesis as did wild-type hipA and yet still conferred persistence to ca. 10% of cells. We propose that wild-type HipA, upon release from HipB, is able to inhibit macromolecular synthesis and induces a bacteriostatic state that can be reversed by expression of the hipB gene. However, the ability of the wild-type hipA gene to generate a high frequency of persisters, equal to that conferred by the hipA7 allele, may be distinct from the ability to block macromolecular synthesis.
In Escherichia coli, expression of the RelE and HipA toxins in the absence of their cognate antitoxins has been associated with generating multidrug-tolerant “persisters.” Here we show that unlike persisters of E. coli, persisters of Mycobacterium tuberculosis selected with one drug do not acquire cross-resistance to other classes of drugs. M. tuberculosis has three homologs of RelE arranged in operons with their apparent antitoxins. Each toxin individually arrests growth of both M. tuberculosis and E. coli, an effect that is neutralized by coexpression of the cognate antitoxin. Overexpression or deletion of each of the RelE toxins had a toxin- and drug-specific effect on the proportion of bacilli surviving antibiotic killing. All three toxins were upregulated in vivo, but none of the deletions affected survival during murine infection. RelE2 overexpression increased bacterial survival rates in the presence of rifampin in vitro, while deletion significantly decreased survival rates. Strikingly, deletion of this toxin had no discernible effect on the level of persisters seen in rifampin-treated mice. Our results suggest that, in vivo, RelE-generated persisters are unlikely to play a significant role in the generation of bacilli that survive in the face of multidrug therapy or in the generation of multidrug-resistant M. tuberculosis.
The basis of joint tolerance to β-lactam and fluoroquinolone antibiotics in Escherichia coli mediated by hipA was examined. An antibiotic tolerance phenotype was produced by overexpression of hipA under conditions that did not affect the growth rate of the organism. Overexpressing hipA probably decreases the period in which bacteria are susceptible to the antibiotics by temporarily affecting some aspect of chromosome replication or cell division.
The hip locus of Escherichia coli affects the frequency of persistence to the lethal consequences of selective inhibition of either DNA or peptidoglycan synthesis. Regulation of the hip operon, which consists of a regulatory region and two genes, hipB and hipA, was examined with strains containing a hip-lac transcriptional fusion placed in single copy at the lambda att site. Disruption of the hip locus increased activity from the fusion 16-fold. Repression was restored by supplying HipB in trans. HipB was overexpressed and purified. On the basis of gel filtration and cross-linking studies, HipB is a dimer in solution. Sequence analysis revealed that HipB is a Cro-like DNA-binding protein. The interaction of HipB with the hip regulatory region was examined by gel retardation, DNase I protection, and methylation protection studies. HipB binds with a Kapp (K apparent) of 40 pM to four operator sites with the conserved sequence TATCCN8GGATA (N represents any nucleotide). Binding to the operators is nearly simultaneous and appears to be cooperative. Analysis of the role of HipA in the regulation of the hip operon is complicated by the toxicity of HipA in the absence of HipB. Strains disrupted in hipB but not in hipA could not be recovered. Moreover, hipA-containing plasmids cannot be replicated in strains defective in or lacking hipB. HipA is found exclusively in a tight complex with HipB. Although disruption of hipA slightly increased expression from the hip-lac fusion, in vitro studies suggest that HipA does not bind to the hip regulatory region directly but indirectly via HipB.
The hipA gene at 33.8 min on the Escherichia coli chromosome controls the frequency of persistence upon inhibition of murein synthesis; for strains bearing hipA+ the frequency is 10(-6), and for hipA- strains the frequency is 10(-2). hip+ has been cloned by selection for a kanamycin resistance determinant at 33.9 min. hipA+ is dominant over hipA- in both recA+ and recA- backgrounds. The smallest DNA insert which contains hipA+, as determined by the ability of the plasmids to complement hipA- strains, is 1,885 base pairs. Both orientations of hipA+ are obtained when the cloning site of vector is remote from strong promoters; both orientations complement hipA-, and both encode a unique peptide of 50,000 Mr. The probable direction of transcription has been deduced from the pattern of peptides encoded by plasmids from which either end of the insert and adjacent vector sequences have been deleted. This information and the recovery of only one orientation of hipA+ when the cloning site is close to a strong promoter suggest that a high level of expression of the gene is not tolerated by E. coli.
High-frequency persistence to the lethal effects of inhibition of either DNA or peptidoglycan synthesis, the Hip phenotype, results from mutations at the hip locus of Escherichia coli K-12. The nucleotide sequence of DNA fragments which complement these mutations revealed an operon consisting of a possible regulatory region, including sequences with modest homology to an E. coli promoter, and two open reading frames which are translated both in vitro and in vivo. The stop codon of a 264-bp open reading frame, hipB, and the start codon of a 1,320-bp open reading frame, hipA, share an adenine residue. Assays of promoter strength, the location of the probable promoter with respect to the start of transcription, and codon usage all indicate that hipB and hipA are weakly expressed genes. The activity of the promoter is impaired by an adjacent downstream sequence which includes the coding region of hipB. The impairment is partially relieved by insertion of a premature translation termination signal within the coding region of hipB, suggesting involvement of the HipB protein in the regulation of this promoter. The arrangement of hipB and hipA within the operon and the toxicity of hipA for strains defective in or lacking hipB suggest an important interaction between the products of these genes.
Bacterial populations contain persisters, cells which survive exposure to bactericidal antibiotics and other lethal factors. Persisters do not have a genetic resistance mechanism, and their means to tolerate killing remain unknown. In exponentially growing populations of Escherichia coli the frequency of persister formation usually is 10−7 to 10−5. It has been shown that cells overexpressing either of the toxic proteins HipA and RelE, both members of the bacterial toxin-antitoxin (TA) modules, have the ability to form more persisters, suggesting a specific role for these toxins in the mechanism of persistence. However, here we show that cells expressing proteins that are unrelated to TA modules but which become toxic when ectopically expressed, chaperone DnaJ and protein PmrC of Salmonella enterica, also form 100- to 1,000-fold more persisters. Thus, persistence is linked not only to toxicity caused by expression of HipA or dedicated toxins but also to expression of other unrelated proteins.
Mutations in hipA, a gene of Escherichia coli K-12, greatly reduce the lethality of selective inhibition of peptidoglycan synthesis. These mutations have also been found to reduce the lethality that accompanies either selective inhibition of DNA synthesis or heat shock of strains defective in htpR. In addition, the mutant alleles of hipA are responsible for a reversible cold-sensitive block in cell division and synthesis of macromolecules, particularly peptidoglycan. Recombination between the chromosome of hipA mutants and plasmids containing noncomplementing fragments of hipA+ revealed that the mutations responsible for both cold sensitivity and reduced lethality were probably identical and, in any case, lay within the first 360 base pairs of the coding region of hipA, probably within the first 50 base pairs. We suggest that the pleiotropic effects of mutations in hipA reflect the involvement of this gene in cell division.
Bacterial toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are formed by potent regulatory or suicide factors (toxins) and their short-lived inhibitors (antitoxins). Antitoxins are DNA-binding proteins and auto-repress transcription of TA operons. Transcription of multiple TA operons is activated in temporarily non-growing persister cells that can resist killing by antibiotics. Consequently, the antitoxin levels of persisters must have been dropped and toxins are released of inhibition.
Here, we describe transcriptional cross-activation between different TA systems of Escherichia coli. We find that the chromosomal relBEF operon is activated in response to production of the toxins MazF, MqsR, HicA, and HipA. Expression of the RelE toxin in turn induces transcription of several TA operons. We show that induction of mazEF during amino acid starvation depends on relBE and does not occur in a relBEF deletion mutant. Induction of TA operons has been previously shown to depend on Lon protease which is activated by polyphospate accumulation. We show that transcriptional cross-activation occurs also in strains deficient for Lon, ClpP, and HslV proteases and polyphosphate kinase. Furthermore, we find that toxins cleave the TA mRNA in vivo, which is followed by degradation of the antitoxin-encoding fragments and selective accumulation of the toxin-encoding regions. We show that these accumulating fragments can be translated to produce more toxin.
Transcriptional activation followed by cleavage of the mRNA and disproportionate production of the toxin constitutes a possible positive feedback loop, which can fire other TA systems and cause bistable growth heterogeneity. Cross-interacting TA systems have a potential to form a complex network of mutually activating regulators in bacteria.
Toxin-antitoxin systems; Transcriptional regulation; Regulatory network; mRNA stability; Persisters
The multiple antibiotic resistance (mar) locus in Escherichia coli consists of two divergently expressed operons (marC and marRAB), both of which contribute to the Mar phenotype. Overexpression of the marRAB operon protected E. coli against rapid cell killing by fluoroquinolones. Inactivation of the operon in mar mutants restored a wild-type bactericidal susceptibility. Both operons of the locus were required for protection from the quinolone-mediated bactericidal activity in mar locus deletion mutants. The effect was lost at high concentrations of fluoroquinolones, unlike the case for the previously described genes hipA and hipQ. The inducible mar locus appears to specify a novel antibactericidal mechanism which may play a role in the emergence of fluoroquinolone-resistant clinical E. coli isolates.
The majority of cells transferred from stationary-phase culture into fresh medium resume growth quickly, while a few remain in a nongrowing state for longer. These temporarily nonproliferating bacteria are tolerant of several bactericidal antibiotics and constitute a main source of persisters. Several genes have been shown to influence the frequency of persisters in Escherichia coli, although the exact mechanism underlying persister formation is unknown. This study demonstrates that the frequency of persisters is highly dependent on the age of the inoculum and the medium in which it has been grown. The hipA7 mutant had 1,000 times more persisters than the wild type when inocula were sampled from younger stationary-phase cultures. When started after a long stationary phase, the two displayed equal and elevated persister frequencies. The lower persister frequencies of glpD, dnaJ, and surA knockout strains were increased to the level of the wild type when inocula aged. The mqsR and phoU deletions showed decreased persister levels only when the inocula were from aged cultures, while sucB and ygfA deletions had decreased persister levels irrespective of the age of the inocula. A dependency on culture conditions underlines the notion that during screening for mutants with altered persister frequencies, the exact experimental details are of great importance. Unlike ampicillin and norfloxacin, which always leave a fraction of bacteria alive, amikacin killed all cells in the growth resumption experiment. It was concluded that the frequency of persisters depends on the conditions of inoculum cultivation, particularly its age, and the choice of antibiotic.
Bacterial populations produce dormant persister cells that are resistant to killing by all antibiotics currently in use, a phenomenon known as multidrug tolerance (MDT). Persisters are phenotypic variants of the wild type and are largely responsible for MDT of biofilms and stationary populations. We recently showed that a hipBA toxin/antitoxin locus is part of the MDT mechanism in Escherichia coli. In an effort to find additional MDT genes, an E. coli expression library was selected for increased survival to ampicillin. A clone with increased persister production was isolated and was found to overexpress the gene for the conserved aerobic sn-glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase GlpD. The GlpD overexpression strain showed increased tolerance to ampicillin and ofloxacin, while a strain with glpD deleted had a decreased level of persisters in the stationary state. This suggests that GlpD is a component of the MDT mechanism. Further genetic studies of mutants affected in pathways involved in sn-glycerol-3-phosphate metabolism have led to the identification of two additional multidrug tolerance loci, glpABC, the anaerobic sn-glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, and plsB, an sn-glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase.
Escherichia coli is refractory to elevated doses of antibiotics when it is growing in a biofilm, and this is potentially due to high numbers of multidrug-tolerant persister cells in the surface-adherent population. Previously, the chromosomal toxin-antitoxin loci hipBA and relBE have been linked to the frequency at which persister cells occur in E. coli populations. In the present study, we focused on the dinJ-yafQ-encoded toxin-antitoxin system and hypothesized that deletion of the toxin gene yafQ might influence cell survival in antibiotic-exposed biofilms. By using confocal laser scanning microscopy and viable cell counting, it was determined that a ΔyafQ mutant produced biofilms with a structure and a cell density equivalent to those of the parental strain. In-depth susceptibility testing identified that relative to wild-type E. coli, the ΔyafQ strain had up to a ∼2,400-fold decrease in cell survival after the biofilms were exposed to bactericidal concentrations of cefazolin or tobramycin. Corresponding to these data, controlled overexpression of yafQ from a high-copy-number plasmid resulted in up to a ∼10,000-fold increase in the number of biofilm cells surviving exposure to these bactericidal drugs. In contrast, neither the inactivation nor the overexpression of yafQ affected the tolerance of biofilms to doxycycline or rifampin (rifampicin). Furthermore, deletion of yafQ did not affect the tolerance of stationary-phase planktonic cells to any of the antibacterials tested. These results suggest that yafQ mediates the tolerance of E. coli biofilms to multiple but specific antibiotics; moreover, our data imply that this cellular pathway for persistence is likely different from that of multidrug-tolerant cells in stationary-phase planktonic cell cultures.
Transposons constitute the major fractions of repetitive sequences in eukaryotes, and have been crucial in the shaping of current genomes. Transposons are generally divided into two classes according to the mechanism underlying their transposition: RNA intermediate class 1 and DNA intermediate class 2. CACTA is a class 2 transposon superfamily, which is found exclusively in plants. As some transposons, including the CACTA superfamily, are highly abundant in plant species, and their nucleotide sequences are highly conserved within a family, they can be utilized as genetic markers, using a slightly modified version of the conventional AFLP protocol. Rim2 /Hipa is a CACTA transposon family having 16 bp consensus TIR sequences to be present in high copy numbers in rice genome. This research was carried out in order to develop a Rim2/Hipa CACTA-AFLP or Rim2/Hipa CACTA-TD (transposon display, hereafter Rim2/Hipa-TD) protocol for the study of genetic markers in map construction and the study of genetic diversity in rice.
Rim2/Hipa-TD generated ample polymorphic profiles among the different rice accessions, and the amplification profiles were highly reproducible between different thermocyclers and Taq polymerases. These amplification profiles allowed for clear distinction between two different ecotypes, Japonica and Indica, of Oryza sativa. In the analysis of RIL populations, the Rim2/Hipa-TD markers were found to be segregated largely in a dominant manner, although in a few cases, non-parental bands were observed in the segregating populations. Upon linkage analysis, the Rim2/Hipa-TD markers were found to be distributed in the regions proximal to the centromeres of the chromosomes. The distribution of the Rim2/Hipa CACTA elements was surveyed in 15 different Oryza species via Rim2/Hipa-TD. While Rim2/Hipa-TD yielded ample amplification profiles between 100 to 700 bp in the AA diploid Oryza species, other species having BB, CC, EE, BBCC and CCDD, profiles demonstrated that most of the amplified fragments were larger than 400 bp, and that our methods were insufficient to clearly distinguish between these fragments. However, the overall amplification profiles between species in the Oryza genus were fully distinct. Phenetic relationships among the AA diploid Oryza species, as evidenced by the Rim2/Hipa-TD markers, were matched with their geographical distributions.
The abundance of the Rim2/Hipa TIR sequences is very informative since the Rim2/Hipa-TD produced high polymorphic profiles with ample reproducibility within a species as well as between species in the Oryza genus. Therefore, Rim2/Hipa-TD markers can be useful in the development of high-density of genetic map around the centromeric regions. Rim2/Hipa-TD may also prove useful in evaluations of genetic variation and species relationships in the Oryza species.
Bacterial persistence is a non-inherited bet-hedging mechanism where a subpopulation of cells enters a dormant state, allowing those cells to survive environmental stress such as treatment with antibiotics. Persister cells are not mutants; they are formed by natural stochastic variation in gene expression. Understanding how regulatory architecture influences the level of phenotypic variability can help us explain how the frequency of persistence events can be tuned.
We present a model of the regulatory network controlling the HipBA toxin-antitoxin system from Escherichia coli. Using a biologically realistic model we first determine that the persistence phenotype is not the result of bistability within the network. Next, we develop a stochastic model and show that cells can enter persistence due to random fluctuations in transcription, translation, degradation, and complex formation. We then examine alternative gene circuit architectures for controlling hipBA expression and show that networks with more noise (more persisters) and less noise (fewer persisters) are straightforward to achieve. Thus, we propose that the gene circuit architecture can be used to tune the frequency of persistence, a trait that can be selected for by evolution.
We develop deterministic and stochastic models describing how the regulation of toxin and antitoxin expression influences phenotypic variation within a population. Persistence events are the result of stochastic fluctuations in toxin levels that cross a threshold, and their frequency is controlled by the regulatory topology governing gene expression.
Persister; Toxin-antitoxin; Gene regulatory network; Feedback
Toxin-antitoxin systems consist of a stable toxin, frequently with endonuclease activity, and a small, labile antitoxin, which sequesters the toxin into an inactive complex. Under unfavorable conditions, the antitoxin is degraded, leading to activation of the toxin and resulting in growth arrest, possibly also in bacterial programmed cell death. Correspondingly, these systems are generally viewed as agents of the stress response in prokaryotes. Here we show that prlF and yhaV encode a novel toxin-antitoxin system in Escherichia coli. YhaV, a ribonuclease of the RelE superfamily, causes reversible bacteriostasis that is counteracted by PrlF, a swapped-hairpin transcription factor homologous to MazE. The two proteins form a tight, hexameric complex, which binds with high specificity to a conserved sequence in the promotor region of the prlF-yhaV operon. As homologs of MazE and RelE, respectively, PrlF and YhaV provide an evolutionary connection between the two best-characterized toxin-antitoxin systems in E. coli, mazEF and relEB.
mRNA decay; RelE superfamily ribonuclease; stress response; swapped-hairpin barrel; toxin-antitoxin system
Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are plasmid- or chromosome-encoded protein complexes composed of a stable toxin and a short-lived inhibitor of the toxin. In cultures of Escherichia coli, transcription of toxin-antitoxin genes was induced in a nondividing subpopulation of bacteria that was tolerant to bactericidal antibiotics. Along with transcription of known toxin-antitoxin operons, transcription of mqsR and ygiT, two adjacent genes with multiple TA-like features, was induced in this cell population. Here we show that mqsR and ygiT encode a toxin-antitoxin system belonging to a completely new family which is represented in several groups of bacteria. The mqsR gene encodes a toxin, and ectopic expression of this gene inhibits growth and induces rapid shutdown of protein synthesis in vivo. ygiT encodes an antitoxin, which protects cells from the effects of MqsR. These two genes constitute a single operon which is transcriptionally repressed by the product of ygiT. We confirmed that transcription of this operon is induced in the ampicillin-tolerant fraction of a growing population of E. coli and in response to activation of the HipA toxin. Expression of the MqsR toxin does not kill bacteria but causes reversible growth inhibition and elongation of cells.
Toxin-antitoxin (TA) loci consist of two genes in an operon, encoding a stable toxin and an unstable antitoxin. The expression of toxin leads to cell growth arrest and sometimes bacterial death, while the antitoxin prevents the cytotoxic activity of the toxin. In this study, we show that the chromosome of Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague, carries 10 putative TA modules and two solitary antitoxins that belong to five different TA families (HigBA, HicAB, RelEB, Phd/Doc, and MqsRA). Two of these toxin genes (higB2 and hicA1) could not be cloned in Escherichia coli unless they were coexpressed with their cognate antitoxin gene, indicating that they are highly toxic for this species. One of these toxin genes (higB2) could, however, be cloned directly and expressed in Y. pestis, where it was highly toxic, while the other one (hicA1) could not, probably because of its extreme toxicity. All eight other toxin genes were successfully cloned into the expression vector pBAD-TOPO. For five of them (higB1, higB3, higB5, hicA2, and tox), no toxic activity was detected in either E. coli or Y. pestis despite their overexpression. The three remaining toxin genes (relE1, higB4, and doc) were toxic for E. coli, and this toxic activity was abolished when the cognate antitoxin was coexpressed, showing that these three TA modules are functional in E. coli. Curiously, only one of these three toxins (RelE1) was active in Y. pestis. Cross-interaction between modules of the same family was observed but occurred only when the antitoxins were almost identical. Therefore, our study demonstrates that of the 10 predicted TA modules encoded by the Y. pestis chromosome, at least 5 are functional in E. coli and/or in Y. pestis. This is the first demonstration of active addiction toxins produced by the plague agent.
Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is an adverse drug reaction caused by antibodies to the heparin/platelet factor 4 (PF4) complexes. HIT diagnosis is challenging and depends on clinical presentation and laboratory tests. We investigated the interest of the combined use of 4 Ts score and the functional and immunological tests for the diagnosis of HIT.
We analyzed 178 patients with suspected HIT, for which the 4 Ts score was calculated. Heparin-PF4 antibodies were detected by both Heparin-induced platelet activation test (HIPA) and Heparin platelet induced antibodies enzyme immunoassay.
Our results shown that in low probability group, 85% of plasmas were found negative versus 55.5% in the high probability group. On the other hand, 22.2% of patients were HIT positive in high probability group versus 0% in the low probability group.
These results confirmed that the negative predictive value of the HIT score was high. The 4T's model has demonstrated excellent sensitivity but its specificity was limited. The specificity of the functional and immunological test is high only in a context suggestive of HIT. Both methods should be considered complementary in the diagnostic strategy.
Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia; antibodies; 4 Ts scoring system
Huntingtin-interacting protein 1 (HIP1) interacts with huntingtin, the protein whose gene is mutated in Huntington's disease. In addition, a fusion between HIP1 and platelet-derived growth factor β receptor causes chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. The HIP1 proteins, including HIP1 and HIP1-related (HIP1r), have an N-terminal polyphosphoinositide-interacting epsin N-terminal homology, domain, which is found in proteins involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis. HIP1 and HIP1r also share a central leucine zipper and an actin binding TALIN homology domain. Here we show that HIP1, like HIP1r, colocalizes with clathrin coat components. We also show that HIP1 physically associates with clathrin and AP-2, the major components of the clathrin coat. To further understand the putative biological role(s) of HIP1, we have generated a targeted deletion of murine HIP1. HIP1−/− mice developed into adulthood, did not develop overt neurologic symptoms in the first year of life, and had normal peripheral blood counts. However, HIP1-deficient mice exhibited testicular degeneration with increased apoptosis of postmeiotic spermatids. Postmeiotic spermatids are the only cells of the seminiferous tubules that express HIP1. These findings indicate that HIP1 is required for differentiation, proliferation, and/or survival of spermatogenic progenitors. The association of HIP1 with clathrin coats and the requirement of HIP1 for progenitor survival suggest a role for HIP1 in the regulation of endocytosis.
The axe–txe operon encodes a toxin–antitoxin (TA) pair, Axe–Txe, that was initially identified on the multidrug-resistance plasmid pRUM in Enterococcus faecium. In Escherichia coli, expression of the Txe toxin is known to inhibit cell growth, and co-expression of the antitoxin, Axe, counteracts the toxic effect of Txe. Here, we report the nucleotide sequence of pS177, a 39 kb multidrug-resistant plasmid isolated from vancomycin-resistant Ent. faecium, which harbours the axe–txe operon and the vanA gene cluster. RT-PCR analysis revealed that the axe–txe transcript is produced by strain S177 as well as by other vancomycin-resistant enteroccoci. Moreover, we determine the mechanism by which the Txe protein exerts its toxic activity. Txe inhibits protein synthesis in E. coli without affecting DNA or RNA synthesis, and inhibits protein synthesis in a cell-free system. Using in vivo primer extension analysis, we demonstrate that Txe preferentially cleaves single-stranded mRNA at the first base after an AUG start codon. We conclude that Txe is an endoribonuclease which cleaves mRNA and inhibits protein synthesis.
Toxin-antitoxin (TA) loci encode inhibitors of translation, replication or cell wall synthesis and are common elements of prokaryotic plasmids and chromosomes. Ten TA loci of Escherichia coli K-12 encode mRNases that cumulatively contribute to persistence (multidrug tolerance) of the bacterial cells. The mechanisms underlying induction and reversion of the persistent state are not yet understood. The vapBC operon of Salmonalla enterica serovar Typhimurium LT2 encodes VapC, a tRNase that reversibly inhibits translation by site-specific cleavage of tRNAfMet. VapB is an antitoxin that interacts with and neutralizes VapC via its C-terminal tail and regulate TA operon transcription via its N-terminal DNA binding domain that recognize operators in the vapBC promoter region. We show here that transcription of the vapBC operon of S. enterica is controlled by a recently discovered regulatory theme referred to as ‘conditional cooperativity’: at low T/A ratios, the TA complex binds cooperatively to the promoter region and represses TA operon transcription whereas at high T/A ratios, the excess toxin leads to destabilization of the TA-operator complex and therefore, induction of transcription. We present evidence that an excess of VapC toxin leads to operator complex destabilization by breaking of toxin dimers.
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) organisms are obligate parasites of the human upper respiratory tract that can exist as commensals or pathogens. Toxin-antitoxin (TA) loci are highly conserved gene pairs that encode both a toxin and antitoxin moiety. Seven TA gene families have been identified to date, and NTHi carries two alleles of the vapBC family. Here, we have characterized the function of one of the NTHi alleles, vapBC-1. The gene pair is transcribed as an operon in two NTHi clinical isolates, and promoter fusions display an inverse relationship to culture density. The antitoxin VapB-1 forms homomultimers both in vitro and in vivo. The expression of the toxin VapC-1 conferred growth inhibition to an Escherichia coli expression strain and was successfully purified only when cloned in tandem with its cognate antitoxin. Using total RNA isolated from both E. coli and NTHi, we show for the first time that VapC-1 is an RNase that is active on free RNA but does not degrade DNA in vitro. Preincubation of the purified toxin and antitoxin together results in the formation of a protein complex that abrogates the activity of the toxin. We conclude that the NTHi vapBC-1 gene pair functions as a classical TA locus and that the induction of VapC-1 RNase activity leads to growth inhibition via the mechanism of mRNA cleavage.